Thursday, December 31, 2015

Marvel's 'Black Panther' Lands 'Creed' Director Ryan Coogler

CinemaCon 2015 - Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You To "The Big Picture," An Exclusive Presentation Highlighting The Summer Of 20It's been rumored for weeks, and now it's official: Ryan Coogler will direct Marvel's upcoming "Black Panther."

Coogler, who also helmed this year's "Rocky" spinoff, "Creed," was confirmed for the job by Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige, who discussed the director in a new interview with Empire magazine (as transcribed by Polygon). Coogler has been in the Oscar conversation this year for his work on "Creed," and also won an Independent Spirit Award for his debut drama, "Fruitvale Station." It made sense to attract a director of his caliber, Feige told Empire.

"This one is important," Feige said of "Black Panther," and its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Not only do you get an unbelievable lead character, but you also get all of Wakanda which is a whole new setting and culture to explore."

Marvel was initially interested in "Selma" director Ava DuVernay for the job, though she passed on the project. According to Variety, F. Gary Gray ("Straight Outta Compton") was also considered, and it took some convincing to land Coogler, who initially turned down the job earlier this year before Marvel approached him again. But Cooger's chops will lend themselves well to the scope of the story Marvel wants to tell, according to Feige.

"The movie is a big geopolitical action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T'Challa in Wakanda and what it means to be a king," the exec told Empire.

"Black Panther" stars Chadwick Boseman. It hits theaters on February 16, 2018.

[via: Empire, h/t Polygon]

Photo credit: Getty Images for CinemaCon


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George Lucas Apologizes for that 'White Slavers' Disney Comment

Premiere Of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - ArrivalsGeorge Lucas has had plenty of wistful things to say during the press tour for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the first film in the storied franchise that he had no hand in making. And while most of his melancholy is understandable -- after all, he's compared the flicks to kids he lost in a divorce -- his recent remarks to Charlie Rose about selling off the rights to "the white slavers" (a.k.a. new "Star Wars" owners Disney) were a bit head-scratching and unfortunate.

After the internet took him to task, Lucas seems to have realized his poor choice of words, and issued an apology on Thursday. The filmmaker noted that he "misspoke" in his interview with Rose, and added that he harbored no ill will toward Disney; rather, he explained, he is "thrilled" with the new direction the series has taken. He also offered specific praise for longtime Lucasfilm president and producer Kathleen Kennedy, and "The Force Awakens" director J.J. Abrams.

Here's Lucas's full statement:

I want to clarify my interview on the Charlie Rose Show. It was for the Kennedy Center Honors and conducted prior to the premiere of the film. I misspoke and used a very inappropriate analogy and for that I apologize.

I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger's leadership. Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks. Most of all I'm blown away with the record breaking blockbuster success of the new movie and am very proud of JJ and Kathy.

It does seem like Lucas was simply trying to make a joke in that interview -- albeit one that came out extremely awkwardly, assisted by a deeply unfortunate choice of words. That being said, there's obviously some painful truth there: The underlying sadness that's permeated his remarks throughout the "Force Awakens" press push has been unmissable, and he almost certainly feels left out of all the new flick's legacy. But he should probably keep a lid on that publicly until he gets a better handle on his emotions. Here's hoping this brouhaha has helped him learn that lesson.

[via: TheWrap]

Photo credit: Getty Images


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First Photo From Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Season 2 Teases Holiday Fun

2015 was a great year for television, and 2016 promises to be even better, judging by our first look at the upcoming second season of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."

Entertainment Weekly debuted the first image from the show's sophomore season, and it features our main trio of Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), Titus (Tituss Burgess), and Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) all looking pretty much exactly as we left them. Well, except for the elf outfit.
unbreakable kimmy schmidt, kimmy schmidt, season 2, tituss burgess, ellie kemper, jane krakowski
As EW explains, Kimmy has taken on a new side job as a department store elf to make some extra cash around the holidays, and we can already imagine all the hijinks that will no doubt come with that gig. Will Kimmy bust out her bunker-approved version of "O Tannenbaum" (featuring the lyrics, "Apocalypse, apocalypse, we caused you with our dumbness!"), creeping out the Santa-seeking customers? Maybe she and Tituss can team up for a yuletide rendition of "Peeno Noir"?

We can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for our heroine and her wacky pals. The second season of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" debuts sometime this spring on Netflix.

[via: Entertainment Weekly]

Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix


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Welcome 2016 With These New Year's Day TV Marathons

There's no shame in launching a new year on your butt, watching television. You won't be alone -- it's a time-honored tradition for networks to schedule marathons on holidays, since a lot of people get the day off from work or school and feel like using it as a day of rest. New Year's is a particularly good day for binge-watching, since 1) it's pretty cold in most parts of the country, so why bother going outside; 2) a lot of stuff is closed for the holiday; and 3) you may be hungover.

Zap2it and Bustle put together some good New Year's Eve and New Year's Day marathon lists. Here's a compilation of what's on offer Friday, January 1, 2016:

AMC: "The Walking Dead," then "Fear the Walking Dead"

BBC America: Alfred Hitchcock movie marathon ("The Birds," "Psycho," "Rear Window," "Vertigo")

Discovery: "Gold Rush: Road to Glory" marathon

DIY: "The Vanilla Ice Project" marathon

E!: "Botched" marathon

Esquire: "American Ninja Warrior" marathon

FYI: "Married at First Sight: The First Year" marathon

FXXX: "The Simpsons" marathon

IFC: "Portlandia" marathon

Lifetime: "Bring It!" marathon

MTV: "Catfish" marathon .

Pivot: "Farscape" marathon

Science: "Mythbusters" marathon

Syfy: "The Twilight Zone" marathon

TLC: "Say Yes to the Dress" marathon

TV Land: "Younger" marathon

USA: "Law & Order: SVU" marathon

VH1 Classic: "Pop-Up Video" marathon

Syfy does a "Twilight Zone" marathon every single holiday, bless them, and it warms our weird-loving hearts every time. Check out more what-to-watch suggestions in the gallery below. Here's to another year of (zero calorie) binge-ing!

[Via: Zap2it ]

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Matt Damon Previews the 'Tortured' Jason Bourne of 'Bourne 5'

Matt Damon's Jason Bourne is resurfacing in 2016 in a movie that will most likely be called "The Bourne [Something]" but for now is just "Bourne 5." It's the fourth movie for Damon's Bourne, reuniting him with director Paul Greengrass and (apparently?) gently stepping past Jeremy Renner's 2012 movie "The Bourne Legacy."

Entertainment Weekly shared the first official photo from "Bourne 5" -- that's basically it above -- which tells us nothing about what's ahead, other than more intense expressions and shades of dark blue and black. However, Damon did share some new details and reiterated the few things we had already heard about the plot.

"Bourne 5" is meant to pick up 12 years after Jason Bourne's disappearance in "The Bourne Ultimatum," which came out in 2007 but was set in 2004. So it's not like the story will immediately pick up the action and we're all meant to pretend Damon has not aged and time has not gone by. "We find him in a dark and tortured place," the actor told EW of Bourne, adding that the world around him will look very familiar to modern audiences. "There's been the financial collapse, the great recession, all these issues of cyberwarfare and civil liberties."

