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Live From Hollywood...

Dec 2

New trailer for The Matrix Resurrections is heavy on the déjà vu

by Jennifer Ouellette

We're just a few weeks away from the release of The Matrix Resurrections, and Warner Bros. is whetting our appetites with a shiny new trailer.

As we've reported previously, series writers/directors Lilly and Lana Wachowski didn't originally intend to make another Matrix film after Revolutions, but rumors about a possible fourth film have been swirling since 2012. Lilly Wachowski went so far as to call the prospect "a particularly repelling idea in these times" in a 2015 interview - a sharp critique of Hollywood's preference for sequels, reboots, and adaptations.

Nonetheless, Warner Bros. officially announced the fourth film in August 2019. Lana Wachowski signed on to direct and co-write the film with novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) and Aleksandar Hemon (Sense8). Lilly Wachowski gave the project her blessing but declined to be involved, partly because she was busy with Showtime's Work in Progress.

Check out the new trailer here:

Continue Reading at: Ars Technica

Dec 1

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss resurrect a 20-year love story with The Matrix 4.0

Keanu Reeves (seated) and Carrie-Anne Moss cover Entertainment Weekly's January 2022 issue (image courtesy Dan Winters / EW)

by Nick Romano

Keanu Reeves is jet-lagged. The 57-year-old Hollywood lifer has just arrived in Los Angeles after a flight from Jordan, where he was filming the fourth John Wick, a punishing franchise not exactly known for its leisurely pace. He hasn't been home in eight months, but instead of sleeping it off, he's at a photo shoot. Fatigue sets in. He buries his eyes in his palms, trying to rub life back into his strained pupils after the continuous pop, pop, pop of the camera's flash.

Getting his picture taken doesn't rank high on Reeves' list of favorite things. It never has. But he looks up and smiles when a pair of comforting hands rest on his shoulders: They belong to Carrie-Anne Moss, his longtime costar from the Matrix movies, positioning herself behind him for the shot. There's an ease between them that comes from 20-plus years of friendship - a friendship that began in the late '90s when the pair met on the genre-redefining sci-fi film that turned out to be so influential, it single-handedly introduced phrases like "glitch in the Matrix" and "red-pilling" to the pop culture lexicon.

Moss calls their connection effortless. "We've been through this experience together as partners," says the actress, 54. "The only way I can describe it is like a soul friendship." Their unique bond made 1999's The Matrix what it is today, and The Matrix, in turn, changed the course of moviemaking on the eve of a new millennium.

That first film, inspired by then-geekier genres like cyberpunk and anime, envisioned a grim future in which our world, unbeknownst to us, had been taken over by machines: Using a simulated reality, artificial intelligence keeps humans docile enough to harvest for energy. At the center of this brainy high concept was Reeves' Neo, a bored office worker moonlighting as a computer hacker who escapes the simulation, and Moss' Trinity, a woman from the real world with the ability to jack into the Matrix - not to mention a talent for executing gravity-defying combat moves while clad in slick black leather.

After all these years, neither star would've guessed that they'd be back together talking about yet another sequel, The Matrix Resurrections, which lands in theaters and on HBO Max Dec. 22. How could they? Sibling directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the architects of the franchise, were firm in their resolve that the first three installments would serve as a complete trilogy, definitively ending in 2003 with The Matrix Revolutions... and (two-decade-old spoiler alert!) with both Neo and Trinity dying at the end.

When asked why he agreed to return to the series after a nearly two-decade hiatus, Reeves offers a very simple explanation: "We had filmmakers who you wanted to say yes to," he says. Plus, he adds, "[we had] material that you wanted to commit to, to give everything that you could to."

Continue Reading at: Entertainment Weekly

Nov 30

Movie theaters must 'urgently' rethink the experience, a study says.

by Brooks Barnes

About 49 percent of prepandemic moviegoers are no longer buying tickets. Some of them, roughly 8 percent, have likely been lost forever. To win back the rest, multiplex owners must "urgently" rethink pricing and customer perks in addition to focusing on coronavirus safety.

Those were some of the takeaways from a new study on the state of the American movie theater business, which was troubled before the pandemic - attendance declining, streaming services proliferating - and has struggled to rebound from coronavirus-forced closings in 2020. Over the weekend, ticket sales in the United States and Canada stood at roughly $96 million, compared to $181 million over the same period in 2019.

The study, published online on Monday, was self-commissioned by the Quorum, a film research company led by David Herrin, the former head of research for United Talent Agency; Cultique, a consultancy run by the longtime brand strategist Linda Ong; and Fanthropology, which describes itself as a research, strategy and creative agency. They intend to run the survey once a quarter.

