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  1. 'Bride of Frankenstein' to Be Next 'Dark Universe' Monster Movie

    Get ready for a monster mash!

    Universal has announced a series of reboots of its classic monster movies, dubbing it the "Dark Universe." The series begins with "The Mummy" starring Tom Cruise, and will feature crossovers between the monsters.

    After "The Mummy," the next "Dark Universe" movie will be "Bride of Frankenstein," to be directed by Bill Condon ("Beauty and the Beast") and set for a February 2019 release.

    "I'm very excited to bring a new 'Bride of Frankenstein' to life on screen, particularly since James Whale's original creation is still so potent," Condon said in a press release. "'The Bride of Frankenstein' remains the most iconic female monster in film history, and that's a testament to Whale's masterpiece—which endures as one of the greatest movies ever made."

    Universal's press release also confirmed that Johnny Depp will play the Invisible Man and Javier Bardem will play Frankenstein. It seems likely the latter will appear in "Bride of Frankenstein," but there's word on whether any of the stars of "The Mummy" will cross over.

  2. Here's Why 'Alien: Covenant' Is a Box Office Disappointment

    If you saw "Alien: Covenant" this weekend, you probably have a lot of questions. Some involve plot holes big enough to pilot the Covenant colony spaceship through, and some involve whether or not you'll ever be able to get the image of Michael Fassbender kissing Michael Fassbender out of your head. (Or if you even want to.)

    This column can't answer any of those -- sorry -- but it can answer those regarding the movie's razor-thin victory over "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" at the box office. The latest "Alien" prequel claimed an estimated $36.0 million debut, keeping "Guardians" from a three-peat at No. 1 by a margin of less than $1 million.

    Going into the weekend, "Alien's" projections were near $40 million, but a Friday to Saturday dip crushed those hopes. Still, what does this photo finish mean for the franchise, its director and stars, its studio, and a summer movie season that has hobbled out of the gate? Let's break it down.

    "Guardians" is holding up very well after three weeks; it just crossed the $300 million mark on its 17th day in theaters, and it'll almost certainly surpass the $333 million total earned by the first "Guardians" within the next several days. Plus, Ridley Scott's previous "Alien" prequel -- 2012's confusing "Prometheus" -- may have squandered a lot of the franchise's good will.
    Nonetheless, anticipation for "Covenant" was keen, reviews were good-ish (73 percent at Rotten Tomatoes), word-of-mouth was just okay (as measured by a B grade at CinemaScore), and the R-rated sci-fi/horror installment was able to deliver gore, thrills, and chills that franchise fans have come to expect over the last 38 years. Plus, it's competition among new wide releases skewed a lot younger, so it didn't have to worry about losing viewers to teen romance "Everything, Everything" or family comedy sequel "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul." No wonder people 25 and older made up 66 percent of the "Covenant" audience.

    Is "Covenant's" Opening Weekend a Triumph or Disappointment?
    The argument is leaning toward the latter.

    It's a lot less than the $51 million debut of "Prometheus," but no one expected it to open anywhere near that big anyway. After all, anticipation for "Prometheus" was even greater, since that marked the beginning of Scott's prequel series, as well as the celebrated director's return to the franchise he launched in 1979, after a 33-year absence.

    Some pundits predicted that "Covenant" would premiere with as little as $35 million, though others predicted it would open as much as $40 million. So $36 million is within the range of expectations, and -- assuming the weekend estimates hold up when final figures are released Monday -- "Covenant" will claim bragging rights as the movie that dethroned "Guardians."

    Is Katherine Waterston the Next Sigourney Weaver?
    It's not clear whether her role as the plucky "Covenant" heroine will make her as famous as the original "Alien" made the then-unknown Weaver. But certainly, Hollywood is trying its darnedest to make her a star, between this and her recent supporting-lead role in the Harry Potter franchise-reviving "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."

    Still, in "Covenant," she has to compete for the spotlight against not just one but two Michael Fassbenders, as well as a large ensemble cast, so she's probably still a few movies away from a breakthrough role.

    Is "Covenant" Going to Make a Profit?
    That could depend on what it cost, which in turn depends on who you ask.

    Trade reports cite Fox as saying the movie cost $97 million, but the typically blunt and candid Scott has said $111 million. Both figures seem remarkably low for an effects-heavy space opera, especially since "Prometheus" cost a reported $130 million five years ago.

    Then again, Fox is reporting that "Covenant" has already earned $81.9 million overseas, so its global total of $117.9 is above even Scott's figure. Of course, once you add marketing costs and subtract the theater owners' take, "Covenant" is going to have to gross as much as $450 million just to break even.

    That's not impossible. Scott's previous "Alien" prequel grabbed $403 million from earthling ticketbuyers, and that was at 2012 prices. In any case, what will save "Covenant," like nearly every other big-budget Hollywood release this year, will be the foreign audience. The domestic release was always going to be just gravy, which is another reason why Fox shouldn't be too disappointed by $36 million North American debut.

    What Do This Weekend's Results Say About the Summer 2017 Movie Season
    Don't forget, even if domestic box office is an afterthought these days, summer sales still traditionally make up 40 percent of the year's take, or about $4.5 billion at the North American box office.
    The current summer movie season is just three weeks old, but already, it's seen "Covenant" do "meh" business, "Guardians 2" slightly underperform them, and "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" bomb outright. The box office for the year to date is just slightly ahead of this time last year (by 2.4 percent, or about $102 million). That's not much of an edge; a couple more shaky debuts or massive flops and this year's box office will fall behind and struggle to catch up with previous years. There'd better be a lot of gold in Wonder Woman's lasso.

    Scott has said he has at least one and as many as four ideas for future "Alien" installments. As long as the 79-year-old's health holds out, and as long as the $1.4 billion franchise keeps delivering solid worldwide numbers like "Covenant" has, those facehuggers and chestbursters should keep coming back to terrify us for years to come.

  3. James Cameron Sued by Man Who Claims He Inspired 'Titanic'

    It's been 84 20 years since "Titanic" came out, but some (head-scratch-worthy) lawsuits never let go.

    Last night, Celine Dion wowed the 2017 Billboard Music Awards audience by singing her famous "Titanic" song, "My Heart Will Go On."

    Just incase you missed Celine dion's tear jerking performance of "my heart will go on" 😭 pic.twitter.com/rX8iB0Y8s5

    — no (@tbhjuststop) May 22, 2017

    Meanwhile, TMZ posted a report that writer/director James Cameron is being sued for $300 million (plus 1 percent of royalties) by a Florida man who claims "he's the inspiration for Jack Dawson," played by Leonardo DiCaprio. At least, that's how TMZ phrased it, but they probably just mean the guy claims he inspired the main love story, including Kate Winslet's character, Rose. The guy who filed suit, Stephen Cummings, probably doesn't think he's the real Jack Dawson since -- 20-year-old spoiler alert -- that guy died when the ship went down.

    TMZ referenced the legal docs, which claim James Cameron heard about Cummings through word-of-mouth, after events that took place in Brevard County in 1988 and 1989, and Cameron used Cummings's story for the 1997 film.

    As the site reported:

    "The ex-'yacht master' also says the depiction of the Titanic sinking was NOT based on history, but instead on stories he told friends about 2 of his relatives who were aboard the real doomed ship. You probably guessed -- the wife survived, the husband did not.

    Of course, 1,517 souls were lost that fateful 1912 night ... so we'd imagine there are more than a few such stories."

    There's no word on why this guy would wait so long to file a lawsuit, but maybe he wanted to piggy-back on the 20th anniversary. So far, the suit is being met with "good luck with that" laughter, and if this is really all he has, he really does not have much. But at least he's making it count?

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  4. Daisy Ridley Lets Her Hair Down in Stunning First 'Ophelia' Photo

    'Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between' Costume Institute Gala - ArrivalsDaisy Ridley puts the Rey of "Star Wars" far behind her in the first image from the Hamlet re-imagining "Ophelia," looking almost unrecognizable as herself, and more like ... a cross between Sansa Stark and an ethereal "Lord of the Rings" elf? She looks beautiful, either way.

    The Hollywood Reporter first posted the image, showing Ridley as the title character in this re-imagining of Shakespeare's tragedy, set in the 14th century and sharing the untold story of Ophelia's romance with Prince Hamlet (George MacKay), while she's the most trusted lady-in-waiting to the queen (Naomi Watts). Clive Owen plays Hamlet's uncle Claudius, with Tom Felton as Ophelia's brother, and Devon Terrell as Hamlet's friend Horatio.

    That wig is a keeper!

    This adaptation of Lisa Klein's book, "Ophelia," is being directed by Claire McCarthy. There doesn't seem to be a release date yet, but THR reports that Covert Media is handling international sales at the Cannes Film Festival, and CAA is handling domestic rights.

    Ridley is certainly keeping busy beyond Shakespeare. She'll next be seen in the ensemble of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express," which opens November 10, and then she'll star alongside Mark Hamill in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," opening December 15.

