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'Django Unchained' shut down by China on opening day

Django Unchained became Django Unscreened on Thursday as Quentin Tarantino’s violent slave-revenge saga was pulled from Chinese theaters on its opening day, with the importer blaming an unspecified technical problem.

The rare suspension order by China Film Group Corp. was confirmed by theater employees throughout China, and has led to speculation that the Hollywood film could have run afoul of Chinese censors despite weeks of promotion in the country.

Calls to the importer and to China’s regulatory agency, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, were unanswered. The China office of Sony Pictures, which released the film, refused to comment.

Django Unchained reportedly cut some violent scenes and had already been cleared by China’s rigorous censors, who generally remove violence, sex and politically edgy content. With such an exacting system, suspension on a film’s premiere date is unusual. READ FULL STORY

Will Smith on turning down 'Django Unchained': 'I needed to be the lead'

When Quentin Tarantino’s western revenge-fantasy Django Unchained was first announced, casting rumors pegged Will Smith as the titular slave-turned-vigilante. But Smith, who teams with his son Jaden in this summer’s sci-fi epic After Earth, tells EW that he turned down the part because his character would’ve been second fiddle to the bounty hunter (played by Christoph Waltz) who teaches Django his trade . “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” says the Men in Black star, whose departure opened the door for Jamie Foxx to play the role.

Smith says that before he left the project, he even pleaded with Tarantino to let Django have a more central role in the story. “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'” (Ironically, Waltz was considered a supporting actor during his Oscar-winning award season, while Jamie Foxx was promoted as the movie’s lead.)

But no hard feelings: Smith was a big fan of the final product. “I thought it was brilliant,” he says. “Just not for me.”

Read more:
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Playboy’ interview reveals who almost starred in ‘Django Unchained’ — EXCLUSIVE
‘After Earth’ trailer – Inside Movies – Entertainment Weekly
Will Smith film ‘After Earth’ gets viral teaser — WATCH | Inside Movies …
‘Django Unchained': Jamie Foxx on portraying slavery | Inside …

Ennio Morricone is not feuding with Quentin Tarantino over 'Django' song -- EXCLUSIVE

Just two months ago famed composer Ennio Morricone presented Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino with a lifetime achievement award in Rome.  But last week, American outlets picked up on a small story in the Italian press where Morricone had allegedly told a group of students at Rome’s LUISS University that he did not care to work with Tarantino again, and that he was unhappy with how he used his song “Ancora Qui” in Django Unchained.

Known for his Spaghetti Western scores for Sergio Leone, and his work on films such as Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Morricone has gained modern prominence through Quentin Tarantino’s reappropriation of his songs in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, Inglorious Basterds, and Django Unchained.  Everyone was quick to jump on a portion of Morricone’s lecture, but Morricone was addressing a group of television and film students in Italy. He was not crafting remarks intended for a national audience – and certainly not trying wage a media war of words with Tarantino. Not only that, he says his remarks were taken out of context.

Click past the jump to find out what Morricone really meant.

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Leonardo DiCaprio on film violence: 'Pain is temporary, film is forever'

Leonardo DiCaprio says filming violent scenes like in Django Unchained doesn’t deter him from wanting his movies to be great art.

The bloody revenge film about slavery before the U.S. Civil War has fueled some of the debate about whether Hollywood shows too much on-screen violence. DiCaprio portrays a ruthless plantation owner encountered by a freed slave and bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz).

“My philosophy has kind of always been the same: Pain is temporary, film is forever,” DiCaprio said Thursday in South Korea.

“You do everything you possibly can, you give it your all, all of your focus, and hopefully you come out with, if all the elements mixed together correctly, you come out with a great piece of art,” he said. “To me, cinema is the great modern art form.” READ FULL STORY

'Django,' 'Ted,' 'Silver Linings' lead 2013 MTV Movie Award nominations

Awards season: it’s not actually over!

Two Best Picture runners-up and a raunchy comedy about a talking toy lead the MTV Movie Award nominations, which were announced live on the network tonight. Both Django Unchained and Ted scored big with seven nominations apiece; Silver Linings Playbook also did well, garnering six total nominations. Unsurprisingly, almost all of them had something to do with newly-crowned Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence — the outspoken starlet scored five nods altogether, including one for her performance in the horror film House at the End of the Street.

The awards will be handed out live on April 14 during a ceremony hosted by Rebel Wilson, a double nominee herself for Pitch Perfect. Check out the full list of nominees below — and don’t forget to vote for your favorites at MovieAwards.MTV.com.

Movie of the Year
Django Unchained
Silver Linings Playbook
Ted
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises

READ FULL STORY

Oscar-nominated sound editors explain their key challenges (and the sounds you may not know they create)

Leading up to Sunday’s Oscars, EW.com will take a closer look at four categories that moviegoers may mistakenly think of as “technical.” After tackling Film Editing, we turn to Sound Editing, with insights from the nominated supervising sound editors of Argo (Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn), Life of Pi (Eugene Gearty, who shares his nod with Philip Stockton), Django Unchained (Wylie Stateman), and Zero Dark Thirty (Paul N.J. Ottosson). Skyfall‘s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers complete the category. (Update: Read our Sound Mixing and Cinematography pieces.)

