Lionsgate

Pretty much from the first moment that the Hunger Games movie became official, Lionsgate has been confident that it’s going to be a huge hit. The entire production of the film has been the subject of a media blitz too large to recap here. So it comes as no surprise that even before the first film has been released, work has begun on getting its sequel together. For those not in the know, Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” was the first part of a trilogy of novels whose subsequent books are titled “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.” So what’s the news on development for Catching Fire? The Wrap is reporting that not only has Lionsgate secured Hunger Games director Gary Ross to come back and do the sequel, but they’ve also hired screenwriter Simon Beaufoy to come on and adapt the book into a screenplay. Beaufoy has an impressive resume that includes films like Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, so I don’t really think his hiring can be seen as a disappointment, even though it might point to the notion that Collins and Ross might not be as hands-on with the writing process on this one as they were the first.

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The Walking Dead

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly hand-in-hand stroll down Newsworthy Lane, with a stop at the Noteworthy Café for a bite to eat. Then we’ll head back to my place and I’ll show you my signature move, the Well-Researched Scoop (I have two sources that will confirm its quality on the record). What do you say, baby? We begin this evening with part of a new midseason poster for The Walking Dead. Which brings to mind the question of the hour: Is anyone still exciting about this show? Sure, it has the occasional zombie and it was nice to see Glen “make a friend,” but beyond that, it’s become tired, has it not?

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Kevin Grevioux is best known for creating the Underworld franchise, which tells the story of a centuries-old war between the vampires and the werewolves. He doesn’t just limit himself to writing about ancient vampires and werewolves though, it turns out he also has a penchant for writing about an immortal version of the Frankenstein monster. His graphic novel, I, Frankenstein is about a character named Adam, who is basically Dr. Frankenstein’s creation (who has survived to present day because of some genetic quirk inherent in his creation), going about his journeys and finding himself coming upon a stylized Gothic metropolis. After he arrives in said city, he finds himself caught between two immortal clans who have been warring for centuries. See? Kevin Grevioux writes about all sorts of things. The big news about I, Frankenstein is that it’s being adapted into a feature film. It has been adapted for the screen and will be directed by veteran genre screenwriter Stuart Beattie and, according to a press release sent out by Lionsgate, it will be starring Aaron Eckhart as the Adam character. Beattie says of the story, “Mary Shelley’s story is about the creation of the first human being. This is the story about that being becoming human.” Sounds like some pretty heady stuff. Luckily Lionsgate is confident that they’ve found the right actor to bring the character to life.

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Back in February, a teaser trailer for the then-upcoming video game Dead Island hit the web and became a viral smash – racking up one million views in just a day, with that number reportedly jumping tenfold by the next day. Deep Silver’s game focuses on a family vacation that gets screwed up pretty royally, not by Aunt Mildred’s drinking problem or lost luggage, but by a zombie invasion. And you thought your holidays were bad, huh, amirite? The teaser trailer (which our own Neil Miller Movie-News-After-Dark’ed about during its first bout of buzz) garnered so much attention that a big screen adaptation seemed imminent, but it’s taken until now (thanks to a rights ownership kerfuffle) for a studio to seal the deal. That studio taking a bite out of the next great zombie flick? Lionsgate. The studio’s motion picture group president Joe Drake announced today that “this is exactly the type of property we’re looking to adapt at Lionsgate: it’s sophisticated, edgy, and a true elevation of a genre that we know and love. It also has built in brand recognition around the world, and franchise potential.” The Dead Island game was finally released in the U.S. just this month, and has already sold two million units. So brand recognition? Kinda. Franchise potential? Those are the magic words! If you were on an island or something back in February and somehow missed out on the pretty juicy viral teaser trailer, check it out after the break.

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A young woman slinks downstairs in her underwear to fix another drink, recover from some bad sex and turn on some music. The secluded house far away from any city limit sign offers a perfect opportunity to crank of the volume without any close neighbors calling the cops. When her sugar daddy finds her dead body, he’ll also find a message for him scrawled on the sliding glass doors in blood. Thus begins You’re Next. This blood-splattered couple is just the appetizer though. The real focus of the film is a neighboring family that puts the “fun” back in “constantly bitching.” Paul Davison (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (the legendary Barbara Crampton) are father and mother to the brood. Drake (Joe Swanberg) is the ass-kissing mess stuffed into a turtle neck, Aimee (Amy Seimetz) is the perpetual Daddy’s Girl even in her adulthood, Felix (Nicholas Tucci) is the disaffected middle child of history, and Crispian (A.J. Bowen) is the ridiculously-named good son who acts as our entryway into a night that’s meant to celebrate 35 of marriage but will be invaded by figures in animal masks who only mean harm.

