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  1. 'The Lion King' Live-Action Remake Casts Donald Glover & James Earl Jones

    Meet Disney's new Simba: Donald Glover. You might also know him as the award-winning guy from "Atlanta," or the future Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo standalone movie. He's everywhere lately, and that's a good thing.

    Jon Favreau is directing Disney's live-action "The Lion King" remake, which Variety said is being fast-tracked even as Favreau works on the sequel to "The Jungle Book."

    Favreau just announced Glover's casting, along with news that James Earl Jones will once again play Mufasa, whom he voiced in the 1994 animated blockbuster:

    I just can't wait to be king. #Simba pic.twitter.com/wUYKixMBJI

    — Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) February 18, 2017

    Looking forward to working with this legend. #Mufasa pic.twitter.com/1LszbWrcYT

    — Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) February 18, 2017

    So that's two Star Wars connections: The voice of Darth Vader, and the new Lando. Just saying.

    Disney is on a live-action roll at the moment -- from "Maleficent" and "Cinderella" to "The Jungle Book" and "Beauty and the Beast" -- even if some fans still wish they'd leave their animated classics alone.

    There's no official production start date yet for Favreau's "Lion King," but stay tuned.

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  2. 'The Batman' Once Again Needs a Director as Matt Reeves Exits Talks

    Another one bites the dust!

    Directing "The Batman" is turning into the Defense Against the Dark Arts post (even more than "The Flash" movie). Just call Tom Riddle, already. Ben Affleck was supposed to direct the solo movie starring his DC Comics character, but then he dropped out. Exactly one week ago, Matt Reeves was named the new director, or at least in "talks." But those talks have broken down, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

    However, they added this intriguing note:

    "The possibility, however, exists that talks could resume when heads cool. The studio is intent on making the movie no matter what as the Batman franchise has proven to bigger than one person."

    Heads cool? Was there a spat? Can someone MacGyver a webcam into these meetings? They sound more interesting than the movie itself at this point.

    The Contenders Presented By DeadlineWhen Reeves was first mentioned to be in talks to direct "The Batman," THR said other directors remained in the wings, including Ridley Scott and "Don't Breathe" director Fede Alvarez. So maybe one of them will jump on board.

    THR said Reeves is currently busy with post-production on "War for the Planet of the Apes," so stress from that could be a factor. As Collider added, it's possible Warner Bros. wants to start production on "The Batman" right away and Reeves wanted more time. Or maybe he wanted more money. Or more script control. Or all of the above. It's not clear.

    What is clear is that "The Batman" is a work in progress, and we're curious to see what Warner Bros. has to say when the studio announces the official director and official production start date for this movie.

    Affleck's Batman will be seen again soon, in "Justice League," which will be released November 17.

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  3. Emma Watson Explains Why Harry Potter Would Beat Darth Vader in a Fight

    People always want to know who would win in a fight: X or Y. Emma Watson isn't usually the type to weigh in on that sort of thing, but the world's most adorable children sent videotaped questions to Watson via Entertainment Weekly, and a 5-year-old boy asked her about Harry Potter vs. Darth Vader. Because of course! So she answered. And her answer would definitely make J.K. Rowling proud.

    Watson was asked a lot of good questions, some about her new film, "Beauty and the Beast" and the character of Belle, but others about "Harry Potter" and her role as Hermione. And, for whatever reason, she was also asked about Vader. Maybe that's a sign that she'll be in "Star Wars: Episode IX." (Make it happen, Disney!)

    Actually, the reason is a super-cute kid named Jacob, who didn't just ask who'd win in a fight -- Darth Vader or Harry Potter -- he also did a funky little dance move when he was done. (As Emma says at the start of the Q&A video, "Where'd you get these kids? They're all so cute. This is craziness.")

    So here's her thoughtful answer to the Potter vs. Vader question:

    "Harry Potter versus Darth Vader? Harry Potter. Definitely. Obviously. You're only going to get so far in life when you're cold and dry and mean. You're not going to win in the end. You'll do fine, but you're not going to win in the end."

    Preach it, Hermione.

    Watch the full Q&A:

    "Beauty and the Beast" will be released in theaters March 17.

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  4. Samuel L. Jackson Updates on 'Unbreakable' Sequel: 'Let's Get It On'

    It has been more than 16 years since M. Night Shyamalan released his superhero/supervillain epic "Unbreakable," and Samuel L. Jackson is ready to return for a sequel. There's been talk of an "Unbreakable 2" for years, but now not only are stars Jackson and Bruce Willis ready to go, Shyamalan is working on a script, and Disney and Universal are reportedly ready to partner on the film.

    Why now? Well, you probably can guess, but ... in case you can't ...

    SPOILER ALERT!

    Spoilers ahead from Shyamalan's latest movie "Split." Stop reading now if you don't want to know anything about that movie, as well as the first "Unbreakable" movie.

    "Split" stars James McAvoy as Kevin Wendle Crumb, a guy with multiple personalities whom police nickname The Horde. At the end of the movie, someone recalls another crazy guy nicknamed by police. Some guy in a wheelchair 15 years ago... Then the camera reveals Bruce Willis's "Unbreakable" character, David Dunn, who says the man's name was Mr. Glass. Yep, "Split" and "Unbreakable" are part of the same universe. And now that "Split" has made a crapload of money -- more than $170M at this point, off a $9M budget -- everyone is ready to combine the worlds for a combined "Split 2"/"Unbreakable 2" movie.

    Turns out, Sam Jackson found out about the twist the same way audiences did. He shared the story with Collider:

    "I got a call and [Shyamalan] said, 'Call me I wanna talk to you about something.' And I called him, because I always do when I get a message from him always hoping [it's 'Unbreakable 2'], and he said, 'I just did this film called Split, I want you to see it,' and I was like 'OK, I'm down with that.' I had no idea what Split was about or anything else, and he said, 'We'll talk after you see it.' So I went to the arranged screening and I called him immediately and was like, 'OK dude does this mean what I think it means?' and he was like, 'Well first we gotta see how the movie does'. And I think the movie's done well enough now to merit the 'OK, let's put this together.'"

    Jackson told Collider he considers Kevin/The Horde "an adequate foe for what Bruce's 'Unbreakable' character is in terms of him being sort of unbreakable too in that kind of way," but now "It's just a matter of breaking [Elijah's] ass out of wherever that mental institution was they had me locked up and let's get it on, let's see what happens!"

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Universal Pictures and Disney hoping to combine forces on the sequel, since "Unbreakable" was a Disney movie, and Universal distributed "Split." A source told WSJ, "Disney expects to work with Universal as a partner, and participant in the profits. The two studios have yet to hammer out a deal for a sequel, in which Mr. Willis's character likely would feature much more prominently, because Mr. Shyamalan is still in the planning stages."

    Shyamalan recently tweeted about the outline for his next movie, meaning his follow-up to "Split."
    In January, Shyamalan had a Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter about the plans for a "final" movie to combine worlds:

    Did you always conceive of ['Split'] as being part of the 'Unbreakable' universe?

