Screen Talk: Blood money

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The Independent Culture

For the first time, Hollywood is admitting that it pays to be long in the tooth – but only if you're a vampire. Bloodsuckers are big business, worth an estimated $7bn across all entertainment, since Twilight hit the big screen two years ago.

It's a whopping amount but not unfeasible, given that even the Fox/New Regency parody Vampires Suck (above left) grossed $20m at the US box office almost immediately. Next to rise from the grave will be Matt Reeves's Let the Right One In remake, Let Me In, and Screen Gems' 3D graphic-novel adaptation Priest, as well as the two-part Breaking Dawn finale to the Twilight franchise. In development are adaptations of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian at Sony, Justin Cronin's The Passage at Fox 2000 and Castlevania at Rogue Pictures, while Universal's Dracula Year Zero is expected in 2011. All projects with bite for the backers.

Not so little voices

Big voices and big personalities often go hand in hand. Hollywood is hoping for on-screen fireworks from a project starring Dolly Parton (above centre) and Queen Latifah. The pair will duet in Joyful Noise, about two women uniting to save a small-town gospel choir from closing down. Todd Graff (Camp, Bandslam) will write and direct the musical movie for the Warners-based Alcon Entertainment. Latifah is set to play the mother of two teens who is put in charge of the Pacashau Gospel Choir after the death of its director, while Parton plays a widow hoping to take over her late husband's job.

Smoke barriers

For years now, moviemakers have been asked to help stub out smoking in the movies. A recent report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that scenes of smoking in high-grossing films fell to 1,935 incidents last year, down 49 per cent from 3,967 in 2005. Hollywood can't sit back and relax just yet, though. Entertainment conglomerates' annual shareholder meetings tend to bring out anti-smoking activists who ask CEOs for a bigger commitment to depicting less cigarette use on the big screen. The pressure on the suits will likely filter down to the creatives before too long.

Surf's up

Here's a scenario: you're a cyber-savvy criminal looking to lure web surfers into websites before stealing their personal online information and passwords. Who provides the biggest draw? Cameron Diaz (above right), Julia Roberts and Jessica Biel, according to the computer-security software manufacturer McAfee, Inc. Thank goodness McAfee let everyone know from its own survey. It's not something Hollywood reps are crowing about on behalf of their clientele. Yet.