Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Here Are the 'Mary Poppins Returns' Release Date and Plot Details

88th Annual Academy Awards - ArrivalsSupercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Disney has announced the release date for "Mary Poppins Returns," a sequel to the 1964 classic. The new film will open December 25, 2018, and will star Emily Blunt and "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Blunt is reuniting with her "Into the Woods" director Rob Marshall for the project.

Plot details about the movie were also unveiled:

Blunt has been cast as Mary Poppins and Miranda will play a new character, a street lamplighter named Jack. Drawing from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers' seven additional novels, the story will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written) and follows a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, who, along with Michael's three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives."

"Mary Poppins Returns" is part of Disney's big push to draw from its deep well of familiar, beloved stories. The studio is making live-action versions of many popular animated fairy tales, like "Beauty and the Beast" and a Cruella de Vil movie.

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Directors Defend Keira Knightley After John Carney's Slam

The Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway Opening Night Of Therese Raquin Co-Sponsored By FIJI WaterFans have already come to Keira Knightley's defense after her "Begin Again" director John Carney trashed her; now, directors from her other movies are doing it, too.

In an interview with The Independent, Carney dismissed the Oscar-nominated actress as a "supermodel" who traveled with a large entourage, and criticized her acting. "I don't want to rubbish Keira, but you know it's hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don't think she's ready for yet and I certainly don't think she was ready for on that film."

But other directors that Knightley has worked with rallied to her side on Twitter, like Lynn Shelton from "Laggies": Mark Romanek of "Never Let Me Go" also tweeted his support, and countered Carney's claim about Knightley's entourage: Lorene Scafaria, who worked with the actress on "Seeking a Friend For the End of the World," agreed: Team Keira keeps growing.

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Kate Beckinsale: Michael Bay Cast Me in 'Pearl Harbor' 'Cause I'm Not That Hot

2016 Billboard Music Awards - ArrivalsKate Beckinsale was just on "The Graham Norton Show" recalling all the times that sad blind fool has told the story of why he cast her in the 2001 movie "Pearl Harbor."

"I don't think I fitted the type of actress Michael Bay the director had met before," Beckinsale said. "I think he was baffled by me because my boobs weren't bigger than my head and I wasn't blonde." (She probably wasn't even joking with that.) "I'd just had my daughter and had lost weight, but was told that if I got the part, I'd have to work out," she added. "And I just didn't understand why a 1940s nurse would do that." Fair point. Here's more:

"And then, when we were promoting the film. Michael was asked why he had chosen Ben [Affleck] and Josh [Hartnett], and he said, 'I have worked with Ben before and I love him, and Josh is so manly and a wonderful actor'. Then when he was asked about me, he'd say, 'Kate wasn't so attractive that she would alienate the female audience'. He kept saying it everywhere we went, and we went to a lot of places."

UGH. That she remembers what he said so many years later just shows how much it must've affected her. She's right, though, he said it all: E! News dug up a 2001 article from Movieline, where Bay mansplained that women are just too threatened by attractive women to want to watch them on screen.

Here's that part of the Movieline Q&A:

Q: What made you choose Kate Beckinsale?

A: I didn't want someone who was too beautiful. Women feel disturbed when they see someone's too pretty. I'm not saying Kate's not pretty. When you look at Titanic, Kate Winslet is pretty, but not overwhelmingly beautiful. That makes it work better for women. Our Kate is very funny, could hang with the guys. She's not so neurotic about everything, like some actresses. She was solid, and I think the three of them had some really nice chemistry.

Yes, please tell us more about what disturbs women. The script was the most disturbing thing about "Pearl Harbor" and it would've gone a long way with both women and men if he had just focused more on that. Bay went on to cast actresses like Megan Fox and Scarlett Johansson, who probably even passed his test for "overwhelmingly beautiful," and Scarlett at least went on to be an incredibly successful actress with both genders. (And are there any women who didn't think Kate Winslet was incredibly beautiful in "Titanic"?)

But whatever. It's not breaking news that Michael Bay is obsessed with how women look, and cares little for any talent they may possess. He's basically one of the frat guys from "The Bachelorette." At least the fan response to Beckinsale's new "Graham Norton" story is positive and on her side -- reminiscent of the recent fan defense of Keira Knightley after her "Begin Again" director decided to insult the "supermodel" out of nowhere.

Kate Beckinsale is drop-dead gorgeous, but it's more impressive that she's witty and has a great sense of humor. For example, watch her explain her genius chocolate buttocks prank in this clip from the show:

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Here's Proof That Daniel Radcliffe & Elijah Wood Are Indeed the Same Person

Mexico Victor FrankensteinHe's Frodo Potter, the One Boy Who Lived to Rule Them All.

Elijah Wood, 35, and Daniel Radcliffe, 26, are almost a decade apart, and grew up in different countries -- but it's still pretty clear that they were separated at birth, and some new Internet images are highlighting that important point.

Here's a relatively new one, which has been viewed nearly 8 million times:

View post on imgur.com

And here are some of the great reactions on imgur: • They would make nice Jekyll and Hyde movie !
• This is slightly unsettling.
• Daniel Wood? Elijah Radcliffe?
• And right there in between they're Ramsay Bolton.
• Plot twist: they're the same actor and he has a great makeup artist.

Yes. Here's another gif that gives Wood and Radcliffe their own kind of Superman/Clark Kent treatment:

Daniel Radcliffe has discussed his similarities with Elijah Wood a few times in the past, noting that he has met the "Lord of the Rings" star in person and found him to be "a lovely guy." Last year, DanRad told Marc Maron (via Entertainment Weekly) that he understands why people can confuse them sometimes:

"We're both kind of short guys with big blue eyes and brown hair, and we did fantasy movies that came out at the same time. ... I'm thinking of trying to write some sort of mistaken identity thing where one of us kills the other."

That actually sounds pretty good, they should do that if they never do the Jekyll and Hyde thing! Or maybe do both?

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'Rogue One' Faces 'Expensive Reshoots' to Please Studio: Report

Well, this is a rebellion, isn't it? Why wouldn't you expect "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" to rebel? Jyn Erso () warned us she goes against the grain in the first trailer for "Rogue One," but apparently Disney is not happy with the first cut of the standalone movie, which is set just before the events of "Star Wars: A New Hope," aka Episode IV, the original 1977 film.

Page Six just released an exclusive story titled "Disney execs in a panic over upcoming 'Star Wars' film," with a source saying "Rogue One" is in "crisis" and Disney wants reshoots because the first cut from director has fallen short of what J.J. Abrams did for "The Force Awakens."

The "movie insider" source told Page Six, "The execs at Disney are not happy with the movie, and 'Rogue One' will have to go back into four weeks of expensive reshoots in July." The source added, "Disney won't take a back seat, and is demanding changes, as the movie isn't testing well."

Reps for the director didn't respond to Page Six right away (it was Memorial Day weekend, so that could be why), but an unnamed Disney source weighed in, and he/she didn't deny the reshoots, they just noted that the reshoots were expected:

"The filmmaking team and the studio always anticipated additional shooting and second unit work to make the film the absolute best it can be, and the actors were aware there would be additional shooting. Coming off 'The Force Awakens,' there's an incredibly high bar for this movie and we have a responsibility to the franchise and to the fans to deliver the best possible movie we can."

Fair enough. Additional filming isn't unusual and doesn't mean, on its own, that a film is in "crisis." But now that Page Six's report is spreading, it's leading to headlines like Forbes's new piece, titled "What's At Stake For 'Star Wars' If 'Rogue One' Bombs."

Is everyone already heading for the lifeboats? Come on, now.

