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In 1928, Walt Disney, then an unknown animator, was forced to give up his relatively successful character of "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" following a contract dispute with Universal.

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Sept 22

Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Royally Beats 'Rambo,' 'Ad Astra' With $31M

This still shows Lesley Nicol (right) and Sophie McShera in a scene from "Downton Abbey" (image courtesy Focus Features)

by Pamela McClintock

In a surprise upset, Downton Abbey won the crowded weekend box office race with a better-than-expected $31 million from 3,079 theaters, royally beating the final installment in Sylvester Stallone's iconic Rambo action franchise and a new space thriller featuring one of the world's biggest movie stars, Brad Pitt.

Pitt's Ad Astra did manage to edge past Stallone's Rambo: Last Blood with an estimated $19.2 million from 3,460 sites. Last Blood took in $19 million from 3,618 cinemas, the widest location count of the three new films. It's possible the order could change when final weekend numbers are tallied Monday. (Heading into the weekend, many were betting on Rambo to win.)

Overseas, Downton Abbey is also serving up nice business, earning $30.8 million to date from its first 32 markets for an early global haul of $61.8 million against a modest $13 million production budget before marketing. It's amassed $15 million in the U.K., where it first strutted into theaters last weekend.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Sept 20

A company will pay a Stephen King fan $1,300 to watch 13 of his scariest films by Halloween

by Scottie Andrew

Much like his character It, Stephen King fever has roared back to life after a period of dormancy. But as remakes of the author's most popular works flood theaters and streaming services, it's increasingly difficult to discern casual viewers from devotees.

USDish has a competition for fans to prove their loyalty to the horror maven, and this one doesn't involve a blood oath: One winner will watch 13 adaptations of his spookiest stories, and for their bravery, they'll earn $1,300.

Can't decide between the 40-plus films of King's work? Dish chose for you: You'll watch lauded classics like "Carrie" and "The Shining" to truly harrowing adaptations like "The Mist" and "Pet Sematary" and deeper cuts like "Thinner" and "Dreamcatcher."

But the coin won't come easy. You'll need to fill out an application complete with a 200-word statement about why you deserve the job. If you're chosen, you'll need to record the number of scares that make you jump, your heart rate during the blood-chilling bits and the amount of sleep you get (if you're able to).

The winner (or Loser, if you hail from Derry) gets all 13 flicks for free, plus a FitBit to track heart rate and movie-watching essentials like popcorn, candy and a blanket to hide under.

And when the frights are over and the goosebumps subside, you'll collect your check. You'll just have to clean up the tossed popcorn afterward.

The application closes October 15, just a little over two weeks until the spookiest day of the year (and your deadline, if you're chosen).

Continue Reading at: CNN

Sept 19

'In the Tall Grass' Trailer: Patrick Wilson in Netflix's Stephen King Thriller Adds to His Horror Bona Fides

Patrick Wilson in a still from "In the Tall Grass" (image courtesy Netflix)

by Jude Dry

Stephen King's very good year is still in full swing. The master of horror's oeuvre has been mined for countless screen adaptations over the years, to varying degrees of success. But these days, with horror more popular than ever, anything with King's name on it is the closest thing to a surefire success Hollywood has. This month saw the release of "It: Chapter Two," the sequel to last year's surprise blockbuster "It." November brings rising horror star Mike Flanagan's "Doctor Sleep," a sequel to "The Shining" which pulls from the eponymous 2013 King novel and sets Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Danny Torrance.

Smack in the middle of the two major theatrical releases, Netflix will premiere "In the Tall Grass," based on a lesser-known novella written by King and Joe Hill. The newly released first trailer promises a setup ripe with tension as well as strong performances from its small ensemble cast.

The official synopsis reads: "When siblings Becky and Cal hear the cries of a young boy lost within a field of tall grass, they venture in to rescue him, only to become ensnared themselves by a sinister force that quickly disorients and separates them. Cut off from the world and unable to escape the field's tightening grip, they soon discover that the only thing worse than getting lost is being found."

"In the Tall Grass" stars Patrick Wilson as a concerned father looking for his son. Since his breakout role in HBO's 2003 "Angels in America" adaptation, Wilson has appeared in a wide range of projects, from "The Phantom of the Opera" to Noah Hawley's "Fargo" TV series to "Young Adult." But he's got significant horror bona fides as well, having starred in both "The Conjuring" films and three "Insidious" movies. He will also appear in "The Conjuring 3," currently in post-production.

