Director Bobs Gannaway and Producer Ferrell Barron Talk PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE, Creating Fire, Future Plans for the Franchise, and More

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When world-famous air racer Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) is sidelined by a career-ending injury, he finds himself searching for his next chapter in life in Disney’s Planes:  Fire & Rescue.  Directed by Bobs Gannaway from a screenplay by Jeffrey Howard and produced by Ferrell Barron, the animated adventure-comedy centers on a crew of elite firefighting aircraft whose mission is to protect historic Piston Peak National Park.  The family friendly film about second chances features thrilling firefighting action scenes and an impressive voice cast that includes Curtis Armstrong, Julie Bowen, Ed Harris, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook, Regina King, and Wes Studi.

At the film’s recent press day, Gannaway and Barron talked about how they wanted to elevate the storytelling from the first film and tell a deeper story with the main character, the extensive research they did to ensure the authenticity of the story and to portray aerial firefighting accurately, why they consider this the most ambitious film they’ve done at Disneytoons Studios, the decision to go Cinemascope, how their visual effects team created believable large-scale fires and visually striking firefighting scenes, their personal connections to planes, and future plans to explore more in the world of anthropomorphized vehicles.  Check out the interview after the jump.

Julie Bowen Talks PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE, Getting Involved with the Sequel, Working inside the Recording Booth, and Her Most Bizarre Fan Encounter

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Julie Bowen gives voice to Dipper, the friendly, spirited air tanker in Disney’s new animated adventure-comedy, Planes:  Fire & Rescue, directed by Bobs Gannaway from a screenplay by Jeffrey Howard.  Dipper is a full-figured gal skilled at skimming lakes, scooping up thousands of gallons of water and dousing angry fires.  She’s also an avid air-racing fan with a major crush on the world-famous Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook).  When she learns he’s joining the fire and rescue squad at Piston Peak, she’s head-over-wheels with excitement.  Opening July 18th, the film also features the voices of Curtis Armstrong, Ed Harris, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook, Regina King, and Wes Studi.

At a recent roundtable interview, Bowen spoke about her character, when she first became involved, how she’s gotten huge cool points from her kids for being in the movie, why she didn’t practice the voice around the house, what it was like working inside the recording booth, how Shaun Cassidy inspired the mindset of her hopelessly romantic character, what it was like meeting Dane at the cast and crew screening, her most bizarre fan encounter, and the impact the syndication of her ABC comedy, Modern Family, has had on how people see her. Hit the jump to read the interview.

Dane Cook Talks PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE, Reprising His Role, Being Part of the Disney Family, Telling a Deeper Story, and the Theme of Second Chances

by     Posted 6 days ago

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Dane Cook returns as the voice of Dusty Crophopper, the crop duster turned world-famous air racer, in Planes:  Fire and Rescue.  After a successful racing season, Dusty comes home to his friends in Propwash Junction, but life takes an unexpected turn when a fateful training run leads to a new career with the elite Aerial Fire Fighters at Piston Peak Air Attack Base.  Opening July 18th, the animated adventure-comedy directed by Bobs Gannaway from a screenplay by Jeffrey Howard also features the voices of Curtis Armstrong, Julie Bowen, Ed Harris, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook, Regina King, and Wes Studi.

At the film’s recent press day, Cook talked about reprising the role, what it means to be a part of the Disney family, how he wanted to tell a deeper story with Dusty this time around, why the theme of second chances resonated with him, the parallels in the story to his own life experiences, how G-rated animation brought back his R-rated stand-up comedy, why it’s cool having his own talking toy, which cartoons inspired him growing up, why he loves the peril inherent in The Incredibles, Bambi, The Lion King, Toy Story 3, and now Planes 2, his upcoming comedy special that he’s directing for Showtime, and the possibility of a Planes 3.  Hit the jump to read the interview.

Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhorn Talk LAND HO!, the Physical Demands of Shooting on Unpredictable Geysers, Their Sundance Experience, and More,

by     Posted 14 days ago

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Land Ho!’s unconventional and likeable stars, Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn, take audiences on a bawdy and adventurous road trip across Iceland playing a pair of aging ex-brothers-in-law who rekindle their friendship and joie de vivre while on holiday.  Opening July 11th, the quirky comedy written and directed by indie filmmakers Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz embraces life as a never-ending adventure where you’re never too old to reconnect, make new acquaintances, and explore the world around you.

During an entertaining roundtable interview, Nelson and Eenhoorn talked about their filmmaking journey, the appeal of their characters, the grueling production schedule, their odd couple dynamic, setting the story against a stunning Icelandic landscape, the physical demands of shooting on moonless moors and unpredictable geysers, their Star Wars reference, what it was like on set working with two directors, their Sundance experience, what Robert Redford had to say about their film, and what’s next including the possibility of a second movie or a TV series together. Hit the jump for our Land Ho interview.

