Synopsis for WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES details the title conflict, film due July 14, 2016!


It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, the next installment in Fox’s rebooted prequel-esque APES franchise, but it appears the early marketing campaign is about to begin. It was announced today that the first footage from the sequel will be unveiled at New York Comic Con, with director Matt Reeves, star Andy Serkis, and producer Dylan Clark sharing a first look at the film on Thursday, October 6th.

But in addition to the Comic-Con announcement, the first official synopsis for WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES has also been unveiled:

In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins this own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.

While we all know what the future of the planet holds, this rebooted APES franchise has thus far been pleasantly surprising. Aided by absolutely stunning motion-capture technology, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES offered up a compelling origin story for Caesar and the eventual rise of the Apes. Reeves took over as director on DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, which doubled-down on the ape-centric story with timely subject matter that harkened back to the social commentary of prior installments in the APES franchise. And now with WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, it appears we’ll get to see the turning point in the war that finally tips the apes in favor of the humans.

Reeves previously told us that WAR would be “about [Caesar] becoming the seminal figure for ape history”, likening him to Moses, so audiences are in for a treat. Andy Serkis, of course, reprises his role as Caesar while Woody Harrelson takes on human duties this time around as the Colonel.

Be on the lookout for the first look at footage or imagery from the film soon as the NYCC panel kicks off next week. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES opens in theaters on July 14, 2017.

JURASSIC WORLD sequel will be “more suspenseful and scary” and will feature more animatronics!

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A fourth JURASSIC PARK film was in the works in Hollywood for many, many years before it came to fruition. Usually, when a sequel takes that long to materialize, it can fall short of expectations (see: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE), but JURASSIC WORLD was a bona fide box office smash, grossing $1.6 billion worldwide. Unsurprisingly, Universal quickly began putting together a sequel, but the director’s chair suddenly became empty when Colin Trevorrow was tasked with helming STAR WARS: EPISODE IX. The search stretched out for a few months, but shortly after THE ORPHANAGE and THE IMPOSSIBLE filmmaker J.A. Bayona dropped out of WORLD WAR Z 2, he signed on to take over the directing reigns on JURASSIC WORLD 2, and now the follow-up is barreling towards a production start-date in early 2017.

Trevorrow is still very involved in the sequel, penning the script with his WORLD co-writer Derek Connolly and serving as producer, and he recently appeared on the JURASSIC PARK fan podcast InGeneral over at Jurassic Outpost. During the lengthy discussion, Trevorrow teased that given Bayona’s horror background, fans can expect something a bit more intense this next time around:

“It will be more suspenseful and scary. It’s just the way it’s designed; it’s the way the story plays out. I knew I wanted Bayona to direct it long before anyone ever heard that was a possibility, so the whole thing was just built around his skillset.”

In enlisting Bayona, Trevorrow said he hopes to harken back to the days when filmmakers collaborated more frequently, seemingly comparing their relationship on JURASSIC WORLD 2 to that of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas on the INDIANA JONES franchise as Trevorrow concocted the story that Bayona will execute:

“Film has become so cutthroat and competitive; it felt like an opportunity to create a situation where two directors could really collaborate. It’s rare these days, but it’s something that the directors that we admire used to do all the time—one writes and produces and the other directs, and the end result is something that’s unique to both of them. I’m in the office right now, I’ve been here every day since July working closely with J.A., listening to his instincts, and honing the script with Derek to make sure it’s something that all of us believe in.”

In terms of effects, Bayona has considerable experience with both THE IMPOSSIBLE and the wildly inventive A MONSTER CALLS that opens in theaters this December, but Trevorrow stressed that they’re also writing in plenty of animatronic practical effects:

“There will be animatronics for sure. We’ll follow the same general rule as all of the films in the franchise which is the animatronic dinosaurs are best used when standing still or moving at the hips or the neck. They can’t run or perform complex physical actions, and anything beyond that you go to animation. The same rules applied in Jurassic Park.”

