Perelman to re-write, direct Atlas Shrugged

Variety reports that Vadim Perelman, writer-director of House of Sand and Fog (2003), has been hired to direct Atlas Shrugged:

Perelman will work from a draft of the script penned by “Braveheart” scribe Randall Wallace, who managed to boil down the Rand manifesto of 1,100-plus pages into a 127-page script. The drama revolves around what happens when great industrialists and thinkers go on strike and the world grinds to a halt.

Wallace will remain involved, and in a recent meeting with Perelman, the pair traded Russian dialogue. Perelman was born in Kiev, while Wallace has picked up the language researching his Catherine the Great pic “The Mercenary”; Rand was born in Russia. Perelman has brought his own take that will be incorporated into Wallace’s script.

The filmmakers reportedly hope to start shooting the film in early 2008, with Angelina Jolie in the starring role.

Exodus premieres at Venice, sans Margate

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw on The Margate Exodus, the title of which was apparently trimmed to simply Exodus before it premiered at the Venice International Film Festival this week:

I was intrigued, but perplexed by another British film, Penny Woolcock’s Exodus; it’s a dystopian fantasy that parallels the Biblical story of the same name. Some time in the future, a firebrand fascist leader called Pharaoh (Bernard Hill) leads Margate as a secessionist city-state, and herds all the undesirables into a fenced-off zone on the site of the old Dreamland funfair. Part shanty-town, part concentration camp, it’s a Sowetànamo of boiling resentment. Pharaoh’s son Moses (Daniel Percival) winds up living there, and finds himself destined to lead the people into the promised land. The casting of up-and-comer Claire-Hope Ashitey underlines a resemblance to Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, though, frankly, without any very convincing or exciting story.

FWIW, the Times of London has an article on the non-actors who were hired to play many of the parts in this film.

Canadian box-office stats — September 2

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.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday — CDN $4,400,000 — N.AM $18,992,000 — 23.2%
The Nanny Diaries — CDN $1,750,000 — N.AM $15,262,000 — 11.5%
Superbad — CDN $9,860,000 — N.AM $89,335,000 — 11.0%
Stardust — CDN $3,420,000 — N.AM $31,092,000 — 11.0%

War — CDN $1,710,000 — N.AM $16,979,000 — 10.1%
The Bourne Ultimatum — CDN $20,010,000 — N.AM $199,734,000 — 10.0%
Death Sentence — CDN $389,253 — N.AM $4,225,000 — 9.2%

Rush Hour 3 — CDN $9,070,000 — N.AM $120,416,000 — 7.5%
Balls of Fury — CDN $991,850 — N.AM $14,307,000 — 6.9%
Halloween — CDN $1,290,000 — N.AM $26,462,000 — 4.9%

The Simpsons Movie vs. Pixar, redux.

Last month, I noted that The Simpsons Movie had grossed more in its opening weekend than any Pixar film — indeed, more than any animated film that was not a sequel to Shrek (2001) — so I figure it is only fair to post an update on that film’s situation.

Put simply, it looks like The Simpsons Movie will become the first movie ever to gross over $70 million in its opening weekend and not gross over $200 million before it leaves North American theatres. Pixar’s Ratatouille, on the other hand, crossed the $200 million line in North America just this past weekend.

Ah, but here’s where things get interesting. Jim Hill reports today that Ratatouille is still seen as an underperformer, at least by Pixar standards. It took the film 65 days to cross the $200 million line, whereas every other Pixar film since 1999′s Toy Story 2 did it in 44 days or less. And whereas every previous Pixar film, going back to 1995′s Toy Story, was in the Top 5 for its year, it looks like Ratatouille might not even make the Top 10 for 2007.

Add to this the fact that Ratatouille is said to have cost twice as much to make as The Simpsons Movie, as well as the fact that The Simpsons Movie has done much, much better overseas than Ratatouille has, and… well… perhaps The Simpsons Movie really is doing better than Pixar after all, at least with respect to Pixar’s current offerings. Worldwide, The Simpsons Movie has earned $469.4 million so far, whereas Ratatouille has earned $373.4 million, and last year’s Cars came to a halt at $462 million.

Make of all that whatever you will.

VIFF 2007 — sneak preview already online!

The Vancouver International Film Festival starts in three and a half weeks, and the press conference for it is still two days away … but the “sneak preview guide” was distributed this weekend to various locations throughout the city, and a PDF file of the “film notes” portion of the guide is available here. Happy browsing!

Is it “epic” just because it’s biblical?

It’s a slow news day here at FilmChat, so for those who follow Bible movies as obsessively as I do — if not more so — here is an update on Promenade Pictures and its plans for a series of CG-animated Bible epics, beginning with The Ten Commandments.

If you go to Promenade’s official website and click on “Films”, the first thing that comes up is six paintings under the heading “Epic Stories of the Bible”, each of which is labelled like so:

  1. The Ten Commandments
  2. Noah’s Ark: The New Beninning (sic)
  3. David & Goliath
  4. Samson & Delilah
  5. The Battle Of Jericho
  6. Genesis

The first thing that occurs to me on seeing this list is that, with the exception of The Ten Commandments — which will reportedly include not just the Exodus but the 40 years of wandering that followed it — none of these stories is particularly “epic”.

“Genesis” might sound big, but the synopsis says it will concern the story of Adam and Eve — and apparently nothing else.

Every cinematic version of the “Noah’s Ark” story that I have ever seen is a short film or a mere segment of a larger film — with, I think, the single exception of that 1999 mini-series, which puffed the story up with a lot of nonsense, or with bits cribbed from other parts of the Bible that have nothing to do with Noah’s Ark.

“The Battle of Jericho” may be “epic” in scale, given that it concerns the conquering of a rather large city — but it is really just one episode in the considerably larger conquest of Canaan by Joshua.

And the lives of Samson and David might be “epic”, if they were depicted in their entirety — but the episodes involving Delilah and Goliath actually make up a small portion of their life stories.

If all of these films are supposed to be feature-length, then most of them will need to be padded out quite a bit — unlike The Ten Commandments, where we have so much data on the life of Moses that any movie about him has to leave some things out.