    This was always part of the "Unbreakable" world. Kevin Wendle Crumb was a part of the original, original script for "Unbreakable." I pulled him out because it just wasn't balancing right. But a bunch of the scenes that are in this movie, I wrote 15 years ago. They were as is. Patricia opening the door. Hedwig's first scene. Those were all written already. And it's literally from the same moment that I created all the characters, all three of those characters. But I knew I wanted to do a movie about him because I just loved him so much, and I thought it's a rich world for storytelling, so I was super, super excited to finally make it.

    You've teased an Unbreakable sequel for years. Was this it? Or are we going to see another one with Bruce Willis as the star?

    This is down the line, but my hope is to make one final movie that combines the two.

    It doesn't sound like it's too far down the line.

    By the way, back in 2015 comedian Patton Oswalt shared an idea for an "Unbreakable" trilogy, picking up from the reference at the end of the first movie about other "Unbreakables" in the world. He suggested a sequel called "Unbreakables" with David Dunn assembling other superpowered people while Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah/Mr. Glass forms his own master plan from the asylum. At the time, Shyamalan liked the idea. Who knows, maybe grains of it will still be included in this "Split"/"Unbreakable" sequel.

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  5. The 'Power Rangers' Suit Up and Go, Go in New Trailer

    Power Rangers"Are we more like Iron Man or Spider-Man?" wonders one of the "Power Rangers" in the new trailer for the movie about the teen superheroes.

    Maybe a bit of both, actually. The new trailer shows that these teens certainly know how to crack a line, all while brimming with excitement at the prospect of wearing really cool armored suits, wielding really cool gadgets, and kicking not-so-cool villainous butt in the form of Rita Repulsa (a wonderfully campy Elizabeth Banks).

    There's not a ton of new footage, though we get a first glimpse at Red Ranger (Darce Montgomery) using the signature Power Sword. The best part of the trailer comes at the end, when Bill Hader's robotic assistant Alpha 5 gets in a few punches and screams "Yeah! Power Rangers!" like the kid inside all of us.

    "Power Rangers" opens in theaters March 24.

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  6. Love Is Very Complicated in Terence Malick's 'Song to Song' Trailer

    Song to SongAh, to be in love and make sweet music together — what could be better?

    The trailer for Terence Malick's "Song to Song" starts out blissful and sweet, as indie rockers Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara float through Austin, Texas, falling in love and playing music. Things get complicated by the arrival of music mogul Michael Fassbender and his waitress paramour Natalie Portman. It seems triangles and quadrangles ensue.

    "We thought we could just roll and tumble. Live from song to song, kiss to kiss," Mara says. If only love were that easy.Malick filmed the movie during the 2012 Austin City Limits Festival, and word is that the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Iggy Pop make appearances. Also rumored for cameos are Arcade Fire, Florence & the Machine and Iron & Wine, as well as actors including Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. But with Malick's notorious reputation for brutal editing, you really never know what might end up in the final cut.

    "Song to Song" debuts at SXSW on March 10, and then in limited release March 17.

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  7. International Titles Indicate 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Is Plural

    Star WarsSince the announcement that the title of "Star Wars: Episode VIII" would be "The Last Jedi," fans have been debating whether the word "Jedi" is singular or plural. Did it refer to Luke? Rey? Or both? Maybe others?

    The release of the international titles for the movie now seemingly confirm that the word is indeed plural:

    @slashfilm It's plural! There is more than one Jedi. Legit image, just posted on the Portuguese #StarWars FB page! pic.twitter.com/njMl7rzUsq

    — RicardoDuToit (@RicardoDuToit) February 17, 2017

    Because of how the Germans use grammar, we now know that "Jedi" is plural in "The Last Jedi". Vielen Dank. pic.twitter.com/QupIQb4K8X

    — Peter Austin (@ThatPeterAustin) February 17, 2017

    The French title for the next Star Wars movie ("The Last Jedi") in English is "Les derniers Jedi" -- so plural. https://t.co/wcbztCMXgc

    — Olivier Knox (@OKnox) February 17, 2017

    The plural usage indicates that Luke is not the last Jedi, as mentioned in the opening crawl of "The Force Awakens," and that Rey will receive training from him in the Force. It also points to the possibility that Kylo Ren, would turn away from the Dark Side and rejoin his uncle in the Jedi ways. Perhaps there are even others yet undiscovered, like Finn, who seemed somewhat Force-sensitive.

    "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" opens in theaters December 15, 2017.

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  8. A 2009 Robert Downey Jr. Photo Has Secretly Been Hilarious All Along

    SKOREA-ENTERTAINMENT-MOVIE-AVENGERSGuys, this is why we have the Internet. We finally discovered its use: Pulling up old, forgotten photos that seemed innocuous at the time, and revealing their overlooked (R-rated) hilarity.

    Case in point: Yesterday, radio host/film critic Jamie East tweeted out an a photo of Robert Downey Jr. and friends. As Buzzfeed noted, the image is dated May 24, 2009, and shows RDJ at a beach house in Malibu with his wife Susan, along with Kristin Cavallari, and friends.

    The photo looks like a typical paparazzi snap, and it's not just interesting because RDJ was hanging out with someone from "The Hills." The five humans are not the show ... unless you count the legs to the right:

    WTF is Robert Downey Jr's dog doing? pic.twitter.com/P6B5Sx1pav

    — Jamie East (@jamieeast) February 15, 2017

    Bwahahahha! Since Jamie East asked the obvious question, fans have been responding with super dirty, super pun-ny, so very wrong, NSFW replies:

    @jamieeast Well, doggie-style, it appears.

    — Dane Rauschenberg (@SeeDaneRun) February 16, 2017

    @jamieeast @JennyJohnsonHi5 burying his bone?

    — mark (@TheFunkyBunch4) February 16, 2017

    @jamieeast Fifty Shades Ruffer pic.twitter.com/Z9WuUpHnDP

    — Ross O'Brien (@RossO_Brien) February 15, 2017

    @jamieeast 😂😂😂 he's giving her the 'iron man'

    — Ackeroo (@AckerooBanzai) February 16, 2017

    .@jamieeast pic.twitter.com/XZwjvXAfLV

    — Swoz (@ChairmanBLAOW) February 16, 2017
    The question is never really answered. Still no idea what the dog was actually doing -- other than providing Twitter with another blissfully sophomoric distraction.

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  9. Watch 'Pitch Perfect 3' Stars Harmonize With a Dashing Sea Lion Named Diego

    Sorry, fellas, but Anna Kendrick has a new boyfriend, and the "Pitch Perfect" Bellas may have their first male, non-human singer.

    "Pitch Perfect 3" started filming last month for its December release date, and it looks like the cast just took a filming trip to the Georgia Aquarium, where they made some new friends.

