Newsbites: Docs! Troopers! Morocco! Reilly!

Here’s another fresh batch of news blurbs.

1. The Globe and Mail reports that it is no longer possible to see many Canadian documentaries, thanks to rising copyright clearance costs, according to a recent paper released by the Documentary Organization of Canada:

The Copyright Clearance Culture and Canadian Documentaries, written by Ottawa copyright lawyer Howard Knopf, cites many eyebrow-raising cases. An example: Quebec filmmaker Sylvie Van Brabant’s film Remous/Earthwalk has been withdrawn from public circulation because its main character sings 30 seconds of a recognizable tune whose rights the National Film Board has deemed too expensive to renew.

The cost of paying to use archival footage has been increasing, in part, the white paper notes, because underfunded institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and NFB have taken to using licensing fees as a revenue source. Filmmaker Avi Lewis was told that it would cost him $187.50 per second for CBC footage of his own grandfather, former NDP leader David Lewis, uttering the phrase “corporate welfare bums.” The younger Lewis backed off.

2. Carmen Andres at In the Open Space reports that Starship Troopers 3 is in the works, and according to one plot summary, “Religion makes a comeback.” As Carmen says, “Religion? Huh.”

3. “Like Webster’s Dictionary, we’re Morocco-bound.” So sang Hope and Crosby, and an increasing number of filmmakers are saying this too, reports The Hollywood Reporter, via Reuters:

At this time of year, Morocco resembles Los Angeles with its pleasant days and cool nights. But when it comes to filming, the country is hotter than ever.

Paramount Vantage’s “Babel,” New Line Cinema’s “The Nativity Story” and MGM’s upcoming “Home of the Brave” have shot there in the past year — as did an episode of CBS’ “The Amazing Race.” Universal Pictures’ “Charlie Wilson’s War” just finished shooting there, while New Line’s “Rendition” and Warner Independent Pictures’ Paul Haggis mystery thriller “In the Valley of Elah” are lining up shoots in the near future.

The main reasons are subject matter and safety. In the post-September 11 world, most U.S. movies that deal with or are set in the Arab world have found their options for location shooting limited because of safety concerns. And Morocco has been the beneficiary.

I especially love this anecdote:

In fact, if anything, there’s so much production, particularly in Ouarzazate, that filmmakers are tripping over themselves.

“When we were there with ‘Babel,’ they were doing ‘The Hills Have Eyes 2’ and some Moses miniseries with Omar Sharif,” Golin says. “So you’re at the pool of the hotel and there are four other movie crews there.”

He adds: “You get tired of your own crew after awhile, so it wasn’t so bad.”

4. Production Weekly reports that John C. Reilly will star in Walk Hard, a spoof of musical biopics like Ray and Walk the Line. As Jeffrey Overstreet notes, Reilly proved he could sing in A Prairie Home Companion, and he proved he could do comedy in Talladega Nights, so the potential for greatness is certainly here.

5. Variety reports that, according to DreamWorks Animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg, the problem with animated films this year was not the sheer glut of them, but the sameness of them:

It’s not the glut of animated pics but the glut of animated pics about wise-cracking animals that caused the downturn in average box office for toons this year, Jeffrey Katzenberg said at the UBS media confab in New York on Tuesday.

“The thing I did not anticipate that was more problematic than the volume of product was the sameness of product,” the DreamWorks Animation CEO told investors. “That is what has created a bit of animation fatigue.”

This year featured a number of toons that many critics complained were tough to distinguish, such as “The Wild,” “Open Season,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown” and DWA’s own “Over the Hedge,” potentially wearing out auds. Only pics that broke out were “Meltdown,” “Cars” and “Happy Feet.”

Of course, Katzenberg’s assessment would mean a whole lot more to me if his DreamWorks cartoons didn’t all feel the same — and I’m not just referring to the fact that Shrek 4 is already in the works.

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  • RC

    that’s very interesting about Morocco…I suppose it makes sense, but it is very interesting.

    Thanks for sharing it…as well as the goofy parts of the article.

    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  • RC

    also reilly didn’t just prove his singing in Prairie Home, but in Chicago as well.

    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  • Good point!