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Bruce Willis and M. Night Shyamalan to reunite for ‘Labor of Love’

- January 29th, 2014

It looks like director M. Night Shyamalan could be reuniting with Bruce Willis.

According to Deadline, Shyamalan is in talks to direct Labor of Love, which is based on one of his very first scripts. If Willis agrees, he will playing a book store owner whose wife dies tragically. He was never big on words, so to pay tribute to his lost love, he decides to walk across the country in her honour.

Shyamalan and Willis previously worked together on 1999′s The Sixth Sense and 2000′s superhero fable Unbreakable.

In a 2010 interview with me, Willis said that he was hoping to work with the director again, and expressed a desire to make a sequel with Shyamalan to Unbreakable.

“I liked that one,” he said. “I think we should make another Unbreakable.”

After starting out his career with a string of hits, Shyamalan has been riding a cold a streak following the high-profile bombs After Earth (Will Smith) and The Happening, which, for the record, I quite liked.

I like Shyamalan, so I’m hoping this reunion sparks a creative renaissance for the director.

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Will Smith talks ‘After Earth’s’ box office flop

- June 10th, 2013

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You have to give Will Smith a little credit. Instead of ducking out of site until the stench of his first giant-sized box office bomb dissipates, Smith went on Jimmy Kimmel Live talk about After Earth.

The sci-fi adventure had a disappointing third place opening in its debut weekend, getting clobbered by Fast & Furious 6 and Now You See Me. The film, which had a production budget of $130 million, has taken in a paltry $47 million domestically to date, and by this weekend will drop pretty much out of sight.

That’s a huge drop from last year’s MIB 3 and 2008′s Hancock.

“Here’s how I think about it Jimmy, let’s be honest. Three is the new one,” Smith said, putting his best PR spin on it. “You know how many ones it takes to make a three?”

Smith, who received a story credit on the film, said he was getting updates on After Earth’s poor box office performance hour-by-hour on opening weekend.

“I was like, ‘Uh oh,’” Smith said, laughing. “I felt like a fighter…it’s been almost two decades since I had a movie that wasn’t number one… Well, that’s over now, buddy, thanks!

“I felt like I was the champ… walking to the ring and it was like bam! It was a mess.”

It’s hard to know who to blame for the film’s dismal performance. M. Night Shyamalan has been on a cold streak with audiences for over a decade and After Earth’s advertising didn’t emphasize him as the director.

I’ve seen it, and to be honest it’s not nearly as bad as many critics made it out to be. There were flashes of visual brilliance and the premise was interesting. My big complaints were Jaden Smith’s wooden acting (that’s a hard one to get over since he’s the star), the cheesy CG creatures and the film’s hurried conclusion. Will’s accent was also unnecessarily distracting.

But when you hear news about how Will Smith came up with the story, and also turned down the starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, then you have to wonder if Smith is losing his mojo.

What do you think? Are you still a fan of Will Smith? Is M. Night to blame for After Earth? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

5 potential summer movie bombs of 2013

- May 14th, 2013

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Summer – at least as far as Hollywood is concerned – is here. Heck, with the number of blockbusters the bean counters try to sneak into multiplexes each year, it seems like the rush to get us into the theatres is starting earlier and earlier.

It used to be that the summer movie season started on Memorial Day weekend. This year, there were two big releases in March (Oz: The Great and Powerful, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and several in April (Oblivion, Pain & Gain). Iron Man 3 was released at the beginning of May, and it is already shaping up to be the biggest hit of the year. And despite poor reviews, fans turned out in droves for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

With Star Trek Into Darkness due out this weekend, we’ll be seeing a big blockbuster hit the theatres every week from now until Labour Day. But not all those movies are going to be a success. Some are bound to become the laughing stock of Tinseltown.

Remember Jonah Hex? How ‘bout The Love Guru? I thought as much.
So, let’s take a look at what’s coming over the next few months. Iron Man 3 is already a hit. I think the Wolfpack are safe. Ditto Captain Kirk and company. Pacific Rim looks like it’s going to blow the roof off of every theatre it plays in. But there are at least five movies I think could potentially be saddled with the dubious distinction of being the biggest movie bomb of the summer.

I’m not saying this will for sure happen, or that these movies will be even bad, but here are five films, with a few wildcards, I think are in danger of box office failure.

Don’t like my picks, let me know what you think in the comments.

1. After Earth – In the past, Will Smith movies have been one of the easiest ways for Hollywood to print cash. But following 2008’s box-office dud Seven Pounds, the actor had to resurrect Men in Black, just to regain some of his mojo. Now, he’s teaming up with M. Night Shaymalan, who hasn’t had a hit since 2004. The movie looks interesting enough (if you haven’t already seen Oblivion), but it’s going up against The Hangover III and Fast & Furious 6. Will should have taken the Fresh Prince’s advice: “A good run is better than a bad stand any day.”

2. The Internship – Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson could have made this movie in 2006, and it probably would have been a runaway success. Well, we’re now in 2013 and neither of those two are such a big deal. Vaughn’s The Watch was a notable flop last summer, and Wilson has, er, Drillbit Taylor and Hall Pass under his belt. The Google product placement reeks and the trailer isn’t funny. Its June 7 release date could mean you’ll see this on iTunes before the August long weekend.