Trevorrow also addressed criticisms that JURASSIC WORLD relied too heavily on CG, noting that the Indominus Rex proved impossible to realize in practical fashion:

“I think the lack of animatronics in Jurassic World had more to do with the physicality of the Indominus, the way the animal moved. It was very fast and fluid, it ran a lot, and needed to move its arms and legs and neck and tail all at once. It wasn’t a lumbering creature. We’ve written some opportunities for animatronics into [Jurassic World 2]—because it has to start at the script level—and I can definitely tell you that Bayona has the same priorities, he is all about going practical whenever possible.”

And when asked if JURASSIC WORLD 2 will continue the thread of the militarization of dinosaurs that was introduced in the first movie, Trevorrow actually revealed that that plot point played out very differently before he and Connolly rewrote the script:

“I’m not that interested in militarized dinosaurs, at least not in practice. I liked it in theory as the pipe dream of a lunatic. When that idea was first presented to me as part of an earlier script it was something that the character that ended up being Owen was for, that he supported, something that he was actively doing even at the beginning. Derek and I, one of our first reactions was ‘No if anyone’s gonna militarize raptors that’s what the bad guy does, he’s insane.’”

Pre-production on the film continues in London while Trevorrow is also in early development on EPISODE IX and Bayona is gearing up for press duties on A MONSTER CALLS, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. Having seen the trailer and being a huge fan of THE IMPOSSIBLE I can attest that A. Bayona can bring the waterworks like no one else and B. The guy is a very imaginative filmmaker.

The JURASSIC WORLD sequel opens in theaters on June 22, 2018.

Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Michael Pena in talks for MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS!

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It is no longer the heady days of the late 2000s, early 10s. In those days, Johnny Depp was a box office superstar and his movies routinely grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. The last time Depp was in a film that grossed over $100 million, it was a bit part in INTO THE WOODS. The last time he led a film that grossed over $100 million, it was 2011’s PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES. While he may hope that the PIRATES franchise will revitalize his fortunes next year with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, the performance of this year’s ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS doesn’t signal that people are particularly eager to see Johnny Depp leading films.

Which is why it’s a smart move that Depp is in talks to join the ensemble feature, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. Director Kenneth Branagh is playing the lead role of detective Hercule Poirot. For those who are unfamiliar with Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel, it revolves around the murder of an American businessman on a train, and it’s up to the intrepid Poirot to find the culprit. According to THR, Depp will play Ratchett, the man who is murdered.

That’s not to say that supporting roles are now the future of Depp’s career. He’s also signed on to lead the film LABYRINTH, in which he’ll play a detective investigating the murders of Tupac and Biggie. He’s also attached to the Brett Ratner film THE LIBERTINE, which is about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal.

Outside of Depp, ORIENT EXPRESS is lining up an outstanding cast of actors. THR reports that Leslie Odom Jr. (‘Hamilton’) is playing Doctor Arbuthnot and Tom Bateman (‘Da Vinci’s Demons’) is set to play the Frenchman Bouc. The film has also added Michelle Pfeiffer (STARDUST) as “Mrs. Hubbard, a glamorous and opinionated passenger with a secret”, Daisy Ridley (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS) as “Mary Debenham, a working class woman in love with Arbuthnot”, Judi Dench (SKYFALL) as “Princess Dragomiroff, who hails from Russian royalty”, and Michael Pena (ANT-MAN) as “a Cuban passenger named Marquez.” Lucy Boynton (SING STREET) and Derek Jacobi (GLADIATOR) are also on board.

Filming is set to begin this November in London from a script by BLADE RUNNER 2 scribe Michael Green. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is scheduled for a November 22, 2017 release.

Disney’s live-action remake of THE LION KING nabs THE JUNGLE BOOK’s Jon Favreau!

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Well I suppose this was inevitable. Disney is now firmly moving forward with a live-action adaptation of THE LION KING, and they’re turning to director Jon Favreau to spearhead the project. Walt Disney Studios announced today that it is joining forces with its THE JUNGLE BOOK helmer on “a new reimagining” of THE LION KING, which is on the fast track to production. The film will feature songs from the iconic 1994 film, but beyond that no other specifics are given.

