Articles from February 2010

Doors documentary “When You’re Strange” to get limited theatrical release on April 9th

After receiving enthusiastic receptions at several film festivals, Tom DiCillo’s documentary on legendary 1960s rockers The Doors will receive a limited theatrical release on April 9, 2010, Variety reports. The documentary, called When You’re Strange, is narrated by Johnny Depp and was made with the support of surviving Doors band members Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger, and the estate of the late Jim Morrison. The 90-minute documentary uses archival footage–much of it never seen before–shot between the band’s formation in 1965 and Morrison’s death in 1971.

When You’re Strange is scheduled to open in only a handful of major markets, including (according to Variety) New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, and San Francisco. However, the documentary is scheduled to be released on DVD three months after its theatrical debut.

Johnny Depp made the following comment about the film: “DiCillo’s When You’re Strange is a meticulously crafted, exhilarating ode to one of music’s greatest, most exciting ensembles, The Doors. Watching the hypnotic, hitherto unreleased footage of Jim, John, Ray, and Robby, both on and off the stage, I felt like I was there, with them, living and experiencing what they were experiencing, seeing it all through their eyes. [. . . ] In terms of a rock ‘n’ roll documentary, or any kind of documentary for that matter, it simply doesn’t get any better than this. What an honor to have been involved. I am as proud of this as anything I have ever done.”

The Zone thanks Emma for the Variety story and Theresa for the quote from Johnny; you can read more about the Doors documentary on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

It’s the Pearl! Video of the Black Pearl arriving in Hawaii

Captain Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl arrived safely in Honolulu on Valentine’s Day and is now berthed at Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor, where work will be done to prepare the ship for Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides, which will film in Hawaii this summer. You can see the Pearl arriving in the accompanying video. “The ship has already made some amazing journeys in its relatively short life,” said Michael Singer, the publicist for On Stranger Tides and the author of Bring Me That Horizon: The Making of Pirates of the Caribbean. Built in Alabama for the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, Captain Jack’s beloved Pearl was constructed over an existing ship that once serviced offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. The 208-ton ship is 130 feet long and 32 feet wide and obviously seaworthy, having traveled from Los Angeles to Honolulu under its own power (by motor, though, not by sail).

In fact, the Black Pearl is quite well-traveled for its short life, having journeyed from Alabama to the Caribbean for filming of Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, and then from the Caribbean to southern California for further filming. Now she adds a Pacific ocean crossing to that list. Like her famous captain, the Black Pearl attracts considerable attention wherever she makes port; Michael Singer confirmed that the ship is an automatic tourist attraction. “The very sight of it has always excited people,” Singer said.

The Zone thanks AnaMaria for sharing the story; you can read more about Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Green screen work on ALICE was “exhausting,” Johnny Depp tells Mark Salisbury

Writer Mark Salisbury was one of the few journalists allowed behind-the-scenes access to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland while it was filiming; he shares some of his cast interviews in a lengthy feature article in today’s U.K. Telegraph. The Alice shoot marked the first time director Burton has used green screen (to accomodate digital effects) rather than physical sets. “The green itself is a bilious shade, bordering on the fluorescent,” notes Salisbury. “The film’s Oscar-winning producer, Richard Zanuck, says that sickness and lethargy have been a constant problem among cast and crew. Burton has even had special lavender lenses fitted into his glasses to combat the effect.”

When Salisbury asks Johnny Depp to comment on acting in the green-screen environment, Johnny replies: “The novelty of the green wears off very quickly [. . .]. It’s exhausting, actually. I mean, I like an obstacle–I don’t mind having to spew dialogue while having to step over dolly track while some guy is holding a card and I’m talking to a piece of tape. But the green beats you up. You’re kind of befuddled at the end of the day.”

On the other hand, Johnny has only positive things to say about the experience of working with Tim Burton. “He leaves you such room to play, to mess around. That’s the opportunity you dream of as an actor, to say, ‘Look I’d like to try something. It might be absolute crap, but I’d like to see if it works.’ If you don’t try to push a little harder or go a little bit outside, what’s the point? And if it doesn’t work, he’ll just say, ‘All right, you tried it, now try this.’ But when it pays off, and I hear that cackle off screen, that’s when I know I’ve hit something on the nose, for Tim.”