"The research clearly shows that theaters are suffering because the pandemic intensified, accelerated, amplified all of the nascent trends that were already underway," Ms. Ong said. "That is the definition of a perfect storm - not that various problems exist at the same time, but that they have an intensifying effect on each other."

The nascent trends? Rising ticket and concession prices. Decreasing "experiential value," including the perception that moviegoing has become a hassle. The run-down state of shopping malls, which house many theaters. A generational shift toward streaming, gaming and other smartphone-based entertainment. "Before, maybe you went every now and again - overlooking the drawbacks," Mr. Herrin said. "Now you add safety concerns to that mix, and you suddenly become a former film-goer."

Continue Reading at: The New York Times

Nov 28

Box Office: 'Encanto' Leads Subdued Thanksgiving Parade With $40.3M, 'House of Gucci' Struts to $21.8M

A publicity still from "Encanto" (image courtesy Disney)

by Pamela McClintock

While moviegoing over the long 2021 Thanksgiving corridor didn't come close to reaching pre-pandemic levels, Hollywood feasted on gains for family fare and adult dramas.

Walt Disney Animation's original musical adventure Encanto topped the domestic chart with a Wednesday-Sunday opening of $40.3 million, the best start of the pandemic era for an animated title. That includes $27 million for the three-day weekend. Overseas, Encanto opened to $29.3 million from more than 47 markets for a global launch of $69.6 million.

Disney always releases an animated film over Thanksgiving, albeit to far bigger numbers. The last original movie to launch over the holiday, Coco, posted a five-day domestic gross of $72.9 million in 2018. Among franchise installments, Frozen II amassed more than $125 million for the five days in 2019.

While Encanto opened in line with expectations, many in Hollywood had hoped it would do more. There's concern over the pace of the overall box office recovery, particularly in the wake of the new, omicron COVID-19 variant, which could spook domestic audiences after already prompting some cinema closures in parts of Europe.

MGM and United Artists' House of Gucci was another Thanksgiving winner.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Gucci sewed up a five-day debut of $21.8 million and $14.2 million for the weekend, both record numbers for an adult drama in the pandemic era and reflecting star Lady Gaga's appeal among younger adults. Nearly half of ticket buyers, or 45 percent, were between the ages of 18-34, while 34 percent were 45 and older.

Gucci placed No. 3 behind Encanto and holdover Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Overseas, the drama opened to $12.9 million from 40 markets for a global start of $34.7 million.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Nov 27

'Dune': Denis Villeneuve Sci-Fi Epic Finally Crosses $100M At Domestic Box Office

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides in a scene from "Dune" (image courtesy Warner Bros.)

by Anthony D'Alessandro

In a benchmark that was to be expected, Warner Bros./Legendary's feature adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune has clocked past $100 million at the domestic box office. This brings the global running total to north of $370M; the ultimate exclamation point here for the Denis Villeneuve directed movie being $400M WW. Dune made $400K on Thanksgiving yesterday sending its domestic total to $100.1M.

Note, just because Dune crossed this threshold stateside, doesn't mean it's a victory lap for the studio's controversial theatrical-day-and-date HBO Max 2021 strategy (Villeneuve's Canadian homeland had Dune on an exclusive theatrical window during its run there). The mind wonders how much more money Dune could have made. Dune crosses $100M in its 35th day of release, making it the second movie to go past the century mark on Warner's annual slate after Legendary's Godzilla vs. Kong (which made that amount of money in 12 weekends of release).

While Dune was on HBO Max during its first 31 days in theaters, it's now exclusively theatrical, currently playing in 1,312 theaters with a Thanksgiving weekend outlook of $2.26M over three days and $3.2M since Wednesday which will bring its running U.S./Canada total to $102.4M by Sunday. Warner Bros, as Deadline first told you, is injecting some extra steroids into the all-star ensemble, booking it back into Imax auditoriums on Dec. 3. The movie had 73 minutes shot in Imax, and the large format exhibitor drove 22% of the movie’s $41M opening weekend ticket sales, and 20% of its overall domestic total; 13% of the pic's overall global tally.

Continue Reading at: Deadline

Nov 26

War movie about defeat of US Army is now China's biggest film ever

Publicity poster for "The Battle at Lake Changjin" (image courtesy Bona Film Group)

by Andrew Court

A Chinese propaganda movie depicting the defeat of the US Army has become the country's highest-grossing film of all time.

The three-hour-long war epic, "The Battle at Lake Changjin," has made a whopping $892 million in the communist country since it was released there on Sept. 30.