Hopefully the references to "The Force Awakens" don't mean the studio wants something to match the tone or style of Episode VII. This is meant to be a standalone, and it has "rogue" right in the title, so why not take a chance and let it be its own thing? Or is that too naive, since this is a major franchise and "own thing" is never the droid they're looking for?

"Rogue One" will be released December 16th, 2016.

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'Cursed Child': See First Photos of Harry Potter, Ginny, and Son Albus

Did someone say "Accio, 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' photos?" Well, they just arrived from Pottermore (via owl, of course) and more are coming tomorrow!

The first look images show the Potter family in character: Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, Poppy Miller as Ginny Weasley Potter, and Sam Clemmett as their son Albus Severus Potter.

The first preview of the stage play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" opens in London June 7, with the story picking up 19 years after the events of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." The script book will be released on Harry's and J.K. Rowling's birthday, July 31.

Author J.K. Rowling shared some reaction quotes with the first look images, saying of Jamie Parker, "He simply is Harry now. There's a kind of relief in watching him, he gets it so right." (It's OK, Daniel Radcliffe, you are Harry now and always, too!)

Check out these individual shots with quotes from the actors and Rowling:

Jamie Parker explained why Harry is now rocking a suit, along with his "iconic" glasses and scar:

"He's wearing a suit because he's a Ministry man, but he's not just a bloke in a suit, that's way too anonymous. And it sounds strange but we talked around a lot of different suits, because there are suits and suits, and a lot of them we put on and we went 'Mmm it's just not right'. [...] In a sense you don't need more than the scar and the glasses, you kind of go, "there it is" and I don't really know how to put it into words, it's just immeasurably exciting and I can't wait to show it to people.'"

Poppy Miller said of Ginny's look, "So far I've had a fabulous haircut and, as this is Ginny's hair, it's obviously red and quite sleek,' Poppy explained. 'I also get to wear a gorgeous, hand-knitted jumper. I think of it as a really tasteful Pygmy Puff."

J.K. Rowling added, "I think a lot of people would like to have Poppy's Ginny for a mother. Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her."

(Wouldn't Ginny wearing something a little edgier, cooler and athletic, as a former professional Quidditch player?)

Sam Clemmett said of Albus's robes, "This is what Albus wears at the start of the show. I had the idea he was wearing James's – his older brother's – hand-me-downs. So I wanted him to feel quite uncomfortable, and be able to play with his clothes."

J.K. Rowling teased some secrets ahead: "There's much I could say about Sam-as-Albus, but we'd be into spoiler territory so quickly I'll just say we couldn't have cast better."

Pottermore is revealing two more character images tomorrow (Wednesday) and we're guessing they'll involve Ron and Hermione. What do you think so far?

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Hidden Messages Exposed: Are You Savvy to the Subliminal Messages in These Popular Kid Movies?

Finding Nemo 2003Just because a movie is made to be appreciated by kids doesn't mean that it can't have a deeper, more subtle meaning too. That's one of the reasons that recent family movies like "Frozen," "Inside Out," and "Big Hero 6" appeal strongly to adult fans too. Many animated and live-action children's movies share the same surface-level themes, like the value of kindness, bravery, and believing in yourself. (Also that your Fairy Godmother is on her way -- maybe she's stuck in traffic.)

But if you dig a little deeper, some of those same movies also take a sly stance on social and political issues. A few have even been criticized for promoting a specific "agenda." Did you catch the subliminal messaging in these seven children's movies?

'Finding Nemo' (2003)

In Disney Pixar's underwater charmer, "Finding Nemo," the Great Barrier Reef is home to a colorful cast of aquatic characters. The movie's focus on sea life and the Reef's delicate ecosystem can be read as support of the environmental conservationist movement. Think about it: who could possibly be heartless enough to toss a plastic bottle into the ocean after watching Marlin and Dory rescue sweet little Nemo?

'The Fox and the Hound' (1981)

A classic Disney animated movie that should only be watched when you're in need of a good cry actually has a pretty disturbing thesis. Tod and Copper come from different worlds, but friendship helps them bridge that gap. In the end though, "The Fox & the Hound" have to go back to their separate, species-appropriate lives. It's a depressing allegory of the struggle of having lasting relationships with people who aren't "like" you.

'Frozen' (2013)

Though she has no love interest in the movie, some have interpreted Elsa as Disney's first lesbian princess. Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian even called Elsa's big number and now ubiquitous karaoke song "Let It Go" a "coming-out anthem."

'Beauty and the Beast' (1991)

"Beauty & The Beast" had might as well be called "Stockholm Syndrome: The Musical." Belle is kept as a prisoner in the Beast's castle only to inevitably fall in love with him and decide to stay forever. Sure.

'Mary Poppins' (1964)

In Disney's interpretation of the P.L. Travers' books, "Mary Poppins" is the original super-nanny and hero for childless women everywhere. Mary loves children just fine, but she's not willing to give up her freedom for them. She goes where the wind takes her and doesn't feel guilty about it for a moment. It's an incredibly progressive stance for a family movie made in 1964.

'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' (1989)

The visually innovative 1989 movie, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," is a coming-of-age story in more ways than one. When their kooky scientist dad accidentally shrinks his kids and their friends with one of his inventions, the youngsters have to use teamwork and their wits to stay alive in a world that's too big for them. That's a metaphor for the challenges of youth and puberty if we've ever heard one.

'The Lego Movie' (2014)

It's possible that no kids movie in the last 10 years stirred up as much talk about subliminal messaging as "The Lego Movie." Fox News hosted a segment on the movie's "anti-business" themes, and others pointed out the resemblance of the movie's villain, President Business, to conservative Mitt Romney. But even though "The Lego Movie" is a celebration of creativity and forward-thinking, the entire feature is inspired by the Lego brand. And it doesn't get much more corporate than that.


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Dan Aykroyd: New 'Ghostbusters' Has More Laughs & Scares Than First 2 Films

Dan Aykroyd ain't afraid of no ghost haters. The man who co-starred in and co-wrote the scripts for the original "Ghostbusters" movie and "Ghostbusters II" recently got to watch the upcoming 2016 reboot, then shared a glowing critique on Facebook:

That's quite an endorsement. Yeah, Aykroyd is credited as an executive producer for the upcoming film, and both he and Bill Murray have cameos, so he's not exactly objective -- he has his own financial interests at stake. However, he is also deeply tied to the originals, so it wouldn't have been a shock if he went the Rick Moranis route and stayed away from this movie. Maybe he wanted to help the film out since it has been mired in criticism since it's announcement, and fans only seem to keep getting angrier.

Some of those angry fans are now commenting on his Facebook post, interpreting his praise as an insult to the original 1984 comedy and its sequel. They have already made up their minds not to see the 2016 film, but aren't content to just save their money, they have to make sure everyone knows how much they hate it. (The original is worthy of this protective stance -- with a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating -- but are we really going to retroactively canonize GB2 when many fans and critics didn't even like it until just this minute?)

"Ghostbusters" opens in theaters July 15.

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Jeremy Irons Calls 'Batman v Superman' 'Overstuffed' and 'Muddled'

Sheesh, even Alfred is breaking ranks. It's so hard to find good help these days.

Maybe 's check for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" bounced, 'cause he recently joined the chorus of complaints that the DC film was bloated and muddled, saying BvS deserved its beatdown from critics. Irons is set to return for more films, so this could make things awkward on the sets of "Justice League" and the Batman solo movie is developing. But maybe everyone involved just finds Irons's candor refreshing. They're probably used to it by now, since he's hardly bashful with his opinions on anything.

The Oscar-winning actor's BvS criticism was dropped into a lengthy interview with the Daily Mail's Event magazine. Here's that section of the story, following the reporter's comment that BvS was popular(ish) at the box office but got a kicking from critics:

"'Deservedly so. I mean it took £800 million, so the kicking didn't matter but it was sort of overstuffed...'

