Megan Ellison

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It’s not definite that this year’s Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director will go to different movies. But it is very likely that Alfonso Cuaron is going to win the latter and that his movie, Gravity, is not going to be crowned the former. Odds in favor of Gravity for the top Academy Award are increasing of late, but I still see us having the first back-to-back split since 1953. Last year, of course, Picture went to Argo while Director went to Ang Lee (Argo‘s director, Ben Affleck, wasn’t nominated for the latter). This year the film that may trump Gravity for Best Picture is itself split between two contenders, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. Both of those movies won their respective Best Picture categories at the Golden Globes earlier this year. Hustle for comedy/musical and Slave for drama. Not that this means either has to follow with the Oscar (only 4 of the past 10 Oscar BPs were Globe BPs). Hustle also won the top award at the SAG Awards, that honor being for Outstanding Performance By a Cast in a Motion Picture. Not that this really means anything either (only 6 of the past 10 Oscar BPs were SAG Best Casts). Slave, meanwhile, tied for the top award at the PGA Awards — with Gravity. This is where it might mean something. The Producers Guild is currently six for six in predicting the Oscar BP, and in its history they’re 17 for 24. If they go […]

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news star blazers

This just in from the Department of Unfortunate Developments, Christopher McQuarrie has been announced as writer, director, and producer of a big-budget, Hollywood remake of Star Blazers. “But Rob,” you’re thinking or possibly saying aloud to yourself while sitting in your workplace cubicle or restroom stall, “aren’t you a big fan of both McQuarrie and the seminal animated series from Japan that first showed you what it was to become emotionally invested in human cartoon characters?” Okay office weirdo, I’ll bite.

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taylor

From a visual standpoint, Thor: The Dark World is an interesting sequel. It’s a serious departure from the world Kenneth Branagh set up with the first film, which was light and cartoony (in a pleasant way), but all those dutch angles and color-y rainbow bridges sure did make some snicker. For the sequel, there’s a grime to Asgard, and there’s a tangibility that director Alan Taylor was clearly hired to put on screen. The folks behind Terminator 5 are probably hoping he can bring that exact grit to the upcoming reboot. Now, Alan Taylor says his attachment to the semi-reboot remains a “rumor,” but while speaking with him this morning in support of his feature debut, he stated that in such a way that makes it seem far more than just another meritless rumor. When asked if Terminator 5 would keep more in touch with James Cameron’s films than the series overhaul we see in Thor: The Dark World, Taylor described his take on this “rumor”:

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news terminator thumbs up

The Terminator franchise is about as indestructible as an Austrian bodybuilder with a cyborg endoskeleton. No matter how many times you shoot it, run it over, blow it up or put McG in the director’s chair), it’ll pick itself up and continue marching ominously in your direction. At least the new Terminator reboot will likely have an authentic Arnold Schwarzenegger and an authentically non-McG director in Alan Taylor. Taylor, who Variety reports to be in talks for the project, has directed episodes of nearly every great TV series in the last 20 years. Oz, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The West Wing, Deadwood, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones- all have, at some point in their lifespans, courted Taylor to do an episode or two. Now he’s got Thor: The Dark World coming out this fall, and it seems those in charge of the Terminator franchise feel Taylor could do for time-traveling cyborgs what he’s about to do for Norse gods and dark elves.

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Megan Ellison

If you salivated over adult dramas and auteur filmmaking in 2012, you have a Hindu Goddess and a 26-year-old film school dropout to thank. The Hindu Goddess is Annapurna, the “mother who feeds” and the namesake for the film school dropout’s production company, and our filmmaker of the year is Megan Ellison, the Goddess of Nourishment for World Class Directors. Over the past decade, the big six studios all but gave up on adult dramas, period pieces without capes and anything that cost more than ten but less than one-hundred million dollars. Movie writers love to pontificate on whether something controversial like Rosemary’s Baby could get made today (Friday nights at the bar get heated), but there’s an even shorter conversation about something like Regarding Henry or Witness – mature stories that have no real chance at the studio system of 2012. Fortunately, that need is being filled in part by Ellison and her massive personal fortune. Which is probably why, when I asked editors for three major film websites to weigh in on what would never be the same after 2012, all of them wanted to talk about Ellison. Sure, the digital takeover was big; crowdsourcing was a game-changer; but it was Ellison’s name on everyone’s lips. So what exactly do we have to thank her for?

