Mike Nichols, Legendary Director of THE GRADUATE, THE BIRDCAGE, and More, Has Died at Age 83

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Incredibly sad news this morning as legendary director Mike Nichols has died at the age of 83.  ABC reported the news that Nichols died suddenly last night.  Nichols was a creative powerhouse throughout his career as his character-centric work could cut to the bone but without ever feeling petty or childish even when his characters were behaving that way (which they had a tendency to do).  When the Production Code was shaking in the mid 1960s, his feature directing debut Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? knocked it over and cleared the way for more mature language, themes, and other topics that had been stifled for decades.  The Graduate, which is one of my all-time favorite movies, was a key movie in the changing of the guard from Old Hollywood to New Hollywood, and I could do a series of articles on how its place in film history and lasting impact.  It’s an incredible film made even more remarkable by the fact that it was only Nichols’ second movie.

PITCH PERFECT 2 Trailer: The Barden Bellas Take on the World Championships of A Cappella

by     Posted 1 hour ago

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Universal Pictures just released the very first Pitch Perfect 2 trailer and it looks as though the musical comedy sequel could be another big winner.  Not only did the first film turn out to be a surprise hit and claim over $113 million at the worldwide box office, but it also helped Anna Kendrick‘s rendition of “Cups” hit #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and wound up amassing such an enthusiastic following that Universal decided to bring the original film back to theaters in sing-along format.  As someone who’s watched Pitch Perfect time and time again, there’s a lot riding on the sequel and based on this first look at the film, actress/producer-turned-first time feature director Elizabeth Banks may have nailed it.

Forget the national college a cappella competition.  In Pitch Perfect 2 it’s all about the world championship of a cappella.  We’ve got familiar songs and faces, “Cups” is still quite catchy and the Bellas are as charming and amusing as ever, but it looks as though Banks and co. are going bigger in every respect and based on how this trailer plays, it could work exceptionally well.  Hit the jump to check out the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer for yourself.  The film also stars Rebel Wilson, Brittany SnowSkylar AstinHailee SteinfeldAnna CampKatey SegalAdam Devine and of course Banks as well.  Pitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters on May 15, 2015.

Paul Greengrass Attached to Direct 1984 Adaptation

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Paul Greengrass is attached to direct an adaptation of George Orwell‘s classic novel, 1984.  Published in 1949, the story is set in a dystopian future run by a tyrannical government with omnipresent surveillance capabilities: “Big Brother is watching you.”  According to Deadline, Scott Rudin (Captain Phillips) and Gina Rosenblum will produce.  James Graham will write the script.

I love the book and can’t wait to see what Greengrass does with the material.  Greengrass is a natural fit for 1984 with his demonstrated skepticism of the powers that be.  The timing is right for another 1984 adaptation, given the current political climate surrounding surveillance.  I bet the filmmakers will reconfigure the setting so it’s in the future, but it would be interesting if they instead opted for a more literal adaptation with an alternate-timeline 1984.  Read the book synopsis after the jump.

Sony Drops Steve Jobs Biopic Scripted by Aaron Sorkin; Universal Likely to Acquire Project

by     Posted 12 hours ago

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Aaron Sorkin‘s Steve Jobs biopic script has attracted a lot of attention from the likes of David Fincher, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Seth Rogen, Jessica Chastain, and most recently Michael Fassbender.  Yet even with Oscar winner Danny Boyle on board to direct, Sony apparently had too much trouble trying to get the project off the ground. In a surprising development, Sony has ceased development put the project into turnaround.

Sony briefly shopped the project around and immediately found a buyer in Universal. More after the jump.

Melissa McCarthy to Play Tinker Bell in Comedy-Adventure; Shawn Levy to Direct from Nicholas Stoller Script

by     Posted 12 hours ago

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Melissa McCarthy is set to play Tinker Bell in a comedy-adventure directed by Shawn Levy.  According to Deadline, Levy came up with the idea and developed the premise with McCarthy.  They sold the pitch to Fox and Nicholas Stoller will write the script.  The report doesn’t make it explicit, but I assume for now this is a live-action project.

McCarthy, Levy, and Stoller make for an interesting collection of comedic minds.  Fox presumably loves the successful Night at the Museum movies that Levy delivered, with another sequel coming in December.  I bet on the Tinker Bell movie resembling the Night at the Museum tone.  McCarthy is as good as you can get these days for that kind of broad comedy, and the typically R-rated Stoller showed a deft family touch on the new Muppet movie screenplays.  There is enough reason for hope that I am curious to learn more about Levy’s take on Tinker Bell.