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Perhaps the biggest buzz coming out of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival came from its even-better-than-usual crop of late night genre films that form their Midnight Madness program. The Midnight Madness film that kicked off this year’s slate of genre weirdness and won the Cadillac People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award was Gareth Evans‘s action extravaganza, The Raid, which has already been picked up for a Hollywood remake. That’s not all that’s been going on, though, the good news keeps on coming for the Midnight Madness films, as one of Deadline Mackville’s annoying “Toldja!” reports is saying that director Adam Wingard’s horror film You’re Next is coming out of the other end of a studio bidding war as the property of Lionsgate. You’re Next is one of those “couple gets trapped in a cabin and has to fight off invading murderers” horror movies, and Lionsgate bigwig Jason Constantine says of the acquisition, “this project represents everything that we look for in a horror film. It is a celebration of its genre, featuring top-notch performances from a sophisticated script, brilliantly directed, that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats when they’re not jumping out of them.” What does this deal mean for the movie? Well, first off, the deal took a while to be finalized, and part of that is because The Weinstein Company, Paramount, and probably a few others were also interested in picking up the film, but another part of it is because the filmmakers wanted to make sure […]

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Dominic Cooper‘s portrayal of Uday Hussein comes off the screen like a Universal monster. There’s a distinct physicality and horror that Cooper, suitably, manages to bring to Uday. He completely lacks any redeeming qualities or moral sense. On the other side of Cooper’s dual performance is Latif Yahia, who represents both the eye and moral conscious of the audience. He’s the good son. Unfortunately, I did not get to ask Cooper about his performance as Latif, which is arguably as challenging as playing a live-action cartoon. Uday must be an actor’s dream role, in many ways. Being a larger than life man allows a performer to go to so many places, tonally speaking, and Cooper did just that. Here’s what actor Dominic Cooper had to say about facing challenges, the unhinged nature of Uday, the polarizing reaction the film has received, and how The Devil’s Double is no Scarface:

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We’ve known that Lionsgate was setting up a remake for Dirty Dancing since 2009, but after announcing that they’d hired Julia Dahl (Uptown Girl) to pen the script, news went dry. But, as is the case with any even somewhat viable property (blood from stones, the usual), it looks like we’re still getting that remake, with the news that Lionsgate has picked Kenny Ortega to direct the film. Dirty Dancing geeks (there have to be some, right? Like, all women everywhere?) will surely note that it was Ortega himself who actually choreographed the original film from 1987, and is the one credited with conceiving of the actual ahem, dirt, of said dirty dancing. Thank you for that, Kenny Ortega. He also directed two episodes of the Dirty Dancing television show from 1988 that nearly everyone has forgotten existed, which is tragic, because it starred no less than Melora Hardin (The Office) and Paul Feig (Bridesmaids). The show lasted 11 episodes, but I’d cut off my own two feet to get it on DVD.

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Buffy creator Joss Whedon’s horror film The Cabin in the Woods has a long, annoying history. Whedon and director Drew Goddard cast, shot, and completed this film some time ago, but it’s been sitting on the shelf unwatched because of various, behind the scenes, businessy issues. Originally MGM was the group set to put this one out, but right before it could be released, that company went through a rather inconvenient bankruptcy problem. Since then, this and several of the studio’s other properties have just been out there, floating in the breeze, waiting for somebody to come along and scoop up the distribution rights and do something with them. The last time we heard something about The Cabin in the Woods finally getting a release, it was that Lionsgate was close to inking a deal to get it in theaters. Happily, that deal seems to have finally been made as Lionsgate has officially announced this week that they have not only acquired the film, but they intend to put it out in theaters on April 13, 2012.

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Not too long ago I was all abuzz at the possibilities of a grumpy old Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to acting and taking on all of the roles that Clint Eastwood wouldn’t be able to after taking a step back from acting. One of the more promising projects he had on his plate was a western directed by I Saw the Devil’s Jee-woon Kim called Last Stand. Schwarzenegger would play the role of an aging sheriff who gets in over his head dealing with a dangerous drug cartel and decide whether or not to rise to the occasion in order to protect his town. Unfortunately, soon after word of this project came out, Schwarzenegger’s personal life erupted into very public scandal, and he pulled out of all the acting gigs he had been dancing around. What a difference a couple of months make. Schwarzenegger has laid low, he let the heat die down, and now he’s ready to take a second stab at that acting comeback. What this means for fans of action legends and Jee-woon Kim is that Last Stand appears to be back on. Lionsgate has picked up the project and it looks to be starting in September. This will be Kim’s English language debut and the first starring role for Schwarzenegger since 2003’s Terminator 3. I’m giving myself permission to get re-excited about this movie. I just hope that Arnie doesn’t knock up any gardeners or pool girls before it can get off the ground. [Deadline Beclabito]

