Box Office: JASON BOURNE tops weekend with $60M, STAR TREK dips!

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With the return of writer-director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon in JASON BOURNE, Universal Pictures can now proudly state that the BOURNE franchise – specifically the movies with Damon in the title role; sorry, Jeremy Renner – has earned north of $1 billion at the worldwide box office. That’s thanks to JASON BOURNE’s first place spot for its debut weekend, pulling in an estimated $60 million domestically, with $50.1 million more from international markets.

That’s a strong debut, the second-biggest in the BOURNE franchise following behind THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, which earned $69.2 million in its opening weekend nearly a decade ago. JASON BOURNE’s total is also $22 million more than the last installment, THE BOURNE LEGACY; sorry, again, Jeremy Renner. Since JASON BOURNE still has a few more countries to open in throughout August, along with a rollout continuing through September and early October, estimates indicate this could be the biggest international performance for the franchise yet. Domestically, estimates place its earnings for the total run around $155 to $160 million.

That’s all well and good for Universal’s sequel, but Paramount Pictures’ own franchise film STAR TREK BEYOND dropped almost 60% in its second week of box office earnings. At $24 million domestically, the Justin Lin-directed film does end up taking second place and going over $105 million at the homefront. This film, too, continues its international rollout through October, but its international performance is lagging behind. Compared to the J.J. Abrams-directed installments, STAR TREK BEYOND falls short of the $146+ million tallies they had by the end of their second weekend. It will be interesting to see how Paramount responds concerning the fourth STAR TREK film they’ve already announced; perhaps a smaller budget is in the cards.

Take a look at the Top 10 at this weekend’s box office below (via Box Office Mojo):

1. Jason Bourne $60.0M

2. Star Trek Beyond $24.0M

3. Bad Moms $23.4M

4. The Secret Life of Pets $18.2M

5. Lights Out $10.8M

6. Ice Age: Collision Course $10.5M

7. Ghostbusters $9.8M

8. Nerve $9.0M

9. Finding Dory $4.2M

10. The Legend of Tarzan $2.4M

Third AVENGERS film simply titled AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, fourth film currently untitled!

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The Wrap has revealed that AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR will now “exist as one movie” after confirming with Disney that they’ve updated their release schedule. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (previously titled AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR PART I) is the official title of the next instalment, while AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR PART II has now become “Untitled Avengers.” Both of them will still be released in 2018 and 2019 as planned.

Of course, just because AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is now one movie, that doesn’t mean that the team’s battle against Thanos won’t still unfold over both instalments. Still, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Russo Brothers have previously said that these are going to be two standalone stories rather than a single one spread across two films as with THE HUNGER GAMES and HARRY POTTER.

More details will hopefully be revealed soon, but for now, we do at least know that the next instalment will simply be titled AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. What could possibly top that for the fourth film?

Disney aiming to reboot THE ROCKETEER with African-American female lead!

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Back in 2012, a couple of months before it was announced that Disney was purchasing Lucasfilm and moving ahead with new STAR WARS movies, the studio set its sights on a different kind of franchise reboot: THE ROCKETEER. We heard that the Mouse House was in the early stages of rebooting the swell 1930s-set adventure film, but then the Luacasfilm deal happened and Disney became very busy with building out a whole new Star Wars universe.

Now, however, it appears the ROCKETEER reboot is heating back up, as THR reports that the studio has hired Max Winkler and Matt Spicer to pen the script for a redo called THE ROCKETEERS. The film is envisioned as a “sequel-reboot” with a “modern-day twist”, whatever that means. The big news, however, is that THE ROCKETEERS will be led by a black female character.

That’s certainly a marked change from the original, which was based on a popular 1980s comic that followed a stunt pilot who discovers a rocket pack and suit and subsequently becomes embroiled with Nazis and mobsters. Joe Johnston—who would go on to helm JURASSIC PARK III and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER—directed THE ROCKETEER with a swell cast led by Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, and Timothy Dalton as an Errol Flynn-esque villain.

The story of THE ROCKETEERS will maintain the period setting of the original film, as it picks up six years after the events of that movie with Campbell’s Secord having vanished fighting Nazis:

An unlikely new hero emerges: a young African–American female pilot, who takes up the mantle of Rocketeer in an attempt to stop an ambitious and corrupt rocket scientist from stealing jetpack technology in what could prove to be a turning point in the Cold War.

Given that THE ROCKETEER drew heavily from 1930s serials, it’ll be interesting to see what this “modern day twist” does to alter the tone and feel of the franchise. Moreover, given that drones are ever-present and audiences have become accustomed to superheroes flying any and everywhere (particularly the ROCKETEER-esque IRON MAN), one imagines the central conceit of a jet pack and suit will be updated to make it more…impressive.

However, I like the idea of handing the reigns of the franchise over to a black female lead. It’s a solid way of not trying to “replace” Campbell’s original character, and I appreciate the fact that it’ll continue the story where Johnston’s film left off. This is just now in the scripting stage and could very well further evolve during development, but as a big fan of Johnston’s original film I have to say I’m oddly excited about this news.

New trailer for THE ACCOUNTANT has Ben Affleck cooking books and shooting guns!

The new trailer for Gavin O’Connor’s THE ACCOUNTANT, starring Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick, gives a better look at both the young and adult versions of the title character, Christian Wolff. As it was explained in the film’s first trailer and in this follow-up as well, Wolff is a very special boy that has an amazing, genius-level skillset that’s countered by crippling anxiety. Though a specialist offers, even pleads to help the boy adjust in the hopes that he’ll be able to live a normal life, his father sees the world as a cruel place and raises Christian accordingly, in the manner he sees fit.