    As you can see in this video from star Rebel Wilson, the Bellas harmonized with one scene-stealing sea lion who definitely knew how to end on a splashy note:

    Had the best time @GeorgiaAquarium today! pic.twitter.com/9btuydFPrU

    — Rebel Wilson (@RebelWilson) February 17, 2017

    The aquarium replied that the new "Bella" was a lad named Diego:

    @RebelWilson Looks like you found the newest member of the Bellas, sea lion Diego! https://t.co/olTB8MZ2T0

    — Georgia Aquarium (@GeorgiaAquarium) February 17, 2017

    It looks like that might be the same sea lion seen here charming Anna Camp:

    Today we met sea lions!! #georgiaaquarium We even harmonized with them🎼🐬🐟🐋🎤🎬 pic.twitter.com/0VyQSP4dSn

    — Anna Camp (@TheRealAnnaCamp) February 17, 2017

    But Camp has competition, because it looks like Diego's heart belongs to Anna Kendrick. (Can you blame him?)

    My new boyfriend 💋

    A post shared by Anna Kendrick (@annakendrick47) on

    Unless that's a different sea lion, and this place is just packed with players?

    "Pitch Perfect 3," which also stars Brittany Snow, Elizabeth Banks, John Lithgow, and Hailee Steinfeld, is scheduled for release December 22.

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  10. James Cromwell Joins 'Jurassic World 2' Cast

    Farm Sanctuary's 30th Anniversary Gala - ArrivalsVeteran actor James Cromwell has been tapped to join the cast of "Jurassic World 2."

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cromwell will appear in the sequel alongside stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard and under the direction of J.A. Bayona ("A Monster Calls").

    Details of Cromwell's character were not revealed, but it's easy to picture him as a weary, but sage scientist or a righteous animal rights activist seeking to protect the InGen dinosaurs on Isla Nublar.

    Cromwell is an animal rights activist in his real life; he's a longtime vegan and has advocated against farm animal cruelty after starring in 1995's "Babe."

    And Colin Trevorrow, who directed the first movie and co-wrote the sequel, previously said, ""The dinosaurs will be a parable of the treatment animals receive today: the abuse, medical experimentation, pets, having wild animals in zoos like prisons, the use the military has made of them, animals as weapons."

    "Jurassic World 2" is set to open in theaters June 22, 2018.

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  11. 'Hook' Star Dante Basco Opens Kickstarter to Make Rufio Prequel

    HookThis Lost Boy wants to be found again.

    Dante Basco, who played wisecracking Rufio in the 1991 film "Hook" opposite the late Robin Williams, has been trying to make a follow-up movie about his character for some time. Now, he's opened a Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 for a short film titled "Bangarang" that would explore Rufio's origin story.

    As the Kickstarter's page says, the short would be a prequel set in the modern day focusing on a 13-year-old Rufio "before the mohawk, before Neverland, before he was The Pan." The tough Filipino foster kid finds a ragtag group of friends as he tries to "escape his ill fate, find his happy thought and fulfill his destiny."

    It's unclear how the story is set in the modern day, since "Hook" was set in 1991. Then again, time works differently in Neverland. Bangarang!

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  12. Jared Leto to Make Directorial Debut With Thriller '77'

    Gucci At The Fashion Awards 2016 - Red CarpetJared Leto is switching gears from Joker to director, with the actor set to make his feature directorial debut.

    Leto will helm "77," a thriller set around the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. The film focuses on two police officers investigating that crime while simultaneously trying to solve the murder of a fellow officer, and in the process uncovering corruption and a dark conspiracy.

    While "Suicide Squad" star Leto has previously helmed a documentary (2012's "Artifact," which won an award at the Toronto Film Festival) and multiple music videos and commercials (using his pseudonym, Bartholomew Cubbins), this will be his first time directing a full-length feature. And the Oscar winner will be in good creative company on the flick, working from a script penned by celebrated "L.A. Confidential" author James Ellroy, with rewrites from David Matthews ("Boardwalk Empire," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"). Leto will also produce the flick under his Paradox banner.

    No word yet on when "77" is expected to begin production, though if it shoots after "Suicide Squad 2," Leto may want to ask that film's director frontrunner, Mel Gibson, for some tips.

    [via: Variety]

  13. Morgan Freeman Psyches Out Jimmy Kimmel in Oscars 2017 Promo

    jimmy kimmel, morgan freeman, oscars, oscars 2017, promoThe Oscars are one of the most-watched events on television every year, reaching millions of viewers across the globe, and with all of that attention comes a lot of pressure, both to please the folks watching at home, as well as the A-listers attending the show. And this year's host of the telecast, Jimmy Kimmel, is certainly feeling the heat in a new promo for the awards show.

    In the clip, shared by the Academy on its official Twitter account, Kimmel is getting ready for his big gig as Oscar winner Morgan Freeman narrates what's meant to be an empowering pep talk. But things quickly go off the rails, as Freeman predicts that the host has "an opportunity to be the toast of the town -- or a chance to bomb so fantastically, everywhere he goes, people will say, 'Look at Sucky Sucko.'"

    .@JimmyKimmel's personal #Oscars pep talk includes a very special cameo. pic.twitter.com/Qwa9QEUXi8

    — The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 16, 2017

    There have been plenty of examples of emcees failing to connect with audiences over the years, though based on Kimmel's well-reviewed Emmys hosting stint last fall (which reportedly snagged him the Oscars job), we have a feeling he'll do just fine come Oscar Sunday. And even if he doesn't, at least he got to hear Morgan Freeman call him "Sucky Sucko," which must have been a delightful (if slightly demoralizing) experience.

    The Oscars are set for February 26 on ABC.

    [via: The Academy/Twitter]

  14. 'Beauty and the Beast' Star Emma Watson Explains Belle's New Feminist Backstory

    beauty and the beast, belle, emma watsonOne of the biggest changes audiences will notice in Disney's upcoming live-action remake of animated classic "Beauty and the Beast" is that the film spends much more time developing Belle's backstory than the 1991 original did. And according to star Emma Watson, that was an important part of the reason why she wanted to play the role.

    In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Watson explained how much it meant to her to imbue Belle with more of a personality, delving deeper into the origins of her awkward relationship with the people in her provincial village. The new version of "Beauty" turns Belle into a quirky inventor, assuming some of the traits that her father, Maurice (played by Kevin Kline in the new movie), displayed in the first film. Part of the motivation behind her inventions -- like devising a rough prototype for a washing machine, powered by a donkey walking in a circle -- is so she can spend less time doing chores, and has more free time to read.

    But when Belle dares to use her machine to help other little girls in the village, and starts teaching them to read, too, the townsfolk react by smashing her invention to bits. It's a jarring scene, Watson told EW, because it can easily be applied to women today.

    "They don't think women should read, and it goes further than that," the actress explained. " ... They're deeply suspicious of intelligence ... and they don't like anything that's foreign and unknown that might be beyond their realm of experience. Breaking the washing machine is symbolic of not just them breaking something she spent hours working on, but them really trying to break her spirit, and trying to kind of push her and mold her into a more acceptable version of herself. I think that happens a lot with women, and a lot with young girls."

