Sunday, June 28, 2015


With Jurassic World crossing the $1 BILLION Dollar threshold worldwide, the Jurassic Park franchise now becomes only the sixth franchise to feature multiple billion dollar grossers. The first to do so was Pirates of the Caribbean back in 2011, followed the next year by both the Batman (The Dark Knight) and Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. In 2013 Marvel's Cinematic Universe has their second billion dollar grosser when Iron Man 3 joined 2012's The Avengers, which was then joined by this year's Avengers: Age of Ultron, making Marvel the only franchise with THREE billion dollar hits. Last year the rebooted Transformers franchise had their second billion dollar smash with the Mark Wahlberg installment Age of Extinction

The thing that makes the Jurassic feat so interesting is the fact that over two decades passed between the two billion dollar blockbusters. All of these other mega-franchises had their biggest hits within a fewer than ten year span, making the twenty-two year difference between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World even more incredible. Clearly audiences were primed and ready for another trip to the dino park.

All data found at as of 6/28/15


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Saturday, June 27, 2015


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the folks who bring us The Oscars every year, have invited 322 new members to join their ranks. The artists, industry vets and releative newcomers added to their roster span all aspects of film making and show at least some effort to diversify the ranks. Actors added include Elizabeth Banks, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Kevin Hart, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Stone. Among the directors added were Snowpiercer's Bong Joon-ho, Whiplash's Damien Chazelle, Guardians of the Galaxy's James Gunn, Ida's Pawel Pawlikowski, Wild TalesDamián Szifron, and Hot Fuzz's Edgar Wright. The music branch got hipper by adding Radiohead guitarist and frequent P.T. Anderson collaborator Jonny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood) and Industry Rock legend Trent Reznor and his writing partner Atticus Ross, who won Oscars for David Fincher's The Social Network. The writers branch added Birdman scribes Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone, Nightcrawler's Dan Gilroy, and The Imitation Game's Oscar winner Graham Moore.

Here is the full list of new members, the class of 2015...


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Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Young actor Tom Holland, known mostly for his stellar work in the Tsunami film The Impossible, has been cast as the new Spider-Man.


After only ten days of release Jurassic World has already become one of the biggest box office hits of all-time! Let that sink in. TEN DAYS!

It has already surpassed the original Jurassic Park and entered the Top 20 on the domestic chart (unadjusted for inflation).

(All numbers taken from

It is also fast approaching the $1 BILLION mark worldwide, a number it should pass any day now.

Even when you look at adjusted for inflation numbers, it is still a monster hit, already joining the Top 100 ALL-TIME and about to surpass 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Monday, June 22, 2015


James Horner, brilliant composer of such acclaimed scores as Aliens, The Land Before Time, Field of Dreams, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Titanic and Avatar, has sadly passed away in a plane crash tonight. He was the pilot and lone passenger in the crash. One of the more prolific composers in Hollywood over four decades, his films have grossed over $13 billion dollars worldwide.

He will be missed.


Happy Birthday to Billy Wilder, writer, director and producer of such classics as Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Sunset Blvd., Ace In The Hole, Some Like It Hot and The Apartment (amongst MANY others).

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Jaws has now been scaring the pants (swimming trunks?) off of us for FORTY years now! Released on June 20th, 1975, Steven Spielberg's first big screen success ushered in the Blockbuster Era and established Summer as the premiere launching time for mega-budget, tent-pole studio films.

To this day Jaws still sits in the top ten all-time, when adjusted for inflation. It is one of only eight films in history to have theoretically grossed over $1 BILLION dollars domestically, when ticket prices are adjusted. Spielberg is the only director to have TWO films on that exclusive list, with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial sitting at #4.

Box Office numbers found on

Below are ten of the film's seminal scenes. What's your favorite? Mine is probably Robert Shaw's brilliant "Indianapolis Speech".


What's your favorite scene in Jaws?

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Jurassic World took the world by storm this weekend, exceeding even the wildest expectations as to how well the latest flick in the Jurassic Park franchise would perform. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, new to the world of blockbusters and whose only previous film was the little-seen indie Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World's $208,806,270 domestic take and over $500 million worldwide haul both crushed the previous records held by Marvel's The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2, respectively.

An early Thursday start, positive word-of-mouth, and a solid cast headed up by perhaps today's biggest current box office draw Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, The LEGO Movie), all culminated in an out-sized performance of T-Rexian proportions. A slew records fell, listed here...

