Gary Ross Steps Away From ‘The Hunger Games’ Sequel. Who Should Take His Place?

The Internet has been freaking out since Tuesday when The Hunger Games director Gary Ross announced that he would not be returning to the director’s chair for the highly anticipated sequel Catching Fire. The news is distressing to Games fans since Ross not only directed but helped write the first movie with the trilogy’s author Suzanne Collins. According to the article in the Los Angeles Times, Ross had already met with Collins and tapped screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) about the sequel before deciding to walk away from the franchise.

There’s still some debate amongst the rumor mill as to Ross’s exact reasons for leaving, but scheduling definitely seems to be a part of it. Catching Fire already has a set release date of Nov. 22, 2013 – only 19 months away. The production start also was pushed up to August when Fox announced that they would begin shooting the sequel to last year’s X-Men: First Class to January. Jennifer Lawrence, who stars in both films, is contractually obligated to make X-Men her schedule priority, thus giving Ross only four months to prepare for the shoot. He was given twice as long for The Hunger Games, which had a less complicated setting and action sequences, not to mention far less pressure to deliver.


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Albert Pyun Starts Shooting ‘Cyborg’ Prequel ‘Cyborg: Rise of the Slingers’

We’ve heard Albert Pyun talking about his ideas for a Cyborg prequel for awhile. Originally titled Red Moon, he has described Cyborgs: Rise of the Slingers as an original story leading up to the events in Cyborg, told in an operatic way. I’m excited to see exactly how he envisions this universe being created, and wonder just how far back before Cyborg he plans on going.

Pyun stated on his Facebook page today:

We begin shooting CYBORGS: Rise of the Slingers today! At long last. This is just the early vefx work before assembling the star cast for the full run. The Cyborg title design is by Artifex in Montreal.

You can see the title design as the header image to this post above. Pyun also commented that he will reach out to 80’s and 90’s action star Michael Dudikoff (most known for the American Ninja series, but worked with Pyun on Radioactive Dreams) about a part in the film.

Albert Pyun directed the original cult classic Cyborg starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. While this is the first prequel to the 1989 film, there have been two sequels. The second starred Angelina Jolie and the third had Malcolm McDowell and Zach Galligan.

Who else is excited about seeing another entry in the Cyborg universe?

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‘The Amazing Spiderman’ Launches New Viral Website

The Amazing Spiderman has been walking a thin line between one of the most anticipated and most dreaded summer release, trying to prove itself worthy not only over other summer comic-book blockbusters (The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers) but also its predecessor. With Sam Raimi’s saga of the famous teenage web-slinger still fresh in everyone’s mind, Sony has gotten creative with its marketing strategy for this summer’s reboot. hit the internet following the The Amazing Spiderman panel at WonderCon this past weekend. The most prominent feature is a video featuring the film’s Dennis Leary as Capt. Stacy speaking to a cable news team, apparently owned by The Daily Bugle, about the importance of taking down Spiderman. As comic-book fans know The Daily Bugle is run by J. Jonah Jameson, one of Spidey’s most devout haters. “We have a masked criminal roaming our streets, posing as a hero,” Cpt. Stacy reports, “but I ask you, what kind of hero wears a mask?” Judging by the full-trailer released last month, Cpt. Stacy will be Peter Parker’s most vigilant protestor.

The coolest part of the interactive website may be that it also allows fans to report any sightings of the red and blue masked vigilante. The most creative entries are featured in the Spiderman sightings list where site visitors can “view the menace in action.” The accompanying Spiderman “Wanted” poster also comes with a reachable phone number, though it only re-directs you to the website. So keep your eyes peeled for any spandex wearing wall-crawlers in your area.

The Amazing Spiderman starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Rhys Ifans, hits theaters July 3.

What do you think of the new Spidey site? Does it make the movie more or less anticipated? Leave your comments below!

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New Pics From ‘Magic Mike’ Featuring Channing Tatum & Alex Pettyfer – Is This The Next ‘Showgirls’?