He lets those words hang in the air, then laughs at the thought of a film described by one critic as the most incoherent blockbuster in years.

'It was very muddled. I think the next one will be simpler. The script is certainly a lot smaller, it's more linear.'

There's no getting out of it now.

'I'm tied into The Batman at the minute [the next installment, Justice League Part One, is due next year], which is nice because it's a bit of income... Not that I need a bit of income but it's nice to keep ticking over.'"

At least he's honest, even if some might prefer him to be more loyal to an already kicked horse. But it's a good sign if he's hopeful about the next one, right?

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Best TV Shows to Watch on Date Night

the officeDate nights are like werewolves. No, wait. Date nights are like tadpoles when they start growing weird, stumpy legs. Nah, that's not it either. Date nights are like ... Mystique from X-Men?

OK, forget it. Here's the idea: Date nights take many different forms. By nature, you've got to start with a hopefully not crushingly awkward first date, and if you're lucky, you'll progress into a honeymoon phase and then a full-on relationship that's cozier than bunny slippers. And as your date nights change shape over time, your entertainment needs to keep pace if you want those flames fanned. So let these shows be your chaperone, and flame on.

The Icebreakers

When you first start dating, what you need is a safety net -- "Bob's Burgers" is that safety net. It's light, it's accessible, it's going to net you some serious street cred, and it'll stock you and your better half with in-joke ammo for years to come. You will hear the phrase, "Your ass is grass and I'm gonna mow it" at least a dozen times, guaranteed.

Once said ice is broken, move on to "Master of None," from the irreplaceable Aziz Ansari. The trick here is that Aziz and crew bring the laughs, but they also provide plenty to chew on over a few glasses of Syrah -- this one runs a thematic gamut from the complications of texting and sustaining today's flake-o-riffic relationships to what it's like being second-generation immigrants in America. Funny with a big dose of poignant.

The Hopeless Romantics

All right, a few seasons of solid TV later, and the L-word is in the air -- be the people who hold their boomboxes over their heads and make out in the rain, and just embrace that thing. Put it all out there with the Judd Apatow-produced "Love." Like you and your S.O., this show is all about lovers on a sweet -- but charmingly imperfect and a little neurotic -- journey. It's not so much the Big L that counts, it's how we get there.

And if you're ready for a big commitment, all nine seasons of "The Office" should just about do it. You can't get more romantic than the evolution of Pam and Jim's relationship, while the mix of hilarity and occasional tear jerking between the love-story beats makes it even sweeter.

The Nights In

You're committed now, and the name of the game is sustaining your bond with bingeing and cheap, cheap date nights. This is when you call the big hitters up to the plate.

The mix of plot twists, baby dragons, gore, and unhinged sex on "Game of Thrones" is enough to keep anyone's flame lit, but if you prefer a sci-fi slant, 800-plus episodes of "Doctor Who" should be enough to keep you wonderfully nerdy lovebirds scheduling date nights till about, oh, 2036.

If you don't do genre, slow-burn character study and complex moral undertones make "Better Call Saul" just about enough to sustain a relationship all by itself -- seriously, having an excuse to watch this show every week could very well keep you from breaking up for eternity.

Unless someone sneaks in an episode when it's not date night. Couples who stay together are couples who watch together. It's science.


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'Game of Thrones' Season 6, Episode 7 Writer Hypes 'The Broken Man'

Don't let the hype train derail after the OK but not classic "Game of Thrones" Season 6, Episode 6. The storyline pieces are starting to fit together and it feels like we're amping up for great things in the final few episodes.

Episode 7 out of 10, called "The Broken Man," airs this Sunday, June 5. It was written by Bryan Cogman, who also wrote last night's "Blood of My Blood."

Here's the official synopsis:

"The High Sparrow eyes another target. Jaime confronts a hero. Arya makes a plan. The North is reminded."

And here's the official HBO promo:

Bryan Cogman gave a brief teaser of "The Broken Man" to Entertainment Weekly:

"All I can say about next week's episode is there was a week of shooting a particular sequence/storyline that was my favorite week on set in six seasons of Game of Thrones."

Get hype! But what sequence?

• As we see in the trailer, the Riverrun storyline is in full swing, with Jaime Lannister facing off against Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully (good to see you back, man!) while poor Edmure Tully continues to be tortured. (That's what you get for torturing another Jamie on "Outlander.")

• Another major storyline this episode appears to be Sansa, Jon, and Ser Davos going on their army recruitment tour, with Tormund making a pitch to wildlings and Sansa using her name to remind the North they have a duty to the Starks.

• Speaking of the Starks, Arya now has to find a way to avoid the waif, who just got the OK to kill our former No One for refusing to kill Lady Crane. Thank heaven this storyline is finally wrapping up, even if it's hard to see quite yet why Arya went through all of this stuff in Braavos. Just for the great fight training? Please put it to good use back in Westeros.

• The trailer also shows Lady Olenna reminding Cersei that this is all her fault, since she thought she was so clever to re-empower the Faith Militant and now the Faith has taken over. Slow clap for Cersei.

• And the trailer also shows Yara and Theon Greyjoy plotting how to take back the Iron Islands from their Uncle Euron. (Suggestion: Open the fighting pits for an Uncle-Off -- Euron vs. Benjen & Brynden vs. Jaime.)

Is any one of those storylines the one Cogman teased as from his favorite week? There's also thought that the title may refer to a certain someone we've been waiting to see again.


We originally thought The Hound might be the "old foe" referenced in the synopsis for Episode 6, but that was our old (super old) foe Walder Frey. So is it time for Sandor Clegane to return?
Actor Ian McShane revealed that the character he'll be playing for one episode this season "is an ex-warrior who's become a peacenik. So I have this group of peaceful...it's like a cult, peaceful tribe... who have brought back...I bring back this beloved character that everyone thinks is dead." In the books, The Hound is thought to be the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle, not quite dead, with McShane as a TV version of Elder Brother. Are we about to find out the truth of this?
Davos does end "The Broken Man" promo by saying "the dead are coming," so ... yeah, he means the wights and White Walkers, but why not The Hound, while so many others are dying and coming back?

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'Maze Runner: Death Cure' Has New Release Date, Forcing Other Changes

People Dylan O'BrienWe finally have an update on the status of "Maze Runner: The Death Cure." It was originally scheduled to come out February 17, 2017, but after star Dylan O'Brien was seriously injured during filming, production was shut down. As far as we know, it's still shut down, but Fox shuffled its schedule around and announced that "The Death Cure" will eventually get itself back up and running, and it will now be released on January 12, 2018.

O'Brien was hurt in mid-March, but "The Death Cure" director Wes Ball and company originally expected the star to be back on set to finish the film within "a few weeks." But a later update from O'Brien's publicist noted that the actor's injuries were "very serious" and he needed more time to recover. That led to the late April production shutdown. Not long after that, it was reported that O'Brien was in talks for the lead role in "American Assassin," which plans to start production this fall. According to Deadline, they would be "working around O'Brien's recovery from injuries."

That was a hopeful note about his progress, and this public announcement of a new "Death Cure" release date is still more hopeful news. However, moving "Death Cure" meant shuffling some other releases around, and Fox announced several new dates while updating on "Maze Runner."

Here's the new lineup, via Deadline:

Morgan, Directed by Luke Scott and starring Kate Mara: wide release September 2, 2016.

Keeping Up With The Joneses, Directed by Greg Mottola and starring Gal Gadot, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis: wide release on October 21, 2016.

Rules Don't Apply, written and Directed by Warren Beatty and starring Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Warren Beatty: wide release on November 11, 2016.

