Warners

Joss Whedon Impossible

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It’s hard not to get excited for Batman and Superman teaming up. Even though, you know, Clark Kent would cave in Bruce Wayne’s face with one punch, there are definite strengths to a partnership, and the prospect of seeing both personalities breathing the same on-screen air is pretty damned awesome. It’s at least far more encouraging than seeing Warner Bros. try to copycat the Avengers model without putting time and care into an omnibus project. Plus, even though we’re still within the formulated cape craze, there’s a teaspoon of innovation in following Man of Steel with a team-up movie — shifting away from yet another origin story in favor for a little in spandexias res action. At the same time, it’s easy to be nervous. Not just because of big-budget fatigue – considering Batman & Superman (or whatever they call it) will see theaters the same summer as Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Avatar 2, a potential Fantastic Four reboot, fifth installments of Mission: Impossible and Pirates of the Caribbean and Terminator, a new Jurassic Park, new Independence Day and I’m so, so tired of typing — but also because there’s the potential for Warners to overshoot here.

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate movie fans who also love love getting t-shirts when they Kickstart a movie. For your consideration, Episode #14:

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scrooge-mcduck

Vimeo has launched a new distribution channel for creators, and a major studio is using Kickstarter. It’s been quite a week for the future of film financing.  In this episode, we’ll talk with Vimeo VP for Creative Development Blake Whitman about Vimeo On Demand, and then Operation Kino co-hosts Matt Patches and Da7e Gonzales join us for a four-way conversation about whether Warner Bros. getting into the crowdfunding game with Veronica Mars is good, bad or ugly. For more from us on a daily basis, follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe), Scott (@scottmbeggs), Patches (@misterpatches) and Da7e (@da7e) on the Twitter. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #10 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Entourage Cast

The spectre of an Entourage movie has hovered over the film fan world since even before the show ended in 2011, but even though Mark Wahlberg threatened to make it even if he had to finance it himself, he hasn’t made good on that yet. Enter Warner Bros. According to Deadline Hollywood, the studio has officially greenlit the project that will see Vinnie Chase, Eric, Turtle, Drama and Ari return to our lives like that infection you thought was all cleared up. To be fair, there’s something inherently compelling about the consequence-free show, which is why it held on for 7 1/2 seasons, but what’s really exciting about the prospect of a movie is how the hell they’ll pull off a storyline interesting enough to warrant an hour and a half and placement on the big screen. This show was perfect for HBO and television because of how easily digestible it was, but it seems wholly wrong for film unless they greatly change the tone. The plot can’t simply be that Vince bones some hot strangers, Eric and Ari struggle to secure the film role he’s lost and re-won several time while Drama gets a parking ticket. There’s something to that challenge. Hopefully they’ll meet it, because the world doesn’t need another in-joke comedy about the world of filmmaking, let alone one featuring these guys, but the potential for something surprising is real. On the other hand, it would be much, much cooler if we got Medellin, Smoke Jumpers and Ferrari instead.

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Zack Snyder

This probably comes as no surprise, but according to Variety, the Justice League movie over at Warners will depend on Man of Steel‘s box office performance. It’s encouraging (if not obvious) though, because it’s the first sign of level-headedness the studio has displayed regarding the superhero omnibus project. Before this, they’ve talked a big game all while planning to follow the Marvel method without laying any popular, systematic groundwork. Without Christian Bale, the branding game on Batman changes a bit (although there’s no denying the character’s ability to draw a crowd), and it’s not clear if anyone at all cares to see Green Lantern back on the big screen, so slow-playing the potential 2015 release until Zack Snyder’s Superman movie has a chance to succeed or fail is a smart move. The only question at this point is how much success Man of Steel will need in order to get Warners to pull out the giant check book (seriously, it’s comically large) and push Justice League out the door. How much will it have to earn worldwide? $600m? $800m? Does it have to cross the $1b mark or break records? The original Iron Man earned $585m, but it also wasn’t the sole launching pad for a giant, caped ensemble event movie. It had help where Man of Steel doesn’t, so it’ll be interesting to see following the latter’s release whether Warners will go ahead and place their big gamble on the table. But barring all the smart business, do you even want to see […]

