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Two VFX shops scale back; Rhythm & Hues finds a buyer

The troubled visual effects industry is facing a major shift, as three VFX shops announced major changes Friday, including the buyout of Life of Pi’s visual effects company Rhythm & Hues.

EW gave you the low-down on the struggles of the VFX industry that have been getting a bigger spotlight since Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy in February. Here’s an update with the latest on three visual effects shops whose collective work includes Life of Pi, the Twilight Saga, and Doctor Who.

Rhythm & Hues, the VFX company behind the Oscar-winning effects in Life of Pi, started its bankruptcy auction earlier this week and has found a buyer. Friday afternoon the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the winning bidder, a holding company for Prana Studios, a VFX and animation company with offices in Los Angeles and Mumbai, India. A Hollywood Reporter analysis valued the deal at $17.8 million. READ FULL STORY

Steven Soderbergh working on 12-hour adaptation of 'The Sot-Weed Factor'

Let’s just say Steven Soderbergh’s idea of retirement doesn’t include a lot of shuffleboard. The Oscar winning director, who has said that the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra (airing May 26 on HBO) will be his last conventional feature film for the time being, tells EW that he is now at work developing a 12-hour miniseries based on John Barth’s 1960 novel The Sot-Weed Factor.

“I’ve had this on my shelf for a while,” says Soderbergh. “I was going to do it as a movie, but I couldn’t figure it out. So now I’ve had it adapted as 12 one-hour episodes.” Set in the late 1600s, the satirical story follows an English poet who moves to Maryland to take over his father’s tobacco farm. A 1960 New York Times review of the book called it “a bare-knuckled satire of humanity at large” that is “so monstrously long that reading it seemed nearly as laborious as writing it.” In other words, this isn’t exactly The Da Vinci CodeREAD FULL STORY

SXSW: 'Community' star Gillian Jacobs goes nuts in break-up comedy short -- EXCLUSIVE CLIP

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You’re at the SXSW festival, thinking you’re watching a fairly typical short about young love gone tediously, toxically bad when suddenly someone impales themselves on a glass coffee table. Matt Spicer’s dark comedy short It’s Not You, It’s Me, which has been playing all week as part of the shorts program, stars Gillian Jacobs (Community) and Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods) in a clever snapshot of a woman dangerously pushed to the brink. Spicer, who wrote the script with his brother Eric, says Jacobs’ character was in part inspired by an ex-girlfriend who used to be so physically repulsed by the sight and sound of him eating cereal that she would have to leave the room.

The 28-year-old first-time director shot It’s Not You, It’s Me in three days in the living room of his Los Angeles apartment. “I didn’t tell my landlord,” he tells EW, “and we’re spraying blood everywhere, smashing tables. Of course my landlady showed up halfway through and freaked out and threatened to shut us down.’”

Art prevailed and now after a successful run at SXSW, Spicer is hoping someone will be impressed enough to trust him to direct his first feature off his new dark comedy script. In the meantime he and Max Winkler (Henry Winkler’s son and a buddy from USC film school) are busy prepping The Coward, their adaptation of a Nick Jones play that Spicer describes as “Barry Lyndon meets Trading Places,” which will hopefully go into production this summer. Girls star Adam Driver will play the lead, with Winkler at the helm.

Watch a clip of It’s Not You, It’s Me below: READ FULL STORY

25 great one-liners from 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' -- VIDEO

When Who Framed Roger Rabbit sprang into theaters in the summer of 1988, animation was as beleaguered as ol’ Wily E. Coyote. These were the dark days of Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective and Universal’s An American Tale, which only seemed to prove that the glory years of cartoon mice and other fuzzy critters had finally run its course. But Robert Zemeckis’s Roger Rabbit changed everything, practically overnight. Much was made of the novelty of combining live-action with animated characters, but Mary Poppins had mixed both a quarter century earlier — and Bert and his dancing penguins were hardly the first themselves. No, what really made Roger Rabbit a hit with audiences of all ages was the come-together moment from all the iconic ‘toons that had thrilled generations of children. It was like “We Are the World,” but instead of Bob Dylan and Ray Charles, there was Daffy and Donald Duck squaring off against each other on dueling pianos and there was Mickey and Bugs free-falling with Eddie (Bob Hoskins) from the top of a skyscraper.

Throw in a new wascally-wabbit named Roger and his ahh-OOOOOOOO-gaa femme fatale of a wife (voiced by Kathleen Turner), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit became the first animated movie to make the year’s top-10 box-office list in more than a decade. The next year, Disney would present The Little Mermaid, which would confirm the resurgence of animation and set the course towards the new golden age that has lasted until the present day.