For sometime now Channing Tatumn has been talking about his past as a stripper working in Florida. Director Steven Soderberg has co-scripted this tale based on Tatumn’s past exploits. The ensuing film titled Magic Mike features a cast of high profile actors, yet these images look as if they escaped from Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls debacle. Audiences can decide when Magic Mike premiers June 29th. Tatumn and Soderberg have both confirmed this will be a hard (stop it!) R rated drama.

Images courtesy of EW


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Stallone Talks Rambo, Tiffs With Arnold And Richard Gere – Plus Schwarzenegger On Upcoming Projects

We all know that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were incredibly competitive in the past. But did you know that Stallone once punched Richard Gere off a movie? Check out these snippets from a recent interview Stallone did with and check out the full interview plus video for more.

I’m dying to do another Rambo. He’s in Arizona on the border. It will involve him going into Mexico. I don’t think Rambo likes Mexicans.

Q: So how do you relate to Rocky and Rambo? Are they twin sides of your psyche?

A: Rambo is me before coffee in the morning. Rocky is me after coffee. Rambo has reverted into kind of like an id: primitive, reactive and instinctual, almost like an animal. I love this character because he hasn’t quite been fleshed out. He’s like an errant knight, looking to die in a glorious fashion. He has no desire to go into old age or have a family. Rocky is the antithesis: he cannot live without family. So you’ve got the American Frankenstein monster, then you have the American Dream. In the book, Rambo gets killed. I thought it was not the proper message. There had been close to 200,000 suicides by returning Vietnam vets. I said, “Why don’t we take him right to the edge without annihilating him?” Quentin Tarantino said, “You’re a coward, you should have killed him!” I said, “Quentin, you’re a lunatic. I want to do some sequels, brother.”

Q: You haven’t played a lot of villains.

A: No. I’m getting there, though. I have one coming up based on a wonderful film that was done in Spain, No Rest for the Wicked. It’s hard-core, in the Bad Lieutenant mode. Badder Lieutenant, we’re calling it.

Q: You and Arnie used to be enemies.

A: That went on for a long time. We couldn’t stand to be in the same room. But I like a good adversary. It makes you lose sleep and want to get up in the morning and go to the gym. We started in the business almost the same day. We were at the Golden Globes and he had won for best newcomer; I lost for best actor but we had won best picture, and I took this bouquet of flowers and threw it on him like, “It’s on, pal!” From that day on it was a very competitive thing. Then you move on, have families, and you realize that this fellow’s very similar to you. Now we get along great.

Q: When did it change?

A: When he started to run for governor. He started inviting me to events. I said no, then my wife says, “Come on, he’s extending the olive branch,” and next thing I know is I’m on the campaign trail, then we just hit it off. He did some great things, like, to be in Expendables when he was governor, for free.

Q: You and Gere had a tiff.

A: All the time. He was supposed to be in Lords of Flatbush. We were auditioning and would do improvs. He was always grabbing me and twisting my skin. I’d say, “Hey, stop! Seriously.” He keeps going on, then we’re sitting in the back of a car and he’s eating chicken covered in mustard. I said, “Richard, the mustard’s going to drip off and go on my leg and I’m going to belt you. I’m warning you right now.” He went, “Oh, yeah?” Sure enough he bites it, it goes on my leg. Boom! He goes, “Let me out of this car.” It’s like, “Either him or me.” I stayed and he went.

Arnold Schwarzenegger also gave some insight into The Tomb, the new film starring himself and Stallone, while speaking with The Arnold Fans. This one keeps sounding better and better, can’t wait for this true Stallone and Schwarzenegger team up.

The next movie I’m working on again with Sly is The Tomb which will be a prison movie. We are both caught in the most difficult prison to break out of, which is a huge ship out in the ocean, so you can’t escape. But of course, we figure it out!