The move comes as Disney has found immense success in mining its prior animated features for new films. MALEFICENT was the soft-opening, but things truly flourished with Kenneth Branagh’s sumptuous CINDERELLA and continued with Favreau’s CG/live-action hybrid THE JUNGLE BOOK, which is one of the year’s biggest hits as it has amassed $965 million at the worldwide box office. Filmmaker David Lowery’s lovely, earnest PETE’S DRAGON failed to reach the same box office heights in August but garnered critical praise, and Disney is poised to dive into millennial nostalgia territory for the first time with next March’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which sounds like it’s serving as a bit of a template for THE LION KING.

Directed by Dreamgirls helmer Bill Condon, BEAST features both classic and new songs and is maintaining the musical aspect of the animated film. It sounds like that’ll be the case with THE LION KING, which should come as good news to those fans disappointed by the lack of full musical numbers in THE JUNGLE BOOK. With THE JUNGLE BOOK, Favreau did a tremendous job of blending CG characters and environments with his live-action Mowgli, pushing technology to its limits, and Disney was so happy with the results that they quickly set Favreau to helm a sequel. While he’s attached to both THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 and THE LION KING, it appears that the latter is his next film, as Favreau tweeted today he’s excited for his “next project” with appropriate LION KING emojis.

The liveliness of the CG animals in THE JUNGLE BOOK was truly stunning, so I have no doubts that Simba, Mufasa, and Nala will come to vivid life in Favreau’s new version of THE LION KING. The original film is one of Disney’s best, garnering immense critical praise and spawning a hit Broadway musical. It was only a matter of time before Disney dove into the LION KING well, but given that we now know the technology to bring “live-action” animal characters to life is sound, there’s little reason to fret. Moreover, Disney has shown a willingness to allow its filmmakers plenty of creative freedom on these live-action updates, so while this is absolutely a smart business decision, there’s also reason to be hopeful for the quality of a new LION KING movie.

Release dates for THE LION KING or THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 have not yet been announced, but this past April Disney staked out release dates for two “Untitled Disney Live Action” films for August 3, 2018 and December 25, 2018. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Christmas 2018 date is prime real estate for a big LION KING redo.

Disney also has in development live-action redos of DUMBO (which has Tim Burton directing), MULAN, TINKER BELL, PINOCCHIO, THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, WINNIE THE POOH, PETER PAN, SWORD IN THE STONE, NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN, and CRUELLA. It’s probably only a matter of time before we see POCAHONTAS or HERCULES live-action reboots announced.

Now, good luck getting “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” out of your head the rest of the day.

New FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM trailer reveals plot details, film due November 18, 2016!

Warner Bros. has unveiled the new, full-length trailer for FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM this morning, and it’s our most promising look at the highly anticipated Wizarding World expansion yet. For those unaware, the film uncovers new areas of the Wizarding World established in HARRY POTTER, as author J.K. Rowling makes her screenwriting debut on a story set in 1920s America. Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, an English magizoologist who runs into big trouble during his stop in New York City as his briefcase full of magical creatures becomes unlocked, wrecking havoc on the American community—which has gone to great lengths to keep witches and wizard separate and hidden from “no-maj” or muggles.

While previous trailers have played up the cute wonders of the film, visual effects are nearing completion so this full trailer really digs into the magic of it all, unveiling a world that is both colorful and dangerous. Indeed, this trailer is far more serious than previous looks at the film, which is more in line with the latter half of the HARRY POTTER films. And that’s perfectly appropriate given that FANTASTIC BEASTS, unlike POTTER, revolves around adults instead of children. Moreover, FANTASTIC BEASTS is in good hands with director David Yates, who successfully steered the POTTER franchise into dark territory by helming ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, and both DEATHLY HALLOWS films.