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  5. What's New on TV, Netflix, Digital, and DVD/Blu-ray This Week: May 22-28

    At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's new on Netflix and TV, we've got you covered.

    New Video on Demand, Rental Streaming, and Digital

    "John Wick: Chapter 2"
    John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is thinkin' he's back, and you bet your a** he's right, in this action sequel arriving on Digital HD on Tuesday, May 23, then on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD on June 13. The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD releases feature more than three hours of bonus material including feature-length audio commentary with Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski, three deleted scenes, nine featurettes, the official John Wick "Kill Count" video, and the Dog Wick short. The DVD just has the commentary and two featurettes.

    "A United Kingdom"
    David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star in this true story of the forbidden love between the king of Botswana and a white English woman in the 1940s. The historical drama arrives on Digital HD May 23 and on DVD June 6. Extras include a making-of featurette, and featurettes on filming in Botswana and "The Legacy of Seretse and Ruth."

    "Casual" Season 3 (Hulu)
    The third season of Hulu's dramedy about a newly divorced mom (Michaela Watkins) living with her brother (Tommy Dewey) and her daughter (Tara Lynne Barr) premieres May 23.

    "Delicious" Season 1(Acorn TV)
    Acorn TV is streaming the exclusive U.S. premiere of Season 1 of this U.K. drama series, starting Friday, May 26. Iain Glen ("Game of Thrones"), Dawn French ("The Vicar of Dibley"), and Emilia Fox ("Silent Witness") star in the four-part series about food, love, and infidelity in Cornwall. Glen plays a successful chef who stole most of his recipes from his ex-wife (French), whom he cheated on for years. Now married to "the other woman" (Fox), he is having yet another affair.

    New on DVD and Blu-ray

    "Get Out"
    DANIEL KALUUYA as Chris Washington in "Get Out," a speculative thriller from Blumhouse (producers of "The Visit," "Insidious" series and "The Gift") and the mind of Jordan Peele, when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation.Jordan Peele wrote and directed this blockbuster horror film following an African-American man (Daniel Kaluuya) who meets his white girlfriend's (Allison Williams) mysterious family (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford). "Get Out" arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand on May 23. Bonus features include a chilling alternate ending that flips the script, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, plus deleted scenes and feature commentary from Jordan Peele.

    "Outsiders: Season Two"
    Watch the Farrell clan continue their struggle for power in the hills of Appalachia as Season 2 of WGN America's original drama series arrives on DVD this Tuesday, May 23. All 13 episodes are included, plus 29 deleted scenes. Sadly, WGN America canceled the show after two seasons, but a limited edition set is being released, including the full series, for your collection.

    Here's an exclusive look at one of the many Season 2 deleted scenes; this one, "The Baby Brought Us Back Together," features a never-before-seen interaction between Sally-Ann (Christina Jackson) and Hasil (Kyle Gallner):"Logan"
    Hugh Jackman's final Wolverine movie arrives on DVD and Blu-ray May 23. The 90 minutes of special features include "Logan Noir," a black-and-white version of the film; audio commentary by director James Mangold; and (on Blu-ray only) a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary, and deleted scenes with optional commentary.

    "Rock Dog"
    This music-filled adventure film about a dog's quest to fulfill his dream arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand May 23. The home release includes four behind-the-scenes featurettes exploring every aspect of making the film, plus the "Glorious" music video. Here's a clip from the bonus features, focusing on voice actors Luke Wilson (as Bodi) and Eddie Izzard (as Angus):"I Am Heath Ledger"
    Actor Heath Ledger died in 2008 at age 28, leaving behind family, friends, fans, and a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage he shot with his own camera. This 90-minute Spike TV documentary presents an intimate look into the life of the star, through his personal home movies. The doc premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, then aired May 17 on Spike. "I Am Heath Ledger" will be released on Digital and DVD on May 23.

    New on Netflix

    "Bloodline" Season 3 (Netflix Original)"Witness the end." The Rayburns hopefully get what they deserve, in every respect, in the final chapter of this tense Netflix drama. The 10 episodes of Season 3 premiere Friday, May 26.

    "War Machine" (Netflix Original Film)Brad Pitt leads an all-star cast in this Netflix original film/savage parody based on the book "The Operators: The Wild & Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan." The movie debuts on Netflix May 26.

    "Inglourious Basterds"
    Speaking of Brad Pitt and war, director Quentin Tarantino's 2009 WWII movie arrives on Netflix May 22.

    TV Worth Watching

    "The Bachelorette" (Monday on ABC at 9 p.m.)
    Is this really "TV Worth Watching"? Eh. It is, if it you don't take it too seriously and watch it as a light-hearted parody of modern dating rather than a genuine "journey" to find true love. Rachel Lindsay is ABC's first non-white lead, and she'll meet her 31 future exes tonight on the premiere, which airs after the Freestyles of the "Dancing With the Stars" Season 24 Finale. "The Bachelorette" will move to its normal Mondays at 8 p.m. timeslot on May 29. Want spoilers? Here's the rumored "winner."

    "Dirty Dancing" (Wednesday on ABC at 8 p.m.)
    Bless her heart, Baby is going to end up in a corner yet again in ABC's new remake of the 1987 classic. Abigail Breslin has the lead role, alongside Colt Prattes as Johnny Castle, with Debra Messing and Bruce Greenwood as Baby's parents, and Sarah Hyland as her sister Lisa. The Catskills await when this movie airs across three hours on May 24.

    "Survivor" Season 34 (Wednesday on CBS at 8 p.m.)
    "Game Changers," aka Season 34, ends this Wednesday with a two-hour finale, then a one-hour reunion show. There aren't that many game-changing players left to root for, but ... Team Sarah, Cirie, Aubry, or Tai.

    "The Leftovers" Season 3 (Sunday on HBO at 9 p.m.)
    Next week is the series finale of this wonderful mind-bleep of a show, but we've been told to keep an eye on this penultimate episode. As TVLine teased before this season even started, "Also, if you enjoyed last season's alt-reality, standalone ep 'International Assassin,' then you are going to fall head over heels for its quasi-sequel, Season 3, Episode 7's 'The Most Powerful Man in the World' — aka the series' second-to-last episode ever." The episode is actually titled "The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)," and here's HBO's synopsis: "On a mission of mercy, Kevin assumes an alternate identity." Cannot wait.

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  6. 9 Things You Need to Know Before Seeing 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'

    This weekend, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," the fifth (yes, fifth) film in the most famous based-on-a-theme-park-attraction franchise of all time, finally splashes down in theaters after years of anticipation. (The last film in the series, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," was released back in the summer of 2011.) Johnny Depp is back in the iconic dreadlocks of Captain Jack Sparrow, who this time faces villainy in the form of Salazar (Javier Bardem), a former pirate-hunter turned ghostly, revenge-obsessed ghoul.

    But what else do you need to know about the latest entry in the series? We'll let you in on what can you expect from the merry band of pirates and whether or not there will there be even more seafaring installments.

    1. It's Epic

    One of the first things that you get a sense of with this latest installment is just how huge it is. There's a flashback, an epic sea battle, and a sequence that can only be described as the "Pirates of the Caribbean" version of the vault heist from "Fast Five," all in the first few minutes of the movie. There are probably a dozen or so characters, who each have differing levels of dialogue/involvement, and at least two magical objects that everybody in the entire ocean seems to be searching for. In a weird way it makes you appreciate the scale of "Pirates of the Caribbean." There are a lot of big action and fantasy films, but few can conjure forth the kind of "How did they do that?" wonder that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films do. These movies are old-school action extravaganzas and it seems, at least after one viewing, to be just as sizable as the other films and is head and shoulders above the fourth entry, which despite its massive budget felt like the "bottle episode" of a lavish television series. Thankfully, the "wow" factor is back.

    2. If You Liked the First Film, Then You'll Love This

    Even before the film started shooting, its directors were drawing a direct line between the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" and this film. And that's definitely the movie that it's closest to in the series -- the narrative is more streamlined, it's characters more understandable, and the supernatural elements are once again actually spooky (that opening sequence with Salazar's crew is a 10/10 jaw-dropper) -- even while handily referencing nearly every previous installment. (Some of these references are more explicit, and have more bearing on the plot, than others.) You don't have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise (like myself); you can just go along for the ride. Did you forget why the Black Pearl is trapped in a tiny bottle? It doesn't really matter! In many ways "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" is a soft reboot; the climax changes the franchise forever. And that's really exciting.

    3. Javier Bardem Is Amazing

    "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" is mostly filled with great performances (the weak link being the two young people at the center of the movie) but the greatest performance comes courtesy of everyone's favorite sneering villain, Javier Bardem. As Salazar, he literally oozes menace. (It looks like he's chewing on the same black goo that came out of Danny De Vito's mouth in "Batman Returns.") But like most of Bardem's baddies, he takes joy in his tyranny. Sometimes he's downright gleeful. He's the perfect antidote to the boring white folk, too. Every time he shows up on screen, the movie goes electric.

