Fault in Our Stars weeps way to hearty $48 million at box office

The Fault in Our Stars

Fox’s tragic teen romance “The Fault in Our Stars” captured the box-office crown with a $48.2 million opening this weekend, swamping Tom Cruise’s “Edge of Tomorrow” and providing the summer’s biggest surprise yet.

In a season typically dominated by pricey epics featuring superheroes, monsters and giant robots, the low-budget adaptation of John Green’s bestseller about two young cancer patients (Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort) falling in love was something out of the ordinary. Women, rarely the target for summer tentpole movies, dominated the audience which was a whopping 82 percent female and 79 percent under the age of 25. They went home happy, and gave the film an “A” CinemaScore.

“Fault fanatics” — mainly teen girls who also made the film a social media phenomenon — turned out in force Friday and powered a huge, $26 million first day that set the tone for the weekend. Last week’s No. 1 movie, Disney’s “Maleficent,” finished second with $33.8 million. That easily topped Cruise’s sci-fi saga, which wound up third with $29.1 million over its first three days.

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Divergent: What Makes You Different, Makes You Dangerous

Divergent: What Makes You Different, Makes You Dangerous

Divergent is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it’s too late. Based on the best-selling novel by Veronica Roth.

The extremely popular young adult novel Divergent was written by first time author Veronica Roth and has topped the New York Times Bestsellers list since being published in May of 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Publishers. Divergent was named to NPR and Barnes & Nobles’ “Best Books of 2011,” and voted by readers of Goodreads as “Favorite Book of the Year.” The book was written by Roth while she was earning her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. The studio acquired the film rights to the novel in early 2011 several months before Divergent was published.

Filmed on location in Chicago, the futuristic action adventure Divergent is directed by Neil Burger, from a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor, based on the novel by Veronica Roth. Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher produce the project via their Red Wagon Entertainment banner, along with Pouya Shahbazian. John J. Kelly and Rachel Shane serve as executive producers. Rothe also serves as co-producer.

The highly anticipated feature film adaptation of Divergent stars Golden Globe® nominated Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, ZosKravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold, and Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet.
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The Most Important Connection is Friendship, not Romance

The Most Important Connection is Friendship, not Romance

After discovering her boyfriend is married, a woman (Cameron Diaz) tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on (Leslie Mann), she realizes they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered (Kate Upton), all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB.

Carly Whitten (Diaz) is a tough-as-nails New York lawyer with a strict set of rules when it comes to men and relationships. When she meets Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), she lets her guard down and begins to fall for him. A spontaneous, surprise visit to King’s Connecticut home goes awry when Carly discovers that Mark has a wife, Kate (Mann).

A devoted super-housewife, Kate is shocked that Mark has been cheating on her, and Carly is furious to learn that Mark is a married man. But instead of directing their outrage toward one another, Carly and Kate slowly begin to bond over their joint enemy, and, with help from Amber (Upton), a third woman caught up in Mark’s lies, they conspire to give him what he deserves. As their strategies become more ingenious, their bond grows stronger.

The Most Important Connection is Friendship, not Romance

Producer Julie Yorn had long been looking for a comedic vehicle for a strong female duo or ensemble, when she latched on to an idea by screenwriter Melissa K. Stack. Yorn explains why Stack was the right person for the job: “Melissa had such a dry perspective and such intelligence, and we fell in love with her. I can count on one hand how many times this happens, but we got the first thirty pages of Melissa’s script and I said, ‘We’re making this movie.’

The initial conversations around the story began with Stack declaring what she didn’t want to see: “I said, ‘I don’t want the wife to be a doormat or a sad sap,’” Stack recalls. “‘I don’t want the other woman to just be a bitch.’ We talked about the stereotypes you see sometimes, the so-called ‘movie math’ of women.”

The Most Important Connection is Friendship, not Romance

Stack found some interesting sources of inspiration: “I had been watching a lot of French comedies, in which everybody’s sleeping with somebody who’s not their spouse. In America, we have a more Puritanical view of adultery and it was interesting to see a variety of French comedies in which the characters were dealing with relationships as the complicated subjects that they are. It’s messy but real, and not just about the ‘bad guys’ and the ‘good guys.’”

Similarly, Yorn sees The Other Woman as a relationship story in which the most important connection turns out to be friendship, not romance: “The movie is about the love story between these women and about them taking back their power.”

