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'Saving Mr. Banks': See the deleted scene that explains everything -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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Most deleted scenes are superfluous or rough edges that were sacrificed for a smoother narrative. It’s the rare deleted scene from a movie that captures the entire story in a single sequence, but that’s exactly what exists for Saving Mr. Banks. Walt Disney’s decades-long courtship of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers to adapt her stories into the 1964 musical was belligerent and difficult, as Travers refused to sign over the rights for fear of seeing her heroine “cavorting and twinkling” like one of Disney’s cartoon creations. When Travers reluctantly travels to Los Angeles to meet Disney and his writers, they eventually — but barely — begin to win her over. Until she finds out about the dancing penguins.

Furious at the prospect of undignified animation, which Disney had specifically promised her would not be used, Travers (Emma Thompson) storms into Disney’s office, essentially calls him a liar, hands him the contract back — unsigned — and heads back to England. Disney ultimately follows her there for the climactic heart-to-heart… but there was another scene filmed that originally served as a bridge between these two crucial moments.

In the deleted scene, available on the Saving Mr. Banks Blu-ray, Disney (Tom Hanks) follows Travers outside, where she’s sitting on a bench waiting for her driver (Paul Giamatti) to take her home. Disney pleads for her to reconsider and help him understand why this process is so difficult for her. She chastises him again for his deception, and then blurts out, “The books weren’t written for the children. They were written for the promise breakers.”

Promise breakers, like Disney. Promise breakers, like Travers’ Aunt Ellie, who promised her everything would be okay when she came to help their crumbling family in the Australian Outback decades earlier. Promise breakers, like her beloved alcoholic father (Colin Farrell), who promised that he’d make his family proud again.

You can almost imagine the insightful scene was one of the first ones written — and the last one cut — because everything the audience needs to know is there. It captures everything. Perhaps that’s why it was nixed: the clues were ultimately deemed too concentrated in one place. Or perhaps the content and tension were too similar to the subsequent sit-down in London. Still, it’s a great scene that underscores Travers’ deep emotional attachment to her literary characters, and allows Thompson another opportunity to shine. Click below to watch: READ FULL STORY

From 'Hustle' to 'Mr. Banks,' this season's movies hit musical highs

When you think of the movies you really love, your memories of a great many of them are probably linked, in one way or another, to music. Yet movies and music remain, at least in our heads, beautifully complimentary yet distinct things, like food and wine, or football and big TVs. They shouldn’t, though. A musical, of course, is its own special mashup. Yet there are so many other incredible ways that movies and music can merge. The title sequence of Singin’ in the Rain is a great number — and so, in its way, is Ewan McGregor’s performance of “Your Song” in Moulin Rouge! Yet what about the opening-credits sequence of American Hustle? We hear Steely Dan’s great 1972 song “Dirty Work” laid over slow-motion images of Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adams sauntering through the Plaza Hotel with a suspicious-looking briefcase. The song is reconfigured, with an irony that gently explodes in your brain, from being about an adulterous lover tired of being used as a slimy third wheel into a song about a con man tired of being used by the law. More that just a terrific song choice, this, too, is a bona fide musical number — a piece of opera, really. And it’s just one of many moments in American Hustle that remind you why movies and music, when they’re really working together, chemically and synergistically, create a sensual pop poetry all their own. Here’s a look at a few of the other memorable numbers unfolding in the big-screen operas-by-any-other-name that are ruling the megaplex this season. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' scorches 'Anchorman 2' opening with $31.5 million

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This just in: Ron Burgundy is no match for a fire-breathing dragon at the box office. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (CinemaScore: B) beat out The Hobbit sequel on Friday, but updated totals show the Will Ferrell-starrer trailing Peter Jackson’s fantasy pic for the three-day weekend.

In first place, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug fell about 60% and brought in an estimated $31.5 million from 3,903 screens in its second weekend in theaters — spot on with Grady Smith’s prediction. Its domestic take now stands at a healthy $127.5 million. But that total lags behind the first Hobbit film by a significant margin. In 2012, An Unexpected Journey dropped 56.4% in its second weekend, earning nearly $36.9 million and bumping its domestic total to $150 million. That film played in about 200 more theaters and had a stronger opening weekend.

Meanwhile, Paramount’s heavily marketed Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opened in second place with a weekend estimate of $26.8 million. The PG-13 rated sequel opened in 3,507 locations Wednesday and is expected to net about $40 million for its first five days, much lower than EW’s prediction. The first Anchorman opened in July 2004 to $28.4 million and went on to gross $85.3 million domestically.

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'Anchorman 2' barely beats 'The Hobbit' sequel with $8.7 million on Friday: Box office update

Ron Burgundy won out by a mustache hair over those pesky hobbits at the box office Friday. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues brought in $8.7 million, while The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug earned an estimated $8.6 million. In the words of Burgundy himself, “don’t act like you’re not impressed.” Still, this unexpectedly close Friday means that the weekend could belong to either film.

Anchorman 2 opened strong on Wednesday, and initial predictions had the PG-13 comedy’s weekend grosses in the $40 million range. That seems a bit high now that we’ve seen Friday results. Paramount’s $50 million comedy boasts a three-day domestic total of $21.9 million. Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ Hobbit sequel has now earned an estimated $104.7 million domestically in its second week in theaters and will likely cross the $300 million mark worldwide. The first film had earned more than $123.2 million at this point last year and went on to gross over $300 million domestically.

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Box office report: 'The Hobbit' captures $73.6 million; Tyler Perry's latest 'Madea' film struggles

Bilbo Baggins went after treasure this weekend, and he found a lot of it — just not quite as much as he did last year. Peter Jackson’s latest Middle-earth adventure The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug earned $73.6 million in its opening weekend, marking a 13 percent drop from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘s $84.6 million bow in December 2012.

