Archive for February, 2010

Star Trek actor’s son found dead

Friday, February 26th, 2010

The actor son of Star Trek veteran Walter Koenig has been found dead in a wood in Vancouver, police have said.

Andrew is the son of Walter Koenig - better known as Star Treks Chekov

Andrew is the son of Walter Koenig - better known as Star Trek's Chekov

Koenig said his 41-year-old son Andrew, who suffered from depression, “took his own life”.

Police spokeswoman Jana McGuinness said she did not believe anyone else had been involved, adding that a coroner had now taken over the investigation.

Andrew was best known for his recurring role as ‘Boner’ on US sitcom Growing Pains, between 1985-1989.

His parents reported him missing when he failed to return home to Los Angeles after visiting friends in Vancouver earlier this month.

‘Talk to somebody’

On Thursday, his body was discovered in Vancouver’s 1,000-acre Stanley Park, where Koenig liked to walk and was last seen.

Walter, who played Lieutenant Pavel Chekov in the original Star Trek series, said his son was “obviously in a lot of pain” to have taken his own life.

In a statement he said that Andrew had given away his belongings and had not been taking his medication. He urged others suffering from depression to seek help.

“If you are one of those people who can’t handle it any more, know people are out there who really care before you make that final decision,” Koenig, 71, said. “Talk to somebody.”

Interview with Brad Wright of Stargate Universe…

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Odeon reverses Alice in Wonderland boycott

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Odeon has reversed its decision to boycott Tim Burton’s new 3D film version of Alice in Wonderland following talks with Disney.

The cinema chain had vowed not to show the film in the UK, Irish Republic and Italy over Disney’s plans to release the film on DVD at the end of May.

Actor Michael Sheen, who plays the White Rabbit, said the row had been “a storm in a mad hatter’s tea cup”.

“I’m glad they’ve resolved it,” he told the BBC.

Earlier, Burton had called Odeon’s decision not to screen the film as “upsetting”.

“I feel terrible about it,” the director told the BBC’s Breakfast programme. “To me it doesn’t make anybody look good.”

Burton added that he hoped “something is going to be worked out”, but had not been involved in talks, which are understood to have lasted late into Wednesday night.

His partner, Helena Bonham Carter, who stars as the Red Queen in the film, was more forthright.

“It was embarrassing and awful,” she said, adding that her children had been without their father “for the last nine months” because of the demands of making a 3D film.

“Then just to be told, ‘we’re not going to show it in 3D’, it felt like being in Wonderland. It was nonsense. It didn’t make any sense.”

“It was not a happy household for the last few weeks, I can tell you that.”

‘New benchmark’

Odeon made its original decision in response to Disney’s plan to reduce the period between a film’s debut and its DVD release from the standard 17 weeks.

The cinema chain said the plan would “set a new benchmark, leading to a 12-week window becoming rapidly standard”.

In a statement following talks with Disney, Odeon said: “The Odeon and UCI Cinema Group is pleased to announce that, following detailed negotiations with the Walt Disney Company Ltd, an enduring agreement has been reached encompassing all the different aspects of both companies’ commercial relationship.

Burton tells BBC Breakfast he is unhappy about Odeon and Disney’s wrangle

“As a result of this agreement, Odeon is pleased to confirm that it will be able to continue with its plans for significant investment in new cinemas, in digital technology, in 3D capability and the other exciting developments designed for the increased enjoyment of all its customers.”

Neither side would disclose terms of the agreement, but the Cineworld and Vue cinema chains, which will also be screening the film, had previously agreed to a 13-week gap between opening night and the DVD release.

Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice in the film, said the cast had been “aware” of the dispute, but “let the studio handle it”.

“I’m glad that it’s over,” she added.

Burton, Bonham Carter, and Johnny Depp, who stars as the Mad Hatter, will be at the Royal premiere on Thursday evening.

The gala screening is due to take place at the Odeon Leicester Square in London.

Alice in Wonderland will not be shown in Odeon cinemas

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Tim Burton’s new film version of Alice in Wonderland will not be screened at Odeon cinemas in the UK, Irish Republic and Italy, the cinema chain says.

