In hindsight, it seems kind of odd that we had two directors competing to make movies in the same franchise. Back in 2015, director Neill Blomkamp sort of bull-rushed Hollywood by releasing concept art from the Alien 5 sequel he had been working on for 20th Century Fox. This was despite the fact that Ridley Scott had already made Prometheus — a direct prequel to the events of the Alien universe — and was working on what would later become Alien: Covenant. After months of rumors and Blomkamp’s promise to bring back a few beloved characters, the project petered out, and Scott emerged the sole proprietor of the Alien franchise.
When Ben Affleck stepped down from the director’s chair of the upcoming standalone The Batman movie, every person on the internet who had ever seen a Batman movie suddenly had the perfect suggestion for who should replace him. From David Fincher to Jennifer Kent to Joss Whedon — so close, that last one — fans speculated wildly about which filmmaker could bring the right combination of darkness and martial arts to the movie. It’s a credit to Matt Reeves’ work on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, then, that most everyone was satisfied with his selection. Reeves had managed to revitalize a beloved franchise that had previously been undone by a campy take on the story; does that sound like any other Batman directors we know?
It’s funny how things work out. A while back, when Jason Momoa was announced as the actor for Justice League and Aquaman, I wasn’t sure he was the right guy for the role. Momoa may actually be a human-sized action figure, but his acting skills seemed a little rough around the edges, and the last thing that Zack Snyder needed was a mediocre performance from one of the core players in the DC Cinematic Universe. And now, months later, Momoa is one of the few parts of Justice League I’m not worried about. Like I said, funny how things work out.
These days, we take our amusement where we can. For the past week, the internet has been entranced by the disaster that is the Frye Festival, a supposed music festival for rich millennials that quickly descended into anarchy when musicians and vendors pulled out due to its unsafe conditions. The full scope of the festival’s failure was laid bare in Friday’s piece at New York Magazine, where one administrator — or former admin, since she dropped as soon as she realized the full scope of the organizers’ failure — spoke candidly about the missteps leading up to the festival. For entertainment value, the Frye Festival just can’t be beat.
Unlike the previous Obi-Wan Kenobi — sorry, Alec Guinness — Ewan McGregor has long been excited about the prospect of returning for more Star Wars movies, telling Empire Magazine last October that he was the “right age” to make two more movies as the beloved character. While fans were sometimes unimpressed by the prequels, McGregor’s winning performance as the young Jedi was one of the highlights of the film, leading fans to clamor for a standalone Kenobi movie while McGregor was still the right age.
Last week, 20th Century Fox teased the first footage from Kingsman: The Golden Circle via ten glorious seconds of accelerated action. There were gunfights, and Julianne Moore making burgers (I think), and plenty more blink-and-you’ll-miss-it looks as the exciting new world of Matthew Vaughan’s film. So, secure in the knowledge that studios never release trailer teases without the trailer following shortly thereafter, we all gathered around our computers the following day and waited for our first look at the highly anticipated sequel. And waited. Aaaaaaand waited.
When Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro aren’t busy trying to figure out ways to digitally de-age the latter in Netflix movies about professional hitmen, they do field offers from other studios. That seems to be the case now with Imperative Entertainment, the production house that recently snapped up the rights for David Grann’s non-fiction novel Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders And The Birth Of The FBI. After spending a whopping $5 million dollars for the rights, Imperative immediately pivoted into convincing the two Hollywood stars — and their frequent collaborator Leonard DiCaprio — to accept the project on their behalf.
Dystopian cinema is all the rage right now. Not only is the release of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale only a few days away, we were also recently treated to a series of synchronized screenings of 1984, the film adaptation of George Orwell’s seminal novel. While some may view this as a collective piece of cinematic snark, plenty of others are using these projects as an opportunity to open the door for increased education and awareness about media literacy, politics, and art. And while HBO may only really be interested in art and politics, it is putting one foot firmly in the dystopian game, announcing an upcoming production of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451.
Audiences don’t turn their back on family. That’s the lesson to be learned from this past weekend, anyways, when The Fate of the Furious proved that this is one franchise showing no signs of slowing down. It was never a question of whether The Fate of the Furious would take the top spot this weekend, but even the most optimistic of projections couldn’t have expected the global domination that this movie undertook. Here’s the box office estimates as of Sunday afternoon:
It may seem strange to describe the eighth film in a blockbuster franchise as a transitional moment in the series, but then again, few franchises have had to deal with the death of an actor as essential as Paul Walker. The Fate of the Furious was always going to be a bittersweet affair for those involved; while the movie promised to push new characters and new relationships to the forefront, fans wondered how exactly they would choose to address the loss of Walker’s beloved Brian. The solution screenwriter Chris Morgan came up with should leave diehards and newcomers alike very pleased.
Here’s a story you might’ve missed this past week. With the Fast and the Furious franchise under his belt, we’ve sorta learned to take Dwayne Johnson’s star power for granted. After all, Johnson was the highest grossing male box office star of 2016, suggesting that all you need is a half-decent fight choreographer and Johnson to gross $100 million at the box office. That being said, there was a time not so long ago when Johnson could still go after major Hollywood roles and lose out to more established actors. One such movie was Jack Reacher, which was a role the actor revealed he lost to Tom Cruise.
Studio math might be one part proprietary data and one part alchemy, but here’s something I feel pretty confident saying: when your trailer sets the all-time record for most views in a day, you’re about to make some moolah. We all remember that the first teaser trailer for It had 197 million views in its first 24 hours online, shattering the previous (albeit short-lived) record of 139 million set by The Fate of the Furious. Those would be extraordinary numbers for any movie, but for an unapologetic horror film about a demon clown? Not even the most aggressive Warner Bros. projections could have predicted that.
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