Smaug notched the fourth-best December opening weekend ever, after An Unexpected Journey, I Am Legend ($77.2 million), and Avatar ($77 million), and although it undercut its predecessor’s debut, Warner Bros., who co-financed the film with MGM for about $225 million, can’t be too disappointed with the result. The first Hobbit film finished with $303 million domestically and over $1 billion worldwide. Even if Smaug can’t match those figures (if it plays like Journey, it’s headed for $263 million domestically), it will be a hugely profitable venture for the studio.
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Box office update: 'The Hobbit' pulls in solid $31.1 million on Friday

Peter Jackson’s latest journey to Middle-Earth may be less golden than originally expected. On its first day at the box office, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug got off to a weaker start than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey did last year, though it still earned more than enough to top the chart. Smaug grossed $31.1 million, down 17 percent from the $37.1 million Friday that An Unexpected Journey managed, and it’s headed for a debut weekend of about $72 million. That would mark a substantial drop from its predecessor’s $84.6 million bow, but Smaug‘s more positive critical reception might indicate box office endurance in the weeks to come.

In second place, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas unwrapped a shockingly low $5.7 million, putting the film on pace for a franchise-worst $15 million debut. Lionsgate’s $25 million sequel was tracking ahead of 2012′s Madea’s Witness Protection, which opened to $25.1 million, so it is rather befuddling that the comedy opened so poorly on Friday. Perhaps audiences are just tiring of the gun-packing granny. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: Will 'The Hobbit' desolate the competition?

Last weekend, the box office was as Frozen as the weather. Disney’s animated musical climbed past Catching Fire to reach the number one spot, but dragon’s breath will melt its throne when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arrives in theaters — and don’t count out Tyler Perry’s latest Madea movie, either. Overall, this weekend should be a pretty big frame for the four movies on top of the box office. Here’s how it might shake out:

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – $77 million
Last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey pulled in a strong $84.6 million on opening weekend en route to a $303 million domestic finish and $1 billion worldwide. The film was received moderately well, but audiences weren’t in love with the candy-coated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous Lord of the Rings prequel. Still, fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth adventures are pretty committed at this point (the four films have earned over $3.9 billion worldwide), and although Smaug may open a shade below its predecessor, it’s still headed for a massive opening. Warner Bros., which co-financed the film with MGM for a reported $225 million, has smartly emphasized Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom in marketing materials in order to differentiate it from the first film, which mainly focused on bearded dwarves and Martin Freeman’s titular character. Out in 3,903 theaters, Expect Smaug to drum up about $75-80 million this weekend. READ FULL STORY

'Mary Poppins' star talks 50th anniversary and 'Saving Mr. Banks'

It may be hard to believe, but it has been nearly 50 years since Julie Andrews flew in to a house in London and taught us all the joys of a spoonful of sugar and the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. (Technically, it has been 49 and a half years since the original release, but Disney wanted to get a jump on celebrating.)

Disney is honoring the anniversary by releasing Mary Poppins from the Disney vault with a new digitally restored Blu-ray version. Their timing is practically perfect in every way; with the release of Saving Mr. Banks in a few weeks more people than ever might want to go back and watch the film. That was certainly the case for Karen Dotrice, who played Jane Banks in Mary Poppins. The retired actress explained to EW that seeing Mr. Banks brought up all kinds of feelings and memories of her time on set. Shockingly, Dotrice had never even seen Mary Poppins until a few weeks ago, jokingly referring to her role in the film as her “dirty, dark secret.” She also had no idea about any of the behind-the-scenes drama with Walt Disney that Mr. Banks depicts.

In anticipation of the anniversary, Dotrice spoke with EW about the film, her relationship with “Uncle Walt” Disney, and why she owes Julie Andrews a major favor. READ FULL STORY

AFI movies of the year: 'Her' and '12 Years a Slave' in; 'August: Osage County' out

The American Film Institute announced its 10 “most outstanding” movies of the year Monday, including Her, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

AFI has a strong history of selecting films that end up competing for an Academy Award. Last year alone, all but Moonrise Kingdom and The Dark Knight Rises picked up Best Picture nominations. The only nominee AFI missed was Amour, and that’s just because AFI only selects from American films. Not too shabby.

The list is mostly consistent with the landscape of serious contenders that we’ve been anticipating. The recently announced critics awards largely skewed toward 12 Years a Slave, with a few nods for American Hustle, Gravity, and Her – all of which are represented on AFI’s list. Notably, Sundance winner Fruitvale Station (largely absent from critics lists) made the top 10, perhaps signifying that it’s not out of the race just yet. Missing from AFI’s list are a few notable Best Picture hopefuls including Philomena, August: Osage County, and Blue Jasmine.

Check out the full list below, including AFI’s television programs of the year.
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Walt Disney meets P.L. Travers in first clip from 'Saving Mr. Banks' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

If you’ve seen Disney’s beloved 1964 classic Mary Poppins, you probably assume that the process of bringing the effervescent musical about the magical nanny to the big screen was, like Mary Poppins herself, “practically perfect in every way.” Well, not exactly.

As chronicled in the upcoming Disney film Saving Mr. Banks, the real-life tale behind Mary Poppins was a thorny creative struggle that was often short on spoonfuls of sugar, with Poppins author P.L. Travers (played in the film by Emma Thompson) fighting Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) every step of the way out of fear that he’d suck the magic and mystery out of the character she’d created.

In Entertainment Weekly‘s Holiday Movie Preview issue, on stands this Friday, we delve deeper into the real story behind Saving Mr. Banks, which hits theaters Dec. 20. But in the meantime, here’s an exclusive clip from the movie, in which the prickly Travers meets Disney for the first time and gets her initial taste of his famously irresistible charm.
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