    4. The Effects Are Terrific

    One of the things that makes Bardem's character so captivating are the visual effects used to bring him to life. It's totally Javier. There's no motion capture involved. But there are complicated effects, physics simulators and the like, which are used to blast away part of his face (he died in an explosion) and make his hair look like it's constantly swaying in the ocean current (he also died underwater). It's mesmerizing. And there are other cool flourishes, too, like the much ballyhooed ghost sharks and Salazar's living ship, which rears out of the water like a tarantula and whose masthead springs to life during a pivotal fight. It's wondrous stuff, through and through.

    5. Johnny Depp Is Serviceable

    Depp loves Jack Sparrow. He recently showed up to Disneyland and hid in the ride, frightening (and delighting) tourists and he often makes appearances at places like the D23 Expo (the Comic Con for Disney nerds) in full regalia. So it's kind of weird to see him so listless in the role this time out. It could be his age (Depp turned 50 before putting on his pieces of eight again) but, physically, he doesn't do as much swashbuckling as he once did. Still, he's great for a few zingers, and it's always fun to just see Captain Jack play.

    6. You'll Want a Spin-Off for the Sea Witch Character

    Of the movie's many surprises, one of the bigger ones was seeing Golshifteh Farahani, so terrific in last year's "Paterson" (she's also really great in Ridley Scott's weirdly underrated Middle Eastern thriller "Body of Lies"), playing sea witch Shansa, who forms an uneasy alliance with both Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa and the British Navy. With a shaved head and inky red tattoos, she's one of the more striking-looking characters in the movie, and her mysterious vibe will make you long for her return to the franchise (or an entirely separate spin-off movie).

    7. There Aren't That Many Nods to the Ride

    It's always fun to play "spot the reference" to the famous Disneyland attraction but there aren't that many in this film. Instead, there seems to be a sequence that has inspired part of the new ride at Shanghai Disneyland, "Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure." (Talking about what that sequence is would probably constitute "spoiler material.") Still, there are a few winks and nods to the original attraction, enough to make your geeky little heart go pitter-patter. Just don't expect too many explicit connections.

    8. Um, Paul McCartney Shows Up

    This isn't really a spoiler. Paul McCartney shared a poster of his character on social media the other day. His cameo is both weird and somewhat on-message, considering that Keith Richards has been in two of the four installments before this. In the film, he plays Jack's Uncle Jack, who is imprisoned in a cell next to Jack Sparrow. It's kind of cute, even if it goes on a little too long (you could say the same about the movie itself) and McCartney seems to be having an absolute blast. Paul is "Dead (Men Tell No Tales)."

    9. Stay Through the Credits

    While there are some pretty big shake-ups during the course of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," it's also pretty evident that this is far from the final film in the franchise. And what really hammers this point home is the fact that there's a post-credits sequence that indicates that a formidable character from a previous entry is set to return. That's all we can say, but just know to stick around, especially if you want an idea of where the series is headed.

    "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" opens on Friday everywhere.

  7. 9 Star Wars Movies That You Will Never See

    We now live in a world where there's going to be a new "Star Wars" movie every year for possibly decades to come. But even with that embarrassment of nerd riches, we can't help but dwell on the Star Wars movies that never were.

    From Steven Spielberg's "Return of the Jedi" to George Lucas' original vision for the sequels to his original trilogy, these are the "Star Wars" movies that never were.

    "Star Wars" (1977)

    1. "Journal of the Whills"George Lucas had already begun writing "Star Wars" in earnest as early as 1973, but the early drafts bore little resemblance to what fans would actually see on the big screen.

    The earliest incarnation of "Star Wars" came in the form of a two-page treatment called "Journal of the Whills," which revolved around a character named CJ Thorpe, a pupil of "Jedi-Bendu" master Mace Windy. Basically, the treatment featured a bunch of weird names and concepts that Lucas had yet to forge into a real story.

    2. "The Star Wars"Eventually, Lucas managed to expand that early treatment into a full script he dubbed "The Star Wars." The original screenplay features characters like General Luke Skywalker and brothers Deak and Annikin Starkiller. Han Solo and Chewbacca were also present, though at that point Han was envisioned as a reptilian alien (see above). Elements like the Sith Empire and the Death Star were also present in this early draft.

    "The Star Wars" evolved over the course of several drafts, with each new iteration bringing the story closer to what fans know today. But for those curious about what might have been, Dark Horse Comics published a 2013 mini-series -- cover art above -- that adapts the original screenplay.

    "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980)

    3. Leigh Brackett's Draft
    Not her fourth draft, which many fans have read and debated over at conventions. No, this is the plot from her first draft -- and it has very, very little in common with the film we all know and love.

    Here, Han Solo goes in search of his father-in-law, Ovan Marekal, who has political ties with Darth Vader. Luke still goes to Dagobah, but here, it's just "the Bog Planet." And instead of meeting Yoda, he meets a a frog-like Jedi named Minch, who teaches our favorite intergalactic farm boy the ways of the Force.

    In 1978, Lucas gave the screenwriter a shot to write the then-untitled sequel. He hired her based on her promising and prolific work as a science fiction author. (That explains the very prose-y way the script reads.) Brackett would never get to see how the final film turned out; she died one year after she turned in her script.

    "Return of the Jedi" (1983)

    4. The Early Lucas/Kasdan Drafts​​​​​​​While it's not clear exactly how many revisions the "Return of the Jedi" screenplay went through during pre-production, over the years both Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan have revealed many major and minor edits that were made.

    Early on, the duo had to account for the very real possibility that Harrison Ford might not return. At one point, the film featured an early death for Han and didn't include Yoda at all. Early drafts also featured Wookiees in place of Ewoks, the resurrection of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a spaghetti Western-worthy denouement as Luke walks sadly into the sunset instead of partying it up on Endor.

    5. Steven Spielberg or David Lynch's "Return of the Jedi"Even after Lucas and Kasdan completed their screenplay, there was a great deal of uncertainty as to who would actually direct the film. At varying points, Lucas approached David Lynch (who opted for for rival space fantasy film "Dune" instead), David Cronenberg (who did the same for "Videodrome") and even Steven Spielberg.

    We can't help but wonder how a Spielberg-directed "Episode VI" might have turned out. Would it still be considered the weak point of the Original Trilogy?

    "The Force Awakens" (2015)

    6. Lucas' Sequel Trilogy
    Lucas has given conflicting reports over the decades as to whether he ever planned to continue his "Star Wars" saga beyond the events of "Return of the Jedi." But when he sold the franchise to Disney in 2012, Lucas reportedly handed over story treatments for "Episodes VII," "VIII" and "IX." Little is known about the content of those treatments, other than the fact that Disney elected not to make use of them.

    Novelist Timothy Zahn offered probably the closest glimpse into Lucas' plans for the sequel trilogy, saying "The original idea as I understood it -- and Lucas changes his mind off and on, so it may not be what he's thinking right now -- but it was going to be three generations. You'd have the original trilogy, then go back to Luke's father and find out what happened to him, and if there was another seventh, eighth, or ninth film, it would be Luke's children."

    7. The Michael Arndt Draft"The Force Awakens" went through many rewrites before Disney and J.J. Abrams settled on a final shooting script, as the studio understandably wanted to make a good impression with jaded "Star Wars" fans.

    We don't know a great deal about the plot of Michael Arndt's original draft, other than the fact that it brought Luke Skywalker into the plot midway through rather than at the very end of the film. But even Arndt admitted that Luke's presence distracted from the new cast of characters.

    We also know that earlier drafts of the screenplay featured Rey having a flashback to Luke and Vader's fateful duel on Cloud City, and Poe dying when his stolen TIE Fighter crashed on Jakku. Thankfully for all the Poe/Finn shippers out there, he was later spared that fate.

    "Rogue One" (2016)

    8. The Original Cut

    "Rogue One" worried a great many "Star Wars" fans once word got out that Disney was moving forward with weeks of extensive rewrites and reshoots in summer 2016, a process that was overseen by Tony Gilroy rather than director Gareth Edwards. The goal was apparently to craft a lighter, more adventurous take, with many Disney and Lucasfilm higher-ups fearing the project was veering in too dark a direction. (Also, they had concern that Edwards' sense of story was less-than-strong for what they needed their first "Star Wars" film post-"TFA" to be.)

    The early trailers for "Rogue One" offer a taste of the film as it existed in its original form, as they feature many shots that were entirely absent in the final cut. That includes a glimpse of Director Krennic and his Stormtroopers wading through the beach on Scarif, alternate scenes with Vader, and a sequence where Jyn and Cassian charge directly into fire from a fleet of AT-ACT Walkers.

    9. The "Happy Ending" Version"Rogue One" is notable for its relatively dark ending, as the film's entire cast of heroes is killed during the Battle of Scarif. But that wasn't always the case.