Mia Wasikowska in Alice in Wonderland

Mia Wasikowska plays a teenage Alice in Tim Burton’s 3D film

The move is in response to the Disney studio’s plan to reduce the period in which it can be shown only in cinemas from the standard 17 weeks.

The plan would allow Disney to release the film on DVD at the end of May.

Odeon said it would “set a new benchmark, leading to a 12-week window becoming rapidly standard”.

Cineworld cinemas will show the movie, however, after reaching an independent agreement with the Disney studio.

The Vue chain is also understood to have reached an agreement with Disney, details of which are due to be announced shortly.

Odeon’s decision will not affect the film’s Royal premiere on Thursday, which is coincidentally set to take place at the Odeon Leicester Square in central London.

Tim Burton talks about his experimentation with his latest film, Alice in Wonderland

Nor will it affect its plans to show the film in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria – territories where Disney intends to observe the normal DVD release window.

Starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland sees the novel’s heroine return as a teenager to the magical kingdom for more surreal adventures.

Inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, the film also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway and Britain’s Matt Lucas.

The Odeon & UCI Cinema Group is Britain’s largest cinema chain with more than 100 sites nationwide. Cineworld and Vue are the second and third biggest.

Together they represent just under two-thirds of all cinema screens in the UK.

‘Need for exceptions’

It is the amount of time that separates a film coming out in cinemas and its release on DVD that is at the centre in this dispute.

In the UK, the window for theatrical release is 17 weeks. In the case of Alice in Wonderland, Disney wants to reduce that to 12.

Disney told the BBC that one of the main reasons for the decision was to bring the film to customers more quickly, thereby helping to beat piracy.

It said if a cinema stopped showing a film before the 17-week exclusivity period, the audience did not have a legitimate way to see the movie – potentially leading to piracy.

It said it had agreed to take this approach with a limited number of movies every year in certain countries.

Bob Chapek, Disney’s president of distribution, has said the company remains “committed” to theatrical windows.

However, he believes there is a “need for exceptions to accommodate a shortened time-frame on a case-by-case basis”.

Odeon, though, believes such a move will damage not just its business but that of all cinemas in the UK.

“The negative impact on cinema attendance that such a reduction in the window will have will threaten the continued existence of many cinemas, especially the smaller and medium-sized cinemas.”

Odeon also highlights the additional costs the chain has incurred making its screens suitable for 3D movies.

“Odeon/UCI has invested considerable sums of money, especially in the UK, over the past 12 months to install digital projection systems in its cinemas,” it said.


“The proposed reduction in the window on a high-profile 3D title like Alice in Wonderland undermines the investment made.”

Disney also faces opposition in Belgium, the Netherlands and the US over its plans for this title.

Anne Hathaway in Alice in Wonderland

Anne Hathaway co-stars in the film alongside Johnny Depp

It is not the first time, however, it has attempted to make overtures in this area.

Last year, the company attempted to reduce the theatrical window of Up, the hit Pixar movie named best animated feature at the Baftas on Sunday.

In that instance it dropped its plans after UK exhibitors threatened not to screen another of its titles, A Christmas Carol, later in the year.

Neither is Disney the only studio to have faced opposition over theatrical exclusivity from UK cinema chains.

In 2007, Odeon and Vue removed Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum from their cinemas after 20th Century Fox shortened its theatrical window to 13 weeks.

The Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, the body representing the interests of around 90% of UK cinema operators, has not commented on this latest case.

Speaking “in general terms”, though, it said it “strongly” supported the maintenance of “a clear and exclusive window between a film’s theatrical release and its release on other platforms”.

“The CEA believes maintenance of the window will ensure that audiences continue to enjoy the widest possible range of films in their intended environment, the cinema theatre.”

Syfy bags US cable rights to ‘Merlin’

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Syfy has acquired the basic cable rights to Merlin.

The first series of the UK fantasy series, which stars Colin Morgan as a young mythical wizard, previously aired on NBC during primetime.

Merlin will now join Syfy’s lineup from April, with all 26 episodes from the first two series slated to air.

“A viewer favourite after only one season, Merlin will be a strong addition to our schedule this spring,” said president of programming Thomas Vitale.

“We expect its enthralling imaginative vision, engaging young talent, and rich production values to resonate with our audience.”