A Cure For Wellness: moves from March 24, 2017 to February 17, 2017.

Red Sparrow: wide release November 10, 2017.

Murder On The Orient Express: moves from November 10, 2017 to Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

Predator: moves from March 2, 2018 to February 9, 2018.

UNTITLED FOX/MARVEL: moves from January 12, 2018 to March 2, 2018.

UNTITLED FOX/MARVEL: moves from July 13, 2018 to June 29, 2018.

Alita: Battle Angel, directed by Robert Rodriguez: wide release, on July 20, 2018.

Are those Fox/Marvel movies the "Deadpool" sequel and another "X-Men" movie? They are a long while off, at any rate, and now "Death Cure" has one of their spots. What do you think about this new schedule?

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Fans Defend Keira Knightley After 'Begin Again' Director's Unprofessional Slam

needs to take his sinking boat and point it home, 'cause fans are not on his side this time. The director of the amazing musical film "Once" just decided to trash in an interview with the Independent, singling her out as the problem with his last film "Begin Again," co-starring and . He has a new film out called "Sing Street," and while promoting the movie, the Irish director went out of his way to blast the Oscar-nominated actress. So Team Keira came out in force after the interview to blast the director.

Here's part of the interview, which includes the unprompted Keira insults.

How significant was it to make the film in Ireland?

I had just come back from making this far bigger movie in America and I was a bit disenchanted with working with certain movie stars in that movie and I wanted a break.

I didn't enjoy that experience of paparazzi and fabulous openings. The movie star world is not something that ever appealed to me. I like working with actors and I wanted to come back to what I knew and enjoy film-making again – not that I didn't enjoy Begin Again but Keira has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it's very hard to get any real work done, and so I was very ready to come back to Ireland and make films that nobody cared about who was in it or any of that crap.

I think the real problem was that Keira wasn't a singer and wasn't a guitar player and it's very hard to make music seem real if it's not with musicians. And I think the audience struggled a little bit with that in Begin Again. And as much as I tried to make it work I think that she didn't quite come out as a guitar-playing singer-songwriter. So I really wanted to work with musicians and actors that could play their instruments properly and sing and stuff like that.

So you learned a lot from making that film.

Yeah, I did. I learned that I'll never make a film with supermodels again.

Mark Ruffalo is a fantastic actor and Adam Levine is a joy to work with and actually quite unpretentious and not a bit scared of exposing himself on camera and exploring who he is as an individual. I think that that's what you need as an actor; you need to not be afraid to find out who you really are when the camera's rolling. Keira's thing is to hide who you are and I don't think you can be an actor and do that. And working with the kids on this film and real instruments there was no hiding going on. It really was a bit of a journey of self-discovery for the actors in Sing Street and that appeals to me.

So it's not like I hate the Hollywood thing but I like to work with curious, proper film actors as opposed to movie stars. I don't want to rubbish Keira, but you know it's hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don't think she's ready for yet and I certainly don't think she was ready for on that film.

Ouch. Good thing he didn't want to "rubbish Keira" or that could've come off as rude.

2014 Tribeca Film Festival - "Begin Again" PremiereSo he loved working with Adam Levine -- whose job is singing and coaching on "The Voice," not acting -- but he dismissed Keira as a "supermodel" and insulted her acting because she didn't quite follow his already-be-the-character-in-real-life playbook. So why did he, as the director, cast her, and why isn't he blaming himself if he isn't happy with the result? Considering her filmography is a lot longer than his, and she has two acting Oscar nominations, it's a bit rich for the director to try to hang this all on her lack of acting skills.

Fans defended Keira in comments across the Internet. Here are just a few, from the Independent, Variety, and Entertainment Weekly:

• When I watch the clip of Keira Knightly's performance in The Imitation Game which was featured in the 87th Annual Academy Awards I find it in complete contradiction to John Carney's quote in this interview: "Keira's thing is to hide who you are and I don't think you can be an actor and do that." Her stillness allows me to be drawn to her eyes which reveal so much of her inner life and vulnerability. She completely exposes herself and hides nothing.

• Perhaps Knightley feels similarly about the Director.

• mmmm....I wonder if the fact that you are willing to criticize your co-worker to the media makes it difficult for an actress to be willing to go "exploring" with you. How safe did you make her feel as a director? What kind of an environment did you create? Did you foster a boys club with the men that perhaps made her feel alienated, which, would certainly make it hard to feel free to explore....particular when she is so well-known and open to extreme exposure all that time. I find this frustrating because too many directors do not attempt to make actors feel that they have a safe environment in which to explore...let's hear about the director's process and how you work, then I will be more open to what you have to say about your actors.

• A bad workman blames his tools.

• Even if all this is true, maybe he should be more thankful that a "supermodel" helped him get his indie film made and distributed. What he expected when he cast her? If you don't want to work with a movie star, then do not get a movie star. Now it seems he is desperate to promote his new film and generate buzz with his criticism.

• I legitimately laughed at this when he says that Adam Levine of all people is a good actor but he wouldn't work with Keira again. Adam Levine is a horrible actor, worse than Justin Timberlake (who I love as a musician but leaves a lot to be desired as an actor). Keira isn't a 'proper actor' but somehow ADAM LEVINE IS?! I'm still laughing. I will laugh about this all day.

• ...so she wouldn't sleep with him?

• Not sure what he is trying to accomplish by publicly trashing a 2 time Academy Award nominee out of nowhere . It's not a win for anybody. Did he just want some attention?

• Oof. That was an a-hole move. I think Keira is one of the best actors out there. Pride and Prejudice? Atonement? Come on.

• What a douche! She was wonderful in A Dangerous Method, it was a complete 180 from Pride and Prejudice. The Imitation Game was a wonderful ensemble and she engaged with the cast and material. Begin Again was a major letdown and much of that falls on him, the movie failed for multiple reasons and they all point back to him as the directing force. He tried to do his one note 'Once' schtick and it landed on deaf ears.

P.S. - There has never been a movie where the characters in a band actually sing or perform a good legitimate song, movie bands always suck--that film was no exception. The entire film looked like a bad commercial for Coke or a Hallmark card, and it was horribly cast. Own your failure brother, don't peg it on someone who has clearly gained plenty of international esteem for far more than her looks. Sometimes people just don't work well together, don't trash her for your shortcomings. What a pig.

• this guy saying adam levine is a better actor than keira is the best joke I ever heard lol

• Mr Carney says he doesn't want to rubbish Ms Knightly but that is exactly what he does throughout the interview and I think that's unprofessional as well as unfair. 'Begin Again' isn't perfect but I had a lovely time watching it and thought that the slight oddness of Ms Knightley's casting added to the film's charm and credibility. I remember the film fondly but Mr Carney's attack has tainted it for me.

• 1st off, no one ever called Keira Knightley a super model. Secondly, Begin Again was a horribly written, terribly directed film that did not do well. Third, Keira Knightley is hailed and recognized as one of the great actresses of her generation and has garnered recognition and accolades from the industry. 4th Whatever sexist, misogynst, myopic bull that Carney wants to spew Knightley's way should be directed back at himself. A little introspection and artistic honesty is better than lashing out at someone who doesn't warrant your unfounded negativity.

• i hope this interview is seen by everyone everywhere. this director unwittingly exposes some of the inner cogs of misogynist mass media machine, while over-sharing his own unpleasantness, and disgracing himself with this utter betrayal of Keira Knightley's trust.
That an actor can turn in ANY performance while coping with this crap is remarkable, that she can in fact do so with such great style and so wildly successfully is F%&*ing miraculous. Go Keira!

If Keira saw her former director's interview -- and someone probably told her about it -- the fan support has to take a bit of the sting away.

