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Weinstein Company resurrects M to fight M.P.A.A. on 'Philomena' rating -- VIDEO

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Dame Judi Dench is a revered Oscar-winning actress, but the kids all know her as M, James Bond’s crusty boss who died a good death in last year’s Skyfall. So what better way to promote her buzzy Oscar-hopeful performance in Philomena than resurrecting M for a special mission?

“Just when you thought I was dead,” non-M M says to the camera in the new marketing gimmick for The Weinstein Company’s movie. “I have an important mission for you… Are you familiar with M.P.A.A?” READ FULL STORY

'Skyfall' director Sam Mendes is back for next Bond film after all

Sam Mendes is taking a page from J.J. Abrams’s book.

No, the Oscar-winning director isn’t learning to embrace the lens flare. Instead, he’s aping the way Abrams officially signed on to direct a high-profile franchise extension earlier this year — despite denying his involvement in the project just months before.

The team behind James Bond’s 24th big-screen outing revealed today that Mendes will in fact direct their next film, the follow-up to his extraordinarily successful Skyfall.

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Danny Boyle says no to James Bond: 'I'm not the right guy' to direct

Sam Mendes was a contrarian choice in many ways to direct Skyfall, but the result was the biggest box-office hit in the 50-year history of the James Bond franchise. Certainly, he was welcome to return for a follow-up, but when he begged-off to spend more time in the theater, speculating who will direct the next 007 installment became one of Hollywood’s best parlor games.

Well, cross Danny Boyle off the list. The Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire who oversaw a Bond production of sorts — the London Olympics opening ceremonies, which featured a Bond sendup with Daniel Craig and the Queen — told the Hollywood Reporter he’s not really interested. “I’m not really the guy for those movies,” he said, during promotion of his new thriller, Trance. “What we do, right, is we use genre — you take a genre, like [Trance] has got a few genres running in it, you use a genre to try and get you in the mainstream. It’s a vehicle to boost you into the mainstream. And then you f— with the genre. You twist it and change it and move it around. You can’t do it on those big movies. You genuflect in front of them. Too much money, too expectation. It’s the faith of the fans, it’s all that. You’ve got to be very careful. It’s very tempting of course — I love the movies, I love the books, but I’m not the right guy for those.” READ FULL STORY

Sam Mendes won't direct next James Bond movie

Despite Skyfall being the most commercially successful James Bond movie ever, director Sam Mendes won’t be returning for Bond’s next go-round.

Mendes’ rep confirmed the director’s statement in Empire magazine, which explains that he will not direct James Bond’s 24th adventure.

“It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael [G. Wilson] and Barbara [Broccoli]’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie,” Mendes said. “Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond.” READ FULL STORY

Oscar-nominated sound mixers explain what you should (or shouldn't) notice if it's done well

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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 and Sound Editing, we now turn to Sound Mixing, with insights from nominees from Les Misérables, Skyfall, and Argo. Lincoln and Life of Pi complete the category. (Update: Cinematography completes this series.)

“The biggest misconception about what we do is that most people think it’s technical in nature because there’s intimidating mixing consoles involved. In reality, we are extremely creative in the use of sound to help tell the story,” says Argo sound re-recording mixer Gregg Rudloff, a five-time Oscar nominee with wins for his work on Glory and The Matrix. “But it goes back to what do you want people to notice and not notice? We want them to be watching the film and experiencing it and enjoying it. We don’t want them to be sitting there going, ‘Oh wow, that was a really cool sound thing that guy just did there.’ We don’t want to put them back in their seats. We want them to be totally immersed in the film. So in a way, we’re our own worst enemies. If we do a bad job, people notice what we do, and that’s not what we want. If we do it really well, people don’t notice it so much, but then they don’t understand the depths we’re working at.”

To fix that problem, we asked some of this year’s sound mixing nominees to walk us through key scenes to explain their roles and show us the kind of decisions their making. But first, the difference between sound mixing and sound editing, a separate Oscar category.