Producer Andrew Panay Talks EARTH TO ECHO, How the Script Evolved, Spielberg Inspiration, and More

by     Posted 21 days ago

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Producer Andrew Panay recaptures the spirit of some of the great family movies that he grew up with and loved as a child in his new PG-rated summer sci-fi adventure, Earth to Echo, opening July 2nd.  The film directed by Dave Green from a script by Henry Gayden centers on the special bond of friendship between three young heroes, Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), Alex (Teo Halm), and Munch (Reese Hartwig), who embark on one last adventure together just as their lives are about to change.  If the story of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial were to happen today, this is how it would be told by today’s generation of DIY storytellers.

In an exclusive interview, Panay talked about the challenges of making a film that’s not effects driven but can capture the imagination of today’s young audience, how his relationship with his brother sparked the idea for the story, how the script evolved from inception to final film, why Green was the right choice to direct, why he considers Spielberg one of his heroes, how technology gave the filmmakers a fun way to take their story on the road, what he learned about himself, how he hopes the movie will inspire kids, and the upcoming projects he’s excited about:  Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and CHiPs.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Director Dave Green and Writer Henry Gayden Talk EARTH TO ECHO, Capturing the Attention of a Young Audience, Found Footage, and Echo’s Design

by     Posted 23 days ago

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Earth to Echo, director Dave Green and writer Henry Gayden’s heartwarming sci-fi adventure about friendship and extraterrestrial encounters, takes a refreshing narrative approach inspired by today’s generation of DIY storytellers.  When three close friends – Tuck (Brian “Astro” Bradley), Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Alex (Teo Halm) – start to receive strangely coded messages on their cell phones just as their small Nevada suburb is about to be demolished to make way for a new highway, they embark on one last thrill together and document their adventure as it unfolds.  Opening July 2nd, the PG-rated film also features Ella Linnea Wahlestedt.

In an exclusive interview, Green and Gayden talked about the challenges of capturing a young audience’s attention in today’s world of superheroes and tech savvy storytelling, the film’s roots in the found footage genre, the decision to tell the story from Tuck’s perspective, how they found the charismatic cast of young actors and directed their raw performances, the cool look 19-year-old illustrator Ross Tran came up with for Echo, what they learned while making the film, and their upcoming projects:  Lore, an action adventure starring Dwayne Johnson, and a new collaboration with producer Andrew Panay.  Check out the interview after the jump.

Over 160 Pictures and Video from THE BATMAN EXHIBIT at Warner Bros. in Burbank

by     Posted 25 days ago

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This summer, Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour celebrates Batman’s 75th anniversary with The Batman Exhibit, which was created in close collaboration with DC Entertainment.  Recently, I was one of several lucky journalists invited to attend a super cool event that coincided with the opening of the new attraction and featured a tour of the exhibit.  What made this especially fun and exciting was that it marked the first time all seven Batman films have come together in a themed exhibit on the studio’s historic Burbank lot.

We began our tour with a visit to the Picture Car Vault located on the studio lot, where a selection of the Caped Crusader’s most iconic vehicles, including the Batpod, Bathammer, Tumbler and Batmobile, are showcased.  The Bat-Signal used to call Bruce Wayne’s alter ego at a time of need is also on display.  While we were there, Danny DeVito, who played the Penguin in Batman Returns, stopped by to welcome us, pose for photos, and turn on the iconic Bat-Signal.  Visitors to the Picture Car Vault will have an opportunity to activate the Bat-Signal and pose at a Batman-themed interactive green screen photo opportunity.  Hit the jump for pictures, video and more.

Director Leslie Zemeckis Talks BOUND BY FLESH, Inspiration Behind Hilton Sisters Documentary, Extensive Research, Archival Footage, and More

by     Posted 27 days ago

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Opening June 27th, Leslie Zemeckis’ entertaining documentary, Bound By Flesh, offers a fascinating look at the life and times of Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who were born conjoined at the hips in Brighton, England in 1908.  Despite tragic circumstances and ruthless exploitation by their unscrupulous managers, they went on to become huge stars in the sideshow and vaudeville circuit.  The Hilton Sisters loved to entertain and rose to international stardom at the beginning of the 20th century.  Acclaimed for their singing, dancing and clarinet playing, they performed alongside the likes of Sophie Tucker, Harry Houdini, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and comedy duo Burns and Allen.