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5 Characters Found in (Practically) Every Period British TV Show

downton abbeyOK, you can admit it now -- you loved "Downton Abbey" just like the rest of us. The show captured almost everyone's attention for as long as it was on the air and introduced TV devotees to the glory that is British period television. Once viewers found out that the updated versions of these (mostly) historical events were packed with salacious details, torrid affairs, sassy grandmas, and so much more, they were in for the duration.

Now that you're obsessed with British period shows, whether they're loosely based on true events, like "The Tudors," or are works of fiction set in historical times, similar to "Outlander" (sometimes referred to as a British-American show hybrid), get to know the handful of usual suspects that we can't help but notice make their mark in nigh every show.

1. Privileged White Male Who Is Struggling With ... Something

This one is a no-brainer. It's basically the backbone of all British period TV shows because history has always been made on the incredibly unreliable backs of striving, privileged white males. From Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan in "Outlander," who's wrangling with those corrupt English dudes, to King Henry VIII, aka Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, in "The Tudors," who grappled with getting rid of multiple wives while trying to lead a country, this character is pretty much in every single show. Even "Downton Abbey's" Robert Crawley, played by Hugh Bonneville, struggled with keeping the family fortune and yada yada yada. Historical British TV is crawling with these guys who are struggling ... always struggling.

2. Attractive Young Female Probably About to Be Married Off

One of the main problems that most of those previously mentioned struggling white males have to deal with is the responsibility of marrying off the "attractive young female" of the family to further their own good fortune. A prime example of this is Lady Mary Crawley, played by Michelle Dockery, of "Downton Abbey," having to marry Dan Stevens's Matthew Crawley in the first season -- not to mention Princess Margaret (Gabrielle Anwar) of "The Tudors," Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson) of "The White Queen," and "Outlander's" Claire Randall, portrayed by Caitriona Balfe, who has to marry Jamie to be "protected" or whatever. Though, if we're being totally honest, this character is not unexpected in period pieces, based on historical times when women weren't as highly valued as they are now.

3. Poor Character That the Family Always Rejects

Come on, this character just comes with the territory. When a period British TV show centers around family and societal politics, there's always that one character who doesn't have the money but cleans up nicely. You know, the one that the dad of the family is all "hell nah," but the youngest daughter, like Lady Sybil Crawley, played by Jessica Brown Findlay, of "Downton Abbey," is all "I will marry him and you cannot stop me." These Tom Branson types usually go for the youngest sister, the one who's not being forced to marry some dude for power, so it usually goes their way and leads to happiness ... or not. Such was the fate of musician Mark Smeaton (Max Fowler) in "Wolf Hall," who dared have eyes for Anne Boleyn, only to be met with eventual death. Yikes.

4. Socialites, Socialites, so Many Socialites

British period TV is littered with socialites. The characters in almost all of these shows fall into two classes, essentially the help and the rich people. Most of the pretty, affluent women are socialites or wannabes, whose talk is laced with "coming out to society" or their rank among the other families and so on. For instance, take Cora, Elizabeth McGovern's character in "Downton Abbey," who was a socialite in America and got married off (sound familiar?) to the Earl of Grantham just because she was a socialite. And don't forget Lady Mae Loxley, played by Katherine Kelly in "Mr. Selfridge," whose main descriptor is "socialite." Enough said?

5. Sassy, Knowledgeable, Sometimes Condescending Older Family Member

In all honesty, this character isn't really a bad thing. Maggie Smith's performance as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in "Downton Abbey" will live on forever in the minds of all who've seen it. When you watch the ease with which she quips gems like "No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house" or "I don't dislike him, I just don't like him, which is quite different," it's not hard to see why one might love the dowager. Actually, the world needs more of these Maggie Smith-type characters. Can someone write a TV show that's entirely peopled with characters based on her performance? It would be the ultimate in British period TV -- "The Dowager Countesses of British History." Get on it, Bravo.


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Dwayne Johnson Shares 'Twisted' Look at Hobbs in 'Fast 8,' Teases Spinoff Movie

Norman Reedus: 'The Walking Dead' Cliffhanger Reveal Is 'Worth the Wait, Trust Me'

It has been nearly two months since "The Walking Dead" Season 6 finale, which ticked off most of the Internet and left fans scrambling for clues/spoilers on who Negan killed. AMC will share the answers (we hope) when Season 7 premieres in October, and Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) recently told Entertainment Weekly he's been asked who Negan killed "probably about a million times."

Clearly fans want to know what happened, and Reedus has decided to interpret it as "a huge compliment to how that episode was executed and the acting in it and the writing of it" that people are still talking about it. However, he knows he and the actors may be getting a ton of fan questions, but they are not facing fan wrath as much as showrunner Scott Gimple and comic book writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman.

"Those poor guys," Reedus told EW, laughing. "That's another level of 'What the f—?' Those guys get hammered. Me, I can be like, 'Oh, it's great!' I can kinda get away with it because I don't write it and I don't know everything that is going to happen, but those poor guys. They bust their ass to give you this entertainment and pour their hearts on the line and then they just get 'What the f—, Scott Gimple? How could you do this to me!'"

Hey, all they had to do was show the result of what had been teased all season, even beyond that 90 minute episode. But anyway, Reedus said not to worry, The Powers That Be are earning the 6-7 month wait for the cliffhanger resolution.

"Trust me. I think probably the planet is going to explode. That's my feeling. It's so good. Every time we go on a promotional tour talking about what's going to come, we all say 'Oh my God, it's amazing. I can't wait for you to see it.' But it continually surprises me how this show grows and is put together and the execution of it – no pun intended. It blows my mind. It just continually reaches a new plateau every single time, and this is the highest plateau we've ever been. So just wait. It's worth the wait, trust me."

There's so much hype every season, but you have to imagine -- or at least hope -- that The Powers That Be went into this thing with a plan, knowing fans would react the way they did, and knowing they had a strong answer to not only satisfy those fans but launch another great 16-episode season. But here's the question: What would be worth the wait to you? A certain character being Negan's target? A new twist that changes the game? What would explode the planet?

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What's New on TV, Netflix, Digital, and DVD/Blu-ray This Week: May 30-June 5

At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's new on Netflix and TV, we've got you covered.

New Video on Demand, Rental Streaming, and Digital Only

"London Has Fallen"
It's Memorial Day in the U.S., so instead of watching our landmarks get blown up on screen, why not head across the pond and see how the U.K. likes it. "London Has Fallen" has its Digital HD release on May 31, then on disc/demand June 14. Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and company return for this sequel to "Olympus Has Fallen," following the aftermath of the British Prime Minster's death. Bonus features include "The Making of London Has Fallen," featuring interviews with cast and crew; and "Guns, Knives & Explosives," delving deeper into Butler's character, Mike Banning, and the extensive training he needed to play a Secret Service agent.

Check out this exclusive clip on the logistics of making the film, including making sure there are enough trousers for the actors to wear. Really!

"Hello, My Name Is Doris"
Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field leads an all-star cast (Max Greenfield, Beth Behrs, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Stephen Root, Natasha Lyonne) in this coming-of-age-story about a quirky 60-something woman who takes a chance on love with a much-younger new co-worker ("New Girl" star Greenfield). Catch it on Digital May 31, then Blu-ray and DVD June 14. Extras include an alternate opening, deleted and extended scenes, and filmmaker commentary.

"Strawberry Shortcake: Campberry Stories"
Here's one for the kids. (Or for you -- grown-ups can be Strawberry Shortcake fans, too. Not here to judge.) Follow SS and her friends on their annual campout in Very Beautiful Meadow when they decide to see who can tell the most outrageous story. It's available on Digital HD platforms May 31.