The Zone thanks Theresa for sharing the Mark Salisbury article; you can read it on the Zone’s News & Views forum, or HERE. Mr. Salisbury is the author of Disney: Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion, a lavishly illustrated book due in bookstores in March.

Yo ho! The Black Pearl sails into Hawaiian waters

Captain Jack Sparrow’s beloved Black Pearl sailed into port in Hawaii on Valentine’s Day to prepare for the summer filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The Black Pearl is currently berthed at Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor. The harbor is a secure facility, so the public won’t be able to view the 130-foot ship up close. Disney has brought the Black Pearl to Hawaii well in advance of filming to do the necessary work to make the Pearl ready for her close-ups. “It’s not all decked out,” explained Georja Skinner, administrator for the state’s creative services division, which oversees the Hawaii Film Office. “There is still work that needs to be done on it. It is coming in so that builds can begin.”

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, with Rob Marshall directing, will be filmed on Kaua’i and O’ahu this summer, and is due in theaters on May 20, 2011.

The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news; you can read more about Pirates 4 on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Jerry Bruckheimer’s THE LONE RANGER gets a new writer: Justin Haythe

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jerry Bruckheimer’s update of The Lone Ranger is about to acquire a new writer–Justin Haythe, who wrote the screenplay for Revolutionary Road. Haythe will take the reins from Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the Pirates of the Caribbean writers who did the early development of the script. Haythe also wrote the screenplay for the remake of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, the McG project which Disney abruptly canceled after Rich Ross succeeded Dick Cook last fall, so apparently Haythe has an affinity for action-adventure as well as drama.

The casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger was announced in September 2008, but there has been little development on the project since then. Reports that George Clooney would be playing the Ranger or that Mike Newell would direct were later debunked as Internet rumors with no foundation. Notes The Hollywood Reporter, “Haythe’s involvement is the first sign of life on the project since [Johnny’s casting], which could indicate that the franchise potential of the material is a high priority for the new Disney regime.”

The Zone thanks Theresa for the news; you can read more about The Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Disney upsets theater owners with plan to bring ALICE IN WONDERLAND to DVD a month early

The Walt Disney Company announced plans to release Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland to DVD only three months after it opens in theaters on March 5th, shortening the traditional four-month window that has been the industry standard. The move infuriated theater owners, who fear that moviegoers will choose to stay home and wait for the DVD. “I speak for myself and other exhibitors when I say we don’t like it,” Phil Zacheretti, chief executive of Phoenix Big Cinemas Management, told Claudia Eller of the Los Angeles Times. “It encourages people to wait for the DVD to come out. Three months is way too early on any film, much less what’s being touted as a potential blockbuster.”

Since exhibitors split box-office revenue with the studios on a sliding scale which gives the theaters a bigger cut in later weeks of a movie’s run, theater owners like movies with “legs”–those that can run a long time. Losing a month of exclusivity with a valuable property like Alice has exhibitors up in arms. In Britain, two major chains which account for 90% of the market, Odeon and Vue, have pulled the Alice in Wonderland film trailer and refused to sell advance tickets.

Disney’s explanation for shortening the release window is to “maximize DVD sales” to help recover production costs. Says Eller, “Disney wants to release the discs in early June, while the movie is still fresh in consumers’ minds, rather than at the height of the summer season when DVD sales fall off.” If you want to see Alice in Wonderland in theaters, to enjoy those 3D effects, you’d better go early.

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the news; you can read more about Disney’s decision and the reaction to it on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

“Alice and the Hatter complete one another”–a new interview with Johnny Depp about ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Disney has released a promotional clip for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland that combines scenes from the movie–some new–with an interview with Johnny Depp. “To be able to do anything with Tim Burton is a real honor,” Johnny says. He finds the Mad Hatter “a fascinating character” because “[y]ou see instantly what he’s feeling, like a mood ring. His emotions are very, very close to the surface.”

Regarding the relationship between Alice and the Mad Hatter, Johnny says, “Alice and the Hatter complete one another, like a brother and sister do. He’s very protective of her, and she’s very protective of him.” The epic battle scene finds Johnny once again with sword in hand: “I’ve done so many [sword fights] as Captain Jack that the challenge is to find how the Hatter would sword fight.”

