Sony

Sintel Short Film

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Sinister Six

This is excellent. Sony announced late last night via their viral ElectroArrives website that they — not to be outdone by Warners — are also looking to copy Marvel’s recipe for bank truck deliveries. Only they get to do it with a Marvel property. The interesting twist is that they want to do it with villains instead of heroes. Up first are Venom and The Sinister Six, swirling around in the ether even as ASM3 and ASM4 are also being talked about. However, they aren’t exactly doing it piecemeal; Drew Goddard, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Jeff Pinker and Ed Solomon are all working together to create a cohesive universe out of a comic book world that doesn’t easily lend itself to it. If those names make you smile while shivering, you’re having the right response. For more conflicting feelings, Kurtzman is directing Venom from his own script co-written with Orci and Pinker (with probably zero chance they’ll call on this guy for creative input) while Goddard will be writing and directing The Sinister Six.

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Hollywood

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood conspiracy machine… You may already be a film industry cynic. Maybe you think Hollywood is a barren wasteland, devoid of creativity and originality. Maybe you’re sick of seeing talented people get ignored and vapid hacks get splashed all over the trades. Maybe you’re tired of 3D everything and having to re-buy your movies every five to ten years. I’m not here to dissuade you of any of that. Hell no, I’m here to make it worse. Get ready, because this is some of the rottenest shit of which the film industry is capable. These are the things so terrible that Hollywood has to cover them up, lest God see their sin and smite them accordingly (and keep various government entities and lawyers off their backs, of course). If you still had any kind thoughts toward Hollywood, I suggest you prepare yourself for crushing disappointment. But first, I’d like to give a very huge shout out and thank you to writers C. Coville and Maxwell Yezpitelok for their help on this article. You guys are great! And now back to the shit storm, already in progress:

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Puppeteer_Pirate

If you care about video games, then you’re probably not even reading this right now. Most likely, you’re deep inside of Grand Theft Auto V, living a life of excess and loving it. And now that GTA V’s online mode has finally overcome most of the bumps and is actually turning out to be pretty fun, all the more reason to stay inside its warm embrace. We’ll be talking about Rockstar’s triumphant return to the seedy underbelly of crime soon, but we wanted to highlight the amazing storytelling and whimsical design of Sony’s Puppeteer for the PlayStation 3. With the PlayStation 4 being introduced next month, this might represent one of the last great PS3 games. Despite the childlike art adorning the cover and the name, this is actually dark game: you play as Kutaro, a young boy who has been turned into a puppet and had his head torn off. While you can find other puppet heads to utilize, and gain special abilities from them, and you spend most of the game armed with a magical pair of scissors, this isn’t a cheerful story with your princess waiting in another castle. Puppeteer is dark, disturbing, and completely amazing, thanks in no small part to game director Gavin Moore. We spoke to Moore in Japan about all things Puppeteer, so read on for the full interview, and be sure to pick up a copy and give it a whirl for yourself.

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Upside Down Movie

The idea behind Invertigo is that gravity has reversed following a NASA probe crashing back down to earth in New York City. It’s a disaster film, so it’s a lot like Dante’s Peak if the volcano were actually the threat of flying off the face of the planet. Upside Down (see the above image (or below image depending on how you look at it)) tried messing with the gravitational pull, too, but it had a world designed for it instead of untethering ours for dramatic effect. Sony announced the project from screenwriters Bradley Cramp and Ehren Kruger a while back and attached director D.J. Caruso. I spoke with Caruso recently, and while everyone still seems hung up on his adaptation of “Preacher,” this one seems more likely to actually get made. Caruso confirmed as much, saying, “We’re trying to shoot the movie in the spring. . . we’ll finish the rest of the movie in Louisiana on the stages next summer. It’s looking very good, very positive that we’ll be tackling Invertigo in the spring.” Even with the high concept, the threat sounds like a major challenge. It’s hard to tell a story if everyone goes shrieking into the stratosphere all at once. Fortunately, Caruso also explained how the production plans to deal with and design the danger:

