Friday Box Office: THE EQUALIZER Heads For $35 Million Bow; THE BOXTROLLS in Third

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The Equalizer had no trouble claiming first place on Friday, opening to an estimated $12.6 million from 3,236 locations.  That puts the Sony/Columbia thriller on track for around $35 million this weekend: by far the best bow for an R-rated September release.  Based on the 1980’s TV series of the same name, The Equalizer looks like it will become the latest Denzel Washington vehicle to over-perform at the box office.  Since 2004, the actor has not had a single wide release open below $20 million – a record that even perennial box office favorites like Johnny Depp and Mark Wahlberg cannot match.  The Equalizer reunites Washington with Antoine Fuqua, his Training Day director.  Fuqua’s previous career high was the $30.3 million debut of 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen.

Friday’s top five after the jump.

Collider Goes to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 24: The Five Best Mazes of 2014

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At long last it’s officially fall!  That means turning leaves, sweater weather, and pumpkin everything but for the horror-hearted it also means movie marathons, haunted houses, and of course, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.  I’ve spent plenty of October nights at HHN here in Hollywood, but this year I was lucky enough to check out how they do horror in Orlando, and it turns out they do it really well.  When the gates parted on opening night I was there in the torrential Floridian downpour to get a first look at this year’s mazes and scare zones (they’re back!).  But before heading into the park, my group ducked into the Pantages Theater to speak with some of the minds behind the night’s event about their creative process, inspirations, and goals.  Hit the jump to see what they had to say and check out my picks for the five best mazes of the year at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 2014.

Kevin Durand Talks THE STRAIN, What Fans Can Expect from the Remaining Episodes, How Season 1 Wraps Up, and More

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From filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and showrunner Carlton Cuse, The Strain tells the story of an epic battle for survival between man and vampire.  When Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), the head of the Center for Disease Control in New York City, and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak that is eerily similar to an ancient and evil strain of vampirism, they quickly realize that they are waging war for the fate of humanity itself.  The show also stars David Bradley, Mia Maestro, Sean Astin, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Kevin Durand, Miguel Gomez, Natalie Brown and Jack Kesy.

During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Kevin Durand talked about how he came to be a part of The Strain, what attracted him to the project, understanding who Vasiliy Fet is, how become a part of a team has changed things for him, whether he has any guilt or regret for his actions, what fans can expect from the rest of the season, and how satisfied he is with the way things wrap up this season.  Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS II (Mastered in 4K) Blu-ray Reviews

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Ghostbusters was a cultural phenomenon, and hasn’t left pop culture since it was released in 1984.  Then again, it would be hard to forget considering co-writer Dan Aykroyd has been promising a third entry in the franchise since the nineties.  To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first film (and the twenty-fifth of the sequel Ghostbusters II) Sony has packaged both together with new extras and the best transfers yet of the films.  The first film remains a classic, while the sequel is not without pleasures.  Both star Bill Murray, Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts, and both were directed by Ivan Reitman.  My review of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

Directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable Talk THE BOXTROLLS, Changes During Production, Deleted Scenes, and More

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Now playing in theaters is Laika’s The Boxtrolls.  Making their stop-motion debut is directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable and the film is based on the children’s novel Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow.  Featuring the voices of Isaac Hempstead WrightElle Fanning, Sir Ben KingsleyToni ColletteNick FrostSimon PeggRichard AyoadeTracy Morgan, and Jared Harris, The Boxtrolls is about a young orphaned boy named Eggs (Wright) who is raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors who he must save from evil exterminator Archibald Snatched (Kingsley).  For more on the film, read Matt’s review or click here for trailers, images, interviews, and everything we’ve posted on the film.