The Zone thanks vinicius128 and Theresa for the Disney interview and AnaMaria for the screencap of Johnny.

Latest rumor–Penelope Cruz to join Johnny Depp in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES?

Oscar-winning actress Penelope Cruz is in talks to join Johnny Depp in the next installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, according to Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter. On Stranger Tides is scheduled to film in Hawaii this summer under the direction of Rob Marshall, who directed Ms. Cruz in Nine, for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination last week. Ms. Cruz won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2009 for her role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

No details are available regarding what Ms. Cruz’s role in On Stranger Tides might be, since the script is a closely guarded secret . . . although producer Jerry Bruckheimer has mentioned that it will involve the Fountain of Youth, as hinted in the conclusion of At World’s End. Borys Kit reports that Cruz’s character “is to be [Captain Jack] Sparrow’s foil and equal in many ways.” Sounds promising! Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz previously worked together in Blow (2001), directed by the late Ted Demme.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides is scheduled for release on May 20, 2011.

The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news and FANtasticJD for additional reporting. You can read more about On Stranger Tides on the Zone’s “Updates on Pirates 4″ thread on our News & Views forum. You can read The Hollywood Reporter story HERE.

“Still new, still fresh”–Johnny Depp discusses Lewis Carroll and his own approach to the Mad Hatter

In a recent interview in Total Film, Johnny Depp disclosed a few of his thoughts regarding his role as the Mad Hatter and the enduring power of Lewis Carroll’s original Alice stories. “The story is still new. It’s still fresh,” Johnny explained. “It’s such a beast in terms of invention. It’s a monumental achievement, the imagination of the guy.”

Johnny employs a Scottish accent for the Mad Hatter, but not the same one he used to play James Barrie in Finding Neverland, which he describes as “eastern Scottish, like Aberdeen.” His Mad Hatter hails from Glasgow: “I’ve always been interested in the Glaswegian because there’s a real danger to it. So I thought [. . . I would] incorporate that into the character.”

Asked to confirm the rumor that the size of the Mad Hatter’s eyes would be increased digitally in post-production, Johnny replied, “That’s what they’re talking about doing. I’ve seen the test and it looks cool, but I’m not sure if you need it at this point. But obviously, whatever Tim [Burton] chooses to go with, he certainly knows best.”

The Zone thanks In-too-Depp for sharing the Total Film interview; you can read scans of the article on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND ad airs during the Super Bowl

A commercial for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday, and has received an enthusiastic response from media gurus who rate the ads.  In case you missed it, you can see it here:

The Zone thanks Theresa for sharing the video.  You can read much more about Alice in Wonderland on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

“Kind and generous and so smart”–ALICE’s Mia Wasikowska discusses Johnny Depp

In a recent interview with Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times, Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, explained that while green-screen filmmaking is disorienting and “really strange,” it also suits the material. “Wonderland itself is bizarre and weird and comical and confusing, so it’s appropriate that [. . .] we were in this green-screen environment where it doesn’t always make sense to you. Things were just really odd and weird, and I suppose that [. . .] put you in the right frame of mind. And it made you rely on your imagination more.”

When asked specifically for her impression of the actor who plays the Mad Hatter, Wasikowska had this to say about Johnny Depp: “He is such a cool guy. He has the humanity to keep this sense of self. He’s very kind and generous and so smart. To be able to watch Johnny [. . .] as he takes something from the page to reality and how hard he works and what he brought to it and how much he brought to it, it’s was amazing. It is inspiring too that he does things in a purely joyous way and has fun with it all, because so often there are people who seem disgruntled. To keep that love of what you do is so important. And watching him and Tim work together is fun. They have a very deep rapport. Watching them, it’s like they speak their very own language.”

The Zone thanks Theresa for sharing the interview; you can read all of Wasikowska’s comments on the Zone’s Porch forum.

Variety confirms it–Johnny Depp is directing a documentary on Keith Richards

Variety’s Dave McNary confirms what the Zone reported in mid-January: Johnny Depp is directing a documentary about rock legend/Rolling Stone guitarist and sometime actor Keith Richards. “A rep for Depp confirmed a recent report in the Serbian magazine Politika, in which he said he would begin work on the project next week,” reports McNary. “Depp and Richards have been friends for more than a decade.”

