Sony

You would think that toymaker Hasbro and their various movie-making partners would have learned their lesson after the less than stellar box office performance of Battleship. That lesson being, nobody wants to see a movie about an inanimate object that has no pre-established characters, stories, or mythology. Clearly no lesson has been learned, however, because a press release put out by Sony Pictures today brings us just about the worst news ever. It seems that Sony is teaming up with Hasbro and Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison to bring us an animated feature version of Tonka trucks. Yes, you read that right: Adam Sandler’s buddies are going to make a movie about plastic toy trucks. Seeing as Sony is already in the process of developing feature films for other Hasbro properties like Risk and Candy Land, the fact that a toy truck movie is going to be coming our way soon shouldn’t come as a surprise, but somehow it still stings. Let’s let the president of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, Bob Osher, try to sell us on the project, and see if that helps. Osher says, “In its 65 years, TONKA has become more than a toy or a brand – TONKA trucks are a rite of passage for kids all around the world. Time spent with these toys creates memories that last a lifetime as kids are inspired to play using the boundaries of their imagination. We look forward to creating a family friendly motion picture that brings […]

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In October of last year, Sony picked up the rights to Walter Isaacson‘s biography of Steve Jobs. This was shortly after the Apple CEO’s death and shortly before announcing that their shortlist of screenwriters included Aaron Sorkin – a writer who was once offered a Pixar gig by Jobs and who had previously helped adapt Isaacson’s “Moneyball.” Now, according to a Sony press release, Sorkin is officially on board for what’s being creatively called Steve Jobs. This is stellar news, placing incredible talent next to incredible talent to write about an incredible mind. Isaacson’s biography was thorough (and authorized), and the relative familiarity that Sorkin and Isaacson have (alongside the screenwriter’s past dealings with Jobs) make this team uniquely qualified to deliver a compelling telling worthy of the modern icon. One thing they don’t have? Ashton Kutcher. Which raises the question: with all the talent in the room, what actor deserves a shot at bringing Jobs back to life on the big screen?

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The summer of 2012 will go down as one of the biggest movie-going seasons for comic-book superheroes, and it’s a feat that probably won’t be repeated anytime soon. Joss Whedon’s fantastically entertaining The Avengers opens tomorrow and Christopher Nolan closes out his epic Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises this July, but nestled in between those two guaranteed blockbusters is a web-slinging wildcard. Director Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man is fighting an uphill battle as it reboots Sam Raimi’s beloved trilogy that’s less than a decade old. It’s an origin story, of course, but Webb and friends insist that doesn’t mean we know the whole story… Check out the new trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man below.

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The world was shocked when, after directing the biggest financial success of his career with The Hunger Games, Gary Ross decided to pass on making the sequel, Catching Fire. Does he hate money? No, it turns out he just hated the too-tight schedule the film has to work under due to its star Jennifer Lawrence’s other commitments. But, do you know who has no such qualms with churning out a Hunger Games sequel on a truncated timeline? I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence. It wasn’t long after Ross dropped out that he stepped in. Only time will tell if Ross was right and Lawrence is stepping into a poisonous situation with Catching Fire; once the second film comes out, we’ll just compare who did the better work. But news that broke today hints at the possibility that Ross and Lawrence might soon be competing for our hearts and minds with more than just their individual takes on Hunger Games material; they might soon be earning comparisons to one another because of dueling Houdini biopics as well.

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They tried to make Wonder Woman happen (but it didn’t because she’s a bizarre character with lame powers), Elektra and Cat Woman just weren’t good enough to count, but after a decade the dearth of female heroes has become apparent. That’s a problem Sony is looking back to the 60s to solve. According to Deadline Riverdale, the studio plans to head back to the time of the sexual revolution to unearth Sabrina the Teenage Witch from the Archie Comics and from 1990s television fame. The project comes from Mark Waters (Mean Girls) who may direct depending on the timing of the whole thing, and screenwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. The announcement piece likens it to Spider-Man, most likely because that’s another Sony property and because they share a thematic similarity – a young person learning to live with extraordinary powers. No word on what tone it seeks to strike, but the comic book origins would point to tongue-in-cheek hijinks with a bit of magic tossed in to make good on the name. At any rate, this is a chance for Sony to provide the world with a female hero with mystic powers can lead a franchise. With that in mind, is there any way The Hunger Games didn’t turn the light green for them?