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Transformative technology. Fips. The Marvel Model disrupting superhero movies (and how it can survive alongside perpetual reboots). The literal death of film. Megan Ellison saving movies. The sleeper hits of 2012 and a great movie year for every kind of fan. Emerging independent funding. Fans saving shows with their own money. The digital horizon. Here at the end of the year (and the end of this podcast) I’ve asked FSR associate editor Rob Hunter, Cinema Blend editor-in-chief Katey Rich, Movies.com managing editor Erik Davis and screenwriter Geoff Latulippe (Going the Distance) to talk about the things that will never be the same again in the movie world after 2012. They’ve come through with some incredibly interesting answers. Plus, your view on what’s changing and a look ahead to the future. Download Episode #156

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Terminator 3 Coffin

It’s been a long time since we’ve heard about any forward momentum for the Terminator franchise, and maybe that’s for the best. A healthy distance from Terminator: Salvation can be a good thing. Now, Deadline Hollywood is reporting that movement has started again as producer Megan Ellison has tapped her brother David Ellison to work on the next installment in the franchise. Her Annapurna Pictures was always an odd halfway home for the property, although she’s earned a lot of goodwill as the backer of art house flicks aplenty. His Skydance Pictures getting involved is a shrewd move because it has a lot of experience in big budget, blockbuster filmmaking, and it has a production deal with Paramount. That major studio could become a great ally in this process; even though there’s no deal involving it yet, both Ellisons would be wise to go to Paramount for distribution at the very least. So, let’s consider this “earned nepotism.” It isn’t like Megan is hiring a plumber cousin to produce one of the most beloved franchises of the past half-century; she’s partnering with a seasoned producer that could certainly push something through. Let’s just hope he doesn’t look to his connection with Tom Cruise to do so. Unless he can prove that he can lift a coffin. Then it might work. The bottom line? There’s a good chance we could see a new Terminator movie in or by 2015. dlvr.it/2ZfQQr

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Terminator

Normally I’m not a very big fan of the way rich people spend their money, but Megan Ellison got in my good graces the minute I heard about her existing by starting up Annapurna Pictures and lending funding to interesting sounding projects like John Hillcoat’s Wettest County and Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming Scientology movie. Her star dimmed a bit in my eyes, however, when she picked up the rights to the Terminator franchise with the intentions of making another Terminator feature. Why did this new angel in my life who appeared out of nowhere and started funding artsy films just stab me in the back by continuing a once-beloved franchise that has already been run into the ground? I thought for sure our love affair was over.

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Following Steven Soderbergh’s career has been a winding road full of ups and downs as of late. First he was going to make The Man From U.N.C.L.E., then there was a long period of juggling actors on that film as he tried to nail down a cast, then that movie got cancelled completely. There has been talk of retirement, talk of pushing off retirement to do more things, and generally just a lot of confusion. Things seemed to have reached a moment of stability a week ago, though, when it was announced that he was going forward with his next film, a thriller called Side Effects, and that it had funding stemming from a partnership between Annapurna Pictures and Open Road Films. That’s all up in the air now though, and apparently it comes down to the all too familiar casting woes. Variety is now reporting that Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures has pulled out of the deal, leaving Soderbergh and Open Road to find additional funding on their own. Variety gave no reason as to why the deal fell through, but The Playlist is claiming to have sources close to the situation that say Ellison and her people don’t like the casting of Blake Lively in the lead role. She apparently is set to play a drug addict in the middle of a love triangle between her husband (Channing Tatum) and her doctor (Jude Law).

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Back in November, we reported that newly un-retired director Steven Soderbergh’s next film would be a thriller about the world of psychopharmacology called Bitter Pill. Following Soderbergh’s projects has been kind of a roller coaster ride lately though, so having faith that Bitter Pill was actually going to get made was kind of a…ahem, tough pill to swallow. But things are now looking a lot better on that front. While this is still the Scott Z. Burns script that Soderbergh intends to work on, the film has now been retitled Side Effects, a seemingly arbitrary change that at least points to the fact that active work is being done on development. And that’s not even the big news. The big news is that heiress Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is stepping up to fund the film, alongside Open Road Films, who will be handling the domestic distribution. That kind of makes this one a lot more official, and seeing as Open Road is hoping for a release in the first half of 2013, shooting is scheduled to start in April and the casting process should begin ASAP. I would imagine that Soderbergh is calling up Matt Damon and George Clooney as we speak. [THR]