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Gremlins Gizmo

Vulture has a super vague rumor that Warners is attempting to coax Steven Spielberg into giving his blessing for a remake of Gremlins. It’s not the first time, it probably won’t be the last, and so far there’s no reason to believe that this trial balloon will soar where others have failed before it. But if the studio really wants to recapture a bit of Amblin magic, they’re going to need drop the eternal sticking point that kept Joe Dante from making Gremlins 3: the insistence of switching to CGI (a point succinctly argued by Quint in his open letter to Spielberg). Quints main parallel is perfect — how would audiences react if the new Muppets movie was going to feature a CGI Kermit? Regardless of whether technology has made fantastical leaps and bounds, Gizmo and the gang are rooted in that practical puppet look. On the fan side, making them CGI will be heresy. From a business standpoint, if you’re going to trade off the name-recognition of the characters, you have to respect the iconography, or you’re ultimately just launching a new unknown anyway.

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Odyssey in Space

The evergreen method of adding “…in space!” to the end of an existing title in order to pitch a “new” film has finally blindsided Greek poet Homer. Good thing he’s not around to not see it. According to Deadline Hollywood, Warners has hired James DiLapo to write a new version of “The Odyssey” that takes place in space. Yes, they literally want to make a space “Odyssey.” DiLapo is a recent NYU grad who earned a Nicholl Fellowship and placement on the Black List with his first script, Devils At Play, but there’s no word yet on how the young talent will be engaging the story and transmitting it into the world of science fiction. At its very core, it could a tale of a captain trying desperately and difficultly to get home, or it could involve more of the direct elements of the classic epic poem. Undoubtedly, it won’t look anything like Ulysses 31 at all.

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Darkseid

The fine folks over at Latino-Review, who are either doing a stellar job of reporting or leading every movie fan down the garden path, have announced that an inside source has revealed the plot to Justice League will come from a comic source familiar to readers. They proclaimed earlier that Darkseid would be the big bad for the flick, and now the word is that writer Will Beall will draw from the 1980 issues #183-185 to craft the tale for the moving picture. The plot for the three comics from Gerry Conway sees Darkseid (an absurdly powerful being from another planet) attempting to replace Earth with his home world without finding a proper place to relocate the place we all live.

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Jeff Bridges in Seventh Son

As we all know, any seventh son born of a seventh son is given incredible powers at birth, and it’s that concept that novelist Joseph Delaney culled for his fantasy series “The Wardstone Chronicles.” Warners is turning the first book in that series — “The Spook’s Apprentice” — into a feature film (with hopes to launch a new young adult hit), and they’ve released new images from the October-bound movie. That’s Jeff Bridges playing a Spook named Master Gregory who is teaching Thomas (Ben Barnes) how to battle evil, which is pictured below in the form of Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin. You think they’d want to avoid propagating vicious stereotypes against gingers, but apparently they’re comfortable with it.

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Darkseid

So who is this Darkseid anyway? What are his hobbies? Who are his inspirations? Why does he spell his name like a stout German lager? All of these questions and more should be answered if the (often highly reliable) team over at Latino Review is right about the villain’s appearance in the forthcoming Justice League movie set for 2015.* No doubt DC and Warners will want to introduce him to the world as we get closer to the release date, and even if they don’t want to, comic book fans will definitely be staking out the set for a glimpse of a costume for which to ridicule into oblivion. The thing about Darkseid is that he represents the filmmakers (who have yet to be named) going big. As big as their gamble on making an omnibus superhero flick 1) just because Avengers destroyed the box office and 2) without thoroughly-introduced cinematic heroes. He’s just about as iconic as it gets — an alien force of evil from the planet Apokolips that’s one of the toughest foes the team has ever faced. He’s immortal, invulnerable and a genius to boot. Good luck with that, Batman. In a way, that makes sense. If you’ve got Superman and Friends getting together for 2 whole hours, you’ve got to give them someone who takes a while to take down. That could be a villain like Darkseid or one who could raise an army large enough to keep them busy. It’s also kind of cool […]

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Lord of the Rings Slot

According to Variety, the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien is filing suit against Warners, New Line and the Saul Zaentz Company for what they claim is a breach of their original 1969 licensing agreement. The estate is seeking $80m. At issue here is the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit-flavored slot machines and online gambling games that the estate claims violate the limited use terms of their agreement (they probably couldn’t have anticipated internet gambling or video games in 1969, and the contract apparently doesn’t cover rights for media not yet devised at the time of signing). The good news here is that this scrape between partners shouldn’t at all affect their ability to make movies together. They have a symbiotic business relationship that creates vast amounts of money, so it’s easy to imagine that even if this creates some soreness, both have a vested interest in continuing to mine for gold together.