The Most Important Connection is Friendship, not Romance

The Other Woman

Director: Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj
Screenwriter: Melissa Stack
MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, sexual references and language.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: April 25, 2014

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Cannes kicks off with Nicole Kidman in ‘Grace of Monaco’

Cannes Kicks Off With Nicole Kidman in 'Grace of Monaco'

The Grace Kelly melodrama “Grace of Monaco” kicked off the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday with classic French Riviera glamour, behind-the-scenes controversy and emphatic boos from critics.

The film, starring Nicole Kidman as Kelly during her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco (Tim Roth), gave Cannes some local Cote d’Azur color and star wattage for a flashy opening. But it also started the 11-day festival on an unusually tumultuous note.

“Grace of Monaco” has for months been embroiled in a feud over the final edit with North American distributor the Weinstein Co. It has also been criticized by the Monaco royal family as inaccurate. (The film, which chronicles Kelly’s retirement from Hollywood and adjustment to life as a European princess, is a labeled as a “fictional account inspired by real events.”)

But director Olivier Dahan (“La Vie en Rose”) and Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein swept their differences under the red carpet Wednesday. After twice postponing its U.S. release, the Weinstein Co. will distribute Dahan’s version, albeit for a lesser fee.

“There is only one version of the film,” Dahan said, adding that any changes would be made mutually. “There is no longer any dispute. We work well together.”

Yet “Grace of Monaco” was met with some of the worst reviews for a Cannes opener. The Hollywood Reporter called the film “a stiff, stagey, thunderingly earnest affair which has generated far more drama off screen than on.”

Reports had questioned whether Weinstein would spurn the premiere, causing him to issue a statement Wednesday saying he was traveling on a humanitarian trip in Jordan. He wished Dahan and the cast “all the best” for the screening.

Kidman was clearly excited by the part — playing a great actress she admires and is arguably her equal in stature. But Kidman said the refusal by Princess Stephanie of Monaco to see the film about her parents was “awkward.”

“I feel sad because I think the film has no malice toward the family,” said Kidman. “You take dramatic license at times, but I understand also because it’s their mother and father.”

The festival jury, which decides the prestigious Palme d’Or award, led by Jane Campion, was also introduced Wednesday. As the only female filmmaker to win the Palme (for “The Piano” in 1993), Campion faced questions that have often surrounded Cannes about the inclusion of women directors.

“I think you’d have to say there’s inherent sexism in the industry,” Campion said.

Of the some 1,800 films submitted to Festival Director Thierry Fremaux, Campion said only 7 percent were directed by women, though 20 percent are represented in the program.

“But nevertheless, it does feel very undemocratic,” said Campion, who added that movies are losing out on a feminine perspective.

Last year, the Palme went to the erotic French coming-of-age tale “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” In a first, Steven Spielberg’s jury awarded the Palme not just to the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, but also to its two stars, Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux.

This year brings a selection of 18 films somewhat light on Hollywood, but heavy on world-class auteurs, including Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, the Dardenne brothers, Mike Leigh and Michel Hazanavicius, returning to where his “The Artist” became a sensation.

Two films come from Americans: the Olympic wrestler drama “Foxcatcher,” by Bennett Miller (“Capote”), starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carell; and the western “The Homesman,” the second directing effort from Tommy Lee Jones.

Canadian filmmakers outnumber their North American neighbors: David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars,” Atom Egoyan’s “The Captives” and Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy.”

Though “Grace of Monaco” isn’t eligible for the Palme, Kidman (a jury member last year) said she would have picked it.

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Facebook is implementing an unfollow button

Facebook is implementing an unfollow button

It looks like Facebook is going the way of Twitter and Instagram. Soon users will be able to unfollow friends whose comments and updates they’d like to remove from their News Feed, according to a Facebook spokesperson.

Yes, that’s right folks! Now, if you’re not a fan of Suzy Q’s droning on about Cyber Monday or Larry’s love for his kitty cats or Amy’s insufferable photos of the latest adorable thing her daughter did, you can just nix them from your News Feed with the quick click of a button. The new phrasing will replace the existing “hide all” button, which is available to users in the drop-down on posts in the News Feed.

The best part is that users will not be notified if they’ve been unfollowed, thus keeping your social circle intact and avoiding any hard feelings. The functionality ultimately allows you to avoid news you’re not interested in, without actually “defriending” someone and shrinking your social presence.

“The goal of this change is to help people curate their News Feed and see more of the content that they care about,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in a statement given to Mashable.