TV Worth Watching

"Roots" (Monday on A&E, Lifetime, and History at 9 p.m.)
This remake of the landmark 1977 TV miniseries will run over four consecutive nights, starting Memorial Day, simulcast on the History Channel and sister networks, A&E and Lifetime. The eight-hour miniseries stars Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, T.I., Matthew Goode, Mekhi Phifer, and James Purefoy, with Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte.

Watch the powerful trailer:

"POV: Of Men and War" (Monday on PBS at 10 p.m.)
Here's another strong option for Memorial Day viewing. This latest episode of PBS's POV documentary series follows a dozen combat veterans and their families as the soldiers undergo intense residential PTSD therapy at the Pathway Home, a unique specialized care facility. Filmmaker Laurent B├ęcue-Renard reveals the enduring consequences of PTSD and the role treatment can play in helping soldiers reclaim their lives.

"Outcast" (Friday at 10 p.m. on Cinemax)
Cinemax's new horror series, based on the comic by "The Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman, debuts June 3. "Outcast" follows Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), who has been plagued by possession since he was a child. He sets out to find answers, but what he discovers could mean the end of life on Earth. (Eh. That's OK. We had a good run.) The first season has 10 episodes and it already has a Season 2 renewal, so you don't have to worry about being left high and dry if you get hooked.

Check out the Season 1 trailer:

"Feed the Beast" (Sunday on AMC at 10 p.m.)
David Schwimmer and Jim Sturgess star in this new crime drama (based on a Danish series) about two best friends who open a restaurant together in their hometown of the Bronx. According to the AMC's synopsis, "Together, they take on the insanity of the New York restaurant world, and navigate its underbelly of petty criminals, corrupt officials and violent mobsters." The original start date was May 31, but it got moved to June 5, to air after "Preacher."

New on DVD and Blu-ray

"Triple 9"
A veteran cop and his rookie nephew uncover a conspiracy that hits close to home in "Triple 9," which arrives on DVD, Blu-ray, and On Demand May 31. Every other great actor in Hollywood is in this movie, including Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Kate Winslet, Clifton Collins Jr., Teresa Palmer, Michael K. Williams, and Gal Gadot. Extras include deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes look the making of the thriller.

Check out this exclusive deleted scene starring Woody Harrelson as Sgt. Detective Jeffrey Allen:

"Pride + Prejudice + Zombies"
The Bennett sisters and Mr. Darcy are force to slay zombies in the adaptation Jane Austen never saw coming for her classic novel. Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston Matt Smith, Charles Dance, and Lena Headey star in the film, which is out on DVD and Blu-ray May 31. The DVD has tw featurettes, and the Blu-ray has four featurettes, plus deleted scenes, a gag reel, and "Mr. Collins Line-o-rama."

"Gods of Egypt"
This is SPARTA! a pretty big week for Gerard Butler releases. You can watch him as London falls, and then here in Egypt for this battle between good and evil. Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau play rival gods Set and Horus, who both want to rule the universe. The Blu-ray and DVD, out May 31, include six featurettes, including behind-the-scenes videos on the costumes, hair, makeup, location, visual effects, stunts, action, and casting.
This sports biography, based on track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens's real-life triumphs at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, comes out on Blu-ray an DVD on May 31. Bonus features for both versions include "The Making of Race," with interviews from the cast and filmmakers' " Becoming Jesse Owens," featuring Stephan James and director Stephen Hopkins; and " The Owens Sisters," with Jesse's three daughters sharing unique insight into their father's life.

New on Netflix
It's a new month, and that means a ton of stuff is being added to Netflix as of June 1, and some other stuff is going bye-bye. Hold on to your butts, 'cause three of the new titles coming Wednesday are dino-mite:

"Jurassic Park" (1993)
"The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997)
"Jurassic Park III" (2001)

"Hibana: Spark" (Netflix Original)
Netflix is debuting Season 1 of this new series on June 2, based on the award-winning book by Naoki Matayoshi. It's set in Japan (with Japanese subtitles) and follows the friendship and conflict between two comedians who search for meaning in life and comedy.

"Pretty Little Liars" Season 6
Also on June 2, Netflix will start streaming the 20 episodes of PLL Season 6. You should have just enough time to watch them all before Season 7 premieres June 21 on Freeform.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

​Why Did 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' Tank at the Box Office?

It was supposed to be a competitive race this weekend, with two blockbuster sequels grabbing large hauls of Memorial Day weekend dollars. But it wasn't even close. As the holiday revelry ends, "X-Men: Apocalypse" stands as a modest superhero hit, while "Alice Through the Looking Glass" has fallen down the rabbit hole.

"X-Men" always had the edge, as it was opening on 400 more screens than "Alice." As it turned out, it debuted near the low end of expectations, with an estimated $65.0 million through Sunday and a likely $80 million for the four-day weekend. That's not up to the franchise's usual standards, but it's not terrible.

And it's far better than "Alice," which mustered only an estimated $28.1 million through Sunday, with a projected four-day weekend of $35.6 million. For a movie that cost a reported $170 million to make, that's a catastrophe.

What happened? Was "Alice" a foreseeable disaster? In some ways, although it did hit one iceberg that no one could have seen looming. Here are the four things that did "Alice" in.

1. Fox's "X-Men" Franchise Owns Memorial Day Weekend
Ten years ago, "X-Men: The Last Stand" set a Memorial Day weekend debut record, grossing $103 million from Friday to Sunday. "X-Men: Days of Future Past" premiered with $91 million over the three-day holiday two years ago. The "Apocalypse" opening means that the Marvel mutants now have three of the ten best Memorial Day debuts ever.

If Disney was counting on "Alice" to be rescued by superhero fatigue (this is, after all, the fourth major superhero saga released in the past four months) or on its own still-strong "Captain America: Civil War" to siphon off Marvel fans, well, neither of those things happened. Not even weak reviews (48 percent fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, 52 at Metacritic) could hold back the X-Men -- indeed, they got solid word-of-mouth, as indicated by an A- grade at CinemaScore.

2. James Bobin Is No Tim Burton
No slight intended toward the "Muppets Most Wanted" director, but he's not the household name, box office draw, or artistic visionary that the director of the initial "Alice in Wonderland" is. No wonder Burton's name popped up in some of Disney's marketing materials for "Through the Looking Glass," as if the director's contribution to the 2010 smash had anything to do with the current film.

Still, many consumers got wise, recognized that Burton sat this one out, and decided to do the same.

3. Those 3D Surcharges
The first "Alice" came out shortly after "Avatar" primed us all to pony up extra for 3D glasses. Six years later, American audiences are a lot more skeptical about the spectacles, and we'll cough up the surcharge for enhanced-format movies only if the imagery really warrants it. But Disney pushed 3D on potential "Looking Glass" ticketbuyers far beyond what the market would bear.

Of the 3,763 venues showing the movie, at least 3,100 were showing it in 3D. There are also 380 screens showing "Looking Glass" in IMAX, another 77 premium large format screens, and even 79 D-Box theaters that will jostle your seats in time with the events on the screen. If you didn't want to pay extra for any of that -- if you just wanted to see the movie in plain old 2D, on a normal-sized screen, on a seat that didn't move -- you had few options.

4. Those Angry Birds
Maybe Disney thought it would have the family-friendly field all to itself for a while, at least until its own Pixar release, "Finding Dory," opens in another three weeks. But after the stronger-than-expected debut of "The Angry Birds Movie" last weekend, "Alice" had some tough family competition.

Sony's cartoon fell 51 percent from last week's heights and still came in third with an estimated $18.7 million from Friday to Sunday.

