TIME movies

GLAAD Report: Only 17 Major Studio Movies in 2013 Had LGBT Characters

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Ken Jeong as Leslie Chow in The Hangover Part III Warner Bros.

The advocacy group also found that many of those depictions were offensive

On Tuesday, the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD released its second-ever annual run-down of depictions of gay, bisexual and transgender characters in major Hollywood movies, the Studio Responsibility Index. The organization took a look at 102 major studio releases from 2013, and found that not much had changed: about 17% of the movies examined contained LGBT characters, versus last year’s 14%; about 7% of them passed the “Vito Russo Test” — GLAAD’s way of measuring whether a depiction is both positive and substantial — versus last year’s 6%.

Though the number has increased slightly in both counts, only one character out of a whole cast is needed to move a movie into the “yes” column — and many of the films that don’t pass the Vito Russo Test get a “no” for actually being offensive, not just for lacking an LGBT character. (Among the offenders: The Hangover Part III for the character of Leslie Chow and Grown Up 2‘s “recurring jokes about a female bodybuilder character secretly being a man.”) In addition, GLAAD found that none of the LGBT characters counted were leads, the group was not very diverse (three-quarters of the gay characters were white) and the genres where Hollywood money is most readily spent, such as action, are the least likely to feature LGBT characters.

But despite numbers that GLAAD calls “depressing” in its findings, there were a few bright spots. Notably, in a studio-by-studio tally, Sony Columbia became the first major studio in the study’s history to receive a “good” score, after being marked “adequate” last year, on the strength of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Battle of the Year, both of which pass the Vito Russo Test. 20th Century Fox and Disney both went from “failing” to “adequate.” The number of transgender characters overall also increased from zero to two.

The reason GLAAD takes the time to track these movies, the report explains, is that Hollywood films are — in addition to being entertaining — capable of spreading ideas worldwide. When a gay character gets significant screen time but perpetuates stereotypes (as in the case of Riddick, GLAAD points out, where a major lesbian character is routinely insulted and later successfully seduced by the ultra-macho protagonist) that may be worse than having no depictions of gay people at all.

“These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society,” said GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement announcing the report’s release, “rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

TIME Opinion

Kim Kardashian’s Genius New Game Is Basically Dante’s Inferno

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Kim is a Virgil for our time

“In order to win at life, you need some Kim K skills,” Kanye West told GQ in a recent interview. But how do you get that life-winning ability to pose, network and maneuver your way to fame? By playing her gaming app, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, of course. Forbes estimates Kardashian herself could make $85 million from the game, and it’s been a blockbuster ever since its release almost a month ago.

The app is an immersion into the glamorous Kardashian world, complete with photo shoots, club openings and feuds with wannabe celebrities. It’s the fame game, and it’s addictive; you simply can’t stop checking your makeup, posing and attending promotional events. More than 100,000 users have given Kim Kardashian: Hollywood a perfect rating in Apple’s App Store, driving up shares of Glu Mobile, the company behind the game, 24% since it was released June 25. In-app purchases — things like clothes, energy, cash and star-power can be acquired with real-world money while playing the game— could generate an annual revenue of $200 million.

I’m no Hollywood fashionista, but from the first time I played, I had a nagging sense of déjà vu. Slowly, it dawned on me: I’ve heard this story before, in 11th grade English class. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood reminds me of that super-long 14th-century poem about the nine circles of hell, each filled with sinners punished in a manner fitting their crimes, poetic justice if you will. Kim Kardashian’s game is Dante’s Inferno.

It’s basically the same idea, except you (Dante) can dress up in customizable hair and outfits that get increasingly elaborate as you get richer/closer to the center of hell. Kim is like Virgil, but she traded in her black robe for a sparkly silver dress, because shrouds are so 14th century. The circles of hell are levels of fame, natch.

But what’s so hellish about an addictive game that allows users to play at being beautiful reality show stars? Um, everything. In the Kim Kardashian universe, your character can’t sleep, eat or see any friends who aren’t “contacts” to help you get more famous. You have no family (Kim has family, but you don’t) and nobody to love. Your only human contact is with other hell-walkers game characters with whom you can either choose to “network” or “flirt.” You’re not allowed to do anything but go to club openings, photo-shoots or red carpet premieres. You can’t read.

The only good thing about this world is that a flight from LA to Miami costs $15.

It’s no coincidence that you enter this inferno by committing one of the seven deadly sins: Greed. When the game starts, you’re a lowly boutique clerk, and you’ve just closed up the aptly-named “So-Chic” store, when you’re approached by the one and only Kim Kardashian. “Hi! Is this your store? Are you open? I could really use your help,” her character says. Your options are: “still open,” “just closing,” and, in a terrifying premonition of your name-dropping future, “Kim Kardashian.”

