A Quiet Place, Star Trek sequels announced

A Quiet Place, which regained top spot at the domestic box office over the weekend, has amassed more than $200 million in revenue worldwide. (Courtesy Paramount Pictures)
Updated 26 April 2018
0

A Quiet Place, Star Trek sequels announced

LAS VEGAS: Paramount Pictures said Wednesday hit horror movie “A Quiet Place” was getting a sequel and ended mounting speculation over its lucrative “Star Trek” franchise by confirming two new movies.
Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos opened the studio’s segment at the annual CinemaCon film industry convention in Las Vegas with the news, praising director John Krasinski, who stars in the monster invasion thriller opposite real-life wife Emily Blunt.
“If you told me five years ago that an almost silent film starring the very funny guy Jim from ‘The Office’ would have been a hit at Paramount, I would have said, ‘Well, I should go work at Paramount,’” said Gianopulos, who joined the studio a year ago.
“A Quiet Place,” which regained top spot at the domestic box office over the weekend, has amassed more than $200 million in revenue worldwide against a budget of just $17 million and is Paramount’s biggest hit since 2016’s “Star Trek Beyond.”
It has been a ray of light in a dark year or more for Paramount, which has struggled to make the box office impact of its “big six” rival studios, all of which are presenting at CinemaCon.
Since the third of the rebooted “Star Trek” movies recouped almost $350 million globally, Paramount’s high-profile flops have included “Ben-Hur,” “mother!” and Matt Damon vehicles “Suburbicon” and “Downsizing.”
Gianopulos acknowledged the studio had suffered a rough year but vowed that Paramount was “laying the foundation” to repeat its past successes.
“I’m incredibly confident that we have the right team, culture, and attitude in place to take Paramount to new heights,” he said.
“And we already started on that road to giant success with ‘A Quiet Place.’”
Gianopulos announced a string of sequels in partnership with Skydance Media, including a new “Terminator” with Linda Hamilton from the original movie back on board with Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Top Gun: Maverick” with Tom Cruise — and two new “Star Trek” films.
Tantalizingly, he offered no details and it remains unclear if these will be a continuation of the reboot franchise or if they include a previously announced “Star Trek” movie from “Pulp Fiction” director Quentin Tarantino.
Paramount initially said after “Star Trek Beyond” came out that a fourth release would bring back “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth as Captain James Kirk’s father, George.
J.J. Abrams, the creative force behind the 2009-16 reboots, wasn’t at CinemaCon but he appeared onstage at Caesar’s Palace to promote horror movie “Overlord,” the first R-rated release from his Bad Robot production company.
Abrams scotched rumors that the World War II Nazi experiments shocker would be another release in the “Cloverfield” series.
But he added that he was planning a genuine theatrical sequel to 2008 found-footage thriller “Cloverfield,” unlike the most recent film in the franchise, the critically panned Netflix February release “The Cloverfield Paradox.”


Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

Updated 23 May 2018
0

Rare silk Qur’an helps preserve Afghanistan’s cultural heritage

  • Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish
  • Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy

KABUL: One of the only Qur’ans ever made from silk fabric has been completed in Afghanistan — a feat its creators hope will help preserve the country’s centuries-old tradition of calligraphy.
Each of the Islamic holy book’s 610 pages was produced by hand in a painstaking process that took a team of 38 calligraphers and artists specializing in miniatures nearly two years to finish.
Bound in goat leather and weighing 8.6 kilograms, the Qur’an was produced by Afghan artisans, many of them trained at British foundation Turquoise Mountain in Kabul.
“Our intention was to ensure that calligraphy does not die out in this country — writing is part of our culture,” Khwaja Qamaruddin Chishti, a 66-year-old master calligrapher, said in a cramped office inside Turquoise Mountain’s labyrinthine mud-brick and wood-paneled complex.
With the Qur’an considered a sacred text, calligraphy is highly venerated in Islam and Islamic art.
“When it comes to art we cannot put a price on it. God has entrusted us with this work (the Qur’an) ... and this means more to us than the financial aspect,” Chishti continued.
Using a bamboo or reed ink pen, Chishti and his fellow calligraphers spent up to two days carefully copying Qur’anic verses onto a single page — sometimes longer if they made a mistake and had to start again.
They used the Naskh script, a calligraphic style developed in early Islam to replace Kufic because it was easier to read and write.
The decoration around the script, known as illumination, was more time-consuming, each page taking more than a week to complete.
A team of artists used paint made from natural materials, including ground lapis, gold and bronze, to recreate the delicate patterns popular during the Timurid dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries in the western city of Herat.
“All the colors we have used are from nature,” Mohammad Tamim Sahibzada, a master miniature artist who was responsible for creating the vibrant colors used in the Qur’an, said.
Sahibzada said working on silk fabric for the first time was challenging. The locally sourced material — all 305 meters (1,000 feet) of it — was treated in a solution made from the dried seeds of ispaghula, or psyllium, to stop the ink from spreading.
Turquoise Mountain began work in 2006 in Kabul with the aim of preserving ancient Afghan craftsmanship, including ceramics, carpentry and calligraphy.
It hopes the silk Qur’an will generate demand for more handmade Islamic religious texts that could create employment for its artisans and help finance the institute.
“We will show it to other Islamic countries to see if it is possible to create job opportunities for graduates to work on another Qur’an,” said Abdul Waheed Khalili, the organization’s Afghan director.
For now, it will be kept in a specially made hand-carved walnut wooden box to protect its delicate pages from the elements at Turquoise Mountain’s offices, which are in the restored Murad Khani, a historic commercial and residential area in Kabul’s oldest district.
There Turquoise Mountain has trained thousands of artisans with the support of Britain’s Prince Charles, the British Council, and USAID.
“The copying of the Qur’an onto silk is very rare,” country director Nathan Stroupe said.
He said the project has been “an amazing way to train our students at an incredibly high level in a very traditional type of work.”
“If a book collector in London... was interested in it, we would be thinking in the $100,000 to $200,000 (price) range,” he added.