The worldwide numbers have yet to be finalized on, so there are more records to be added to the previous TWENTY listed above. Not bad for a franchise that started over twenty years ago.

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Monday, June 15, 2015


The L.A. Film Fest brought together a unique array of artists and performers for a series of "Coffee Talks" at the Courtyard Marriott over the weekend. The talks were unscripted, candid chats between fellow directors, actors, composers and screenwriters, and were loaded with helpful tidbits for those aspiring to join the business in those fields. Below are some highlights and key pieces of advice culled from these fantastic conversations.

Coffee Talks #1 (Directors), left to right:
Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not GuaranteedJurassic World), Anne Fletcher (The ProposalHot Pursuit), Paul Weitz (American PieAbout A Boy)

Weitz acted as moderator.

Colin Trevorrow:

"Trust your instincts."

"Learn to deal with and compartmentalize failure."

Anne Fletcher:

"Perseverance is key to everything."

"On set, it is okay to say 'I don't know'."

"The most important aspect of filmmaking is relationships." 

Paul Weitz:

"Failure doesn't necessarily kill you."

"As Director, you determine what kind of day people have on set."

I snagged an autograph from Jurassic World helmer Colin Trevorrow, and congratulated him on his HUGE (see: Record Breaking) opening weekend.


Coffee Talks #2 (Actors), left to right:
David Koechner (Anchorman, The Office), Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers, We're The Millers), Mae Whitman (Parenthood, The DUFF), Alfre Woodard (Heart and Souls, 12 Years a Slave), Bryce Dallas Howard (The VillageJurassic World)

Howard acted as moderator.

David Koechner:

"Why did that actor take that part? Everybody has to pay the bills."

"Know your lines, hit your mark."

"Actors should train like Mayweather, Jordan, Kobe, LeBron. Acting is similar to athletics, you have to practice to be the best."

"The problem with a lot of up-and-coming actors is they don't want to be good, they want to be famous."

Kathryn Hahn:

FUN FACT: Known for comedic roles in films like Step Brothers and TV's Parks and Recreation, Hahn actually studied drama at Northwestern University and the prestigious Yale School of Drama.

Mae Whitman:

Talked about how her extensive voice-over career has helped hone her live-action acting skills. Also, "It's dope to be in cartoons".

Alfre Woodard:

"Actors should think of acting as a calling."

"Take the work that feels good."

Bryce Dallas Howard:

FUN FACT: Actor Josh Gad (Olaf from Disney's Frozen) has been best friends with Howard's husband since they were little and is the Godfather to their children.

FUN FACT: Howard's father, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, has threatened to grow out a pony-tail in order to look hip and current. She has asked him repeatedly to not do it.

"Manage your finances. Keep your overhead low."

Advice from Ron Howard to Bryce Dallas Howard:
1. "Save your money."
2. "If you can do anything else (other than acting), do it."


Coffee Talks #3 (Composers), left to right:
Danny Elfman (Beetlejuice, Batman), Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Skyfall)

Moderated by BMI's Vice President of Film/TV Relations Doreen Ringer Ross

Danny Elfman:

FUN FACT: Elfman never took music lessons and didn't start playing music until he was 18 years old when he first picked up a violin.

"I thought performing was what I was going to do."

"Nobody sets out to make a bad film. Sometimes, they turn out bad."

On musical inspiration: "Bernard Herrmann's music had personality."

On the most common note from Directors: "Give me more."

What are your favorite Thomas Newman scores? "American Beauty and The Player."

Thomas Newman:

FUN FACT: Newman's father is Oscar-winner Alfred Newman (Wuthering Heights, All About Eve) and his cousin is Oscar-winner Randy Newman (Toy Story, "I Love L.A.").

On working on small scale, independent films: "There's no time, no money, but don't skimp on the excellence."

"Love what you do. Joy in your process is important."

What are your favorite Danny Elfman scores? "Beetlejuice and The Simpsons".


Coffee Talks #4 (Screenwriters), left to right:
Timothy Dowling (Role Models, Pixels), David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel), Meg LaFauve (Inside Out)

LaFauve acted as moderator

Timothy Dowling:

"Generally mediocre books make great films, and great books make mediocre films."

"If you are getting the same note from everyone, you have to recognize it might be valid."

"I try to always write a movie that I'd like to watch."

David S. Goyer:

On whether original or adapted screenwriting is tougher: "Original. The blank page is tougher."

