It looks like campaign season has begun.
Or rather, it looks like "The Campaign" season has begun, with Warner Bros. using Facebook today to kick off the marketing for the new Jay Roach political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.
Roach's last film was the HBO drama "Game Change," and part of his goal with that film was to stick very close to reality since he was depicting events from a real election that was held up to enormous media scrutiny. If he got the details wrong, we'd know immediately because of how the images from that primary season were burnt into our collective consciousness.
With "The Campaign," it looks like Roach decided to kick loose and go the other direction, cranking up the absurdity of our political machine, and hiring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis seems like a good step in that direction. Instead of releasing a conventional trailer, this morning sees three new videos online. The first is on the main Facebook page for the film and features Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) and Cam Brady (Ferrell) together. Then each of them also has their own Facebook page where they have posted attack videos aimed at each other.
It looks like campaign season has begun.
It is not unusual for studios to respond to real-world issues by changing titles, delaying films, or even altering content within the movie. This can be done for any number of reasons.
Anyone who has been following the Trayvon Martin story in Florida would likely understand 20th Century Fox's decision to change the title of their summer science-fiction comedy "Neighborhood Watch." The movie doesn't have anything to do with that situation or anything like it, but just knowing that George Zimmerman was a member of a neighborhood watch program and hearing that phrase on news story after news story had to be enough reason to get the studio nervous.
Today, they are set to officially announce the title change to "The Watch," and they'll do so with a debut of the new red-banded trailer for the film.
"I was shocked," said Clark Gregg, who reprises the role of Phil Coulson for the fourth time in "The Avengers", of first reading Joss Whedon's script. "As someone who's been in these movies, who loves these movies, who loved the comics, who knows these heroes, and who loves good writing, I didn't know how anyone was gonna do it."
Critics are shocked too - against all odds, the hugely-anticipated superhero film that could've gone wrong in a million different ways now stands at a whopping 94% "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, with Drew McWeeny (who chatted with Gregg and co-star Cobie Smulders during the film's recent press junket) giving the film an "A" in his own review. So what's the secret to Whedon's success?
"It's a magic trick," said Gregg. "The fact that it's so human, and so funny, and then so damn exciting...I don't know how he did it, so I'm kind of a little freaked out by him right now."
You can watch Drew's full interview with Gregg and Smulders (who appears in the franchise for the first time as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill) above!
"The Avengers" hits theaters on May 4.
It was during a set visit for the movie "Thor" that I met Tom Hiddleston for the first time.
He was in full costume as Loki at the time, and he was happy to be talking to reporters about his part in the film as Thor's brother and the instigator of much trouble. As with any Marvel visit, we were being carefully supervised the entire time by the film's producers, who were working hard to make sure no real secrets were revealed to us.
There was a mishap earlier in the day with video playback that meant we accidentally saw the first 1/3 of the film played back in high speed as a collection of footage, animatics, and artwork, and so I think people were even more on edge than normal. As we interviewed Hiddleston, Feige had to take a few steps away to take a phone call, and so we pressed our advantage as a group.
"Is it true you're going to also be the bad guy in 'The Avengers'?"
With the way Hollywood churns through material these days, we thought it was worth taking a look at the various sources they're pulling from and discussing what they might make from these books, games, TV shows, or whatever else they use. For today's column, we look at Jo Nesbo's 'The Snowman,' a crime novel set to be adapted by Martin Scorsese.
The seventh installment in the Harry Hole series, "The Snowman" is a Norwegian crime thriller about a serial killer and the cop who is determined to stop him. And, yes, it really is that simple.
Harry Hole is a deeply flawed man, an alcoholic who barely manages to keep his appetites under control, but his brilliance is what continually saves him from being fired. One of the few Norwegian officers to ever go to America for training by the FBI, he is also one of the only Norwegian officers to ever assist in the capture of a serial killer.
Samuel L. Jackson carries a lot of iconography into a room with him when he arrives somewhere.
My own kids, for example, already know him as Mace Windu. Allen's four, but he knows Jackson by sight and by sound. All he needs to do is hear his voice from another room, and he'll walk in, ready to see what Mace Windu is up to.