Essentially, the sound editorial team is responsible for assembling every sound you hear in the movie except the music and the dialogue that was recorded on set.

It’s the job of the production sound mixer to capture that dialogue as cleanly as possible to preserve the actor’s original performances, so sound editorial doesn’t have to have them do ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement). Post-production, the sound mixing team takes all the material that has been prepared by sound editorial — dialogue, atmospheric sounds like the wind and ocean; hard effects, which are synched sounds for things like cars, gunshots, explosions, and helicopters; and Foley, or nuance sounds such as footsteps and people touching things with their hands — plus the score, and affixes them to the screen and positions them in the theater while also setting their volume levels relative to each other. “We get tens of thousands of pieces of sound in a film. It’s like a big chemistry set: How much of this do you put in to that? And how much of this do you put in to that, and how will that affect this?” says Skyfall re-recording mixer Scott Millan, whose nine Oscar nominations include four wins for his work on Apollo 13, Gladiator, Ray, and The Bourne Ultimatum. “All of us who do this work have a sensitivity and a touch that’s pretty unique. If you gave the same content to 10 individuals and said go ahead and mix this movie, you’d get 10 different perspectives. They wouldn’t be the same. And that’s what’s so much fun about it. It’s almost like handing sheet music to a bunch of musicians: How they touch it, and how they touch it collectively together as an ensemble, is unique. If you change any of those players, it would be different yet again. “

Since it all starts with the dialogue captured on set, let’s begin there.

NEXT: The art of production sound mixing

BAFTA winners announced, 'Argo' picks up Best Film and Director awards

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts handed out their awards Sunday in London. Argo walked away the big winner with Best Film and Best Director for Ben Affleck.

Lead acting prizes went to Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln and Emmanuelle Riva for Amour, with supporting awards going to Christolph Waltz for Django Unchained, and Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables. Click past the jump to take a look at the full list of winners.

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'Skyfall' on Blu-ray: Judi Dench on the 'special relationship' between M and 007 -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

It was in GoldenEye that Dame Judi Dench first ripped into the “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” that is James Bond, telling the suave superspy, “If you think for one moment I don’t have the balls to send a man out to die, your instincts are dead wrong!”

Back then, it was Pierce Brosnan — not Daniel Craig — who was smirking beneath M’s withering glare, but 18 years later, she delivered on that threat in Skyfall. Stepping into the field after six previous Bond adventures that limited her to cold disapproval from behind a desk, M’s promotion into the heart of the latest story, which featured Javier Bardem as a rogue ex double-0 agent committed to exacting vengeance upon his former boss, raised the stakes for the characters and made Skyfall one of the most popular Bond movies ever. It’s already grossed more than a billion worldwide, nearly equaling the two previous Daniel Craig 007 adventures combined.

In the end, Dench proved to be the most fascinating and important Bond Girl of them all, not only proving herself his equal is every way, but bringing colors out of his “blunt instrument” of a secret agent that no bikini-clad babe ever could. Skyfall arrives on video next Tuesday, and Dench and Craig discuss their special relationship in an exclusive Blu-ray extra below. READ FULL STORY

Adele to perform 'Skyfall' theme at Academy Awards -- BREAKING

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It’s always a question: Will the Academy Awards telecast feature performances of the Original Song nominees?

Sometimes the answer is no, but this time … it’s looking like a yes.

Producers have indicated  the frontrunner in that category, Adele’s massively popular theme to the James Bond thriller Skyfall, will be performed live during the Feb. 24 ceremony.

While the other nominees weren’t mentioned in the announcement, it’s unlikely one nominee will be allowed to perform unless the other contenders are welcome too — especially since one of them is written by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane and another could be performed by Hugh Jackman.

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Box office report: 'Mama' punishes the boys with scary good $33 million holiday weekend

As reported yesterday, Jessica Chastain accomplished the rare feat of simultaneously starring in both the number one and number two movies in the country this weekend (not to mention, crushing two new releases in the process), and that stayed true over the extended holiday frame.