The new language lines right up with other applications like Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, which all use follow and unfollow to indicate whose news and posts you have access to.

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Discovering a hidden world and an extraordinary destiny

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

A seemingly ordinary young woman discovers a hidden world and an extraordinary destiny in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the eagerly anticipated big-screen adaptation of the first book of Cassandra Clare’s blockbuster fantasy adventure series, The Mortal Instruments.

Clarissa “Clary” Fray (Lily Collins) has been living quietly in Brooklyn for as long as she can remember, when she suddenly begins to see startling and seemingly impossible things. Just as suddenly, her single mom (Lena Headey) disappears after a violent struggle. As she and her best friend Simon (Robert Sheehan) search for her mother, Clary begins to uncover the dark secrets and darker threats in the hidden world of the Shadowhunters, angel-human warriors who have protected humanity from evil forces for centuries.

Surrounded by demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other supernatural denizens of the Shadow World, Clary joins forces with young Shadowhunters Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), Isabelle (Jemima West) and Alec (Kevin Zegers) to locate and protect an ancient Cup that holds the key to her mother’s future. Discovering abilities and courage she never knew she possessed, the young woman surprises even herself as she proves to be a formidable opponent against an array of deadly adversaries.

Inside the Shadow World

In The Mortal Instruments book series, the world we know holds within it another, hidden world populated by magical beings engaged in a constant struggle of good against evil. Known as the Shadow World, it contains mysteries that go back a thousand years to a time when darkness was threatening to engulf the earth.

Ten centuries ago, the Black Death ravaged Europe and endless Holy Wars tore apart the Middle East. According to Cassandra’s Clare’s elaborate and meticulously plotted mythology, demonic forces trying to destroy humanity and take over the world for themselves were behind this strife.
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Britney Spears’s Red-Hot Birthday

Britney Spears's Red-Hot Birthday

Happy Birthday, Britney! The superstar singer is celebrating her 32nd birthday on Monday, and she’s turning a year older in red-hot style … literally!

The blond beauty posted a sexy shot on her Facebook page late Sunday night, showing off her smoking-hot bod and looking like she’s doing better than ever!

Dressed in a red-hot sequined corset surrounded by flames with the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign in the background, she’s clearly doing well both personally and professionally.

Not only does the doting mom of two have her phenomenal figure perfectly in shape, but she also appears to be happier than ever in her relationship with boyfriend David Lucado.

And while her love life may be on fire, it turns out that her career is even hotter!

The blond bombshell has a new album, “Britney Jean,” set for release on Tuesday, and she is currently prepping for her “Piece of Me” residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas beginning on December 27 — we can’t wait!

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Ender’s Game: The Enemy’s Gate Is Down

Ender's Game

A brilliant and remarkably gifted 12‐year‐old is trained to become Earth’s ultimate military leader in Ender’s Game, the long‐awaited big‐screen adaptation of the classic, Hugo and Nebula Award winning novel.

After surviving a devastating attack by the insect‐like Formics, the people of Earth have spent years readying themselves for a repeat attack by nurturing a new generation of child geniuses to be trained as warriors. The planet’s best and brightest youngsters are selected to attend Battle School, an orbiting space station where they compete for a chance to become a commander of the International Forces. Using advanced computer simulations and rigorous game‐like exercises, they train in an atmosphere of violence and intense competition, knowing that only one will be selected to lead.

Ender Wiggins (Asa Butterfield) is exceptional, even among his extraordinary classmates. His unique combination of intelligence, empathy, and strategic brilliance makes him a standout in the classroom and in the Battle Room—a zero‐gravity playground where games of futuristic laser tag test the trainees’ strategic and physical abilities. But Ender’s singular gifts inspire envy in his fellow recruits, and the school’s commander, Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford), deliberately alienates Ender from the other children in order to hone his individual leadership skills.

An outsider at first, Ender, with his preternatural understanding of human nature gradually builds a coalition among his peers, and is soon promoted to command school—located on a distant planet once used by the Formics as a forward staging post for their invasion of Earth. Under the severe tutelage of Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley), the brilliant general who defeated the Formics years earlier, Ender is rapidly promoted to lead his fellow students in simulated war games against enemy forces.

Certain that another attack by the Formics is imminent, Graff and Rackham believe they have only weeks to ready Ender to lead the International Fleet in a battle for planetary survival. But as the boy prepares to face his final test, he develops gnawing doubts about the monumental task that lies ahead. Is this the best stragefy for achieving peace?

