THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2: Patton Oswalt to replace Louis CK, Harrison Ford joins!

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment are firming up the voice cast for the animated sequel THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2, and there’s an unsurprising switcheroo in store for the lead role. Louis C.K. voiced protagonist Max in the 2016 smash hit, but Deadline reports that Patton Oswalt will now be taking over the role. The reasons are obvious: C.K. fessed up to sexual harassment last year and has largely been out of the public eye ever since, and Universal doesn’t exactly want to gamble with a franchise as valuable as this one.

Oswalt is a swell choice to fill the role, and the rest of the cast is pretty exciting as well. Harrison Ford will be taking his first animated voice role ever in the film, and while it’s unknown what kind of animal he’ll be playing, might I humbly suggest a turtle or grizzled old dog? Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, and Pete Holmes will provide other new voices alongside returning actors Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, and Bobby Moynihan.

Director Chris Renaud and writer Brian Lynch reprise their duties for this sequel, as the original SECRET LIFE OF PETS was something of a test balloon to see if Illumination could succeed outside the realm of the DESPICABLE ME franchise. The minions-focused movies were gargantuan hits, but SECRET LIFE OF PETS was technically original—the story of what pets do while their owners are at work; it’s really just TOY STORY but with cute animals instead of cute toys. The film grossed $875 million worldwide, and just a few months later Illumination’s Sing grossed $634 million, solidifying Illumination as an animation powerhouse to rival Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks Animation at the box office.

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 won’t hit theaters until June 7, 2019. Next up for Illumination is another “original” of sorts—THE GRINCH, which opens this November. Then the studio is on the sequel track with MINONS 2 and SING 2 both arriving in 2020. Beyond that, they’re obviously developing DESPICABLE ME 4, but Illumination is also spearheading a new animated SUPER MARIO film in coordination with Nintendo.

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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR tracking for a massive $225-245M opening weekend!

Marvel’s about to make some big-time bank, y’all. The box office predictions for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR just keep crawling upwards, and considering the MCU epic was already on track to be one of the biggest blockbuster openings of all time, that’s quite a feat.

Per Variety, the latest tracking numbers have INFINITY WAR eyeing debut weekend of $225 million to $245 million domestically, with a possibility of crossing the $250 million mark. Should it fall into the end of that range, INFINITY WAR could become the biggest debut of all time.

For now, that title belongs to another Disney join, Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, which opened in 2015 to a staggering $247.96 million, and went on to gross just shy of $1 billion domestically and more than $2 billion worldwide. Last year’s STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI holds down the No. 2 spot with a $220 million opening. That film went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide.

Much like THE FORCE AWAKENS, INFINITY WAR has years of build up behind it, the first half of a two-part AVENGERS arc that acts as the culmination for a decade of films at Marvel Studios. Regardless of whether the superhero epic can top STAR WARS numbers, the film is on track to become one of just five other films that have crossed the $200 million opening mark. Four of those films come from Disney (THE FORCE AWAKENS, THE LAST JEDI, THE AVENGERS, and BLACK PANTHER), with JURASSIC WORLD standing as the odd-man-out.

If you want to see how INFINITY WAR‘s tracking stands up, you can check out the full Top 10 highest box office debuts below.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $247,966,675

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – $220,009,584

3. Jurassic World – $208,806,270

4. Marvel’s The Avengers – $207,438,708

5. Black Panther – $202,003,951

6. Avengers: Age of Ultron – $191,271,109

7. Captain America: Civil War – $179,139,142

8. Beauty and the Beast (2017) – $174,750,616

9. Iron Man 3 – $174,144,585

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 – $169,189,427

We’ll have to wait and see if INFINITY WAR‘s epic scope and event status can launch it to the top of the list, but it’s pretty much a guarantee that this one’s going to break some records.

JUMANJI 3 secures Christmas 2019 release date, The Rock confirmed to return!

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE turned out to be a massive, surprise hit for Sony. While I’m sure the studio thought it would do well, no one expected it to go toe-to-toe with STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI and end up as the studio’s highest domestic grossing film of all-time (it barely beat out 2002’s SPIDER-MAN for the title). So it’s no surprise that the studio is moving full steam ahead on a sequel.