Then we’re going to do The Unknown Soldier which is going to be with the Bandito Brothers that did Act of Valor, the number one movie right now and is getting such notoriety because they shot if for 4 million dollars and it looks like 100 million dollar movie because they got military and shot real action stuff which makes the movie so big and very successful, great story and everything. Those directors are doing Unknown Soldier, we start shooting sometime in June. Hopefully by that time my shoulder will be OK so I can do the stunts, but I’m looking forward to all that.

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What The New iPad 3 And Apple TV Means For Film Lovers

Let’s start with the iPad 3. Yes it isn’t much of a change from the iPad 2, but the difference between the old screen and new Retina display make it worth the cost in my opinion. After having seen the difference between an iPod without and an iPhone with a Retina display in person this is guaranteed to make using the iPad 3 a much better experience. The question here is what will scaled up 1080p video look like on this 3.1 megapixel screen? As the screen pixel dimensions (2048×1536) are much larger than 720p (1280×720) or 1080p (1920×1080), and the screen is squarer than HDTV (the iPad 3 is 4:3, HDTV is 16:9) this means that even to fit the 1080p/720p video from side to side it must be scaled up, and even more so if it’s zoomed in to fit the entire screen. If not scaled properly the picture can look soft, typically to counteract this images are sharpened, but if they’re not sharpened correctly compression artifacts can be pronounced. Furthermore as 1080p and 720p video is 16:9, and the iPad 3 is still 4:3 an unzoomed video will play in letterbox, with black bars across the top and bottom of the screen. This is the same as it’s always been with past iPads, zooming in most likely won’t hurt the experience of the film you’re watching, and the 4:3 aspect ratio is better for surfing the web so the trade-off seems worth it. The flash drives sizes are the same, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. For video the 32GB and 64GB are best, but they are $100 to $200 more than the base 16GB model that’s already $500 for Wi-Fi only. There have been no other major improvements for the iTunes store (except for 1080p content) or how you interact with the device to watch video. iCloud supports movies as well so you can stream of download to all of your devices when you make a purchase. The battery life is still an amazing 10 hours, so there’s plenty of time to watch a few flicks before needing a recharge.

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Jean Claude Van Damme’s Son Kris Van Varenberg Shows Off His Physique On Set Of New Film

Before he was doing Van Dammage at the box office Jean Claude was known by Van Varenberg. His son Kris has recently co-starred with his father in Assassination Games and the upcoming Six Bullets. In addition to those projects the father/son are reuniting on the comedy (yes, comedy) titled Welcome to the Jungle. Van Damme will play a retired military specialist who runs team building exercises in the wilderness. However from the looks of this photo Kris has been spending some time bulking up on set with dad. Also check out the hilarious photos of Van Damme sporting one mean mustache. Welcome to the Jungle is slated for release in 2013.


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Warner Bros. Pulls ‘Bullet to the Head’ From Its Release Calendar

In a surprising move Warner Bros. has yanked the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Bullet to the Head from its April 13th release date. No rescheduling has been announced as of this time. Rumor is that the studio has cold feet opening this before The Expendables 2. This film has had a long and tumultuous development history. I think Warner Bros. is having flashbacks to Get Carter and Driven, both expensive flops that hurt Stallone’s career as much as the studio’s bottom line. Let’s hope this is a minor hiccup and we get this either on VOD or in theaters before the fall.

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‘The Hunger Games’ Breaks ‘Twilight: Eclipse’ Fandango Advanced Ticket Sales Record

Fandango has announced today that The Hunger Games has surpassed the record for advanced ticket sales set by Twilight: Eclipse. Now this news does come just after the announcement of the Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 trailer attached to the The Hunger Games, so Lionsgate is already tying both franchises together with great success after having acquired Summit along with the Twilight movies.

The Hunger Games doesn’t open for another month, March 23, but it has already sold out hundreds of showtimes for opening day and on Wednesday, February 22 broke the previous first day advance ticket-seller record held by Twilight: Eclipse on Friday, May 14, 2010. Now does Jason believe me when I say this is gonna be a big opener?