That sounds close to what Damon said last summer, when he told Buzzfeed, "Without giving too much of it away, it's Bourne through an austerity-riddled Europe and in a post-Snowden world. It seems like enough has changed, you know? There are all these kinds of arguments about spying and civil liberties and the nature of democracy. [...] We're starting in Greece, you know, the beginning of democracy. And the movie ends in Las Vegas, the most grotesque incarnation of...." He reportedly finished that thought with a laugh.

Principal photography started back in September, and that's when producer Frank Marshall shared that shirtless photo of buff Bourne/Damon on set. The new movie is meant to bring back Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons, with fresh faces including Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, and Vincent Cassel.

The latest "Bourne" sequel -- whatever it will be called -- is scheduled to open July 29, 2016.

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The Awesome New 'Zootopia' Trailer Even Has Its Own 'Godfather' Nod

"Zootopia" is basically an old school odd couple/buddy cop movie that happens to be animated and set in a world where animals are the new people -- complete with horror when those animals flash their not-terribly-attractive rumps in "naturalist clubs."

Disney just dropped the second trailer for "Zootopia," which features Shakira's song "Try Everything," and basically takes you through most of the movie. The story follows Ginnifer Goodwin's Officer Judy Hopps as ZPD's first rabbit officer; she has to deal with her own version of an old boys' club ("I'm not just some token bunny") while trying to solve a series of crimes alongside a scam artist fox (voiced by Jason Bateman).

You have to love "The Godfather" reference at the end, with a ... mole? ... as the city's most feared crime boss, Mr. Big, who is chided by his own princess daughter.

"Ice 'em."
"Daddyyyyy. What did we say? No icing anyone at my wedding!"
"I have to. Daddy has to."

It's pretty cute, but further suggests the target audience is adults as much as kids, since few 6-year-olds are schooled in Coppola. Check it out:

You can watch the first teaser trailer over here, plus a full sneak peek of that scene with the sloths at the DMV.

"Zootopia" is set for release on March 4, 2016.

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Quentin Tarantino Updates on 'Kill Bill 3': 'I Am Talking to Uma About It'

Here comes The Bride ... again? It has been more than a decade since Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman collaborated for the two-part martial arts epic, "Kill Bill: Vol 1" (2003) and "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" (2004). What about Vol. 3? Quentin has hemmed and hawed about it for a while now, saying back in 2009 that he planned to make "Kill Bill 3" in "couple years." Then again, back in 2013 he said he doesn't think about "Kill Bill 3" that much at all.

But when Variety recently asked if "Kill Bill 3" was still a possibility, QT gave a hopeful answer:

I'm not committing to it, but I wouldn't be surprised if The Bride made one more appearance before the whole thing is said and done. I am talking to Uma about it just a little bit. Some of the stuff that I'd written that never made it into the movie that maybe I could use."

It's possible/probable that, if "Vol. 3" ever goes ahead, the story would follow Vernita Green's (Vivica A. Fox) daughter Nikki seeking revenge for her mother's death.

Quentin has also mentioned only wanting to direct 10 movies, and with eight out of the way -- with "The Hateful Eight" -- would he want to make Vol. 3 one of his final two films? Or would Vol. 3 still count as part of the one of "Kill Bill"? Or should we just blow off his plan to only direct 10?

Do you hope QT and Uma do reunite for "Vol. 3" or should they just leave this one alone?

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George Lucas Sold His Star Wars 'Kids' to 'White Slavers' Who Made a 'Retro Movie'

Premiere Of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - ArrivalsGeorge Lucas is probably going to stop talking about the "Star Wars" films pretty soon. That's sad -- since they are his "kids," as he calls them, and you can tell how much he cares, even when he tries to shrug off his distance after the "divorce." But it's also probably good for him to take some steps back because, when he does talk about selling the franchise to Disney, he uses unfortunate comparisons -- like joking that he sold his children to the white slavers.

He went there in a long interview with Charlie Rose, which covered his filmmaking history and his plans for the future, with more experimental films.

Watch the full interview here, with the more colorful "Star Wars" quotes coming close to the 50-minute mark:

When it comes to "Star Wars," it's no secret that Lucas and Disney weren't on the same page with stories for Episode VII, which would become "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the start of a new trilogy. "They wanted to do a retro movie. I don't like that," Lucas explained to Charlie Rose. "Every movie, I work very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships, make it new." Fair enough. "The Force Awakens" has made more than a billion dollars, but if there's any criticism out there, it's about the lack of freshness, with a nostalgic story tied to the original trilogy. (Then again, that's also part of why it's so popular with fans.)

As GL noted in the interview, still talking about his view for the future of "Star Wars" vs. Disney's view, "They looked at the stories, and they said, 'We want to make something for the fans.' ... They decided they didn't want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing. ...They weren't that keen to have me involved anyway — but if I get in there, I'm just going to cause trouble, because they're not going to do what I want them to do. And I don't have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, 'Okay, I will go my way, and I'll let them go their way.'"
Charlie Rose pushed that it had to hurt him, to lose his babies, the "Star Wars" films.

Lucas tried to keep it light, but called the films his "kids" and said, "I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and [laughs]..." He didn't finish the thought. Sounds like it was just a bad joke, and he probably didn't mean anything malicious, but no good has ever come of comparing anyone to slavers, white or otherwise.

But he also emphasized that he's fine with how things turned out, and he wasn't pushed out, he agreed that it was time for him to go on his way. (And most of the $4 billion he got for Lucasfilm is going to charity.) He said it's awkward when he's asked about it, like now, in a way that it's awkward to talk about a relationship after a divorce, but there are no hard feelings or anything -- other than that "white slavers" joke. Now he's focusing on his real-life kids, and his own kind of movies, which will probably be less popular than "The Force Awakens." And he's fine with that.

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Bloody Hell! 'The Walking Dead' Season 6 Return Trailer Is a Scream

Good news, kids: It's time to grab the nearest axe and hack your way through the blood and screams of AMC's "The Walking Dead" Season 6 midseason premiere trailer.

This 30-second promo gives us a glimpse of the carnage ahead when Episode 9 arrives on Sunday, February 14. Yes, Valentine's Day -- 'cause roses are red, violets are blue, Deanna is dead, and the next will be ... who? Maggie (Lauren Cohan) has a blood-curdling scream in the trailer but we refuse to fall for another "Glenn is dead" tease until he's actually shown dead. And even if they do show Glenn (Steven Yeun) dead, we'll probably still think he's alive under the nearest Dumpster.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has his axe handy (comic bookers may know what's ahead there, especially with that little hand-holding shot) and appears to put it to work. We also hear Papa Grimes's voice whisper, "I thought living behind these walls was possible. I was wrong." The "Your property now belongs to Negan" line is repeated, and we hear Glenn say, "The people you love, they're still part of you, even after they're gone."

Showrunner Scott Gimple recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the midseason premiere would be "quite deadly, sadly," adding, "There is some death going on in that but it's also unbelievably intense. It's one of the most intense episodes we've done. I know we say that a lot — I've said that about the premiere episode this year and we had 30,000 walkers. We might not hit those numbers in episode nine but the intensity by the end of that episode is not gut-wrenching — it's gut-swirling and gut-slamming and frappeing."

