Disney

Oz the Great and Powerful Movie Poster

Sam Raimi‘s Oz: The Great and Powerful crashes down on audiences in March, and while we’ve already gotten a great look at the world they’ve built for it (while crossing our fingers that it won’t be an Alice in Wonderland clone), we haven’t been given a look at the villainous Wicked Witch of the West. It is, without a doubt and zero hyperbole, the biggest villain-based mystery of all the 2013 releases. Is she being played by Mila Kunis? By Rachel Weisz? By Benedict Cumberbatch? The production has kept it a relative secret — hiding Kunis and Weisz’s characters under new Ozian names (Theodora and Evanora respectively) and including them to varying degrees in the trailers, but the poster above looks an awful lot like Weisz in green make-up, and the stuff we’ve seen so far suggests her character just might lose it and turn to the dark side. Let’s all obsess about it until March, and in the meantime, enjoy this dramatic one sheet from Disney.

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The Lone Ranger 2013

I can’t get over Johnny Depp doing the whole “Kemosabe” schtick as Tonto. Can’t do it. Maybe with time, it’ll get easier, but it makes almost zero sense that amid a sea of modernized remakes and adaptations, Gore Verbinski and Disney would hold tight to a stereotypical trapping from a different era that didn’t seem to know any better. Why deconstruct Wonderland behind Burton but keep the “Me Wantum Wampum” accent on a character that no one under 60 gives a damn about? It’s a small detail, probably. It just seems extra ridiculous. At any rate, they’ve released a new trailer with a few more scenes, and it’s hard to deny that this thing looks fantastic — employing the kind of lush detail and slow-motion destruction that we’ve come to expect alongside the added bonus of top hats and petty coats. Check it out for yourself:

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Alice in Wonderland 2010 Movie

According to Variety, Disney has hired Linda Woolverton, a seasoned blockbuster screenwriter, to get cracking on a sequel to the monster hit Alice in Wonderland. The writer has a history with the studio — writing Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King among others — and her work has gone on to earn towering amounts of money so the appeal is pretty clear on the business end. Not to mention the financial no-brainer of continuing this franchise. But what about the artistic side? Woolverton is an excellent writer, but as we saw with Alice in Wonderland, her work can also be turned into a drippy mess of unnecessary bizarreness that hoists visuals (and poorly CGI-ed dance moves) so far above story that it gets downright embarrassing. That’s not the only obstacle to quality with Alice in Wonderland 2 either. There are at least three that jump to mind. The urge to copy the model of the first unfortunate film. The element of new territory now that they’ve already covered a lot of Lewis Carroll‘s original work with “Adventures” and “Through the Looking Glass.” There are still other tales, like the Caucus Race to cover, and the 2010 film strayed from the books considerably, but it’ll be curious to see whether they stick mostly with the other film’s characters (Johnny Depp for sure) or go Return to Oz style, trying to introduce or create new ones. That’s a challenge without the safety net of Carroll’s work to guide them. They’re leaving the safe harbor where fans can […]

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Tron Legacy

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney wants to push ahead with its sequel to Tron: Legacy and has hired screenwriter Jesse Wigutow (who worked on the forthcoming Crow remake and an adaptation of “Peter and the Starcatchers”) to create another draft of the script. There’s no word yet on what the plot might look like, or how much of David DiGilio’s first draft will be kept, but the last installment ended with Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) giving control of ENCOM to Alan (Bruce Boxleitner) before hopping on a motorcycle with former program Quorra (Olivia Wilde) and riding off into the sunrise. There’s a way to criticize the film for underperforming financially (at $400m worldwide), but the real criticism is that the second film in the franchise was all filler and no killer. Was it beautiful? Absolutely. Stunning. And it had a solid soundtrack. But those elements alone don’t make for a worthy two-hour ride, and that kind of hollow disappointment is most likely why it didn’t get the kind of word of mouth that gigantic films absolutely, without question have to have in order to break records and return money. It didn’t connect with audiences outside of becoming a new club mix. Hopefully this is the lesson the studio took away and will, with Wigutow, be instilling in the story for Tron 3.  