In an exclusive interview, Zemeckis talked about what inspired her to make a documentary about the Hilton Sisters, what appealed to her about this bygone era and these forms of entertainment, her extensive research, the challenge of locating archival footage of the twins performing, how she found her interview subjects, what she felt was most remarkable about the sisters, the role she hopes her film will play in raising awareness about their place in showbiz history, the contributions of her creative team, her upcoming book about American burlesque striptease artist Lily St. Cyr and plans for a new documentary.  Hit the jump to read the interview.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra Talks NON-STOP, Shooting on the Same Set for 40 Days, Crafting the Action Sequences, and More

by     Posted 38 days ago

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Jaume Collet-Serra keeps audiences on the edge of their seats in his air terror action thriller, Non-Stop, directed from a screenplay by John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle and now on Blu-ray and DVD.  Liam Neeson stars as a troubled U.S. Air Marshal who finds himself in a race again time to save a plane full of passengers when a mysterious villain onboard threatens their transatlantic flight with anonymous texts.  The film also features Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong’o.

At the recent press day held at Air Hollywood, the L.A.-based aviation studio, I sat down with Collet-Serra to discuss his fifth movie.  The Spanish filmmaker revealed why he enjoyed the challenge of making a film that takes place almost entirely on a plane, how he wanted it to be different from previous disaster airplane movies, why he preferred shooting on film instead of digitally, his approach to creating exciting action sequences, what it was like working on the same set for 40 days, and what he’s excited for audiences to see on the Blu-ray/DVD.  Hit the jump to read the interview. 

Director Gillian Robespierre Talks OBVIOUS CHILD, Adapting Her Own Short Film, Working with Jenny Slate, and More

by     Posted 39 days ago

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Writer/director Gillian Robespierre’s feature debut, Obvious Child, is outrageously funny as well as heartfelt, and it’s anchored by a terrific performance from comedian Jenny Slate who brings heart, hysterical humor, honesty and vulnerability to the role.  Slate’s character, an aspiring stand-up comic who gets dumped, fired and pregnant just in time for Valentine’s Day, is relatable, authentic and sure to resonate with audiences.  Now playing in limited release, the romantic comedy expanded from Robespierre’s 2009 short also stars Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, Gabe Liedman, David Cross, Richard Kind and Polly Draper.

In an exclusive interview, Robespierre spoke about the evolution of the short into the feature, the expansion of the plot and characters, what Slate brought to the project, what it was like directing her first feature, what distinguishes the film from other rom coms, her fun friends and family screening, and what she learned about herself in the process of making the movie.  She also discussed her upcoming film set in New York City, currently called Untitled Divorce Project, that centers around the lives of three women and features a role written for Slate.  Hit the jump to read the interview.

Director Sebastian Junger Talks RESTREPO Follow-Up KORENGAL, Helping People Understand the Realistic Effects of War, and More

by     Posted 39 days ago

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Sebastian Junger and fellow combat journalist, Tim Heatherington, who was killed covering the Libyan civil war two years ago, envisioned a film project that would unfold in two parts, showing what troops experience both on and off the battlefield.  Korengal, directed by Junger with cinematography by both men, is not only a powerful companion piece to their 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary, Restrepo, but also a work that stands on its own as a remarkable record of war.  While Restrepo gave audiences a front row seat to combat, Korengal reveals the complex psychology behind it and the spiritual and emotional toll it can take, using never-before-seen footage and interviews with the men and commanders of Battle Company’s 2nd Platoon.

In an exclusive interview, Junger spoke about what inspired him to become a combat journalist and explore the experiences of the American soldier in combat, the logistical challenges he encountered shooting in a harsh and dangerous environment, his collaboration with film editor Michael Levine, the difficulties many soldiers face when they return home from deployment, his hope that the film will help soldiers and civilians understand the effects of war more realistically, the film’s clever financing and distribution strategy, how the journey has changed him personally, and his upcoming projects:  an HBO film, The Last Patrol, and a screenplay in development, Blood Oil.  Read the full interview after the jump.

Brenton Thwaites Talks THE SIGNAL, What Distinguishes It from Other Sci-Fi Thrillers, THE GIVER, GODS OF EGYPT, SON OF A GUN, and More

by     Posted 40 days ago

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Brenton Thwaites plays an MIT computer whiz in The Signal who gets more adventure than he bargained for on a cross-country road trip with his college friends when they take an unexpected detour into the desert in search of a mysterious hacker.  The journey turns dark and disconcerting when Nic (Thwaites) realizes he’s been abducted and is being held in an isolated, underground facility where he’s subjected to a series of bizarre interrogations by an enigmatic doctor (Laurence Fishburne).  Opening June 13th, the stylish sci-fi thriller shot on location in New Mexico is directed by William Eubank and also stars Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp.