    Writer Gary Whitta revealed that early drafts of the screenplay provided a happier ending for Jyn and Cassian (while other characters like Baze, Bodhi and Chirrut were completely absent). The film would have ended with Jyn and Cassian escaping the planet's surface and surviving the destruction of their ship by fleeing into an escape pod.

    But Whitta ultimately decided it just wasn't worth the effort, saying "The fact that we had to jump through so many hoops to keep them alive was the writing gods telling us that if they were meant to live it wouldn't be this difficult." That alternate ending exists only in storyboard form.

  8. 21 Things You Never Knew About 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park'

    "It wasn't as good as the first one. But it was very successful."

    That was the assessment by Steven Spielberg himself of "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," which marks its 20th anniversary on May 23, 2017. Indeed, the 1997 sequel may have prompted eye-rolling among fans, but it scared up a fortune at the box office, enough so that the franchise has continued to this day. Plus, it was the last time we got to see Jeff Goldblum's snarky scientist Ian Malcolm -- at least until next summer's "Jurassic World 2."

    As smoothly as the production ran -- Spielberg finished it on budget and ahead of schedule -- there were still some surprises and jokes on the set. Read on for the dino-details.
    1. Michael Crichton called his "Jurassic Park" follow-up novel the only book he ever wrote that he knew would be made into a movie. He took inspiration from Arthur Conan Doyle, who'd written his own dinosaur novel in 1912 called "The Lost World," and who had famously resurrected Sherlock Holmes after killing him off -- a precedent Crichton used to justify bringing back Ian Malcolm, who had survived in the movie version of "Jurassic Park" but not in Crichton's earlier novel.
    2. Even so, Spielberg and "Jurassic Park" screenwriter David Koepp ended up tossing a lot of Crichton's plot and characters, though they kept a handful of key scenes, including the central set piece of mom-and-dad Tyrannosaurus Rexes attacking a trailer in order to rescue their wounded infant.
    3. The little girl attacked by tiny dinosaurs in the opening scene (above) is played by Camilla Belle. She and Vanessa Lee Chester (who played Malcolm's daughter, Kelly) had both played supporting roles in Alfonso Cuarón's "A Little Princess." Fittingly, Belle would grow up to star in prehistoric adventure "10,000 B.C."
    4. Early in the film, while Goldblum rides the subway, you can see a familiar-looking young man reading a newspaper. That's future "Inglourious Basterds" co-star and "Hostel" director Eli Roth, who was an extra in several movies at the dawn of his Hollywood career.
    5. Koepp got the names for characters Roland (Pete Postlethwaite, above) and Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) from the macho rivals in one of his favorite songs, Warren Zevon's "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner."
    6. Vaughn was all but unknown when Spielberg cast him. The director had first noticed him while watching a pre-release edit of "Swingers," whose makers had passed it along to Spielberg in order to get his approval to borrow the "Jaws" theme music. Vaughn would also co-star in 1997 indie drama "The Locusts" with Kate Capshaw (Spielberg's wife) before "Lost World" introduced him to a mass audience.
    7. While many shots in the film make use of advances in CGI that had occurred in the four years since "Jurassic Park," close-up shots of menacing carnivores were accomplished as before, with animatronic creatures built by monster-effects wizard Stan Winston.
    8. The two T-Rex parents he built were so massive (19,000 pounds each -- and they were just head-and-torso) that they couldn't leave the soundstage, and sets had to be built around them. They were mounted on carts that ran on fixed tracks.
    9. The crew had the most fun staging the T-Rex tracks' attack on the trailer, creature designer Shane Mahan recalled.

    "At first, we were hesitant, thinking that we had to be careful with the rigs. But it got to the point where we were just, 'Ah, to hell with it,' and we just demolished that trailer with the T-Rex rigs," Mahan said. "That scene wasn't faked. Those T-Rexes were really slamming into that thing, breaking glass and shaking it. I think the scene really works because we went for it like that. You can tell that something truly violent is happening."
    10. The cliff over which the damaged trailer dangles was built out of a parking garage on the Universal Studios lot.
    11. Most of the outdoor footage was shot in the redwood forests of Northern California. Yeah, in real life, there are no redwood forests in Costa Rica, but the ancient, enormous trees gave the scenes the prehistoric look that Spielberg wanted.
    12. The sequence where velociraptors attack in the tall grass had to be planned a year in advance, in order for the seed sown by the production crew to grow tall enough. The crew planted eight full acres, in case scenes required multiple takes, since the grass, once trampled, wouldn't spring back up.
    13. The screenplay's original ending had the humans fleeing the island in helicopters while being attacked by pteranodons, but the flying lizards wouldn't get their due on screen until "Jurassic Park III." 14. The idea of ending the movie with a T-Rex attacking San Diego came from Conan Doyle's novel, whose finale brought a pterodactyl to London, and from Spielberg's delight at the idea of making his own little "Godzilla" movie and seeing a T-Rex drinking from a swimming pool.
    15. How did the crew of the ship get eaten if the T-Rex was still locked in the cargo hold? Apparently, there was supposed to be a scene showing raptors aboard the ship, but it was never filmed.
    16. The "Godzilla" gag isn't at all subtle, except for the fact that one of the fleeing Japanese businessmen is saying, in Japanese, "I moved from Tokyo to get away from all this!" At least the filmmakers dropped their early idea of printing out that punchline in subtitles.
    17. Koepp (above) has a cameo as "Unlucky Bastard," who is eaten by the runaway T-Rex during the San Diego sequence.
    18. We still get a kick out of those blink-and-you'll-miss-'em posters for imaginary movies in the San Diego video store: Tom Hanks riding a surfboard in something called "Tsunami Sunrise," a giant Robin Williams holding a tiny family in his palm in "Jack and the Beanstalks" (a hint toward the "BFG" adaptation in Spielberg's future?), and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Shakespeare's "King Lear."
    19. The budget of "Lost World" was reportedly $73 million, just $8 million more than "Jurassic Park" had cost in 1993.
    20. "Lost World" set box office records when it opened. Its $72.1 million opening weekend was the biggest ever at the time and held the record until "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" surpassed it four and a half years later. It was also the fastest film to cross the $100 million mark, doing so in just six days. It ultimately earned less over the course of its run than "Jurassic Park," racking up $229 million in North America and $619 million worldwide. Still, it remained the top grossing movie for most of 1997, until "Titanic" opened in December.
    21. It's no wonder Spielberg followed "Lost World" with dialogue-heavy dramas "Amistad" and "Saving Private Ryan." "It made me wistful about doing a talking picture because sometimes I got the feeling I was just making this big silent-roar movie," he said of "Lost World." "I found myself saying, 'Is that all there is? It's not enough for me.'"

  9. Box Office: 'Alien: Covenant' Slides Past 'Guardians 2' to Win Weekend With $36 Million

    LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - As this weekend approached, the question lingered if "Alien: Covenant" would be able to unseat "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" from the top spot at the domestic box office.

    Now, we have an answer. As of Sunday morning, "Covenant," from 20th Century Fox and Scott Free Productions, looks to be the winner with a three-day estimate of $36 million (27.6 million pounds) from 3,761 locations. That's just above Disney's "Guardians" sequel which is raking in an additional $35.3 million from 4,347 spots. The super sequel is seeing only a 46% drop from last weekend, and its total domestic earnings now exceed $300 million.

    While "Alien" may have won, the film's price tag in the $100 million range and marketing costs detract from the victory. The sixth installment in the Alien franchise (not counting the two Alien vs. Predator films) was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride. It holds a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is in line with 2012's "Prometheus." Although it came in already having made $42 million overseas and $36 million was enough to land in the top slot, "Alien" grossed less during its first weekend in the U.S. than "Prometheus" did in 2012 ($51 million). Its final domestic earnings also came in below earlier projections, which pegged the horror flick at least $40 million.

    Fox's president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson chalked the lower totals compared with "Prometheus" to the "normal course of business." He added that "Alien: Covenant" gives fans of the franchise since the 1979 original the chance to share with the younger generation (60% of the opening weekend audience was in the 18-34 demo). "Teenagers likely haven't seen 'Alien,'" he said, "This movie creates a generational bond."

    While the "Alien" franchise is still able to generate decent interest, the same cannot be said for Fox's other release this weekend, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul." The fourth live-action movie based on Jeff Kinney's middle school-centric book series opened to $7.2 million from 3,157 locations. David Bowers, who directed movies two and three, returned to the helm nearly five years after the last iteration, and anointed a new titular wimp in Jason Drucker.

    The only other major release of the weekend was "Everything, Everything," from Warner Bros. and MGM. The sick-lit adaptation will earn $12 million by the end of the weekend from 2,801 locations. That's enough to land in the top three. "Hunger Games" standout Amandla Stenberg stars as a girl with an autoimmune disease that keeps her locked up indoors. Nick Robinson plays her love interest named Olly. "Everything, Everything" earned the highest CinemaScore of the new released (an A- overall). 82% of its audience was female, and 74% were under 25 years old.