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Johnny Depp to Start in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Let’s take a trip back in time to the magical year of 2010. If someone with modern eyes were to go back and try to live in these olden times, they’d discover themselves in a topsy-turvy bizarro world where the economy was in the toilet, a charismatic figure by the name of Barack Obama was in the White House, and Terry Gilliam was going to make a movie about Don Quixote starring Robert Duvall and Johnny Depp. A lot has changed since then. Ewan McGregor replaced Johnny Depp in Gilliam’s movie, then Gilliam’s movie got cancelled completely, and the White House…well, I’m not sure who’s living there these days. Who can keep track? Even after all these years though, one thing hasn’t changed: Johnny Depp is still really into the character of Don Quixote. That’s why he’s teaming up with Disney to start developing a new feature film about Miguel de Cervantes’ creation. Deadline has the scoop that the untitled pitch has been shipped out for screenwriting duties to Steve Pink (Grosse Pointe Blank, High Fidelity) and Jeff Morris (The True Memoirs of an International Assassin). Little is known about the project at this point, but it’s said that it’s going to be a modern imagining of the Don Quixote story.

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Jennifer Lee

Seeing as Wreck-It Ralph was Disney Animation’s most well-received movie in quite a while, the studio has wasted no time in getting one of its main creative talents to work on a new project. Today they announced in a press release [via ComingSoon] that Ralph co-writer Jennifer Lee is not only going to be handling some writing duties on their upcoming animated feature, Frozen, but that she will also be serving as co-director alongside studio vet Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up). Frozen is an adventure tale about a magical kingdom that’s suffering under a spell that keeps it trapped in a perpetual winter. Its main characters are a brave young girl named Anna, a burly mountain man named Kristoff, and a reindeer sidekick named Sven. The main thrust of the film’s narrative is said to be this trio’s journey to find the Snow Queen and find a way to reverse her spell, which of course leads to them encountering treacherous mountain passes, all sorts of magical whatsits, mystical trolls, comical snowmen, and who knows how many other examples of weirdness along the way. Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Kristen Bell and Enchanted’s Idina Menzel are already on board to supply voices.

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Flight of the Navigator

We recently found an interview with Safety Not Guaranteed director Colin Trevorrow where he proclaimed to be prepping a movie in a universe we all knew and loved while promising not to make it suck. Which was nice of him. Of course, snagging that in the middle of Episode 7 Fever 2k12 placed him squarely in the rumor bin for the new Star Wars, but he quicklydenied that possibility. Now, according to Variety, we know what he was talking about. Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly have been hired by Disney to rewrite a remake of Flight of the Navigator, and Trevorrow may eventually direct it. The original film came out in 1986 (and is one of my earliest movie memories). It told the story of a 12-year-old boy who disappears, and reappears 8 years later without having aged, and the UFO that crashed nearby definitely had something to do with it. It was a fun coming-of-age story that featured a sort of Mini Pee-Wee’s Playhouse of cool alien creatures (and the ship was voiced by Pee-Wee himself), but it’s the perfect kind of candidate for a remake. Even though it hit at the right time and a lot of kids fell in love with it, Navigator is now a bit dated, and the effects could certainly use a boost. Mr. Trevorrow, just don’t make it suck.

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Oz the Great and Powerful

If Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful ends up being another Alice in Wonderland-level exercise in style over substance, the parallels to its main character are going to be too obvious to dismiss. In the film, James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a Kansas con-man magician who does tricks illusions and enjoys tricking illusioning people out of their coins. During a hot air balloon stunt, he’s pulled into a tornado and whisked away to the strange land of Oz where three good witches (played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams) implore him to rid the world of a wicked witch. The only problem? He only talks a big game, and he might not be able to deliver any real magic. The plot in its vague form mirrors The Wizard of Oz directly, and the look of the universe tries for the CGI expansiveness of Alice, but hopefully Sam Raimi has been able to make the movie his own. With a new trailer comes new hopes and concerns. It looks like a lot of fun, but some of the dialogue (and the delivery) sounds like first draft exposition. It’s also not hard to think of Franco as a bored actor at this point, and there’s nothing here to disabuse anyone of that notion. However, the callbacks to the 1939 classic are spot-on and exciting. Maybe this could be a real epic after all.