Nice. By the way, AMC is currently still airing its "Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead" marathons, so they may drop more 2016 trailers for both shows. Keep the telly on and stay tuned.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New 'Suicide Squad' Trailer to Debut During CW Superhero Special

suicide squad the jokerGet ready to meet "The Suicide Squad"!

The first full trailer for the highly anticipated supervillain movie will debut January 19 during a half-hour special on the CW. "DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League" will air at 9:30 p.m., following a half-hour special on the spinoff series "Legends of Tomorrow."

The movie special will be hosted by Kevin Smith and offer sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming DC Comics-based movies, including "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Wonder Woman." There will be new footage, as well as interviews with stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot, as well as directors Zack Snyder and Patty Jenkins.

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" opens in theaters March 25, "Suicide Squad" is set for release on August 5," and "Wonder Woman" is scheduled for June 23, 2017.

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'The Big Bang Theory' Sued Over 'Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty' Song

Sheldon Cooper's (Jim Parsons) "Soft Kitty" has claws, and they are ready to scratch "The Big Bang Theory" Powers That Be for alleged copyright violations.

It took several years for the family of Edith Newlin to notice that a song used on the CBS show uses lyrics similar to "Warm Kitty," written by the late New Hampshire teacher in the 1930s. Now, Newlin's daughters are suing CBS and company, arguing that, since Edith Newlin was not credited, it leaves viewers with the impression that the lyrics were written by one of the show's writers.

"Soft Kitty" is a lullaby Sheldon likes to hear to feel better. On the show, it goes, "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr." Here's Sheldon singing it when he's sick, saying it's a song his mother used to sing to him:

TMZ posted a copy of Newlin's "Warm Kitty" sheet music, with the lyrics "Warm kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur; sleepy kitty, happy kitty, purr, purr, purr." That does seem very close; it's identical, other than transposing "Soft kitty" and "Warm kitty" at the start.

The "Soft Kitty" lyrics have even been used in "Big Bang" merchandise, and the lawsuit notes that the lyrics have been used in their entirety in at least eight episodes since March 2008. The family only discovered what was happening in 2014 when one of the daughters was researching her mother's history for an article and stumbled on a blog post discussing the Soft/Warm Kitty lyrics.

The Associated Press reached out to Warner Bros. Entertainment, but so far there's been no comment. Sometimes these Hollywood lawsuits seem like frivolous money-grabs but in this case -- especially when you read more of the details -- it does seem like it may have merit.

All this fuss over a soft kitty -- hug your "Smelly Cat" tight, NBC, and be thankful this is not your problem!

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See Emily Blunt in the First Two Photos From 'The Girl on the Train'

Britain Sicario PremiereHave you read "The Girl on the Train"? It's a quick and worthy read, and not just "worthy" because Hollywood is adapting Paula Hawkins's best-seller with Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, and Rebecca Ferguson in lead roles.

It's not surprising to see such a top-tier cast want to sign on for this thriller, which follows a troubled divorcée Rachel (Emily Blunt) who develops an obsession with a young couple she sees every day from her commuter train window. When she happens to see something particularly striking (or thinks she does, anyway), she inserts herself into the strangers's lives and ... well, no spoilers, but things do not go as planned.

Entertainment Weekly has a whole "first look" issue out, including two debut photos from "The Girl on the Train." Both images show Rachel looking pretty lost and lonely:

Director Tate Taylor told EW of Rachel, "You can't avoid the puns with this movie — she's a train wreck."

She's a relatable train wreck, though, and mostly sympathetic. The movie changes the location from London to New York City, but Emily's Rachel is still British. Tate said that just adds another layer of loneliness into a story where Rachel tries to "reclaim or redefine herself."

The movie is scheduled for release on October 7, 2016.

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Box Office Passes $11 Billion Record, 2015 Is Officially Biggest Year Ever

And what do we say, domestic box office? "Thank you, Star Wars."

Thanks in part to the record-breaking success of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the overall North American box office record has also been broken. For the first year ever, the domestic box office has reached -- and passed -- the $11 billion mark.

According to Deadline, Rentrak confirmed on December 29 that the domestic film revenues had crossed the $11B mark for 2015, with $11.1 billion projected as the final tally by Thursday, December 31. They also gave the bulk of the $11B credit to the estimated $250 million opening weekend for "Star Wars," writing, "In fact, if we didn't have Force Awakens in the holiday mix, we would definitely fall short of that number."
Variety offered a box office comparison, noting that 2015's total will be about $200 million more than the previous record in 2013 of $10,919,694,802. It's also 7.2 percent ahead of the 2014 tally of $10,356,099,042.

Of course, "Star Wars" did not save the 2015 galaxy alone. "Jurassic World" had a head start, and it is currently third on the list of domestic champs of all time at $652 million. "Force Awakens" could pass that any day now, but the dinos deserve credit for boosting the box office this year, too. "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Inside Out," "Furious 7," and "Minions" also did their bits to reach these record numbers.

So congrats to 2015. Do you think 2016 can top it, or perhaps 2017 when "Episode VIII" arrives?

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New 'Finding Dory' Photo Introduces Two Quirky Whale Friends

Just keep swimming, just keep smiling, and just keep speaking whale for the next 5.5 months, until "Finding Dory" finds you!

Ellen DeGeneres's Dory is returning this June, and Entertainment Weekly just shared a new photo of the lovable blue tang and two of her new friends -- a snub-nosed beluga whale named Bailey (voiced by Ty Burrell), and a whale shark named Destiny (Kaitlin Olson):

"Finding Dory" is set six months after "Finding Nemo," and follows forgetful Dory's quest to find her parents. On the way, EW revealed, she meets Destiny and Bailey at a marine life facility's rehab center.

The three friends are all smiles in this photo, but Ty and Kaitlin told EW that Bailey and Destiny have some quirky issues of their own. "My character isn't great at his own sonar capability, and Destiny has trouble swimming straight," Ty said. Kaitlin added, "We totally get on each other's nerves. I like to think I'm a shark, but Bailey calls me a whale, and I make fun of his head, because it's gigantic."

Well, it's a good thing Dory speaks whale, plus she excels at bringing people (er, underwater creatures) together, so it sounds like she may be the perfect new friend for this duo.

"Finding Dory" hits theaters June 17, 2016. You've seen the first trailer, right? If you pulled a Dory and forgot the details, watch it again.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Is Now Open to Playing a Superhero (Any Suggestions?)

World Premiere of "The Revenant" - ArrivalsLeonardo DiCaprio could've been Anakin Skywalker. He could've been Robin in "Batman Forever." And he could've had the Spider-Man role that went to his BFF Tobey Maguire. You could argue that Leo made the right call each time there -- the man has good taste, give him that much -- but he hasn't closed the door on taking on a part like that, now that that "superhero" roles have gotten better.

Leo recently talked to ShortList about anything and everything, including the blockbuster roles that he skipped, saying for each, that he just wasn't "ready to take that dive" or "put on that suit yet."

