A Moment In History

The Real Battle For Middle Earth

Almost twenty-five years ago, in 1998, pre-production began on a project that made movie history. Peter Jackson embarked on the making of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy with the ambitious goal of...

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Aug 5

Amanda Knox on Why She Went After 'Stillwater,' and Filmmakers' Responsibility to Truth - Even in Fiction

"I'm not arguing legal arguments. I'm arguing human arguments," says Knox, who feels "Stillwater" refuels conspiratorial suspicions about her that were finally rejected by an Italian court. (image courtesy Variety)

by Chris Willman

As co-host of the "Labyrinths" podcast, Amanda Knox special­izes in spotlighting real-life figures who, as she puts it, "lack agency" as they're drawn against their will into becoming central figures in attention-getting stories. It's something she knows a lot about, of course: Knox may need little introduction to anyone who followed international news, but she feels she has had too little power in shaping her own narrative, even since she was finally acquitted in Italy in the 2007 murder of a fel­low exchange student, after years of jail time and repeated trials.

She says the trauma of living under perpetual suspicion has been revived by the release of "Stillwater," which filmmaker Tom McCarthy has acknowledged uses Knox's globally recognizable story as an inspirational springboard. An eloquent Twitter thread of Knox's went viral as the film was being released last weekend, followed by her much-circulated Medium essay. Here, speak­ing exclusively with Variety, she expounds on where she thinks the film went wrong (including some last-act spoilers), and why she'd still love for McCarthy to get in touch with her.

A recurring theme of Knox's: real stories should not be off-limits for creative adaptation - but "if you want to fictionalize a story," she says, "really fictionalize it." Or be prepared to contend with a subject who found her voice during those years in literal lockdown.

Click the Continue Reading at link to read the interview with Amanda Knox

Continue Reading at: Variety

Aug 4

Disney To Open Studio In Vancouver

by The Canadian Press

Film and television giant Walt Disney Animation Studios has announced the planned opening of a new studio in Vancouver set for January next year.

The company says in a news release that the new studio would focus on long-form series as well as special projects created for the Disney+ streaming platform.

It says the Vancouver studio's work will begin with the musical series "Moana."

Story development, storyboarding and production design for all projects will still be based in its Burbank, Calif., studio, which also handles all of Disney's feature films.

The company says Amir Nasrabadi will head the studio in Vancouver after working in senior roles with Vancouver-based WildBrain Studios, Pixar Canada and Paramount Animation.

Disney Animation president Clark Spencer says both Burbank and Vancouver are home to some of the world's most talented artists and technicians.

"We believe the storytelling and visual quality created within each location will meet the incredibly high standards we set for ourselves and (which) audiences have come to expect from Disney Animation," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Continue Reading at: Castanet

Aug 2

Full Trailer: "Venom: Let There Be Carnage"

by Garth Franklin

The full trailer has arrived for the Andy Serkis-directed "Venom" sequel which is currently slated to hit U.S. cinemas on September 24th (though the trailer keeps it to the more generic 'This Fall').

The follow-up to Sony's 2018 smash hit sees Academy Award-nominated actor Tom Hardy will reprise the lead role of investigative journalist Eddie Brock.

Over a year after the events of the first film, Brock struggles to adjust to life as the host of the alien symbiote Venom, which grants him super-human abilities in order to be a lethal vigilante.

Brock attempts to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution.

Michelle Williams and Naomie Harris co-star respectively. Despite a mixed response from critics, the first film opened to a massive $855 million worldwide.

See the trailer here:

Continue Reading at: Dark Horizons

Aug 1

'Jungle Cruise' Rides to $61.8M at Global Box Office, $30M on Disney+

Dwayne Johnson (left) and Emily Blunt in a still from "Jungle Cruise" (image courtesy Disney)

by Pamela McClintock

Disney's Jungle Cruise rode to a better-than-expected opening of $34.2 million at the domestic box office amid renewed concerns over COVID-19 and the delta variant for a worldwide box office debut of $61.8 million. In North America, it beat Space Jam: A New Legacy to score the top opening of the pandemic-era for a family film.

The movie's total global start is an OK $91.8 million when including $30 million in revenue from Disney+ Premier Access. Overseas - where a number of countries are also seeing a surge in coronavirus cases - it earned a tepid $27.6 million from 47 markets.

Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, had been tracking to open in the $25 million to $30 million range domestically. Jaume Collet-Serra directed the $200 million tentpole that's based on the iconic Disneyland ride and which hopes to launch a new franchise, much as the first Pirates of the Caribbean did.

