A week after its release in theaters across America, director Ryan Coogler’s new Marvel comic-adaptation, Black Panther, is still setting box office records. The film is the 5th highest domestic debut of all time, and the highest grossing February release in history, with a staggering $202,003,951. It earned more in just 3-days in theaters than any other film featuring a black director and predominantly black cast with an impressive worldwide opening weekend gross of $350 million. The success of the film has not only shattered age-old myths surrounding the “unpopularity” of all-black ensemble movies in Hollywood. It is also changing the way Hollywood, and America at large, view films that deal primarily with black and African American culture. But why is Black Panther such a big deal for America and not simply just another superhero movie with a hero who happens to be black? Continue reading →
Kay Graham (portrayed by Meryl Streep in Spielberg’s film) was the acting publisher of The Washington Post at the time. She inherited the role of sole proprietor following her husband’s untimely death by suicide. Graham not only faced a board of all-male stock holders who were ready to oust her at any moment, but also a more hostile-than-friendly editor named Ben Bradlee (portrayed by Tom Hanks), who reportedly informed her that he’d give his left nut to run the Post, himself. Shortly after Graham came into her new position, Martin Weil (Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk) was sent to meet with Ellsberg to collect the top secret documents in Boston and transport them safely back to Washington. Continue reading →
Every year, the Sundance Film Festival hosts an impressive number of independent films, documentaries, and short films from all around the world. Titles like The Usual Suspects, Memento, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Napoleon Dynamite, Super-Size Me, Saw, and Little Miss Sunshine have all found success at the world-renowned festival. So it’s no surprise that this years line-up is definitely keeping with that reputation. A number of documentaries, including the Amir Bar-Lev’s Grateful Dead tribute Long Strange Trip and Jeff Orlowski’s follow-up to his 2012 Chasing Ice feature, Chasing Coral, have already premiered to great praise from festival attendees and critics alike. At the same time, a number of films have already been purchased for distribution, including Patti Cake$ by former doorman-turned-filmmaker Wass Stevens, which sold to Fox Searchlight for $10.5 million! Here are a few of the festival entries that have caught our eye for expanded release. We’ll post more information about domestic releases as we get further into the year. Continue reading →
James Baldwin‘s (1924-1987) life and legacy can now speak to modern audiences in a new documentary called I Am Not Your Negro. The film is finally getting a long overdue theatrical release from Magnolia Pictures this February 3rd after wowing audiences at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. I Am Not Your Negro is a film from Haitian director Raoul Peck that envisions Baldwin’s final, albeit incomplete novel Remember This House as an uncompromising and complete narrative of race in America. The unfinished memoir focuses on the authors personal memories and relationships with three enduring Civil Rights leaders: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X. Peck was allowed access to the entire Baldwin archives and composed the film over a period of 10 years, drawing from the incomplete manuscript and Baldwin’s own personal notes. It won the People’s Choice Documentary Award and, like Baldwin himself, is sure to stand as a vital testament to race in America today. Continue reading →
With the biggest night in Hollywood quickly approaching, and all the controversy surrounding this year’s nominee selections, we thought it would be appropriate to look at some historical actors that have either boycotted the Oscar ceremonies, or blatantly returned the award to the Academy. The first incident that comes to mind is Marlon Brando‘s famous refusal to accept the Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather in 1973. He completely skipped the ceremony and had a woman named Sacheen Littlefeather refuse the award on his behalf in the name of Native American rights. George C. Scott also famously boycotted the Oscars when he won for Patton, even returning the award the next day when it was presented to him after the ceremony. Although it’s never really a surprise, Woody Allen has rarely ever attended an Academy Award ceremony, even though he has won numerous times for films like Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, and Hannah and Her Sisters. Paul Newman also refused to attend the Oscar ceremony when he finally won after six previous nominations and two honorary awards. And finally, John Gieglud was also absent to accept the Supporting Actor award for Arthur in 1982, later writing that, “I really detest all that mutual congratulation baloney and the invidious comparisons which they invoke.” As for this year, director Spike Lee and acting couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith already said they would boycott the ceremony, owing to the lack of ethnic diversity amongst this year’s nominees, but they have since rescinded following the Academy’s pledge to diversify its membership by 2020. Hopefully we’ll see some drastic improvements in the upcoming years, as it’s definitely been long overdue in Hollywood. Stay tuned.
Actor Woody Harrelson in full make-up and costume on the set of LBJ.
Principle photography is currently underway on a new biographical drama from Oscar-nominee Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men), titled LBJ. Leading the film as President Johnson is fellow Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, True Detective), with Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road To Perdition, The Machinist), C. Thomas Howell (E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, The Amazing Spider-Man), Bill Pullman (Spaceballs, Independence Day), Jeffery Donovan (Changeling, Burn Notice), and Richard Jenkins (The Indian in the Cupboard, Step Brothers). The plot is expected to range from 1959 to 1964, covering Johnson’s time in the Senate, Vice-Presidency under John F. Kennedy, and his subsequent term as President after Kennedy’s assassination, coming from a script by Joey Hartstone (Project Runway). Johnson faced several large issues during his time as President, including the beginning of the Vietnam conflict and the Civil Rights Movement. We’ll keep an eye on this one as it progresses, but as of now the film does not have an exact release date. Stay tuned.
