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Monday movie news tidbits: Ebert ailing, James Bond is awesome, more

Critic Roger Ebert in serious condition after emergency surgery. Killer quote:

“Roger is a fighter, and I have every confidence and hope that he has thousands of movie reviews ahead of him,” Roeper said. “I also want to express gratitude to the many fans across the country who have already sent their best wishes.”

Surprise ‘Casino Royale’ sneak preview wows exhibitors. Killer quote:

The footage showed off [Daniel] Craig as a grittier [James] Bond, with scenes of more intense, visceral hand-to-hand combat than 007 has tackled in recent pics. One black-and-white scene flashed back to Bond’s first ever (brutal and hard-to-pull-off) kill as an agent, as well as his (much more sleek and signature) second assassination.

Horror schlockmeisters are remaking ‘The Birds.’ Killer quote:

[P]roducer Brad Fuller is making one thing abundantly, thoroughly, and in all ways crystal clear: They’ll be working from the original Daphne Du Maurier short story and NOT from the dazzlingly cool Alfred Hitchcock film. The thousands of tickets they’ll inevitably sell thanks to the “non-connection” to the Hitchcock flick is, of course, just good fortune.

Hollywood starting to notice that girls rule. Killer quote:

Hollywood’s next shot at a runaway hit comes on Friday, when Walt Disney Pictures releases “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest.” With the stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, the film has strong female appeal, and that points toward one of Hollywood’s major survival strategies.

As the once reliable young male audience continues to drift, studios have been trying to widen their demographic appeal. A study last year by OTX found that young men saw 24 percent fewer movies in summer 2005 than they did in summer 2003, a finding reinforced in a new poll by Nielsen Entertainment.

The shift was apparent this summer in an adult-oriented blockbuster like “The Da Vinci Code”; or in a romantic comedy like “The Break-Up,” which appeals to couples; or in a horror film like “The Omen,” which draws adolescent girls; or in a chick-flick comedy like “The Devil Wears Prada.” Those movies, though hardly atypical, represent a more eclectic mix than 2003, which brought “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” “Bad Boys II” and “S.W.A.T.

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