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Ever since the surprising announcement that we have a new Star Wars on the way, just about every movie site on the web has started running lists (including us!) of who they’d love to see direct it. I’m sure Matthew Vaughn‘s name was on more than a few of those lists (as it turned on, he didn’t appear on ours), and it seems there’s a small, small chance of that dream coming true. According to (an unconfirmed rumor on) Collider, Vaughn is in discussions to direct. First of all, take this story with a grain of salt. New Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy is probably having a lot of discussions with all kinds of directors, considering how many people would die to take a crack at Star Wars. Vaughn is most likely one of those guys and on a list of hopeful prospects they have, just like their list for who they’d want to play the old, whiny Luke Skywalker.

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A strange thing happened when it was announced that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm and was intent on continuing the Star Wars franchise: people forgot how shitty Lucasfilm has been. That’s the only explanation for many of the reactions. Our friends at /Film gathered up some celebrity Twitter responses that seemed to be at best cautiously optimistic, though potentially terrified at what could be coming and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it’s not all ewoks banging drums and fireworks in the sky before a billion tons of metal rains down on the forest moon of Endor.

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Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph is a nice trip down memory lane. During a packed screening for the film I could hear whispers and gasps, and I saw audience members pointing to the screen in awe and excitement of seeing their favorite video game characters. They were swept up, maybe even more so than the children in the audience. That doesn’t mean it won’t win over kids, however, because the movie is more than an empty piece of nostalgia. Case in point: the big gamble that starts the film. The opening animated short, “The Paperman,” is a beautiful black-and-white silent love story. Right after it ends, the daunting question becomes, “How is Wreck-It Ralph going to top that?” Director Rich Moore (Futurama) instantly responds, giving the audience an equally charming experience. Ralph (John C. Reilly) is your typical working stiff. For almost 30 years, he has served his sole purpose of smashing. Ralph is a wonderful video game villain, but his work has always been overshadowed by the game’s hero, Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer). With the arcade game’s 30th anniversary coming up, Ralph has hit an existential crisis. He is tired of playing the bad guy. After facing the rejection from the game’s anniversary party, Ralph sets out to become the hero. Since his own game won’t allow him to do that, he decides to jump to a different game.

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Timothy Zahn

Old school Star Wars fanatics had a long wait between George Lucas’ original trilogy and the launch of his prequel trilogy in 1999. So, to get their Star Wars fix, many turned to the expanded universe of Star Wars-themed comic books, novels, toys, video games, and what have you. At this point there’s a wealth of Star Wars stories and Star Wars characters who have never actually appeared in one of George Lucas’ Star Wars films; stories and characters that have legions of fans in their own right. The materials that get most often referenced by Star Wars geeks trying to educate newbies about the expanded universe are probably Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy” of novels, which take place five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, are already widely embraced by Star Wars fans, and have generally been thought of as the logical starting point if anyone were going to make Star Wars: Episode VII and beyond.

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Star Wars

You know the story. At this point it’s basically the new shot heard ‘round the world: Disney has bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion, George Lucas is retiring from the Star Wars game, and three more Star Wars films are planned for production starting in 2015. Lucas and the new Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy, have stated that they have archives of story treatments for more books, TV shows, and films… but with Lucas stepping back from the property, who are they going to get to direct these next three episodes in the ongoing Star Wars adventure? Let’s take a look at some candidates, whether they be likely, unlikely, or long shots.

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According to Variety, Disney has put David Fincher‘s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on hold for three months while they decide whether they want to make it or not. In a way, it’s understandable considering the size of the investment, but Fincher might have a trick up his sleeve in frequent collaborator Brad Pitt. It’s reported that the director is hunting down the actor (who’s appeared in three other Fincher films) to take on the harpooning role played by Kirk Douglas in the 1954 version of Jules Verne’s novel. The question becomes whether that will be enough to grab the greenlight. Here’s the funny thing: neither Fincher nor Pitt are necessarily known for bringing in massive amounts of cash. That may seem counterintuitive considering Pitt’s profile especially, but neither are huge money earners despite critical acclaim and a metric ton of tabloid covers. If it did move the needle for Disney, the next question becomes whether Pitt is really right for the role. The novel describes Canadian master harpooner Ned Land as peerless and possessing “an uncommon quickness of hand.” He’s a large man, “taciturn [and] occasionally violent.” That combination of stoicism and rage could be a fantastic challenge for Pitt who, for the most part these days, usually plays himself with Clooney-like ease. With Fincher making him do 99 takes for every scene, it could get Brando on set really quick, and that could create something amazing. Let’s hope Disney feels like taking a risk.