    For more from Watson, check out her interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Beauty and the Beast" opens on March 17.

  15. This First Look at the 'Love Actually' Reunion Is Lovely, Actually

    love actually, bench scene, daniel, sam, liam neeson, thomas brodie-sangster"Love Actually" fans were doing their best Hugh Grant-style dancing this week in celebration of the announcement that most of the cast would be reuniting to film a mini sequel for the upcoming Red Nose Day fundraiser. And now, we have our first look at a few of the actors back in action.

    Emma Freud, partner of "Love Actually" director Richard Curtis and the film's script editor, posted a few behind the scenes photos from filming on her Twitter account, featuring Liam Neeson (who played recent widower Daniel), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (who played Daniel's adorable, lovesick step-son, Sam), and Olivia Olson (who played Joanna, Sam's crush who belted out a jaw-dropping version of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at the school pageant).

    Oh hello #rednosedayactually cast member looking slightly older than she did in the original film.... pic.twitter.com/6OY7SHP9dc

    — emma freud (@emmafreud) February 16, 2017

    #rednosedayactually shoot. Day 1. Yum. pic.twitter.com/G7ihyTViw1

    — emma freud (@emmafreud) February 16, 2017

    Olson in particular looks unrecognizable (Freud notes that the actress appears "slightly older than she did in the original film"), and it's extremely jarring to see Brodie-Sangster standing next to his movie dad, nearly as tall as Neeson. But Freud saved the best photo for last, featuring a recreation of the famous scene from the flick in which Daniel and Sam have a heart-to-heart while sitting on a bench on the bank of the Thames.

    So this just happened. #rednosedayactually day 1 of filming. Might have cried a tiny bit. pic.twitter.com/DQ3GxNSwLp

    — emma freud (@emmafreud) February 16, 2017

    "Might have cried a tiny bit," the editor tweeted of the special reunion. A photo shared by the official Red Nose Day Instagram account, capturing the moment head-on, also made us a little misty. The pair look like they've been returning to this bench for 14 years, as if no time has passed at all.

    We can't wait to see the finished product. The Red Nose Day special airs in the U.K. on March 24, and in the U.S. on May 25.

    [via: Emma Freud, Red Nose Day]

  16. The Scariest Part of 'Armageddon' Isn't the Asteroid: Podcast

    Armageddon podcastYou won't want to close your eyes. You won't want to fall asleep. 'Cause we're talking about "Armageddon," and you won't want to miss a thing.

    This week, the CAN'T WAIT! crew (Tim Hayne, Rachel Horner, Phil Pirrello, and Tony Maccio) tackles the 1998 Michael Bay disasterpiece, drilling down to its core like its a Texas-sized asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Among the topics discussed: Bay's penchant for trailer-made movies, a Michael Bay shared cinematic universe, and the problems inherent to giving screen time to an ensemble cast of roughly 500 people. Also, Tony Gilroy and J.J. Abrams were involved in the making of this movie, which raises A LOT of questions.

    Tune in next week for Rachel's pick, "Two Weeks Notice," in which Hugh Grant is charmingly befuddled and Sandra Bullock has diarrhea.

    Listen to CAN'T WAIT! A Movie Lover's Podcast Episode 13: 'Armageddon'Total runtime: 65:28

    Subscribe to the CAN'T WAIT! podcast:

    Have thoughts/feelings/feedback about the podcast? Have a movie you really, really want us to watch and talk about? Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #CANTWAIT.

  17. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler Run an Underground Casino in 'The House' Trailer

    the house, trailer, will ferrell, amy poehler, jason mantzoukasWhat are parents to do when their daughter gets into a prestigious university, but they can't afford to pay the tuition bill? Take out a student loan? Nah. They should open an underground casino instead.

    That's the premise of "The House," starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler as Scott and Kate Johansen, who lose their daughter Alex's (Ryan Simpkins) college fund. Desperate for a solution, the duo is approached by their neighbor, Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), who has the idea to open up an illegal casino in his house, promising they can earn four years' worth of tuition in a month.

    Of course, Scott and Kate get in way over their heads with the scheme, suddenly finding themselves running a fight night and strip club in addition to the casino (and accidentally chopping off part of a cheating patron's hand). But it's not all unwelcome chaos, either: Kate gets to wield a flame-thrower (Poehler has never looked more badass -- or more delighted), and Scott clearly has a ball donning expensive Italian sunglasses indoors.

    Can they keep up the business long enough to make enough cash for Alex's college fund? Or will they get busted long before then? It seems that the latter is the likelier option, but it looks like it will be a hilarious ride either way.

    "The House" hits theaters on June 30.

  18. Mel Gibson Confirms Talks to Direct 'Suicide Squad 2'

    89th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon - ArrivalsThe upcoming sequel to "Suicide Squad" may have landed a high-profile director: Mel Gibson has confirmed he's in talks with Warner Bros. to helm "Suicide Squad 2."

    Gibson responded to a series of reports stating that he was being courted for the job while appearing at a screening of his latest film, Best Picture nominee "Hacksaw Ridge," in Santa Monica on Wednesday night. When asked during a Q&A whether the situation was "getting close to a deal, or is it a first date?" the director replied, "It's kind of a first date."

    News first broke on Wednesday that Gibson was among a handful of candidates Warner Bros. had been circling for the gig, with Deadline reporting that the actor-turned-director has had "conversations" with the studio about possibly directing the follow-up. The trade cautioned that things were still in the early stages, something several other trades also reported later in the day on Wednesday.

    Here's what The Hollywood Reporter had to say about the news:

    No official offer has been made nor has any commitment.

    Sources say that Gibson is familiarizing himself with the material. But the studio is not being passive and is also looking at other directors, Daniel Espinosa ["Safe House"] among them.

    According to Variety, other candidates Warner Bros. is considering for the job are Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland") and Jonathan Levine ("Warm Bodies"). Reporter Justin Kroll later tweeted that Gibson is the studio's first pick ("if Mel wants it, it's his," Kroll wrote), and that Gibson has been wanting to work with "Suicide Squad" star Will Smith for years, going back to early development of the 2016 WB flick "The Accountant." (That film ultimately featured the pairing of star Ben Affleck and director Gavin O'Connor.)

    It's too early to say whether or not Gibson will take the gig, though he'd certainly be an intriguing -- and unlikely -- choice. Stay tuned to see how this shakes out.

    [via: YouTube, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Justin Kroll, h/t ComicBook.com]

  19. 4 Oscars 2017 Myths That You Need to Stop Believing

    It just got real.

    Final ballots went out to Oscar voters on Feb. 13. After all the guild awards and prizes from groups that are Not the Academy, this is the vote that finally matters. With the ballots due on Feb. 21, five days before the envelopes open at the ceremony, it's time to sort through all the noise -- four Oscars 2017 myths, debunked.