    "Along with our partners, MGM, we're thrilled that we hit our key demo," commented Jeff Goldstein, domestic distribution chief at Warner Bros.

    Amy Schumer's "Snatched," also from Fox, will see an additional $7.6 million in earnings from 3,511 theaters, putting it in the fourth slot, ahead of "Wimpy Kid." Also in its second weekend, "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" continues to flop miserably with a weekend total of less than $7 million.

    With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, the overall domestic summer box office is ten percentage points lower than it was at this time last year. That means all eyes are fixed on a duo of splashy summer releases -- Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" and Paramount's "Baywatch" -- to hopefully make up some ground.

    "The dominance at this point by Disney and Marvel's early summer entry "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is impressive having earned more than all the other films combined," said Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore, who noted that "Captain America: Civil War" accounted for more than half of the summer take at this point last year. "However, a slow start does not portend a slow overall summer as many have predicted," he added, "though if the ebb and flow of this season's fortunes thus far is any indication we may have to buckle up for a pretty bumpy ride."

  10. Our 40 Favorite Things About 'Star Wars'

    It's been a whopping 40 years since the release of "Star Wars" (in the years since, its been popularized with its official chapter title, "A New Hope"), a film that forever changed cinema and whose effects can still be felt today, both in the endless sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations it inspired, and for the more-is-more approach Hollywood has taken to cinema. "Star Wars" was released at the tail end of the 1970s, when the more traditional model of filmmaking had broken down, replaced with esoteric, personal work by talented, movie-mad youngsters. "Star Wars" writer/director George Lucas was one of those youngsters but he, like best friend Steven Spielberg, dreamed big: he wanted audiences to visit a galaxy far, far away.

    And they did.

    Looking back on that first, game-changing film we wanted to pick out our 40 favorite things about "Star Wars." (For those who didn't see the film theatrically in 1977 then they probably caught the "Special Edition" exhibits in 1997.) These are everything from esoteric moments to giant, seismic contributions to cinema. What makes "Star Wars" so charming, all these years later, is that you get the sense that the people behind the movie (led by Lucas) never thought they were doing anything special. They were just having fun and we've been having the same amount of fun for the past 40 years.

    1. That opening crawl.

    2. John Williams's unforgettable score.

    3. The super-long opening shot, with the Star Destroyer towering overhead. (Sure, we can do that with computers now but would it look even fractionally as cool?)

    4. Two words: Darth Vader.

    5. Carrie Fisher, our dearly departed Princess.

    6. Fisher's oddly inflected pseudo-British accent.

    7. Luke's whine.

    8. R2-D2 and C-3PO, the greatest robotic life-mates in the history of cinema.9. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (they seem so nice).

    10. The "used future" aesthetic.

    11. Luke Skywalker's whine.

    12. The unknowable mystery of Tosche Station and the power converters therein.

    13. Jawas and their light-up eyes (I had a plush Jawa with light-up eyes as a kid).

    14. C-3PO's silver leg, paving the way for his red arm in "The Force Awakens."

    15. Blue milk.16. Binary sunsets.

    17. The deeply disturbing Sandpeople.

    18. Ben's yell (pre-Special Edition).

    19. Alec Guinness reading clunky expositional dialogue like it was Shakespearean verse.

    20. Han Solo and the peerless performance of Harrison Ford.

    21. The costumes.

    22. The cantina sequence.

    23. Han shooting first (FACT).

    24. Chewbacca, who is the most loyal copilot in the galaxy.

    25. The design of the Millennium Falcon.

    26. The unseen threat of Jabba the Hutt (please forget that dumb scene from the Special Edition).

    27. Stormtroopers and their strangely stationary Dewback.

    28. Grand Moff Tarkin, the scariest middle manager in the galaxy.

    29. The Death Star. So cool that it keeps showing up in the movies. (Fun fact: "The Phantom Menace" is the only entry that doesn't feature the Death Star, or a Death Star-like planetoid, in its narrative.)30. "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?"

    31. The beautifully banal lightsaber fight between Vader and Obi-Wan.

    32. All of the effects, which were so cutting edge at the time and still look gorgeous.

    33. The movie's gentle mysticism.

    34. How unstoppably cool and ramshackle the Rebels are.

    35. The "trench run" at the end.

    36. Darth Vader flies his own spaceship at the end. That's a boss move.

    37. "You're all clear kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!" (HAN CAME BACK.)

    38. Death Star destruction 1.0.

    39. The medallion-awarding ceremony at the end (even though it's messed up Chewbacca didn't get one).

    40. Everything it inspired, from toys to video games to novels to sequels to theme park attractions that we still obsess over, in equal measure, to this day.

  11. 18 Things You Never Knew About 'The Road Warrior'

    Thirty-five years after it detonated on these shores (on May 21, 1982), "The Road Warrior" remains one of the greatest action films ever made.

    Plus, it made an A-lister out of Mel Gibson, finally made Australian director George Miller's "Mad Max" franchise a success in the U.S., and influenced countless other post-apocalyptic-wasteland sagas.

    The production saga behind the original "Mad Max" was nearly as wild as what wound up on screen, and the same is true of its first sequel, as you'll see below.
    1. The international success of 1979's "Mad Max" gave Miller license to retell Max's story the way he might have if he'd had greater resources. Miller has said he made "Road Warrior" partly to "overcome all my frustrations on the first 'Mad Max' because that was such a low budget -- and such a tough-- movie that I had all this sort of pent up energy for the story and the filmmaking."

    2. Many of the costumes came from specialty leather and fetish shops. A lot of them had cheek cutaways in the back, but it was actor Vernon Wells (who played magenta-mohawked henchman Wez) whom Gibson nicknamed "Barometer Bum" -- because he could tell how cold the weather was by the color of Wells' backside. "When my butt cheeks went purple on set," Wells recalled, "they'd send everyone into the bus so we could warm up."
    3. The filming location was a remote Australian mining town called Broken Hill. Despite being off the beaten path, when the filmmakers staged the explosion of the refinery compound, the blast was so big that they had to alert all jetliners flying over the area and make sure all the mines were closed.

    4. Guy Norris, a 21-year-old professional motorcycle daredevil, served as Gibson's driving double, appeared on camera as marauder Bearclaw Mohawk, did motorcycle stunts for the film, and doubled for several other marauders in fight scenes. "Essentially, every character that jumped onto the tanker was me," he said in 2015. "I'd put on a different wardrobe, jump. Then put on different wardrobe and jump again from a different position." He doubled as Mad Max during driving scenes again, 34 years later, when Tom Hardy starred in Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road."
    5. Norris was one of several stuntmen seriously injured during production. On one stunt, he went flying off his motorcycle, clipped his leg on a dune buggy, and broke his femur. (The shot stayed in the film, and Norris returned to the set a couple days later for a fight scene against Gibson, with his broken leg kept out of the frame.) Stuntman Max Aspin was successfully hurled from a vehicle during a staged crash, but he insisted on a second take and broke a vertebra.

    6. But the most unusual injury befell stuntman Kim Noyce on his day off. Riding his motorcycle, he stopped in the desert to greet a caravan of camels. But his motor spooked a camel, which kicked him and sent him flying. Noyce returned to the set with a broken ankle.
    7. Max's dog (above), simply named "Dog," was adopted from a pound a day before he was set to be put to sleep. Unfortunately, he was terrified by all the roaring engines on the set, and the filmmakers had to plug his ears with cotton so that he wouldn't ruin takes by barking -- or lose control of his bladder in Max's car.

    8. No animals were harmed in the making of the film, Miller has claimed, not even the slaughtered rabbit. And while the dog's death occurs off-screen, Miller says he's received more complaints about shooting the pooch than about anything else in the film.
    9. One more dog item: What was in that dog food can Gibson was eating from? Miller says he doesn't think it was actually dog food, but he's not sure.

    10. Where did Emil Minty, the 8-year-old who played the Feral Kid, learn his lethal boomerang skills? Minty has said he learned to throw a boomerang from Gibson, and that the leading man also taught him how to head-butt without hurting himself.
    11. The massive actor who played Lord Humungus (above) was Kjell Nilsson, a former Mr. Sweden and a weightlifter who had trained Swedish Olympic athletes.

    12. Cinematographer Dean Semler found himself shooting one chase sequence while bound to the side of a truck with nothing more than bungee cords. The camera jostled so violently that Semler couldn't hold the eye piece to his face and had to aim by instinct. Miller like the result so much that he made a point in other scenes of having Semler jostle the camera.
    13. Those two guys strapped to the front of the car (above) who are seen smashing into the back of the tanker? Semler has said those were dummies with watermelons for heads -- "watermelons with wigs," he specified.