Early in his career, Zero Dark Thirty‘s supervising sound editor Paul N.J. Ottosson, who won both the sound editing and sound mixing Oscars for The Hurt Locker, his first collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, would create a sound for everything he saw on the screen. “I would make them as big and cool as you possibly could,” he says, laughing. “They’d bring me to the stage, and sometimes the director would take out things: “We don’t need this. You don’t need this.’ And you’re just thinking Why, I see that thing on the screen? But at some point, you become more of a storyteller and start to focus on the story itself, and it’s a revelation. You understand how much better your work becomes and how much more important it becomes to the movie itself.”

For Argo‘s Ethan Van der Ryn, a two-time Oscar winner for King Kong and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, working on Saving Private Ryan was a turning point: “Steven Spielberg knew that he wanted to play the invasion of the Normandy beach with sound only, no music. So it was really an open slate to make it work with sound — to get to use the right, authentic sounds so you really feel like this experience is recreated for the viewer in an immersive way and you’re there, but also be able to do it in a way that becomes very emotional, that’s not just about getting all the details right. You have to have the right ingredients, but you need to weave them together in a way that works on an emotional, powerful sonic level.”

To understand the art of sound editing, we asked the nominees to talk us through some of their key challenges and scenes. But first, let’s start with the difference between sound editing and sound mixing, a separate Oscar category.

Essentially, the sound editorial team is responsible for assembling every sound you hear in the movie except the score and the dialogue that was recorded on set. This includes atmospheric sounds like the wind and ocean; hard effects, which are sounds synched for things like cars, gunshots, and explosions; and nuance sounds such as footsteps and people touching things with their hands. Though it’s more fun to talk about those sounds they gather and create (which we’ll do), they also edit and clean up the production dialogue delivered to them for clarity — syllable by syllable if necessary for directors like Quentin Tarantino who want to use as little ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) as possible, notes Django Unchained’s Wylie Stateman, a six-time Oscar nominee who’s done all of Tarantino’s films since Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

It’s the production sound mixer’s job to capture that dialogue on set as cleanly as possible to preserve the actor’s original performance. Post-production, the sound mixing team takes all the prepared sound elements mentioned above (there could be tens of thousands), plus the score (there were roughly 96 music tracks in Skyfall, for example), and affixes them to the screen and positions them in the theater while also setting their volume levels relative to each other. So they, too, create that immersive, emotional experience.

NEXT: The art of building tension without music

Oscars 2013: See the Academy's special edition posters for the nine Best Picture nominees

The Best Picture nominees have gotten a pop art facelift. Not that the nine Oscar contenders needed a facelift of any kind, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – along with Gallery1988 – still found a way to produce a fresh, eye-popping take on now-iconic images from these films.

The Academy recently released nine posters, one for each nominee, created by an international group of artists, many of whom have worked with Gallery1988 before.

Called “For Your Consideration,” the project is the first collaborative exhibition for Gallery1988 and the Academy. The Los Angeles gallery’s past entertainment-related poster collections include “Fringe Benefits,” which featured art inspired by fan-favorite episodes of Fringe, and The LOST Underground Art Show. READ FULL STORY

'Django Unchained' Quentin Tarantino's top grossing film in the U.S., but not worldwide

The “D” may be silent in Django Unchained, but it clearly stands for “dollar signs.” Quentin Tarantino’s revenge Western has topped Inglourious Basterds as the writer-director’s top grossing film — in the United States. With $129.1 million as of Wednesday, the controversial riff on American slavery looks headed to top out somewhere close to $150 million, placing it well ahead of Basterds‘ $120.5 million total domestic gross.

Whether Django Unchained can beat Basterds‘ global total of $321.5 million, however, remains to be seen. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Zero Dark Thirty' tops chart with $24 million; 'A Haunted House' beats 'Gangster Squad'

After weeks of controversy in limited release, Sony’s $40 million Osama Bin Laden assassination film, Zero Dark Thirty, shot into first place with $24.0 million this weekend following five Oscar nominations (though not one for director Kathryn Bigelow) and an expansion from 60 to 2,937 theaters. After four weekends, the well-reviewed drama has earned $29.5 million total, and given its omnipresence during awards season, there’s no telling how high it could ultimately climb. $100 million is certainly not out of the question.

Zero Dark Thirty, which earned an “A-” CinemaScore, finished in the same range as Act of Valor, another recent Navy SEAL film, which garnered $24.5 million in its opening weekend in February 2012. The film is already far bigger than Kathryn Bigelow’s last directorial effort, The Hurt Locker, which found $17.7 million in 2009, and it will easily surpass both K-19: The Widowmaker ($35.2 million) and Point Break ($43.2 million) as the biggest hit of her career. Zero Dark Thirty played mostly to older males — according to Sony, 59 percent of its audience was male, and 62 percent was older than 30. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: Despite Kathryn Bigelow snub, 'Zero Dark Thirty' wins Friday with $9 million

Director Kathryn Bigelow may not have earned an Oscar nomination (her snub, along with Ben Affleck’s, proved the main talking point on the morning of the nominations), but Sony’s Osama Bin Laden assassination drama Zero Dark Thirty is still riding a wave of good will from the five nominations it did receive, and it shot straight to number one at the box office on Friday.

Zero Dark Thirty expanded from 60 to 2,937 theaters yesterday, allowing it to gross a sizzling $9.0 million on its first day of wide release. The controversial film, which earned an “A-” CinemaScore, may take in about $25 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period — right in line with the $24.5 million that the last Navy SEAL film, Act of Valor, earned in its debut weekend last year. READ FULL STORY

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