Proving it’s never too late for fresh starts, Dustin Hoffman is embarking on a brand-new directing career at the ripe old age of 75. His first feature is Quartet, a gentle Brit comedy-drama set in a home for retired opera performers.

Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, and Tom Courtenay plays a trio of longtime friends and colleagues enjoying their golden years together at the facility, only to be thrown off balance by the arrival of the former fourth member of their singing quartet — a famed diva played by Maggie Smith. Michael Gambon also stars, as an opera director. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Dustin Hoffman has long been established as one of the most significant actors of his generation, but he has never directed a film until now*. His directorial debut, Quartet, is based on an acclaimed play by Ronald Harwood (who also scripted Hoffman’s film) and it stars some real luminaries: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay and Michael Gambon.They play residents at a retirement home for retired opera singers. Seriously.

Given that plot you might expect something fairly arid and stodgy, but the first trailer for Quartet suggests that it is a pretty broad comedy with crowd-pleasing aims. The trailer promises a gentle, slightly cheeky good time, and it’s a nice breath of comedy to kick off this light holiday week. Check it out below.

Edit: Apologies, but we’ve had to pull the embed.

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Whitney Houston is set to return to the big screen for the first time in 15 years for Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 drama based on the real-life tale of Diana Ross and The Supremes (yes, kind of like Dreamgirls, only Sparkle came first). The story follows the rise and fall of fictional girl group Sister & the Sisters, the members of which find their personal lives falling apart even as their act reaches ever higher levels of fame and success.

Houston, who’s also set to executive produce, will play the “not-so-encouraging” mother of the girls in the band. Houston has actually been attached to the project since back when it was supposed to star Aaliyah, who passed away in 2001. Also in the cast are Jordin Sparks making her cinematic debut in the title role, and Mike Epps in the part of destructive comedian Satin. Salim Akil (Jumping the Broom) is set to direct the feature from a script by his wife Mara Brock Akil. [Movieline]

After the jump: Dustin Hoffman snags some fine British talent (including two notable Harry Potter actors) for his directorial debut, and Twilight star Ashley Greene signs on for a weird, “ultra-modern” version of a Charles Dickens classic.

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What happens when a studio dedicates a decade to adapting one of the most popular novel series in the world, and does so with an eye for quality? In the case of Harry Potter, the result is a massive payoff. Warner Bros. upset its own record for the biggest domestic opening weekend box office take, set by The Dark Knight in 2008, as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 opened to a $168.5 million domestic haul and earned nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. Read the numbers below. Read More »

The full theatrical trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has hit a bit early this evening. The eighth film in the Harry Potter series depicts the Battle of Hogwarts and the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. The trailer, appropriately, promises a conclusion on a massive scale. Check it out after the break. Read More »

Update: Warner Bros has sent us high resolution versions of the photos released in EW. Hit the jump to check them out.

There are new photos floating around today from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, which concludes the epic Harry Potter series when it opens on July 15. These images show a bit more of the massive final battle that brings the story to a close — you’ll see Harry fighting in a Gringott’s vault, and there’s a shot of Neville doing a little battle work of his own, in addition to a few other glimpses at the film.

Check out all five after the break. Read More »

We haven’t yet seen a trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, but tonight ABC Family aired a making-of featurette about the film featuring some pretty tasty first-look footage. That featurette is now online, via Facebook. There will be more Potter footage unveiled over the weekend, but this is a good start. Read More »

The Making of ‘The King’s Speech’

The Weinstein Company have released a 23 minute behind the scenes making od documentary for The King’s Speech. Acclaimed as one of the best films of the year, Tom Hooper’s film is the story of “King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.” Find out how the story was brought to the screen in the video embedded after the jump.

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