    14. The filmmakers blockaded local roads during the chase, but a postal driver ignored them and crossed over, insisting that "the mail must get through."
    15. The rolling of the tanker was the film's most dangerous stunt. Driver Dennis Williams, who had never done it before, had to pull it off in one take, and on an empty stomach. Former emergency room doctor Miller had Williams fast for 12 hours beforehand because, if things went wrong and he were to need surgery, there would be fewer complications if he had no food in his system. A helicopter and ambulance were present, but many of the cast and crew were not; they were too squeamish to watch. Fortunately, Williams executed the stunt perfectly and safely.

    16. The film was released as "Mad Max 2" throughout most of the world except the United States, where the original "Mad Max" hadn't made much of a dent at the box office. Here, it was marketed with the "Road Warrior" title as a stand-alone film. And since "Mad Max" had failed to make Gibson famous in the land of his birth, the "Road Warrior" trailer barely features him.
    17. "Road Warrior" cost about $2 million to make, or about 10 times the cost of "Mad Max." It was a hit around the world, including $24 million earned in the U.S.

    18. By Miller's count, Gibson smiles only three times throughout the film.

  12. A 'Mamma Mia!' Sequel Is Happening, Original Cast Returning 10 Years Later

    ABBA fans, lay all your love on this exciting news: Universal is making a sequel to the 2008 movie musical "Mamma Mia!" with the new film titled "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again," and set for release almost exactly one decade after the original.

    According to Universal, much of the original cast is expected to return, with some new faces added, too. The original movie, based on the hit stage musical, starred Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, and Christine Baranski. That movie was just set before Sophie's (Seyfried) wedding, to which she invited three of her mother Donna's (Streep) former suitors (Skarsgard, Brosnan, Firth) in an attempt to figure out which one was her biological father.

    Ol Parker, who wrote "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and sequel, has been tapped to direct. The Greek island of Kalokairi will again be the main location.

    As Deadline noted, "Mamma Mi!" made $609.8 million at the worldwide box office (off a $52 million budget), so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that a sequel is coming, they were apparently just waiting for the right time.

    The original movie came out July 18, 2008, and this sequel is scheduled for release on July 20, 2018, almost exactly 10 years later.

    [Via: THR, Deadline]

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  13. George Lazenby on Cheating Death, Dropping James Bond, and Being Blacklisted

    George Lazenby in a promotional still from ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICEGeorge Lazenby was given a license to kill, but he only took a single shot.

    For nearly 50 years, the Australian-born actor has been known for a unique distinction: Among the line of men who've portrayed the iconic British super spy James Bond, he's the only one to only star in a single 007 film.

    As the fascinating Hulu documentary "Becoming Bond," debuting May 20th, explores, Lazenby, a top male model at the height of London's swinging Mod era with virtually no acting experience at the time, was the first actor to assume the role following originator Sean Connery's departure after five films in row, and his effectiveness in the sixth installment, 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," would largely determine if the proto-film franchise would have legs after losing its first leading man.

    And despite odds stacked against him higher than a deadly SPECTRE deathtrap, Lazenby fared quite well in the role, adding a lighter, cheekier note to his portrayal without sacrificing 007's dangerous qualities, abetted by what Bond aficionados regarded then and now as one of the stronger stories in the film series. He was an insta-superstar, flush with cash, women on his arm, and brimming with even greater Hollywood potential.

    And then he walked away from it all, for what he planned as a decidedly different acting career path -- one that never quite happened.

    "Becoming Bond" not only details Lazenby's unlikely rise to play the biggest screen action idol of the 20th Century and his even unlikelier exit, it looks at the actor's life in total, a tale as full of intrigue, romance, sex, and action (more Kiss-Kiss than Bang-Bang) as any movie potboiler, built around the still rakish and charming 77-year-old's absorbing reminiscences and frothy reenactments of his off-screen adventures. Lazenby further declassified his personal dossier during a chat with Moviefone.

    Moviefone: When I watched this documentary, you struck me as a real-life version of The Most Interesting Man in the World. Did you feel like, "I've got a great story to tell?" Or were you surprised that there was interest in your life?

    George Lazenby: I was surprised there was as much interest. Every time I meet somebody, they say, "I can't help it, but you've got to tell me, but how did you get James Bond?" And I didn't know whether that was an insult or not. They might be saying, how the hell did you get it? That guy, he's a bloody hero, a guy that'll go around and shoot anybody gets in his way, gets the girl, has a good time. Every man wants to be that guy.

    I found it fascinating how you were pretty casually insistent on making the role your own in many ways, at a time where the filmmakers were really trying to shove you into the Sean Connery mold. Director Peter Hunt was clearly an advocate for you --

    To begin with!

    To begin with. So tell me about that experience, rubbing up against the Connery expectation and trying to put your own stamp on it. Today, you'd be applauded for that.

    Somehow I felt, I knew, I wasn't an actor. They already had me changing my accent, walking different, because I used to swagger when I walked, and you can't do that in cinema. They changed my walk, changed my talk, and I thought, "They're not going to change me. I'm just going to play it the way I would play it if I was him, if I was this good a character, if I was a tough guy, and blah blah blah."

    It was Sean Connery's gig. He established James Bond as his personality. So it's a tough road to hoe. And that was Peter Hunt's first time directing, by the way, and my first time acting. It was one of those things where I got carried away in my own ego, otherwise I couldn't have done it. If I had looked at the reality, I would have gone, "Sh*t! What's happening here?" I just thought that beating out 3,000 guys for the part, there must be something good about me.

    A lot of your successes in life, from your various careers and with women, came from that confidence and that positive attitude you project.

    I was very confident, because I didn't believe anything anyone told me. I had 18 months in hospital when I was one and a half to three. I had 68 surgeries on my bladder. Then a doctor came over from England and said, "We had the same problem with a kid -- he was peeing backwards into his kidneys." And then they looked at my kidneys and one and a half were rotted. So they took out one and a half of my kidneys. Then the doctor told my mother to take me home to die, because I won't be able to live as a man on half a kidney.

    And then some mother must have heard my mother, and some kid heard his mother, I'm the guy that's got to die, I'm the guy that's got to die. At school I was getting it. And I thought, "Oh sh*t -- I'm not going to die." And my half kidney grew the size of two. I did everything they told me not to do: played contact sports, drank alcohol, did everything they said you mustn't do.

    So I lost confidence in the demigods, the doctors, because they were totally wrong ... I thought, "These guys are full of sh*t. I don't believe a word they're saying." So I've never gotten sick again. I don't get colds. I don't want to go near those guys, because they'll just give you pills or something, and they'll do you in.

    But this is the way that life went, and it's the same in the movie industry. It's full of sh*t. It's only a matter of knowing which way it's full of sh*t, and getting around it. If I wanted to get back in the movie industry tomorrow, I could do it. It's just that I'd rather they left me alone -- unless somebody came up with some ridiculous offer. Then you'd have to say, "Hmm, yeah, I could use this."

    What were the things that you enjoyed about playing Bond and shooting the film? Were there aspects of it that were genuinely fun?

    There was nothing that was extremely hard. I hurt myself a few times doing my own stunts. They'd bring in doctors to massage me and get me back together. I didn't like it. It was hard work.

    I was going out all night, which was a problem. I liked to drink. I'd go out to three [or] four o'clock in the morning, sometimes daybreak. Then the driver would take me to work, and I'd get makeup. But the good thing was, the Mitchell camera, it just took hours to move it around, so I could have a rest in between [laughs] -- today they've got these little cameras -- but then I had to do my stunts.

    They wanted everything perfect. You think you've done it perfect, and they say, "No, we've got to do it one more time." The acting, I was one take. I'd say, that wasn't very good. And Peter Hunt, said "Tell him he's going to do another angle as well." He never spoke to me the whole film, the director.

    And you certainly had fun with the Bond girls when the cameras weren't rolling.

    The ones that wanted to have fun, we had fun. I was available.

    When I got to England, I was 24. The girls got The Pill. I was a rugged Australian male model -- you can guess, [I had sex] sometimes five [times] a day. It was outrageous. And that couldn't happen on the [film shoot], because there were only eight girls there for the whole nine months. So I eventually talked them into getting me a helicopter to go into town at night. And I'd go into town in the helicopter, and they'd wait for me. It was a crazy life I had.

    And then Arnold and David Picker from United Artists offered me any movie I want to do between Bond films [if I would sign a long-term contract to play Bond]. "Just sign the f*cking contract." [James Bond producer] Harry [Saltzman] offered me a million dollars. And I turned it all down.

    When did that impetus to turn it all down start setting in, and what kind of gave you the chutzpah to make that move -- unthinkable in Hollywood at the time?

    A guy called Ronan O'Rahilly. He started Radio Caroline in the English channel -- Pirate Radio. He launched all those English pop groups and he got them known ... He wanted to manage me. That was a funny story because I went to the guy that worked for him, who lived in the apartment across from my apartment, and he used to teach acting. So when I went up for the Bond thing, they told me, "Come back on Friday." I thought, I'd better get an acting lesson. I'd never had one. So I went over and knocked on his door, I said, "Look, I'm up for the Bond film. Can you give me an acting lesson?" He said, "What?" Couldn't believe it.