3. The Lone Ranger – Hollywood hasn’t been kind to the Western these past couple of years. Cowboys & Aliens tanked, as did the aforementioned Jonah Hex. Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger has had a tumultuous journey getting to the big screen. And it doesn’t help that he may have lost a bit of his box office muscle (Dark Shadows and The Rum Diary, both tanked). I could be wrong about this – Depp is reteaming with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer – but with a budget pegged in $250 million, the film will have to be firing on all cylinders if it hopes to be a hit.

4. Red 2 – You may not realize this, but Bruce Willis has been riding a cold streak for quite some time. He has been relegated to a handful of straight-to-DVD features and the fifth instalment of his Die Hard series – A Good Day to Die Hard – was a box office disappointment. Oh, did I mention that John McClane wants to sue for character defamation? So now we are faced with the prospect of Willis trying to have lightning strike twice with Red 2 – the sequel to one of his only recent hits. I liked the first one fine, but I have four words for Bruce – The Whole Ten Yards.

5. Man of Steel – Don’t get me wrong. I want this movie to do well. A financially successful Superman movie will hopefully usher in a Justice League team up, and possibly a new slate of superhero films based on DC characters. So yeah, I’m excited. I am a wee bit worried, though. The last time Warner tried to reboot Superman, the film got a lacklustre reception at the box office. Director Zack Snyder is also cause for some concern; both his Watchmen adaptation and Sucker Punch underperformed. So, while I’m excited, I’m a little worried as well.

Films on the bubble:

World War Z – It’s had its release date shuffled around several times, which usually isn’t a good sign. Then again, so did Avatar.

Riddick – Just ‘cos Vin Diesel thinks he invented Facebook, doesn’t mean he can try and shove another Riddick movie down everyone’s throats. Oh wait a sec, yes it does.

Grown Ups 2 – I’m surprised as anyone that there’s a sequel. But this is what happens when you let Adam Sandler make That’s My Boy and Jack & Jill.

New images from ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Oblivion,’ ‘World War Z’ and ‘After Earth’

- January 4th, 2013

We’ve covered the most anticipated films of 2013 in an extensive preview, but USA Today has just dropped some new images for this year’s most anticipated flicks. So, we thought we’d share.

First up, is a new shot of Henry Cavill from Man of Steel. It appears to be a still from a scene glimpsed in the trailer in which military helicopters descend on Big Blue. It doesn’t look like Supes will be welcomed with open arms in this new origin tale.

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If you’ve missed the trailer, check it out below.

Next up is a snap from Tom Cruise’s next film. Cruise is still kicking ass in Jack Reacher, but in a mere four months he’ll be starring in Oblivion, the first of two back-to-back sci-fi flicks he has in the can.

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Even if you’re kinda of meh on Cruise, the trailer is intriguing.

We also get a look at Pitt in World War Z (sans zombies). The film has had its release date moved several times, but the trailer looks promising. Note: If you haven’t read the book, pick it up. I guarantee it will be vastly different from the film.

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Finally, we get a still from M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. Personally, I liked The Happening, but I think we can all agree that The Last Airbender was a monumental waste of time. Well, in this outing, M. Night has Will Smith in his corner in a story about a father and son who crash-land on a planet that has been abandoned by humanity. Can Big Willy resurrect Shyamalan’s flagging career? Stay tuned.

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What film are you most excited about in the coming months? Let us know in the comments.

Samuel L. Jackson: M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t made a good movie since ‘Unbreakable’

- December 19th, 2012

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Sam Jackson is not one to mince words.

After New York Times film scribe A.O. Scott gave The Avengers a bad review last May, the actor tweeted:

Now, he’s taking a non-too subtle dig at director M. Night Shyamalan, with whom he made 2000′s Unbreakable.

While promoting this month’s Django Unchained, he was asked by The Huffington Post whether fans could expect a sequel. Jackson replied: “There were supposed to be three. I don’t know… You’ll have to ask the brilliant director who wrote it and didn’t do the rest of them.”

HuffPo mentioned that instead of sequels to Shyamalan’s superhero fable, the director went on to make films like The Last Airbender and The Happening.

“I mean, he hasn’t made a really good movie since then,” Jackson replied.

He then contrasted Shyamalan’s filmmaking approach with his frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino, who directs Jackson in Django. “…There’s, you know, ‘I’m smarter than everybody coming to watch my movie.’ Quentin’s not that. He’s just, ‘I want you to love my movie. I want you to love it and enjoy it because this is fucking cool.’”

But he still thinks there’s an audience waiting for Unbreakable 2 – if and when it gets made. When asked what he thinks the reaction would be if the sequel was announced tomorrow, Jackson said it would be huge.

“Everybody would be waiting for it, yeah… It would trend through the roof now on Twitter.”

For the record, Bruce Willis told me more or less the same thing when I interviewed him in 2010.

“I think we should make another Unbreakable,” he said.

In the HuffPo interview, Jackson also revealed that he would be willing to come back for Star Wars VII, despite dying in Episode III.

“(Mace Windu) just went out the window. He’s a Jedi! He could have landed on a ledge.”

What do you think: Is M. Night really that bad? Would you be excited for another Unbreakable? Let us know in the comments.

Twitter: @markhdaniell