Here's a portion of that Q&A, to show how "The Revenant" star handled the questions:

Did that include playing Robin in Batman Forever? There's a rumour you screen-tested for it...

I never screen-tested. I had a meeting with Joel Schumacher. It was just one meeting and, no, I didn't end up doing it.

Did you actually want the role?

Er, I don't think I did, no (laughs). As I recall I took the meeting, but didn't want to play the role. Joel Schumacher is a very talented director but I don't think I was ready for anything like that.

Do you feel like you dodged a bullet?


Were you in talks to play Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels?

I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that as well, yes.

What happened?

Same scenario (laughs).

He wanted you, but you didn't fancy it?

Um, right. Exactly.


Again, just didn't feel ready to take that dive. At that point.

At that point. But times they are a-changing, and (thankfully) there are better roles out there now than Robin in "Batman Forever." When asked if the would like to play a superhero, Leo kept the door open:

You never know. You never know. They're getting better and better as far as complex characters in these movies. I haven't yet. But no, I don't rule out anything."

The next questions were about Christopher Nolan and "Inception," and it does seem like if Leo were to join the superhero world it would be with Chris Nolan in some capacity.

What do you think about Leo as a superhero (or supervillain?) and -- if he follows Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, Will Smith, Heath Ledger, Robert Downey Jr., etc. -- what role should he play?

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Carrie Fisher Blasts Superficial Fans: 'Youth and Beauty Are Not Accomplishments'

The Force is still strong with Luke Skywalker's sister. In real life, Carrie Fisher is the ultimate force to be reckoned with, using her self-deprecating wit like a lightsaber to combat criticism -- while still probably making those same critics chuckle.

Carrie, now 59, has spent part of the past decades since "Star Wars" as a writer, but to many fans she's still best known as Princess Leia, who was forced to wear that slave bikini in "Return of the Jedi." (Carrie's advice to new star Daisy Ridley: "[Y]ou should fight for your outfit. Don't be a slave like I was.")
Carrie returned to the role of (now General) Leia in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and apparently her appearance opened the door to comparisons on how she's aging.

Carrie keeps a very interesting Twitter feed, and she delved into the topic of aging with some of her own tweets and retweets from fans and critics:

It's true: Youth and beauty are not accomplishments -- now aging, on the other hand, that's an accomplishment that not all are able to achieve with grace. Props to Carrie for proving that 59 can be as much of a blast as 29. (Not that everyone has a blast at 29; youth gets idealized a lot in hindsight). You keep showing those scruffy-looking nerf-herders what a General looks like!

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The 9 Biggest 'WTF?' TV Moments of 2015

2015 was a huge year for television, with an almost overwhelming amount of compelling programming available to watch at any given moment. It was a lot to take in... Some of was good, some of it was bad, and some of it bordered on the mind-boggling. So, which TV moments left viewers scratching their heads and picking their jaws up off the floors this year?

From the Super Bowl's notorious "left shark" to true crime docs that are way stranger than fiction, here are 9 TV times that had us all saying, "WTF!?"

Spoilers ahead, everyone.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Jennifer Lawrence Hates New Year's Eve: 'I Always End Up Drunk and Disappointed'

"Joy" New York Premiere - Red CarpetMany holidays are over-hyped, and Jennifer Lawrence knows this all too well: In a new interview, the Oscar-winning actress admits that she loathes the celebration because it always lets her down.

"I really hate it," Lawrence said of NYE while taping an episode of "The Graham Norton Show" this week. "I've never had a good one—everyone's chasing a good time and it's always a disappointment."

"I always end up drunk and disappointed," the actress added, speaking truth to so many of our lives. She then joked, "'Drunk and Disappointed' should be the title of my memoir!" (We would so buy that book.)

As of right now, Lawrence said she doesn't have any plans for ringing in the New Year, though we hope she ends up doing something awesome with one of her equally-amazing friends. Surely the woman who spent 2015 dancing on a piano with Amy Schumer and making silly short films with Aziz Ansari and Chris Pratt can find someone to hang out with on the holiday, right? Hollywood, J-Law needs your help; please make this right.

[via: Vanity Fair]

Photo credit: Getty Images


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Anakin Skywalker Almost Appeared in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS about the plot of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Read on at your own risk.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" featured plenty of characters from previous "Star Wars" films, including some in well-concealed cameos. But according to a new book, there was one more familiar face originally slated to make an appearance, which was ultimately scrapped.

Concept artist Iain McCaig revealed in the book "Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens" that he was commissioned to create some images of Anakin Skywalker for the flick, though the artwork he designed never actually made it onto the big screen. The book indicates that the character was set to appear as a Force ghost (like the glowing Obi-Wan and Yoda at the end of "Return of the Jedi"), though the context of that appearance is never explicitly explained -- nor is it determined if Anakin would appear in his Jedi form, or as Darth Vader.

McCaig is quoted in the book as saying it would probably have been a mixture of both, to play on the duality of the Dark Side and Light Side of the Force, a differentiation that new villain -- and Anakin's grandson -- Kylo Ren struggles with in "The Force Awakens." Would this shapeshifting Anakin have appeared only to Kylo? Or perhaps he would have popped up in Rey's Force fever dream (which also featured the voices of Yoda and Obi-Wan)?

Whatever the specific part Anakin would have played (and we assume that Hayden Christensen, who portrayed him in the prequels, would have been asked back to reprise the role), that obviously didn't pan out, and that could be because filmmakers didn't want to give too much away about Rey's parentage. Many moviegoers have guessed that she's the secret daughter of Luke Skywalker, but that revelation may be slated for another film, hence the decision to do away with Anakin's inclusion for the time being.

Fans will have to wait until "Episode VIII" or later to have that specific question answered. For now, they can just see "The Force Awakens" for the fifth time, like the rest of the world seems to be doing.

[via: Screen Crush]

Photo credit:


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'Glee' Star Mark Salling Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

The Official Viper Room Re-Launch Party With Performance By X Ambassadors, Dj Set By Zen FreemanFormer "Glee" star Mark Salling has been arrested for possession of child pornography, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed on Tuesday.

Crime Watch Daily first reported that officers from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrived at Salling's Sunland, California home on Tuesday morning and served him with a search warrant. According to TMZ, officers discovered over a thousand images of what's been described as "child sexual exploitation" on Salling's computer, featuring children "significantly younger than 15 and 16 year olds." That computer has been seized along with several other electronic devices, TMZ reports.

The actor was arrested soon after, and taken to the police station for booking. He was charged with possession of child pornography.

According to Us Weekly, Salling has had scrapes with the law before, including a 2013 incident with his then-girlfriend, who accused the actor of sexual battery after he allegedly forced her to have sex without a condom. Salling denied the charges and the case was later settled.

The 33-year-old was last romantically linked to 21-year-old Disney actress Denyse Tontz, per Us Weekly. TMZ reports that anonymous law enforcement sources say an ex-girlfriend of Salling's may have tipped off police, though that detail has not been confirmed by authorities, and the report doesn't indicate if Tontz is the woman in question.

[via: Crime Watch Daily, TMZ, Us Weekly]

Photo credit: Getty Images for The Viper Room


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Here's the New Batcave in 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'

batman, new batman, new batcave, batman v superman, dawn of justice, ben affleckWe're still several months away from the long-awaited release of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," but anxious fans now have a little bit more intel to tide them over until then: The concept art of the new Batcave.