If you have any respect for order in the universe, you pick “just closing,” because you did just close the store, and no celebrity will make you break the rules. But if you do that, Kim Kardashian says, “Oh no! I’m having a fashion emergency. The back of my top is ripped, and I’m on my way to a shoot with Garrett St. Clair, THE Garrett St. Clair.” Because you’re supposed to know who that is.

“I don’t want him to see me like THIS,” she whines. “But I don’t know of any boutiques around here.” She’s in downtown L.A., mind you.

Here, the game gives you no option. The only possible choice is “I can help!” If you try to leave and return to normalcy, Kim Kardashian says “I love fashion and I love to shop!” The game forbids you from exiting, and you can feel the devil’s icy claws clutch your ankles.

At this point, you are already doomed, your soul has already become too blackened for absolution. For when Kim Kardashian asks how much the outfit is, the game’s only option is to tell her: “no charge.” When she says “No, really? I can’t!,” the game’s only option is “(insist.)” Later, when your boss asks you to work on a night when Kim has invited you to a party, your only options are “use your charm” and “mention Kim.” Blowing off the party and going to work is not a possibility. You’re in Kim’s world now.

There’s no way to get through the game without committing one of the seven deadly sins at almost every possible junction. You go out of your way to humiliate your enemy, Willow Pape (Wrath.) You’re always trying to be as famous as Kim (Envy) and you’ve got an eye on your next big publicity stunt (Pride.) After the first level, you never go back to work at “So Chic,” (Sloth) and dollar bills appear every time you check your makeup (Greed.) We all know what your manager means when he tells you to “keep your head down – or up…or wherever the photographers want it!” (Lust.) The only sin you don’t commit on the long journey from D-list tag-along to A-list star is Gluttony, because this is Los Angeles, after all.

It’s been nearly a month since the game came out, and I’m still in Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood, checking my eyeliner, changing my outfit, flirting and networking and promoting brands and slowly spinning deeper and deeper into darker circles of hell. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

 

 

 

TIME movies

Over a Tepid Weekend at the Box Office, Room for Mediocrity to Thrive

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes led the box office for the second consecutive weekend. Twentieth Century Fox

Of the four highest-grossing films this weekend, two were about societal collapse, three were sequels, and only one earned respectable reviews

“Art,” Roger Ebert said in a speech on human empathy on a Colorado Public Television feature in 1994, “is the closest we can come to understanding how a stranger really feels.”

If that’s the case, then maybe it’s grimly logical that with Gaza on fire, and hundreds of families in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur mourning a wreck that still smoulders, the most popular films in American theaters this past weekend are stories of apocalyptic or near-apocalyptic crisis. Also, sequels.

The first is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the story of humankind felled by a manufactured virus and an army of chimps rendered sentient by the same virus seeking to fill the power void. For the second consecutive weekend, Dawn has seized the top position at the U.S. box office, having grossed nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in international ticket sales since opening ten days ago. It’s a follow-up to the 2011 20th Century Fox film that revived the decades-old franchise; both movies have enjoyed a surprisingly warm embrace from critics.

Not drastically far behind in the numbers was The Purge: Anarchy, whose title is perhaps more fitting, or at least to the point, than that of the first film in the franchise. The plots of both deal with a utilitarian sort of lawlessness sometime in the nearish future, in which anyone can pretty much do anything — murder is popular — over a twelve hour period once a year in order to keep crime rates otherwise low. Tepid reviews of the sequel apparently notwithstanding, the film made just under $30 million in ticket sales after opening in U.S. theaters on Friday.

After that, things are more incongruous with the Ebert-empathy thesis: a Pixar movie — another sequel — and a tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy about a leaked sex tape came in at third and fourth, respectively. Both have received mixed-to-plainly-negative feedback (Planes: Fire and Rescue holds a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes; Sex Tape’s is twenty points lower).

It was, on the whole, a shoddy weekend for Hollywood, the New York Times reports, though of course the summer blockbuster season is still relatively young. We’ll get the fifth — fifth — installment in the predictably stalwart Step Up franchise in a few weeks. There’s a redux of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coming out; given that (a) it’s a Michael Bay number and (b) Megan Fox is in it, we can rely on every adolescent male in the U.S. to help it at least break even.

TIME movies

Hollywood Eyes Film Based on Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor’s Story

Jeff Bauman Throws First Pitch At Fenway Park
Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman threw out a ceremonial first pitch on May 28, 2013, at Boston's Fenway Park, where the Philadelphia Phillies played the Red Sox in a regular-season baseball game. Jim Davis—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Three of the names behind the Oscar-nominated film The Fighter have reportedly signed on to produce a movie about Jeff Bauman

A gutsy survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings is to receive the silver-screen treatment with a film in the works about his remarkable story.