    So he rang Ronan O'Rahilly, who was his boss. And Ronan turned up with five other guys and they all gave me this acting lesson. Then Ronan said, "I'll manage you." He liked the adventure of it, and he was a rebel a rebel like you can't believe it! A guy that started the Pirate Radio station.

    Ronan, he was the one who advised me not to do another film, because "Easy Rider" was out, all these hippie movies were coming out. He said, "Bond's over. Let's make love, not war." He convinced me. And that's why I didn't take those offers. He convinced me that there was a guy called Clint Eastwood doing Westerns in Italy, getting $500,000 for a month. I had to work nine months on the bloody Bond movie, and they were going to pay me a million. I said, "I'd rather be Clint Eastwood." But it didn't work out.

    Tell me a little bit about walking away and shaking off such a dizzying experience.

    That wasn't hard. That wasn't hard. James Bond was so out of fashion. He was wearing tight pants, a suit, short hair, and people wandering around with sideburns, long hair, flowered shirts, bell bottoms. I mean, I'd go in a restaurant and people would say, "Excuse me, waiter?" It was so different -- you'd have to be there.

    It was so different, the way people dressed, and the way people behaved. They made love, not war. And then the '80s turned it back around again. But up until the '60s and '70s, it was amazing. If you wore a suit, even Wall Street took their ties off. If you can imagine that time, it doesn't make me look as mad. [Laughs]

    Over the years, have you spent much time in the company of the other actors who have played James Bond? Have you been part of that 007 fraternity?

    I've met them all. There was the 40th anniversary in Albert Hall. Everyone showed up except Connery. That's when I met them all more closely.

    Nearly 50 years later, people love that particular movie. You haven't been forgotten as Bond -- we're still celebrating you. At this point in your life, when you look back at it all, what has the whole experience meant to you?

    It was probably the biggest thing in my life, apart from my kids. When I look back, I think of my kids, and then I think God, what the hell was that all about? It was a big thing. It changed my life. Fame does that to you, but I'm glad that I didn't pursue it.

    I didn't pursue it because I was blacklisted right after Bond. [Years later], I had "The Equalizer." It was my idea -- I gave it to Mike Sloan to write. I did the test. David Hemmings, the actor, directed the test. I was wardrobed. I was waiting for the limo to pick me up for the first day of shoot. Didn't show up. I call Mike, I said, "What happened?" He said, "They got a phone call from upstairs." That's all he could tell me. I gave up then. I said, "F*ck it." Every time I got a job, I wouldn't get the next phone call to come to work.

    But you reinvented yourself. And as the movie shows us, you excel at that.

    Yeah!

  14. Tom Hardy to Star in 'Spider-Man' Spinoff 'Venom'

    2017 Winter TCA Tour - FX Starwalk - ArrivalsTom Hardy is dropping his Bane mask to take on a new one: Venom. The actor has signed on to star in the "Spider-Man" spinoff featuring the classic villain.

    Sony has been hard at work developing a universe based on its Marvel property, "Spider-Man." They are rebooting the main title with "Spider-Man: Homecoming," which opens July 7. Still, industry observers were surprised that Sony placed "Venom" on its schedule of upcoming releases, slating it for Oct. 5, 2018.

    Hardy previously played the villain Bane in "Dark Knight Rises," but now switches from DC Comics to Marvel with this casting.

    Tom Hardy is Eddie Brock in #Venom, the upcoming film from Sony's Marvel Universe releasing October 5, 2018 – production starts this fall. pic.twitter.com/OZQqDEvoum

    — Sony Pictures (@SonyPictures) May 19, 2017

    Venom is a major villain in the Marvel comics. He is an alien symbiote who infuses his human hosts with super powers. He was played by Topher Grace in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3."

    This isn't the only villain-centric Spidey-verse film in the making. Sony is also developing a movie about Black Cat and Silver Sable. Spider-Man himself is not expected to appear in either offshoot.

  15. Young Han Solo Set Photos Reveal Alden Ehrenreich Channeling Harrison Ford

    AFI FEST 2016 Presented By Audi - Opening Night - Premiere Of 20th Century Fox's 'Rules Don't Apply'Alden Ehrenreich will have some big shoes to fill as the young Han Solo — but at least he's got the hairstyle down!

    TMZ obtained photos from the set of the "Star Wars" prequel and Ehrenreich is sporting a feathery, '70s-style 'do similar to that of Harrison Ford in the original movie.

    'Star Wars' Set Pics Reveal Alden Ehrenreich as a Young Han Solo (PHOTO GALLERY) https://t.co/59i74evayP

    — TMZ (@TMZ) May 19, 2017

    A few other interesting details can be gleaned from the set pics. First, Han isn't wearing the same clothes as he was in the original, which makes sense. People may not change their hairstyles very frequently, but they generally don't wear the same outfit day after day (much less decade after decade). Here, Han appears to be wearing a dark shirt, dark pants, and a white jacket.

    Second, there are shots of a few vehicles. They all have tires, which we assume will be edited out in post-production. They appear to be a land cruiser, some of kind of tank/truck, and a more sporty royal blue racer.

    The young Han Solo movie, still untitled, is set to open in theaters May 25, 2018.

  16. 'Suicide Squad' Director In Talks for 'Scarface' Remake

    David AyerDavid Ayer working with Joen and Ethan Coen? That's a combo we never thought we'd see.

    The "Suicide Squad" director is in early negotiations to tackle the upcoming remake of "Scarface," Deadline reports, which has a script by the Coen brothers. Antoine Fuqua ("The Magnificent Seven") reportedly had to drop out of the director's race for scheduling reasons.

    The new version of the immigrant who rises to become a powerful crime boss will be set in Los Angeles and will star Diego Luna of "Rogue One" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien" fame. Al Pacino memorably played the gangster kingpin in the 1983 version by Brian De Palma and those are damn hard footsteps to follow in.

    Despite not having yet nailed down a director, the film has a release slot: Say hello to this little film in August 2018.

  17. Nicole Kidman Goes Punk in 'How to Talk to Girls at Parties' Teaser

    Nicole Kidman wears a fright wig that recalls David Bowie's Goblin King in "Labyrinth" and screams "Rise up, my children!" in the first teaser for "How to Talk to Girls at Parties."

    In the film from John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch"), Kidman plays Queen Boadicea, a "punk rock den mother." It's based on the short story by Neil Gaiman and is set in the '70s punk scene and London. Elle Fanning (Kidman's costar in "The Beguiled") plays an alien(!) who has a Romeo and Juliet-esque affair with a young punk, Enn (Tony winner Alex Sharp).

    The film premieres this week at the Cannes Film Fest, along with three other Kidman projects: "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" (from the director of "The Lobster"), Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled," and Season 2 of Jane Campion's mystery series "Top of the Lake."

    [Via The Wrap]

  18. See Amber Heard's Photos From First Day on 'Aquaman' Set

    Amber Heard Amber Heard shared a photo on Twitter of herself suited up for "Aquaman," saying "Meet Mera. Day 1." Director James Wan shared an equally stunning photo of the now red-haired actress as the sea goddess, aka Queen of Atlantis and Aquaman (Jason Momoa)'s wife.

    Unless the color palette changes dramatically in the final film, Wan's movie already looks a lot more colorful than the blue-and-gray tones of the same character in Zack Snyder's "Justice League."

    "Aquaman" opens on December 21, 2018. "Justice League" hits theaters on November 17, 2017.

    Meet Mera. Day 1 #Aquaman pic.twitter.com/L9XKpPCagF

    — Amber Heard (@realamberheard) May 18, 2017
    Is it just us, or does Heard's look here remind you of Batman villain Poison Ivy?

    Lady MERA swept in from the sea. First day with the exquisite Amber Heard. (Shot by the talented @jasinboland ) pic.twitter.com/FWQANu0S12

    — James Wan (@creepypuppet) May 18, 2017

    The actress also shared a photo on Instagram of herself in the make-up trailer while reading, natch, an Aquaman comic book.

    Day 1 of filming...here we go! #aquaman

    A post shared by Amber Heard (@amberheard) on

  19. First Reviews of 'Wonder Woman' Are In: Is it the Best DC Movie Yet?

    The first reviews for "Wonder Woman" are out of this world, with critics declaring it the best DC comic book movie yet. They're also comparing Gal Gadot's Amazon warrior to Christopher Reeve's iconic Superman.

    Of course, being better than the critically reviled "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" is pretty damn easy. But rapturous reviews that name-check "The Dark Knight" and "Captain America: First Avenger"? That just might make Ben Affleck sad.

    Here's some of the initial reactions from Twitter:

    Very pleased to report that #WonderWoman is the best DC movie since THE DARK KNIGHT. I'm already looking forward to seeing it again.

