LOS ANGELES — The story of Fox's current "Planet of the Apes" franchise is very much about what Andy Serkis and his team have been doing in the realm of performance capture. Each film so far has represented a significant step forward, and the next installment will surely represent yet another leap. Serkis had all of this in mind recently when he stepped into the HitFix studio to discuss the film, which is now being positioned for awards by the studio with Serkis in the midst of a Best Supporting Actor campaign.
A year after the industry-rattling announcement that Walt Disney Pictures had acquired LucasFilm and planned on moving forward with hew "Star Wars" movies, there were vague reports that George Lucas and prequel trilogy sound mixer Gary Rydstrom were collaborating on an untitled animated film. Further digging revealed that the project may have been in the works since 2010. Without Disney or LucasFilm confirmations, the project was filed under rumors and left alone. Now, the joint companies have unearthed the long-gestating project on their own. "Strange Magic" will suddenly arrive in January 2015.
To makeover actor Eddie Redmayne into Stephen Hawking, whose could still sneak out a smile through a physical body mangled by disease, makeup designer Jane Sewell avoided all things Hawking. Forget about Benedict Cumberbatch’s biopic "Hawking." And definitely no "Simpsons" cameos. She wouldn’t even watch Errol Morris’s "A Brief History of Time" documentary. Save for reference photos, Sewell had blinders up to any Stephen Hawking appearance. If there was existing pop culture that helped her with the job, it would probably be "Absolutely Fabulous."
Emma Donoghue's "Room" is a tremendous book. Centering on a mother and son locked up against their will in a finished shed, under watch by a man they know little about, the story blossoms from a self-contained kidnapping narrative into an emotionally complex character study as psyches crack. The novel’s structure would prove difficult to adapt in typical three-act screenplay structure. That isn’t stopping "Frank" and "What Richard Did" director Lenny Abrahamson, who starts shooting his adaptation of "Room" with a cast capable of tacking its physically demanding roles.
Rupert Wyatt's "The Gambler," which premiered at the 2014 AFI Fest Monday night, puts a stylish spin on Karel Reisz's 1974 James Caan drama of the same name. In adapting James Toback's original script, Oscar winner William Monahan ("The Departed") has laced it with crackling dialogue and heady witticisms that land like cards of a rapid fire blackjack deal. Greig Fraser has captured it in cool digital hues with '70s lenses that pay tribute to an era. And Mark Wahlberg, seemingly starved down to a 60-pounds-less frame, anchors it with a performance that is committed and interesting, a complete 180 from the popcorn blast of the summer's "Transformers: Age of Extinction." But will it find a jackpot from the Oscar season or a bad beat?
It's going to be a busy night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood Tuesday night. Paramount had initially set a footage presentation for 6pm in tandem with AFI Fest. Then a secret screening was added to the slate following that event. Then, suddenly, Paramount decided to run with a full exhibition of "Selma," while AFI Fest has revealed the title of the secret screening: Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper."
LOS ANGELES — You might not know who Shep Gordon is, but you've certainly felt his impact. As a manager extraordinaire who has shepherded the careers of everyone from Alice Cooper and Teddy Pendergrass to Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck, Gordon has had a wild ride. He was there for the early rock explosion, not just rubbing shoulders with people like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, but working with them, figuring out the business of show with a whole crop of exciting artists as a defining fixture of that bedrock. Naturally, then, someone was going to be interested in trying to capture that presence in a film.
Do the Hollywood Film Awards matter? Ask publicists and film marketers eager to lap up any and all opportunities to position movies and talent this time of year, then yeah, they do. Have they long been a ham-fisted attempt to capitalize on awards season and a scheme to line one ambitious individual's pockets? Ask the same group and you'll get another affirmative. "I don't want to deal with this, but I guess I have to," one deflated publicist told me of the upcoming show, which will be broadcast for the first time ever on CBS Friday.
Ladies and gentlemen, Emma Stone has come out of the "Amazing Spider-Man" fire and survived.
After almost three years of pretty much filming the Sony franchise flicks back to back, she's finally getting to stretch her wings again. The latest reminder of her incredible talent is her performance as Sam, Michael Keaton's big screen daughter in Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman." The drama, centered on a former Hollywood superstar (Riggan Thompson) attempting to revive his career on Broadway, is one of the most acclaimed films of the year. Stone brings an unexpected depth to Sam and she's generated serious Best Supporting Actress buzz for her work.
For awhile, Ava DuVernay’s "Middle of Nowhere" follow-up "Selma" looked like Paramount Pictures’s perpetually-teased-never-shown December holdout, a big question mark for Oscar season. The movie only wrapped production over the summer. Post-production was racing towards a release date. Would it be done in time? Fear not: The Martin Luther King Jr. drama will scrap its plans to screen 30 minutes of exclusive footage at the currently-running AFI Festival and let the entire feature out of the gates.