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Storm Over Noah Epic Movie

Noah Movie

Test screening of the biblical film starring Russell Crowe did not go well, according to Hollywood Reporter.

God gave Noah some very specific instructions on how to build an ark. But it seems there was no such clear voice of authority when it came to the making of Darren Aronofsky’s epic movie based on the Bible story.

Multiple sources say that with test screenings of various versions producing worrisome results, Aronofsky and Paramount have been at odds over the version of Noah that is set for release March 28. It’s not clear whether Aronofsky — whose most recent film, 2010’s Black Swan, grossed $329 million worldwide and won an Oscar for star Natalie Portman — has held on to his right to final cut. Aronofsky and his reps did not respond to requests for comment, but Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore says the film, which stars Russell Crowe as the seafarer, is going through a “normal preview process” and the result will be “one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing.”

In recent weeks, the studio has held test screenings for key groups that might take a strong interest in the subject matter: in New York (for a largely Jewish audience), in Arizona (Christians) and in Orange County, Calif. (general public). All are said to have generated troubling reactions. But sources say Aronofsky has been resistant to Paramount’s suggested changes. “Darren is not made for studio films,” says a talent rep with ties to the project. “He’s very dismissive. He doesn’t care about [Paramount's] opinion.”

The auteur director of films including The Wrestler, Pi and Requiem for a Dream, Aronofsky hasn’t been associated much with big studios or big effects pictures (a minor exception is The Fountain). But with Noah, he’s in deep with both. Paramount is splitting the cost, now past the original $125 million budget, with Arnon Milchan’s New Regency.

The use of visual effects has been so extensive that in some scenes, only an actor’s face is in the final image. The film relies on effects to create the flood, of course, but in addition, Noah doesn’t feature any real animals. Aronofsky said the creatures in the film are “slightly tweaked” versions of those that exist in nature, and there also are fantastical beings in the mix. The director recently told DGA Quarterly that Industrial Light & Magic had said it did the most complicated rendering in the company’s history for the film — “a nice badge of honor,” he said.

Beyond the visuals, a major challenge has been coming up with an exciting third act that doesn’t alienate the potentially huge Christian audience (in the Bible, Noah and the ark’s inhabitants survive the flood that destroys the earth). Some in the faith community already have expressed skepticism about the result, especially after writer Brian Godawa in October 2012 obtained a version of the Noah script and posted his summary online under the heading, “Darren Aronofsky’s Noah: Environmentalist Wacko.” (Aronofksy has in the past described Noah as “the first environmentalist.”) Among his conclusions is that Noah will be “an uninteresting and unbiblical waste of a hundred and fifty million dollars that will ruin for decades the possibility of making a really great and entertaining movie of this Bible hero.”

Mark Joseph, who has consulted on the marketing of films including Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Ray says he hasn’t been to a screening of Noah but fears it is “an example of a director not listening to those voices that would have been warning of the dangers of veering too far away from the biblical text. The director is there to serve the studio and the audience, not veer off into directions that go against the core audience’s beliefs — at least if the goal is to get them to come to the theater.” More hopeful is Ted Baehr, whose Movieguide.org publishes reviews from a Christian perspective, holds out hope that the film will pass muster.

Paramount obviously hopes to woo the faithful; in July Aronofsky screened Noah footage for the church-based Echo conference in Texas. Some tweets from audience members suggested that the sneak peek was well received.

Moore says the studio knew going in that the film would be complicated and “allowed for a very long postproduction period, which allowed for a lot of test screenings.”

While Aronofsky “definitely wants some level of independence,” he adds, “he also wants a hit movie.” The bottom line: “We’re getting to a very good place, and we’re getting there with Darren.”

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Why autumn is the season for falling in love?

Falling in Love in Autumn

Now that the weather’s getting cool, let’s cast a quick glance back at the truth about the summer that just was: few characters in dramatic history sum up the realities of summer love quite like Danny and Sandy in Grease. “Summer fling, don’t mean a thing,” they belt out in the memorable theme song, “Summer Nights.” Sad, but true. Intimacy sparked literally in the heat of the moment tends to fade faster than a set of well-cultivated tan lines.

Autumn romance, however, is different. The love we seek and hopefully find in the fall is bound to have more depth, more meaning. Listen in as notable scientists, anthropologists and authors explain why… and then get out there and get mingling. Your season of lasting love has arrived.