Jeff Bauman lost both his legs to the twin explosions while he was waiting for his girlfriend to complete the race. He penned a book, Stronger, about what occurred that fateful day and his long road to recovery.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lionsgate won the deal to develop the picture and brought in Mandeville Films to produce. The project will be an adaptation of Bauman’s book, which he wrote alongside best-selling co-author Bret Whitter.

Three big names who worked on the Oscar-nominated feature The Fighter — Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman and Scott Silver — are producing the film, and actor John Pollono will take on writing the adaptation in his first feature-length project.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two pressure-cooker bombs exploded just seconds apart from each other as scores of runners were crossing the finishing line in Boston on April 15, 2013.

A manhunt ensued for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and he was apprehended four days later. His brother and fellow suspect Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME China

How Transformers 4 Became the No. 1 Film in Chinese History

A 21-foot tall model of the Transformers character Optimus Prime is displayed on the red carpet before the world premiere of the film "Transformers: Age of Extinction" in Hong Kong
A model of the character Optimus Prime is displayed on the red carpet before the world premiere of Transformers: Age of Extinction in Hong Kong on June 19, 2014 Siu Chiu—Reuters

It's not as simple as a national appreciation for universally scorned movies

The latest film in Michael Bay’s Transformers series was largely set in China, had its premiere in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong and is now the highest-grossing film in the country’s history, having earned $222.74 million in ticket sales in less than two weeks.

It dethrones James Cameron’s Avatar, which made slightly less when it premiered in early 2010.

Given that critical reaction to Transformers: Age of Extinction has been almost conspiratorially negative across the board — Richard Roeper called it “relentless,” and not as a compliment; Peter Travers at Rolling Stone refused to give it even one star — much of the coverage of its success in China has been, well, pretty darn condescending: “Chinese people are dazzled by anything Hollywood, etc.”

The reality is more complex. If the bar of cinematic quality is indeed set lower in China, the tastes of its 1.3 billion people aren’t necessarily to blame. The Chinese Communist Party is exceedingly picky about the films screened in the country, especially in the case of foreign cinema; so if a movie does well, one can ultimately thank the government.

The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.

And timely is the operative word here. According to a diligently researched report from Quartz, Transformers: Age of Extinction is one of the few Western blockbusters to arrive in China contemporaneously with its premiere in the U.S. and elsewhere — thereby minimizing the market opportunity typically seized by bootleggers hawking pirated copies and so boosting box-office sales.

Some critics have scoffed at the outcome of the necessary negotiations, though, calling it at best clumsy — one overt product placement features a man in the middle of Texas withdrawing cash from a China Construction Bank ATM — and at worst just plain shameless — as car robots terrorize semiautonomous Hong Kong, one policeman insists on “[calling] the central government for help.” But as China’s box-office market is the largest outside of North America, and expected to usurp the U.S. as the biggest in the world by the end of the decade, Mr. Bay, we can assume, is laughing all the way to the bank.

TIME Hollywood

Chinese Company Operating Area Where Transformers Was Filmed Plans to Sue Makers

China Transformers
A replica model of Transformers character Bumblebee on display in front of Qianmen Gate, as part of a promotion of the movie "Transformers: Age of Extinction" in Beijing on June 21, 2014. Andy Wong—AP

The Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism Co. Ltd. which operates a scenic landscape area in southwest China featured in Transformers: Age of Extinction said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the producers had failed to show its logo prominently in the movie as promised.

(BEIJING) — A company that operates a scenic landscape area in southwest China which features in the latest “Transformers” movie says it will sue its producers for breach of contract.

It is the second Chinese company to make public a dispute with Paramount Pictures over “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” which heavily courts the Chinese audience with Chinese locations, actors and products and is on track to become China’s biggest-ever grossing movie.

The Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism Co. Ltd. said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the producers had failed to show its logo prominently in the movie as promised. As a result, it is not clear to viewers that the shots of the scenic spot in the movie are of Wulong, because they are interspersed with scenes from Hong Kong, and other tourist spots are claiming the karst peaks are theirs, it added.

It said it would file a suit at a court in Chongqing city demanding unspecified damages against Paramount Pictures and Beijing-based 1905 Internet Technology Company, one of the movie’s Chinese partners. Wulong said it wanted measures taken to mitigate the damage and compensation for direct and indirect economic losses.

Paramount didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 1905 said in a statement on its website that Wulong had not paid them on time.

Last month, a Beijing property developer said it had filed a lawsuit alleging that Paramount and two of its Chinese associates had failed to deliver on pledges to hold the movie premiere at its hotel and feature images of its property in trailers and movie posters. Soon after the developer and Paramount said they had smoothed out the dispute.

