Walt Disney Pictures has come a long way from making full-length animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. In the 21st century, the company has reinvented itself with live-action blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean, state-of-the-art computer animated films like Cars and Frozen, and adaptations of children’s literary classics like Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (out in theaters this March). In recent years, Disney has expanded into more lucrative markets like comic book blockbusters (ie. Marvel comics) and, of course, the Star Wars franchise. The latest Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi, hit the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office sales barely three weeks after its US theatrical release. With a plethora of material to work with, and plenty of money coming in, one would think Disney is far passed its tipping point, but that might not be the case at all. Continue reading →
For some time now, there has been talk of an upcoming biographical drama surrounding the legendary rock band Queen, though no such film has shown up anywhere on the Hollywood film circuit. Now, however, it looks like fans will finally be able to enjoy a new biopic surrounding the events leading up to and including the band’s legendary rebirth at the Live Aid Festival in 1985. The performance was not expected to be anything special: Queen had lost a good deal of momentum by the early 1980s, and the band was just another group of performers scheduled alongside acts like Elton John, The Who, Dire Straights, Phil Collins, and Paul McCartney. But when Queen finally took the stage in-between U2 and David Bowie, the crowd had no idea they were about to witness rock-history in the making.
Lead singer Freddie Mercury, who later died of complications with AIDS, took command of the stage and delivered an awe-inspiring set that even his band mates had never imagined. Through 25 minutes, Mercury jumped from the piano, to the guitar, to front stage with his sawed-off mic-stand, leading the band through a suite of their musical catalogue that included older classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” to recent singles like “Hammer to Fall”. It was all backing members Brian May, John Deacon, and Roger Taylor could do to try and keep up with Mercury, whose passionate and energetic performance ignited the crowd and which is remembered as the definitive highlight of the Live Aid festival. Continue reading →
Next week on July 21-24, the 47th Annual Comic Con International will take place at the San Diego Convention Center. This year will play host to an impressive line-up of films, both new and old. The festival features a series of discussions, forums, and film showings. This year’s special guests include Stan Lee, Christopher James Priest, J. Michael Straczynski, G. Willow Wilson, Jason Aaron, Michael Barrier, and Allen Bellman. Some of this year’s movie highlights include Labyrinth (1986), Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), Battlestar Galactica (1978), Highlander (1986), Flash Gordon (1980), Batman the Movie (1966), Top Gun (1986), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Deadpool (2016), and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). Click here to see the full schedule at the Comic Con 2016 website.
Actor Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981).
Deadline has recently reported that Twentieth Century Fox just won the rights to writer/director John Carpenter‘s 1981 action-flick Escape From New York. The film starred Kurt Russell (The Thing, Death Proof) as contracted-convict Snake Plissken, who is given the task of rescuing the US President (British actor Donald Pleasance) from futuristic New York City, after Air Force One crashes there and the criminals/inmates that now inhabit the city attempt to take him hostage. Lee Van Cleef (A Fistful of Dollars, The Good The Bad and the Ugly) also starred in the original picture. Now a remake of the cult classic is in the works at the studio with John Carpenter, himself, getting involved as executive producer, but no news has been released as to who will star in the film and a release date is still out of the question, but we’ll keep you posted.
Twentieth Century Fox recently moved their upcoming sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from July 2016 to the next July in 2017. With this move, the vacated release-spot has been filled by Universal Pictures, moving their upcoming Jason Bourne sequel that will reunite Matt Damon (The Departed, Interstellar) with director Paul Greengrass (Green Zone, Captain Phillips) into this date instead. This will push the Bourne release back by a couple of weeks, but also provide virtually no competition for that opening weekend, so it could turn out to be a really profitable switch. Damon and Greengrass are currently writing the screenplay for the film with producer Christopher Rouse, but there is no word yet as to whether or not the movie will follow the previous installment, The Bourne Legacy, with series newcomer Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, American Hustle). The Bourne Legacy was directed by series screenwriter Tony Gilroy, taking over for Greengrass who directed Damon in both the preceding movies The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), but now Greengrass is back on board to direct and Gilroy has, as of now, fallen away from the series. Stay tuned for more news.