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Likes Miles Bennett Dyson before her, Megan Ellison is single mindedly marching forward with plans that will lead to the creation of Terminators. There have been rumors going around that a new Terminator movie is in the works with Justin Lin directing and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to do at least something in the acting department. Well turns out that those rumors are very much true, as the rights to the film have been auctioned off and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Films has come up the winner. Up until zero hour it was reportedly looking very much like Lionsgate would come out on top of the bidding war, but the fact that Ellison has a bunch of money seems to have been the difference maker. This grab at a big budget franchise marks a bit of a turn in the strategy Ellison has employed so far in her budding film producing career. Up to this point she had seemed to be sticking to funding beleaguered projects that respected but financially underappreciated directors had in the works. She is involved in Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming Bin Laden film, John Hillcoat’s bootlegging adventure The Wettest County in the World, and even several projects that Paul Thomas Anderson has on the table, including a religious drama starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Now she’s very pointedly going after an established franchise with one of the biggest names in the world attached.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly round-up of all things interesting and wonderful happening in the world of movies. At least, that’s what it was born as. Lately it’s been feeling as if it might be more of a Rachel Weisz News After Dark kind of column. A Rachel Weiszsexual, if you will. And yes, that’s the technical term. It’s a tough affliction to live with. Because their just isn’t enough Rachel Weisz in the world. Luckily Hollywood is hell-bent on changing that… Guess what this week is… Rachel Weisz week. Based on a survey of our male 18-35 demographic, which represents a solid percentage of our readership, this is somehow preferable to all of my updates about Doctor Who. I don’t see why, as Doctor Who is excellent. But I can understand your affinity for Rachel Weisz news. Anyway, she’s not only in line to take a high profile role in Oz the Great and Powerful and The Bourne Legacy. According to a report from Cinema Blend, Weisz is high on the list to star opposite Johnny Depp in Rob Marshall’s remake of The Thin Man. Even though that film sound unnecessary, we just can’t say no to more Rachel Weisz… can we?

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The last time I heard some news about Paul Thomas Anderson, he had two possible projects that he was working on, and heiress Megan Ellison was going to help him finance them. There’s big news on that front as The Weinstein Company has won the rights to distribute the religious drama Anderson has written that was once titled The Master. Whether or not that will remain the film’s title is unknown, as it has reportedly undergone some serious rewrites, but it is now confirmed as Anderson’s next film. The project already has Philip Seymour Hoffman set to star as the creator of a new religion in post WWII America. The movie seems to explore the beginnings of a cult movement, and is said to have a parallel or two to the life of L. Ron Hubbard and his founding of Scientology. Perhaps further exploring the theme of lost souls, Anderson has also cast Joaquin Phoenix, who has recently returned to acting after a very public and very fake meltdown. Other than that, not too many details are known, but what else do we need? All you have to tell me is that PT Anderson is making another movie and I’m on board. Get Hoffman in a starring role and I’m positively salivating. A release date for this one can’t come soon enough, no matter what it ends up being called. [Deadline Tilden]

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We’ve reported before about billionaire heiress Megan Ellison, who has used her fortune to start Annapurna Pictures, a company whose sole purpose seems to be giving awesome filmmakers money so that they can make awesome movies. Well, it looks like she’s at it again. Deadline Sandy Fork reports that she is negotiating to take on an as-of-yet untitled film that will reunite the writing/directing team of Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze. When those two men teamed before we ended up getting Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. I don’t know about you, but I thought both of those movies were just the bee’s knees. The film they are set to make is said to be a parody-heavy take on things that Alex Jones has been trying to convince us are really happening with his conspiracy theory documentaries. It will be a dramatization of the world’s most powerful leaders meeting in a secret room to plan out all of the upcoming happenings that will steer the course of human history. Marry that with Jonze’s innovative visual style and Kaufman’s mind-bending writing style and it looks like something special is in the works. We’ve seen the duo do darkly funny and strangely interesting before, but we’ve never seen them try to tackle something that looks this political. I was entranced enough watching them tell a story about orchids, but when they take on issues like impending wars and global oil trading prices we might get an enduring classic the likes of Dr. Strangelove […]

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Megan Ellison is the 25-year-old daughter of Oracle boss Larry Ellison. It wasn’t too long ago that she was gaining attention all around the Internet for being a rich girl out of control. Reports of her bisexuality and hard partying ways were pouring in from all sorts of highly reputable news sources conducting investigative reports into her MySpace profile. It was very clear from just a brief glance at these pieces that we were about to have another Paris Hilton on her hands, another Lindsay Lohan. Not content to just release a line of handbags and designer perfume like all of the other billionaire heiresses, Ellison has recently taken up the hobby of film producing. Oh great, that’s all we need, some dim bulb in her twenties throwing around money and influencing what gets made in Hollywood. What has she done so far? Well, she co-financed the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit, which has gone on to make over 150 million dollars to date. And her next move was to invest in Jonathan Hillcoat’s awesomely cast Wettest County in the World. Wait… who is this girl?

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