Continue Reading at: Indiewire

Sept 17

M. Night Shyamalan Has Two More Thrillers In Works At Universal

Director M. Night Shyamalan has two more movies in the pipes for Universal (image courtesy Rex Features / Shutterstock)

by Anthony D'Alessandro

Following the success of their theatrical trinity - The Visit, Split and Glass - Universal and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan are back in business with two untitled thrillers that will be released on February 26, 2021, and February 17, 2023.

Shyamalan independently financed these past three films with a combined production budget of $35M. They collectively generated $625M worldwide. He similarly will finance his next two movies.

"M. Night Shyamalan continues to create exciting, highly original stories that keep global audiences on the edge of their seats," Universal Pictures President Peter Cramer said in a statement. "There is no one like him. He is a master filmmaker working at the height of his powers, and we are honored that he has once again chosen Universal to be the home for his next two incredible projects."

Said Shyamalan: "There are wonderful studios out there, but Universal has made it a mandate to release original films. They are the best at finding an audience for new stories with unexpected tones. I believe original films are crucial to the longevity of the theatrical experience. I am so excited to be working with them again and bringing new stories to the movie screen for years to come."

Shyamalan's high-concept thrillers have grossed more than $3.3 billion at the global box office. His most recent Universal pic - the January release Glass, the culmination of his Eastrail 177 Trilogy (which also includes Unbreakable and Split - opened No. 1 at the box office, held the top spot for three weekends and made close to $250M worldwide. The second film in the epic series, Split, also debuted at No. 1 and remained there for three weekends in a row during its 2017 release and made more than $278M. Shyamalan's The Visit (2015) raked in close to $100M worldwide.

Continue Reading at: Deadline

Sept 16

An Original Ghostbuster Confirms Return for Ghostbusters 2020

A still from 1984's "Ghostbusters" (image courtesy Columbia Pictures)

by Sam Stone

After months of rumors and speculation, original Ghostbusters star Ernie Hudson confirmed he will appear in next year's revival film Ghostbusters 2020.

The actor, who portrayed team member Winston Zeddemore in the classic 1984 original film and its 1989 sequel, confirmed his participation in Jason Reitman's sequel after revealing this past July that he had not yet reached a deal with the filmmakers for his return.

"Were shooting the new Ghostbusters right now, coming out next summer, so Im hoping that youll enjoy it as much as the other movies that weve done," announced Hudson in his familiar Ghostbusters uniform on a video message on the celebrity interaction site Cameo. "I know that I'm having a blast doing it."

Principal photography on the upcoming film began this past July in Calgary and is expected to serve as a continuation of the first two films in the horror-comedy franchise, decades later as two siblings encounter the legacy of the paranormal investigators.

Continue Reading at: CBR.com

Sept 15

Box Office: 'Hustlers' Ends Downturn Among 2019 Adult Female-Driven Films

A publicity still for "Hustlers" (image courtesy STX Films)

by Pamela McClintock

The 2019 drought among adult female-driven films at the U.S. box office got a much-needed drenching over the weekend, thanks to a pic with an all-star cast led by Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu.

Younger and older women turned out in droves to see writer-director Lorene Scafaria's R-rated Hustlers, which opened nationwide to a better-than-expected $33.2 million to boast the biggest live-action opening of Lopez's 24-year film career, as well as the biggest start ever for Wu and STXfilms. More than a third of the audience was female.

In 2018, a crop of movies relying largely on adult women to boost their fortunes prospered, including the PG-13-rated Crazy Rich Asians (also starring Wu), Ocean's 8 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and the R-rated Fifty Shades Freed.

This year has been mostly tough going for movies targeting a female-dominated audience. The August ensemble mob drama The Kitchen, teaming Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss, bombed badly, opening to just $5.5 million in the U.S. and having earned $15 million to date globally.

Failing to break out were What Men Want (starring Taraji P. Henson), Little (starring Issa Rae, Regina Hall and Marsai Martin), Booksmart (led by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) and Late Night (pairing Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson), which topped out domestically at $54.6 million, $48.8 million, $22.7 million and $21.4 million, respectively.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Sept 13

In an era of mass murder, Warner Bros.' Joker will probably be too much for many

An image of Arthur Fleck forcing a smile in a trailer for the film "Joker" (image courtesy Warner Bros.)

by Steven Zeitchik

This year's Toronto International Film Festival has explored many fraught issues, from immigration to criminal justice to Nazis doing slapstick. But it has also surfaced perhaps its most charged topic yet: What propels someone to pick up a gun and begin killing complete strangers?

The film is Joker, and while it comes in the form of a comic-book movie, it is the opposite of light.