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Somehow, despite my failings as a WordPress user, I have been allowed to return to you tonight with a collection of links that went around the Internet today. Above you might notice an image with a bunch of snakes, an alligator, and some lights. Neat, huh? Well that just so happens to be our first look inside the Ark that Darren Aronofsky is building for Russell Crowe’s Noah. Aronofsky’s cinematographer, Matthew Libatique tweeted the image earlier, but appears to have deleted since.

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In the past, it’s been easy to criticize Guillermo del Toro for making more promises regarding his upcoming projects than he’s been able to keep. At one point it seemed like he was announcing another movie every other week, and yet next year’s Pacific Rim will be the first film that he’s directed since 2008. Now that he has footage of something actually shot, however, the hope was that the confusion might be over and the man might start working more often. But a recent interview with Collider sees the director back up to his old tricks. Last we heard, Disney was announcing at Comic-Con that the director was going to be tackling a re-boot of their Haunted Mansion property, a theme park ride that already had an Eddie Murphy-starring film adaptation released in 2003. Generally film fans have learned to take announcements that del Toro is going to direct something with a grain of salt, but in this case Disney announced his involvement with a bunch of hoopla and in front of a crowd. Surely he was locked in as the film’s director, wasn’t he? Turns out not.

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Gary Ross shocked the world by directing one of the year’s most wildly successful films, The Hunger Games, and then opting out of coming back and making its sequel. What could he possibly have to do that’s more important than making another bajillion dollars by directing Jennifer Lawrence shooting arrows at people? So far, we’re not exactly sure. He’s become attached to a biopic about the life of famed magician Houdini, but there’s no concrete word whether or not that’s actually going to be his next job. And now another possibility has popped up. THR is reporting that the director is currently in talks to helm an adaptation of the children’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” over at Disney. The book, which was written by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson and has already been adapted into a successful (it won five Tonys!) stage production, is a Peter Pan prequel that tells the story of Peter and a girl named Molly going off on an adventure that involves the keeping of a trunk filled with magical starstuff out of the clutches of the evil pirate Black Stache (so called because of his back mustache, who knows what he’d be called if he got his own boat and had his hand replaced by a hook…). A screenwriter by the name of Jesse Wigutow is said to be penning the adaptation.

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Right around the time that the 67th poster of two stars leaning back to back hits theater lobbies is when the pessimism about modern one sheet design starts to creep in. Fortunately, there’s always a handful of excellent posters dotting the year to keep hope alive. Thank you, Oz the Great and Powerful poster, for keeping hope alive:

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Eagle-eyed fans of Pixar can tell you that the studio is a big fan of littering their movies with Easter Eggs; which is a fun way of saying they stick junk from their past films in the background of their current films. Most prominently, they have a long standing tradition of hiding the Pizza Planet truck – which first appeared in the original Toy Story – in every film that they make (other than its strange snub in The Incredibles). Want proof? This Pixar Wiki entry on the truck has compiled a screen grab of each case of this rusty junker showing up in a Pixar product. But what about Brave, you may be asking? Well, the film has been out for a couple weeks now, and Walt Disney Studios seems to be worried that people are going to stop talking about it, so they’ve emailed around some handy screen grabs that point out the secrets they have in store for us this time around. Both come in the scene where the film’s princess protagonist, Merida, visits the wood carving shop of the tricky old witch she strikes a deal with. The first image, which should come as no shock, features Toy Story’s now iconic pizza delivery truck. Look, it’s right there sitting on her workbench:

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Brave

Brave has already made a milestone for Pixar as it marks the 13th straight release to debut at #1. No surprise for a brand that’s loved around the world and continually crafts memorable movies that resonate with children and old children alike. But where does it rank against other Pixar openings? According to numbers from Box Office Mojo, The Movie Formerly Known as The Bear and the Bow made $66.7m domestically in its first weekend, making it the fifth highest in the production company’s history. Here’s the full ranking:

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