Oh, by the way, kids also aren't tired of Disney's other two talking-critter movies, "The Jungle Book" and "Zootopia," both still in the Top 10. You'd think Disney would have spaced all these movies further out so as not to cannibalize itself. On the other hand, you'd also think Disney wouldn't wait six years to make an "Alice" sequel, long enough for the kids enchanted by the first movie to be in high school.

5. Those Bad Reviews
Critics weren't going to swallow from the "Drink Me" bottle again. They panned "Alice," giving it a 29 percent "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes and a 34 average at Metacritic. Not that kids read reviews, but their parents do. Actually, "Looking Glass" earned decent word-of-mouth from audiences, earning the same A- grade as "Apocalypse." But to generate word-of-mouth, you have to get them into the theater first.

6. Johnny Depp
Depp's not the box office draw he was six years ago. A string of flops, not to mention mannered performances in uninspired franchise movies ("Dark Shadows," "The Lone Ranger") has turned audiences off. Not that Disney would have replaced him as the Mad Hatter, but the studio had to have expected that he wouldn't add much to the film's box office appeal.

What Disney couldn't have known, however, was that, on the eve of the "Looking Glass" release, news would break that Amber Heard was filing to divorce Depp after just 15 months of marriage and was accusing him of being violent and abusive. Those are not the headlines you want when you're trying to launch a family film. How many moms and dads saw those reports and suddenly felt squeamish about putting money in his pocket or watching him play a harmless madcap on screen?
Don't feel too bad for Disney over "Alice's" stumble. The movie opened to an estimated $65.0 million overseas, where Depp remains a big star, and where viewers still like 3D. And Disney also crossed into $4 billion for the year so far -- with more than half the summer still to come.

Maybe foreign audiences can still save this movie, though they'll have to cough up about $540 million more just for "Looking Glass" to break even. Hey, it could happen. But on this side of the looking glass, the "Alice" sequel sure looks like a box office dud.

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'Game of Thrones' Showrunners Confirm THAT Was Coldhands

The TV series "Game of Thrones" and its parent series "A Song of Ice and Fire" parted ways once again tonight on Season 6, Episode 6, "Blood of My Blood."

Bran Stark's long lost Uncle Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle), First Ranger of the Night's Watch, returned for the first time since Season 1 when he rode in and saved Bran and Meera. What happened to him? He said a White Walker stabbed him in the gut with a sword of ice, and The Children of the Forest found him and stopped the WW's magic from taking hold by plunging a shard of dragonglass into his heart.

It sounded like Benjen was taking on the role of Coldhands, and the showrunners confirmed that after the episode aired. In the book series, Coldhands is a mysterious character with a wight's black hands from congealed blood, but the intelligence of a human; he guides Bran Stark and company North of the Wall.

Author George R.R. Martin had apparently shot down the fan theory that Coldhands was Benjen. So, in the book, the identity of Coldhands is still unknown, and book readers who watch the show were left a bit confused.

But the showrunners just openly called him "Coldhands Benjen" in the "Inside the Episode" video, so that's the show taking its own stand.

David Benioff: "Benjen was so important in the early episodes. He's an important character who just disappears. It's one of the mysteries that's been out there for several seasons and we've been looking forward to bringing him back."

Dan Weiss: "Coldhands Benjen obviously had a lot to do with the Three-Eyed Raven over the past several years since his disappearance and he's got a bit of window into Bran's purpose."

Benioff: "Bran had to absorb the history of the world, the entire history of the world in imagery. They talk about the Three-Eyed Raven, it's not just a title that you get. There's a part of him that's no longer Brandon Stark but is the Three-Eyed Raven and the Three-Eyed Raven is not entirely human."

Watch the full video, including those glimpses of the past (The Mad King!):

We still don't know exactly what Benjen has been doing, but co-executive producer Bryan Cogman, who wrote "Blood of My Blood," talked a little bit about the character in a Q&A with Entertainment Weekly:

And then there's the return of Benjen Stark. Perhaps no character in TV drama history has spent so much time off screen, going from the pilot to reappearing midway through season 6! Was this something you guys had always planned and what does it mean to actually gain a Stark on a show that's so notorious for killing them?

It's hard for me to talk about Benjen's return without getting into the nitty gritty of the adaptation process. But, yeah, season 6 is rife with Stark reunions! That's another thing that's been very heartening to track with the fans. The show is so sprawling and there are so many threads, but, at it's heart it's largely about this good family that was torn apart. So seeing some of them connect again (Jon, Sansa), (Benjen, Bran) was very satisfying to write and to shoot. And it was great to have Joe Mawle back with us – it must have been a trip for him to step back into the character after so long – but he's also decidedly not the Benjen of season 1, so that was fun to explore.

We'll have to wait and see how much more we can expect from Coldhands Benjen on "Game of Thrones." Read our full recap for more on "Blood of My Blood," including the promo for Episode 7.

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'Game of Thrones' Recap: Stark Surprises Save 'Blood of My Blood'

There's no shame -- shame! shame! shame! -- in admitting "Game of Thrones" Season 6, Episode 6, "Blood of My Blood," was not quite as strong as last week's emotionally traumatizing "The Door." Not every episode can leave us in chills, but this one left us with...

  1. 1. Arya entering 00Stark mode to survive, now that Jaqen H'ghar has OK'd the waif's dream of killing her;
  2. 2. Not one but TWO two major swords back in action;
  3. 3. A new (un)holy alliance between the crown and the Faith Militant (Tommen is so damn weak, Ser Pounce should claw his ass right off the Iron Throne);
  4. 4. Walder F--king Frey and Jaime Lannister ready to jump in on the Riverrun action Sansa and Brienne talked about last week;
  5. 5. The return of poor Edmure Tully, who soooo regrets ever agreeing to that wedding;
  6. 6. Daenerys Targaryen riding Drogon, then mic-dropping another grand speech about her Seven Kingdoms plans;
  7. 7. And another major Stark reunion in the random, but awesome, return of Uncle Badass Benjen Stark.

The last time we saw First Ranger Benjen Stark he told Jon Snow, "Here, a man gets what he earns, when he earns it." Apparently Uncle Badass earned some kind of saving from the Children of the Forest. He was killed and was going to be a wight but they saved him with some dragonglass to the heart? Or whatever? The Starks tend to have extreme luck -- good and bad -- and here's another one who kind of died but is now less dead than before, thanks to a last-minute save from an outsider. (LS would fit right into this theme.) And now that Arya has reunited with Needle, she seems like she's ready to join the other living Starks back in Westeros. (Find Nymeria!)

Read on for a recap of Episode 6:

THE MAP: This week, the intro map takes us to King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Vaes Dothrak, and Meereen.

The first shot is Meera walking as she tries to drag Bran, picking up directly from "The Door." Bran is still warging, and his visions flash through time. We see the Mad King ("burn them all!") Ned Stark asking for his sister, and more. Targaryen teases. Very interesting stuff to go back and rewatch and analyze later. Lots of clues in there, no doubt. Meera stops and cries. She can't seem to get Bran back. He sees Hardhome, the White Walkers, everything that has happened in time. Finally, he returns to the now. The wights are right behind them, though. Meera apologizes, she must think it's over. But a figure on a horse shows up to save them. LOVE that fireball chain. He's like the Grim Reaper with his hood. It's Benjen Stark, but not Coldhands of the book? (Didn't GRRM say, definitively, that Benjen was not Coldhands? Maybe that's another book-to-TV change.) "Come with me, now," he tells them. "The dead don't rest." So he's like the Terminator. Mixed with Aragorn. And Luke Skywalker. And Michonne. But mostly Benjen. Come with me if you want to live. So the Benjen return rumors were true, although it would be good to know how he became the Grim Wight Reaper. Where the heck has he been?

