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The History of Film: Part 4 - The Sound Era

In this four part series, The History of Film, we have already looked at early film, however, up till now we have missed one giant element of any movie, sound.

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Feb 11

Star Wars, beware! Battlestar Galactica is back

Big screen machines ... the Cylons could be heading back to multiplexes (image courtesy Ronald Grant / The Guardian)
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by Ben Child

Universal, the studio behind Jurassic World and the Fast & Furious movies, has launched plans to bring sci-fi saga Battlestar Galactica back to the big screen as a multiple-film franchise capable of taking on Star Wars and Star Trek, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

A film based on the short-lived but hugely popular 1978 TV series moved into development in 2009 following the success of a small-screen reboot which ran for four seasons from 2004 onwards. X-Men’s Bryan Singer was at one stage on board to direct but has since moved on, and the project never saw the light of day.

The new version is in the early stages of development but makes sense for Universal as the powerhouse studio battles to compete against the might of Disney’s Star Wars. The long-running space opera’s latest instalment, The Force Awakens, was the biggest box-office hit of 2015 and at least four sequels and spin-offs are due in cinemas between now and 2020. Meanwhile, rival studio Paramount will bring its third Star Trek film of the current reboot project – the Simon Pegg-penned Star Trek Beyond – into multiplexes this summer. And 20th Century Fox remains committed to a slew of new Avatar movies once creator James Cameron has worked out how to follow up the highest-grossing film of all time.

Battlestar Galactica centres on attempts by a ragtag fleet of human survivors from a ruined human civilisation to find a mythical planet named Earth. Along the way, they must escape the nefarious attentions of the Cylons, the sentient cybernetic race that ravaged their home worlds and which now hopes to wipe them out altogether.

Continue Reading at: The Guardian

Feb 10

Charlize Theron eyes 'Fast 8' villain role

Actress and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Charlize Theron, takes part in a panel during the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York, Sept. 27, 2015 (image courtesy Reuters)
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by Justin Kroll, Variety.com

Charlize Theron has received an offer to join the cast of Universal's next "Fast and Furious" movie, "Fast 8," as a new villain.

While it's unclear where negotiations stand currently, sources close to the situation tell Variety that the studio is eager to add Theron to the ensemble cast. Universal had no comment.

Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson and Jason Statham are all expected to return, along with other franchise favorites. It was announced in October that, following the success of "Straight Outta Compton," F. Gary Gray would direct the project.

Production is set to start next spring with the film dated to bow on April 17, 2017.

Theron is attached to star in "The Gray Man" for Sony, but the film is going through a rewrite to change the main character from male to female, making it possible to fit both movie into her schedule.

This isn't the first big star to join the "Fast and Furious" cast mid-series. Dwayne Johnson joined the cast in "Fast Five" -- Universal likely hopes to mirror that move with Theron's casting, adding a fresh face for not only "Fast 8," but for the remaining installments.

Continue Reading at: Toronto Sun

Feb 9

Lupita Nyong'o set to play an alien in sci-fi thriller Intelligent Life

Out of this world... Lupita Nyong’o (image courtesy Invision/AP)
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by Ben Child

Her role as a diminutive alien with mysterious powers was one of the more controversial aspects of space opera blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o looks set to step into futuristic territory again, after entering talks to play a mysterious woman who turns out to be an extraterrestrial in the science-fiction thriller Intelligent Life.

The currently red-hot director of civil rights period drama Selma, Ava DuVernay, is being tipped to direct from a screenplay by Jurassic World's Colin Trevorrow and writing partner Derek Connolly, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The project is being set up at Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, with Trevorrow and fellow Jurassic World alumnus Frank Marshall also set to produce.

Intelligent Life is based on an earlier project titled The Ambassador, about a United Nations department set up to provide first contact in the event of the discovery of alien life. The lead character falls in love with an enigmatic woman, due to be played by Nyong'o, only to discover that she is an alien.

DuVernay is said to be top of the producers' wishlist, though Variety reports she has not yet been offered the job. The acclaimed film-maker is also reported to be circling Disney's A Wrinkle in Time, a second science-fiction project, this time based on Madeleine L'Engle's classic children's novel. However, it might prove possible for her to shoot both films.

Continue Reading at: The Guardian

Feb 8

'Kung Fu Panda 3' tops Super Bowl weekend at box office

This image released by DreamWorks Animation shows characters Po, voiced by Jack Black, left, and his long-lost panda father Li, voiced by Bryan Cranston, in a scene from "Kung Fu Panda 3." (image courtesy DreamWorks / AP)
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By Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

The Coen brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" and the Jane Austen-monster mashup "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" followed distantly behind "Kung Fu Panda 3," which remained on top of the box office over Super Bowl weekend.

DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda" sequel earned an estimated $21 million in its second weekend of release, according to studio estimates Sunday. Joel and Ethan Coen's '50s Hollywood satire "Hail, Caesar!" opened in second place with an estimated $11.4 million in North American theatres for Universal Pictures.

The two other major new releases struggled.

The Nicholas Sparks' romance "The Choice" debuted with $6.1 million for Lionsgate. Despite expectations of a No. 2 opening, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," bankrolled by Cross Creek Picture and released by Sony's Screen Gems, eked out a meagre $5.2 million.

Though the majority of weekend grosses are made on Fridays and Saturdays, Hollywood generally seeks to avoid competing with the football broadcast and instead sticks largely to counterprogramming. The best Super Bowl weekend remains the 2008 concert film "Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus" ($31.1 million) followed by an earlier Sparks adaption, 2010's "Dear John" ($30.5 million).

Continue Reading at: The Vancouver Sun

Feb 6

MacGyver Is Getting A Movie, Get The Details

Richard Dean Anderson (pictured here on set "back in the day") was the original MacGyver (image courtesy Cinema Blend / ABC)
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By Dirk Libbey

In the world of modern media, everything that's old is new again, and that means that if you're a fan of a classic TV series or movie that's over 10 years old, just hang out, and eventually it will get rebooted. While some classic TV series are simply getting a new series, others get to make the jump to the big screen. If you're a fan of the 1980's action series MacGyver, you just won the reboot lottery, as he's getting both.

A day after it was announced that CBS has ordered a pilot for a new MacGyver TV series, Lionsgate has now announced that they’ve partnered with the network to bring the new character into the movies as well. According to The Hollywood Reporter the movie will be produced by 21 Jump Street's Neal Moritz as well as Lee David Zlotoff, who was the creator of the original series. The specifics of the agreement are a little vague, so whether this movie would bring the new TV MacGyver on the big screen as well or would be an independent project with a separate character, aren't entirely clear. It would seem a little strange to bring two new characters out so close together, but it wouldn't be the first time something like that has happened.

The original series ran from 1985 to 1992, and then spun off a pair of made-for-TV movies, all starring Richard Dean Anderson as the titular character. The series focused on MacGyver's ability to think his way out of dangerous situations by building a solution out of his surroundings often using everyday items in very unusual ways.

Continue Reading at: Cinema Blend

Feb 5

Star Wars: The Force Awakens About To Cross Two New Box Office Milestones

By Dirk Libbey

While much of the hype surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens has now died down, as it's been out for nearly two months, the movie isn't quite done breaking records yet. Today The Walt Disney Company announced that the movie has hit another movie milestone, and is expected to hit another before the weekend is out. The Force Awakens has now become the first movie to gross $900 million at the U.S. box office. The Mouse House also expects the film to crack the $2 billion global box office mark sometime on Saturday.

The Force Awakens became the number one domestic movie quite a while ago when it bypassed Avatar's $760 million total. Since then the film has just been piling on and increasing its lead, making it that much harder for any future film to bypass its success. Even future Star Wars movies will likely have difficulty competing. While the film has lost its spot at the top of the box office chart, it still hasn't fallen below the number two spot, even two months later.

While Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been a global success as well, it has not been able to become the clear leader there nearly as easily. Only two movies have ever broken the $2 billion mark previously, James Cameron's Titanic and Avatar. While The Force Awakens will be joining that elite club this weekend, even surpassing Titanic's $2.186 billion box office will be a long shot at this point. Catching up to Avatar at $2.7 billion is essentially impossible.

While the numbers that The Force Awakens have put up globally are nothing to ignore, they're nothing compared to what Avatar was able to do. Cameron's films did over $200 million in China, and that was in 2009 when the nation was not nearly the box office powerhouse that they are today. By comparison Star Wars is sitting at $120 million due to the movie seeing a significant drop in business in only its second week of release in the country. Star Wars has never built the fan base in China than it has in other parts of the world, mostly due to the communist government keeping western pop culture out of the nation in the late 1970's when Star Wars was first getting a toehold in the rest of the world.

Continue Reading at: Cinema Blend

Feb 4

'Deadpool' Marketing Hides The Movie With Viral Content

Movie poster for Fox's 'Deadpool' (image courtesy Forbes / 20th Century Fox)
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by Scott Mendelson

20th Century Fox deserves and has received all the credit in the world for its genuinely creative and openly unconventional Deadpool marketing campaign. Their campaign, with a week left to go, has been a clear case of a studio having fun with the marketing process and embracing the offbeat nature of their property as an excuse to both play around with conventions and openly acknowledge the tropes. But there is something else for which they should receive credit as well: I am seeing the film tonight and, thanks to the marketing campaign thus far, I have very little idea of what I'm about to see. The viral videos and self-aware teasers has successfully hidden the fact that 20th Century Fox has actually revealed very little of the film itself.

