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Mar 3

Box Office: 'Dune 2' Delivers on Promise With Big $81.5M Domestic Opening

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in a scene from "Dune: Part Two" (image courtesy Warner Bros.)

by Pamela McClintock

Warner Bros. and Legendary's Dune: Part Two has delivered on its promise to reenergize the box office after a terrible early winter.

Denis Villeneuve's sequel - sporting an A-list cast led by Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya - opened to an estimated $81.5 million in North America this weekend, double the first film and the biggest opening of the year to date.

Dune 2 is likewise whipping up a sandstorm overseas, where it opened to $97 million from 71 markets for a global start of $178.5 million. (It doesn't land in China until next weekend and Japan the week after that.) Sci-fi can be a tough sell in certain regions, including some Latin American markets, but Europe and other areas more than made up for any gaps. The U.K. led with $11.5 million, followed by France ($9.3 million) and Germany ($8.4 million).

The film also did huge business in Imax theaters, which delivered $32.2 million of the total global gross, or a notable 18 percent. In 10 markets, Imax enjoyed its biggest opening ever. Like his friend Christopher Nolan, Villeneuve shot part of the movie with Imax cameras.

Throughout the weekend, Warner Bros. tried to manage expectations and suggested Dune 2 would debut more in the $72 million to $75 million range. The sci-fi genre can be a tough sell, and Villeneuve's films runs two hours and 46 minutes. Also, many wanted to see Dune in Imax and other premium formats.

Dune 2's secret sauce? A glowing A CinemaScore, compared to an A- for the first, stellar reviews and, again, glowing audience exit scores.

Elsewhere, Paramount's biopic Bob Marley: One Love dropped just 45 percent in its second weekend to $7.4 million for an early domestic total of $82.8 million. Overseas, it's singing loudly, grossing $63.3 million to date for a global tally of $146.1 million.

Lionsgate's faith-based pic Ordinary Angels followed in third place with $3.8 million for a 10-day domestic total of $12.6 million. Another faith-based offering, The Chosen, also continued to impress. Fathom is previewing season [4] in theaters before it airs in the home, and this weekend's offering of episodes 7 an 8 brought in $3.15 million for a running total north of $23 million.

Sony's doomed Madame Web barely beat The Chosen with $2 million. The superhero pic's domestic gross is just north of $44 million.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Mar 2

Here's your first look at Tron: Ares, premiering in 2025

Publicity image for "Tron: Ares" (courtesy Disney)

by Andrew Webster

The third Tron movie is nearing release. Disney announced that production on Tron: Ares - a follow-up to Tron: Legacy, which itself was a sequel to the 1982 original - began in January and that the plan is for the film to premiere in 2025. As part of the announcement, the first image for the film was also released. It definitely has Tron vibes but also wouldn’t be out of place as a skin in a shooter like Destiny or Fortnite.

Here’s the full thing:

According to Disney, the new film is about "a highly sophisticated Program, Ares, who is sent from the digital world into the real world on a dangerous mission, marking humankind's first encounter with AI beings." It's being directed by Joachim Rønning, who previously worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and the sequel to Maleficent. And while we don't know much about the characters, the cast includes Jared Leto, Greta Lee, Evan Peters, Hasan Minhaj, Jodie Turner-Smith, Arturo Castro, Cameron Monaghan, and Gillian Anderson.

Continue Reading at: The Verge

Mar 1

Coyote vs. Acme Actor Will Forte Sends Heartfelt Message After Finally Seeing Lost Film: 'It's Incredible'

A screenshot from the film we will never see: "Coyote vs. Acme" (image courtesy Warner Bros.)

by Taylor Lyles

With Coyote vs. Acme being very unlikely to see a release, actor Will Forte published a heartfelt open letter to the cast and crew of the film after he finally had a chance to see it.

Forte took to his X/Twitter account to publish an open letter to those who worked on the film. The actor did not mince his words and was open about how after it was announced the film was getting deleted, he, like "everyone else," thought the movie was a "hunk of junk." But then he had a chance to see the film, describing it as incredible."

"Super funny throughout, visually stunning, sweet, sincere, and emotionally resonant in a very earned way," Forte wrote. "As the credits rolled, I just sat there thinking how lucky I was to be a part of something so special. That quickly turned to confusion and frustration. This was a movie they're not going to release?" Forte would end the letter by addressing the cast and crew that had yet to see it and saying they would all be "so proud of it," explaining that their hard work was displayed in every frame.

Forte's comments echo similar ones made by filmmakers who have seen the film. Including Scott Pilgrim Takes Of co-creator BenDavid Grabinski, who said the film was "The best of its kind since ROGER RABBIT."

Coyote vs. Acme was announced in 2022, with Forte cast as Wile E. Coyote's lawyer. The film focuses on Wile E. Coyote, who is suing the Acme Corporation over its defective products. It was supposed to be released last year, but Warner Bros. ultimately decided to shelve the film for a tax break despite having already completed filming, similar to what the studio did with its other canceled projects, Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt.

Forte's open letter comes weeks after a report suggested that Warner Bros. was planning to delete Coyote vs. Acme after the studio rejected offers from Amazon, Netflix, and Paramount. Additionally, four Warner Bros. executives were claimed to have made the decision, including CEO and president David Zaslav, despite having not watched the film's final cut. After publishing the report, several individuals, including actor Eric Bauza, reignited the internet campaign "#SaveCoyotevsAcme" and "#ReleaseCoyotevsAcme."