"Set aside that it's the DC (Comics) universe," Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the festival, said in an interview. "Just think of it as a great character study that goes really dark."

Toronto was the first proving ground for Joker, which Warner Bros. brought to the festival hoping to launch an award-winning run for a film that has become one of Hollywood's most closely watched and potentially explosive movies in years - a study of a man coming unhinged, carrying out random acts of deadly violence and igniting a populist revolution.

Joker, which will be released in theatres Oct. 4, has proved to be divisive, not just because of the traditional range of aesthetic opinions but because of what the movie represents and the speculation about which political group will commandeer it - the Hollywood release as political weapon.

The movie focuses on the pre-Joker Arthur Fleck, circa early 1980s Gotham - a sad-sack clown slowly unraveling under his troubles and finding solace in a gun and mask - and becoming a folk hero in the process. It stars Joaquin Phoenix and is improbably directed by Todd Phillips, the filmmaker behind the Hangover comedies.

The stakes are high for Warner Bros., whose DC Extended Universe has struggled to land phenomena at anywhere near the consistency of Disney's rival Marvel Cinematic Universe (with only one release, Aquaman, of more than $1 billion in global box office to Marvel's nine).

Continue Reading at: National Post

Sept 11

Why Avengers Passing Avatar Gives James Cameron Hope About The Future Of Movies

by Eddie Makuch

Earlier this year, Marvel's Avengers: Endgame surpassed James Cameron's Avatar to become the all-time highest-grossing movie ever worldwide with $2.79 billion. It dethroned Avatar ($2.78 billion), which had held the No. 1 position since 2009. Cameron isn't salty about his movie's record being broken, however, as he explained in a recent interview that the enormous success of Avengers proves that people are still willing and eager to go to the theatre--and that's good for the movie business all up.

"It gives me a lot of hope," Cameron told Deadline. "Avengers: Endgame is demonstrable proof that people will still go to movie theaters. The thing that scared me most about making Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 was that the market might have shifted so much that it simply was no longer possible to get people that excited about going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers to watch something."

Avatar 2 is slated to hit theatres in December 2021, with Avatar 3 coming in December 2023. Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 are slated to hit cinemas in 2024 and 2027, but Deadline points out that these movies might not happen if the first two sequels don't succeed at the box office.

Cameron said he isn't sure if the Avatar sequels can be as enormously successful at capturing "the zeitgeist" like Endgame did. However, Endgame proves that it is possible, and that's a big deal, he said.

"Will Avatar 2 and 3 be able to create that kind of success in the zeitgeist? Who knows. We're trying. Maybe we do, maybe we don't, but the point is, it's still possible," Cameron said. "I'm happy to see it."

With the rise of Netflix and streaming, some have wondered how that may impact the eagerness of people to leave their homes and watch movies in a theatre. It remains to be seen how it will all shake out, and as for Cameron, he said he's happy to see the traditional movie-going experience remaining popular. He said there is an "alternate scenario" focused more on streaming and away from theatres that could have led to a situation where big, tentpole movies might not succeed on the level they do today.

Continue Reading at: Gamespot.com

Sept 9

The Joker Movie Might Actually Win Best Picture

by Chris Agar

With Joker stunning everyone by winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, it's now a legitimate contender in the race for Best Picture at the Oscars. Now that the summer movie season is in the rearview mirror, attention has turned to the awards race and which films are legitimate contenders this year. The fall brings about several high profile festivals, including Venice, Telluride, and Toronto, where many of the Oscar hopefuls screen in an effort to generate buzz. Warner Bros. made the somewhat surprising decision to premiere Joker in-competition in Venice, evidently confident in what they had.

It turns out WB was smart. Joker received rave reviews out of Venice, with some people going so far as to call it a masterpiece that will transcend its genre. Joaquin Phoenix's transformative turn as Arthur Fleck was an aspect that earned heavy praise, firmly putting him in the Best Actor conversation. Of course, Joker is proving to be a very divisive film due to its approach and subject matter, but the general consensus seems to be it's an excellent work that could make some noise on the awards circuit. And it's already scored one major win.

[Saturday], it was announced Joker won the Golden Lion at Venice, which is the festival's highest honor. Historically, there isn't much correlation between Venice and the Oscars; the Golden Lion isn't like Toronto's People's Choice award where the winner is basically guaranteed a slot in the Best Picture field. However, that hasn't been the case in recent years. Prior to Joker, the last two recipients of the Golden Lion - The Shape of Water and Roma - were nominated for the Oscars' top prize. The Shape of Water won Best Picture two years ago.

Continue Reading at: Screen Rant

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