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Gerard Butler

A few years back, Greg Silverman at Warners offered emerging screenwriter Chad St. John the job of writing a revenge movie that didn’t have any dialogue in it. St. John was up to the challenge, and he returned with an impressive screenplay that had less than a dozen lines of spoken words in just over 70 pages – most of which come right at the end. It’s been on the Black List since 2009, but even after going through a difficult menu of leading men (before landing on Gerard Butler), the film was set to actually happen soon. According to Deadline Hollywood, that’s no longer the case. Production has shut down, and the crew was told to go home. Apparently the independent production houses in charge – Envision Entertainment, Foresight Entertainment, and Emmet/Furla Films – could not meet the Warner Bros. imposed (via Dark Castle) drop-dead delivery date of March 31, 2013, as it would have meant only having 12 weeks of post-production. Without the domestic release, the foreign distribution was in question, and the film was unable to secure a bond. So that’s the ball game. It’s definitely an ambitious concept, so it’s even more of a shame that it got this close to rolling only to send the cameras back. With any hope, they’ll be able to regroup, work out a new schedule, and make this happen.

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Batman Detective Comics

According to Batman On Film, there is a rumor floating around that Justice League will be used as a launching pad for a rebooted Batman franchise. It may be a rumor, but it feels like common sense. Warners has got Man of Steel next year, but the next time we’ll see superheroes from them is in 2014 when LEGO versions hit screens thanks to Phil Lord and Chris Miller. It’s seems unlikely that they’d want to – or even be able to – mobilize a Batman reboot so soon after Christopher Nolan‘s franchise closed out, and with the omnibus superhero movie in their sites, it seems inevitable that we’ll see Bruce Wayne (or someone) as The Dark Knight playing well with others before we get to see him on his own again. The question is whether that’s a good call. It’s hard to say. If Warners is echoing Marvel‘s method of success, they’re doing so without laying all the of right groundwork that aided The Avengers in becoming such a massive smash. Plus, by investing so much in one film, it could mean sabotaging individual superhero projects if Justice League doesn’t take off like they want it to. Beyond focus group polling, how would the studio even know which characters were working the best in the film, which were connecting with audiences, which deserve their own properties? The only character that is immune is Batman. If Man of Steel falls flat, it will be two in a row for Superman, calling even the most iconic hero […]

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Ecce Homo

You know who got a bum rap in The Bible? Pontius Pilate. Guy was just doing his job when Joshua of Nazareth (AKA Jesus Christ) showed up on his doorstep. Granted, he did send the man to die a horrifyingly painful death, but he washed his hands and gave the crowd the chance to free the man who claimed to be the Son of God. At least he’s not Judas. He’s definitely vilified though, and a new project at Warners seeks to complicate the character a bit more. According to Deadline Hollywood, the studio has secured a script called Pontius Pilate from Vera Blasi (Tortilla Soup, Woman On Top). It seems like studios are finding their religion lately. A flood of projects led by Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is coming down the pipe, as the Deadline article smartly points out. The real question is whether the religious community will rally around them or condemn them. Aronofsky’s tale seems harmlessly epic, but Paul Verhoeven’s forthcoming examination of Jesus which removes his miracles in favor of his teachings could be seen as full-on blasphemy. At any rate, it seems like many of the major studios are preparing to get Old Testament on all of us. Beyond that context, a story about Pilate could be complex and compelling. He’s a figure known for one moment in his life, but he was also a human being at the center of a religious and socio-political powder keg. He had a bizarre bird’s eye view, and exploring things through his vision […]

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Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman must not have put out enough finger sandwiches because Variety is reporting that Warners has passed on their ambitious Dark Tower project which has already morphed quite a bit in attempts to appease studio sensibilities. Most notably, Universal turned down the film, but while Warners was the next suitor in line, the future of the movie is no wholly uncertain. Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Media Right Capital (Ted, Elysium) is now in talks to finance which might be a good fit. However, if MRC takes on the promise of three feature films and a television series, it might be a larger signal of studio potency flagging while independent groups begin handling bigger budget fare. It still remains to be seen whether MRC will take the gamble, and it will be a gamble, but at this point it’s only safe to say that The Dark Tower isn’t completely dead.

