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Isles will star in 4 films due for release in 2011

By Mike Gordon


Better set aside some serious popcorn money. Hawaii will be in wide release next year with as many as four major films that were shot here planning 2011 premieres.

They'll feature some of Hollywood's biggest stars — Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Adam Sandler — and a few stories that will reveal a different side of life in the islands.

Sandler's "Just Go With It," which shot on Maui and Kauai in April and May under the title "The Pretend Wife," is scheduled to open Feb. 11. Sandler stars as a plastic surgeon who enlists Aniston to play his soon-to-be ex-wife so he can woo another woman.

The film's director, Dennis Dugan, cast Hapa duo Barry Flanagan and Nathan Aweau along with slack-key artist Ledward Kaapana to perform as a lounge act. The scene was shot in the old Sea Watch restaurant in Wailea.

"We are the cheesy Hawaiian band in the hula competition," Flanagan said with a laugh, "but it was an unbelievable experience. We are dressed like a dinner cruise band."

THE BETHANY HAMILTON biopic "Soul Surfer," which shot on Oahu's North Shore last February, will open April 15. It stars AnnaSophia Robb as the surfer whose left arm was bitten off by a shark but who went on to thrive as both a pro surfer and an international role model. Quaid and Hunt star as her parents.

Bethany's real father, Tom, hasn't seen the final version, but said what he saw was good.

"It's better than I expected," he said. "I was there most of the days on the set and listening to dialogue, but some stuff hits the cutting room floor and some doesn't. Overall, they did a really good job."

Initially, the surf scenes were less than impressive, and Bethany said as much to director Sean McNamara, her father said.

"She said it wasn't up to her standards," he said. "They listened to her and went to Tahiti and re-shot a lot of it over the summer. It really brought it up to a whole new level."

"PIRATES of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," the latest sequel in the series from Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is scheduled for release May 20. It shot on Kauai and Oahu last summer, then moved to England, where shooting wrapped Nov. 18.

The film, which stars Depp as the lovable rogue Capt. Jack Sparrow, used historic 17th- and 18-century buildings at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Much of that can be seen, along with some lush Hawaii scenery, in the film's first official trailer, which was released earlier this month. (You can find it online at Yahoo movies.)

Bruckheimer's staff, which monitors fan reaction on Facebook and Twitter accounts, reports the trailer is a pleaser. Fans seem smitten by Penelope Cruz and the movie's mermaids.

DESPITE RUMORS it would premiere in the spring, "The Descendants" won't hit theaters until sometime in the fall, according to co-producer James Burke, who partnered with Oscar-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne.

Inspired by the novel from local author Kaui Hart Hemmings, it will star Clooney as the troubled descendant of a 19th-century Hawaiian princess and a haole banker who finds himself nearly overwhelmed by a family crisis.

"It's way to soon to plant our flag on a release date, but it is something we discuss from time to time," he said. "In fact, we have not locked the picture yet, so it's still a work in progress. And it's really good."

Two other films could surface in 2011: "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," a New Line Cinema project currently filming, and "You May Not Kiss the Bride," a long-awaited romantic comedy that Hawaii Film Partners began shooting in early 2009.

"You May Not Kiss the Bride," which was received well when it was screened for a test audience last spring, might premiere overseas, said Rann Watumull, co-founder of Hawaii Film Partners and a producer on the movie. Talks are ongoing with distributors in Russia, Latin America, Canada, Romania and Hungary, he said. He doesn't mind the potentially long route to local theaters.

"We were always thinking of a worldwide audience," he said. "Our market is the world."

And that's a wrap ...

Mike Gordon is the Star-Advertiser's film and television writer. His "Outtakes" column appears Sundays. E-mail him at

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