However, it seems that Warner Bos. brushed aside the"cries and pleas from the public, as the studio did not even mention the film's status in its most recent earnings call last week.

Continue Reading at: IGN

Feb 28

Original 'Road House' Screenwriter Sues Amazon/MGM Over Copyright - and Doubles Down on A.I. Allegations

Jake Gyllenhaal in a screen shot from the 2024 remake of "Road House" (image courtesy Prime Video)

by Samantha Bergeson

The original "Road House" screenwriter is entering the octagon with Amazon Studios and MGM - in a legal battle, at least. Screenwriter R. Lance Hill, who uses the pen name David Lee Henry, has filed a lawsuit against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and parent company Amazon Studios for copyright infringement, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Hill wrote the screenplay for the original "Road House" film in 1986; the movie was released in 1989. Hill says the copyright for "Road House" was set to revert back from United Artists to him in November 2023, and that he notified United Artists and its successor companies in November 2021 about his plans to recover the copyright for the "Road House" screenplay. He says he provided a "statutory notice of termination" that fits within the Copyright Act.

Hill further states that Amazon/MGM, aware of the copyright timeline, worked to complete the film during the SAG-AFTRA strike by using artificial intelligence. The suit says Amazon "went so far as to take extreme measures to try to meet this November 10, 2023 deadline, at considerable additional cost, including by resorting to the use of AI (artificial intelligence)" to "replicate the voices" of the actors in the 2024 remake. The film was completed in January 2024, two months after Hill's stated copyright deadline in November 2023.

Amazon is holding its ground.

"The lawsuit filed by R. Lance Hill regarding 'Road House' today is completely without merit and numerous allegations are categorically false," a spokesperson for Amazon MGM Studios told IndieWire. "The film does not use any AI in place of actors' voices. We look forward to defending ourselves against these claims."

Amazon/MGM has previously denied to IndieWire using AI to wrap up "Road House" production. That denial came after Joel Silver, who produced the original 1989 film, says he was fired from the new "Road House" after "raising concerns" about the use of artificial intelligence.

A source close to the "Road House" (2024) production said that if AI was utilized at any time during the production (or post-production), it would have been by the filmmakers during their early cuts; they had control of the editorial, not the studio. The source went so far as to say that Amazon MGM Studios expressly instructed the filmmakers to not use AI in the movie, and advised the filmmakers to remove any AI or non-SAG-AFTRA actors that were used to complete the film.

Continue Reading at: IndieWire

Feb 27

The Watched Trailer: Dakota Fanning's Trapped In The M Night Shyamalan-Produced Thriller

by James White

With M. Night long established and now daughter Ishana stepping up her own career, the Shyamalan family filmmaking business is trundling ahead nicely. Having served as second unit director on Old and being a key member of the Servant creative team, Ishana Night Shyamalan is making her feature directorial debut with The Watched, which stars Dakota Fanning, Georgina Campbell and Olwen Fouéré. Check out the first trailer for the horror thriller below.

Fanning here plays Mina, an artist who becomes stranded in a giant, untouched forest somewhere in Ireland. Stumbling on a mysterious glass-walled home, she thinks she might have found safe shelter.

But no! As it turns out, she's soon trapped alongside three strangers who are watched all night by unseen, peculiar creatures. What's really going on? It's a Shyamalan film, so we're expecting some surprises.

Adapted from AM Shine's novel by Ishana Night Shyamalan and produced by M. Night, Ashwin Rajan and Nimitt Mankad, The Watched (which for some reason – we're guessing a name clash with some other copyrighted moniker – was renamed from the Stateside version The Watchers), will be out in the UK on 7 June.

Continue Reading at: Empire

Feb 27

Kevin Costner Unveils 'Horizon' Trailer and Explains Why Making the Western Epic Was His 'Biggest Struggle' Yet

by Angelique Jackson

When Kevin Costner revealed the trailer for "Horizon: An American Saga," the first of his planned four-part epic about the American West, the two-time Academy Award winner looked positively giddy - at least over Zoom.

"Trailers have always been kind of a favorite part for me, even as a boy going to the movies," Costner said, grinning as he unveiled the first footage in a virtual conversation with journalists. "You're obviously there to see the movie you want, but isn't it kind of cool when you see what’s coming? ... And with that in mind, I did my very best to expose what's going to be a four-part saga."

"Horizon" chapters 1 and 2 will have a dual theatrical release from Warner Bros., with the first film hitting theaters on June 28 and the second debuting August 16. Costner's goal in crafting the trailer was to find the moments in the film that would translate as sense of the ride audiences will take in these grand films, which focus on 15-year span of pre-and post-Civil War expansion and settlement of the American West.

"Can they, in a sense, feel themselves in this movie? Because that's what I want people to feel in the dark, that [it] suddenly just absorbs them," Costner teased. "We all know what happens when the lights go out - either something good, something average or something great. What I hope is that this is something that stays with them forever."

The three minute trailer introduces "Horizon's" ensemble cast - led by Costner's Hayes Elllison, who rides into the frame with the stunning landscapes of Utah on full display - and tees up the action as the film explores the triumphs and tragedies brought on by the ideology of Manifest Destiny. The clip shares a first look at his co-stars Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, Michael Rooker, Danny Huston, Luke Wilson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Jeff Fahey, Will Patton, Tantanka Means, Owen Crow Shoe, Ella Hunt and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Check out the trailer below and then click the Continue Reading at link to go to the full article and read about Costner's struggles.

Continue Reading at: Variety

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