On getting notes from executives/the studio: "Listen to the problem, don't listen to the solution."

On writing draft after draft: "Writing is re-writing."

On getting hired to re-write someone else's script: Ask "what was important to you about this script?"

On writing: "Treat it like a regular job. Same time, everyday, no matter what. Even if it is crap. Ritualize it."

On making it in Hollywood: "Be tenacious."

Meg LaFauve:

On writing draft upon draft: "You have to be ready to rip it apart."

On character arcs: "Know whether your character is changing or if the world is changing around your character."

Advice to first time screenwriters: "Read A LOT of screenplays."


The L.A. Film Fest, presented by Film Independent, continues through Thursday June 18th. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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Thursday, June 11, 2015


Christopher Lee, legendary actor with nearly 300 credits to his name, has died. His career spanned EIGHT decades, first appearing on Television back in 1946, and working all the way up to the present. He made a name for himself playing Dracula in a string of influential Hammer studio horror films in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. He also played a Bond Villain opposite Roger Moore in The Man with the Golden Gun. Later in his career, directors like Tim Burton, George Lucas and Peter Jackson cast the veteran actor in fantasy roles in blockbuster films and franchises like Sleepy Hollow, Star Wars, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Lord of the Rings.

He was 93 years old. He will be missed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Film Independent's 2015 LA Film Fest is here! Bringing together an eclectic mix of big names and emerging talent, the festival will feature over 80 films, more than half of which are world premieres, including narrative films, documentaries, shorts, television and music videos. Below are some highlights. For more info, or to purchase passes/tickets, visit

Last night the Sundance hit Dope had it's L.A. premiere in a pre-festival screening, and tonight Pixar writer/director extraordinaire Pete Doctor (Up) puts on a master class in animation, along with a pre-festival screening of his new film Inside Out. Tomorrow the festival officially kicks off with the "Spirit of Independence Award" presented to legendary actress/comedian Lily Tomlin, followed by the world premiere of her new film Grandma, directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy). On Friday night at Union Station the festival will put on a FREE screening, open to the general public, of the Robert Zemeckis classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

On Saturday at the Courtyard Marriot at L.A. Live the festival will be hosting a series of "Coffee Talks", featuring conversations (and coffee!) with a slew of top filmmakers and artists. First up at 11 AM is a talk with directors Anne Fletcher (Hot Pursuit), Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World), and Paul Weitz (About A Boy). The directors are followed at 1 PM with an actors chat with Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Kathryn Hahn (We're the Millers), David Koechner (Anchorman), Mae Whitman (The Duff), and Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave). At 3 PM it's the dynamic duo of composers Danny Elfman (Batman) and Thomas Newman (Skyfall). The final session of the day includes screenwriters David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight), Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club).

Also on Saturday, the festival offers three FREE "Diversity Speaks" panels at The Conga Room at L.A. Live. At 1 o'clock Film Independent curator Elvis Mitchell sits down for a conversation with John Ridley, screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave and creator of the television series American Crime. At 2:45 the festival hosts a dialogue with the talent behind BlackishEmpireFresh off the Boat, Jane the Virgin and Transparent called "Adjusting the Color Spectrum on TV". Finally, at 4 o'clock the Nelson Mandela Foundation presents "Visions of Mandela", a series of films inspired by the speeches of Nelson Mandela.

Three parts of the festival also worth noting are the "Zeitgeist", "Nightfall" and "LA Muse" competitions. New to the festival this year, "Zeitgeist" films focus on coming of age stories, while "Nightfall" films cover bizarre and horrifying stories that take place at night. The "LA Muse" films are all set, shot or inspired by Los Angeles.

Here's the complete list of films playing in these unique competitions...

On Monday, June 15th Film Independent members get a special treat with a bonus FREE members-only screening of the new film Fan Girl starring Mad Men's Kiernan Shipka and America's sweetheart Meg Ryan. Lastly, in a first for the festival, the closing night will feature a Live Read of the 1980's teen comedy Fast Times At Ridgemont High, which will be guest-directed by Eli Roth (Hostel).

This is just a small sample of all the festival has to offer. Make sure to check out for all the details and to purchase tickets or passes.

Pass and Individual Ticket Prices...

Festival Schedule...

For information on how to join Film Independent, and all the benefits you'll receive (including discounts to the L.A. Film Fest) visit

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