I recently landed an exclusive interview with Thwaites who took time from his busy schedule to talk to me by phone from the set in Sydney, Australia where he’s currently shooting Gods of Egypt.  He revealed how The Signal first came to his attention, what drew him to the script, why he loved the emotional arc of his character, how he enjoyed collaborating with his director, what he learned from working with Fishburne, what he feels distinguishes The Signal from other sci-fi films, and his upcoming projects that he’s excited for audiences to see including The Giver, Son of a Gun, Ride and Gods of Egypt.  Check out the interview after the jump.

Jenny Slate Talks OBVIOUS CHILD, Making a Unique Romantic Comedy, What She Learned about Herself, Her Upcoming Role on FX’s MARRIED, and More

by     Posted 41 days ago

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Jenny Slate brings her outrageous sense of humor to the big screen in her first feature film, Obvious Child, directed by Gillian Robespierre.  In a heartfelt role written specifically for her, Slate plays Donna Stern, a struggling stand-up comedian in Brooklyn whose everyday life provides more than enough material for her ballsy brand of humor on stage.  When a drunken one-night-stand after one of her worst shows ever results in something completely unexpected, she embarks on a hilarious journey of self-discovery and empowerment.  Opening June 13th, the refreshing romantic comedy also stars Gaby Hoffmann, Jake Lacy, Gabe Liedman, David Cross, Richard Kind, and Polly Draper.

In an exclusive interview, Slate spoke about the genesis of the project, what appealed to her about the story, how she approached the character of Donna, why it was important to make a film that was funny and entertaining in a thoughtful way, how she and Robespierre became closer friends through the process of making the film, how she connected with her co-star Lacy, what sets the film apart from other rom coms, what she learned about herself, her upcoming role opposite Paul Reiser in the new FX comedy Married, her soon-to-be-published Marcel the Shell picture book, and her comedic inspirations.  Check out the interview after the jump.

NON-STOP Blu-ray/DVD Release Event at Air Hollywood with Presentation and Q&A from Director Jaume Collet-Serra and Art Director David Swayze

by     Posted 41 days ago

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With Jaume Collet-Serra’s exciting action thriller Non-Stop starring Liam Neeson
now available on Blu-ray/DVD, I recently covered a fun press day at Air Hollywood to promote the release.  Located in the San Fernando Valley, Air Hollywood is the world’s largest aviation-themed studio and has worked with every major studio and production company in Hollywood and beyond, providing sets, props, interior plane mock-ups, cockpits of all shapes and sizes, and even a standing airport terminal set.  Other recent movies that have used their services include Bridesmaids, Flight, Warm Bodies, Baggage Claim, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Million Dollar Arm.  Besides providing production friendly facilities, Air Hollywood also holds Fear of Flying classes, and recently launched the Open Sky for Autism program to assist families with autism in acclimating to air travel.

Our First Class adventure began onboard a 737 mock-up with the screening of a hilarious flight safety video spoofing key scenes from Non-Stop.  It was followed by a fascinating presentation by director Collet-Serra and art director David Swayze who used art and production stills from the movie to show how they choreographed original and exciting action in a confined space and were able to capture some of the cool shots.  Next was a brief Q&A that ended with an air turbulence simulation (without seatbelts!) followed by a personal tour of the facilities with Air Hollywood CEO Talaat Captan and COO Rob Shalhoub who showed us their extensive prop shop, other mock-up sets, the cockpit from the Lakers Champion Air airplane, and the original cockpit used in the 1980’s comedy, Airplane!  Hit the jump to read the presentation and Q&A.

Writer-Director Andrew Rossi Talks IVORY TOWER, Exploring the State of Higher Education, Choosing Institutions to Focus on, and Students as Customers

by     Posted 49 days ago

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Filmmaker Andrew Rossi pulls no punches in his provocative and engaging documentary, Ivory Tower, as he examines the state of higher education in America and reveals how leading institutions have lost their way in the struggle to remain competitive.  Rossi asks if the pursuit of higher education is worth the staggering cost and if it is possible to evolve a sustainable economic model that still offers the potential for life-changing college experiences.  Opening June 13th, the film profiles an impressive array of schools with different ideas and approaches including Harvard, Stanford, Arizona State, Cooper Union, Deep Springs College, Spelman College, and online education company Udacity’s pilot program at San Jose State.

In an exclusive interview, Rossi spoke about what inspired him to explore this issue, how he decided which people and institutions to focus on, why he shuttled between contemporary profiles and historical context to tell the story, the paradigm shift in popular sentiment toward viewing higher education as a private rather than a public good, how institutions have evolved into business models that treat students as customers and profit centers and promote expansion over quality learning, the growing doubt about the value of a degree, the future of traditional brick-and-mortar versus online education, and his upcoming project on mental illness.  Hit the jump to read the interview.

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