Newsbites: The controversy edition!

Lawsuits and elections and marketing, oh my!

1. Stephen Harper, who may or may not be re-elected Prime Minister when Canadians go to the polls on Tuesday, has pulled the plug on a controversial clause in Bill C-10 that would have allowed the government to deny tax credits to Canadian films for their “morally offensive” content. (Many critics had noted that the clause, which would have denied the credits to those films after the films had already been made, would have made it incredibly difficult to arrange financing for Canadian films before they were made, and thus could have had a radically destabilizing influence on the industry as a whole.) Filmmakers have welcomed the news, of course, and Harper’s decision to abandon this clause has been interpreted by some as “a major blow to the religious right”, because a number of social conservatives, notably Charles McVety, had spoken in favour of the clause and had even taken credit for its inclusion in the bill in the first place. — Globe and Mail, Canadian Press, Hollywood Reporter, Variety

2. Yoko Ono has dropped her lawsuit against the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed — but just to be safe, the DVD version that comes out in two weeks will not feature the John Lennon song that prompted the lawsuit in the first place. — Reuters

3. Religulous is attracting laughter and applause, but some observers think it is merely “preaching to the choir.” In other news, one Christian blogger notes that the studio distributing the film, i.e. Lionsgate, is also the studio that sells Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith: The Film on DVD, and it is involved with other films that have a faith-based connection, as well. So, yeah, as with many businesses, so here: it’s the money-making potential, and not the philosophy of any given product, that matters to the company in the end. — Reuters, Christians in Cinema

4. Speaking of Lionsgate, the studio is also distributing a horror movie called House — which is not to be confused with the 1986 film of that name. The new film, which comes out November 7, is based on a novel by Christian author Ted Dekker, but it is also rated R — so the studio is reportedly uncertain how to go about marketing the film. Should it go for the Christian base, or should it try to reel in regular horror fans? You might think that The Passion of the Christ (2004) had proved that Christians can be open to seeing R-rated movies with a religious component, but apparently the studio isn’t convinced. — Ted Dekker

Thanks to all the people . . .

Alas, thanks to some last-minute assignments, I haven’t attended anywhere near as many films at this year’s film festival as I had hoped, nor have I had time to write any capsule reviews at this blog. Soon, though, I hope to do so. In the meantime, here are a few of the more amusing VIFF trailers, which play before the movies themselves. The festival itself continues until Friday.

Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

Movie City Indie has these and a few other VIFF trailers, too.

See also the Elbow Wars website game created by the VIFF.

Billy: The Early Years — the interview’s up!

My interview with Armie Hammer, who plays the young Billy Graham in Billy: The Early Years — and almost played Batman in the Justice League movie — is now up at CT Movies.

The Dark Toy.

This cross between The Dark Knight and the first two Toy Story movies (1995-1999) is one of the funnier trailer mash-ups that I’ve seen in a while. You’ll never guess who plays Alfred.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QFWBFIEuig]
Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

Interview: Armie Hammer (Billy: The Early Years, 2008)

Armie Hammer came very close to playing Batman, in George Miller’s apparently now-defunct Justice League movie. But he got to play a superhero of a different sort when he took on the role of Billy Graham, one of the best-known and most widely-respected evangelists in history, in Billy: The Early Years, which opens Friday.

Hammer, who turned 22 in August, plays Graham from the ages of 16 to 31, before he became the world-famous preacher that he is today. The film covers Graham’s conversion at a revival meeting in 1934; his courtship of Ruth Bell (Stefanie Butler), who he married in 1943; and his crisis of faith when his fellow evangelist Charles Templeton (Kristoffer Polaha) became an agnostic in the late 1940s.

[Read more…]

Canadian box-office stats — October 5

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Blindness — CDN $278,272 — N.AM $2,002,000 — 13.9%
My Best Friend’s Girl — CDN $2,050,000 — N.AM $17,628,000 — 11.6%
Burn after Reading — CDN $5,740,000 — N.AM $51,641,000 — 11.1%
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist — CDN $1,290,000 — N.AM $12,000,000 — 10.8%
Religulous — CDN $377,463 — N.AM $3,519,000 — 10.7%

Eagle Eye — CDN $4,670,000 — N.AM $54,605,000 — 8.6%
Nights in Rodanthe — CDN $1,900,000 — N.AM $25,075,000 — 7.6%
Lakeview Terrace — CDN $2,380,000 — N.AM $32,140,000 — 7.4%
Appaloosa — CDN $312,277 — N.AM $5,570,000 — 5.6%
Beverly Hills Chihuahua — CDN $1,370,000 — N.AM $29,000,000 — 4.7%

A couple of discrepancies: Blindness and My Best Friend’s Girl were #9 and #10 on the Canadian chart, respectively (they were #12 and #17 in North America as a whole), while Fireproof and An American Carol were #8 and #9 on the North American chart, respectively (neither film has been released in Canada).