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Kenneth Lonergan on his 'Margaret' odyssey: 'I'm truly happy about the way things turned out'

Fans of You Can Count On Me were forced to wait 11 years for director Kenneth Lonergan’s second film. Filmed way back in 2005, Margaret is the harrowing story of a manipulative New York City teenager (Anna Paquin) whose involvement in a fatal bus accident thrusts her into an adult world she’s unprepared to navigate. The movie, which features an all-star cast that also includes Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, and Matthew Broderick, seemed doomed to eternal limbo when the director, his producers, and Fox Searchlight could not agree on a final cut. Lonergan had been promised total control, as long as his finished film was less than 150 minutes long. Unfortunately, the cut he originally submitted ran longer than three hours. Lawsuits were exchanged. For years, neither side blinked, and the film nearly passed into oblivion as its stars moved on to bigger things. (Paquin found True Blood, Damon went back to the Bourne franchise, Ruffalo earned an Oscar nomination and was cast as a raging superhero.)

When Margaret was finally released last September — with a running time of 149 minutes and 49 seconds — many would have to buy plane tickets to see it, as it never played in more than 14 theaters. Though it didn’t even gross $50,000 and was neglected by the Oscars, some critics championed the film as one of the year’s best. Tomorrow, fans of Lonergan’s work who don’t live in New York and Los Angeles can finally see it for themselves. Or more precisely, they can view two versions of the film that are included in a Blu-ray combo pack: the theatrical release and Lonergan’s extended three-hour cut.

Before the extended version of Margaret is screened tonight in New York — to be followed by a Q&A panel with Lonergan, Ruffalo, Broderick, and moderator Tony Kushner — the director checked in with Entertainment Weekly.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Margaret is a film that is difficult to shake, and there are so many themes woven throughout. As a storyteller, what was the seed of the story that everything else grew out of?
KENNETH LONERGAN: There was a girl in my high school who told me that this [bus accident] had happened to her — and that was the literal seed. I was just 16 but it always stayed with me. But I think the impetus was the idea of this girl trying to cope with all these adult problems and issues with only the equipment of a teenager to help her. It seemed compelling to me: that a very very young person confronted with death and injustice and the force of other people’s lives getting in the way of her finding what she thinks she’s going to find, which is justice and some sort of way to atone for what she’s done — which she’s unable to do. READ FULL STORY

Matt Damon could join Jeremy Renner in 'Bourne 5,' producer says

We all know that, during the Great Jeremy Renner Harvest of 2010, Universal hired the soulful star of Hurt Locker and 28 Weeks Later to replace Matt Damon as the face of the Bourne franchise. We also know that Renner is playing an entirely new character — Aaron Cross — and that, based on the most recent trailer, Bourne Legacy appears to take place at roughly the same time as The Bourne Ultimatum, which makes it not so much a “sequel” as a “paraquel,” in the parlance of the fantasy fiction you read as a 12-year-old that now approximates the Hollywood business model. But the producer of Legacy tells Empire that the door is very much open for a return trip from Damon. Says Frank Marshall, “You see there are several different programs in [Legacy] with different skill sets. All possibilities are open. My dream is that in the next one we see Matt and Jeremy team up.” READ FULL STORY

Matt Damon thriller 'Elysium': Plot details revealed

Elysium, director Neill Blomkamp’s first movie since 2009′s District 9, is a project that remains shrouded in mystery despite a high-profile cast that includes Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and D9‘s Sharlto Copley. But not anymore, thanks to the sleuths over at Collider, who got their hands on a test-screening invitation that includes a detailed plot summary:

In the year 2159 two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. Secretary Rhodes (Jodie Foster), a hard line government official, will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That doesn’t stop the people of Earth from trying to get in, by any means they can. When unlucky Max (Matt Damon) is backed into a corner, he agrees to take on a daunting mission that if successful will not only save his life, but could bring equality to these polarized worlds.

Sounds very WALL-E meets Land of the Dead, with loads of possible wink-wink parallels to modern-day issues. (Don’t you just love when sci-fi flicks have those?) Honestly, you had us at Jodie Foster as a “hard line government official” — it’s about time she took on a juicy bad-guy role. Elysium doesn’t come out until March 1, 2013, but odds are you’ll be hearing more about it long before then: The movie’s sneaky viral marketing campaign was already under way almost a year ago when a fake recruitment site for a tech company called Armadyne popped up online in July.

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Kenny G, film composer? How Matt Damon led two filmmakers to a surprising doc about the smooth jazz superstar — VIDEO
Matt Damon postpones directing; Gus Van Sant steps in

'Bourne Legacy' trailer: Get busy living, or get busy dying

“You think that Jason Bourne was the whole story? There’s a lot more going on here.”

That’s the sales pitch for The Bourne Legacy, the Matt Damon-less side boot starring Jeremy Renner as another confused assassin. But in the second trailer for the August action movie, we see plenty of Bourne’s fingerprints. We even see his name etched in wood, as if he were Treadstone’s version of Brooks from The Shawshank Redemption.