The latest dispute comes as China overtook the U.S. in “Transformers” box office earnings. According to the box office tracking website Box Office Mojo, the movie had earned $213 million in China and $175 million in the U.S. as of Sunday. It was released on the same day in both markets.

The movie is expected to become China’s highest-grossing movie early this week. Currently, the 2010 movie “Avatar” holds that accolade, having made $218 million in China.

“Transformers” has been helped by a favorable screening in China, with over half of all screens showing the film at the beginning of its release.

While the first three “Transformers” movies were already good earners in China, director Michael Bay heavily courted the Chinese audience in his latest by employing Chinese stars and basing part of the action in Chinese cities. While this interested many local movie goers, some criticized its numerous product placements, including Chinese liquor and milk.

A commentary in the Beijing Times on Monday said Hollywood movies do not have to “flatter” Chinese viewers and audiences would rather watch an “interesting story than various sorts of product placements.”

TIME movies

Transformers Smashes Tammy at Start of Slower Box Office Weekend

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION, Optimus Prime, 2014. Ph: Industrial Light & Magic/©Paramount
Paramount

Sequel adds to $100 million earned last weekend

Transformers: Age of Extinction netted almost $10 million at the box office on Thursday, adding to the $100 million it earned last weekend and transforming Tammy into a dud as Hollywood kicked off what looks to be a quieter-than-usual Fourth of July weekend.

The science fiction film is expected to earn another $55 to $60 million by the end of the holiday weekend, Variety reports, but the weekend is shaping up to be far less lucrative than in previous blockbuster years. Early figures show Tammy, which opened Wednesday, coming in second at the box office. The Melissa McCarthy comedy netted $5.5 million, Variety reports.

Other movies rounding out the top five earners Thursday included the family friendly Earth to Echo, horror film Deliver Us From Evil, and comedy 22 Jump Street.

The Independence Day weekend typically yields high profits for Hollywood, but this year’s offerings are on track to earn less than usual.

TIME

X-Men Director Teases Sneak Peek of X-Men: Apocalypse

James McAvoy portrays Charles Xavier in a scene from "X-Men: First Class." The “X-Men” franchise will get another boost in 2016 with the release of “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
James McAvoy portrays Charles Xavier in a scene from "X-Men: First Class." The “X-Men” franchise will get another boost in 2016 with the release of “X-Men: Apocalypse.” Murray Close—AP

The director of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' has posted an Instagram photo of the beginning of the next 'X-Men' film

Get excited, Marvel fans: The director of X-Men: Days of Future Past posted a photo of the treatment for X-Men: Apocalypse, the next film in the franchise.

Director Bryan Singer created a new Instagram account Tuesday to which he immediately posted the image. Singer’s picture shows part of the first page of the treatment for X-Men: Apocalypse. The treatment, which can be thought of as a detailed synopsis, seems to continue where the post-credits scene of X-Men: Days of Future Past left off.

The film opens in Ancient Egypt. We’re immediately confronted with the four horsemen — Pestilence, War, Death and Famine — who are the servants of Apocalypse, the film’s main villain.

The photo has done more than set fans’ pulses racing. The image, and a photo Singer tweeted last week of him and the film’s co-writers, indicate that the director will be working on the film, something which some observers doubted after allegations of sexual abuse emerged against the director in April and May.

TIME movies

Watch: First 4D Theater Opens in the U.S.

You've probably heard of 3D movies - but a movie theater in California is currently offering a movie going experience called 4D

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The first 4D theater in the United States opened this week in Los Angeles with a late-night showing of Transformers: The Age of Extinction.

A “4D” experience means that a 3D movie is combined with features like sensor-equipped motion seats, wind, strobe, fog, rain and scents.

The company behind the innovative movie-going experience – South Korea’s CJ 4DPlex – is betting that 4D will be the next wave in the film industry.

Movies have to be adapted to be played in 4D – recent titles to be given the 4D treatment include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

4D systems are currently installed in about 23 countries, including Bulgaria, China, Chile, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

TIME obituary

Versatile Actor Eli Wallach Dies at 98

Honorary Oscar recipient actor Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards in Hollywood
Honorary Oscar recipient actor Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2011 Lucas Jackson—Reuters

The New York City native held roles in more than 80 films over the course of his six-decade career

Eli Wallach, the prolific American actor who spent more than half a century working in film, has died at the age of 98.

Wallach began as a stage actor in the early 1950s but soon found his way to Hollywood. Between his first movie role in 1956’s Baby Doll and his last in 2010’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, he found work in more than 80 films.

He was a “great performer,” Clint Eastwood said when presenting Wallach with an honorary Oscar in 2010, “and a great friend.” In 1966, Eastwood and Wallach co-starred in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, beginning a close friendship.

“As an actor, Wallach is the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wrote of him.

Wallach’s death on Tuesday was confirmed by his daughter Katherine.

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