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Culture Warrior

In the wake of the horrific shooting that occurred almost two weeks ago at a multiplex in Aurora, Colorado during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. made several last-minute cuts to their upcoming period action film Gangster Squad. The scene in question, which was featured prominently in the now-removed first US trailer and can be seen very briefly in this international trailer, depicted a bevy of gangsters or cops (as the original scene is difficult to find, I don’t recall) shooting bullets from tommyguns through the back of a movie screen. Reportedly, this scene is rather instrumental to the film’s plot, so several very late-in-the-game re-shoots will take place to allow the film to make sense without the now-controversial scene in question. This resulted in the film’s release date being pushed back from September 7, 2012 to January 11, 2013. Altering films and their advertising campaigns has become common practice in recent Hollywood. After the Colorado shooting, many ads for The Dark Knight Rises that focus on the film’s violent moments were removed from the airwaves. This weekend’s The Watch, which opened to middling box office and mostly negative reviews, had its title and advertising campaign altered from the original Neighborhood Watch after the shooting of unarmed minor Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman in Florida this spring. Several movies also incurred changes, delays, and alternative ad campaigns after 9/11. In public relations terms, such changes are typically framed as a gesture of sensitivity to […]

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The Shining

According to the LA Times, Warners is letting the idea of a prequel to The Shining roll around in its head. More than just a concept, they’ve hired writer/producer Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, Avatar), Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt to conceive of a version of the story before the story. Of course, it’s only a whisper. The project isn’t even in development officially, and even projects in development have to fight to get made. The bottom line? This is a million miles from any sort of finish line. What’s curious here is why Warners is specifically interested in this project in the first place. Perhaps it’s a general desire to make prequels of projects with name-recognition attached or maybe they’ve marked the resurgence in interest in Stephen King’s work – especially with his many adaptations currently in the works. On the other hand, anonymously floating the idea out into the world of movie fans might just be a test to see what kind of interest is out there. So, is there any interest out there?  

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The Flash

With Batman in the bag and Superman on the way, Warner Bros. is still in the kind of long-term trouble a superhero team understands all too well. Like a group of heroes blindsided by a syndicate of villains that pulled off a world domination ploy, Warners is scrambling to come up with a plan to challenge Marvel Studio’s $1.5 billion The Avengers world take-over. We all know what that plan is: assemble the Justice League movie. We also know the big question Warners is frantically facing right now is how they’re going to do that. The studio can balk at mimicking a competitor’s model all they want, but the way to get everyday non-comic reading people to really care about a Justice League movie is to roll out the individual hero projects first. Warner Brothers can’t assume people want a Justice League movie simply because everyone knows who Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are, or that post-The Avengers there is a guaranteed appetite for superhero mega-mixes. For a team-up flick to have maximum impact – i.e. maximum box office returns – without sacrificing integrity or quality, Warners needs to build a demand. The only way to do that is construct a road paved with exciting, entertaining, excellent movies (give or take an Iron Man 2 or two) that compound anticipation and audience faith.

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Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey – presumably the only person on the planet excited about Dumb and Dumber 2 – just quit the movie. According to Entertainment Tonight, the actor was unhappy that New Line and Warners weren’t energetic about making it happen, despite a tentative Fall start date. The easy thing to do here is mock the project, but it’s far more important to note the level-headed actions at work here. There was no momentum to the movie, but unlike others in similar situations, the studios themselves couldn’t muster the kind of fabricated fire it takes to get a boulder uphill. The world wasn’t clamoring for a sequel, and the world has been served exactly what it asked for. Thanks to the studios and to Carrey for reading the situation correctly and moving away from something that could have been a big mistake. Of course, Warners can still muck everything up by moving forward with it despite Carrey’s leaving. Will Sasso’s basically the same caliber comedian right? Right?

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