It has now surpassed the 2017 action flick "Wolf Warrior II," which previously held the record for China's highest-grossing movie, with $882 million in box office receipts.

As the Chinese box office is the largest in the world, "The Battle at Lake Changjin" is also now the highest-grossing film of 2021 worldwide, according to Variety.

It has even outearned the James Bond flick, "No Time To Die," which has grossed just north of $700 million internationally.

The film is based on the Battle of Chosin Reservoir - a military campaign that occurred during the Korean War. The brutal, 17-day battle took place in late 1950, shortly after the People's Republic of China entered the war in support of North Korea.

Against all odds, 120,000 Chinese troops managed to encircle and attack US forces and their allies. While the Americans were eventually able to break free, they were subsequently forced to evacuate the region, marking their complete withdrawal from North Korea.

"The Battle at Lake Changjin" - which cost $200 million to make - was sponsored by the Chinese government, which is said to be delighted at the success of the propaganda film.

Continue Reading at: NY Post

Nov 24

Kirsten Dunst confirms she refused to speak to Benedict Cumberbatch on set of The Power of the Dog

Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from "The Power Of the Dog" (image courtesy Netflix)

by Ellie Harrison

Kirsten Dunst has confirmed that she "isolated" herself from Benedict Cumberbatch on the set of The Power of the Dog.

In Jane Campion's acclaimed dramatic film, which arrives on Netflix soon, Cumberbatch plays Phil, a cowboy who works on a ranch with his brother George (Jesse Plemons) in the 1920s.

Dunst plays Plemons' new wife, Rose, to whom Cumberbatch's character takes an immediate dislike.

Cumberbatch said last week that this on-screen animosity meant he was "repelled" by his co-star between takes.

"I didn't want to be really mean to Kirsten, but I needed to stay in character," he said. "So I didn't speak to her on-set. She was the same."

Now, in a new interview with Radio Times, Dunst has confirmed the story. "I isolated myself from Benedict," she said. "We didn't talk at all during the filming unless we were out to dinner on a weekend, all together, or playing with our kids.

"He's so sweet. And he's so British. Polite British, you know? I was like, 'I can't talk to you!'"

Cumberbatch has spoken previously about his method acting for The Power of the Dog, revealing that he never broke character on set, and refused to answer if someone called him by his real name.

The actor also gave himself nicotine poisoning three times by smoking a large number of filterless cigarettes, and refused to wash during the making of the film.

Continue Reading at: Independent UK

Nov 24

Watch Jurassic World: Dominion's epic 5 minute trailer

by Mark Serrels

Jurassic World: Dominion hits theatres in June 2022, but the new five minute trailer? That's set 65 million years in the past.

So it's a prologue of sorts -- maybe the most extreme prologue ever made! It's glorious and you can watch below.

This five minute prologue was previously exclusive to IMAX, paired with screenings of F9, and shows the journey of the mosquito used to clone dinosaurs in the Jurassic World/Jurassic Park universe.

Jurassic World: Dominion is being directed by Colin Trevorrow, and will also star Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard from previous movies in the Jurassic World series. Incredibly, Jurassic World Dominion is bringing back some of the cast from the original Steven Spielberg classic Jurassic Park including Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern.

Continue Reading at: Cnet

Nov 23

Netflix scoops up Game of Thrones visual effects whiz Scanline

by Mark Sweney

Netflix has bought Scanline, the visual effects company that has worked on films and television series including Game of Thrones, Zack Snyder's Justice League and Stranger Things.

It is the US streaming service's first deal to take control of a major player in the in-demand special effects industry.

Scanline VFX, which operates seven offices globally from its headquarters in Canada and employs more than 1,100 people, will become a "fully owned, semi-autonomous" Netflix subsidiary.

The move comes weeks after Weta Digital, which has built characters and scenes for productions spanning Lord of the Rings to Avatar, sold its visual special effects technology arm to the US-based video game company Unity for $1.63bn (£1.22bn).

The Netflix deal will allow the streaming company to focus Scanline's attention on its ever-growing TV and film production slate. Scanline has already worked on original productions, including the big-budget Ryan Reynolds film 6 Underground and forthcoming titles including the star-studded comedy disaster film Don't Look Up.

Amy Reinhard, vice-president of studio operations at Netflix, said: "From the interstellar landscape of Cowboy Bebop and the ravenous vampires of Blood Red Sky to the exploding underground reactor in Stranger Things 3, we want to surprise and delight our members by pushing the boundaries of visual effects."

Netflix, which is set to spend $17bn this year making and licensing films and TV shows, said that despite its takeover of Scanline the business would still be allowed to work for third parties.

Continue Reading at: The Guardian

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