That can make things complicated when I'm playing a film like "Jackie Brown," and his dulcet tones draw the kids to the TV just in time to hear Jackson lay down a stream of perfectly timed motherf**kers. They're starting to realize he is in a lot of movies, and when they saw him on the posters for "The Avengers," they were excited.
He's got more to do this time around than in any of his previous appearances, and talking to him at the press day for the film, it seems like he's just warming up. He's happy to keep playing Nick Fury as long as they'll have him, and he's got a good handle on the character's whole history, making jokes about the David Hasselhoff version at one point in the day, eager to step into the Hasbro room to see the action figures. Right now, Marvel is working hard to bridge the classic rendition of Nick Fury into the Samuel L. Jackson image that they've developed.
It's such a tricky balancing act for a studio, deciding how many trailers to release for a big blockbuster movie and what to show, and I'm sure they feel nitpicked to death no matter what they do.
For example, I think the latest international trailer for "Prometheus" is very striking, filled with memorable images and lines, and I wish I'd never seen it. Holy cow, does that thing feel like they're on the verge of giving away the whole movie. They're not, and there are still some big surprises built in, but they've gone about as far as they can go at this point.
The folks over at Warner Bros. are walking a similarly fine line with "The Dark Knight Rises," the last film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. All day today, fans have been playing along with a viral campaign that has required some real-world legwork if people want to unlock the trailer. They've been hunting bat symbols painted all over the place, and once enough of them are found, the trailer goes live.
So what do we learn from this final trailer? Or at least, I assume this is final. They can't cut many more, can they?
What is "The Buffy Project," and why now?
Fair question. The "why now" is a simple matter of timing. And the "what"? Well, that's going to take a little longer to explain.
Scott Weinberg is the lead film critic for FEARNet, longtime editor and contributor to Cinematical, now also at Twitch and Movies.com. A hardworking dude who loves horror movies. LOVES horror movies. Is as passionate a critic of the genre as I've ever met. And he recently admitted that short of a few episodes here and there in no particular order, he had never seen "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" or "Angel."
I think that's something that horror or comic book fans should do if they haven't… watch those two shows, and watch them in the right order, and check out this big weird lovely universe that Joss Whedon and his team of glorious big-brained writers thought up for seven full years.
I think horror fans will be amazed at just how dark and ugly the shows get at times, and how they play for keeps. And comic book fans will recognize a certain shape to things that feels familiar as well. It's the combination of the two and the language of it that makes it all feel special, and that make it worth consideration.
It's not often that movie news breaks in Forbes, but in this case, it makes a perverse sort of sense.
When Mark Ruffalo signed on for "The Avengers," he had to sign the same kind of long-term deal that every actor signs for Marvel. He told me at the press day that he was signed for six films, with "The Avengers" as the first of the six. That doesn't mean he's absolutely going to actually make six full films, but Marvel has the option to press him into service several more times if they want to.
When I was at the press day at the Four Seasons, they had a Hasbro room set up, showing a number of products from their toy line this summer, and in talking with them, it was obvious that they had high hopes for the Hulk. Evidently, even with the earlier films, the Hulk has always been a strong seller for them. The new version of the Hulk Hands are flying off shelves already, and once people actually see the film, that's only going to intensify, since Ruffalo and his big green alternate identity are highlights of the film.
"Mary Poppins" is not the film I thought it was.
Growing up, I saw the film many times, and I always enjoyed it. It's hard not to enjoy the film. A passion project for Walt Disney, it was lavished with every bit of tender loving care he could muster, and director Robert Stevenson did a wonderful job of creating this eccentric, artificial version of London and filling it with strange and memorable characters. I loved the songs by the Sherman Brothers, and I thought Mary Poppins herself was, as she says, practically perfect in every way.
Seeing this as a kid, I thought it was a film about two kids who are so bad that they can't keep a nanny, until they finally get a magical nanny, and she turns them into good kids. It's not a film I spent a lot of time watching over the last quarter-century, despite my affection for it, so my misunderstanding of the film became sort of ossified and like many films, my opinions and attitudes about it were shaped at a time when I had a very different perspective on most things than I do now.
In particular, I was not a parent the last time I saw the movie.