Entertainment Weekly debuted the image, which features a tricked-out, uber-techy version of the famous Batman hideout. While previous iterations of the locale have leaned more heavily into the "cave" aspect, this one marries new and old with sleek glass and metal structures butting up against the complex's craggy walls. The new Batmobile also makes a cameo, standing stately on what appears to be a suspended steel platform.
batman, new batman, new batcave, batman v superman, dawn of justice, ben affleck
According to EW, this new and improved Batcave is indicative of the new and improved Batman (Ben Affleck) and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) that will appear in the film -- well, not "improved" so much as "trying to improve." After all, in "Batman v Superman," Bruce has let Wayne Manor fall into decay as he focuses his energy on taking down the Man of Steel. Alfred will serve as a more-involved wingman this time around, described by Irons as "a bit of a grease monkey" who has a direct hand in Batman's operations.

We're certainly intrigued to see how these new versions of classic characters (and the classic 'cave) fit into the finished product. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" debuts on March 25, 2016.

[via: Entertainment Weekly]

Photo credit: Zack Snyder; Entertainment Weekly


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National Film Registry Adds 'Ghostbusters,' 'Top Gun,' 'Shawshank Redemption'

ghostbusters, library of congress, national film registry, 1984The National Film Registry announced this week its annual selection of 25 films and recordings to add to the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, and among them are old Hollywood classics, recent Oscar winners, and beloved '80s favorites.

Highlights of this year's inductees include comedy classic "Ghostbusters" and Tom Cruise's iconic flick "Top Gun." Awards bait fare "Shawshank Redemption" (which nabbed seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture) and "L.A. Confidential" (which took home the Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay trophies) also made the 2015 cut.

There are always a few quirky additions, too, and this year's crop is no different. A recording that Thomas Edison made of a sneeze in 1894 is a new inductee, as is a short animated film from Disney called "The Story of Menstruation," which was shown in American schools as part of health education classes in the 1940s (and was both pioneering and pretty weird). The infamous Jerry Lee Lewis Holocaust film "The Day the Clown Cried" -- considered by many to be the worst movie ever made, and so terrible that it was never released and only viewed by seven people ever -- was rumored to be joining the fold, but was not present on the Film Registry's list on Monday.

The complete list of 2015 additions is below.

Being There (1979)
Black and Tan (1929)
Dracula (Spanish language version) (1931)
Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906)
Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (1974)
Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (1894)
A Fool There Was (1915)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
Humoresque (1920)
Imitation of Life (1959)
The Inner World of Aphasia (1968)
John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
The Mark of Zorro (1920)
The Old Mill (1937)
Our Daily Bread (1934)
Portrait of Jason (1967)
Seconds (1966)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Sink or Swim (1990)
The Story of Menstruation (1946)
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)
Top Gun (1986)
Winchester '73 (1950)

[via: Library of Congress]


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Monday, December 28, 2015

What's New on TV, Netflix Streaming, Digital, and DVD/Blu-ray This Week: December 28-January 3

MASTERPIECESherlock: The Abominable BrideBenedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) return as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the acclaimed modern retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic stories. But now our heroes find themselves in 1890s London. Beloved characters Mary Morstan (played by Amanda Abbington), Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) also turn up at 221b Baker Street. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride is a 90-minute Sherlock Special.Picture Shows: Dr. John Watson (MARTIN FREEMAN), Sherlock Holmes (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH)© Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films and BBC Wales for BBC One and MASTERPIECEThis image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only.At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's streaming on Netflix, we've got you covered.

New on DVD and Blu-ray

"A Walk in the Woods"
Robert Redford (Bill Bryson) and Nick Nolte (Stephen Katz) take a hike on the Appalachian Trail in "A Walk in the Woods," which is out on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, and everything else on December 29. Some of the Blu-ray/DVD bonus features include a featurette on the film's music; the lead actors, director Ken Kwapis, and producers Chip Diggins and Bill Holderman talking about filming on The Appalachian Trail; outtakes; and "Robert Redford's Call to Action PSA," with the legend sharing why it's important to preserve The Appalachian Trail.

"Perfect Guy"
Sanaa Lathan's Leah Vaughn recovers from a painful breakup by jumping into a rebound relationship with a charming stranger (Michael Ealy). When her ex (Morris Chestnut) returns, Leah has to figure out which guy she should trust. (Follow the "X-Files" and Trust No One!) The suspense thriller is out on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD December 29. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, "Lust and Obsession: Making The Perfect Guy," featuring interviews with the cast, filmmakers, and crew.

Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Gina Carano, Morris Chestnut, Kate Bosworth, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar star in this crime thriller out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. A single father plans a casino heist to get money to pay for his daughter's illness, but of course things fall apart and he and his co-worker are forced to flee and hijack a bus, taking the passengers hostage. (Maybe just organize a community fund-raiser next time.) Special features include commentary with director Scott Mann, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and writer Max S. Adams; cast and crew interviews; deleted and extended scenes; and "The Making of 'Heist'" featurette.

"Hitman: Agent 47"
Already missing Quinn on "Homeland"? Check out Rupert Friend as the titular elite assassin in this action thriller, out on DVD and Blu-ray on December 29. The Blu-ray includes, in part, deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurettes on the fight and action scenes; and the "Hitman: Agent 47" comic.

New Video on Demand, Rental Streaming, and Digital Only

"Mozart in the Jungle" (Amazon)
Gael Garcia Bernal returns as maestro Rodrigo in the second season of Amazon's New York Symphony dramedy. "Mozart" recently picked up two Golden Globe nominations -- for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Bernal also won the Imagen Award for Best Actor on Television, so consider streaming both Season 1 and Season 2 to catch up on the buzz.

Spike Lee's satire of gun violence in America was inspired by the ancient Greek play "Lysistrata," where the women of Greece protested war by withholding sexual privileges until their husbands/lovers negotiated for peace. Here, the battle of the sexes comes to the South Side of Chicago, where the death of a child by a gang member's stray bullet inspires a group of women to organize. "Chi-Raq" is out on Digital HD and On Demand December 29, with the DVD and Blu-ray to follow on January 26. Special features include "The Making of Chi–Raq" featurette; deleted and extended scenes; and a "We Gotta Do Better" music video.

New on Netflix

"Nurse Jackie"
CBS/BBCThere's really no better way to spend New Year's Eve than binge-watching all seven seasons of "Nurse Jackie." Seriously, it's perfect for resolutions -- after you're done watching Edie Falco's drug-addicted nurse Jackie Peyton, you'll know exactly what you SHOULDN'T do in 2016. Netflix has Seasons 1-7 as of December 31, so strap in for a bumpy ride.

"Meet the Parents" & "Meet the Fockers"
Start your 2016 off with a Fockers double-feature. Netflix has the classic 2000 comedy -- starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro -- and its 2004 sequel -- adding Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman -- starting January 1.

"Pride and Prejudice"
Let Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen bewitch you -- body and soul -- in Joe Wright's lush 2005 Jane Austen adaptation. Mr. Darcy arrives on Netflix on January 1. FYI, there are a ton of other titles hitting Netflix on January 1 too, so check them all out.

