2011 saw one of the greatest successes of Woody Allen‘s career, as his film Midnight in Paris did great business on the US arthouse circuit and worldwide, eventually raking in nearly $150m globally. There was also that little matter of winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Now Allen returns with To Rome With Love, a vignette-based romantic comedy with most of the action falling into a very familiar Allen mode. (It’s a welcome returns, with lines like “the kid’s a communist, the father’s a mortician… does the mother run a leper colony?”)

The cast features Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni (of whom we haven’t seen much in some time), Judy Davis and Woody Allen himself, who hasn’t been in front of the camera since the 2006 release Scoop. The action places that cast in various minor romantic and comic entanglements that all look a bit fluffy, and very entertaining.

Check out the trailer below. Read More »

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Briefly: 2011 was a great year for Woody Allen. His playful, entertaining film Midnight in Paris turned into the year’s runaway arthouse hit, taking in $60m to become Allen’s greatest domestic success. Sony Classics has distributed the director’s last few films and after their stellar success with Midnight in Paris, I think it has been pretty much a foregone conclusion that his next movie, Nero Fiddled, would go out via the company as well.

Variety reports that deal has been set, with Sony Classics picking up North American and UK rights to the film, which stars Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page. As is typically the case with a new Allen film we don’t know much about the plot — all we’ve got is that the Rome-set film “consists of four separate vignettes — two with American characters, two with Italian characters — but the vignettes never intersect.”

The film will get a summer 2012 release, and is a likely bet for a Cannes debut.

Nicole Kidman‘s Blossom Films and Olympus Films have teamed up to acquire the movie rights for Kevin Wilson‘s bestselling book The Family Fang, which they plan to develop as a starring vehicle for Kidman. The two companies previously collaborated on Rabbit Hole, for which Kidman received a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Wilson’s debut novel centers around a couple of performance artists who regularly incorporate their unwilling children into their bizarre acts. Years later, misfortune prompts the now-grown son and daughter to return home, where they find their parents gearing up for one final masterpiece. [Deadline]

After the jump, New Line pulls together an intriguing shortlist for Burt Wonderstone‘s female lead, and The East‘s terrorist organization gets one more member.

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Woody Allen Renames Upcoming Film ‘Nero Fiddled’

This past summer, Woody Allen enjoyed the unexpected success of his film Midnight in Paris, which has been going strong in arthouses since May with over $100m earned worldwide. He also shot a new film in Rome, and for quite some time he was planning to call the movie Bop Decameron. There’s a lot to like about that title — it’s very Woody Allen, and even a good bit more jaunty than most of his titles. But it isn’t the sort of title that will keep a movie on screens for six months. Midnight in Paris sounds romantic and enticing. Bop Decameron sounds like… well, I imagine Woody realized a lot of people might not know what it sounds like.

So the film is now called Nero Fiddled. Not as jaunty or romantic, but at least people will know what he’s talking about. I hope. Read More »

The more people get cast in Zal Batmanglij‘s The East, the more interesting it sounds. The latest addition is the always excellent Patricia Clarkson, who’ll play the boss of co-writer and star Brit Marling.

The thriller revolves around an agent (Marling) from a private security firm who is tasked with infiltrating a terrorist group called The East. Once she’s in, however, she finds herself falling for the group’s leader, probably because he looks exactly like Alexander Skarsgard. Other recent additions to the cast have been Ellen Page as Skarsgard’s ex and another member of the organization, and Toby Kebbell as a doctor who takes a tainted drug and develops Parkinson’s-like symptoms. [The Playlist]

After the jump, Octavia Spencer goes to Vegas and Michael Angarano goes home.

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M.C. Gainey, a.k.a. Mr. Friendly on Lost, has entered negotiations to star in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained as what sounds like one of the nastiest characters in a film filled with vile characters. Gainey is up for the part of Big John Brittle, an overseer at the Carrucan Plantation who sets the plot in motion by raping Django’s wife Broomhilda and branding Django’s cheek with the letter ‘R’ (for “runaway”). Django (Jamie Foxx) goes on to team up with Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter interested in the large reward on Big John, to free his wife from the clutches of villainous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Gerald McRaney, Dennis Christopher, and Laura Cayouette are also signed on to star in the “Southern-fried spaghetti Western,” while Kurt Russell is in talks to replace Kevin Costner as Candie’s right-hand man Ace Woody. Production is expected to begin next month for a Christmas 2012 release. [Variety]

After the jump, RocknRolla star Toby Kebbell goes East, while Rose McGowan heads to Napa.

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I’m not sure exactly why this is happening, but hey, I’m not about to complain. As part of something called IMAX Big Movie Week, AMC Theatres is bringing back three past blockbusters to IMAX screens for one week starting today: Christopher Nolan‘s Inception, J.J. AbramsStar Trek, and Fast and the Furious five-quel Fast Five. And the best part is, tickets will cost just $7 each. That’s significantly cheaper than regular, non-IMAX tickets cost in many AMC theaters, so it’s a pretty sweet deal. More details after the jump.

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Ellen Page is in final negotiations to star with Brit Marling and Alexander Skarsgard in The East, Zal Batmanglij‘s thriller about a mysterious eco-terrorism organization called The East. Marling, who co-wrote the script with Batmanglij, leads as an undercover agent who infiltrates the group but then finds herself developing feelings for the group’s leader (Skarsgard). Page will play Izzy, a member of The East and Skarsgard’s ex, who becomes jealous of relationship between Marling and Skarsgard. Page replaces Felicity Jones, who had to drop out of the project due to press commitments for Like Crazy.

The addition of the Oscar-nominated Page should add even more buzz to a film that’s already been getting plenty of it. Marling and Batmanglij broke out at this year’s Sundance with Sound of my Voice, and True Blood star Skarsgard has a handful of interesting projects in the works. Page’s next big-screen appearance will be in next year’s Woody Allen-directed Bop Decameron, alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin.

The East is set to begin shooting in Nashville in October. [Variety]

After the jump, Anthony Mackie dreams up a new project for himself and Tom Everett Scott pairs up with Marisa Tomei.

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Coming off Midnight in Paris, his biggest financial success in decades, Woody Allen is ready to shoot his 2012 film. It’s called The Bop Decameron and he’s just finalized the very impressive cast, many of which we were already aware of. The most exciting news is the confirmation that Allen himself will return to the screen after a few films off (his last one was 2006’s Scoop). He’ll star along with Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page. It’ll start filming in Rome next month. No word on the plot, as Allen likes to keep those under wraps, but we try and decipher the title and announce more cast members after the jump. Read More »