They began the campaign in a somewhat traditional fashion back in August, with a self-aware "teaser for a trailer" that served as a stand-alone piece of promotional art and then an actual theatrical trailer attached to Fantastic Four. And then they went into overdrive in the week leading up to Christmas, beginning their so-called "12 Days of Deadpool" with a daily series of viral-friendly marketing tidbits that led up to the reveal of the second theatrical trailer on Christmas Day.

Said marketing deluge, which ran right through the two-week chunk when Walt Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens was otherwise dominating the news cycle, included a couple new posters, an "annotated" script page, a Christmas card detailing the year in review, a totally spoiler-free IMAX trailer that played on some prints of Star Wars, and other such silliness. And the last six weeks or so has followed suit, with Ryan Reynolds's wise-cracking anti-hero taking the spotlight with (among other things) satirical posters selling the film as a romantic drama, public service announcements for testicular cancer and breast cancer, a Super Bowl ad for Hyundai featuring a deluge of Ryan Reynolds clones for female-gaze consumption.

Continue Reading at: Forbes

Feb 3

'Fast & Furious': 10 Films, 20 Years, A Franchise Unlike Any Other In Modern Cinematic History

The gang in 'Furious 7' (image courtesy Universal)
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by Scott Mendelson

Per Universal and Vin Diesel, we are officially getting not one, but three more Fast and the Furious movies. The notion at this point is that the last three films, Fast 8 plus two more untitled entries, will basically close out the saga in 2017, 2019, and 2021 respectively. As Mr. Diesel put it on his social media announcement, that's ten films over two decades for one saga. And by racing past an eighth chapter, the Fast and the Furious franchise, which started back in 2001 as a would-be knock off of Point Break set in the Los Angeles world of street racing, will become something unique unto itself. It will be the first non-horror franchise in modern cinematic history to offer more than seven explicitly connected tales in one long cinematic saga. It will have more installments that almost any other explicitly serialized cinematic franchise in modern history.

Even among horror franchises, the only one that made it to ten theatrical installments remains Friday the 13th. Saw closed out at seven films, the Nightmare on Elm Street pictures have eight but the last two weren't inherently connected to the rest, while the original Halloween franchise has eight installments yet the last two may or may not discard the continuity of the middle chapters. And among non-horror installments, Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.'s Harry Potter films closed out at eight, there were six Hobbit/Lord of the Rings films for New Line Cinema and the newly revived Star Wars franchise will indeed be racing to that tenth chapter right alongside Toretto, Letty, Hobbs, and the rest of the gang. Yes, we have the Marvel Cinematic Universe which will wrap up its first long-form 22-movie arc with Avengers: Infinity War part II in 2019, but even that is more a handful of stand-alone franchises sowing the seeds for periodic team-up movies. That's no less remarkable, but it's not quite the same.

Paramount/Viacom Inc.'s Star Trek franchise has thirteen features but the last three (counting Star Trek Beyond) exist in their own parallel continuity while the seventh (Star Trek Generations) was literally a passing of the torch from one group of heroes to another. Yes, we now have 25 James Bond films (the tenth was the franchise-saving The Spy Who Loved Me which arrived just 15 years after Dr. No) but those films tended to exist in a stand-alone universe with only the loosest of continuities. Ditto (to varying degrees) the likes of The Pink Panther, The Muppets, and (to my memory) those Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films from the 1940's. It's not that there has never been a film franchise that made it past eight entries or even past ten, but rather that The Fast and the Furious franchise stands unique in basically telling one long-form story with the same core group of actors over what now will be a ten-film saga stretched over twenty years without any significant breaks. Try as I might, but I can't think of anything comparable.

Continue Reading at: Forbes

Feb 1

'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops Box Office, 'Finest Hours' Flounders

Jack Black voices Po in 'Kung Fu Panda 3' (image courtesy Dreamworks / Rex Features)
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by The Associated Press

"Kung Fu Panda 3" has kicked its way to the top of the North American box office with a respectable $41 million, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

The animated sequel fared much better than the weekend's other new openers, like Disney's Coast Guard adventure "The Finest Hours," which debuted in fourth place with $10.3 million.

The "Fifty Shades of Grey" parody "Fifty Shades of Black" earned around $6.2 million, but it only cost a reported $5 million to produce, while The Weinstein Company's Natalie Portman-led Western "Jane Got a Gun" misfired out of the gates, bringing in less than $1 million on a $25 million budget.

Holdovers "The Revenant" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" took second and third place with $12.4 million and $10.8 million, respectively.