TV Worth Watching

"Downton Abbey" (Sunday on PBS at 9 p.m.)
It's the beginning of the end. The sixth and final season of "Downton Abbey" begins in the U.S. on January 3. How will they torture poor Edith this time? You know when they say not everyone will get a happy ending they probably mean Edith -- and maybe poor Anna again. Mary will be fine, of course, even though she doesn't deserve it. #TeamEdith

"Sherlock: The Abominable Bride" (Friday on PBS at 9 p.m. - then in select theaters)
"Sherlock" leads Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are returning for this 1.5-hour event, but don't expect their usual modern London adaptation; this is a Victorian-era Christmas special -- you know, 19th century sleuthing, the way OG Arthur Conan Doyle intended. The special will first air on TV on January 1. (FYI, this is the first time both the U.S. and the U.K. are sharing a premiere date.) Then, according to Entertainment Weekly,the movie will be in more than 500 theaters for two days, on Tuesday, January 5 and Wednesday, January 6. If you head out to the theater to see "The Abominable Bride," the episode comes with 20 minutes of additional footage, including a guided set tour of 221B Baker Street and a short "making-of" feature with stars Cumberbatch and Freeman. It's like getting a Blu-ray copy of the episode in the theater as it airs.

"Galavant" (Sunday on ABC at 8 p.m.)
The very best Python-esque musical comedy on television returns for its second season this weekend. There are only 10 episodes airing over five weeks, so it's not a huge time commitment, but every loopy minute is must-see. Bonus for "Downton" fans: This show has Hugh Bonneville, too!

New Year's Eve (Thursday on NBC, FOX, ABC starting at 8 p.m.)
If you feel like staying home on New Year's Eve, there are several options for your viewing pleasure. Ryan Seacrest has Carrie Underwood, Jimmy Buffett, One Direction, Taylor Swift, and many others in the overly titled "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2016" which starts at 8 p.m. on ABC. Over on FOX, "Pitbull's New Year's Revolution" also starts at 8 p.m. with Puff Daddy, Austin Mahone, Jordin Sparks, and more. And NBC has stars of "The Voice," of course, with Carson Daly, Gwen Stefani, and Andy Cohen getting the party started around 10 p.m. on "New Year's Eve With Carson Daly."

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This LEGO Millennium Falcon Replica Is 'Star Wars' Perfection

the force awakens, star wars, millennium falcon, lego, star wars fan, millennium falcon model"Star Wars" fans are known for their dedication to a galaxy far, far away, and one enthusiast took that devotion to another level with his uncanny LEGO replica of the Millennium Falcon, which took 7,500 bricks and a year to complete.

Flickr user Marshal Banana said that he was inspired to create the model because Han Solo's iconic vehicle "is still the coolest spaceship in the galaxy." Thanks to the recent success of "The Force Awakens," a brand new generation of moviegoers is inclined to agree, and Marshal's model is a cool bit of fan art that's sure to impress "Star Wars" diehards and neophytes alike.

Marshal explained that it took him about a year to finish the model, with that timeframe including both planning out the execution of the design and collecting the approximately 7,500 bricks necessary to make it all possible. That serious devotion to time and detail comes across in the finished product, which lights up throughout (notice the sweet tail lights), and features "a detailed cockpit (with 4 seats), gunner's platform and a lowering ramp." The whole thing measures approximately 33 inches wide.

Check out a few shots of the impressive model below, and head over to Marshal Banana's Flickr stream to see the rest.
star wars, lego, millennium falcon, han solo, model, replica, the force awakensstar wars, lego, millennium falcon, han solo, model, replica, the force awakens[via: Flickr]

Photo credit: Disney; Marshal Banana/Flickr


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Christopher Nolan to Direct WWII Drama 'Dunkirk,' Tom Hardy May Star

Jameson Empire Awards 2015 - Winners RoomChristopher Nolan fans have waited several years for the director to reveal his next project, and today, studio Warner Bros. confirmed that that film will be a World War II drama.

Nolan is set to direct "Dunkirk," which tells the story of the evacuation of the titular French city during the early 1940s. Last week, French newspaper La Voix du Nord first leaked the news that Nolan and his crew had been scouting locations in the city over the summer months; on Monday, Warner Bros. followed up that report with an official announcement of the project.

According to Variety, Nolan is writing the screenplay, and will produce the film with his wife and producing partner Emma Thomas. Big names such as Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, and Kenneth Branagh are all reportedly in talks for supporting roles, per Variety, and producers are currently looking for unknowns to play the leads.

"We are thrilled to be continuing our collaboration with Christopher Nolan, a singular filmmaker who has created some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful films of all time," said Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production at Warner Bros., in a statement. "'Dunkirk' is a gripping and powerful story and we are excited to see Chris, Emma and their cast realize it on the big screen."

"Dunkirk" is currently slated for release on July 21, 2017.

[via: La Voix du Nord, Variety]

Photo credit: Getty Images


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It Would Cost $900 Billion to Rescue Matt Damon in His Movies

Matt Damon has had a lot of unfortunate onscreen accidents that have stranded him in far-off locales, both real and fictional, launching awe-inspiring rescue missions. But what would such daring escapes cost if they took place in the real world?

A Quora user posed that question on the Q&A site, and a commenter named Kynan Eng took it upon himself to total up the hypothetical budgets of such complicated endeavors. The result, Eng discovered, was truly staggering.

In an examination of eight of Damon's films -- including "The Martian," "Interstellar," "Elysium," and "Saving Private Ryan" -- Eng calculated that the rescue efforts depicted onscreen amounted to a whopping $900 billion or so in real-life money. That includes more reasonable sums like $100,000 for the search team headed by Tom Hanks in WWII flick "Saving Private Ryan," as well as astronomical numbers like $500 billion for the space ship in "Interstellar" and the $200 billion spent on the Mars mission in "The Martian."

So is Saving Matt Damon really worth it when the costs are considered? It depends on how you look at it. Sure, his movies are entertaining, but his films' combined $2.7 billion gross barely scratches that $900 billion surface. As fellow Quora user Devin Jones put it in the comments section, "The real question is why after so many failed attempts do we continue to send Matt Damon into outrageous scenarios which inevitably require hundreds of millions of dollars simply to rescue him only so he can undo all our efforts by getting stuck in another equally or more absurd situation."

Something to think about the next time the actor needs rescuing at the multiplex.

[via: Quora]


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Oscars 2016: Will 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Rewrite History?

oscars 2015 star wars the force awakensIt's fitting that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has become a disruptive force in the Oscar race.

After all, the Oscars aren't just about writing the current movie year into the history books. They're often about rewriting past history -- righting old wrongs, settling old scores, and dealing with unresolved old resentments and controversies that have returned with a vengeance. (Remind you of any current blockbuster space operas?)

Think about last year, where the main competition between "Boyhood" and "Birdman" got pushed to the side, in favor of bitter arguments about how long-odds contenders "Selma" and "American Sniper" depicted recent historical events. Considering how many people learn their history in movie theaters, rather than classrooms, it mattered a great deal, especially to people who were directly involved, how accurate those two films were, how they interpreted controversial events, and whether the Academy would validate those interpretations with golden trophies.