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turismo-movie

There are two things Playstation’s ‘Gran Turismo’ series of video games are really good at: faithfully recreating the experience of getting to drive high-end automobiles for car enthusiasts and boring the pants off any anybody else who happens to get caught in the same room while said enthusiast is playing. Because of this, The Wrap’s report that Sony is now looking to turn Gran Turismo into a feature film could be seen as a scary proposition for anyone other than the biggest car nuts out there. This begs the question, why turn a video game that’s a pretty dry recreation of the racing experience into a film in the first place? In this situation, it seems to be a case of monkey see, monkey do. Universal, of course, is currently enjoying the heaps of profits being generated by their impossibly long-lasting and vital Fast and Furious franchise, and now Dreamworks seems to be making a play for the cars-moving-fast-genre money by putting together an enticing-sounding project that utilizes the Need For Speed name and the star power of Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul. Heck, there have even been rumblings that Legendary is looking for directors to put on a possible Hot Wheels movie. Why wouldn’t Sony, who owns the most popular racing game franchise on the planet, try to use it to cash in on some box office dollars?

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Don-Cheadle-is-Captain-Planet

Sony is close to securing the rights to make a Captain Planet movie because why the hell not? According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mark Gordon (2012), Don Murphy (Transformers) and Susan Montford (Splice) will be producing the adaptation of the nostalgia-stuffed 90s television show where teenagers imbued with special powers via Gaia-given rings tried to shut down polluters. Which, now that I think about it, Captain Planet wasn’t a huge presence on the program. He was more of a Day Glo Blue Ex Machina that descended whenever the kids failed (every episode). But regardless of how much he’s featured in the movie version, I think we can all agree on who should play him.

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Jumanji

While the research process for writing a Jumanji script is probably hellish and monkey-filled, Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) is brave enough to take on the task. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the writer — who also wrote and directed Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium — has been hired by producers Matt Tolmach and Bill Teitler to give them a screenplay. This is a great move. Matt Tolmach Productions doesn’t have many winners underneath its belt (two forgettable crime comedies from the 1990s and, now, The Amazing Spider-Man), so it’s unclear what kind of movie they’re trying to create here or what they might really be capable of even under the careful watch of Columbia/Sony. Helm’s slant seems to be laughing at human foibles, danger and a dash of whimsy, so he seems like a solid choice to give this kind of family flick the right head start. When the project was first announced, the producers claimed it would be updated for our time, meaning it might look even more like Zathura than Jumanji (1995). Or that everyone will be on cell phones in the jungle. And planking. And trying to create “the new planking.” Still, I can’t wait for all the former cast cameos (or for Kirsten Dunst to take over Bonnie Hunt’s role wholesale).

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Comic actor Adam Sandler, his production company Happy Madison, and Sony Pictures all have a rich history of working together. They’ve brought us a litany of steaming piles of comedy crap, including titles like Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and the Kevin James-starring Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And, despite the fact that Sandler’s last horrible excuse for a comedy that he made with Sony, That’s My Boy, didn’t perform up to the standards of his previous films, all indications have been that the studio and Sandler were still perfectly happy in their relationship and ready to continue work on a Grown Ups sequel and then some sort of untitled Western comedy. But recently there was a glimmer of hope. Sony has been experiencing some money troubles, and has, as THR puts it in their report of all this inside baseball stuff, started, “actively seeking partners, divesting and abandoning specific projects.” This means that guys like Sandler, who may be showing signs of slowing down as an earner, are starting to look like a bigger risk to the studio, and that they’re less likely to fund risky projects unless they can get some sort of partner to come on board and split the cost. Suddenly, that untitled Western comedy was in trouble. Might it be possible that it could get put in turnaround, thus sparing us from having to see another terrible Adam Sandler comedy for a few years?

