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Tag: Steven Spielberg (1-10 of 50)

'West Side Story': Why a Steven Spielberg remake could work

Naya Rivera, get your agent on the phone.

Yesterday, we learned that Fox has unlocked West Side Story for a possible remake — because Steven Spielberg, of all people, has expressed interest in directing a new version.

Since making movies based on beloved stage shows like Les Misérables and Into The Woods is “in” again — something I wholeheartedly encourage — it makes sense tha Spielberg might want to try his hand at directing a musical. But it’s surprising to hear that he’s interested in something that already has such a prestigious history: The original West Side Story film is as close to a sacred cow as movie musicals get. The stage show debuted on Broadway in 1957; the legendary film, starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, premiered in 1961. It went on to win 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. So, yeah, those are some big character shoes to fill. READ FULL STORY

The violence of '12 Years a Slave': Why 'Schindler's List' got a pass

Moments after 12 Years a Slave was prematurely anointed as a lock for Best Picture in September, whispers began that Steve McQueen’s harrowing true tale of a free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) trafficked into pre-Civil War Southern slavery was too raw, too unflinching, and too grisly to go the distance. Some Academy voters confided that the early reviews — which highlighted the film’s searing violence and haunting imagery — had scared them off, and even though they recognized that 12 Years was an important film about an important and long-neglected subject, actually watching it wasn’t their idea of a good time for a Friday night. Since opening in October, 12 Years has grossed $49 million and heads into Oscar weekend a co-favorite, along with Gravity, to win Best Picture, but doubts remain whether enough voters actually saw it — and appreciated it — to push it over the top.

Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was greeted similarly by the critics upon its release in 1993. That World War II epic about the Nazi profiteer Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who saved hundreds of Polish Jews from the gas chambers by putting them on his factory payroll, was praised to the heavens for bringing audiences face to face with the evils of the Holocaust. EW critic Owen Gleiberman’s review of that film begins by noting its “visions of profound shock and terror … the recurring image of people getting shot in the head,” and closes with “Spielberg has done something that can’t quite be said of any other film about the Holocaust. He has allowed us — for the first time — to see it.”

But rather than repel or alienate viewers, the naked brutality of the Holocaust in Spielberg’s film compelled people to see it in theaters. For some, it became almost a moral obligation to witness Schindler’s List, to confront pure evil — Ralph Fiennes’ sadistic Nazi, Amon Goeth — and share in a worldwide cathartic chorus of “Never again!” That required-viewing duty even became a joke on Seinfeld. Schindler’s List went on to gross $96.1 million ($186.9 million in 2013 dollars) and breezed to seven Oscars, including Best Picture.

12 Years a Slave and Schindler’s List are, of course, different films, and Spielberg and McQueen are different filmmakers, but the audiences’ conflicting reactions to the movies’ dedication to authenticity — no matter how ugly — raises interesting questions. READ FULL STORY

'Forbes' names Madonna the highest paid celebrity of 2013

The Material Girl isn’t going to be short on materials anytime soon.

Madonna has been named the highest paid celebrity of 2013 by Forbes, which reports that the pop star brought in $125 million between June 2012 and June 2013. Not even an album flop can keep this woman down.

Behind Madonna is the king of movies, Steven Spielberg, with $100 million, the king of reality singing competitions, Simon Cowell, with $95 million, and the queen who gave us the red room of pain, E.L. James, also with $95 million. Rounding out the top five is Howard Stern — the king of awkwardness? — with the ever-popular intake of $95 million.

The first athlete joins the list at number 12, with Tiger Woods bringing in $78 million. And believe it or not, Oprah Winfrey sits at number 13 with $77 million. Luckily, that’s still enough money to give away a handful of cars if she feels the need.

Director Len Wiseman exits 'Mummy' reboot: Who should step in?

Looks like The Mummy reboot isn’t going to be in theaters for awhile.

Len Wiseman, director of the seemingly endless onslaught of Underworld films and high-action hot messes like Total Recall, recently left the Universal project, according to Variety. Universal had no comment, but this obviously means that a spot is open for one of Hollywood’s greatest directorial talents to step in and make a quality reboot, one good enough that it’ll make it seem like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor never happened.

You, the ever intelligent pop culture fanatic at home, might ask: Why the reboot? Well, first of all, that’s what we were all saying about The Amazing Spider-Man, and that turned out just fine. And what about Batman Begins, Evil Dead, and Star Trek? (Just don’t mention The Lone Ranger – it ruins the theory). The Mummy, though close to perfect in my eyes, could use a little revamping. First of all, it was one of those underrated gems, it didn’t necessarily receive the best reviews and it wasn’t necessarily on Avatar‘s box office level — though grossing over $400 million is impressive — but it did have heart. It also had Brendan Fraser, the “next big thing” of the ’90s/early naughts and a pre-Oscar Rachel Weisz. It was fun, it was ridiculous (mummies rising from the dead!), it was scary (mummies rising from the dead!). Plus, instead of sucking, the sequel, The Mummy Returns, was actually good. And in my mind, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor does not exist.
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Oprah snags top spot on Forbes Celebrity 100

After losing out on the No. 1 spot in 2012, Oprah is once again sitting on top of the Celebrity 100 throne. In my dreams, Oprah is currently lip-synching and dancing along to Yeezy’s “I Am a God” in one of her massive mansions.