    Myth 1: There's a growing movement in Hollywood to cancel the Oscars this year, as a way of protesting the new presidency.

    Reality: This movement exists only in conservative memes, spread by wishful thinkers who'd like to see Hollyweird's biggest annual spectacle of self-congratulation vanish. The meme is shared by folks who claim not to care about movies or about the political statements that out-of-touch actors will make at the podium, even though the very act of sharing indicates that they care much more than they'll admit.

    Actually, in 89 years, the Oscars have never been canceled, though they've been postponed briefly after such events as the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981. But scrapped altogether? There's too much money at stake and too many viewers watching worldwide, so, not a chance.
    Myth 2: The British Academy Awards (BAFTAs), handed out over the weekend, are an important predictor of the Oscars.

    Reality: There are a lot of Anglophiles in Hollywood, but it's not clear that any of them will be influenced by the selections of BAFTA voters.

    No one even cared about the BAFTAs until 16 years ago, when they moved up their calendar to take place before the Oscars. The five-award sweep for "La La Land," or the Viola Davis victory for Supporting Actress for "Fences," don't mean much, since everyone already expected similar results at our own Academy Awards.

    Casey Affleck's win for Best Actor for "Manchester by the Sea" means even less, since his chief Oscar rival, "Fences" star Denzel Washington, wasn't even nominated. (He never has been, which says something about the BAFTAs' blind spots.) Neither was Isabelle Huppert ("Elle"), currently the only Best Actress Oscar nominee with a shot at stopping "La La Land"'s Emma Stone.

    About the only time the BAFTAs may have influenced the Oscars was back in 2002, when Russell Crowe won the Best Actor prize for "A Beautiful Mind" but then punched out a BAFTA ceremony producer whom he blamed for cutting short his acceptance speech. Oscar voters made sure that boorishness wasn't repeated stateside by giving the trophy to Washington for "Training Day."
    Myth 3: The relatively low box office of this year's Best Picture nominees suggests that Academy voters are out of touch with popular taste.

    Reality: It's true that huge blockbusters like "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" or "Titanic" are more the exception than the rule among Oscar winners. And while the Academy would surely like for some populist smashes to be among the nominees in order to increase rooting interest and TV viewership of the ceremony -- indeed, that's why it expanded the Best Picture category to include up to 10 nominees in recent years -- the Academy also knows that the Oscars are not the People's Choice Awards. They know that, for the trophy to be so highly coveted, it has to measure excellence by more than just ticket sales alone.

    Even so, the notion that the Academy goes out of its way to pick obscure movies that regular people don't buy tickets to see is especially untrue this year. The biggest hit among the Best Picture noms, "Hidden Figures," has earned $132 million, while "La La Land" is close behind with $126 million. "Arrival" will probably cross the $100 million line before the Feb. 26 awards show.

    All nine of the nominees -- even "Moonlight," which is the lowest earner, with $20 million -- are in the 85th percentile of domestic box office receipts among all of 2016's theatrical releases. All nine are profitable, and the fact that none of them has done Marvel-sized numbers should disappoint no one or suggest to anyone that these films lack popular appeal.
    Myth 4: This year's nominees are sops to political correctness, an overreaction to last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

    Reality: Things don't work that fast in the film industry, where it can take two years or more for a feature to go from greenlit idea to theatrical release.

    As many observers noted last year, the Academy Awards come at the end of the process; it takes decision-making at the beginning of the process, in Hollywood's executive suites, to put more inclusive films into the pipeline in the first place. That there are a wealth of black acting nominees and movies about the lives of African-Americans this year seems fortuitous, but there's no guarantee that it will happen again next year, or ever.

    There are also just two or three movies among the nine ("Hidden Figures," "Arrival," and arguably "La La Land") that have female protagonists. And as far as inclusivity goes, Hispanic and Asian and other viewers are still waiting to see movies about people who look like them. They may see this year's progress, including the Best Picture nomination for "Lion," as an incremental step, not a giant leap.
    And while this year's Oscar winners are almost certain to mention Trump from the podium, the movies themselves don't necessarily have much to do with contemporary politics. Sure, there are themes in "Hidden Figures," "Fences," "Moonlight," "Lion," and even sci-fi drama "Arrival" that may echo current issues, but the only nominee that addresses current events directly (specifically, the foreclosure crisis) is "Hell or High Water," and it does so in the context of a cops-and-robbers thriller.

    For all the backlash that's arisen in recent weeks against "La La Land," it's still the front-runner for most categories, and the only politics on its mind are cultural politics (the future of jazz, the cookie-cutter sameness of mass-appeal studio filmmaking).

    The likeliest scenario sees "La La Land" winning Picture, Actress, Director, and Original Screenplay, while "Moonlight" wins Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor (for Mahershala Ali) and "Fences" wins Actor and Supporting Actress. In other words, a split between the escapist (and predominantly white) musical and the poetic African-American dramas.

    You could try to make ideological sense of that, or you could acknowledge that this year's Oscars might actually be as much about merit as about political correctness.

  20. 25 Things You Never Knew About the Oscars

    88th Annual Academy Awards - RehearsalsIt's almost here! The 89th Academy Awards finally airs this Sunday, February 26th, and we're counting down the minutes.

    We've already given you some fascinating Oscars stats, and now we're bringing you some of the best (and, um, craziest) facts about Hollywood's biggest awards show. From the first Best Actor winner, to the "one dollar" Oscar rule, here are 25 things you (probably) don't know about the Oscars.1. The youngest Oscar winner was Tatum O'Neal (above), who won Best Supporting Actress for "Paper Moon" (1973) when she was only 10 years old. Shirley Temple won the short-lived Juvenile Award at just 6 years old.

    2. After winning Best Actress for "Cabaret" (1972), Liza Minnelli became (and still is) the only Oscar winner whose parents both earned Oscars. Her mother, Judy Garland, received an honorary award in 1939 and her father, Vincente Minnelli, won Best Director for "Gigi" (1958).

    3. Nameplates for all potential winners (meaning, every nominee) are prepared ahead of time; in 2014, the Academy made 215 of them!

    4. The first Academy Awards were presented in 1929 at a private dinner of about 270 people. It was first televised in 1953, and now the Oscars ceremony can be seen in more than 200 countries.

    5. Only four women have received Best Director nominations -- Lina Wertmüller (1977), Jane Campion (1994), Sofia Coppola (2004), and Kathryn Bigelow (2010) -- while Bigelow is the lone winner for "The Hurt Locker" (2009). Interestingly, Bigelow beat out ex-husband James Cameron, who was nominated for the technological wonder "Avatar."
    6. At 82, Christopher Plummer (above) is the oldest person to win an Academy Award. He received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in "Beginners" (2010), opposite Ewan McGregor.

    7. Peter Finch ("Network") and Heath Ledger ("The Dark Knight") are the only actors to be awarded an Academy Award posthumously. Ledger's Oscar -- and his entire fortune -- was gifted to his young daughter, Matilda.