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Kevin Smith made a splash at the most recent Sundance Film Festival by holding a mock auction for his horror film Red State, buying the distribution rights himself, and then taking the movie on a tour around the country. The whole thing was some sort of statement about the inflated budgets films have to accrue in order to get distribution and advertising, and an experiment as to whether or not a filmmaker could turn a profit by just distributing a movie themselves. Smith took his reel of the film from theater to theater, screening it and holding Q&As afterward, and charging the people who showed up a premium for the service. That’s fine for Smith’s loyal fanbase, but what about the rest of us who might just have a passing interest in checking out the movie and aren’t willing to pay a hefty ticket price for the experience of seeing it with the director in the room? Now we’ve got an option coming our way as well.

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Hollywood is a lot like a four year old in that it can be very prone to something my grandmother called “monkey see, monkey do.” What that means, essentially, is that any behavior you see exhibited, you’re likely to then mindlessly mimic. It also implies that you’re as stupid as a monkey. Or at least that’s how I used to take it. When Avatar made more money than the gross national product of some of our greatest nations by coming out in 3D and jacking up ticket prices, suddenly every film that was hitting theaters started coming out in 3D and jacking up ticket prices. It only makes sense, then, that since the Harry Potter franchise was able to double dip ticket sales by turning the last book in the series into two movies, that future book to film franchises would soon be doing the same. And they have been; we’ve got Peter Jackson turning The Hobbit into two films, we’ve got whoever makes the Twilight movies turning whatever the last Twilight movie is called into two films. And now, we’ve got word that the last book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy “Mockingjay” will be turned into two films. Or, at least, those three books will somehow be stretched out into four movies. When the trend started with Harry Potter I got what was happening. “Deathly Hollows” was a big book with a lot of story, and it made sense that the process of adapting it would be easier […]

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Ruairi Robinson has hit the production world hard with his short films. Just about everyone (including us) featured his short Blinky a few months ago and praised it for its simplicity, beauty and terrifying cuteness. And that’s just his latest. The director is attached to feature-length astronaut project The Animators, but now Variety is reporting that he’ll be coming down to earth alongside an alien craft with Fallen. The story will focus on the busted ship as its killed off all electronics within a 400-mile radius (about twice the distance from New York City to Washington, DC), and a crack international team has been sent to investigate. Fortunately, all of this happens in Russia so it has an odds on chance of landing in a 400-mile zone where there aren’t any electronics anyway. Crisis averted. The project sounds fascinating because Robinson is a director to watch, and the sci-fi world seems to suit his sensibilities just fine. Plus, the idea of watching a special ops team hobbled by going into a zone where they can’t use electronics has an interesting tip to it. It’s a simple turn, but it could be very cool. I personally can’t wait to see Lionsgate UK get Fallen off the ground, and I can’t wait for the sequel, Revenge of the Fallen.

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Want to hear something stupid? There’s a Joss Whedon horror film sitting somewhere, finished, with nobody watching it. If I had to crown someone the king of genre storytelling over the last 15 years, it’s probably Whedon’s head that I would place the crown on. The guy is beloved, is always working on things that appeal to nerd sensibilities, and is a great storyteller. He created Buffy, for the love of Mike. And here we have a horror film coming straight from his brain that’s been sitting around for a couple year’s now with nobody watching it. Or, more accurately, it came from the brains of Whedon and Drew Goddard, Whedon’s long-time collaborator who co-wrote and directed The Cabin in the Woods. But most of you probably know all of this already. It’s old news at this point. Fans have been clamoring to see this movie for a long time. The new news is that it finally looks like a distribution company will pick up The Cabin in the Woods and release it in theaters. Lionsgate has come to the rescue and is in the process of inking a deal to acquire the film. Originally it was going to be put out by MGM, but then it’s release got pushed back so that it could go through 3D conversion, and then MGM’s bankruptcy problems put an indefinite halt to its release. But it’s got Whedon’s soon to be Avengers related name on it, and it’s got Thor’s Chris Hemsworth in […]

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Fans of excellent television can rejoice today. This is no April Fools’ joke. AMC and Lionsgate have announced to the world that seasons five and six of everyone’s favorite Madison Avenue soap opera (circa 1960) are a go, and series creator/beating heart Matthew Weiner is on board. After extensive negotiations that were reportedly slowed by Weiner’s desire for a bit more “credit” (read: payola), things have finally been smoothed out and the partnership can move forward on the thing that matters most: showing us what the hell happens to Don Draper next. You can read the entire press release after the jump, if you’d like. In it you will find a very cool bit about a possible option for a seventh season. Yes, you read that right. Seven seasons of Mad Men. Drool.

