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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Moore’

Friday September 20th, 2013

On ‘Blackfish’ and the Understated Influence of Documentaries

By Søren Hough

* * *

“Never capture what you can’t control.”

So says the tagline for Blackfish, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s muckraking new documentary — currently being distributed in select art-house theaters by Magnolia Pictures — which is a stunning indictment of the manner in which SeaWorld has captured and treated wild orca whales over the years. The film could have an enormous impact on tourism and revenue for the theme park chain — but the ramifications of this exposé will extend beyond the director’s intended target.

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Monday March 26th, 2012

‘The Hunger Games’ Opened This Weekend With a Scorching $155 Million

By Scott Mendelson

Besting any number of opening weekend records, The Hunger Games opened this weekend with a scorching $155 million. That’s the third-biggest opening weekend of all-time, behind The Dark Knight ($158 million) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($169 million). It’s also the biggest opening weekend for a non-sequel, non-summer movie, and the biggest debut in history for a film not released by Warner Bros. during the third weekend in July, for those keeping release-date score. It’s also Lionsgate’s highest-grossing film ever after just three days, besting the $123 million-debut of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. While it’s Lionsgate’s most expensive movie, it’s still an example of smart budgeting as it came it at $90 million before tax credits which brought the total exposure to just $78 million. Even if you factor in the studio’s hardcore marketing over the last month, Lionsgate is surely in the black, or will be by Friday, making everything thereafter pure profit. There isn’t too much to say because this record debut has been prognosticated to the point of tedium over the last two months, as one tracking report after another continually upped the predicted opening weekend number, to the point where the film would have been called a ‘flop’ if it hadn’t opened with at least $100 million (not by me, mind you). But, yeah, Lionsgate pulled some of the best marketing in modern history (teaser/trailer 1/trailer 2), turning a relatively popular young adult book series into a mainstream media ‘event,’ which in turn made the film adaptation into a must-sample event even for audiences who only had token knowledge of the series.

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Tuesday August 9th, 2011


New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd is not only a terrific writer, but also a big film buff. She has recently written pieces in which she compared Holly Golightly to Betty Draper (“Mad Men and Bad Girls,” 7/31/10); mourned the decline of the romantic-comedy (“Tragedy of Comedy,” 8/3/10); referenced “The Social Network” (2010) to show “how little human drama changes through the ages” (“Lord of the Internet Rings,” 10/9/10); cheered the Valerie Plame biopic “Fair Game” (2010) as “a vivid reminder of one of the most egregious abuses of power in history” (“The Unfair Game,” 10/12/10); and capably illustrated why the debt ceiling standoff was like a “summer horror blockbuster — without the catharsis” (“Washington Chainsaw Massacre,” 8/2/11). Heck, she even dated Aaron Sorkin!

Therefore, I guess it makes sense that someone in the White House and/or at Paramount fed Dowd, rather than someone else, some previously-unreported/inside-info for her latest column (“The Downgrade Blues,” 8/6/11) about the degree to which the Barack Obama Administration is cooperating with Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal — the Oscar-winning director/producer and producer/screenwriter of “The Hurt Locker” (2008) — on their next film/probable Oscar contender (Paramount, 10/12/12), which will take readers behind-the-scenes of the Obama Administration/Navy SEALs’s mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

Dowd writes (underlining is my own)…

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Wednesday June 29th, 2011


Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Morgan Spurlock, and other attention-courting provocateurs tend to receive the vast majority of media coverage that is devoted to the documentary world, but none of them have made as many high-quality docs over the past decade as Marshall Curry, one of my favorite filmmakers, whose latest is about to arrive a theater near you, and who I interviewed last week.

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Thursday September 9th, 2010


Over the past decade the Academy has invalidated years of statistical data accumulated by Oscar nerds like myself by rewarding several of its best picture statuettes to films of the sort that it had previously snubbed throughout its long history: “Chicago” (2002), a musical; “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), a sci-fi fantasy; “Crash” (2005), an indie film picked up at a festival; “The Departed” (2006), a gangster flick; “No Country for Old Men” (2007), a violent crime-thriller; “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), a foreign-language film with subtitles; and “The Hurt Locker” (2009), a box-office dud directed by a woman and championed by critics. “Up” (2009) didn’t win, but it, too, made some history, becoming only the second animated film to earn a nod for best picture (albeit in a year in which the category had been re-expanded from five to 10 slots). As I see it, only one prominent sort of film hasn’t yet received a nomination for best picture, let alone a win, and that is a documentary.

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