Judging from some of the other familiar faces and scenes from the original trilogy, it looks as if writer/director Tony Gilroy is borrowing the gimmick from the third film and building scenes that we later learn occurred simultaneously. “Jason Bourne is in Manhattan,” reports a stunned government office drone to David Strathairn’s evil group leader. So how was Renner’s Aaron Cross involved in those events, or the assassination of a British journalist (Paddy Considine) at the train station? Watch below. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Taylor Swift nearing noteworthy role as Joni Mitchell, plus Mark Wahlberg, Guy Pearce, Jaden Smith

Mark Wahlberg will come a-knockin’ for Avon Man. Hugh Jackman was supposed to headline the long-in-development project, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with his X-Men spin-off The Wolverine. Wahlberg is now looking to produce and star. [Deadline]

• Lockout lead Guy Pearce is in final talks to join Robert Downey Jr.Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, and Don Cheadle in Iron Man 3. Pearce will play geneticist Aldrich Kilian, who develops nanotechnology that can spread viruses and sells it to terrorists. [Variety]

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Kenny G, film composer? How Matt Damon led two filmmakers to a surprising doc about the smooth jazz superstar -- VIDEO

KENNY-G

He’s one of the top-25-selling musicians of all time in the U.S. His name arguably defines an entire genre of music for many listeners. He reportedly holds the record for the longest sustained note ever played on a saxophone. But it turns out that what Kenny G really wants to do is break into movies.

That’s in part the premise of Kenny: A Documentary in G, an in-the-works film by directors Rod Blackhurst and Brian McGinn about the smooth jazz icon, chronicling his attempt to launch a second career as a feature film composer. Fittingly, it was a surreptitious encounter with a movie star, Matt Damon, that helped bring the project together. McGinn was working on another documentary, American Teacher, that Damon had signed on to narrate. “We needed a [recording] studio near where Matt was shooting We Bought a Zoo,” says McGinn. “Kenny’s house, funnily enough, was the closest studio.”  READ FULL STORY

Matt Damon postpones directing; Gus Van Sant steps in

Matt Damon has postponed the opportunity to direct his first film, handing the project he co-wrote with John Krasinski and Dave Eggers off to Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant. Entertainment Weekly can confirm a New York Magazine report that Damon, who will still star opposite Krasinski and Frances McDormand in the film, stepped back when he realized he was unable to commit to the extensive preproduction that would be required of him as the director. Production is tentatively slated to begin this April.

Read more:
Matt Damon to make the leap
When will Matt Damon direct?

'We Bought a Zoo' gets Thanksgiving sneak peek

Writer-director Cameron Crowe’s latest film, We Bought a Zoo, has been given an early preview over Thanksgiving weekend, EW has confirmed. The film, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, will preview in more than 800 theaters on Nov. 26. The sneak peek is part of a social media campaign that will allow viewers to post their review online in a contest to win a trip to the San Diego Zoo, and will also include a live chat with Cameron Crowe following screenings. It’s an unheard-of display of confidence for 20th Century Fox execs, who believe the Oscar hopeful is strong enough to generate strong word-of-mouth buzz in advance of its Dec. 23 national release date. Said Crowe, “Holding previews so far ahead of our opening is a bold move — but that’s one of the many reasons I like it.”

Read more:
EW Preview: We Bought a Zoo
‘We Bought A Zoo’ international trailer: Now with more hitting on Scarlett Johansson!
‘We Bought a Zoo’ trailer: Why does Matt Damon need a zoo? He just does, okay?
Cameron Crowe goes animal wild with ‘We Bought A Zoo’

'We Bought A Zoo' international trailer: Now with more hitting on Scarlett Johansson!

Sure, the first minute or so of the international trailer for Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo appears to be exactly the same as the first preview we saw back in September: Matt Damon quits his job in a very Jerry Maguire-like fashion and uproots his family to a new home, a literal zoo, while Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” hums in the background.

But a few things have noticeably been tweaked for the new preview, including way more of the flying-under-the-radar Scarlett Johansson getting hit on by Damon (“You read me pretty well”) and leered at by Thomas Haden Church and John Michael Higgins (and his tape measurer.) There’s also more Patrick Fugit, more inspirational talk (“No, I don’t have a lot, but I do have enough”), and of course, more animals. (Monkeys! Chicks!) Watch the full trailer below and see if you can spot the differences: READ FULL STORY

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to reunite for Boston mob movie

Fourteen years after Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have finally agreed to reunite. Not surprisingly, their new project has a Boston connection. As Deadline first reported, Damon will star as Whitey Bulger, the real-life South Boston crime boss who was recently arrested in California after eluding the FBI for years. Bulger was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed, in which Damon also played a mole in the Boston police department.

Affleck will direct, co-star, and produce along with Damon under their production company, Pearl Street Films, through their first-look deal with Warner Bros. Casey Affleck, who co-starred in Good Will Hunting and co-wrote 2002′s Gerry with Damon, will also have an on-screen role. Terence Winter, creator and writer of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire will write the script, which will focus on Bulger’s troubled youth leading to his incarceration at Alcatraz, and through his rise to become one of the most powerful gangsters in America — while secretly serving as an FBI informant.

Read more:
Matt Damon to make directorial debut
The 23 Most Wanted Movie Gangsters

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