Author Harper Lee pictured on-set with actress Mary Badham, who portrayed Scout in the film adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird with Gregory Peck.
Celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Harper Lee, has remained quite dormant over the last 50 years of her life, ever since she gave her last interview in 1964 regarding her American literary classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The novel became one of the most powerful and important literary reflections of racism in our modern society, taking place in Depression-era Alabama amidst hard economic times and astronomical segregation laws and practices that would remain in place until the Civil Rights Movement nearly 30 years later. And now, during a time when racial tensions are once again dominating news headlines in this country, Lee will be publishing a long, lost manuscript that she wrote prior to the publication of Mockingbird, titled Go Set A Watchmen. The novel, whose pages ended up being the earliest draft for Mockingbird, follows Jean-Louise Finch (Scout) as a 26-year-old woman living in New York City who returns to her home in the South to confront her father, Atticus, about the issues and lifestyles that people deemed as appropriate and necessary during her childhood. Lee’s writings of the character’s childhood in the form of flashbacks in Watchman became her inspiration to tell the story of Mockingbird from the perspective of Scout as a child instead of an adult, and thus To Kill A Mockingbird was written and published. Much controversy has already been stirred at the news of Go Set A Watchman‘s publication, including concerns about how readers will react to Lee’s writing about the issues, questions as to whether or not Lee is coherent enough to give her permission for the novel’s publication (which reporters and friends and Lee, herself, says she is) and what the reaction will be to Lee’s further development/portrayal of such beloved characters, especially Atticus Finch. Nevertheless the novel will be available on bookshelves this July 14th, and pre-sales have already made the book a Bestseller. So if you are a fan of Harper Lee or of To Kill A Mockingbird, I would definitely put this on your ‘To-Read’ list.
Like Interstellar, we’ve been following the upcoming Civil Rights drama Selma for some time now, and this week we’ll finally see it open in theaters. Starring David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar) as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the film comes from producer Oprah Winfrey and director Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere, Scandal) about King’s epic march between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama at the height of the Civil Rights movement in 1965. Making up the supporting cast are actors Cuba Gooding Jr. (Pearl Harbor, American Gangster), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), Carmen Ejogo (Away We Go, The Purge: Anarchy), Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now, Bobby), and Tom Wilkinson (The Patriot, Rush Hour) as President Lyndon B. Johnson. While the film chronicles the events of the march historically, writer Paul Webb also delves into the character of King as a person, showing him not only as the leader of a powerful movement but also as a man with his own trials and tribulations. Selma has already been nominated for four Golden Globes, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (David Oyelowo) and also Best Original Song for Common and John Legend‘s Glory (Common will also be seen in the movie!). You can see the trailer above, then definitely add this to your Must-See list. Also opening this week is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice and Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen‘s Taken 3, so you have plenty of options for this weekend…choose wisely!
This Friday will see a huge opening weekend for Hollywood. The Civil Rights drama Selma with David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scotland, Interstellar), as well as Taken 3 with Liam Neeson and Paul Thomas Anderson‘s new 1970s LA-Noir drama Inherent Vice with Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin are all opening this Friday, January 9th. If that’s not enough, next Friday will see the release of Kevin Hart‘s new comedy The Wedding Ringer, in which he poses as best-man for complete strangers, and the long-awaited character-study film Escobar: Paradise Lost, starring Benicio Del Toro as the infamous Colombian kingpin, with Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, Red Dawn), Brady Corbet (Melancholia, Martha Marcy May Marlene), and Claudia Traisac (Cuentame, El Principe) making up the supporting cast. The film comes from actor-turned-writer/director Andrea Di Stefano (Eat Pray Love, Life of Pi) and was first seen back in September 2014 at the Toronto Film Festival. Also opening this month is director David Koepp’s Mortdecai with Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow, so I’d say we’re getting 2015 off to a pretty big start. Enjoy!
We’ve been following the production on director Ava DuVernay‘s upcoming Civil Rights drama Selma for some time now, and the release date is finally right around the corner. The movie follows the freedom marches lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 that ended with President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. Leading the cast is David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar) as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., plus Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, The Incredible Hulk), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Pearl Harbor, American Gangster), Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now, The Departed), Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple, The Butler), and Tom Wilkinson (The Patriot, Batman Begins). Writer Paul Webb wrote the script for DuVernay, who has directed such projects as I Will Follow (2010) and Middle of Nowhere (2012). Selma will open in theaters on January 9th, so mark your calendars now. The trailer is available here on MADE, Enjoy!