Pixar Establishes New Division for Experimental Shorts
Is Pixar losing their touch? They’re no longer the coolest animation house, having ceded some of that street cred to the international curators of GKids and the stop-motion prestidigitators at Laika. They’re not the most profitable, either, as their box office receipts are regularly dwarfed by the money factories erected by parent company Disney or Illumination. (Last year’s mega-smash Finding Dory was sorely needed after the underperforming The Good Dinosaur.) Pixar’s rep as the industry’s most creativity-driven, unfailingly excellent studio has faded as they’ve leaned a little harder on moneymaking sequels — Cars 3, coming soon! — but today brings the news that they’ve taken a significant step into regaining supremacy over the industry.
Sam Mendes Considering Strings-Attached Contract to Direct Disney’s Live-Action ‘Pinocchio’
Nearly two decades out from his first film, and the viewing public hasn’t gotten any closer to answering the philosophical quandary of what, exactly, a Sam Mendes film is. He’s hopped from an accented dramedy about suburban malaise to a grim-and-gritty graphic novel adaptation to an off-kilter war drama to a pair of coolly-received literary adaptations to James freakin’ Bond. The most effective method of predicting the subject of a new directorial outing from Mendes involves dartboards, tea leaves, and cloud-reading, and today’s announcement of a new project for the esteemed Brit helmer adds yet another baffling left turn to his eclectic oeuvre.
Scientists Name New Species of Dinosaur After Zuul of ‘Ghostbusters’
We owe a lot to scientists — they cured polio, got us on the moon, and they‘re doing their darnedest to stop us from methodically killing the planet. But man, what a bunch of nerds. It seems like every time biologists discover a new species of animal and need to give it a name, they take the opportunity to bust out a reference to their favorite bit of geek-approved pop culture. Lest we forget the velvet worm named after My Neighbor Totoro, and we’d be remiss to overlook the euglossa bazinga, a rare bee with a Big Bang Theory catchphrase as its namesake. And it appears that now the nerds are at it again.
Christopher Nolan Will Produce the 25th James Bond, Could Directing Be Far Behind?
The game of extremely handsome musical chairs that is staffing up for the next James Bond film continued apace today. The two biggest question marks — who will star as the secret agent extraordinaire, and who will direct him in the new picture — remain unresolved, but a new development may hold a clue as to the future of the franchise. A great ruckus was raised over the fact that the Bond property has entered the marketplace for a new studio overseer, and while the new management has not yet been decided, it’s starting to look like Warner Bros. has the upper hand. And it all has to do with Christopher Nolan.
In Good News for Sitcoms (and Workers’ Rights), the WGA Isn’t Striking After All
In case you weren’t aware, a pretty major situation has been percolating in the entertainment industry over the past month. Unsatisfied with the conditions of their work and continued employment, the Writers’ Guild of America went to the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers to renegotiate the terms of their collective contract. A bitter standoff summarily broke out, with the possibility of another writers’ strike — you may remember the last freeze-out, which stretched from late 2007 into early 2008 — looming on the horizon. Today brings a resolution to the saga of the last few weeks, and in true Hollywood fashion, everyone’s getting a happy ending.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ Knocked ‘Star Wars’ Out of the All-Time Domestic Box Office Top 10
This past weekend, a seismic shift in box-office history took place and went largely unnoticed. The writing was on the wall for Star Wars’ legacy in the all-time top 10 highest-earning films, as noted on Reddit prior to the start of this past weekend. Box-office behemoth Beauty and the Beast continued to generate healthy grosses in its fifth weekend of release, ending the weekend with a princely (or should I say, princessly!) sum of $471.1 million. This gave the film a slight edge of the next-most-lucrative film on the list, which just so happened to be George Lucas’ original space opus. Star Wars and its lifetime gross of $461 million have now slid down to the #11 spot.
Netflix Is Willing to Release Original Movies Into Theaters, But Only After They’re on Netflix
Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
Netflix’s New Rating System Is the Closest We’ll Get to Hooking Up With Movies
Sex with movies — until now, it’s been an impossible dream. But Netflix is a company of innovation, and they’re not going to stop at reshaping the home-entertainment industry top to bottom. Much ruckus was raised recently when Netflix announced that they would do away with their widely reviled star ratings and switch to a thumbs-up/thumbs-down system for recommendations, but a new video from the streaming giant released today clarifies the nature of this new recommendations engine. At long last, we can decide which movies we want to do it with, as if the film industry was one big textual Tinder. And that’s not my comparison, either — Netflix wants you to think of this like a dating app!
Hollywood Studios Considering Early Home Releases for New Films
Almost exactly a year ago, tech entrepreneur Sean Parker (better known as the guy who correctly identified a billion dollars as cooler than a million dollars in The Social Network) fronted a proposed business venture called The Screening Room, a potentially game-changing set-top box through which Hollywood studios would offer their biggest new releases to stream at home the same day they premiered in brick-and-mortar theaters. (With an astronomical price tag, naturally.) Though it gained some traction and support from significant voices in the film community, it ultimately sputtered and spun out. But with the rebirth of spring, so comes a rebirth for this impractical, frightening, cineplex-annihilating idea. (Kinda.)
‘Rogue One’ Writer Reveals Who Lived and Who Died in the Film’s Original Ending
When pals asked, “What was your favorite part of Rogue One?” and I responded, “The part at the end when they all died,” it sounded like a bitter joke. But it‘s true — the choice to take advantage of the film’s stand-alone nature by concluding with the cast’s noble, obliterating sacrifice was a bold and decisive storytelling choice that helped distinguish Gareth Evans’ film from the rest of the franchise. The characters meant more in death than they ever did while living, and the selflessness of their risky suicide mission attests to the power of the human spirit in wartime. But this was not always the game plan.
Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ Holds Open Casting Call for Golden-Throated Middle Easterners
Hey, are you between the ages of 18 and 25? Are you of Middle Eastern descent? Are you free from April of this year right on through to January 2018? Have you ever been described as ‘telegenic,’ and most importantly, can you hit a high C? Then good news, you have a solid shot at landing one of the starring roles in Guy Ritchie’s upcoming live-action Aladdin remake for Disney!
‘Spotlight’ Oscar-Winner Tom McCarthy to Rewrite Disney’s Live-Action Winnie the Pooh
Disney’s concept for Christopher Robin — a live-action reimagining of the happy tales of Winnie the Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang — was kind of weird from the start. The idea was that the film would rejoin Pooh’s young pal Christopher Robin as a family man swept up in his professional life, with Pooh returning to remind the jaded grown-up of the wonderment of childhood. Perhaps Disney recognized what a tricky sell that might be, and accordingly decided to throw all the talented people they could at this. They brought in acerbic indie-circuit favorite Alex Ross Perry to draw up a script, and then hired eclectic director Marc Forster (responsible for everything from World War Z to Stranger Than Fiction to Finding Neverland to Quantum of Solace) to head up the operation.