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‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ starts shooting this May

- February 11th, 2014

So it’s not nothing, but it’s still not much. Sources have told HitFix that director J.J. Abrams will begin filming Star Wars: Episode VII in May. Shooting will continue until September with the finished product hitting screens Dec. 18, 2015.

According to the report, most principal casting on the film is complete, so I suppose we can count on hearing about Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford’s reprisal of their iconic characters any day now.

Earlier this week, Gary Oldman revealed that he is one of the actors who has had discussions about the new film. “They’ve called,” Oldman told Sky Movies. “I’ll believe it when I’m on the plane home. The deal isn’t done, but yeah, they’ve inquired. I mean Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter, Batman and Star Wars… bloody hell!”

Zac Efron also confirmed he’s had talks telling MTV last week, “Yeah, I just went and met with them (Disney executives). So I don’t know. It would be cool. I love the Star Wars movies I love them, but who knows?”

In addition to Oldman and Efron, Saoirse Ronan (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Kick Ass’ Chloë Moretz and Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan have been linked to the new film. As well, Abrams has confirmed talks with Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Girls star Adam Driver and Hugo Weaving are also rumoured to be involved.

According to a report on THR last month, Abrams’ upcoming sequel has been reworked to focus on the trilogy’s original stars – Luke Skywalker (Hamill), Han Solo (Ford) and Princess Leia (Fisher), with newer characters taking a back seat until Episode VIII and IX.

I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but if there’s one person I trust to reset this franchise and make it palpable again, it’s J.J. Abrams.

star warsz

‘Star Wars’ lead roles casting and plot rumours: Episode VII to focus on Luke, Leia and Han

- January 13th, 2014

If you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan, this tidbit might have you flying out of your chair. According to The Hollywood Reporter, J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars film has been reworked to focus on the trilogy’s original stars – Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher).


THR reports that original scribe Michael Arndt departed the film over creative differences with the director. Arndt wanted the new film to focus more on the offspring of the trio, while Abrams wanted to give audiences another chance to experience the classic characters before a “fitting send-off.”

According to the trade, Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan have reworked the new characters into supporting roles that will emerge as the focal points in Episode VIII and IX. New characters have been added to the new script, while others have been dropped entirely.

THR also reports that Michael Fassbender, Girls star Adam Driver and Hugo Weaving are in contention for roles in Episode VII. Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons has also reportedly met with the director. Weaving, according to multiple sources, has had early talks for a part to play an Imperial commander.

This is in addition to Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Jack O’Connell, Alex Pettyfer, Saoirse Ronan and Sullivan Stapleton – all of whom have been linked at one point or another to the new film.

If the Weaving rumour is true it suggests that Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine were not fully vanquished at the end of Return of the Jedi. (Readers of the books can weigh in on the comments and let me know how the storyline was expanded after Episode VI).

Of course, nothing is confirmed until we hear it from Disney. But this is a fun way for Star Wars fans to start their week.

Star Wars: Episode VII opens Dec. 18, 2015.

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’: Secrets of Smaug Infographic

- December 17th, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second instalment of Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, took in a hefty $73 million at the box office over the weekend.

But just who is this Smaug guy? The folks over at Finances Online drew up a nifty infographic detailing why the character (which is played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is the deadliest, richest and most malevolent character in The Hobbit sequel.

Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments. If you haven’t seen The Desolation of Smaug, you can read Bruce Kirkland’s four-star review here.

'The Hobbit' & Secrets of Smaug the Dragon: Is Benedict Cumberbatch the Most Wicked Character in the Upcoming Film?
Brought to you by | Author: Robin Renford | See our Vimeo

‘Star Trek’ Khan ‘secret’ a mistake: J.J. Abrams

- December 3rd, 2013

In the months leading up to the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, speculation was rampant that the villain squaring off against Kirk, Spock et al. would be none other than Khan Noonien Singh.

Famously played by Ricardo Montalban in the 1967 episode Space Seed and again in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Benicio Del Toro was tipped for the bad guy role when pre-production on the sequel got underway in 2011.

After Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as the baddie in 2012, director J.J. Abrams and writers Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman went into lockdown mode, refusing to confirm or deny Khan would be the villain in the sequel.


Well, by now we all know how that turned out. The identity of Cumberbatch’s character stayed hidden, and the ‘secret’ was safe until about 20 minutes after the first screening of Into Darkness. Some fans cried foul, while others cheered for joy. And there’s a new comic out that delves further into Khan’s backstory if you’re hungering for more.

But in a recent interview with MTV’s Josh Horowitz, Abrams now admits that keeping Khan’s identity a secret may have been a mistake.

Turns out Paramount Pictures was worried that emphasizing Khan in early ads was too much ‘inside baseball’ for casual movie fans not familiar with Star Trek lore.

“The truth is I think it probably would have been smarter just to say upfront ‘This is who it is.’ It was only trying to preserve the fun of it, and it might have given more time to acclimate and accept that’s what the thing was,” Abrams told MTV. “The truth is because it was so important to the studio that we not angle this thing for existing fans. If we said it was Khan, it would feel like you’ve really got to know what ‘Star Trek’ is about to see this movie. That would have been limiting. I can understand their argument to try to keep that quiet, but I do wonder if it would have seemed a little bit less like an attempt at deception if we had just come out with it.”

I for one didn’t feel overly deceived since I had already assumed Cumberbatch was playing Khan. In fact, I probably would have been more irritated if he ended up being someone else (although Gary Mitchell might have been cool).

In the same MTV interview, Abrams also shared his thoughts on who should direct the next Star Trek. Right now Joe Cornish, who Abrams favours, is rumoured to be the font-runner for the job, with a summer 2014 start date being eyed.

“I don’t know if Joe Cornish is the guy,” Abrams said. “My guess is that’s up in the air. I adore him and love him and can’t wait to see what he does next,” Abrams said. “Hopefully it will be ‘Star Trek.’ Whatever it is, he’s brilliant. ‘Attack the Block’ was one of my favorite movies of the year when it came out.”

What do you think? Were you cheesed that Abrams tried to keep Khan a secret? Sound off in the comments.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘Fifth Estate’ tops 2013 flop list

- November 28th, 2013

The Cumberbitches might have protected him from the wrath of Julian Assange, but they certainly didn’t come out to support Benedict Cumberbatch’s WikiLeaks drama The Fifth Estate.

cumberbatch assange

Benedict Cumberbatch tries to make a quick exit following the press conference for The Fifth Estate at TIFF. QMI Agency File

The number crunchers at Forbes have released their list of 2013′s biggest film flops, and the high-profile film about the formative years of the whistleblowing site was top of the flops.

The Fifth Estate opened the Toronto International Film Festival and was considered an Oscar shoo-in. But negative reviews and audience indifference sank the Cumberbatch-led film. The drama cost $28 million to produce (source Box Office Mojo) and took in $8 million at the global box office.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. But Cumberbatch’s rep will get a much-needed rebound when he appears as Smaug in next month’s Hobbit sequel.

Surprisingly, Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger misfire didn’t make Forbes’ list (it actually made money worldwide). But the rest of the top 10 is riddled with familiar names like Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham.

Sylvester Stallone came in second place with Bullet to the Head (yeah, I don’t remember that one either), while Harrison Ford and The Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth teamed up for the forgettable Paranoia.

Jason Statham and J.Lo were in fourth place with Parker, and the Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe-thriller Broken City came in fifth.

That last one is particularly surprising considering Wahlberg’s Ted was one of 2012′s biggest films.

I was a little surprised that Ben Affleck-Justin Timberlake’s Runner Runner didn’t make the cut. Ditto, Stallone-Arnie’s forgettable Escape Plan. Like The Lone Ranger, they both turned a profit worldwide.

Forbes’ top 10 box office turkeys of 2013

1. The Fifth Estate
2. Bullet to the Head
3. Paranoia
4. Parker
5. Broken City
6. Battle of the Year
7. Getaway
8. Peeples
10. The Big Wedding