J.J. Abrams Casually Reveals X-Wing Fighter in Video Seeking Charitable Donations for UNICEF

The man is playing us like a fiddle

I don't know exactly when Star Wars 7 director J.J. Abrams decided to use set reveals to raise money for charity, but if I had to guess I'd say it was some time after people went totally apeshit for those "leaked" pics of the Millennium Falcon back in June. Abrams probably saw the way people reacted and asked, "How can I take this weird boner grown men have for this movie franchise and use it to do something good?"

The solution he came up with is pretty brilliant. Make a video asking people to donate money to "Force for Change," a charitable effort trying to raise money for UNICEF's Innovation Labs. In that video slowly pan out to reveal an entire X-Wing Fighter. The video will spread like wildfire, because the internet is run by geeks and geeks love this stuff. Then, when people watch the video and hear how donating could win them a role as an extra in the film, or possibly an advanced screening for 20 of their closest friends, "Force for Change" will raise lots of money.

Well done, J.J. Abrams. Well done.

Universal Is Rebooting All Their Classic Monsters in a New Cinematic Universe

I'm generally not a fan of rebooting popular movie franchises. Sure, they get it right sometimes, as Warner Brothers did when they hired Christopher Nolan to reboot Batman. But most of the time the reboots are unnecessary. (The Amazing Spider-Man, anyone?)

That said, when I heard that Universal was going to reboot their classic movie monsters with with a brand new, possibly shared cinematic universe, that immediately struck me as an absolutely brilliant idea. While all these monsters are public domain now, and lots of studios have made updated Dracula, Frankenstein, and Werewolf pictures, none of these efforts have been part of a larger vision.

Universal has a vision, though. They hired Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to serve as the architects of new monster universe in which the individual films are "cohesive" and "connected." And according to Deadline, the first film in the new universe will be a new take on the Mummy in 2016. After that it's anybody's guess, but you'd have to assume all the regulars will get a picture - Dracula, Frankenstien, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man, and so on.

There's no guarantee that this new Universal Monsters universe will be any good, of course. But the concept is exciting for anyone who loves classic cinema and is getting tired of superheros.

Big Changes to Marvel Comics Give Glimpse into the Future of Marvel Cinematic Universe

When Marvel made the big announcement that the new comic book Thor would be a woman earlier this week, I didn't think it necessarily portended any immediate changed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

(Oh, by the way, in case you didn't hear, comic book Thor is going to do something to make himself unworthy of the Mjölnir hammer, and the new Thor is going to be one of the women in Thor's life. Wow, right?)

However, now they've gone and revealed that the new Captain America will be Sam Wilson—a.k.a. Falcon, a.k.a. a guy who is not white—it's clear something bigger is going on here. You see, the change to the comic book Cap lines up perfectly with what we already know about movie Cap—namely that Chris Evans doesn't want to go on playing the Marvel hero forever, so somebody else will have to take over. And this suggests the changes to the comic books are being done to bring them into alignment with what's going to be happening in phases two and three of the MCU.

These aren't the only changes coming to the Marvel comics as part of their Marvel NOW! brand refurbishing project. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso also suggested that there will be a new Iron Man, and that Tony Stark may take on a less good-guy-type role in Avengers universe. And that also lines up with the fact that Robert Downey Jr. doesn't want to go on playing Iron Man forever.

So look out, Marvel movie fans. Big changes are a comin'. Probably.

[via Entertainment Weekly and Screen Rant]

It’s Almost Like the People Making the New ‘Fantastic Four’ Are Actively Trying to Piss Off Fanboys

The Fantastic Four movie that came out in 2005 wasn't very well-received by critics or fanboys, despite the fact that it starred Jessica Alba. So when Fox announced they were going to reboot the franchise in 2015, the decision was embraced as a chance to right previous wrongs.

Unfortunately, after the initial announcement, it's been all downhill in the eyes of comic fans. First came word of "questionable casting choices," by which I mean they cast a black guy to play Johnny Storm/Human Torch. Then came word that the tightly guarded script might "take liberties" with the Fantastic Four canon.

Now the proverbial shit has really hit the proverbial fan. In an interview with Esquire Latinoamérica, new Sue Storm/Invisible Woman Kate Mara said the new film won't follow the comic books AT ALL. Then she was all like, "I don't even like comic books," and "I don't care what Fantastic Four fans think."

Of course, that's a crude paraphrase. You should probably read her actual words:

I’ve never been a fan of comics, I’ve never actually read one. I was going to for this movie but the director said it wasn’t necessary. Well, actually he told us that we shouldn’t do it because the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published. So I chose to follow his instructions. The one fact is I am a fan of comic book movies, so it’s very exciting to be part of a movie like this.

