If I learned anything about Abu Dhabi from watching the entirety of Sex and the City 2 while sitting in a tattoo parlor waiting room (which actually happened and is not a joke), it’s that the United Arab Emirates city is a mecca of wealth. The oil-rich nation has concentrated much of its affluence in its capital, and accordingly, the area has exploded with development in recent years. Skyscrapers have cropped up like so many dandelions, massive tourist resorts now dot the coastline, and high-end boutique shopping caters to such fashionable visitors as Carrie Bradshaw and her pals. And while Abu Dhabi’s latest attraction won’t invite as many Dolce & Gabbana puns as one might like, it will delight comic book fans worldwide.
People like a legend. When Heath Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose in January 2008, he had just completed principal photography on his Academy Award-winning role of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s grown-up Batman flick The Dark Knight. With zero foundation in confirmed public knowledge, a narrative sprung up around Ledger’s troubled final days, that the psychological demands of portraying a figure as sick and twisted as the Joker weighed too heavily on the actor. The apocryphal notion that the role ultimately drove Ledger to suicide is way off the mark, however, explains Ledger’s sister Kate.
This past weekend, a seismic shift in box-office history took place and went largely unnoticed. The writing was on the wall for Star Wars’ legacy in the all-time top 10 highest-earning films, as noted on Reddit prior to the start of this past weekend. Box-office behemoth Beauty and the Beast continued to generate healthy grosses in its fifth weekend of release, ending the weekend with a princely (or should I say, princessly!) sum of $471.1 million. This gave the film a slight edge of the next-most-lucrative film on the list, which just so happened to be George Lucas’ original space opus. Star Wars and its lifetime gross of $461 million have now slid down to the #11 spot.
June 9 is gonna be a big day in 2017: not just this writer’s birthday, not just the funniest numerical date of the year (6/9 — nice), not just the release of well-pedigreed indies Beatriz at Dinner and It Comes at Night. The day will undoubtedly be dominated by the grand debut of Universal’s remake of The Mummy starring box-office king of summer Tom Cruise and breakout star Sofia Boutella. We’ve seen the trailer, we’ve pored over the scoop that Cruise’s mummy-fighting hero will also himself be a walking-dead type, and we’ve pondered the larger implications of Universal going all-in on a connected universe of monster movies. And today, a pair of new tidbits with slake our thirst for new Mummy details.
For a franchise about slightly sketchy space crooks and intergalactic military types, the Star Wars films are almost conspicuously free of profanity. It makes sense from a business perspective — keeping the series PG-13 ensures that it’ll be open to a wider array of viewers — and yet the absence of cussing feels especially noticeable in a movie starring the famously coarse-tongued Carrie Fisher. The closest the series came to a four-letter word was Han Solo getting dissed as a “scruffy nerf-herder,” but a recently discovered cache of lost footage from the original 1977 Star Wars is going to change all that in short order.
Much online e-ink has been e-spilled over the question of which actor will take up the mantle of international superspy James Bond for the 25th installment of the perennial franchise. Will incumbent star Daniel Craig return for another go-round as 007, or will he be replaced by the likes of new challengers Tom Hiddleston, Dan Stevens, Emily Blunt, or Idris Elba? Who knows (not us), but as the mission to secure a star has been playing out, another big change-up has unfolded largely in the background.
Shooting a movie’s not like performing a play. The theatrical process is primal, all rooted in emotion and immersion within the fictional moment. Production on a feature film requires far more on a technical level, to the point where actors will be ordered to pick up a spoon in the exact same way ten times, just to be safe. (David Fincher famously went through one hundred takes to nail the opening breakup in his magnum opus The Social Network.) For the typical actor, most of filmmaking is waiting around for stuff to happen — but that’s far less tiresome when you get to hang out with Carrie Fisher between calls of “ACTION!”
Alien Vs. Predator. Freddy Vs. Jason. Kramer Vs. Kramer. Plessy Vs. Ferguson. Soon, a new rivalry shall join the ranks of the great cinematic grudge matches. You saw Bradley Cooper plumb new depths of moral compromise with American Sniper in 2014. Now, he’ll go up against his greatest nemesis yet: it’s American Sniper Vs. American Assassin — Battle of America.
Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
While the post-credits scene was once a surprise specially afforded to those superfans with the dedication to sit through the final frames of a film, it’s now become par for the course, a de facto advertisement for whatever a franchise might have up its sleeve next. Marvel Studios has turned this into standard operating procedure, to the point where viewers expect nothing less than another tasty morsel of footage, the cinematic equivalent of the delicious fries waiting for you at the bottom of your McDonald’s bag. How to continue taking audiences off-guard, then? Marvel could do no post-credit scene at all, that’d certainly throw people for a loop. Or... they could do five.
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