Briefly: As McG’s This Means War quietly slinks back from its Valentine’s Day debut to its original Friday opening, another, far more acclaimed romance is boldly shifting up a few days to a midweek opening. Paramount has moved the 3D release of James Cameron‘s Titanic up from Friday, April 6 to Wednesday, April 4, giving it a headstart on the Easter weekend box office.

Also opening that week are American Reunion and The Cold Light of Day, both slated for Friday. The Titanic re-release comes just over a week before the 100th anniversary of the actual sinking of the RMS Titanic, which occurred on the night of April 14-15, 1912. Titanic sees Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio playing… oh, you know the rest.

The historical drama isn’t the only picture Paramount has moved around lately. Back in 2008, Eddie Murphy reunited with his Norbit and Meet Dave director Brian Robbins for A Thousand Words, a comedy about a man who falls under a curse that allows him just one thousand words to speak before he dies. The film was savaged in test screenings (shocking) and sat on the shelf for years before finally getting a release date of January 2012, and then March 23, and then April 20. So what’s one more change? A Thousand Words is now set for March 9, where it will face off against Andrew Stanton’s John Carter and the Elizabeth Olsen-starring horror Silent House.

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Before the whole Eddie Murphy/Brett Ratner/Oscars thing started, we told you that the movie A Thousand Words, which shot with Murphy starring in 2008, was finally going to be released. Shelved for years and destroyed in test screening reviews, the movie was set for a January 2012 date, and then moved to March 23 2012, likely to capitalize on the public interest bump Paramount assumed Murphy would get from hosting the Oscars.

But the real mistake may not have been assuming the Oscar deal was going to work out, but rather making this movie in the first place.

Directed by Norbit and Meet Dave helmer Brian Robbins, A Thousand Words sees Eddie Murphy playing a lying jerk who is cursed and finds he has only a thousand words left to speak, after which he will die. What follows doesn’t look so much like a character-building re-evaluation of his life, but a lot of silly pantomiming and jokes that sullenly refuse to work. Check out a trailer below, if you think you’re strong enough. Read More »

Brian Grazer Replaces Brett Ratner as Oscars Producer

Earlier today, Eddie Murphy dropped out of his Oscar-hosting job after his Tower Heist director Brett Ratner resigned from his Oscar-producing gig. But if the Academy has things their way, Murphy may return yet. Producer Brian Grazer has been tapped to replace Ratner as the new Oscar producer, and apparently his first job will be to get Murphy back. More after the jump.

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Eddie Murphy Quits as Oscar Host

Here’s what will hopefully be the last strain of the Oscar fallout from Brett Ratner‘s comments over the past week: Eddie Murphy has quit as host of the 84th Academy Awards. Brett Ratner called Murphy his first and only choice to host, and there was something appealing about the idea of blatant showman Ratner working with Murphy for the Oscars. I think some of us had images of Murphy emerging from a comedy cocoon that enshrouded him around the time of Beverly Hills Cop II. When Ratner quit as Oscar producer yesterday evening, we didn’t know if Murphy would go with him.

Evidently Murphy didn’t want to do the show without Ratner, so he’s out. A statement from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak is below. Read More »

When we ran a review of Brett Ratner‘s Tower Heist at the end of last week, a section of the comments that followed were dominated by discussion of Ratner’s perceived character, and the fact that many /Film staffers aren’t exactly fond of the guy. Some readers even expressed sympathy for the fact that Ratner gets so little love. This sort of conversation seems to crop up every time Ratner is in the news, whether he is making headlines for a film project, or for something more personal.

Lately the headlines have been very personal, and they point to stories that illustrate with pristine clarity why Ratner gets little love. Over the past week Ratner’s public comments have included some pathetic douchebag bravado — which Ratner later recanted and even admitted was false — as well as a statement that could be his epitaph: “rehearsing is for fags.”

That statement called into question Ratner’s suitability as producer of the Oscars, as that job makes him a de facto ambassador from Hollywood to the rest of the world. Some called for Ratner to be replaced as Oscar telecast producer, despite his apology for the rehearsal comment.. (Andrew O’Heir published an impassioned piece at Salon just hours ago calling for Ratner’s dismissal.)

Now Ratner is stepping down as Oscar producer — or being allowed to say that he is stepping down. Whether Eddie Murphy, his high profile choice to host, will remain on board, is not yet clear. Read More »

With very few exceptions (like Dreamgirls), the career of Eddie Murphy has been dominated in the last fifteen years by broad family comedies and sequels to same. Murphy is still making broad comedies, such as Tower Heist, but one thing he evidently won’t be doing is a fourth Beverly Hills Cop film. Instead, he wants to make a Beverly Hills Cop spin-off TV show. Read More »

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The first trailer released for Brett Ratner‘s new film Tower Heist was very obviously a trailer for a Ratner film, complete with pumping music, flying shots of the tower in which the action takes place, and a jokey introduction to the story and cast. (Which features Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, Casey Affleck, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch, Michael Peña, and Alan Alda.)

This second trailer is much more focused on the crazy stuff the cast gets up to as they try to rob a Wall St. power broker who has defrauded the staff of his high-rise building. Check out the wacky action — which is also very recognizably Ratner — after the break. Read More »

This spring we heard that the long-shelved Eddie Murphy dramedy A Thousand Words would finally see release in January 2012. Shot in 2008 under the direction of Brian Robbins (Norbit, Meet Dave), the film has Eddie Murphy playing a guy with only 1000 words left to speak before he dies.

When the release window was announced in April I asked, “will that stick?” Turns out it won’t, but there’s a pretty good reason. Eddie Murphy will now host the Oscars in February, and Paramount has realized that could be a better free publicity bump than A Thousand Words could ever hope for. So the studio has moved the film to March 2012. Read More »

Eddie Murphy Agrees to Host 84th Academy Awards

Briefly: The big Oscar news over the weekend was that telecast producer Brett Ratner wants his Tower Heist co-star Eddie Murphy to host the 84th Academy Awards ceremony when it takes place on Sunday February 26, 2012. There may be some small deal points to work out, but this is now looking like a done deal, as Murphy has agreed to host.

It could be a good deal, at that. I’ve been hoping that the dormant Eddie Murphy of old — the funny one — might be revived. While the trailer for Tower Heist didn’t convince me that we’re in for a prime Murphy performance, that film seems like a watchable one compared to his other live-action comedies of the past decade. (That’s not saying much, I realize, when considering the watchability of Norbit or Meet Dave.) Murphy is a natural on the stage, and anything that pushes him toward his stand-up roots is a positive force as far as I’m concerned.

Deadline also says that Billy Crystal, one of the most popular hosts of past Oscar ceremonies, “will almost certainly be incorporated into the show in some marquee way.”