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Address is Approximate

Just yesterday, we reported that Clark Baker earned a feature project after wowing with his short film Vessel. Now, the list of short filmmakers snagging studio jobs is getting longer. According to Deadline Hollywood, Tom Jenkins and Simon Sharp are the latest to convert internet buzz into a feature gig. Sony Pictures has hired the pair to re-write Giants and direct the film. The plot focuses on an alien race of giants who are attacked and prompted to give chase to earth where they discover that they’re actually pretty small (and that they’re attacker was a loose screw from the Hubble telescope). So, it’s essentially Transformers in reverse. The pair gained traction through shorts Speed of Light and Address is Approximate, the latter of which you can see above. Obviously, this is a trend we can get behind. It’s encouraging to see talent being recognized and rewarded.

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Will Smith After Earth

According to The Wrap, Sony is pushing ahead with the Will Smith-starring Redemption of Cain which sees the actor bringing to life the enduring Biblical tale of two brothers with a vampire twist. Because, as we all know, everything needs a good blood-sucking or it’s just boring. So the question is what the vampire angle will be. Considering the title, it might be a new look at a much-maligned character by making him a hero that vanquishes a vampire. Of course, if the 3rd person on the planet got turned into one, it sort of makes humanity look like idiots. Production will most likely begin next summer, just in time for the vampire fad to be near its end but the Bible fad to be roaring ahead smoothly.

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Metal Gear Solid

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the game, creator Hideo Kojima gave fans a big birthday present. After years of trying to make it happen, a Metal Gear: Solid movie is back on track with major producer Avi Arad and Columbia Pictures. After building up massive comic book properties like Spider-Man, Arad is now in the business of adapting video games. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune is up on deck, and now it’s time for Solid Snake – who has appropriately spent years not being seen – to get his own feature. It was probably the time that Paul Thomas Anderson was rumored to be interested in the project that stood out the most in its development history, but with a big stage announcement like this, Arad is putting a lot of weight behind making this thing a reality. The question of who should write and direct is a big one, but perhaps an even better one is whether or not a movie can somehow outdo a video game series that’s so cinematic to begin with. [The Verge]

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Perhaps it’s time that we all faced facts – this Cleopatra remake just might not happen. In reality, it shouldn’t happen – after all, is anyone really demanding an Angelina Jolie-starring and supposedly more “relatable” take on the Egyptian pharaoh? – but Sony seems bound and determined to keep on with this project, even though no less than three high profile directors have left the project in one way or another. Vulture reports that David Fincher is the latest to jump ship (joining both James Cameron, who was loosely attached back in 2010, and Paul Greengrass, who seemed like a lock in 2011, on the list), after talks with Sony ended. It’s unknown when Fincher left, though he was still talking about the project back in December, and it’s also unclear why Fincher and Sony couldn’t work it out. The outlet does sagely point to the “somewhat cloudy” relationship between the studio and the director, given that Fincher has delivered to them both a huge hit (The Social Network) and a resounding miss (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). Yet, perhaps this will allow Fincher to sign on for the Dragon Tattoo sequel we’re expecting in 2014 (at the earliest). As for a replacement for Cleopatra? Vulture also reports that the studio is looking to others, including Ang Lee, who has not entered into anything resembling a formal discussion with the studio.

