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‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ set 30 years after ‘Return of the Jedi’

- March 18th, 2014

Disney has officially announced that Star Wars: Episode VII will begin filming in May at London’s Pinewood Studios.

In an official statement on StarWars.com, the company also confirmed that the storyline will take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi and will “star a trio of new young leads along with some very familiar faces.”

The only confirmed cast member is R2-D2, but Girls star Adam Driver is rumoured to be playing the villain. Others that have been linked to lead roles include Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons, Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, Gary Oldman, Zac Efron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Saoirse Ronan, Chloë Moretz, Michael B. Jordan and Hugo Weaving.

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

This will be the first Star Wars film to start shooting in the month of May. Lucasfilm has documented the first day of principal photography for every instalment of the Star Wars saga:

March 22, 1976 — The first day of principal photography in Tozeur, Tunisia, for Star Wars. A crew of 130 ventures into the desert in 42 trucks and cars, including eight army trucks full of equipment. The first shot was completed at 9:35 a.m.

March 5, 1979 — The first day of principal photography in Finse, Norway, for The Empire Strikes Back. The crew endures the subzero temperatures, frostbite, heavy winds, and avalanches to pull off the first shot within 65 minutes of setup.

January 11, 1982 — The first day of principal photography at EMI Elstree Studios outside of London for Return of the Jedi. Although inside a studio, the set must weather a sandstorm in a scene that would ultimately be cut from the film.

June 26, 1997 — The first day of principal photography at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, England, for The Phantom Menace. Ending a long absence from the director’s chair, George Lucas shoots a sequence in a bluescreen-lined set with actors Ian McDiarmid and Ray Park.

June 26, 2000 — The first day of principal photography for Attack of the Clones at Fox Studios Australia. In their new home Down Under, the production crew once again photographs actor Ian McDiarmid three years to the day after Episode I started shooting.

June 30, 2003 — The first day of principal photography for Revenge of the Sith at Fox Studios Australia. The first scenes shot feature Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, respectively, along with R2-D2.

Star Wars: Episode VII will be released December 18, 2015.

Paul Rudd lands Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’

- December 18th, 2013

After months of rumours and speculation, Variety is reporting that Paul Rudd has landed the role of Marvel’s Ant-Man in Edgar Wright’s upcoming superhero film.

Rudd and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were the two finalists for the role, but with JGL signing up to produce and (possibly) star in an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman for Warner Bros., Rudd had emerged as the frontrunner to play Hank Pym, a scientist who comes up with a way to shrink in size and communicate with insects.

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Paul Rudd. Reuters File

According to Variety, at one point the rumoured storyline was to focus on the later years of Ant-Man and Scott Lang, a thief who steals Pym’s technology and becomes the new Ant-Man. This scenario would have opened the door to both Rudd and Gordon-Levitt appearing in the film, but that seems unlikely now.

Ant-Man will be the first film in Marvel’s Phase Three, but his character will not be introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron even though in the comics Pym invents the homicidal robot.

In a recent interview with Total Film, Rudd was asked if he’d be interested in taking on a superhero role.

“I think, depending on the superhero, I would be just as excited about that as anything else. If it was a kind of a cool part with an interesting take on stuff.”

I’m not sure I can picture Brian Fantana playing a superhero, but when I first heard about Robert Downey Jr. landing the part of Iron Man, I probably thought the same thing.

We’ll see when Ant-Man hits theatres July 31, 2015.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt confirms Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’

- December 16th, 2013

A big-screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s revered Sandman comic will be coming soon to theatres courtesy of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and David Goyer.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Goyer (Man of Steel) has provided a treatment and will oversee the screenplay for the classic Vertigo comic. Gordon-Levitt tweeted he has signed on to produce the film for Warner Bros. “The rest,” he wrote, “remains to be seen.”

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Dream, one of the Endless characters, was the main protagonist of Gaiman’s series, which ran from 1989 to 1996. After being imprisoned for decades, Dream escaped and got his revenge, while trying to adapt to modern-day life. A prequel comic written by Gaiman was released in October of this year.

In addition to Dream, who presided over the world of dreams, the dark fantasy followed his siblings Destiny, Death (my favourite), Destruction, Despair, Desire and Delirium.

The comic helped establish DC’s Vertigo imprint, and was one of the first comics to achieve mainstream success that wasn’t rooted in tradition characters like Batman and Superman. It’s been a bestseller and has been given DC’s glorious Absolute Edition treatment.

In a 2009 interview, I asked Gaiman who he envisioned directing a feature film version of Sandman, to which he replied:

I think it’s probably some kid, who right now is around 26-years-old. He may or may not have directed his first movie, but he loves ‘Sandman’ and he has the same amount of dedication to the material that (director) Peter Jackson had to ‘Lord of the Rings’ and Sam Rami had to ‘Spider-Man.’ It’s somebody who knows that there’s this thing they love and they have a responsibility to the world get it right and not f— it up. But they’re also not scared of changing the things about it that are not cinematic into things that are cinema. Otherwise you end up with something like the ‘Sin City’ movie, where you’d rather read the comic. I remember watching that and thinking, ‘I think I prefer these characters better when Frank (Miller) draws them.’

Gaiman, who will also executive produce the film, did have reservations about bringing Sandman to the big screen. “The capacity for f—ing up Sandman – for just utterly screwing it up and making something that is awful and embarrassing and terrible – is huge.

“But,” he told me, likening the prospect to a night out, “Sandman, if done properly, could be the most perfect sushi meal.”

The comic ran for 75 issues, so if it’s a success, it could provide DC with another cinematic weapon to battle Phase Two and Three of Marvel’s cinematic arsenal.

Gordon-Levitt is no stranger to the comic book world. In addition to The Dark Knight Rises, he was rumoured to be in the running for the lead in Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man as well as James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. He was also pegged to take over as Batman from Christian Bale.

Oh yeah, and he’ll be seen next in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For based on the comic by Frank Miller. So presumably he knows a thing or two about comics and could conceivably make Sandman a long and prosperous film franchise for Warner Bros.

What do you think Sandman fans? Does Gordon-Levitt as Dream sound like it could be a perfect sushi meal? Sound off in the comments below.

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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.

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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
9. RIPD
10. The Big Wedding

Watch Shia LaBeouf in the very NSFW trailer for ‘Nymphomaniac’

- November 22nd, 2013

UPDATE: The NSFW trailer has been removed due to YouTube’s anti-nudity policy. We’ve replaced the trailer with two less provocative ones below.

In case you were wondering when someone was going to finally make a two-part, five-and-a-half hour erotic film, you can rest easy. Lars Von Trier – the guy who admitted at Cannes in 2011 that he sympathized with Hitler – is about to unleash his much-talked about erotic film, Nymphomaniac.

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The film follows the adventures of Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac (or sex addict). Nymphomaniac also features Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgard, Uma Thurman, Stacy Martin, Jamie Bell, Connie Nielsen, Christian Slater, Willem Dafoe, and others in various sexual trysts.

It looks very dark, and it’s definitely not first-date material. I can see why Von Trier hasn’t been able to make it past the arthouse.

Watch the trailer below and let us know what you think in the comments.