Summit Courts Tom Cruise to Play Sean Connery Mentor Role in HIGHLANDER Reboot

by     Posted 13 hours ago

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Summit has been developing a Highlander reboot for years now but there were a few bumps in the road.  Last year, the studio hired visual effects artist Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to make Highlander his feature directorial debut.  Now Summit has set their sights on their dream casting centerpiece: Tom CruiseThe Wrap reports the studio is courting Cruise to play the mentor role that Sean Connery took on in the 1986 film.  Cruise is busy shooting crazy stunts for Mission: Impossible 5, so it’s unclear if the in-demand actor is interested.  A Cruise representative is direct that the actor is “far from talks” for Highlander: “He is offered tons of projects.”  At the very least, this suggests Summit has higher aspirations for the property than I would have guessed.  If they do land Cruise, I picture the rest of the casting falling into place sooner than later so Summit can rachet up the development process.

Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, and Melissa Rosenberg contributed to the Highlander script.  Neal H. Moritz, Peter Davis, and Justin Lin will produce.  More after the jump.

ARROW Recap: “Draw Back Your Bow”

by     Posted 14 hours ago

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  Wait, what?  Oh it’s November, nevermind.  Tonight’s episode of Arrow was a bit of a one-off episode that introduced the obsessed archer character Carrie Cutter, aka Cupid (Amy Gumenick).  Though she was the night’s main antagonist, she was in good company with a plentiful amount of DC Easter eggs for fans to spot, everything from nods to somewhat obscure locations, to potential future villains, all the way up to a big reveal of a newly introduced villain to the show, right at the episode’s close.  Though “Draw Back Your Bow” didn’t leave us with any massive cliffhangers as we await the Arrow/The Flash crossover, it did a nice job of pleasing fans of the show’s comicbook origins and its relationships of ever-increasing drama.

Hit the jump for our Arrow recap.

PIRATES Scribe Terry Rossio to Pen “INCEPTION-Type” Treasure Hunt Movie YUCATAN for Robert Downey Jr.

by     Posted 15 hours ago

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The first project under Robert Downey Jr.’s production banner Team Downey, the drama The Judge, was released earlier this year, and now another Team Downey film is moving closer to fruition.  Deadline reports that screenwriter Terry Rossio has been tapped to pen the script for the Warner Bros. treasure hunt film Yucatan, which is based on an original idea by iconic actor Steve McQueen and is being developed as a star vehicle for Downey Jr.  Rossio’s credits include co-writing the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films as well as the animated features Shrek and Aladdin, so he’s got plenty of experience in the adventure realm.  More on Yucatan after the jump.

Netflix Picks Up LONGMIRE; Fourth Season Will Premiere In 2015

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Longmire wrapped up its third season earlier this year on A&E.  Apparently it wasn’t renewed at that time since Netflix has just announced that Longmire Season 4 is on the way.  The 10 episode arc is set to hit the streaming service in 2015 and will be produced in conjunction with Warner Horizon Television.

The contemporary crime thriller set in Big Sky country is based on the Walt Longmire mystery novels by best-selling author Craig Johnson. The series stars Robert Taylor (The Matrix) as Walt Longmire, the charismatic, dedicated and unflappable sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, along with Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar GalacticaRiddick), Lou Diamond Phillips (SouthlandLa Bamba), Bailey Chase (Damages), Cassidy Freeman (Smallville) and Adam Bartley (Justified).   Hit the jump for more on Longmire Season 4.

Natalie Dormer Talks THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1, the Audition Process, Her Haircut, Comic-Con, GAME OF THRONES, and More

by     Posted 15 hours ago

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Opening this weekend is director Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.  In the next installment, we find Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) at the forefront of the rebellion in District 13 while Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone) are held captive in the Capitol.  Unlike the last two films which focused on surviving the games, Mockingjay – Part 1 is about the rebellion spreading throughout Panem and the way both sides play the media to gain the upper hand.  It’s an extremely well done movie and fans of the franchise will not be disappointed.  Joining the cast are Cressida (Natalie Dormer), Boggs (Mahershala Ali), Pollux (Elden Henson), Messalla (Evan Ross), and Castor (Wes Chatham) alongside Liam HemsworthWoody HarrelsonJulianne MoorePhilip Seymour Hoffman,Elizabeth BanksSam Claflin, and Donald Sutherland.

