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Film intelligence: Living in stereo

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: fires, CATCHING FIRE, and sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

1. Tyler Perry’s Towering Inferno

Shortly before 9:00 PM on Tuesday night, Atlanta firefighters were called to Tyler Perry Studios to battle a four-alarm fire. According to Deadline, Perry’s studio is a 30-acre complex, which includes a 200,000 square foot studio, numerous sound stages, and a 400-seat theater. Most of Perry’s prodigious output of films and television shows are produced from the facility — his next movie as writer/director/star, MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION, is due on June 29 — so the fire could have had potentially have serious repercussions for the filmmaker and his distribution partners across all sorts of media; fortunately, the damage was limited to just one backlot set. Unfortunately, the fire was apparently so intense at its point of origin that it destroyed any evidence of the cause of ignition, so the motive and perpetrator of the fire may never be known. [HitFix]

2. Soundscape

The Academy Awards have found a new home: their old one. The Theatre Formerly Known as the Kodak has hosted the Oscars every year since 2002, but the bankrupt photography company voided their contract for the venue’s naming rights shortly before this year’s ceremony. The show went on, as it must, at the “Hollywood and Highland Center” — and this week it was announced the show will continue to go on there for at least the next twenty years, as the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences extended their deal with the theater through 2033 (just in time, my network of psychic friends tell me, for Justin Bieber to receive his lifetime achievement award). In addition, the Hollywood and Highland Center has a new name: the Dolby Theatre, named, of course, after the audio technology company. That Dolby Theatre marquee will be a literal sign of the times: film may not exist anymore, but the movies still do. And goddammit they are loud. [The Hollywood Reporter]

3. Hungry For Work

Gary Ross’ directing career certainly, ahem, caught fire with the wild success of THE HUNGER GAMES earlier this year. But then Ross passed on directing THE HUNGER GAMES sequel, ahem ahem, CATCHING FIRE, supposedly because he didn’t care for the “fixed and tight production schedule” demanded by Lionsgate. Now it looks like he’s got a suitable replacement lined up: a biopic of Houdini for Summit Entertainment. The project, based on a book by William Kalush and Larry Sloman won’t be the first Houdini film — Tony Curtis famously and somewhat miscasted-ly played the legendary magician in a 1953 film — but the twist this time around would be a look into Houdini’s life beyond the stage, including a purported career as a secret agent. Let’s just hope the film isn’t like, ahem ahem ahem, Chinese water torture. Ahem. [Cinema Blend]

4. “You sunk my mockbuster!”

The Asylum has become well-known in certain circles for pioneering the “mockbuster,” cheapo straight-to-DVD movies that looks and sounds a lot like a well-known Hollywood blockbusters, and capitalize on their name recognition and marketing by premiering on disc and VOD right as their more famous cousins premieres in theaters. When DreamWorks made TRANSFORMERS, The Asylum made TRANSMORPHERS; when DreamWorks made TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, The Asylum made TRANSMORPHERS: FALL OF MAN, and so on. This is how things have gone for years, but Universal said enough is enough this week and sued Asylum, claiming the company’s AMERICAN BATTLESHIP mockbuster is nothing more than a copyright infringing knockoff of their own BATTLESHIP. In a statement on Deadline, Asylum accused Universal of “looking for a scapegoat for its pending box-office disaster” and vowed to defend themselves in court while cheekily thanking the corporate giant for the free publicity. I’m just surprised they didn’t file a countersuit against Universal that was much less expensive and filed by washed-up lawyers whose careers peaked in the 1990s. [TMZ]

5. Somewhere, Dr. Evil is Maniacally Laughing

So remember the classic scene from AUSTIN POWERS when the villainous Dr. Evil regrets how difficult it is for a madman hellbent on world domination to get a couple sharks with a frickin’ laser beam attached to their heads? Cute, right? Rather it was cute until one dude watched that scene and thought “Hey, not a bad idea! Why not give sharks lasers? I’ve apparently learned nothing from JAWS or DEEP BLUE SEA about how sharks are this close to becoming the dominant species on the planet. Let’s give them yet another evolutionary advantage!” Said genius is Luke Tipple, a marine biologist who has apparently equipped a lemon shark off the coast of the Bahamas with a “50-milliwatt green laser.” Why? Just a guess on my part, but I imagine he’s conducting an experiment to prove that humanity is too dumb to survive. [ScreenCrush]