Film Notes: Opening dates nailed down for 2 films made here


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Two made-in-Pittsburgh movies no longer will go head to head in late September.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" has been bumped to Oct. 5 in Pittsburgh although the Viola Davis-Maggie Gyllenhaal inspirational drama "Won't Back Down" is still set for Sept. 28.

As is usual for a movie opening in New York and Los Angeles and expanding slowly, "Perks" will arrive first in those cities Sept. 21, expand to Philadelphia and a few other markets Sept. 28 and then hit Pittsburgh on Oct. 5. It will have its world premiere Sept. 8 at the Toronto International Film Festival.

As you can see in the photo at right, Emma Watson does indeed appear to be "flying" through the Fort Pitt Tunnel in the back of a vehicle. She was tethered for safety, so do not try this at home.

"Won't Back Down" is about determined mothers who will stop at nothing to transform a failing inner-city school, and it has already triggered debate and discussion about the power of parents to act and the role of teachers and unions.

Claflin cast as Finnick

Sam Claflin, recently seen as Prince William in "Snow White and the Huntsman," has won the coveted role of Finnick Odair in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." The character, charismatic and clever, was a District 4 Hunger Games winner when he was 14.

Mr. Claflin played a stalwart missionary in Rob Marshall's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." He recently finished filming "The Quiet Ones" opposite Jared Harris and "Mary & Martha" with Hilary Swank.

The second movie in the franchise is scheduled for release Nov. 22, 2013.

Oscar producers set

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will produce the 85th Academy Awards. The ceremony, being held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, will air Feb. 24 on ABC.

"Craig and Neil are forward thinkers who bring a unique perspective to the Oscar show," Academy president Hawk Koch said. "Their enormous collective talent, coupled with their love of film, serves our show perfectly."

Last year, Brett Ratner was announced as a producer and he later withdrew after using a gay slur and making lewd comments on a radio show. Brian Grazer then replaced him.

"We hope to utilize our experience in producing features, TV and theater to bring something fresh and special to this incredible awards show," Mr. Zadan and Mr. Meron said in a statement. "When we filmed 'The Bucket List,' we made our own personal bucket list, and producing the Oscars was No. 1."

The pair served as executive producers on the 2002 best picture winner, "Chicago." Their credits also include the remake of "Footloose," "Hairspray" and "The Bucket List." For Broadway, they produced the Tony Award-winning revivals of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and "Promises, Promises."

Good movie, good man

The Denis Theatre Foundation's showing of "Lars and the Real Girl" on Saturday night will be dedicated to Joe Wertheim, who died Aug. 11. He was a stalwart volunteer dedicated to reopening the Mt. Lebanon landmark.

"This is a perfect tribute to my husband, Joe," said film instructor Elaine Wertheim. " 'Lars and the Real Girl' is an uplifting story focusing on the strength and love of community. That is certainly what we have felt from this community during this difficult time."

Mrs. Wertheim is one of the founding committee members and regularly has led post-movie discussions.

This will be the third and final movie as part of the Last Saturday Cinema series, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Foundation and Alberta Modern Hair. Activities start at 8 p.m. at the corner of Washington Road and Alfred Street in Mt. Lebanon. Moviegoers can bring their own chairs or use the ones provided.

"Lars" is a movie about a lifelike silicone doll, Bianca, who becomes the girlfriend of a lonely Midwesterner, but it's rated PG-13 and clean enough to run on network TV with barely a bleep or edit. Ryan Gosling is Lars, Paul Schneider is his puzzled brother, Emily Mortimer his sympathetic sister-in-law and Patricia Clarkson the family practitioner who provides wise counsel.

For more information, see www.denistheatre.org.

More movies under stars

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Allegheny Observatory, a free showing of "Undaunted: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory" will start at 8:30 p.m. Saturday on Observatory Hill just outside the Allegheny Observatory.

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" will begin at 10 p.m. as part of Citiparks' Dollar Bank Cinema in the Park series at Riverview Park.

In brief

• Deadline.com reported Thursday that "Promised Land" will open at year's end in New York and Los Angeles, which means it could be considered for the 2012 Academy Awards. If it debuts in those cities on Dec. 28, it wouldn't arrive in Pittsburgh until January.

Filmed in Westmoreland, Armstrong and Allegheny counties, it uses fracking as a backdrop to tell a story about fighting for American identity and pride. It stars Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Hal Holbrook and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Gus Van Sant directed the movie, which filmed here for 30 days during the spring.

• Ryan Gosling was in Los Angeles earlier this week doing reshoots for "Gangster Squad," the New York Daily News reports. What had once seemed thrilling and dramatic -- gangsters firing into a crowded movie theater -- was inappropriate in light of the Colorado shootings. The movie was shifted from September to January after the attack during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."

• Variety reports Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has joined "Thor: The Dark World" as one of the lead villains, playing the dual roles of Kurse and Algrim. The movie, with Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston and Kat Dennings, is scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 8, 2013.

• Moviegoers will not have to pay two surcharges if they see "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" in 3-D and in a special 48 frames-per-second format, Variety reports.

U.S. exhibitors have agreed not to charge more for that special format but they will face the usual $3 to $5 fee for 3-D. The movie will open Dec. 14 in a limited number of markets.

• Universal has set Dec. 19, 2014, as the release date for its "Minions" spinoff of "Despicable Me." The animated hit is also generating a sequel, scheduled for July 3, 2013.

• As noted on my blog earlier this week, Dick Van Dyke will receive the SAG Life Achievement Award for career and humanitarian accomplishments. He will be saluted during the televised show on Jan. 27.

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Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies. First Published August 24, 2012 4:00 AM


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