    — Silas Lesnick (@silaslesnick) May 19, 2017

    "The 'Wonder Woman' Embargo Has Lifted Twitter" is my favorite Twitter. Also: #WonderWoman is really damn good. Loved every minute.

    — Rachel Simon (@Rachel_Simon) May 19, 2017

    Loved WONDER WOMAN. She reminds me of Christopher Reeve's Superman: true north superhero w/ no angst or cynicism, which is needed right now.

    — Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) May 19, 2017

    My reaction to @WonderWomanFilm : exciting, powerful, bold, epic, simply wonderful and - best of all - absolutely empowering.

    — Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) May 19, 2017

    #WonderWoman is the easily the best DCEU movie so far. It's got heart and a love of heroes. Pine and Gadot are charming beyond measure.

    — Haleigh Foutch (@HaleighFoutch) May 19, 2017

    I loved #WonderWoman so much. Easily one of the best superhero origin films I've ever seen. Amazing action & Gal Gadot is pure heaven pic.twitter.com/313ATzpC8x

    — Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) May 19, 2017

    @GalGadot is brilliant as #WonderWoman, so much emotion, sense of humor, and power.

    — Mark Hughes (@markhughesfilms) May 19, 2017

    Hey Hollywood, are you listening? Kick ass female director in @PattyJenks, kick ass female superhero @GalGadot More please! #WonderWoman

    — JennaBusch (@JennaBusch) May 19, 2017

    "Wonder Woman" opens June 2. It stars Gadot, Chris Pine, and Robin Wright. Patty Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron to a Best Actress Oscar in "Monster," directs.

  20. 'The House' Trailer: Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell Find Unusual Way to Pay for College

    Creative solutions aren't always good ones.

    That's a big takeaway from the latest trailer for "The House." Released by Roadshow Thursday, the preview showcases stars Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell, who play Kate and Scott, a married couple determined to send their daughter to the college of her dreams, even though they can't afford it. With their neighbor Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) offering guidance, the two decide to run a gambling operation out of their basement. Of course, running an underground casino isn't easy, and all sorts of crazy hijinks ensue.

    The trailer demonstrates just how insane the situation quickly becomes. As the casino takes off, their daughter grows suspicious, law enforcement starts breathing down their necks, and a little intimidation takes a bloody turn. Not surprisingly, things get a little NSFW in the preview, so keep that in mind when you watch below.

    "The House" is set to open in theaters on June 30.

  21. A Movie About Michael Jackson's Pet Chimp Is Coming to Netflix

    Michael Jackson Visits JapanIf, by chance, you've ever wondered what Michael Jackson's life might have looked through the eyes of his pet chimp Bubbles, Netflix is going to give you the chance to find out.

    The streaming acquired "Bubbles" Thursday, Deadline reports. The project is still in the works, but it will ultimately be a stop-motion animated movie co-directed by Taika Waitti and Mark Gustafson. The creative idea was turned into a screenplay by Isaac Adamson.

    The real-life Bubbles, who is now in his 30s, became Jackson's pet when he was just an infant, according to the Center For Great Apes. Not surprisingly, the chimpanzee's life with the late pop icon was very interesting. Not only did Bubbles travel with Jackson, he was treated much like a human child. The chimp reportedly slept in a crib and even used the toilet. Unfortunately, he eventually became too big and strong to be kept as a pet, and Jackson had to give him up.

    It'll be interesting to see how the film tackles the story. It's just too bad the film title "The King and I" is already taken.

    [via: Deadline]

  22. Jennifer Lawrence 'Not Going to Apologize' for Leaked Strip Club Footage

    Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' 'Passengers' - ArrivalsIf you're waiting for Jennifer Lawrence to regret getting naughty at a Vienna strip club, in recently leaked footage, you'll want to grab another drink 'cause it'll be a long wait. Instead, the Oscar-winning actress confirmed her stripper pole escapades in a new Facebook post, adding, "I had a BLAST that night."

    RadarOnline posted video of Lawrence partying on April 27 at the Beverly Hills Club in Vienna, Austria, where she was filming "Red Sparrow." She reportedly arrived with three men, a woman, and a bodyguard, and witnesses dished on her night out:

    "Jennifer seemed drunk, crawling on all fours around the stage and bending over for men to ogle. She kissed one guy, and even started dry-humping him while they danced! At some point during the night, she lost her blouse, so she was only wearing a bra for the more scandalous dancing!"

    How terribly scandalous! Or not.

    Jen took to Facebook to set the record straight, in a pretty hilarious, very JLaw little note:

    Look,
    Nobody wants to be reminded that they tried to dance on a stripper pole by the internet. It was one of my best friend's birthdays and I dropped my paranoia guard for one second to have fun. I'm not going to apologize, I had a BLAST that night.
    Ps that's not a bra it's an Alexander Wang top and I'm not gonna lie, I think my dancings pretty good. Even with no core strength.
    --Jen

    Apologize? Are you kidding? How do we get her to invite us next time?

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  23. 'The Dark Crystal' Prequel Series Coming to Netflix: Watch First Teaser 

    The late Jim Henson said he was more proud of "The Dark Crystal" than any other film he made, and now a 10-episode prequel series is coming to Netflix.

    "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance" will be set many years before the events of the original 1982 movie, which Henson co-directed by Frank OZ. In this new adventure, three Gelflings discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis' power, and set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.

    Netflix released the first teaser in tandem with the series announcement:Louis Leterrier ("Now You See Me") will direct and executive produce the series, produced through The Jim Henson Company.

    Here's a statement from Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company:

    "Louis Leterrier is passionate about the world of 'The Dark Crystal' and has an incredible creative vision for the series. He brings this passion to every facet of the production as he leads the talented team of artists and writers that are bringing this entire universe to life. Netflix has a deep respect for my father's original work and the many people it inspired. They are the perfect partners to create this next epic chapter in 'The Dark Crystal' story for new fans and the loyal fans who have waited so long for more adventures from this world."

    Shooting is scheduled to begin this fall. Netflix didn't release a premiere date, with the teaser just saying "Coming Soon."

    [via: Variety, Deadline]

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  24. Johnny Depp Brings Trump Impression Back to 'Ellen,' Willing to Replace Alec Baldwin

    Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump impression has taken over "Saturday Night Live," but nobody puts Johnny Depp's Trump in a corner.

    You may recall watching his impression of '80s Trump in the Funny or Die movie "The Art of the Deal." Depp was on "Ellen" last year to promote that movie, talking about his Trump transformation, and he returned today to promote the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

    Depp was visibly uncomfortable at the start of the talk (watch the clip below), but seemed to warm up after a while. Ellen DeGeneres said he does a good Trump, and he wasn't sure whether to take that as a compliment or not. But then he moved into his own impression, briefly, and shared a few thoughts about the POTUS.

    Johnny Depp: "I just love the fact that he's unable -- even more so than me -- he's unable to finish a, to form a sentence, actually formulate a sentence that becomes vocabulary that actually works together."

    Ellen said Alec Baldwin does a great impression on "SNL," but Johnny Depp said he hasn't seen it yet. Ellen checked with the audience and a few other people hadn't seen Baldwin's Trump yet either.

    Ellen: "I can't believe that there are people that have never seen Alec Baldwin do Trump. That is shocking to me."

    Johnny: "Well, I've seen Trump do Trump, which is shocking to me."

    Ellen asked, if Baldwin ever stopped doing his impression on "SNL," would Depp take over? "Sure," Depp replied. "Because then, basically, Alec's done all the work, I can just copy him."

    Watch the clip:"SNL" Season 42 ends this weekend, but there's always next year. Baldwin does have other projects lined up, and he wasn't planning to continue his Trump impression every week, so Depp may have a shot at understudy duty in Season 43.

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  25. First 'The Greatest Showman' Photos: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya Bring Circus to Town

    'Logan' New York Special ScreeningThere's something "Spectacular Spectacular" about "The Greatest Showman," an original musical giving off slight "Moulin Rouge" vibes in the first look photos with Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, and Zac Efron.

    Entertainment Weekly has the first photos from the musical, seven years in the making, about the godfather of the modern circus, with Jackman in the lead role of P.T. Barnum. Williams plays his wife Charity; with Zac Efron as Barnum's business partner, who falls in love with the trapeze artist played by Zendaya (who has the best pink hair).

    The Greatest Showman (2017)Hugh Jackman

    The Greatest Showman (2017)Zac Efron, Zendaya

    The Greatest Showman (2017)Zac Efron and Hugh JackmanThe Greatest Showman (2017)The story is set in the mid-1800s, but the songs sound, intentionally, like modern pop.

    "We were clear from the beginning that this wouldn't feel like a period movie or a historical piece," Jackman told EW. "What would Barnum do now? I have an almost-12-year-old daughter. I wanted [the movie] to be as exciting for her as listening to Katy Perry's new song."

    "The Greatest Showman" is scheduled to arrive in theaters on Christmas Day, which looks like a vote of confidence for a big holiday audience ... and maybe some "La La Land" level Oscar buzz?

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