Authorities will question the agent of acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou after the director went missing following allegations he had fathered seven children, a breach of China's one-child policy, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The agent for Zhang, the director of epics "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers", was summoned to the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi to answer allegations against him, Xinhua said late on Friday, citing the local family planning bureau. The Wuxi family planning commission "has done everything possible to contact Zhang Yimou and Chen Ting and dispatched a work team that rushed to Beijing to look for Zhang Yimou, but there were no results, they could not find (him)", Xinhua said.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Action film "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" led the North American box office with ticket sales of $35.6 million over the first two days of the long U.S. Thanksgiving weekend that began on Wednesday, while Disney's animated "Frozen," sold a hefty $26.3 million. "Catching Fire," the second installment of the "Hunger Games" franchise, grossed $14.9 million on Thursday's Thanksgiving Day holiday according to studio Lions Gate. That broke the record previously held by "Toy Story 2," which earned $13.1 million on Thanksgiving in 1999, according to Rentrak. ...
At the 64th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival next February, the 77-year-old British director will receive a special lifetime achievement award honoring his long and prolific career. Ken Loach will claim the honorary Golden Bear at the 2014 Berlinale, organizers announced Friday. The title went to Claude Lanzmann in 2013, and previous recipients include James Stewart (1982), Catherine Deneuve (1998), Robert De Niro (2000) and Meryl Streep (2012). The announcement of the honorary Golden Bear for Ken Loach indicates a possible screening of the director's forthcoming film "Jimmy's Hall." The historical feature will explore the life of Jimmy Gralton, a communist leader exiled from Ireland to the US in 1933.
By Ed Cropley JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' won rave reviews from South Africans who flocked to its opening night but critics were unimpressed, with one describing the latest biopic about the anti-apartheid leader as overly reverential ANC propaganda. With South Africa's first black president now 95 and in poor health, cinema-goers were in emotional mood at Thursday's first airing of the 150-minute epic, which stars British actors Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. "I grew up in the streets of Alexandra township and for me every step that Mr Mandela took, it was as if I was taking that step again. I feel very loved and fortunate to be a South African." Mandela, who became president in 1994 but stepped down after one term in office, gave independent South African producer Anant Singh the film rights to his 'Long Walk to Freedom' autobiography more than 15 years ago.
South Africans flocked to cinemas on Thursday to watch the first screenings of the hotly-anticipated Nelson Mandela biopic in a country still battling to exorcise its dark past. Viewers of the two-and-a-half hour "Long Walk to Freedom" tracing Mandela's life from childhood to his landmark 1994 election said the film gave them a better insight into South Africa's past, but it was also an emotional rollercoaster. "I don't know how to express myself," said a visibly overwhelmed Mapulane Tsilo, 39, who cried throughout the screening she attended in a former bedrock of anti-apartheid activism, Soweto. The film based on Mandela's autobiography of the same name was simultaneously launched in over 100 cinemas across South Africa following a major advertising campaign.
Israeli-American media tycoon Haim Saban, a major donor to the U.S. Democratic party, said on Friday he would back former secretary of state Hillary Clinton with his "full might" should she run for president in 2016. Clinton, 66, whose four-year tenure as U.S. secretary of state ended in February, has said she is considering running for the presidency but that she will most probably decide next year. As a candidate, she would be widely viewed as the favorite for the Democratic nomination - which she contested in 2008 but lost to Barack Obama, who is in his second term. Billionaire financier George Soros, another party bankroller, also pledged support for the wife of former President Bill Clinton last month.
Already a producer on "Train Wreck," Judd Apatow has ultimately decided to get behind the camera for the feature as well. Since the launch of her Comedy Central show "Inside Amy Schumer" last spring, Schumer has quickly gained a following of fans in the US. "Train Wreck" will mark Apatow's return to directing after "This Is 40" (2012), something of a sequel to "Knocked Up," released five years earlier. Universal Pictures is producing "Train Wreck," which is currently in the writing stage.
The movie is based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" -- 25 years after Disney's last Andersen adaptation, "The Little Mermaid" -- even if it takes substantial liberties with plot and characters. The studio's 53rd feature-length film, which has had positive reviews ahead of its release for the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, brings to fruition a project which was on Walt Disney's wish list although he never made it. "Walt Disney was passionate about trying to do a version of this," the film's co-producer Chris Buck told at a press conference to present the film at Disney's Burbank, California studios before its release Wednesday. Fellow co-producer Jennifer Lee added: "Unfortunately, we dug for some original material but nothing really surfaced .... But we knew that this was special for him.
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Holiday movies are often filled with feel-good messages and festive cheer, but as the United States whets its appetite for the Thanksgiving weekend, psychological drama "Oldboy" attempts to serve up a platter of old-fashioned revenge. "Oldboy," based on Korean director Park Chan-wook's 2003 film of the same name, tells the story of Joe Doucett, an alcoholic washout who is kidnapped and held in a small motel room for 20 years, then released back into society. The theme of revenge is what director Spike Lee said enticed him to re-imagine Park's dark, twisted art house film that featured extreme violence, torture and incest. "That's why the revenge genre (in film) has always been a staple, because you can live off your revenge through somebody else." The film, released in U.S. theaters on Wednesday, stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley and serves up a paranoid-filled cinematic alternative over the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend.
Actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have finalized their divorce two years after separating, bringing official closure for one of Hollywood's most prominent couples. The end to the eight-year marriage was made final on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, with both actors agreeing not to pay spousal support. In March, Moore, 51, had asked the court to grant her financial support from Kutcher, an unusual move for one of the top-earning women in Hollywood during the 1990s. Kutcher, the star of CBS television comedy "Two and a Half Men," filed for divorce from Moore in December 2012 after more than a year of separation.
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - James Franco has played a wizard, a doctor, a gangster rapper, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and himself, all in the past year. In addition to acting, Franco is a teacher, a spokesman for the Italian fashion brand Gucci, a published author, artist and director. In 2013, Franco appeared in big budget films such as "Oz The Great and Powerful" and "This is The End" and smaller independent movies including "Spring Breakers" and his directorial film "As I Lay Dying." In his latest project, the Oscar-nominated actor plays an ambitious small-town Southern methamphetamine dealer in the action film "Homefront," out in U.S. theaters on Wednesday.