Back in 1958, when Louis Elliman and Emmet Dalton launched Ardmore studios, there was a hope that the Abbey Theatre could become the backbone of an Irish film industry. Their idea was to draw on Abbey actors for filmed versions of successful Abbey productions, beginning with Sally's Irish Rose, Hugh Leonard's The Big Birthday, Walter Macken's Home Is The Hero and Louis D'Alton's This Other Eden. No attempt was made to re-imagine the plays or the acting as a cinematic experience and not surprisingly, they flopped. Modern digital technology has now come up with a far more exciting way to open theatre to a wider cinematic audience. The London National Theatre's new production Phedre by Jean Racine, adapted by Ted Hughes and starring Helen Mirren and Dominic Cooper, will be filmed in high definition and transmitted via satellite to 50 digitally equipped cinemas in the UK and 100 others worldwide on 25 June. It's a process already popularised with cinema tie-ins to New York's Metropolitan Opera and Royal Opera House ballet performance. Enabling cinema audiences to experience theatre live in this way eliminates the stultifying staginess of recorded plays. Perhaps this is a way to fulfil Elliman and Dalton's dream of bringing the Abbey Theatre experience to a world audience, and the Gate Theatre too.
Woody Allen has not only come back to form with Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which won Penelope Cruz an Oscar. He's now set to recapture his original fan-base in New York with Whatever Works, which will open the Tribeca Film Festival on 22 April. Starring Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr, it's the first film he's shot and set in New York since the 1990s.
Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire has recorded the biggest box-office post-Oscar surge in 10 years. Its weekend box-office take of $12.2m was a 45% jump on the previous week, pushing total gross to $115m. Despite the arrival of several other big films, it has moved up from No 4 to No 2 in the Irish charts, where its cumulative total is now €3.7m, and seems certain to top €4 million.
Kisses, which won Lance Daly the best director award at the IFTAs, is now available on DVD. A gritty story of a couple of Dublin pre-teen runaways who discover love, it's produced by Macdara Kelleher, son of the Irish director of film classification, John Kelleher.
Francis Coppola's fans are eagerly awaiting the US release on 11 June of Tetro, his first original screenplay since The Conversation in 1974. It deals with the conflicts and tragedies of two brothers in a tempestuous Argentine/Italian family and features Spanish stars Maribel Verdu and Carmen Maura. "Even though this is a fictional story, I used what I know best – my life," Coppola says.