There is so much news these days regarding upcoming comic-movie projects that it’s getting hard to keeps facts and rumors straight, but this seems pretty much certain. Michelle MacLaren has agreed to direct the independent Wonder Woman project for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, with Zack Snyder (300, Man of Steel) producing. The character will initially appear in Snyder’s upcoming Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and then MacLaren’s film will be an independent character project. I am assuming that Gal Gadot will carry the role over from Batman Vs. Superman, but we’ll have to wait and see about that. Another bit of recent news that also seems pretty set in stone (coming from Variety) is that Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside Llewyn Davis) has been cast by Twentieth Century Fox to play the title villain in the upcoming X-Men installment Apocalypse. This one is scheduled to hit theaters in May 2016, and will also bring the characters Cyclops and Jean Grey back to the big screen as the film is expected to take place in the 1980s.
The new biographical drama about the relationship between Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, titled The Theory of Everything, can now be seen in limited release in a theater near you. Adapted by screenwriter Anthony McCarten from the novel Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking, the film is a dramatic depiction of the couple’s 30-year relationship, beginning in the early years and following along as they have children and as Hawking’s physical health deteriorates as the result of his battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The film stars Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn, Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones (The Invisible Woman, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Stephen and Jane Hawking and is directed by James Marsh (The King, Shadow Dancer). According to Hawking the film is mostly on par with the reality of their lives, give or take a few minute details and the actual amiability of their relationship, but as I mentioned before you won’t be able to find it in every theater in the area. Here are a few theaters in the Chicago area that are showing the movie:
AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois Street)
Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark Street)
Century 12 Evanston (1715 Maple Avenue)
With the 30th Anniversary of director Robert Zemeckis‘s (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) classic time-travel tale Back to the Future coming up next year, plans are starting to be made to mark the celebration. Variety recently reported plans by IMG Artists and the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency to showcase the film alongside a live orchestra that will play the classic soundtrack by Alan Silvestri as the film progresses. The first performance will be held in Switzerland this coming May with the 21st Century Orchestra, with additional performances pending in worldwide locations. Zemeckis, working with producer Steven Spielberg, released Back to the Future in July 1985 and the film skyrocketed up-and-coming actor Michael J. Fox to movie stardom. It won the 1986 Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing and was also nominated for Best Screenplay, Best Sound, and Best Original Music. IMG and Gorfaine/Schwartz performed a similar service for the Star Trek anniversary this year, but seeing as Back to the Future will appeal to a much larger audience across the generation gaps, this one is sure to be just as, if not more, popular. Universal Pictures is also most likely preparing some kind of celebration but that has yet to be announced, so we’ll keep looking out for more news.
The next chapter in the Planet of the Apes reboot project from Twentieth Century Fox is coming to theaters this Friday, once again featuring motion-capture master Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) in the role of Caesar. Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out in 2011 and ended with a mutated virus spreading across the globe and beginning to wipe out mankind from existence. Now in the years after the breakout, a band of humans lead by Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, Leon: The Professional) are heading out to wage war against Caesar and reclaim their dominant-species status on Earth. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also features Keri Russell (August Rush, Mission: Impossible 3) and is directed by Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Cloverfield) from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Mark Bomback. Check out the trailer here on MADE, then go and see it on the big screen this weekend!
Although he is working tirelessly on the revived Fast & Furious 7, director James Wan is already looking to his future plans, which may include producing and directing his own graphic novel for 20th Century Fox. Deadline recently reported that Fox bought the rights to Wan’s graphic novel Malignant Man and, if all goes well, will have Wan producing and directing the project. The novel follows a cancer patient (Alan Gates) who learns that his once-terminal cancer tumor is actually giving him superpowers and allows him to become a crime-fighting superhero, so it’s an interesting combination of DC Comics meets Phenomenon. Fast & Furious 7 is still in the filming process after a delayed production following Paul Walker’s death last year, so we don’t really know when Malignant Man will really get rolling, but probably sometime in the next two years. Fast & Furious 7 is scheduled for release in 2015.