Last night at CinemaCon, Sony Pictures head Tom Rothman confirmed that a sequel to JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is set for Christmas 2019. That will put it up against STAR WARS yet again (this time it will be J.J. Abrams’ STAR WARS EPISODE IX) as well as the big-screen adaptation of the popular musical WICKED. Rothman also confirmed that Dwayne Johnson was set to return, although there’s no word yet if co-stars Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan will also be on board, although previous reports indicated that they would be back as well. We also don’t know if the sequel plans to bring back to the teenagers.

The script is currently being written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, but no director is currently attached. Jake Kasdan (WALK HARD) helmed WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE, but we don’t know if Sony is angling to bring him back for another installment or if Kasdan is even interested. The third JUMANJI film lands December 25, 2019.

New VENOM trailer delivers symbiote action, film due October 5, 2018!

Sony has released a new VENOM trailer for the highly anticipated comic book adaptation, and it actually reveals the Venom character this time around. Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, the film is directed by ZOMBIELAND and GANGSTER SQUAD filmmaker Ruben Fleischer and stars Tom Hardy as a reporter named Eddie Brock who becomes infected with an alien symbiote that turns him into a very different kind of person.

For those who don’t know, in the comics Spider-Man comes into contact with an alien symbiote. That symbiote gives him special powers like increased strength and unlimited web-fluid. However, it also causes increased aggression. When Spider-Man gets rid of the symbiote, it finds his rival Eddie Brock, latches onto him, and Brock becomes Venom, which is why Venom has Spider-Man’s powers and resembles a grotesque version of the webslinger.

Since Sony’s Spider-Man exists inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Studios has no involvement in VENOM, they’re keeping things separate (for now) and just making a VENOM movie with Eddie Brock as the protagonist. It’s not controversial to say the studio’s first VENOM trailer was pretty bad. There was a lot of buildup and no reveal of the titular character. Sony doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and indeed we do get to see Venom in this trailer and, well, he looks like Venom.

As for the film itself, it’s a little hard to tell. It’s easy to see why Hardy was interested—this is essentially a role that allows him to play a man with multiple personality disorder. But aside from a swell cast, there’s really nothing story-wise or even cinematically that jumps out here as particularly compelling or new. That said, this comics character is a big deal to a lot of people, so your mileage may vary.

VENOM opens October 5th and also stars Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, and Reid Scott.

Box Office: A QUIET PLACE reclaims first on slow, pre-AVENGERS weekend!

After a lively, unpredictable weekend at the box office weekend estimates have A QUIET PLACE edging out RAMPAGE to reclaim the top spot with $22 million 3,808 locations.

John Krasinski‘s horror hit has been a doozy at the box office, opening to an impressive $50+ million before falling behind the blockbuster appeal of The Rock’s RAMPAGE in its second weekend. A QUIET PLACE roared back to the top spot this weekend, bringing its domestic total to $132 million. The film stars Krasinski alongside real-life wife Emily Blunt as a pair of parents trying to keep their family alive in a world where invulnerable monsters hunt by sound, and has proven a hit with critics and audiences alike.

Coming up just behind A Quiet Place is the Dwayne Johnson disaster epic RAMPAGE, which pits the box office mainstay against a trio of monstrous giant animals. Brad Peyton‘s performed a bit ahead of projections to earn an estimated $21 million from 4,115 theaters in its second frame, landing the No. 2 spot and bringing its domestic tally to $66 million. The big-budget film has done much better overseas where it earned another $57 million this weekend, bringing its estimated global tally to $283 million.

The week’s major new releases filled out the third and fourth slots for the week, with the Amy Schumer comedy I FEEL PRETTY landing No. 3 with an estimated $16.2 million from 3,440 locations. The third-place opening exceeds pre-release predictions, which placed the films opening in the $13-15 million range, but falls short of Schumer’s last two features, 2015’s TRAINWRECK and 2017’s SNATCHED, which debuted to $30.1 million and $19.5 million, respectively.