Rick Butler, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Fandango had this to say:

“‘The Hunger Games’ is off to a fantastic start. Yesterday we saw the biggest first day advance ticketing sales in our company’s nearly 12-year history – which is especially impressive for a March release and a non-sequel.”

Is selling out a ton of opening night shows on Fandango impressive to you? Let us know what you think.

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Sacha Baron Cohen Banned From Oscars for Planned Red Carpet Stunt is reporting that the Academy has officially banned comedian Sacha Baron Cohen from attending the Oscars this year. They pulled his tickets after learning of his plans to walk the red carpet in full character get-up from his new film The Dictator. Then, after the walk he would have changed into a normal tuxedo and go about the rest of the proceedings without making a stir. It may seem fine to most, but the Academy has often barred any type of movie advertisements from the Oscars in the past. It’s only this year that they are allowing actual commercials for films during the telecast.

In 2007 there were plans for Cohen to present an award, but the Academy refused after he insisted on doing it as Borat. Then there was an upset over South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker showing up in drag in 2000. The Oscars are the prestigious awards show and I have to agree with the Academy over trying to keep this sort of stuff out of the ceremonies, but I feel like the red carpet should be more open. This isn’t the MTV Movie Awards in which Cohen flew down and landed ass first in Eminem’s face, and he seems to understand that.

We already have The Globes which pokes fun at the drunken celebrities in attendance, MTV Movie Awards for the teens-twenty-somethings and People’s Choice Awards for everyone else. Hell there’s even Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards for the younger crowd. If we lose the polish and prestige from the Oscars how will we know what the best movies that nobody watched are? In all honesty the most important thing the Academy needs to figure out is how to get more popular movies in the nominees, and the only way that will happen is to welcome in a newer crowd to the fold. The types of nominees won’t change as long as the voters are primarily old white dudes. You can’t expect that group to represent the diversity of American audiences across the country. Which is why you can’t expect to see Sacha Baron Cohen in attendance, even though he’s in Hugo which is up for 11 awards. Considering the way he wanted to stage this I think it should be allowed. The red carpet isn’t really the awards ceremony, which he was planning to be respectable during.

What do you think, should the Academy relax a little on this type of stuff? Should Cohen have been allowed to proceed as planned?

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator

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John McClane Jr in ‘Die Hard 5′ Will be Jai Courtney

After such an exhausting search for what seemed to be just the right person to play John McClane’s son in A Good Day to Die Hard 20th Century Fox has settled on Spartacus star Jai Courtney. Strangely Fox has decided to release this on Valentines Day 2013 instead of giving it a summer release, although with how strong Safe House just played this could end up being a huge payoff. I’m not so sure it mattered who they picked for this role, as everyone in the line-up looked incredibly similar (honestly is Jai Courtney’s real last name Hemsworth?). Recently Courtney was cast opposite Tom Cruise in the Lee Child’s adaptation One Shot, so this guy is sort of being groomed for action stardom. We haven’t seen many newcomers hold their ground with audiences though (Sam Worthington comes to mind) and I don’t see anything special about this guy that would change that. Check out the screen test photo of Jai Courtney with Bruce Willis below (I don’t see a strong family resemblance, but whatever) and let us know what you think.

Jai Courtney A Good Day to Die Hard Screen Test w/ Bruce Willis

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‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2′ Trailer Debuts With ‘Hunger Games’, Studio Hints for New Book

After Lionsgate acquired Summit we all expected this. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2‘s trailer will be featured on every single print of The Hunger Games. It’s a no brainer to try and syphon off some of the Twilight fans for Hunger Games, after all both are based on a series of books for young adults geared mainly toward the female persuasion (and yes, I’ve read The Hunger Games, and no, I haven’t read Twilight). Anchoring specific big movie trailers to a movie you’re trying to launch has been a big crowd draw in the past. Recently we saw this with the Dark Knight Rises prologue featured on true IMAX prints of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocal. The Star Wars trailers we’re also big draws helping to boost the box office for films they debuted on.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer had this to say to investors on a Q3 conference call this morning:

“We’re very excited about the opportunities created by our recent acquisition of Summit Entertainment. The February 11 home entertainment release of Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn 1, the March 23 theatrical release of The Hunger Games and the November 16 theatrical release of Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn 2 lead a strong combined slate that we believe will enable us to deliver increased consistency, profitability and value to our shareholders.”

