I’m not a big fan of the cold, but I’d certainly suck it up for a trip to the Sundance Film Festival. Sadly 2012 isn’t my year, but my intense adversity to chilly temperatures at least makes me appreciate being able to watch from the warmth of my New York City apartment for now.

On top of all the latest updates from Park City, this Movie News Cheats Sheet also has the lowdown on all the news circling the Hunger Games franchise as well as a play-by-play of the SOPA backlash. The casting realm has two shining stars this week, Liv Tyler who snagged the lead in Ti West’s The Side Effect and Diane Kruger who’s set to join the latest Stephenie Meyer book-to-film adaptation, The Host.

Meanwhile, Underworld: Awakening hit it pretty big at the box office, reporting the second highest opening weekend of the franchise, while Red Tails still managed to pull in enough to somewhat justify George Lucas’ 20+ year endeavor.

While all the fine folks out west send the latest from Sundance our way, it’s back to the office or to school tomorrow where we’ve got to keep the industry chatter flowing. Need some talking points to take with you? Here you go …

1. The Sundance Film Festival: It’s only day four of the Sundance Film Festival, and reviews are already flooding the web. Beasts of the Southern Wild is undoubtedly an early favorite, winning the $10,000 Indian Paintbrush Award and getting rave reviews. THR calls it, “An exceptional American independent feature that deserves the best efforts to tap audiences that would surely embrace it.” Many outlets are already noting Richard Gere’s Arbitrage’s award potential and calling it 2012’s Margin Call. Rodrigo Cortés is getting mixed feedback for his Buried follow-up, Red Lights, MTV calling it “not a very good movie,” and notes, “it’s difficult to say why without giving away all the twists, turns and what-the-eff moments.” Screen Daily calls Robot & Frank Frank Langella’s “most endearing screen performance in years,” but Film School Rejects notes the film has some moments where it “lags and sags and loses its eager-to-be-pleased audience.” Cinema Blend praises Rashida Jones’ work in Celeste and Jesse Forever explaining, “Jones is the clear standout,” and “Jones throws herself into Celeste’s downward spiral with a lack of vanity and an obvious commitment to the character she’s created.” Lastly, for now, Slash Film says, “While I don’t feel that The First Time adds anything new to the countless coming-of-age movies you’ve seen before – it nails the feeling and moments perfectly.” And that’s certainly good enough for me!

2. New Hunger Games Poster, Image and Catching Fire Confirmations: We’re just about two months away from the release of The Hunger Games and the news continues to pour in. The film’s final poster just arrived via Moviefone featuring Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) armed and ready for the Games. A new still also dropped, giving us a taste of what Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) look like just before being ignited for the opening ceremonies. With The Hunger Games expected to rock the box office come March 23rd, Lionsgate is already hard at work on the sequel, Catching Fire. As reported by The Wrap, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours scribe Simon Beaufoy is already penning the Catching Fire script while Gary Ross, who’s been confirmed for another go-around behind the lens, is supervising the process. Should all go to plan, Catching Fire is heading straight towards a November 22nd, 2012 release date.

3. Liv Tyler for The Side Effect: Even while promoting V/H/S at Sundance, Ti West is getting moving on his next feature, The Side Effect. Liv Tyler is officially confirmed to lead as Catherine Rigby, a woman working as a pharmaceutical company’s test subject. The gig requires that she spend several months alone out in space. Nothing wrong with a little me time, right? Sure, but not only does Catherine wind up inexplicably pregnant, but incredibly paranoid, too. West told Deadline, “Although it is still somewhat of a horror film, it is much more psychological than any of my previous efforts.” While the subject matter may be a bit different for West, it’s hard to imagine it’ll affect his knack for choosing leading ladies. I’d like to bet Tyler will make for an excellent follow up to The House of the Devil’s Jocelin Donahue and The Innkeepers’ Sara Paxton.

4. SOPA Shenanigans: Not so fast, U.S. House of Representatives. In protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act as well as the U.S. Senate’s Protect IP Act, Wikipedia led roughly 7,000 websites including Reddit and Google in an Internet blackout on Tuesday, January 17th. Wikipedia, BoingBoing and Minecraft completely shut down their sites while Google and many others were up and running, but with their logos blacked out. Now it looks like the big Hollywood studios are jumping into the ring on the issue, too. As reported by Deadline, after three of President Obama’s top officials expressed that they share similar concerns to that of the Internet community, some studio chiefs decided to no longer donate to Obama’s re-election campaign. One ‘movie mogul’ said, “At least let him remain neutral and not go against it until we can get the legislation right. But Obama went against it. I’m personally not going to support him anymore and not give a dime anymore.” It looks like everyone will have a little time to cool off because after all the uproar, the main sponsor of the bill has opted to postpone further action on the legislation.

