Could the company that helped catapult the legal music download market with iPods and iTunes now kick-start the online movie market?
Rumors of Apple Computer Inc's plans to launch a movie download service gained momentum this week after the company sent invitations to the media, saying “It's Showtime,” next week.
The media event scheduled for Tuesday is set in San Francisco and coincides with the opening day of the Apple Expo in Paris.
Sources at several Hollywood studios confirmed Tuesday they were in talks to sell their films through iTunes. But substantial disagreements between studios and Apple remain to be resolved and Apple's movie service could launch with a limited number of films, according to two studio executives who asked to remain anonymous because talks were still ongoing.
Speculation of the iPod maker adding full-length feature films to its online iTunes Music Store have swirled for months. Already, the Cupertino, California-based computer company has become a multimedia powerhouse with its song and TV show downloads. Analysts said it would only be a matter of time before Apple started distributing movies online.
Meanwhile, at the Venice Film Festival: Hong Kong director Johnnie To (杜琪峰) said Wednesday that he followed no rules while shooting his latest film Exiled, which was making its premiere at the 63rd Venice Film Festival.
“During the shooting, I always did things spontaneously, without following a precise preparation or precise rules,” he told a news conference.
The film is set in Macau in 1998 and is about two hit men from Hong Kong sent to take out a renegade member who's trying to change his life.
“Macau was a very suitable place to shoot the movie, with its narrow alleys,” To said. “If we had shot in Hong Kong, we couldn't have called it Exiled.”
To's most recent films were the gangster movies Election and Election 2. Election was a big winner on the Hong Kong film awards circuit this year, bagging the best film prize at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Critics Society awards.
Russian director Ivan Vyrypaev said Wednesday that the title of his movie, Ejforija, or Euphoria, was inspired by the overwhelming love shared by the two main characters.
The film was making its premiere at the 63rd Venice Film Festival, where it is competing for the Golden Lion, to be awarded tomorrow.
“In psychiatry, euphoria means an unexplainable sensation of yearning for maximum pleasure,” Vyrypaev told reporters. “My hero receives something from this shared love that he cannot explain. This made me think about euphoria.”
The film, starring actress Polina Agureeva, is the story of an unexpected love between a man and a married woman.
“This film is, above all, an experiment,” Agureeva said. “My character ... was demanding and tough, but very interesting.”
Vyrypaev, also a playwright, has won some of Russia's most prestigious theater awards. Ejforija is his directorial debut.
Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan says her plans for a trip to Iraq to rally the troops is still on. She called the idea her “tribute” to Marilyn Monroe, who made a similar visit to US soldiers stationed in Korea in 1954.
“There's not really much that I can say, but I love her, she's an icon, and what she did when she went to visit the troops meant a lot to them. I really respect her for that,” Lohan said in Venice, where she is promoting the film Bobby.
The Lido waterfront is in love with Lohan. The party girl and tabloid favorite has been the paparazzi's number one target of the festival so far. Photographers have chased the 20-year-old and her boyfriend Harry Morton along the glamorous beach. For the record, Lohan denied rumors that the couple are engaged.
The British press focused on the boos from some journalists at a press screening of Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, starring his fiancee and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz.
The Briton stars alongside Hugh Jackman in a story spanning three different eras, but initial critical reaction has been poor, showing that a slot in the prestigious main competition is not always a good thing in Venice.
Still, Weisz and Aronofsky can take heart. The Da Vinci Code was loudly booed after its first screening in Cannes this year but went on to enjoy one of the biggest box office openings in history.
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