    8. With her nomination for "Florence Foster Jenkins," Meryl Streep has been nominated a record 20 times. She won Best Supporting Actress for "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979), and has two Best Actress Oscars, one for "Sophie's Choice" (1982) and one for "The Iron Lady" (2011).

    9. Katharine Hepburn won a record four Academy Awards -- all Best Actress Oscars -- the last for "On Golden Pond" (1981), which starred another Hollywood legend, Henry Fonda.

    10. The first Oscars were held at the famous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Today, the ceremony takes place at the Dolby Theatre (around the corner from the Roosevelt), its tenth venue.11. Jack Nicholson (above) is the most-nominated male actor, receiving 12 Oscar nominations beginning with 1969's "Easy Rider." His three wins tie him with Walter Brennan and Daniel Day-Lewis.

    12. Oscar statuettes are technically property of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As a result, before an Academy Award winner or his/her estate can sell an Oscar, they must first offer to sell it back to the Academy for one dollar (yes, one dollar). This, of course, is to discourage winners from selling the award for financial gain. Oscars awarded before 1950, however, are not bound by this agreement. In 2011, Orson Welles's 1941 Oscar for "Citizen Kane" was sold at auction for over $800,000.

    13. Only three films have won all of the "Big Five" Academy Award categories: "It Happened One Night" (1934), "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991). The "Big Five" categories are: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (either adapted or original).

    14. In 1940, the LA Times broke the Academy's embargo and published the names of all the Oscar winners prior to the ceremony. As a result, the Academy introduced the sealed envelope tradition that's still used today.

    15. The legendary Alfred Hitchcock was nominated five times for Best Director, but never took home the Oscar.16. "Ben-Hur" (1959), "Titanic" (1997), and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003) (above) are the most successful films in Oscar history, each winning a whopping 11 Oscars. "Return of the King" is the only one to win every award for which it was nominated.

    17. Composer John Williams is the most-nominated living person, having earned 50 Oscar nominations throughout his storied career, beginning with 1967's "Valley of the Dolls."

    18. The longest Oscar acceptance speech ever delivered was five and half minutes, and it was given by 1943 Best Actress winner Greer Garson, who won for "Mrs. Miniver."

    19. Oscar statuettes were made from painter plaster during World War II due to metal shortages. After the war ended, these Oscars were replaced with traditional statues.

    20. Bob Hope hosted the ceremony a whopping 19 times, the most of any host in Oscars history.21. With his Best Actor nomination for "American Sniper" (2014), Bradley Cooper (above) has been nominated for an acting Oscar three years in a row. That's one shy of the record for most consecutive acting nods, held by the late Marlon Brando.

    22. The first Best Actor awards were given to Emil Jannings for "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Flesh" (yes, both!).

    23. At the 29th Academy Awards ceremony held in 1957, the Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced. Previously, the best foreign language film was acknowledged with a Special Achievement Award.

    24. In 1999, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench were both nominated for playing Queen Elizabeth in "Elizabeth" and "Shakespeare in Love." Dench won Best Supporting Actress, despite only appearing in the film for a total of eight minutes. Meanwhile, Blanchett lost the Best Actress Oscar to Gwyneth Paltrow -- also for "Shakespeare in Love."

    25. "O.J.: Made in America," nominated this year for Best Documentary Feature, has a running time of 7 hours and 47 minutes, making it the longest film ever to nab an Oscar nom.

    [Sources: Wikipedia, The Wrap, Empire, ET Online, Variety]

  21. Behind the Scenes of Making Live-Action 'Beauty and the Beast' For the 21st Century

    Why remake the perfect movie? For the cast of the live-action "Beauty and the Beast," it's a chance to make Belle into a 21st century heroine.

    In a behind-the-scenes video (via Entertainment Weekly), director Bill Condon and star Emma Watson talk about the breathing new life into the animated classic. "I have loved 'Beauty and the Beast' since I was about four years old," Watson gushes. This new version "expands on it and gives it more detail and depth."

    The featurette provides new glimpses at the lavish production, epic scenery, and the lovable household objects that befriend the young heroine. And of course, it highlights the growing romance between Belle and her Beast (Dan Stevens).

    "It was enormously exciting to see so many people concentrated on creating magic that will endure," said Ian McKellen, who plays the clock Cogsworth.

  22. 'Love Actually' Cast to Reunite for 'Red Nose Day Actually' Sequel

    To us, this is (nearly) perfect! "Love Actually" came out in 2003, and fans have always been curious to know what happened to the characters in Richard Curtis's classic Christmas romance. Well, we'll soon find out. Most of the cast is reuniting for the short film "Red Nose Day Actually," to air during Comic Relief's Red Nose Day special, a charity event airing in the U.K. on March 24 and on NBC in the U.S. on May 25.

    According to The Guardian, "Red Nose Day Actually" will feature Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Colin Firth, Lucia Moniz, Liam Neeson, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Olivia Olson, Bill Nighy, Marcus Brigstocke, and Rowan Atkinson. Emma Thompson and Chiwetel Ejiofor are not mentioned at this point, and -- of course -- our beloved Alan Rickman passed away last year, so he won't be involved.

    Richard Curtis explained his thought process in doing this 10-minute sequel-of-sorts:

    "It seemed like a fun idea this year to do a special sketch based one of my films, since Red Nose Day is now in both the U.K. and America. I would never have dreamt of writing a sequel to 'Love Actually,' but I thought it might be fun to do 10 minutes to see what everyone is now up to. Who has aged best? – I guess that's the big question... or is it so obviously Liam? We've been delighted and grateful that so many of the cast are around and able to take part – and it'll certainly be a nostalgic moment getting back together and recreating their characters 14 years later. We hope to make something that'll be fun – very much in the spirit of the original film and of Red Nose Day – and which we hope will help bring lots of viewers and cash to the Red Nose Day shows."

    If Chiwetel Ejiofor's Peter is sitting this out, maybe it's because Andrew Lincoln's character, Mark, finally gets his wish and steals Keira Knightley's Juliet away from his best mate? We'll have to see what happens when the special airs in May, or at least wait for video from the U.K. show to be posted in March.

    [via Collider, The Guardian]

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  23. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 'La La Land' Critique Fuels Heated Debates

    Just to be clear, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar liked "La La Land." A lot. In fact, in his critique for The Hollywood Reporter, he called it "bold, daring and deserving of all its critical and financial success." However, the NBA legend/culture critic is not joining the cult of "La La Land" -- which suffers no criticism of any kind -- so he pointed out "a few elements that warrant closer examination" in the Oscar frontrunner, "particularly regarding its portrayal of jazz, romance and people of color."

    As he added, "In fact, the better a work of art is, the more we must dissect it, because now we're not just measuring Rotten Tomatoes popularity or boffo box office, we're assessing its proper place in our cultural canon."