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Jumanji

The great thing about Sony wanting to reboot Jumanji is that they can get the same actors involved. Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt still have the chops, and Kirsten Dunst is definitely still available, pigtails optional. Bradley Pierce is the wildcard, as he’s only done some scattered voice work in the past few years, but they could even get Joe Johnston to direct again. Isn’t that funny? They’re trying to reboot a movie where all the players, for the most part, are still in the acting and directing spotlight. Of course, a version from Michael Haneke would be cooler. Regardless, Sony is now firmly in the rebooting business. Men In Black is seeking even more installments, there’s Total Recall, Spider-Man is going to be exhausted by the time they get all their worth out of him, and now they’re even digging into the minor 90s hits to figure out what to do.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Although The Amazing Spider-Man opened the lowest out of all the other movies in the Sony franchise with a $65m weekend, it’s already scored $341m worldwide. Not bad for a week’s work. Sam Raimi‘s series opened with $114.8m, $88.1m, and $151m (chronologically), and even though Marc Webb’s rebooted version starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone didn’t hit that mark, it benefited from an extended holiday week and made more than enough to earn sequels. This film was in a funny situation though. As pointed out last week, it had the ability to change the direction of major studios – a fitting task for the reboot of a franchise that shifted the rudder of the last decade. For some fans, it proved to be a story success, but the response has been far from unanimously positive. However, this initial haul (and the money still to come) proves that Sony (and all other studios) can keep mining their name-brand superhero content as long as they want, rebooting whenever they see fit. Spider-man and Batman are the new Bond.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Back when Sony Pictures announced it was going to reboot the Spider-Man franchise, it felt as if Dr. Octopus had simultaneously slapped my face, sucker punched me and whacked me on the nuts. After waiting three years for signs that Sam Raimi would recapture the magic of Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 (and make amends for the listless mess that was Spider-Man 3), the disheartening news came. The powers that be had decided to serve up the same old familiar origin story (misfit Peter Parker gets bitten, goes through Spidey-puberty and lets his uncle die because he hasn’t got his proverbial caca together), instead of taking the saga into more interesting territory. This was not just an “aw, shucks” let-down like the one I felt when I heard Edward Norton wouldn’t be reprising the role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. I actually sunk into an existential lament for the future of the superhero genre. I imagined a future where other franchises would follow suit, offering formulaic retreads of the exact same plot points ad infinitum. But three things happened: Time passed, my doctor upped my meds and I suddenly found myself able to put things in a brighter perspective.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

It was a kinder, simpler time back in January of 2010. Daybreakers and Youth in Revolt were both in theaters, New York City was asking people to eat less salt, and we were all about to find out the one-two punch that Sam Raimi was done with Spider-Man but Sony was not. It was the sort of news that reeked of corporate thinking – extending a franchise cash cow without the creative forces behind it; rebooting an unimaginably familiar character just five years after his last outing; and deciding to do all that on a dime. Optimism pointed to characters like James Bond getting new actors, but this was that rare time where a character introduced to us was being re-introduced to us, and the announcement was, admittedly, a bit surreal. It won’t be revolutionary, but there are two ways, two chances for that reboot to change the ways that movies are made. Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man will have a lot of eyes on it these week, and a few of them will be watching it as an experiment instead of entertainment.

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For the past few days a comical and depressing mash-up of the marketing materials for The Amazing (and pretty good) Spider-Man has taken the internet by storm. Louis Plamondon – who was today’s Reject Radio’s fine guest – made a short film out of all the footage Sony has released, nearly nailing the film down beat by beat. Speaking to the film’s director Marc Webb today, his response was simple: just don’t watch it. If you care about the movie, then why delve more into spoiler territory? When asked if he had seen it yet, Webb responded, “I have not seen it, but, listen, I think most movies reveal as much stuff. That’s a marketing department thing, so I wasn’t necessarily involved in that. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t watch it. Is it really that hard?”

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How much movie advertising is too much? What’s the number? When 25% of the movie is online in ads before it comes out? 10%? 2%? Are you ready to go back to a world where the magic and mystery happens when you’re in the theater instead of at your laptop? Louis Plamondon’s (aka Sleepy Skunk) “Amazing Spider-Man in 25 Minutes” is an awesome look at the movie, but it’s also a critical middle finger to movie marketers for stealing that magic. We spoke with the mash-up editor about finding 20% of a blockbuster online before it hit theaters, what that means for piracy and how that’s deeply unfair to the people who worked on the movie. Download Episode #139

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Hotel Transylvania

The first thing you notice in the new trailer for Hotel Transylvania is Adam Sandler doing his impression of Adam Sandler doing a vampire voice. It’s unmistakable, it’s annoying, and it’s a key argument against movie stars taking jobs from trained voice over actors. However, the feature directing debut from the remarkably talented Genndy Tartakovsky looks about as charming as they come. The plot is simple: Dracula creates a hotel haven for his monster pals (and to keep his daughter Mavis safe from the Hawaiian shirted humans), but a couch surfer stumbles upon their hideaway and proceeds to fall in love with the blood-sucker’s offspring. Some of the jokes are obvious – Kevin James’s character falls down a lot even in the world of animation – but it definitely shows potential. Check it out for yourself:

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