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Lionsgate is trying out a radical new approach to making movies – one in which you don’t spend a bajillion dollars producing, distributing, and advertising every film. Their new initiative, which focuses on what they’re calling microbudget films, is set to start releasing 10 films a year that all cost under 2 million dollars to produce. Seeing as the normal practice seems to have become releasing one film that costs 200 million to produce, you can see how this is such a change of pace for the industry. Lionsgate executive Joe Drake explained the strategy, “Microbudget films involve minimal overhead and very little risk, but a potentially high reward. This initiative allows us to add another layer to our slate of movies that work both financially and creatively.” That doesn’t seem so hard to figure out, make more movies for less money and each one becomes less of a risk, and you have more chances for something to hit big and recoup all your money. I sincerely hope it works out. The first three films to be produced under the initiative have been announced. The first is called Rapturepalooza, a comedy set after the religious apocalypse. It’s being directed by Paul Middleditch, written by Chris Matheson, and has Craig Robinson set to star. They refer to it as Zombieland meets The Big Lebowski in the press release, but that sounds too good to be true. If I was trying to sell movies that’s probably how I would describe everything. The […]

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When I was in 3rd grade, I discovered the magic of the merry-go-round at a local park. Shortly after that, I discovered the magic of throwing up after going around one too many times. I can’t help but remember heaving behind my elementary school when hearing the news that Ray Stevenson has spoken to Marvel about taking another go-round on The Punisher. It’s not that Stevenson was bad as Frank Castle, it’s that the Punisher films have been so terrible so far. Like the Keaton/Bale debate, Tom Jane brought the acting to the pain of Frank Castle while Stevenson brought the bad ass, but overall, both movies were lacking for other reason. War Zone especially. It all felt like a badly drawn cartoon from a meth addict. In a way, it feels like they already took “another shot” at The Punisher and they ended up with a worse movie, so why hop on the ride again? We all know that’s not true, though. The truth is that Columbia and Lionsgate already took a second shot at it, but Marvel hasn’t even been up to bat. That’s the real news here. With The Avengers somehow already on the horizon, Marvel is looking to branch out, and they’ve snagged the rights to Frank Castle’s story back from Lionsgate. Seeing The Punisher in house at Marvel might be the key to success. It has been for other characters so far. Now if they could only splice Jane and Stevenson together, they’ll have the […]

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More than a decade before Splice (and most notably before Saw) director Vincenzo Natali made a film called Cube wherein a group of strangers woke up inexplicably in a maze of cubes that had been booby trapped with an appetite for destruction. In many ways a forerunner to the Saw films, Cube might now replace the horror franchise as Lionsgate’s go-to for October. According to Shock Til You Drop, the company is planning on returning to the film with the geometrically accurate Cube 3D. It’s unclear whether it will be a sequel, prequel or a remake, but it could definitely end up as a pinch hitter for a trap-based horror franchise that made Lionsgate an intense amount of money. Hopefully, if the movie is successful, Lionsgate can set the next one in the arctic and call it Ice Cube. If you haven’t seen the two movies that seeped out of the original like a pus, consider yourself lucky. However, if Natali is back on board, there might be something special brewing here.

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For fans of the extremely popular book series written by Suzanne Collins, March 23, 2012 may seem like a decade away, but Lionsgate has officially announced that the world will get to see The Hunger Games in a little over a year. The movie sees young scrapper Katniss Everdeen (whose name makes her sound like a family friend of the Royal Tenenbaums) striving to outwit, outplay and out-not die during a reality television show inspired by Battle Royale. The game is. Not the movie. The movie might not be anything like Battle Royale (even though that would be awesome). Incredibly talented writer/director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) will be helming the project from a script from State of Play writer Billy Ray, but no lead has signed on yet. Get director. Questionable writer. Movie that sees children battling each other. Sold. See you in March. [EW]

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Coroner

Considering that they’re roughly on par when it comes to “good ideas,” Burning Bright should have taken a cue from Snakes on a Plane and called itself Tiger in a House. After all, when you hear the phrase ‘burning bright’ the things furthest from your mind are probably, in order: hurricanes, autism, tigers. Burning Bright follows the plight (rhymes!) of a girl (Briana Evigan) and her autistic brother who find themselves stuck in a boarded up home with a very hungry tiger. You see, the step-father is building a zoo. And a hurricane is coming. And the tiger got in the house. During the hurricane. And the house was sealed shut with the kids in side. And the tiger is hungry.

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