And that apparently means turning Christian into a cold, calculating character as his trade demands, shunning normal human interaction (even though he longs for it) and instead working for some of the world’s worst and most dangerous criminals in order to … tackle their checkbooks. Oh, and he also has guns … lots of guns.

I’m somewhat torn on this one. I loved O’Connor’s work on WARRIOR, Affleck’s a proven acting commodity, and the cast is stellar. On the flipside, it feels like the central conceit for THE ACCOUNTANT is all about a boy with genuine talents but crippling mental and psychological issues who grows up to become a ruthless and efficient criminal who may yet have a change of heart; that’s a bit much.

Also starring J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Lithgow, THE ACCOUNTANT opens in U.S. theaters on October 14th and in UK cinemas November 4th.

Matt Damon fights monsters on THE GREAT WALL, film due February 17, 2017!

Universal Pictures and Legendary have unveiled the first trailer for THE GREAT WALL. Directed by HERO and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS director Zhang Yimou, the film stars Matt Damon and tells the “true” story behind why the titular Great Wall of China was built in the first place. Set 1,000 years in the past, an elite force makes a valiant stand for humanity atop the titular wall, which is constructed to keep out a beast of monstrous proportions.

Visually, this thing looks pretty spectacular. Legendary made a swell call in enlisting Yimou to direct and giving him a Hollywood blockbuster budget to work with, and this appears to be a fantastic blend of Chinese and Hollywood filmmaking sensibilities. Story-wise, though, it remains to be seen if this will all come off as silly, or if the danger is visceral. No doubt the film was made with Chinese box office prospects in mind, so this will be a curious one to keep an eye on next year.

Written by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, and Tony Gilroy, the film also stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Hanyu Zhang, Eddie Peng, Lu Han, Kenny Lin, Junkai Wang, Zheng Kai, Cheney Chen, Xuan Huang, and Andy Lau. THE GREAT WALL opens in 3D on February 17, 2017.

Trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film SPLIT has 23 different James McAvoy’s!

Universal has unveiled the first trailer for SPLIT, the latest film from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, and it puts Shyamalan squarely back in psychological thriller mode. The film stars James McAvoy as Kevin, a man who abducts three teenage girls who suddenly realize that Kevin is one of 23 personalities displayed by McAvoy’s character, who suffers from a severe case of Multiple Personality Disorder.

The picture reunites Shyamalan with producer Jason Blum, who produced the SIXTH SENSE filmmaker’s first foray into found footage, THE VISIT. SPLIT nearly marked another reunion as Joaquin Phoenix was in early talks to star, but McAvoy eventually took on the role and he looks to be turning in a pretty stunning performance here. Moreover, the cast is filled out by a number of talented young actresses, including THE WITCH star Anya Taylor-Joy.

While Shyamalan has certainly lost some of his luster, SPLIT actually looks—dare I say—promising. There are shades of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE in the wake of that movie’s release, but this also could be Shyamalan’s most overt homage to Alfred Hitchcock yet. Moreover, the film finds Shyamalan working with cinematographer Mike Gioulakis, who turned in some truly magnificent work on last year’s horror hit IT FOLLOWS, so that’s yet another reason to be excited.

SPLIT opens in theaters on January 20th. Here’s the official synopsis:

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being.

Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Joe Cornish’s adaptation of science ficition classic SNOW CRASH gaining traction!

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It’s been quite some time since we last heard any updates regarding the feature film adaptation of Neal Stephenson’s epic novel SNOW CRASH, but that changes today. The project first gained steam in June 2012, when ATTACK THE BLOCK helmer Joe Cornish was hired to write and direct the feature film adaptation for Paramount. Producer Kathleen Kennedy was clearly impressed with Cornish’s work co-writing Steven Spielberg’s THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN with Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat, and thus he was tapped to spearhead the movie version of the bestseller, which takes place in the near future where the U.S. has been divided up into corporate city-states.

While folks may have been curious if the project had simply faded into development hell, Collider recently spoke with producer Frank Marshall who gave a promising update on the project, saying that filming might finally get underway in 2017:

“It’s a very, very cool book; and Joe Cornish is developing it with us and I hope we get started on that next year, I’m excited about that one… It’s a complicated story. It takes place in the near future and it has a lot of virtual reality in it, it’s a character that goes back-and-forth between what’s called the ‘metaverse’ in Los Angeles, but the sequences are fantastic and it really gives Joe the opportunity to show that great imagination that he has and create some fantastic scenes. If you look it up you’ll see it’s sort of the bible of the internet universe. Neil wrote this back in the ‘90s and you’ll see it’s a very highly regarded book.”

Indeed, fans of the book have been eager to see it make the leap to the big screen for years, and Cornish’s hiring was a big step towards making the SNOW CRASH movie a reality. In the wake of ATTACK THE BLOCK Cornish considered a few high-profile blockbuster projects (he was offered STAR TREK BEYOND) but eschewed those kinds of films in favor of crafting his own thing. It’s been five years since ATTACK THE BLOCK hit theaters, but SNOW CRASH would make for a heck of a follow-up. Here’s hoping this thing actually gets going in 2017.

Here’s Amazon’s synopsis of the famed book:

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosaNostra Pizza, Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.