Over the four-day weekend, Mama scared up a tremendous $33 million (its three-day cume was adjusted up to $28.5 million), making the $15 million film a huge winner for Universal. Horror movies play particularly well in January — just two weeks ago Texas Chainsaw 3D topped the chart — but Mama had a lot working in its favor. Its female protagonist (Chastain) and PG-13 rating drew young women into the theater, as 61 percent of the opening weekend audience was female, and 63 percent were below the age of 25. The cachet of exec-producer Guillermo Del Toro also brought cinephiles through the doors.

Mama debuted in 2,647 theaters, where it earned a very healthy $12,480 average, but given the film’s weak “B-” CinemaScore grade and the horror genre’s frontloaded nature, it seems likely that Mama will nosedive from here. It may perform in the same range as last October’s Paranormal Activity 4, which opened with $29.0 million in its first three days on the way to $53.9 million total. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: Jessica Chastain takes No. 1 and No. 2 with 'Mama' and 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Jessica Chastain is having a moment. Not only did the red-headed Oscar nominee win a Golden Globe last weekend for her work in Zero Dark Thirty, which forced her to take a night off from her Broadway run — yes she’s starring in Broadway’s The Heiress during the thick of awards season — but she’s now achieved something few actors have ever managed: she currently holds the number one and number two movies at the box office.

Chastain’s latest vehicle, Mama, crushed the competition over the three-day weekend with a whopping $28.1 million. Universal, who produced the PG-13 film for only $15 million, opened Mama in 2,647 theaters, where it earned a terrific $10,624 average. The horror title played very well with young women — 61 percent of viewers were female, and 63 percent were below the age of 25. Unfortunately, most of those audiences weren’t overly enthusiastic about what they saw, issuing Mama a lackluster “B-” CinemaScore grade.

Chastain’s other entry, Zero Dark Thirty, fell only 28 percent in its sophomore weekend of wide release to $17.6 million, which brought the Osama Bin Laden huntdown’s total to $55.9 million. Controversy continues to boost the Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama’s profile, but great word-of-mouth seems to be playing just as big of a role in Zero Dark Thirty‘s success.

It’s fair to say that Chastain’s presence in both Mama and Zero Dark Thirty had little to do with each film’s successful box office performance. Neither was marketed on her appeal, and yet, that doesn’t take away from her achievement.

Silver Linings Playbook performed very nicely in its nationwide expansion. Upon jumping from 810 to 2,523 theaters, Playbook increased 126 percent to $11.4 million, which brings its total to $55.3 million so far. (Kudos to the Weinstein Co. for its deftly executed platform strategy. If they had opened Silver Linings Playbook in wide release, as planned, we almost certainly wouldn’t be talking about it 10 weeks later.) In the month leading up to Oscar season, good word-of-mouth may continue to carry Silver Linings Playbook to a total as high as $100 million.

In fourth place, Warner Bros.’ crime drama Gangster Squad fell 47 percent to $9.1 million, giving the $60 million Sean Penn/Josh Brolin action flick an unremarkable $32.2 million total after ten days.

Still, Gangster Squad’s second weekend was better than the debuts of new releases Broken City and The Last Stand, which both flopped out of the gate. Fox’s $35 million Broken City, which stars the usually reliable Mark Wahlberg alongside Russell Crowe, drew only $9.0 million worth of tickets from 2,620 theaters, while Lionsgate’s $45 million The Last Stand, an Arnold Schwarznegger film, fared even worse with a puny $6.3 million. Both films played primarily to older male audiences (who are also seeing Zero Dark Thirty and Gangster Squad), and they may have cannibalized each other over their first three days.

1. Mama – $28.1 million
2. Zero Dark Thirty – $17.6 million
3. Silver Linings Playbook – $11.4 million
4. Gangster Squad – $9.1 million
5. Broken City – $9.0 million

Check back tomorrow for the full box office report, which will cover the four-day holiday weekend.

For more box office musing and updates:

RELATED Box office update: ‘Mama’ scares up $10 million Friday

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