Newt is aided in his quest to round up the fantastic beasts by a pair of underdog witches played by Katherine Waterston (INHERENT VICE) and Alison Sudol as well as a no-maj named Jacob (Dan Fogler), who marks the Potter universe’s first ever non-magic protagonist. While I’ll admit the previous trailers failed to “wow” me aside from John Williams’ score and a few POTTER references, this one seals the deal with peeks at the dark plot involving Colin Farrell’s rogue Auror, Ezra Miller’s mystery character and the mention of the dark wizard Grindelwald.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM also stars Samantha Morton, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo and Jon Voight. The film opens in theaters on November 18th.

IMAX delivers sneak peek at DOCTOR STRANGE, complete with new footage, action and laughs!

Marvel has released a new DOCTOR STRANGE trailer and it contains something we haven’t seen yet from the marketing: humor! While it’s pretty much a given that Marvel movies are going to contain jokes, the trailers for DOCTOR STRANGE thus far have been deadly serious and played heavily on trying to convey that this is the first Marvel film to delve into the mystical realm. And yet the marketing basically just makes the film look like IRON MAN meets BATMAN BEGINS with magic. Humor can help provide a way to show how characters see themselves and how they see each other. The one joke in this DOCTOR STRANGE trailer doesn’t illuminate the entire film, but it’s better than nothing.

We might get a better idea of what’s in store when Marvel does a sneak peek of select footage in IMAX 3D at select locations on October 10th at 7pm. The footage will be at over 115 locations across North America, and will provide “thrilling, never-before-seen 3D footage of the Scott Derrickson-directed movie.” Derrickson said of the footage, “As a movie fan, I am thrilled to take audiences along on the visual journey of ‘Doctor Strange’ and give them an early peek at what we’ve been working on. The completed film will feature more than an hour of specially formatted IMAX sequences that will provide audiences with a totally immersive—and mind-blowing—film-going experience and I’m excited to share a taste of that with our fans on 10/10.”

Click here to get your free tickets to the event. Attendees will also receive a limited edition, collectible DOCTOR STRANGE IMAX poster. The full film hits theaters November 4, 2016.

Marvel Studios: Stan Lee has already filmed his next four cameos!

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Stan Lee cameos have become a mainstay in the Marvel movies, and it appears as though he’s already gotten a jump on his roles in a number of films ahead. The 93-year-old comics legend made his first cameo appearance in 2000’s X-MEN, a film that served as one of the godfathers of the modern superhero genre and on which current Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige worked as an associate producer. Lee has gone on to cameo in 26 feature films thus far, including every single one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. And it appears that streak has no end in sight, as he’s already banked cameos for upcoming films.

At a special screening of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR in Los Angeles, Feige revealed that Lee has already shot cameos for four upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe films:

“We do not shoot random ones. They’re always specific. A couple of months ago in Atlanta, [Lee] flew down and we shot four in one day — for four various projects. They’re all awesome! They’re all totally different. And he was unbelievable. He was on fire. He came in, he sat here, he stood there, he stood in this window, and then he went home.”

While the studio used to shoot quite a bit in London, Atlanta has quickly become Marvel Studios’ base of production with the construction of the new Pinewood Atlanta facilities. Not only does it give them more stage space, but it’s also much closer to Los Angeles, making the prospect of flying someone like Robert Downey Jr. to and from set less inconvenient.

Of course, given that Lee is 93 years old, one imagines he’s not crazy about flying to Atlanta every 6 months or so to shoot a cameo for a new movie, so banking a lot in one trip is a smart idea. Which movies did he shoot cameos for? Well, probably the next four on Marvel’s docket: DOCTOR STRANGE, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, THOR: RAGNAROK, and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Of course GUARDIANS VOL 2 wrapped earlier this year, THOR is in production in Australia, and INFINITY WAR doesn’t start filming in earnest until early next year, but thanks to the advent of green screen, they can just insert Lee’s cameo wherever it’s meant to fit.

Here’s a look at the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe line-up:

DOCTOR STRANGE – November 4, 2016
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 – May 5, 2017
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – July 7, 2017
THOR: RAGNAROK – November 3, 2017
BLACK PANTHER – February 16, 2018
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – May 4, 2018
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP – July 6, 2018
CAPTAIN MARVEL – March 8, 2019
Untitled AVENGERS sequel – May 3, 2019