They went on to say that if Stephenie Meyer wanted to write more Twilight books they would support her fully (hint hint). Seeing as the franchise is at $2.5 billion worldwide with another film yet to open (it’ll end over $3 billion easy) it’s no wonder Lionsgate has been eager to find a way to keep the phenomenon alive.

Will you go see The Hunger Games based off this news? Or does it make a difference to you at all?

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Russell Crowe Wants to Hunt Dracula in ‘Harker’

Harker has been looking for a lead for awhile. The new twist on Bram Stoker’s tale brings the venerable master of vampires to England, where Jonathan Harker leads a hunt for the monster on behalf of Scotland Yard. Leonardo DiCaprio is producing, which is probably why Crowe is eyeing the part as the two worked together in 2008’s Body of Lies.

With a series of missteps in the past four years, Crowe’s star power has been drained significantly as five out of seven of his films since 2007 raked in around $50 million or below. The other two barely made it over the $100 million hump. He’s definitely trying to turn it around though with a heavy slate of films – the RZA’s directorial debut Man with the Iron Fists, the Mark Wahlberg starrer Broken City, the new superman flick Man of Steel, the hit broadway to film adaption Les Misérables and a possible stint as Noah in Darren Aronofsky’s (wait for it…) Noah. Some may be breakout hits, but most aren’t leading roles.

We’ve seen Academy Award winners fall in the past, and Crowe is no exception to the rule. An actor is never as good as his past work, only his current slate. Unless you’re Nicolas Cage, that bubble seems pretty indestructible.

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Han Shot First – ‘Oh No He Didn’t!’ Says George Lucas

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter George Lucas stated that Han Solo never shot first. It was simple confusion with the way that scene was edited – all in close ups – when they pull their triggers. In the newer versions of Episode IV he claims all he did was move out to a wide shot. You’ll have to ultimately judge for yourself, but after reviewing both the old version and new version of the scene, I’m kind of inclined to believe ol’ George, although the dialogue kind of pushes it the other way. These so called happy accidents happen in movies all the time. With so much going on something meant to be one way may turn out to be another, or easily perceived to be different than what the filmmaker had originally intended, as was the case here.

Well, it’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie. The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.

It’s the same thing with Yoda. We tried to do Yoda in CGI in Episode I, but we just couldn’t get it done in time. We couldn’t get the technology to work, so we had to use the puppet, but the puppet really wasn’t as good as the CGI. So when we did the reissue, we had to put the CGI back in, which was what it was meant to be.

If you look at Blade Runner, it’s been cut sixteen ways from Sunday and there are all kinds of different versions of it. Star Wars, there’s basically one version — it just keeps getting improved a little bit as we move forward. … All art is technology and it improves every year. Whether it’s on the stage or in music or in painting, there are technological answers that happen, and because movies are so technological, the advances become more obvious.

Now the Blade Runner bit does little to support his side of this. Those Blade Runner cuts are all different, and some change the film in dramatic ways – this is true even with the smallest of changes to a film. The real question here is who is in charge of the meaning of a film? Is it the filmmaker or is there a general consensus of audience members that define what something means? If a filmmaker is trying to say something, but the audience hears something else (and likes what they hear, a lot), does said filmmaker have the right to go back and clarify his voice in an unmistakable way? Is it even a good idea to touch something people already love? This could be argued about until we’re all dead. My point in all this is, all those versions of Blade Runner are available for my viewing in a nice neat box set. If I go down to the store and buy Star Wars, which versions will I come home with?


Newer (George Lucas clarified version):

Here’s a fan cut with Han clearly shooting first (I actually like this cut the best):

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