Coming in at No. 4 is the fan-funded sequel, SUPER TROOPERS 2, which blazed past expectations with a seriously impressive showing at Thursday and Friday previews to earn an estimated $14.7 million this weekend — more than double the pre-release projections. The R-rated Fox Searchlight comedy reunites the Broken Lizard comedy troupe behind the first film to solve an international dispute at the U.S.-Canada border. The first film opened to $6.2 million domestically in 2002, before growing a cult following on home video. The final new release of the week is Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films’ TRAFFIK, which took in $3.9 million in 1,024 theaters for the No. 9 spot.

The battle for fifth place ended with Blumhouse and Universal’s TRUTH OR DARE on top, earning $7.9 million in 3,068 locations. That brings the domestic total for the PG-13 horror film to $30.4 million in two weeks. Next up is Steven Spielberg‘s READY PLAYER ONE, which earned another $7.5 million, bringing the domestic total for the nostalgia-fueled Warner Bros. blockbuster to $126 million, followed by Kay Cannon‘s critically celebrated comedy BLOCKERS, which tallied another $6.9 million for a domestic total of $48.3 million.

1. A Quiet Place $22M
2. Rampage $21M
3. I Feel Pretty $16.22M
4. Super Troopers 2 $14.7M
5. Truth or Dare $7.91M
6. Ready Player One $7.5M
7. Blockers $6.98M
8. Black Panther $4.64M
9. Traffik $3.87M
10. Isle of Dogs $3.4M

First HALLOWEEN poster marks six months to release, film due October 19, 2018!

Universal has released the first HALLOWEEN poster. We don’t know much about the story of this new HALLOWEEN other than the fact that it’s a sequel that disregards all HALLOWEEN films after the first HALLOWEEN II. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode, Judy Greer plays her daughter, and the film will introduce Laurie’s granddaughter as presumably another potential victim for Michael Myers. David Gordon Green (STRONGER) is directing from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley.

Obviously, this teaser poster doesn’t give us much to go on, but I’m curious to see how Green will repurpose the slasher genre that the original HALLOWEEN helped create for 2018. Will it be more of a generational story, or will it still go by the same beats as the slasher genre? There’s also the question of what kind of power does Michael Myers still have at this point. He’s on his third reboot, which looks to be more of a legacyquel, and yet the character appears to remains basically the same. HALLOWEEN is a tough franchise, but I’m confident that Green and McBride have a worthwhile take on the material.

It will be interesting to see if this new poster signals the first trailer, or if we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see what Green and company have in store. At the very least, it’s exciting that Curtis is back on board and that the upcoming film will ignore the rest of the HALLOWEEN movies, not to denigrate those films or their filmmakers, but it’s a lot easier to get caught up and ready for the new installment by only watching two movies than eight.

HALLOWEEN opens October 19th and also stars Will Patton, Nick Castle, Andi Matichak, and Omar J. Dorsey.

Final DEADPOOL 2 trailer features verbal and literal jabs, film due May 18, 2018!

20th Century Fox has released a new and final DEADPOOL 2 trailer, revealing lots of new footage. In the upcoming sequel, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) will face off against Cable (Josh Brolin), a futuristic freedom fighter with cybernetic enhancements and all sorts of family drama. Director David Leitch (ATOMIC BLONDE) is behind the camera this time to shoot the script from returning writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

This is the best trailer yet, as it showcases a lot of the film’s action and supporting cast without really spoiling any of the story. We get a closer look at the X-Force team, which not only includes Zazie Beets‘ Domino but also Terry Crews‘ Bedlam and Lewis Tan‘s Shatterstar, and of course Rob Delaney‘s non-powered Peter. This movie looks like a lot of fun, and the interplay between Reynolds and Brolin appears to be very much on point (could you imagine Brad Pitt in this movie?). There are also, of course, self-referential jokes that take aim at Brolin’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thanos and at the DC Universe, and it’ll be interesting to see how far the metatextual stuff goes in this sequel. A lot has changed since DEADPOOL first hit theaters and forever changed the superhero genre.

Also starring Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams, Stefan Kapicic, and Karan Soni, DEADPOOL 2 opens May 18th.