This year, thankfully, there are few of those controversies, at least when it comes to potential award-winning movies about real-life people. Sure, some individuals who are portrayed in an unflattering light in "Spotlight" and "Straight Outta Compton" have complained. Pundits have made similar complaints about "Steve Jobs" and "Trumbo," but since hardly anyone saw those movies, no one seems to care. There were loud gripes about "Truth," but that box office flop also fell off the awards radar. And now that "Joy" and "The Big Short" are screening widely, there may be grumbling about the wildly imaginative liberties those movies take with the historical record. But so far, at least, there hasn't been the kind of sustained screaming we heard last year over "Selma" and "Sniper," or over such recent Oscar front-runners as "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty," and "The Social Network."

Instead, the historical issues this year are strictly Hollywood-centered. Should Leonardo DiCaprio finally get a Best Actor Oscar for "The Revenant"? Most pundits seem to think he should, not just because his rugged, ragged performance as a frontiersman fighting for survival merits a prize, but because it would make up for two decades of Oscar snubs.

Similarly, if Michael Keaton wins a supporting prize for "Spotlight," it'll make up for his never having won, especially for last year's "Birdman," a Best Actor trophy he was highly favored to win. If likely honoree Ridley Scott wins Best Director for "The Martian," it'll be validation for the Oscar-less 78-year-old, who didn't even win the prize for his Best Picture honoree "Gladiator" 15 years ago.

And what about Harrison Ford? The 73-year-old is one of the most beloved stars in the galaxy, but he's never won an Oscar. In fact, he was nominated only once, 30 years ago, for "Witness." But thanks to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," there's now talk of a supporting actor nomination for him. It'll be an uphill battle for Ford, whose chief competition may be Keaton, "Bridge of Spies" co-star Mark Rylance, and another old-timer reprising an Iconic role he created in the 1970s. That would be Sylvester Stallone, who was nominated 39 years ago for writing "Rocky" and playing Rocky Balboa, and who is almost certain to be nominated this year for playing the character again in "Creed."

The late entry of "The Force Awakens" into the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor races has caused other upheavals. Most notably, it led to a controversy at the Critics' Choice Awards, two of whose voters quit the organization this week in protest over the group's late addition of "The Force Awakens" to its already-issued list of Best Picture nominees.

When the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the group behind the Critics' Choice Awards, announced its nominees on December 14, its members hadn't even seen the new "Star Wars" yet, as Disney was keeping the film under wraps and spoiler-free until just a few days before its release. Citing the association's own history -- they made a similar exception 15 years ago for "Cast Away" when it screened late and proved a worthy addition to the list of Best Picture nominees -- the BFCA held an emergency vote and agreed to make the new "Star Wars" the 11th nominee on this year's Best Picture list. But they did not add it to any other categories.

BFCA member Eric Melin (who's also the president of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle) immediately quit the group. In his resignation letter, he complained that the "Star Wars" waiver "smells like a desperate ploy to get better TV ratings." (The Critics' Choice Awards airs January 17, a week after the Golden Globes, on A&E and Lifetime.)

Salt Lake City critic Scott Renshaw wrote a similar resignation letter, saying, "It is obvious to me that this decision is based more on ['The Force Awakens"'] marketing value than on making sure that the best films are included. If that were the case, the entire nomination process would have been opened up again to allow 'The Force Awakens' to be considered in all categories. Any suggestion this decision was made primarily for any reason other than to improve ratings for the awards broadcast feels disingenuous at best." (Neither Melin nor Renshaw were BFCA members in 2000 during the "Cast Away" decision.)

Why does this matter? In part, it matters because the Critics' Choice Awards have historically been a highly accurate predictor of the Best Picture nominees ultimately picked by the Academy. Adding "Star Wars" to the list indicates, at the very least, increased odds that Oscar voters will nominate the film as well.

The incident also shows the bind critics are in over the year's last-minute releases -- not just "Star Wars," but also such likely contenders "The Hateful Eight," "The Revenant," and "Joy" -- movies that either screened too late for many awards groups to see them or else didn't even get sent on screener DVDs to awards voters until late December. Sure the awards groups could all wait until after New Year's Eve to issue their lists, but that would mean each group's announcement would be crowded into the first nine days of January (since no one cares what the critics say after the Golden Globes ceremony and the Oscar nominations announcement in the second week of January), and none of them would stand out or get much attention. In recent years, there's been a race among critics' groups to be the first out of the gate, leading to an announcement creep that now sees some groups touting the year's best movies at the end of November. The studios, however, haven't accommodated the awards groups by screening or sending out their year-end movies any sooner; after all, they have their own marketing plans to stick to, regardless of what critics want. So the critics are forced either to bend their own rules to accommodate the studio marketers or leave potentially worthy movies off their lists.

And the question raised by Melin and Renshaw -- Is it pandering to include a blockbuster like "The Force Awakens" that doesn't need awards validation to get noticed? -- is the biggest historical controversy at the heart of this year's awards race. As this column noted last week, the Academy has seldom given crowd-pleasing genre movies that are also critical favorites their due. This year, however, it has several chances to change that by recognizing such hits as "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," "Creed," "Compton," and "Inside Out."

Not to mention "The Force Awakens." Remember, 38 years ago, the first "Star Wars" was nominated for Best Picture and nine other Oscars, but the top prizes that year went to "Annie Hall." If the new "Star Wars" wins big this year, will that redress a historical wrong? Or will it be a sign that the dark side of the Force is ascendant?


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'Game of Thrones' Season 6 Photo: Bran Stark Looks So Much Older Now

Seven hells, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) has grown so much! "Game of Thrones" Season 6 marks the return of young Bran The Broken, last seen in the Season 4 finale when he met the Three-Eyed Raven (who will now be played by Max von Sydow).

Entertainment Weekly just shared the first look at Bran in Season 6, which premieres in April on HBO:

Look at him! Ned and Catelyn would be so proud. Sniff. The 16-year-old actor now has much shorter hair than we're used to seeing, and EW said he's around six feet tall. (!)

For comparison's sake, here's the Bran of Season 4:

Now they just need to show us how Rickon Stark looks these days. We are expecting to see the youngest Stark and Osha again in Season 6. We haven't seen them since Season 3.

Speaking of Season 3, here's another character last season in that season but spoiled to return in 2016. The actors just wrapped Season 6 a couple of weeks ago, and we're on standby for the first real trailer. So far, we've just seen that Jon Snow-focused teaser and three brief new shots sandwiched into HBO's 2016 preview.

Are you excited to see what's ahead for Bran Stark? We're thinking he'll have some particularly insightful visions this year.

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Christmas Box Office: Audiences Play Santa Claus and Give Generously to All

box office christmasBelieve it or not, there was a lot more than just "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" going on at the multiplex this holiday weekend. With four new wide releases competing against each other, one art-house release expanding wide, and "Star Wars" still taking up most of the oxygen in the auditorium, the new movies should all have struggled. Instead, all of them did better than expected.