Unfortunately, McNary’s story was victimized by sloppy headline-writing; Variety used “Actor to begin work on the project next week” in their headline, and that information was picked up by media outlets and widely reported. But it is not correct. Had the headline-writer read more carefully, he or she would have noticed what Zone readers already know–when Johnny Depp told a Serbian reporter that he would begin the documentary “next week,” Johnny was in Serbia, speaking at the Kustendorf International Film Festival in mid-January. The headline writer failed to allow for the time it took for the Serbian magazine to get to press. Production on the documentary has been underway for some time; Johnny filmed segments at the Los Angeles Theatre (with Keith Richards, Patti Smith, and other musicians) last weekend.

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for sharing the Variety story; you can read more about the Keith Richards documentary, called Happy, on the Zone’s Pit forum. The original story from Kustendorf is on the News & Views forum.

Disney hosts ALICE IN WONDERLAND “Ultimate Fan Event” on February 19th to celebrate “Almost Alice” album

Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Records join forces with Hot Topic, KIIS-FM, MySpace and musical artists from the album Almost Alice to celebrate the upcoming release of Tim Burton’s 3D version of Alice in Wonderland by hosting an “ultimate fan event” on February 19th in Los Angeles. The event seems to be primarily a concert featuring artists who appear on the Almost Alice album, with 3OH!3, Metro Station, Family Force 5, Kerli and Never Shout Never scheduled to perform live. For those not in that music demographic, Disney is also promising that Alice director Tim Burton will attend “to introduce select members of the Alice in Wonderland cast.” No word on whether the Mad Hatter will be included among the cast members on hand, but the event does occur during the Alice press junket when the talent will be in town.

The star-studded concert event begins at 5 p.m. on Feb. 19, 2010, at the Hollywood & Highland Center’s Central Courtyard. If you can’t get to Los Angeles, the event will be streamed live on MySpace HERE. Disney promises that “viewers around the world” will be able to “experience the event first-hand, see exclusive backstage interviews with talent and interact by posting comments and questions to the page.” Sounds exciting!

The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news; you can read more about the Ultimate Fan Event, and all other news surrounding the release of Alice in Wonderland, on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND world premiere in London on February 25th

Tim Burton’s new 3D version of Alice in Wonderland will have its world premiere at Leicester Square in London on February 25th . . . with royalty in attendance. The premiere will be a charity fundraiser for The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, an educational charity which (according to the press release) “aims to help all British children to discover the arts as ‘an enjoyable part of life.'” Expect extremely tight security at the venue, as the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will attend. Hollywood royalty should also be present–although nothing is confirmed yet, “Alice In Wonderland’s stars–who include Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter–are expected to join the royal guests on the night.” One could surely add Tim Burton to the “expected to attend” list as well.

The press junket for Alice in Wonderland will take place a week earlier in Los Angeles; dates are February 18th-February 20th. The Zone thanks Emma and Mariah627 for sharing the news; you can read more about the Alice in Wonderland premiere on the Zone’s News & Views forum. To read an announcement on, CLICK HERE. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp and Keith Richards film documentary in Los Angeles!

The photo at left shows Johnny Depp as he emerges from the Los Angeles Theatre in downtown LA on Saturday, January 30th, where he was filming Happy, his documentary about rock-and-roll legend Keith Richards. In the larger version of the photo, CLICK HERE, Keith Richards (wearing a fedora) can be seen exiting the theater behind Johnny. Also present at the film shoot were Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Patti Smith and multi-Grammy winner Norah Jones. Vanessa Paradis brought Lily-Rose and Jack to the theater to share the excitement.

Our first hint that Johnny was making a documentary about Keith Richards came at the Kustendorf International Film Festival two weeks ago, when Johnny told a reporter about the project and said he was touched that Richards had agreed to participate. Now cameras are rolling! Congratulations, Johnny–we can’t wait to see Happy!

The Zone thanks Theresa and Bonnie for breaking the news; you can read more about the Saturday filming on the Zone’s Pit forum. –Part-Time Poet