In the annual Forbes ranking, pop sensation Lady Gaga came in at No. 2 while direcor Steven Spielberg and singers Beyonce Knowles and Madonna finished in the top five. READ FULL STORY

'Jurassic Park': A drinking game 65 million beers in the making

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There was a period of my life when I was watching Jurassic Park on practically a weekly basis. It was the year after graduating from college, and my friends and I had a tradition of popping in the DVD whenever we couldn’t think of anything else to do — which was admittedly often. At one point, we managed to watch the movie more than a dozen times in the course of a single month and it got to the level that we were quoting the entire movie along with it like some crazed cult. Naturally, we also developed a drinking game to go with the film, because what goes better together than dinosaurs and alcohol? (Had the park actually made it to opening day, I’m sure they would have sold $15 beers in giant souvenir tricera-cups.)

With Jurassic Park’s 3-D re-release now in theaters, I thought I’d share the rules. So hold onto your Buds… (Unless you’re under 21, of course. Remember to drink responsibly, and stay away from the velociraptor paddock.)
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Oprah ranked most influential celebrity on 'Forbes' list

Oprah took the number one spot on Forbes Magazine’s annual most influential celebrities list. And nearly two years after she ended her talk show, it still seems right — but not just because of the Lance Armstrong effect.

The television mogul narrowly topped the list with a cryptic “48%” influential ranking, with her notable attribute being “compassion.” Spielberg barely missed the mark at 47%. He’s “interesting.” In third place, Martin Scorsese is “dynamic,” and in fourth place, Ron Howard is “down to earth.” Poor George Lucas actually tied with Howard, but was given a 5th place ranking. According to Forbes: “To break ties, we also factored in the likability and awareness metrics.” Sorry, George. Ron Howard does seem like a really nice guy.

Click past the jump for the full top 10.

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Inside the Best Picture nominees: A deep dive into 'Lincoln'

Name: Lincoln

Release date: Nov. 16, 2012

DVD release date: March 2013

Run time: 2 hour, 30 mins.

Box office: Opening wide weekend: $21.0 million; Total domestic box office: $173.6 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90 percent

Lincoln movie math: Amistad  + Mr. Smith Goes to Washington + The West Wing + (Downfall – Hitler)

Tweetable description: In the final days of the Civil War, Abe Lincoln marshals all his political skills to pass the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery forever. READ FULL STORY

'Django Unchained' isn't the only film about American slavery, but it's close

Slavery remains American’s original sin, written into the original U.S. Constitution and responsible for the country’s ever-evolving, ever-complicated attitudes about race. So when a director like Quentin Tarantino decides to use slavery as the backdrop for his spaghetti Western revenge fantasia Django Unchained, it should not be exactly surprising that the film has come under a great deal of scrutiny.

What should be surprising — what should be at the center of any conversation about slavery and the movies — is how infrequently the words “slavery and the movies” are spoken in the same sentence.

Last month, Spike Lee declared he would not see Django Unchained, tweeting “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust” — a not so subtle implication that American slavery is too fraught to serve as a venue for Tarantino’s unique blend of genre-smashing, blood-splattering filmmaking. Training Day director Antoine Fuqua later admonished Lee for not airing his beef with Tarantino in private, declaring “I don’t think Quentin Tarantino has a racist bone in his body.” (When reached by EW, a rep for The Weinstein Company and Tarantino had no comment regarding either statement.) But Spike Lee is far from alone in expressing concerns about Tarantino’s tale of the titular freed slave (Jamie Foxx) who teams up with a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a nefarious slaveholder (Leonardo DiCaprio). The public handwringing over the film has included its profligate use of the N-word (sparking a most fascinating exchange between Samuel L. Jackson and a white journalist over speaking the word aloud); its impact among African-American cultural tastemakers and audiences; and its appropriateness for teenage audiences (as penned by EW’s Abby West).

None of the controversies have exactly harmed the film’s box office; quite the opposite, it just zoomed past $100 million this weekend, en route to becoming Tarantino’s biggest hit to date. READ FULL STORY

Lincoln's politics: Who would it have hurt had it opened before the election?

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From the beginning, Steven Spielberg was determined to steer his Abraham Lincoln movie clear of contemporary politics. He specifically requested a post Election Day release date so as not to be engulfed in the push and pull of the heated presidential race. “Lincoln today is beyond partisan politics,” Spielberg said recently. Indeed, the 16th president was the first Republican president, yet he’s frequently claimed by modern Democrats, as well, who view Lincoln’s freeing the slaves and the passing of the 13th Amendment as an essential part of the ongoing struggle for human rights and an essential milestone in a march that can be traced through women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and today’s debate over gay rights.

When Lincoln opens in select theaters on Friday (it opens nationally the following weekend), three days after American selects its next president, Spielberg hopes that it might contribute “some kind of soothing or even healing effect.” (“With malice towards none…” Lincoln famously said during his conciliatory second inaugural speech.) But Spielberg was wise to demand a post-election release, because the film will be inevitably interpreted through our modern political lens. READ FULL STORY

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