Later, Benjen says the Three-Eyed Raven sent for him. But he hasn't revealed he's Benjen yet. Benjen tells Bran the last time he saw Bran he was a fearless boy, fearless enough to climb the castle walls. Uncle Benjen shows his face. The Children plunged a shard of dragonglass in his heart? He's kind of like a White Walker, but not really...? The Night's King is coming. One way or another he will find a way south to the world of men, and when he does Bran will be there, ready. Great! But will Dany and the dragons be there and ready, too? 'Cause someone is going to need to bring a lot of dragon fire, Valyrian steel, etc., no?

Sam is a nervous talker on his ride back home. He didn't think he'd ever go back to Horn Hill. He also didn't tell his family that Gilly was a wildling since his father, Randyll Tarly, hates wildlings. Whatever. Sam the Slayer, you need to tell him you killed a White Walker and the real battle is North of the Wall. We see Sam's mom and sister, who are welcoming. Randyll and Sam's brother Dickon are on a hunt.

Gilly later shows up all dressed fancy for dinner. Sam says she's beautiful, and it's very sweet, but then things get cold at dinner. Randyll glares the whole time. Dickon brags about the day's hunt, and asks about hunting north of the Wall. Tell him about the White Walker! They think Gilly is from the North, like the Umbers, but not a wildling. Randyll fat shames Sam when Sam wants bread. Where is the Hound with a chicken rant when you need him? Bad daddy is not done, either, he complains that he thought Castle Black would make a man out of him. Gilly stands up for Sam and says he killed a Thenn and a White Walker. Dickon laughs. "He's a greater warrior than either of you will ever be." She says he killed a WW on the way down from Castle Black, and Randyll picks up on it. Where is she from? North of the Wall. She's a wildling. Yes, she is. Suck it, Dad. Randyll points out the sword Heartsbane, it's been in the family for 500 years. Valyrian steel. Oooohhh, they need that to kill WWs. The sword is supposed to go to his firstborn son after Randyll dies, but R says no way. Randyll would rather Gilly be a Mole's Town whore than a wildling. Someone needs to just grab the sword, stab bad daddy, and leave. Mom says Dad dishonors himself. At least someone will stand up to him. Dad says this will be the last night Sam spends at Horn Hill, but they'll raise "the bastard" and have Gilly in the kitchen. Gilly isn't mad at Sam, she's mad that horrible people treat good people and get away with it. Sam is meant to leave at first light. He decides Gilly and the baby will leave with him. "We belong together. All of us." So they sneak out, but not before Sam steals the sword. NICE. Well done, Tarly. Now what, though? Can't he just go back to The Wall at this point? Ditch the maester idea, it's not important. Bring the Valyrian steel where it's most needed.

Arya returns to watch more of the play, telling the story of King's Landing, and Joffrey's great death. Arya laughs at his death, but stops laughing when Lady Crane brings the emotion to play Cersei, grieving for Joff. Arya watches the actress who plays Sansa, who says the lines from afar. Arya goes backstage, she's supposed to kill Lady Crane, with a plan to poison the rum. Lady Crane says she saw Arya in the audience. She's seen the play three times. LC talks to her about sneaking into performances when she was younger. They talk about changing the script. The queen loves her son more than anything. He was taken from her before she got to say goodbye. She wouldn't just say goodbye. She would be angry. She would want to kill who did this to her. LC asks Arya's name, and if she likes being other people. Be an actress now, Arya! Arya knocks the rum out of LC's hand when she's about to drink it. She tells LC the other actress wants her dead. Oh, but the waif saw it. Arya knows she's in trouble, so she digs up NEEDLE! Yes! Two Valyrian swords back in action. (Forgot that Needle isn't Valyrian. It's still awesome, though.) The waif snitches on Arya, and Jaqen H'ghar says "Shame. The girl has many gifts." The wait wants to kill Arya, apparently he promised her, and she smirks as she leaves. Jaqen doesn't want Arya to suffer, but there's now a hit out on her. Run, 00Stark!

Tommen has another meeting with the High Sparrow. Apparently Margaery is devoting her life to the gods, or at least claiming to as a way to get out. Tommen gets to see his wife and asks if they mistreated her. (Yeah, they locked her up under his command.) Margaery says things will soon be better than they were before. Tommen wonders how, since she's meant to have her walk of atonement. But it doesn't sound like she's worried about that. Margaery, what is your game right now? She says the High Sparrow is more than they thought. She seems to be playing along with the High Sparrow's game, but... she tells Tommen she's had a lot of time to think about how much work she put into seeming good. She's relieved to let go of her lies. What about Loras, Tommen asks. She loves her brother; his soul is pure and perfect but he needs to atone for his sins. We all do, sooner or later, one way or another. (What is her scheme?)

Later, we see Jaime and Papa Tyrell (making a rather grandiose speech) on horseback with their army, heading for the High Sparrow and Margaery. It's a standoff. Margaery seems surprised to see her dad, and any backup Oh, and Lady Olenna is there, too. Jaime tells the High Sparrow they are there for Marg and Loras. Give them to us and we'll go away. Jaime and the horse climb up the stairs to block Margaery's walk. But there's no need. The High Sparrow says there will be no walk (which makes sense, since her hair is not cut). QS has already atoned for her sins by bringing another into the true light of the Seven. Enter King Tommen. They announce a new holy alliance between the crown and the faith. Together, Tommen says, they will restore the Seven Kingdoms to glory. Cersei is going to be pissed. Olenna says the High Sparrow has beaten them, that's what happened. So no fight? Shame!

Later, Tommen sits the Iron Throne and tells Jaime if you attack the faith you attack the crown, so Jaime is no longer fit to lead the Kingsguard. Tommen is now a slave to the High Sparrow. Tommen sends Jaime away from King's Landing. To Riverrun. Cersei says it's better he's elsewhere right now. Jaime says he's going to give Bronn money for an army so they can face the High Sparrow and kill him. But Cersei says if he kills the High Sparrow he won't live. She wants him to go to Riverrun to take back that stupid castle, because he can. Her trial is coming and she has the Mountain. She says they'll always be together, they are the only people in the world, and they make out. So he's leaving right before her trial? Hmmm. Doesn't seem like a good idea to leave her with no back-up, in these conditions.

Speaking of Riverrun, we go back to the Twins to hang out with that absolutely piece of filth, Walder Frey, who is now pissed that the Blackfish has reclaimed Riverrun. He wants the Freys to take Riverrun back. He's tired of bowing to the Tullys. The younger Freys say they don't have enough men to take Riverrun, but Walder won't hear it. He's tired of everyone laughing at them. He wants to remind the Tullys of the Red Wedding. They drag in poor Edmure Tully, but tell him to cheer up, 'cause he's going home.

Dany and Daario try to plan what's next. Get ships (take them from Euron?), sail for Westeros. Take what is mine. He says she wasn't meant to sit on a chair. She's a conqueror. She sees a dragon flying, and goes ahead. It's Drogon again, showing himself to everyone. He lands, with Dany on his back. Every khal who ever lived chose three bloodriders. She is not a khal. She won't choose three bloodriders, she will choose them all. She will ask more of them than any khal. Will they ride the wooden horses across the see? Will they kill her enemies in their iron suits? Will they give her the Seven Kingdoms, which Drogo promised? They are with her, now and forever. So that "I won't choose three bloodriders" doesn't mean she won't need two other dragon riders, right? Jon and Tyrion need to jump up. Speaking of Jon, isn't this the first episode this season that he was NOT in? And what happened to the other two dragons, that Tyrion visited?

Episode 7, which airs June 5, is called "The Broken Man" and has this synopsis: "The High Sparrow eyes another target. Jaime confronts a hero. Arya makes a plan. The North is reminded."

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