Tomorrow, Roger Rabbit arrives on Blu-ray for the first time, and even though the new 25th Anniversary Edition doesn’t include any new special features, it’s a delight to revisit Toontown and get hit on the head a few times with some classic Acme-brand laughs. Below, check out 25 great one-liners from the crazy, loony, genius movie that can’t help but make you feel like you’re nine years old again. READ FULL STORY

George Lucas' next act? Opening an art museum

George Lucas may not be directing the new Star Wars movies, but he’s still found ways to occupy his time. In an interview with CBS This Morning today, Lucas took a reporter around Skywalker Ranch and discussed how he intends to open an art museum in the next chapter of his life. “There is a world of young people who need to be inspired,” the prolific art collector explained.

Highlighting his love of Maxfield Parish and Norman Rockwell, Lucas discussed how he learned a lot about storytelling through art, because artists need to tell a whole story in just one frame. He hopes the new museum, which he plans to open in San Francisco, will inspire young people the way paintings inspired him. “[It's] the idea of being able to paint your fantasies which is what Star Wars was. Star Wars was there to inspire young people to imagine things, to imagine going anywhere in the universe and doing anything you want to do and using your imagination to entertain yourself.”

Watch the interview below: READ FULL STORY

Geena Davis calls Seth MacFarlane's Oscars disrespectful and 'tone-deaf' towards women

Academy Award winner Geena Davis on Monday waded into the ongoing controversy over this year’s Oscars ceremony by saying host Seth MacFarlane’s routine was disrespectful to women, particularly the performers who were being honored.

The Thelma & Louise star said MacFarlane’s much-criticized routine last month overshadowed the win of an animated film with a strong female character.

“It’s a shame that that triumph was enveloped in an awards ceremony containing disrespect for women,” Davis told members of the California Assembly during a ceremony in Sacramento. “But it helps illustrate how tone-deaf we can still be regarding the status of women.”

She commended Brave, which won best animated picture, as setting a positive example for girls. READ FULL STORY

Joe Wright to direct adaptation of Neil Gaiman's new novel

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane isn’t even in bookstores yet, but EW can confirm that a film adaptation of the novel is already in the works. Playtone co-founders Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are closing a deal to adapt the story for the screen — and they’ve also snagged Atonement and Anna Karenina director Joe Wright to helm the project.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a dark modern fantasy set in the English countryside. Here’s how publisher William Morrow describes it:

“It began for our narrator 40 years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed — within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

READ FULL STORY

Michelle Obama not shocked by criticism of her Oscar cameo

Michelle Obama says it was “absolutely not surprising” to her that her satellite appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony provoked a national conversation about whether it was appropriate, after some conservative critics accused her of selfishly crashing the event in an attempt to upstage it.

She attributed the chatter to a culture shift that has spawned legions of bloggers, tweeters, and others who talk about anything and everything all the time.

“Shoot, my bangs set off a national conversation. My shoes can set off a national conversation. That’s just sort of where we are. We’ve got a lot of talking going on,” the first lady said only somewhat jokingly Thursday before an appearance in Chicago, her hometown. “It’s like everybody’s kitchen-table conversation is now accessible to everybody else so there’s a national conversation about anything.” READ FULL STORY

Oscars 2013: The best acceptance speeches, starring Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck & more -- VIDEO

From Christoph Waltz’s surprise Best Supporting Actor win to Ben Affleck’s emotional, heartfelt remarks after Argo snagged Best Picture, last night’s Academy Awards were filled with memorable acceptance speeches — and notable pre-speech journeys to the stage. (How’s your knee, Jennifer Lawrence?)

Relive the night’s best post-win soliloquies below. Think any will eventually reach “You like me! Right now, you like me!” status? READ FULL STORY

EW's Jess Cagle goes backstage with Oscar winners -- VIDEO

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What were Oscar winners Anne Hathaway, Adele, Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ben Affleck, Grant Heslov, and George Clooney thinking when they heard their names announced at last night’s ceremony? EW managing editor Jess Cagle was on the scene to find out — thankfully, with a video camera in tow.

Watch below to see his backstage interviews with some of the night’s biggest winners — and don’t forget that if you missed the show, you can watch the whole thing on ABC.com, the ABC Player for iOS, and Hulu Plus through Wednesday night.

READ FULL STORY

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