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In September, Bruce Willis will be hunting Joseph Gordon-Levitt (unless it’s the other way around? Or the other, other way around?) for Rian Johnson‘s Looper. You know this because Tyler knows this. And because you’ve probably had your calendar marked for this one since a year and a half ago. The fine folks at /film have debuted the first poster for the Sony flick, and it looks beautiful, mirrored, and like it will continue the People Evaporating theme that’s hit everyone from Source Code to Total Recall lately. Check it out for yourself:

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Bad Boys

We didn’t get enough of Michael Bay‘s ego blowing the world up a few weeks ago. We’re interested in more. That’s why in this week’s Commentary Commentary, we’re covering Bay’s first movie, the calling card, if you will, that would eventually launch this man to such great heights, he could make hundreds of millions of dollars playing with toy robots. We’re talking about Bad Boys. No, I’m not gonna sing the song. Thought about it. Decided to pass. Bad Boys started a lot of things. It began Will Smith‘s rise to divine power. It started something with Martin Lawrence that would eventually sputter out some time around Bad Boys II. Poor guy. Black Knight just wasn’t a good idea. Mr. Bay is sure to spew all kinds of love for both of these guys, as well as the massive number of explosions we’ll be seeing throughout the film. His Armageddon commentary was so much fun and surprisingly insightful, so there’s no telling what we’ll be in store for with Bad Boys. Whatcha gonna do? I couldn’t help it.

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As we all know, our streets are riddled with crime. You can’t even go down a dark alleyway without getting mugged or attacked by a roving troop of Improv Everywhere participants. What we don’t all know is whether or not we can trust the red-masked menace who calls himself Spider-Man to be a force for good. Is he really fighting crime or is he committing it? Either way, he’s inspiring local street artists to tag for him – leaving giant spray paint spiders on concrete walls all over the city – and inspiring Captain George Stacy to set up a hotline where citizens can call and report sightings in an attempt to bring in the man for questioning. According to The Daily Bugle, the number to call is 1-877-651-8503, and the police have even set up a website for Spider-Man tips. Check out the interview with Stacy as he explains why Spider-Man is dangerous and suggests the news team over at The Daily Bugle spend some time with a dictionary.

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Wal-Mart Entertainment

Five of the six major movie studios (Paramount, Sony, Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros.) have partnered together to create a service called UltraViolet, which is an authentication system that gives you the rights to a digital copy of all their movies that you buy on DVD and Blu-ray. The problem with UltraViolet is that it’s kind of a clunky system full of vague and complicated rights issues, it doesn’t utilize any of the content delivery systems that people are already watching their movies on, and it hasn’t done a good enough job educating the public on how to use it. After five minutes spent rooting around their FAQ section I still don’t know what the process of getting an UltraViolet copy of a movie onto my phone or tablet is. All of that is set to change due to a new partnership between those same five studios and Walmart, however.

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There was a time when Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick turned in scripts for it and a time when Hunger Games director Gary Ross was looking to direct, but the Spider-Man 4 implosion defeated Spidey’s nemesis as well. Sony was keen to get things rolling for Venom – based, of course, on the drooling symbiotic mirror enemy – and now that The Amazing Spider-Man is attempting to re-deliver the franchise, it’s time to start having meetings about who could bring this character to life best, apparently. According to an anonymous source quoted in the LA Times, Sony is looking to Chronicle co-writer/director Josh Trank to be taken over by the alien monster. It would be a good move for a newly found director, but there’s something gimmicky about it all. It’s as if Sony is purposefully trying to do the opposite of what Marvel is doing (and with its own characters no less). While Marvel is focusing on individual movies for its heroes, Sony is left (copyright style) to explore individual characters in the Spider-Man universe, so they’re going with villains. Venom was a popular character, but the big question is whether the all-brawn, no-brains baddie deserves to be the center of his own movie. What story do you tell? How much CGI saliva will it take? Would it be followed by a Lizard movie? Or a Green Goblin flick?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s all the movie news that’s fit to print. So, please, print it out and read it on your morning commute. The videos are especially effective that way. We begin this evening with four arms. This is just one of the ninety-seven images that Disney released in support of John Carter which means that if you make a flipbook of them, you’ve got a nice cheap version of the movie. Plus, John Carter wants you to read!