At the L.A. press day I landed a video interview with directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable.  They talked about the technical challenges making The Boxtrolls, how the crew from Paranorman and Coraline never disbanded, if they had any big changes during pre-production, deleted scenes, what will be on The Boxtrolls Blu-ray, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

THE KNICK Recap: “Get The Rope”

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In the last episode of The Knick, some of its narrative strands started coming together, bringing its characters together in ways they hadn’t bumped up against one another before (sometimes quite literally).  “Get the Rope” took that even further, tying up some of the The Knick‘s more disparate parts into the show’s most linear and contained episode yet.  And amid a great deal of violence, “Get the Rope” also managed to work in some humor, and even a little romance.  Hit the jump if you are like a comet in the sky.

First EQUALS Image Reveals Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult in Drake Doremus’ Sci-Fi Romance

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The first Equals image from director Drake Doremus’ (Like Crazy) upcoming sci-fi film has landed online.  The film stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult and takes place in a world without greed, poverty, violence, or emotion.  A new disease called Switched-On-Syndrome threatens to activate these dormant emotions, instilling love, depression, sensitivity, and fear into those affected, who are then swiftly sent away and never seen again.  Stewart and Hoult’s characters are caught in the middle of the dilemma, and as can be gleaned from this first image, the two strike up a forbidden relationship.  I’ve been incredibly curious about this film for some time now, and I was really impressed with Doremus’ Like Crazy follow-up Breathe In.  Moreover, I’m interested to see how Stewart adapts to Doremus’ heavily improvised style of directing.

Take a look at the first Equals image after the jump.  The film also stars Guy Pearce and Jacki Weaver and opens in theaters sometime next year.

Producer Susan Downey Talks Team Downey’s Upcoming Slate, Including the Horror-Comedy CLOAKED and PINOCCHIO

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As the former co-president of Dark Castle Entertainment and Executive Vice President of Production at Silver Pictures, producer Susan Downey has a bit of experience in putting movies together.  Her current venture is overseeing the Warner Bros.-based production shingle Team Downey, which she and her husband Robert Downey Jr. formed in 2010.  Their first produced feature from the company, The Judge, opens in theaters on October 10th, but Team Downey has plenty of other intriguing projects on tap for the near future.

Steve recently spoke with Susan Downey in anticipation of the release of The Judge, but during the course of their conversation she also gave an update of what the company has in active development at the moment, including a pair of films poised to star Robert Downey Jr.—the horror comedy Cloaked and their long-developing Pinocchio riff—and a number of television projects.  See what she had to say after the jump.

See the 22 JUMP STREET Sequel Posters from the End Credits

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This summer’s 22 Jump Street was not only one of the best and funniest comedy sequels to come our way in years, but also one of the most self-aware.  Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller infused the entire film with nods and meta references to the nature of sequels to hilarious results, culminating in one of the best end credits sequences of all time.  As if anticipating the audience’s question over whether there would ever be another Jump Street sequel, Lord and Miller crafted short clips and posters for over 20 follow-ups with increasingly ridiculous premises.  With the film being released on iTunes on October 28th and on Blu-ray and DVD on November 18th, the posters for all of the “sequels” have now landed online, and I have to wonder if one of these will actually be culled for the real 23 Jump Street currently in development.  It’s tough to pick out a favorite, but I think the tagline I admire the most is from 37 Jump Street: Scuba Class.

Hit the jump to take a look at some of the 22 Jump Street sequel posters.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Will Complete the FIRST CLASS Trilogy; Simon Kinberg Talks Recasting Younger Versions of the Original Characters

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It’s hard to imagine an X-Men movie bigger than X-Men: Days of Future Past, what with its multiple timelines, ginormous cast, and time travel shenanigans, but those involved with X-Men: Apocalypse continue to reiterate that it will be the biggest X-Men movie yet.  20th Century Fox recently confirmed that Bryan Singer will indeed be returning to direct, and he’s been hard at work developing the script with DOFP scribe Simon Kinberg and X2 screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty.