Jungle Cruise is playing in 4,310 theaters in North America, where moviegoing is still far from reaching pre-pandemic levels. Weekend revenue, for example, was down nearly 50 percent from the same frame in 2019.

Elsewhere, A24's new Arthurian fantasy The Green Knight also came in ahead of expectations with $6.78 million from 2,790 theaters, good enough to tie with M. Night Shymalan's Old for second place (the order will be determined Monday). Directed by David Lowery, the critically acclaimed film stars Dev Patel.

Matt Damon starrer Stillwater, directed by Tom McCarthy, debuted in fifth place with $5.1 million from 2,531 locations. The movie, about an oil rigger from Oklahoma who travels to Europe to help his daughter (Abigail Breslin) after she is charged with murder, did huge business in America's heartland, including Oklahoma. Focus Features and Participant recently debuted the movie at the Cannes Film Festival.

Universal and M. Night Shymalan's Old fell 60 percent in its second weekend to finish Sunday with a domestic total of $30.6 million and $48.6 million globally.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

July 31

Delta Variant Stops Clifford the Big Red Dog's Theatrical Release

by Jordan Hoffman

Paramount Pictures has put a leash on Clifford the Big Red Dog's theatrical release, originally planned for September 17. The reason, as reported by Deadline, is concern over the delta variant of the coronavirus and "families feeling less likely to go to theaters." In best in show, Clifford wins the unfortunate title of being the first major entertainment cancellation due to the latest round of the ongoing public health crisis.

The movie, based on a children's book series dating back to 1963, had anticipatory box office buzz, according to Deadline, and was set to have a gala premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. It is unknown how Paramount's decision will impact that event now.

This first big screen, live-action appearance by Clifford (who has had numerous television, cartoon, and even video game iterations) was directed by Walt Becker (of Old Dogs and Wild Hogs fame), and co-stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, Russell Wong, Sienna Guillory, Tony Hale, Kenan Thompson, and John Cleese. One could argue that its trailer debut in mid-June over-indexed in online hubbub (in a good way) when first glimpses showed that Clifford's historically ambiguous size was now firm at 10 feet, and that he lived in Manhattan.

See the trailer here:

Continue Reading at: Vanity Fair

July 30

Peter Jackson Reportedly Faced Pressure to Kill off Hobbits in Lord of the Rings

The four main "Lord of the Ring" hobbits in a scene from Peter Jackson's "The Fellowship of the Ring" (image courtesy New Line)

by Anthony Nash

Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings has universally been recognized as the best telling of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic series. However, things could have gone a lot differently in the films, according to two of its stars.

In a recent interview with IGN, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd, who played Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took, respectively, revealed that at one point in the trilogy's production, Peter Jackson was facing pressure "from above" to kill off one of the film's four main hobbits. Of course, this would have been a huge deviation from the source material, which has all four hobbits surviving their journey through Middle-earth.

The actors said that eventually, Jackson was able to fully reject the request from the producers, and was able to deliver a more true version of the books as a result. When asked which hobbit he thinks would have been the one to bite the dust, Monaghan said that he was fairly certain it would have been Merry.

"It's a good job that didn't happen because it would have been me," he said. "There's no way they are killing Frodo and Sam, and the only ones that would be left would be Merry and Pippin. They wouldn't kill Pippin because Pippin has a really strong story with Gandalf."

Thankfully for Monaghan and fans of the classic story, no hobbits were killed in the film adaptation.

Continue Reading at: ComingSoon

July 28

Universal Nabs The Exorcist Trilogy With Ellen Burstyn to Reprise Role

Ellen Burstyn in a scene from the original 1973 film 'The Exorcist' (image courtesy Warner Bros.)

by Maggie Dela Paz

According to The New York Times, Universal Pictures and Peacock have successfully acquired the rights to Blumhouse Production's follow-up trilogy to William Friedkin's iconic horror film The Exorcist for a whopping deal of over $400 million. This acquisition comes after it was reported last December that Halloween's David Gordon Green was in talks to direct. Now, it has been officially confirmed that he has signed on to helm the first film in the planned trilogy, which is expected to arrive in theaters in late 2023.

In addition, acclaimed actress Ellen Burstyn has also agreed to return to the franchise and will reprise her iconic role as Chris MacNeil after over 40 years since the original film made its debut in 1973. For her performance as a mother to a possessed child, she earned her second Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Blumhouse's The Exorcist trilogy is not being developed as a remake but rather as a direct sequel to the original horror feature. Joining Burstyn is Oscar nominee Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton, One Night in Miami) for the leading role of a father of a possessed child whose desperation leads him to track down Chris McNeil.

Continue Reading at: ComingSoon

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