    Right away, he clarified that his issue is not with the number of black people. He respected writer/director's Damien Chazelle story choices. But he was disappointed with the use of the white savior trope in relation to the one black main character. That has been discussed before in other "La La Land" reviews, but he also sounded a different note on the romanticizing of the "crash and burn" of relationships. That seems to be getting ignored in the larger debate about the film, but he makes some good points.

    Here's part of his thoughtful critique:

    WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD.

    ON RACE

    Jazz is a uniquely African-American music form born in New Orleans and raised in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. Sure, I would have loved to see a film like La La Land years ago starring singer-dancer Gregory Hines, the master of improvisational tap dance whose tapping could sound like a jazz drummer. Having said that, I'm still delighted to see Ryan Gosling play a man (Sebastian) devoted to the artistry of traditional jazz. But I'm also disturbed to see the one major black character, Keith (John Legend), portrayed as the musical sellout who, as Sebastian sees it, has corrupted jazz into a diluted pop pablum.

    Wait just a minute!

    The white guy wants to preserve the black roots of jazz while the black guy is the sellout? This could be a deliberate ironic twist, but if it is, it's a distasteful one for African-Americans. One legitimate complaint that marginalized people (women, people of color, Muslims, the LGBT community, etc.) have had about Hollywood in the past is that when they were portrayed, it was done in a negative way. The ditzy blonde, the Muslim terrorist, the gay predator are all familiar stereotypes from years of TV and movies. So much has been done in recent years to overcome those debasing images, but we still have to be careful. It's not that a black man can't be the sellout or the drug dealer, it's just that they shouldn't be if they're the only prominent black character in the story. Whether it's intentional or unintentional, that sends a bigoted message rippling through our society.


    ON ROMANCE

    I'm equally interested in how the film portrays romance, because pop culture (movies, TV, books, music) is the major source of information about romantic relationships for our youth. That's where they learn about what to look for in a mate, what a relationship should look like, how to treat each other. [...] The problem comes when we romanticize the crash and burn. Then the drama of the breakup seems more fulfilling than the prospect of actual romance, which can then seem mundane in the long run. Now a continual series of melodramatic breakups makes a person seem more tragically edgy and becomes justification for why they can't find real love. [...]

    That's where the romanticizing comes in. The whole childish doomed-romance genre celebrates personal achievement with only an obligatory sad nod toward the consequences. Mia also sings this about her aunt: "She lives in her liquor / And died with a flicker / I'll always remember the flame." Sure, you'll remember the flame because you're too blinded by your own ambition to see the real moral: She died with a flicker because she was an alcoholic burnout! Even Sebastian wonders about how accurately he sees things in "City of Stars": "City of stars / There's so much that I can't see." Starlight romanticizes whatever it illuminates. [...] As Mr. Antolini says in The Catcher in the Rye: "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." Had Mia and Sebastian chosen to live humbly, they might have had their success — or not — and been happy together.

    Obama Honors 21 Americans With Presidential Medal Of FreedomKareem (who has been on screen a few times himself, from "Airplane!" to "The Stand") reiterated that he found the characters and movie delightful and he knows he'll watch it again and again over the years. "But every time I do, along with the immense joy, I'll have a tiny nagging feeling of, 'What if?'"

    However, perhaps because his review was headlined "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: How 'La La Land' Misleads on Race, Romance and Jazz," and his "bigoted message" comment was given prominence, the comments are quite defensive. There are already nearly 400 comments, after the post has only been up a few hours, and they mostly focus on the race angle, skipping everything else, and asking why everything has to be about skin color. This is what happens not only when you challenge "La La Land" -- even when you say you liked it (just like the "SNL" sketch) -- but also when anyone brings up race, even in the context of a positive review. No wonder we can't all just get along!

    "La La Land" tied for the most-ever Oscar nominations with 14. It will surely pick up a few trophies when the show airs live Sunday, Feb. 26 on ABC.

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  24. Matt Damon Slams 'Grotesque' Oscars Campaign Season

    88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon - ArrivalsTrying to win an Oscar can be gross. Just ask Matt Damon.

    He already has an Academy Award for co-writing "Good Will Hunting," and he's been nominated as an actor three times -- Best Actor for "Good Will Hunting" and "The Martian," and Best Supporting Actor for "Invictus." Now he's back on the nominee list in 2017 as a producer of "Manchester by the Sea."

    Actors-writers Matt Damon (L) and Ben Affleck (R)Damon just talked to The Hollywood Reporter about making "Manchester by the Sea," his frenemy Jimmy Kimmel as this year's host, and how repulsed he is by the very political process of campaigning for Oscar votes.

    Here's a portion of the Q&A:

    How has the Oscar-going experience changed over the years?

    With 'Good Will Hunting,' that was kind of the start of campaigning. I went through that experience and then didn't go again for years. Then I was nominated as a supporting actor but didn't really participate a lot. Then, last year with 'The Martian,' I ended up at a bunch of these cocktail parties and it was just so grotesque. It had been accepted that there was a whole season and we all were expected to treat it almost like a political campaign. It felt like it had gotten out of control. It seemed like that Harvey Weinstein, full-court press [worked]. Now I'm wondering if those days are over. I certainly hope they are.

    Do you have any advice for host Jimmy Kimmel?

    Evidently, he said that he doesn't care at all who wins as long as I lose. I tried to get on his Oscar show last year. I mean, I was nominated; he still didn't let me on. Somebody asked me, 'Do [you] want him to do bad?' I just want him to live up to my extremely low expectations.

    Ah, the Matt-and-Jimmy feud never gets old. But it's interesting to hear about these self-promotion parties from the perspective of a nominated actor.

    88th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon - ArrivalsIn 2016 Damon was up against Bryan Cranston in "Trumbo"; Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs"; Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl"; and Leonardo DiCaprio, who won for "The Revenant." So they probably suffered through the same forced cocktail party chit-chat together. It's like you have to do several month's worth of extra acting on top of the nominated role. But Leo was going to win that thing no matter what, so you could argue that the campaigning was a waste of time and effort, as well as just a "grotesque" way of selling yourself.

    The 2017 Oscars air Sunday, Feb. 26 on ABC. Here's the full list of nominations.

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  25. Director Gore Verbinski Had a 'Cathartic' Experience Making 'A Cure for Wellness'

    Gore Verbinski's "A Cure for Wellness" (out this weekend) is a bold, visionary horror epic that's unlike anything you've ever seen before. It's the kind of gonzo masterpiece that will be studied over and picked apart for years to come, and it's clear, from almost the opening frame, that it's a movie that only Verbinski could have made. And beyond it being a new Gore Verbinski movie, it's a wholly original film --one that has scope and scale and visual complexity. That's almost unheard of!