A few days ago in New York City I landed an exclusive interview with Natalie Dormer.  The actress plays the character of Cressida, a rebel who uses her camera as a weapon in the propaganda fight against the Capitol.  During our interview, Dormer talked about landing the role, her audition process, the haircut and tattoo, if she was a fan of the series before she signed on, the way she prepares for a role, going to Comic-Con for the first time, if she’s interested in doing a Marvel or DC superhero movie, Game of Thrones, how she stopped reading the parts of the script that weren’t hers so she could watch season 5 as a fan, and a lot more.  Hit the jump for what she had to say.

Over 20 Images From the FLASH VS. ARROW Crossover Episode Team Grant Gustin With Stephen Amell

by     Posted 16 hours ago

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The Flash seems to be getting decent ratings on its own (and is more universally loved than Arrow, at least to this outsider), so it doesn’t really need to do a crossover episode at this point, even though such a thing has most certainly been in the cards since the show’s inception.

I keep meaning to carve aside some time to dig into both of these series, but they keep eluding me. Maybe if I check out the crossover episode that will be a decent place to dive in to get a flavor of both?  Regardless, for existing fans of the shows these images of Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell spending more time together than usual prove to be a nice afternoon surprise.  Part one of the Flash vs. Arrow crossover event is technically an episode of The Flash and airs on the CW on December 2nd at 8/9PM ET.  Hit the jump to check out the images. 

KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE Finds a New Merlin In Djimon Hounsou; GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Star To Replace Idris Elba

by     Posted 17 hours ago

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A few months ago it appeared as though Idris Elba was going to play a “Merlin-esque figure” in director Guy Ritchie‘s upcoming epic Knights of the Round Table (formerly known as King Arthur).  That’s obviously no longer the case since Djimon Hounsou is now said to be close to taking the role.  He would join Charlie HunnamAstrid Berges-Frisbey (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and probably Jude Law in the long gestating project.

Maybe if they get this right they can make it the six film spectacle that Ritchie, Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow seem keen on giving us, even though one has to question the  public’s appetite for these medieval epics.  Perhaps the upcoming Seventh Son (in which Hounsou also appears), will give us an indicator of that appetite (though if that flops it may just be because, by all appearances so far, it looks like a bad movie).  Hit the jump for more on Djimon Hounsou in Knights of the Round Table.

Terror Abounds in New THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2 ANGEL OF DEATH Trailer, Plus New Images

by     Posted 18 hours ago

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The official U.S. trailer for The Woman in Black 2 Angel of Death has been released.  Directed by Tom Harper, the horror sequel takes place 40 years after the events of the first film, during the London bombings of World War II, and revolves around a pair of schoolteachers (Phoebe Fox and Helen McCrory) who lead a group of children in evacuation to the abandoned Eel Marsh House.  I’m a sucker for UK-set horror films, so I found this trailer to be quiet effective.  The gloomy atmosphere bleeds through the screen, and there are more than a couple of successful jump scares.

Check out the new The Woman in Black 2 trailer after the jump along with some new images and the poster.  The film also stars Jeremy Irvine and opens in theaters on January 2, 2015.

Keanu Reeves in Talks to Star in Tarsem Singh’s THE PANOPTICON

by     Posted 18 hours ago

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Visually ambitious filmmaker Tarsem Singh may have found a swell lead actor for his sci-fi thriller The Panopticon.  The Wrap reports that Keanu Reeves is in talks to star in the film for Good Universe, which revolves around “a seemingly ordinary man who receives a mysterious package containing a pre-recorded message from himself, warning that the world is about to end and only he can save it.” He must work to piece together the puzzle before time runs out for mankind.  Singh broke out in a big way with his visually arresting 2000 film The Cell, which he followed up with another aesthetically grand feature called The Fall in 2006.  He made his first foray into the world of studio actioners to less-than-stellar results with 2011’s Immortals, and then helmed a take on the Snow White story with 2012’s Mirror Mirror.

Hit the jump for more on Reeves and Panopticon.

Alexandra Daddario and More Up for Marvel’s JESSICA JONES Netflix Show; LUKE CAGE Contenders Revealed

by     Posted 19 hours ago

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While production is currently underway on Marvel’s first Netflix series, Daredevil, the studio is now working on putting together its next show.  There will be four separate Netflix series in all, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, followed by an Avengers-style team-up miniseries called The Defenders.  The Jessica Jones show is next after Daredevil, and with Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight) onboard to spearhead the 13-episode drama, Marvel is currently testing actresses to lead the series.  Moreover, Luke Cage is poised to make his first appearance in 6-7 episodes of Jessica Jones, so testing for that character is underway as well.

Find out which familiar names are up for the roles after the jump.

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