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If the name Brian Taylor doesn’t ring a bell immediately, it’s because “Brian” is usually left off, and “Neveldine” is usually in its place. The writer/director has made two Crank movies, Gamer, Jonah Hex and the upcoming Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with creative partner Mark Neveldine, but according to Deadline Fernlake, he’ll be flying solo for the first time soon. The project? A live-action movie version of the “Twisted Metal” videogame franchise that’s been around since 1995 and continues to thrive on the Playstation 3. As if they plan this stuff, Sony is announcing the project with Taylor at the helm on the same week that Ghost Rider hits theaters and the new “Twisted Metal” game hits store shelves. That’s boss-like synergy right there.

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The Motion Picture Association of America must die. It’s a monopolistic behemoth that poisons creativity and commerce while hiding behind the failed task of educating parents about film content, and the time has come to call for its dissolution. The above logo is what we, as movie fans, are most familiar with when it comes to the MPAA because we see it on trailers and home video, but that symbol is really a trick of PR. The goal of the MPAA is not to rate movies, even if that’s the product we know and loathe best. The MPAA’s founding, fundamental aim is to maintain the corporate dominance of its members – the six largest studios. It does not serve fans. It does not serve families. It does not serve filmmakers.

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Recently, it was reported that Universal Pictures ended their deal with Hasbro – meaning that movies adapted from Hasbro products that nobody wanted to see in the first place, like Ouija Board and Monopoly, now have very questionable futures. Or, at least, you would think that they would have very questionable futures. In actuality they all seem to be getting scooped up by other studios pretty quickly. First, Relativity Media acquired the rights to Stretch Armstrong, and now, in news that surely must be ushering in the end of the world, Sony and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison are teaming up to make Candy Land, which Sandler himself intends on both co-writing and starring in. Kevin Lima (Enchanted) is attached to direct the project, with Robert Smigel and Sandler in talks to pen the screenplay. Why make a Candy Land movie? Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad says, “Candy Land is more than just a game. It is a brand that children, parents and grandparents know and love. The world of Candy Land offers an extraordinary canvas upon which to create a fantastical, live-action family adventure film with a larger than life part for Adam. We are thrilled to partner with Hasbro and Happy Madison on this project.”

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When Sony released the “Untold Story” tagine for The Amazing Spider-Man, it rang about as true as a career politician and lobbyist claiming to be a Washington Outsider (or, for a less current joke, like Hot Pockets claiming they wouldn’t cause your bowels to erupt). It’s a rebooted franchise – essentially a remake of an earlier film that came out of the same studio a decade ago. However, there were always elements that hinted at Sony and direct Marc Webb going big instead of going home. A new synopsis, uncovered by the Times of India (via Screen Rant), shows off exactly what they mean by an untold story, and as it matches up to the original Sam Raimi film – it’s pretty damned untold. Sure, there are the teenage elements of angst and that certain feeling of being lost in a sea of hormones without a rudder or a helping hand. Hopefully there will be some playfulness and some sarcasm. Of course there will be a spider bite. All of it rings familiar, except the rest of the plot. In fact, much like a comic book, it reads like an alternate history of a character delivered by a new writer. Check it out for yourself:

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On January 11, 1991, the then-head of Disney studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, circulated an incredibly important memo about the state of the movie industry and the products they were making. It was called, “The World is Changing: Some Thoughts on Our Business,” and it had a simple purpose: to locate the root of a growing problem and to take steps to avoid falling victim to it. Katzenberg began the memo by stating: “As we begin the new year, I strongly believe we are entering a period of great danger and even greater uncertainty. Events are unfolding within and without the movie industry that are extremely threatening to our studio.” As we begin a new year two decades after this memo was written, it’s critical to look back at the points Katzenberg made to see that his period of great danger is now our period of great danger, to note that the same events unfolding within and without the industry still threaten the entire studio system in 2012, and to predict our future based on the past.