    The film follows Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a young Wall Street operative with questionable moral fiber, who accepts a job from his superiors to retrieve one of the founders of the company, who has been holed up in a mysterious German spa (the founder, Lockhart is told, is necessary for an important company merger). But this spa, as anyone who has seen a trailer for the movie (or looked at its ominous poster) can attest, isn't quite right ... Saying anymore would be downright criminal. But just know that this is a genuinely creepy movie that will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

    I jumped on the phone with Verbinski to talk about the creative rejuvenation "A Cure for Wellness" represented (his last film was the outrageously underrated "The Lone Ranger"), where the idea for the film came from, what his "Bioshock" movie would have been like, and how excited he was to be scaring the hell out of people again.Moviefone: Where did this idea come from?

    Gore Verbinski: Well, Justin Haythe, the writer, and I were walking and talking about different ideas. We're both fans of the novel by Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain." That was a jumping off point. We were also talking about genre pictures of the '70s and, in our favorite movies, there was always a sense of the inevitable -- like a hidden, unseen force. And what if that was a sickness? What if the narrative is this illness that the protagonist doesn't know about? It's the black spot on your X-ray. So it's the sense that he's being drawn to this place that maybe has been there, above the clouds, watching mankind from industrial revolution and the advent of personal computers to our obsession with cell phones, and offering a diagnosis. And it evolved from there.

    What were your influences? It seems a lot like an old Vincent Price movie.

    [Laughs] Well, certainly. I'm an [H.P.] Lovecraft fan. We are firmly rooted in the Gothic. But cautiously, because with those movies the curtain closes and you go, "Well, that was then." Because when movies really creep you out, they tap into some kind of contemporary fear. I think we're living in an increasingly irrational world. The movie is more prescient now than it was when we made it in 2015. But if you try and tap into some feeling, I like to think the curtain closes, and because we're diagnosing the modern man if you will, that it resonates when you think about it in a few days.

    There are a lot of unanswered questions in this movie. Do you and Justin know the whole history of the facility and everything?

    Sure, yeah. There's a whole map. But I think letting it remain slightly enigmatic has value as well. I think, when you watch it the second time, you'll see that it does add up. We really wanted to say, "OK, there's this guy and as he gets closer to this place his cell phone stops working and his watch stops." He's entering the world of dream logic. It's not a waking state. If we can get you nibbling at breadcrumbs rather leading you through the narrative, I think you prey upon your motivation to discover. If we just put things close together, it'd be easier to say, "Oh, that's related to that." But in a way, things can make sense in a dream.

    It seemed like this movie was an effort to get back to basics, but then it winds up being two-and-a-half hours long and looks like it cost $200 million.

    It's the same budget as "The Ring," it's just that we had a really great tax incentive in Germany. I deferred my fee completely and we don't have big movie stars, so there's very little above the line. It's all going on the screen. We are certainly not risk averse. It's all up there. Look, if you can stay the right size you can stay mobile. I went to Germany in the winter of 2015 looking for castles and found this one. So it was great for exteriors but the interiors wouldn't work. On the other side of Germany we found this abandoned hospital that had graffiti all over it and vines. So we tore the vines off and repainted it. So we're getting a lot of production value from traveling. If you can stay mobile, you can pick up a lot of production value from hitting the road.

    Did you feel creatively reinvigorated by the experience?

    [Laughs] Yeah, this was a reboot. It's cathartic. I do think that it's healthy to go to Germany and know nobody. It was a great chance to start over. You just grab a camera and make a movie.

    Was there any pushback from the studio for an original movie of this size?

    Well, the movie was produced by New Regency, which has a distribution deal at Fox. So they're kind of a mini-major. They were very hands-off. We had a bag that was a quarter full but we had autonomy. So we had to figure it out. That's the best way to operate if you want to try something different.I was on another set of another movie and your costume designer was saying that this was the weirdest movie she'd ever worked on, which I think you should wear as a badge of honor.

    You know, it's good to be a little nuts. There's just something nice about ... Like the scariest part for me was on "Pirates 2" when the studio wasn't nervous anymore. They're smiling at you and going, "Just doing that thing you're doing, we love it." And you just go, "Holy sh*t." So trying to find the brink of uncertainty. That's where you want to be. You'll find it. Certainly "Cure" is way out there on the horizon.

    Are you excited to scare people again?

    Yes. It's a really great genre, in the sense that, in this case, you're following Dan's character as he reluctantly becomes a patient in this place. But really you're the patient -- you're in the darkened room and we're using sound and image and composition and performance to slow cook the audience. I think there's something beautiful in that.

    It seems like the kind of timeless movie that people are going to be watching for a long time.

    It needs to find its core, you know? That's harder and harder to do these days. We're out there, we're finding them, one by one. If it finds its champions, it'll be OK.

    Can you talk about your composer, Benjamin Wallfisch? He seems to be part of your longtime collaborator Hans Zimmer's crew. The music in the movie is so great.

    I'd never worked with him on all the movies I'd done with Hans. But I called Hans and said, "I know you're not going to be able to do this but I don't want to temp score this movie. I want somebody who is going to be with me for nine months." That's clearly going to take Hans out of the running. He recommended Ben and I really liked him. He's very classically boned. We never put a piece of music against the picture that wasn't original, which is really liberating. It's like crack. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially if you're using a composer's other work against a movie. It's inevitable you get close to that temp score. So it was really important to say, "We're not going to go there."

    Did you import any of the stuff you were working on for "Bioshock" into the thought process for this?

    You're not the first person to ask me that, and I'm sure there's something subliminal. I think most people are reacting to the big isolation tank. I wanted to build something that really felt real. This is a strange meta-science that is happening here. This place is old but it's also operating in a kind of dream state. I needed the scale and I needed the pressure of all of this water and a place to put a camera and move around. So I went for it. And people said, "Oh, that looks really steampunk" or whatever. But the narrative is so different from "Bioshock." We're taking the tranquility and calm and purification of a wellness center and corrupting that, which is something else entirely.

    How cool was your "Bioshock" movie going to be? Just level with me.

    Well, we were going for it. We were going to push it all the way. There's no half-measures. It was a letdown.

    Is there any chance of it being revived?

    I don't know. When you're eight weeks before shooting, that's right in the transition; you're no longer the architect, you're the contractor. It's like, "Now I just need to make it." You enter triage mode. Most of the creative thought process takes place up until that moment and then it's the forces of gravity and physical reality and weather and all of that comes to bear and you move and you dance. Part of me is like, "I made it." That's the hardest part. We'd need a new financier willing to take the risk. But it would take a lot of work to get to that point, before you're ready to bite into it.

    You have a few things on the docket.

    You know that IMDb stuff is so out-of-date. That stuff is just ancient. There's a few things that have been on the backburner because "Cure" has been all encompassing. I'm not sure which one is going to go yet. I don't think any of them are on the Internet. That's so funny. You ask questions and I go, "Where are you getting this? Oh, I should go online."

    Is there any inclination for you to return to animation?

    Well that's one of the back-burner projects that is hopefully going to get going. You'll be the first to know. But I'm excited about doing animation again.

    "A Cure for Wellness" is out this Friday.

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