As a result, this weekend was nearly as huge as last weekend, the frame that saw "Star Wars" buoy the box office and break all those records. And it may even have been big enough to help propel 2015 into the record books.

Sure, "The Force Awakens" probably pulled a lot of people into the multiplex, even if they ended up seeing other movies. The seventh "Star Wars" installment continues to set records, with the biggest Christmas Day take ever ($49 million), the biggest second weekend ever (an estimated $153.5 million), and the fastest pace ever to a $500 million domestic gross (10 days).

But it also helped that Christmas Day fell on a Friday, which is why six major new films opened on December 25, each expecting to take full advantage of a complete holiday weekend.

On paper, no one was expecting much from any of them. Either everyone would just go see "The Force Awakens," or the new movies would simply cannibalize each other.

And yet, "Daddy's Home," the new Will Ferrell comedy, earned an estimated $38.8 million, nearly twice what pundits predicted. David O. Russell's awards-hopeful "Joy," starring Jennifer Lawrence, opened in third place with an estimated $17.5 million, also on the high end of expectations. It helped that both movies played better with audiences than they did with critics (both earned a B+ from viewers at CinemaScore, despite weak-to-mixed reviews). But it also helped that there's nothing else in the marketplace like either Ferrell's live-action family comedy or Lawrence's biographical comedy-drama.

Similarly, there's no other film like Will Smith's serious-minded football drama "Concussion," which opened slightly above expectations with an estimated $11.0 million, good for sixth place. And there's also nothing like "Point Break," the 3D action remake that opened at No. 8 with an estimated $10.2 million. Considering the movie's terrible reviews, its weak marketing (it's from Warner Bros., the studio that, "Creed" aside, has been releasing nothing but duds for months), and its utter superfluousness (did we really need or ask for a remake of the 1991 Keanu Reeves surfing-bank-robbers thriller?), those "Point Break" sales were also much better than expected.

Between "Concussion" and "Point Break" was "The Big Short," another Oscar hopeful that expanded this weekend from eight art-house theaters to 1,585 screens and earned a strong estimated $10.5 million as a result. That's very good for a satirical movie about the 2008 financial crash starring several A-list actors in horrible wigs.

Even the holdovers did well. In fourth place, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's R-rated comedy "Sisters" earned another estimated $13.9 million, losing less than half a percentage point in sales from last weekend. Fifth-place finisher "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" earned an estimated $12.7 million, down a slight 11 percent from a week ago.

According to Sunday estimates, Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" missed out on a top 10 debut by less than $70,000. Few predicted big numbers for a three-hour western opening in just 100 theaters, but "Eight" beat the predictions and scored an estimated $4.5 million.

And Leonardo DiCaprio's western, "The Revenant," opened in just four theaters, but it earned an estimated $117,750 at each of them. That's a phenomenal per-screen average, the third best of any movie this year. (Only "Steve Jobs" and "American Sniper" enjoyed higher per-venue averages.)

Like the other new movies this week, these were both offerings that likely succeeded because of their uniqueness. "Eight" may have received some of the weakest reviews of Tarantino's career, but the chance to see the much-hyped spectacle in a 70MM wide-screen roadshow print made the film's debut an event. And "Revenant," in which DiCaprio's frontiersman is notoriously mauled by a bear, has been touted as the film that may finally win the actor his first Oscar.

It's often said that it takes a very special event-movie to lure audiences out of their living rooms and into a movie theater. "The Force Awakens" has certainly been that kind of event, but so, apparently, were many of the other movies playing this weekend.

Thanks largely to the huge numbers posted this weekend and last, 2015 is on track to beat 2013 for the most lucrative year on record; it'll take only $30 million worth of tickets sold in the next four days to grab the crown. It would also take just $107 million over the next four days for 2015 to become the first year to see the North American box office crack $11 billion. For a year that saw brief but alarming slumps in the spring, summer, and fall, that's not too shabby.


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Here's Why 'The X-Files' Split Up Mulder and Scully (With No Romance Ahead)

Gillian Anderson (Agent Dana Scully), David Duchovny (Agent Fox Mulder) in X-FILESFeaturing: Gillian Anderson, David DuchovnyWhere: United StatesWhen: 19 Aug 2013Credit:**Only available for publication in UK, USA**Many "The X-Files" fans want to believe that Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) belong together and will stay together. They even had a son together. But the truth is already out there -- they are broken up as of the show's return to Fox (starting January 24). Not only that, show creator Chris Carter told TVLine the split won't lead to a romantic reunion, they are going to stay split.

"I thought it was honest," Carter told TVLine of the split. "And I thought it was an interesting thing to explore, as well as a way to put tension into the idea that the X-Files would be more difficult to reopen if they were split up versus together." So not only are they split, it sounds like maybe they did not part as friends. Carter did tell TVLine the pair will "become closer" in the six episodes ahead, but he said it's due to their renewed professional partnership, not anything "romantic."

We're with the 60 percent of fans who voted "No" when asked, "Are you happy about Carter's decision to deromanticize Mulder and Scully?" About 27 percent voted "Takign a wait-and-see approach," with 12 percent voting "Yes" they are happy to see the romance gone. As one commenter put it, "We explored Scully and Mulder not-together for most of the nine seasons the show was originally on the air for. The truly creative thing would be to show how reopening the cases effected their romantic relationship. This just seems like they're hitting the reset button."

Sigh. Yeah. The real challenge on TV isn't writing a will-they-or-won't-they, or having characters work through tension to build respect, it's letting characters be together in a relationship and seeing how they can make it work over time. It's not like people don't do that in real life every day, and it doesn't have to be boring. Mulder and Scully are not boring as individuals and surely they could come up with a plot that keeps them interesting as a couple. Because that's what seems most honest, from here. We want to believe it can be done!

Check out the new preview, with a 21-minute look at the show's return:

If they really did bring the band back together for the fans, why not give the (majority of) fans what they want?

The six new "X-Files" episodes launch with a two-night event starting Sunday, January 24 at 10 p.m. ET, and continuing with its time period premiere on Monday, January 25 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Are you disappointed that Mulder and Scully are split (and, apparently, staying split)?

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New 'Assassin's Creed' Photo: Michael Fassbender Promises 'Something Special'

Back in August, fans got a first look at Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch in "Assassin's Creed," and now Entertainment Weekly has a new photo of Fassy in character, alongside co-star Ariane Labed.

"Assassin's Creed" is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time, but Fassbender told EW (while on location in Spain) that he wasn't one of the millions of fans before he was cast:

I've played it since [being offered the job] mainly to get an idea of the physicality of the character. We're striving to find something special. We believe the whole concept around it is special and want to service that the best we can. The fans are really passionate: very specific and they expect accuracy and historical detail. We're really trying to capitalize and feed on and enjoy the fun element. We're working hard to make this something special."

He knows the pressure is on to deliver for the fans, and since he kept repeating "special," that seems to be the key emphasis. This movie is reuniting Fassbender with this "Macbeth" director Justin Kurzel, which suggests a different kind of video game adaptation (in a good way, we hope).

Here's the film's official synopsis (via Collider):

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day."

Here's the first photo, shared over the summer:

And here's the full new shot:

"Assassin's Creed" is scheduled for release on December 21st, 2016.

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