Continue Reading at: KOLO TV (ABC)

Jan 31

'Spotlight' takes top honour at SAG Awards

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

The Screen Actors Guild Awards were not so white.

While the Academy Awards remain enveloped in a crisis over the diversity of its nominees, the 22nd annual SAG Awards on Saturday presented a stark antidote to the rancour that has overwhelmed Hollywood's awards season. Awards were handed out to Queen Latifah, Uzo Aduba, Viola Davis and Idris Elba (twice), as the actors guild cast a loud vote in favour of diversity on big and small screens.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to diverse TV," said Elba in his third trip on stage as a presenter. His first two were to accept awards for his supporting performance in the Netflix child soldier drama "Beasts of No Nation" and for his lead performance in the BBC miniseries "Luther."

The night's top honour, best ensemble in a film, went to the newspaper drama "Spotlight," which came into Saturday badly in need of some momentum. The ensemble award had seemingly come down to "Spotlight" or -- the film with the wind at its back -- Adam McKay's high finance tale "The Big Short," which last week took the Producers Guild's top award.

"No way," said Mark Ruffalo, one of the film's stars.

He praised the writer-director Tom McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer for their purposeful accuracy in penning the journalistic procedural about the Boston Globe's reporting on sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The two, he said, "took every single opportunity to tell the truth. They didn't take any cheap way. It was always the truth."

Elba made no direct reference to the crisis that has swept through Hollywood in the last two weeks -- which might have been far less severe had he been nominated by the Academy Awards, as many expected. But it was on the minds and tongues of seemingly everyone in Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium on Saturday night.

Continue Reading at: CTV

Jan 30

Deadpool: 'I don't think my mom is going to be able to watch it'

Ryan Reynolds all decked out and getting cozy as 'Deadpool' (image courtesy 20th Century Fox)
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by Graeme Virtue

Deadpool was the hottest superhero movie of 2012, right up until it wasn't. A toned-down version of the cult Marvel character had appeared in the stodgy X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Ryan Reynolds, but the proposed standalone movie, scripted by the writers of Zombieland, promised to be faithful to the source material: violent, sexy, nutty. Who wouldn't want to see the adventures of a motormouth mercenary who gets aroused by chimichangas, katanas and Bea Arthur? No envelope would go unpushed, or unlicked. The in-demand Reynolds was signed up and visual effects specialist Tim Miller was announced as director.

Then: ring sting. Green Lantern, Martin Campbell's 2011 blockbuster that was supposed to rubber-stamp Reynolds as a franchise-leading superhero, flopped hard. The strapping RyRey was suddenly comic-book Kryptonite. Panicky studio executives pulled the plug. Deadpool was dead.

For Miller, preparing to make his transition to feature directing after years running his own successful VFX studio, watching his dream project implode was some majorly bad juju. "I was so disappointed when we couldn't do it five years ago," he says. "I was thinking: 'These people don’t know what the fuck they're talking about.' I was angry and traumatised. But with hindsight, I can see why now is a much better time. Back then it perhaps hadn't reached the point where audiences were familiar enough with the genre that we could riff on it. The public wasn't really ready."

Click the Continue Reading at link to read more of the conversation with director Tim Miller and actress Gina Carano.

Continue Reading at: The Guardian

Jan 30

Jessica Chastain Back For Mama 2? Here's What We Know

Jessica Chastain in a scene from the small budget horror 'Mama' (image courtesy Cinema Blend / Universal Pictures)
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By Brent McKnight

When your movie only cost $15 million to produce, but it goes on to earn ten times that worldwide, that's the kind of thing that makes studios drool. Such is the case with 2013's horror outing Mama, which was made on the cheap and raked in $146 million from the global marketplace. Universal recently green lit a sequel, but one question that remains is whether or not star Jessica Chastain will be back for more. Stranger things have happened, but at the moment it doesn't look like the actress will be return for Mama 2.

An inside source at her agency recently told The Wrap that Jessica Chastain is not expected to return to the spectral series. I can't imagine that comes as much of a surprise to anyone. In the intervening years, the 38-year-old actress has become one of the most sought after performers in Hollywood, so the idea of her coming back for what will likely be a low-budget sequel to a low-budget horror flick is pretty far fetched to begin with. But why not aim high?

Jessica Chastain isn't the only one who won’t be back for Mama 2. Director Andy Muschietti, who helmed the Guillermo del Toro-produced original, isn't going to return either. But he has said since almost day one that he had no interest. Once Mama became a hit, sequel talk began percolating almost immediately, and just as quickly, he revealed that he had no interest in making another and that he wanted to move on to other projects. That track seems to have worked out well for him, as he is now set to direct the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's It, taking over the job vacated by Cary Fukunaga.

Continue Reading at: Cinema Blend

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