5. James Wan and Patrick Wilson Back Together Again: As a big proponent of Insidious, news of James Wan and Patrick Wilson joining forces yet again is quite exciting. According to THR, Wilson and Vera Farmiga are in final negotiations to lead The Conjuring, a supernatural thriller about what happens when a husband and wife demonologist and psychic investigator team take on their biggest case ever. The concept stems from the true story of the Perron family and paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. Shooting is tentatively set to kick off in March in North Carolina.

6. See You Later Jack the Giant Killer and Bye Bye Arthur & Lancelot: Warner Bros. is severely restructuring its release schedule. According to THR, the studio has wiped Arthur & Lancelot off of its calendar in an attempt to fix a few issues, which includes a massive budget. The Kit Harington and Joel Kinnaman-starrer was supposed to hit theaters on March 15th, 2013, however, that date won’t go without a Warner Bros. release. The studio has uprooted its June 15th, 2012 release, Jack the Giant Killer, and put it in Arthur & Lancelot’s spot. What does that mean for Jack? Generally a push like this would imply the film might not be what the studio hoped for, but I’m more inclined to believe all of this shuffling is to solve financial concerns. High hopes? Maybe. In lesser rescheduling news, Warner Bros. also pushed back Rock of Ages from June 1st, 2012 to June 15th, 2012.

7. No, Really, Kristen Wiig Will Not Do Bridesmaids 2: After Bridesmaids went on to take in $288.4 million worldwide, sequel talk was inevitable, but perhaps talk has elevated to insistence much to Kristen Wiig’s chagrin. After Wiig announced that she and co-writer Annie Mumolo wouldn’t do Bridesmaids 2, word came in that Universal was going to do it anyway. But then Melissa McCarthy stepped in, saying she would never do a sequel without them, but Wendi McLednon-Covey followed that up by explaining Wiig would write the sequel eventually, something that Judd Apatow confirmed. However, it still all comes back to Wiig and she just told E!, “We’re not planning on doing one.” She added, “We had a special time making the first one, but we’re really excited to try something else.” So, is that that? I’d like to bet Wiig hopes so, but with the way this story’s been developing, I doubt the chatter will just disappear.

8. Diane Kruger Joins The Host: The Twilight Saga’s a big deal right? So I guess we should be paying attention to the development of The Host. We’ve already known that Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Jake Abel were on board for the new Stephenie Meyer book-to-film adaptation, but now Deadline is reporting that Diane Kruger is joining up, too. The story takes place during a time when an alien race invades and inserts themselves into human bodies. Typically, the “soul” takes over the body, but in Wanderer’s case, the memories of her human, Mel (Ronan), are too vivid for her to completely assume control. In comes Kruger’s The Seeker who worries that Wanderer doesn’t have enough control over Mel’s mind. Open Road will release The Host on March 29th, 2013 and two more films will likely follow.

9. Trailers: Resident Evil: Retribution, Project X, Jeff Who Lives at Home: Yes, this really is the Resident Evil: Retribution teaser trailer, not a Sony advertisement. But really, this teaser is a better advertisement for Sony than it is for Retribution. Somewhat similarly, the new trailer for Project X is suffering from a bit of an identity crisis, the beginning putting a heavy focus on the reactions from test screenings, but then that issue completely gives way to absolutely raucous footage from the film. Then again, regardless of the structuring of the trailer, Project X still looks like a pretty epic party – and thankfully, one you won’t be stuck cleaning up after. Lastly, you’d think a movie starring Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Judy Greer would be able to rival Project X in raucous laughs, but Jeff Who Lives at Home certainly looks like it’s veering more towards the dramatic and heart wrenching side.

10. Box Office: So far, so good for Underworld: Awakening. The franchise’s fourth installment opened on top with $25.4 million, putting it just behind Evolution’s $26.9 million start, making it the second highest Underworld opening. Coming in second is Red Tails, which performed well, earning $7,604 per theater and taking $19.1 million in total. Contraband took a rather tough hit, losing about half of its week one profits and only taking another $12.2 million to the bank. Despite a 2,624-theater boost, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close only pulled in $10.5 million on a $4,010 per theater average. Rounding out the top five is the weekend’s third newcomer, Haywire, whic
http://boxofficemojo.com/h only managed to post $3,690 per theater for a $9 million debut. (via Box Office Mojo)

By Perri Nemiroff

The Hunger Games Poster
The Hunger Games Poster

By Perri Nemiroff

Film producer and director best known for her work in movies such as FaceTime, Trevor, and The Professor. She has worked as an online movie blogger and reporter for sites such as CinemaBlend.com, ComingSoon.net, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.

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