Filming is scheduled to get underway next spring in anticipation of the film’s May 27, 2016 release date, and to promote the upcoming Blu-ray release of DOFP, Kinberg recently answered a number of fan questions about the franchise.  Chiefly, Kinberg revealed that the thrust of Apocalypse is to “complete the trilogy” that was initially set up in X-Men: First Class.  Hit the jump for much more, including the possibility of seeing younger versions of the original X-Men.

THE HATEFUL EIGHT Will Shoot Entirely in Colorado Starting on December 8th

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I have resisted the temptation to read the script for The Hateful Eight and have even avoided the recaps of the live staging that was held of the piece a few months ago in Los Angeles.  So it’s encouraging that we’re getting this new Quentin Tarantino movie a lot earlier than we thought we might.  We’re now learning that the film will shoot outside of Telluride, Colorado and that everything – interiors and exteriors alike – will be lensed in the state.  There’s also a planned start date of December 8th.

Hit the jump for more on The Hateful Eight shooting in Colorado.  The full cast has yet to be announced, but we’ve heard that Kurt RussellTim RothMichael MadsenBruce DernWalton Goggins, and Samuel L. Jackson are attached with the possible addition of Jennifer Lawrence. The movie will be shot on glorious 70MM film.

GAME OF THRONES Alum Aidan Gillen to Play Villain in MAZE RUNNER Sequel; John Slattery Joins TED 2; Guy Pearce and Dominic West Set for GENIUS

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We’ve got a few interesting casting stories to attend to this afternoon.  Briefly:

  • Game of Thrones actor Aidan Gillen (aka Littlefinger) has landed the Big Bad role in the next YA franchise, signing on to play the antagonist in the Maze Runner sequel The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials.
  • John Slattery is the latest familiar face to join the cast of Seth MacFarlane’s now-filming comedy sequel Ted 2.
  • Guy Pearce and Dominic West (The Wire) have joined the fantastic ensemble cast for the literary drama Genius, playing a couple of legendary novelists.

More on the aforementioned casting after the jump.

Julianne Moore Surges into Best Actress Race as STILL ALICE Gets Oscar-Qualifying Release from Sony Pictures Classics

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One of the big surprises of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was a film called Still Alice.  Not many people I talked to saw it, but those that did were raving about Julianne Moore’s performance as a linguistics professor who begins showing the signs of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  The consensus was that if a studio picked up the independent film and set it for release before the year was out, they would have very good odds of landing a Best Actress Oscar for Moore.  And that is just what Sony Pictures Classics has done.  The studio confirmed today that it will release co-directors and co-writers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s adaptation of the Lisa Genova novel in New York and Los Angeles in December for a one-week awards qualifying run, officially entering Moore into this year’s Best Actress race.

Hit the jump for more on the Best Actress category as it stands now and Moore’s presumed frontrunner status for Still Alice.

The Films of David Fincher: PANIC ROOM

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[With the upcoming release of his new film Gone Girl, I’m taking a look back at the work of director David Fincher.  These articles contain spoilers.]

Although my evidence is purely anecdotal, I’ve found Panic Room to be the red-headed stepchild of Fincher’s filmography.  Its biggest sin seems to be its lack of thematic or narrative ambition, which is unfair because A) it’s a faulty appraisal of what the film is trying to achieve; and B) it dismisses the film’s technical mastery, and how the picture overcame a slew of unexpected problems.  If Alien 3 was an onslaught of insurmountable odds caused by studio meddling, Panic Room met unforeseen challenges and rose to the occasion every time to create what was, as intended, “a Friday night date movie.”

SCANDAL Season 4 Premiere Recap: “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia”

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Scandal is back, and full of drama from its first frame onward (one would not expect anything less).  Olivia is also back, one of OPA is gone, and “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia” found the rest of the Gladiators in very different places than where we left them.  Series creator Shonda Rhimes has promised that this season will not only focus back on the core cast, but also be a season where Abby Whelan will finally get a major arc all of her own.  Hit the jump, but only when it’s your turn. 

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