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Sony isn’t slowing down on its adaptations of Steig Larsson‘s best-selling novels, so according to Entertainment Weekly, we’ll get a healthy dose of Lisbeth Salander and The Girl Who Played With Fire soon. Undoubtedly, unless the second one struggles worse, we’ll have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest soon after that. Apparently there was some question as to the plan when The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo didn’t perform at insanely high levels. So far, the $90m-budget film has scored $72m worldwide, which isn’t all that great, but it’s still early in its life as a release at two weeks old. It’s not the crazy phenomenon that the Niels Arden Oplev flicks, but lightning so rarely strikes the same franchise twice. No matter what a studio believes. Checking the scoreboard, Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig are both signed up for two more movies, Steve Zaillian is already working on the script for the second film, but David Fincher is not secured. Maybe he’ll come back, maybe they’ll need to find a new director. Either way, the train is leaving the station and headed for a late 2013 release. Would you want to see Fincher stay on?

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Looks like Sony’s official bid to make you happy you’re not a member of a twisted and wealthy Swedish clan of apparent criminals is coming a day early! That’s right, “the feel-bad” movie of Christmas and the spark of one of film journalism’s biggest hullabaloos of the year is opening a whole day early (well, really about five hours early, if you’re into midnighters). David Fincher‘s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will now open on Tuesday, December 20 at 7PM. It’s a smart move by Sony, as the holiday marketplace is already damn crowded. Next week sees the opening of no less than nine new picks, with further expansion by awards bait flicks The Artist and My Week with Marilyn. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will be going up against a strong slate of other awards contenders – including War Horse, Albert Nobbs, The Adventures of Tintin, In the Land of Blood and Honey, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Oh, and The Darkest Hour is opening next week, too.

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Sex Tape is a script that Sony has their hands all over, thanks to screenwriter Kate Angelo. It must be something special, because in a world where people selling their spec scripts is becoming increasingly more rare, Angelo was able to unload this one for seven figures. It tells the story of a suburban couple whose increasingly boring lives lead to them ditching their kids for an evening and getting together to make a salacious sex tape. The trouble starts the next morning when they wake up from their post-debauchery coma and realize that the tape has gone missing. Thus begins a desperate search for the tape in hopes of staving off humiliation. Sony has been working on making this movie happen for a while now, and it seems like their efforts are about to pay off. They’re in negotiations with not only a director, but also a pair of actors to play the lead couple. The director is Nick Stoller, who helmed the hit comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall and co-wrote this year’s The Muppets. The actors are Jason Segel and Reese Witherspoon, which makes sense because Segel and Stoller have worked together numerous times before and Witherspoon is just the type of name that studios want to put in things. If Sony is able sign the trio, then I’m sure it will be only a matter of time before Sex Tape goes from spec script to comedy hit. But can we do something about that title? It’s kind of the […]

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The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Sony has gathered a shortlist of screenwriters for its Steve Jobs biopic, and that the chief name among them is Aaron Sorkin‘s. Considering his track record and recent success, along with the type and high profile of the project, he might just be the best possible choice out there to capture the balance between jargon and jangling heartstrings. The movie will be based on the book by Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, but no definite decision has been made on who will be writing it, and it’s unclear as to whether Sorkin is even interested considering he personally knew the subject of the film and has a brand new television project to keep him busy. On the other hand, a movie of this magnitude and emotionality (considering how recently Jobs passed away) might be the kind of challenge needed to attract Sorkin. For some reason, The American President comes to mind. In that, Sorkin crafted a flawed character that was still a major public figure and the central presence in a triumphant story. The tones might be different, but the potential is there for similarities. Maybe a blend of Social Network and American President? Who knows. Either way, Sorkin is a strong choice (if not the strongest).

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