Last year, the BBC confirmed that it had ordered a third series of the Saturday night drama.

First Smith ‘Doctor Who’ titles confirmed

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The titles and writers of the first three episodes of this year’s Doctor Who series have been officially confirmed.

Doctor Who Magazine revealed that the first episode of the Matt Smith era is called ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and will be penned by new showrunner Steven Moffat.

It will be followed by another Moffat-written script titled ‘The Beast Below’.

Mark Gatiss, who appeared as Professor Lazarus in series three episode ‘The Lazarus Experiment’, has written episode three, ‘Victory Of The Daleks’.

Other writers confirmed for Eleventh Doctor’s first series include Simon Nye, Chris Chibnall, Gareth Roberts, Toby Whithouse and Richard Curtis

Sony Pictures to Lay off 450 as DVD Sales Fall

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., the studio behind the “Spider-Man” movie franchise, is laying off about 450 people and eliminating 100 open positions to cope with declining DVD sales.

The layoffs represent about a 6.5 percent reduction in the 6,800-strong work force at Sony Pictures, which released the Michael Jackson documentary “This Is It” and cataclysmic “2012” late last year. The studio also recently pushed back the release of “Spider-Man 4″ by a year until 2012.

Most of the cuts at the studio, which is based in Culver City, will occur by the first week of March and will be in the home entertainment and information-technology units in the United States.

It’s the second time in a year for the subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corp. to cut back.

Last March, it laid off nearly 250 people and eliminated nearly 100 open positions. That followed a move in October 2008 to reduce overtime, travel and executive benefits.

Staff were told of the latest cuts in a memo Monday and through videos by the studio co-chairs on an employee Web site.

[quote]”Our industry is affected by two things: It’s affected by the economy, of course, and it’s affected by technology,” co-chair Amy Pascal says in the video. “Over the last two years, it’s changed people’s DVD buying habits, which has had a huge effect on our company and the industry at large.”[/quote]

The home video market is crucial for studios because that is where they recoup much of the cost of producing movies. Yet the market has been sagging as people refrain from adding to their already well-stocked home collections and turn to rentals, which are far less profitable for Hollywood.

U.S. home video revenue fell 5 percent in 2009 to $20 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group, an industry association of studios and electronics firms.

DVD rental and purchase revenues dropped 11 percent to $16.4 billion, the group said. That overwhelmed a 67 percent gain in Blu-ray disc spending to $1.5 billion and a 31 percent gain in online and video-on-demand revenues to $2.1 billion.

Sony Pictures posted a quarterly operating loss of 6.4 billion yen ($71 million) in the three months to Sept. 30, while Sony Corp. as a whole is forecasting a 95 billion yen ($1 billion) loss in the year to March.

Miramax to close doors after 31 years

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

27th January 2010

Miramax will close its doors in New York and Los Angeles today after 31 years of producing and distributing movie

The studio, which was founded in 1979 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, was behind Oscar winners such as Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare In Love. The firm was sold to Disney in 1993 and the Weinsteins later left to form The Weinstein Company in 2005.

The Miramax name was taken from the forenames of the Weinsteins’ parents, Max and Miriam.

“I’m feeling very nostalgic right now,” Harvey Weinstein told The Wrap. “I know the movies made on my and my brother Bob’s watch will live on as well as the fantastic films made under the direction of Daniel Battsek. Miramax has some brilliant people working within the organisation and I know they will go on to do great things in the industry.”

80 people are expected to lose their jobs when Miramax closes, while the six movies the company has awaiting distribution – including Keira Knightley’s Last Night, and Helen Mirren’s The Debt – will be shelved or put out on a limited release.

Disney to sell Miramax remainder?

Disney has revealed that the company is hoping to divest itself entirely from its Miramax film unit.

According to Reuters, selling off the remainder of Miramax could bring in $700m (£438m) for the corporation. Possible buyers include Twilight’s studio Summit Entertainment, private equity groups and at least one other independent studio.

Included in the sale would be the Miramax name and its 700-film library, which contains such titles as Clerks, Shakespeare in Love and Good Will Hunting.

Analysts estimate that the Miramax library brings in more than $300m (£188m) in DVD and television revenue annually, but Disney has never disclosed that figure.