I don’t feel more responsibility with this role that I’ve felt with others. I understand that there are many fans of Fantastic Four and I guess they expect a lot from me, but I prefer not to be pressured by that. We are also trying to create a new way of seeing these superheroes, I’m focusing on making her (Susan Storm) as real as possible.

Have fun at Comic-Con, Kate!

[via Screen Rant]

Weinstein Company Proclaims VOD Release of ‘Snowpiercer’ a ‘Game Changer,’ Even Though We All Know They Screwed Up

I'm all for trying to figure out new ways to make good movies that make money. I get that the digital age has been hard on Hollywood, and that this has affected the types of movies that get made. So by all means, big wigs, get creative. Think outside the box. But don't totally blow an opportunity to make $100 million at the box office and call $1.1. million worth of video on demand revenue a "game changer."

That's what RADiUS-TWC did with the critically acclaimed Snowpiercer. The Korean-made post-apolcalyptic action flick starring Chris Evans has been getting rave reviews for ages, but The Weinstein Company dragged their feet on a wide stateside release because they thought it was too long. Then, when they finally did release the film—up against Michael Bay and the goddamn Transformers juggernaught—it started out in just eight theaters before expanding to a mere 356.

Needless to say, despite all the critical acclaim, the film fizzled. To date it's made only $2.6 million in the United States, after making 40x that in Korea. So over the weekend RADiUS-TWC got desperate and released Snowpiercer to VOD services.

Did the film do well in VOD sales? Yes. Extremely well, actually, relative to other VOD releases. But even RADiUS-TWC co-president Tom Quinn, the very guy who called it a "game changer," also subtly admitted to Entertainment Weekly that they kinda blew it.

"Should we have opened larger [in theaters]?" asked Quinn. "Possibly. It's a fair discussion for us to consider, but I also feel like in some respects we absolutely nailed the timing from our original theatrical launch to our devut on VOD."

"This is completely uncharted territory," he continued. "But it's 100 percent within the consumer's control how you want to see this film. That's what our goal is at RADiUS: a screen is a screen is a screen and it's your choice where you see it."

Nice spin, Tom.

Guillermo del Toro Is Developing a ‘Pacific Rim’ Animated Series as Lead-Up to ‘Pacific Rim 2′

Two weeks ago, after months of speculation, Guillermo del Toro finally announced that Pacific Rim will get a sequel in 2017. Now he says a Pacific Rim animated series is also in development.

The idea will be for the animated series to flesh out in greater detail some of the ideas given short shrift in the first film—like what the f*ck is "drifting," who's sending the f*cking kaijus, and how the f*ck do jaegers work—thus bridging the gap to the second film. Thus, ideally the show will premier some time before 2017.

However, at this point it's still "in development," which means we have no idea when it will actually come out, or what channel (or web streaming service?) it will be on.

Here's what Del Toro had to say to Collider about where they're at with the animated series right now:

We are right now in the middle of talking and negotiating with a few Japanese companies for the animation. We are talking to a couple of showrunners that have a strong animation background, casting the writers room. What’s great is it’s a great set-up and a link between the first movie and the second movie. It really enhances the mythology of the characters; we have cameos of characters from the first movie, but mostly it’s a new set of characters. New jaegers, except for one or two, new kaijus. It’s really fun.

Sounds like the best animated show about giant sword-weilding robots since Voltron if you ask me.

‘Planet of the Apes’ Director Already Campaigning for Andy Serkis Mo-Cap Oscar Nod

Ever since Andy Serkis redefined motion capture performance with his work as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy—with the help of Weta—there's been debate over how such performances should be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

On one side you have those who say an acting performance is an acting performance, whether or not it's mediated by digital effects. These people think motion caption performances should totally be eligible for consideration in the best actor and actress categories.

On the other side you have those who say motion capture performances, while admirable, are just not the same as regular, old-fashioned acting performances. These people think mo-cap should either get its own Oscars category or be considered in the technical special effects categories.

Which side does Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves take? Not surprisingly, he's definitely on board with folks like Serkis getting nominated in the traditional acting categories.

He sat down with Screen Rant recently and shard his thoughts on the matter. Here's what he had to say:

Well, if you ask me, of course I’m going to say yes, because I worked with them intimately and I know what they were as actors… Most of the time, what I’d been looking at for the past year is just those performances. I’ve been looking at Andy and Toby [Kebbel] and the other ape actors and the other human actors… I’ve been looking at their performances intimately for a year, in addition to the year that I spent with them when we were rehearsing and shooting the movie. I think that the two of them are incredible. Andy and Toby are two of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. I think they are incredible.

And what about a brand new Oscar category?

People have said, “Maybe there should be a special category.” I’m saying “No, there really are two categories already that fit. One is best performance by an actor, and that is what Toby and Andy do. And then there is sort of best visual effects, and that is what Weta does.”

Personally, I'm on Reeves's side. But that's just me.