For years now, Death Note has been one of the more popular franchises in Japanese popular culture. Originally a manga series, Death Note has since spun out into multiple television shows and four live-action feature films, making it all-but-inevitable that the franchise would eventually find its way into the hands of a Hollywood studio. Thus, when Netflix announced that it would be releasing a Death Note movie with Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) directing, people were curious to see what kind of cultural accommodations Netflix would make for its Japanese adaptation. The answer? Not many.
If you only pay attention to blockbuster movies, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Geena Davis was no longer active as an actress. You’d be wrong. Davis has been anything but quiet, continuing to act full-time on shows like The Exorcist while serving as a force for gender equality in Hollywood. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, created by the actress in 2004, has worked with creators to help improve the representation of women in Hollywood films and television shows. Davis has also launched her own film festival, the Bentonville Film Festival, with the stated mission of selecting film celebrating diversity.
Here’s a question for you: is it time to add Vin Diesel to the list of actors whose career is defined entirely by a single film franchise? Sure, Diesel has shown up in other successful movies throughout his careers — Saving Private Ryan, The Iron Giant, and Guardians of the Galaxy have all been critical and commercial successes, not to mention his more niche productions like Find Me Guilty and his Riddick movies — but none of this holds a candle to his work on the Fast and Furious franchise. He’s been producer, screenwriter, and star of those movies for over 16 years now… I mean, nobody goes up to William Shatner and praises him for his work in Judgment at Nuremberg, right?
While Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been dominating the conversation, Rian Johnson’s film wasn’t the only movie featured in next week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly. Their annual Fall Movie Preview includes updates and photos from a handful of upcoming releases, including Stephen King’s It, arguably the most highly anticipated movie of the fall. We’ve already seen Mark Hamill fight people with a lightsaber, but a bunch of kids running around the Northeast in the 1980s fighting a supernatural monster? Why, we haven’t seen that since Stranger Things came out! And that was a whole year ago!
As a die-hard Stephen King fan, I have a theory: we need one or two filmmakers who truly understand his work to adapt all of his films. Take Frank Darabont. The writer-director has worked on three of King’s most successful adaptations - The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist - and seems to understand the world in King’s head better than any five other filmmakers put together. Given the current wave of ‘80s nostalgia, we’re likely to see more King books be adapted to film, and finding a cinematic King Whisperer would go a long way to avoiding middling adaptations like The Dark Tower.
Given the film’s box office success and surprising - albeit extremely preliminary - Oscar buzz, it’s probably fair to declare 2017 as the year of Wonder Woman. And all this Wonder Woman excitement has fans asking: after we see the character again in this fall’s Justice League, what’s next for the star of the DCEU? Will she jump forward to the modern world in Wonder Woman 2? Will we continue to see her adventures unfold throughout the 1900s? Or will Warner Bros. do something really wacky with her character, like, I dunno, make her the villain of another DCEU movie?
I probably don’t need to tell you that Baby Driver is a good movie; odds are you’ve seen it in theaters - maybe more than once - and might even own have a copy of the soundtrack downloaded on your phone. As good as Baby Driver The Movie might be, Baby Driver The Soundtrack is even better, with a ton of really great songs from artists as diverse as Simon & Garfunkel, Blur, and Martha and the Vandellas. And until now, one of the better production stories has been all the hard work Edgar Wright and company put into securing the rights for each of these tracks.
For someone who has practically perfected the art of the blockbuster action movie - from The Bourne Identity to Mr. and Mr. Smith to Edge of Tomorrow - it seems strange that no major studio has managed to land Doug Liman for one of their tentpole franchises. Despite being (at times) connected to movies like Gambit and Justice League Dark, Liman continues to carve his own path in Hollywood, tackling projects seem to challenge him more than draw on his strengths. To hear the director say it, though, he would sign on the dotted line for one particular Hollywood blockbuster should producers come a-knockin’.
One of the big items to emerge from last weekend’s Comic-Con was the news that Zack Snyder would be taking a backseat in the DCEU going forward. This report - which falls somewhere between a rumor and a substantiated story - spoke directly to a shifting creative hierarchy behind the scenes at Warner Bros. With Geoff Johns now serving as DC’s answer to Marvel’s Kevin Feige, things look increasingly uncertain for the ‘old guard’ of DCEU filmmakers, including both Snyder and Suicide Squad director David Ayer, despite both directors’ involvement in upcoming films.
I’ve always found the intersection of fan culture and Hollywood to be endlessly fascinating. When Joss Whedon took over the reigns of Marvel’s The Avengers, for example, it kicked off a period where a filmmaker’s talent behind-the-scenes was less important than their reverence for the source material. Whedon once wrote a series of X-Men comic books; Duncan Jones had spent years playing the Warcraft MMORPG; Neill Blomkamp adored the Alien franchise; Rian Johnson was an unparalleled Star Wars nerd. It was no longer enough for a studio to hire a director with vision and talent, you also needed to hire someone who identified - or could as least pass a skill check - with the very audience you were trying to target.
You know those rare moments when everyone on the internet seems to be talking about the same thing? Sports, politics, entertainment, whatever… those are the moments that make social media both a blessing and a curse. Take, for instance, a talented (if not slightly unknown) actress named Jodie Whittaker. If you were to go to Google Trends right now and look up her name, you’d see a sudden spike in searches, indicating that everyone everywhere is suddenly obsessed with learning more about her career. Why on earth could that be?
With one of the most-viewed trailers of all time, it appears that Andres Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s It is set to be the rare crossover hit in the horror genre. Fans who haven’t even read one of King’s books are excited to see a group of lovable losers take on Derry’s most infamous - and inhuman - killer. Those familiar with the original novel and television miniseries are also curious: how will Muschietti’s film work without the dual storytelling between past and present? What does It look like when filtered through a modern sensibility?
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