Why scientists think of fall as “mating season”

The cooling climate is a signal to us humans that we need to pair up — a signal that no doubt dates back to the dawn of man. “We know that winter is approaching and it will be more difficult, or challenging, to find a mate during the winter,” says psychologist and sociologist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a research professor at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship. “So we are more intent on looking for and finding that someone special during the fall, to nest with, to mate with, before the winter settles in.”

What’s more, we humans are creatures of comfort. “In the winter, we hurry home to our nests to stay warm and protected from the elements,” says Susan Davis, Ph.D., a New York-based clinical psychologist and co-author of Raising Children Who Soar: A Guide to Healthy Risk-Taking in an Uncertain World. “To nest well, if we are single, we need to find a mate. It’s a very basic, primitive need that still drives us.”

The force known as family

“Biologically, fall is a logical time to fall in love,” says anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a research professor at Rutgers University and author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. Procreation plays a key role: human beings are motivated to mate in the fall so babies will be born in summer, explains Dr. Fisher. “It’s an adaptive mechanism,” Fisher explains. “Summer is a time of plenty, a time of less stress, high nutrition and comfortable weather.” Even if you’re not planning on procreating in the months ahead, at a deep and primal level, we’re driven to couple up… perhaps for keeps.

Back to business

Here’s another reason why fall is the best time to get serious with a sweetie. We all realize it’s time to stop fooling around. “Summer is a time when we’re off, we’re traveling, we’re not part of our communities,” says Dr. Fisher. “But in fall we come back to our settled lives, get on with the important affairs of living. We’re in a position to make a long-term commitment now.”

As our focus returns to our community — the neighborhood, the office — we’re more likely to get that itch to “settle down.” “Proximity renews its power in the fall,” says Dr. Fisher. “When routine and normality return, we tend to fall in love with people who are around, who we see regularly around the water cooler or at the gym.” And the relationships that result are more likely to have staying power: says Dr. Orbuch, “Proximity makes interaction more likely and rewarding. The more we see someone, the more familiar they become and the more we are attracted to them — and the more apt to fall in love.” So mysterious strangers on a train or at a beach may be the stuff of flings, but real people who live and work nearby are prospects for true love.

Dressed for commitment

As anyone who ever hefted a September issue of Vogue magazine knows, fall fashion is serious fashion. “With fall clothes, you still see the form — you’re not cloaked and covered up the way you are in winter — but you’re not showing everything either, and that sends the message of ‘take me seriously,’” says Debbie Mandel, a Long Island, NY relationship specialist and author of Turn on Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul.

Plus, the shift from summer attire (say, T-shirts and cargo pants) to button-down shirts and more tailored clothes lets both men and women strut their “ready for serious commitment” stuff. “The way we dress in the fall shows our resources — our money, our class, our education, our mate value,” says Dr. Fisher. “Men wear suits in the fall. Clothes that reflect achievement and conscientiousness are attractive in a mate because they signal that you’re responsible, able to get up and go to work and to deal.”

A woman in more covered-up fall clothes may also appear to be mate material “for a good Darwinian reason,” according to Dr. Fisher. “When a man is looking for a long-term relationship, he’s not as interested in the girl in the very short dress and scoop neckline, because he’d have to do a lot of what we call ‘mate guarding’ from all the ‘mate poachers.’” In other words, your partner won’t have to work so hard keeping you to himself when you’re wearing boots, jeans and a sweater.

Celebration of love

Well, what about the pressure? Fall heralds the start of the holidays, and nobody wants to spend that time alone. “Christmas is the most profound festival in the Western world, I think, but there were midwinter festivals throughout the last 10,000 years of our agriculture heritage,” Dr. Fisher points out. “It’s the one that we all share — and it’s a time of family, of making connections. It’s not a time of short-term attachments but of building the real, solid relationships that the brain seeks.”

Take the next step

What to do with all this information on the power of fall romance? Get out there! Savor the season by literally getting outside: “In the fall the sky is deeper blue, the air fresher, the leaves more colorful,” says historical romance writer Linda Madl. “It’s time for bonfires, apple picking and hay rides, the scent of burning leaves.” Fairs and festivals abound, so visit them.

If that’s not enough activity inspiration, consider taking the back-to-school impulse literally and signing up for a course where you’ll meet like-minded people. And remember, you can always fall back. Get in touch with someone you might have dismissed during the impetuousness of summer — he or she may look very different to you in the clear, crisp light of autumn.

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