A few weeks ago, I flew to Orlando to visit Harry Potter.
To be fair, I went to visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, part of the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure park, and to participate in the press day for the release of the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" Blu-ray release. When I was invited, I had no idea who would be there, but I wanted to go and participate in what may well be the last major press event for the Potter series.
Oddly, I've never interviewed anyone associated with the Potter series during the entire run of the thing. Since 2001, I've been an observer, and that's been fine. At Ain't It Cool, Quint was the Potter superfreak, and I didn't feel like there was any reason to fight him on it. And here at HitFix, it's been a matter of timing that's led to other people going to London for various Potter set visits and press days.
It's been okay, though, because it's one of those things that was fun to watch as a finished product all the way through. I saw the Potter series the same way the public did, and because I never walked through the sets, never sat down with the cast, never really peeked behind the curtain. Hogwarts is just as substantial to me as it was to any other viewer.
A few weeks ago, I flew to Orlando to visit Harry Potter.
Ahhh, the fine art of rumormongering.
Over the weekend, we got involved in a bit of a friendly back and forth with Latino Review over "Star Trek 2," or whatever the film's finally going to be called. They published the news that Benicio Del Toro was playing Khan Noonien Singh in the new sequel that is set to start shooting just after the start of the year, and we contacted JJ Abrams directly to ask him to comment. "Not true," he said.
Now it seems that Del Toro dropped out of negotiations to star in the film last Wednesday, and according to Vulture, Abrams is now looking to cast someone else as Khan. They claim they have a very highly-placed source and that, like Latino Review, they're hearing Khan is indeed the bad guy.
Technically, if negotiations broke down on Wednesday, then when I asked Abrams if Del Toro was playing the part on Friday, his "not true" is accurate no matter what the part is. After all, he didn't send a giant response detailing who is or isn't the bad guy he's using in the film, so he could very well have been playing by the rules, answering the question he was asked while volunteering nothing else.
I always loved the way an actor could show up in more than one role in the "Star Trek" universe, and it looks like Peter Weller is going to pull the same trick now as he steps up to play a major role in the new "Star Trek" sequel.
He previously showed up in a two-episode guest role for "Star Trek: Enterprise," which of course is just part of his science-fiction resume. He is most famous for being the original (and in my world, only) Robocop, but he's also appeared on shows like "Odyssey 5" and in films like "Leviathan" or "Screamers" or, most wonderfully, "Buckaroo Banzai."
Little by little, we're starting to see the shape of this new cast, and I like it. I'm excited to see Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto pick up the characters again, surrounded by that cast including Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, and John Cho, and I think it's obviously very important who you play them off of now that they're a crew.
There are two things you should know before you read this.
First, El Mayimbe of Latino Review has a very, very high accuracy rate with the scoops he breaks. No one is perfect, but he's got a track record that demands that you pay attention when he runs something.
Second, JJ Abrams has never directly lied to me about something. He's demurred when asked some questions, and he's played coy about some things, but outright fabrication does not appear to be his bag.
So… take those two things into account when I tell you that Latino Review is reporting that Benicio Del Toro will be playing Khan Noonien Singh in the upcoming sequel to 2009's successful reboot of "Star Trek."
And when asked to comment on the report, Abrams responded with two very direct words: "Not true."
I have had a weird week. It's been really hard getting anything done because I feel like the whole day is taken up with the end of school for the year for the boys, or dealing with holiday stuff in general, or seeing about 800 movies at the last minute to make sure I feel like I've got my bases covered before I record my voice-over for this year's "10 Best Of The Year" video.
But while I'm here tonight, I'd like to catch up on a few stories that I think are worthwhile or exciting or reasons for optimism. I want to feel good about some movie news for a little while. And what better to kick that off with than news about Jane Goldman?
It still seems hard to believe that not everyone understands yet that Jane Goldman is awesome, since it's a scientifically established fact. I've spent enough time with her and with her primary creative partner so far in movies, Matthew Vaughn, that I have a fair sense of their chemistry, and I feel confident in saying that Jane is a force to be reckoned with. Whip-smart, with a voracious appetite for genre, she's got a natural deconstructionist's mind, but tempered with a real love of the flawed humanity of her characters.
With one of the largest theater chains in the country refusing to carry "Shame" because of its NC-17 rating, I'm not going to bet on the film breaking box-office records this weekend, but I certainly hope it does well.
First, I hope it does well because I'd love to see a serious film with that rating make enough money to justify other studios taking the chance. "Shame" is strong stuff, but it's not sleazy the way "Showgirls" was, and I think it justifies the notion of an "adult film" that isn't just an excuse for barely-disguised pornography.
Second, I just plain like the movie, as I said in my original review from the Toronto Film Festival. I'm excited for Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender to both get a big career boost out of this one. McQueen has proven himself to be a director of note with only two films under his belt so far, and Fassbender is one of this year's big breakout stars for good reason. When we look back at this year, we're going to think of two performers who really made a splash, and I think both Fassbender and Jessica Chastain are just getting warmed up.
About a week ago, I made the joke that things were starting to get ugly on the whole "Dr. Who" movie thing, but I didn't realize that it was going to really heat up, and tonight on Twitter, things got very confusing very quickly.
This all began when Variety ran a story a few weeks back in which David Yates was named as the director of a "Dr. Who" bigscreen film. Yates talked about how they were looking for writers and just starting development on the project. "We're going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena," he said. Those are some pretty specific quotes, and Yates also said he was going to be working with Jane Tranter, BBC Worldwide's LA-based exec VP of programming and production.
The thing is, no one said anything to Steven Moffat, and that's a problem.
Tonight at around midnight LA time, Moffat tweeted the following:
"To clarify: any Doctor Who movie would be made by the BBC team, star the current TV Doctor and certainly NOT be a Hollywood reboot."
He followed that up about ten minutes later with a second tweet:
If there is any section of Sundance that I can claim as my own here at HitFix, it is Park City at Midnight. Just as Greg Ellwood is our primary guy for the Competition sections, since those are the film most likely to end up in the conversation about awards as the year progresses, it makes sense for me to cover the midnight movies because I am King Nerd of the HitFix team.
This year's line-up is immediately interesting, and it's funny how many overlaps I can already see in this year's programming, places where you'll have one person in Park City to represent several films. Makes sense, too. There's a momentum that starts to gather around certain people, and sometimes they're just having a moment and it seems like everything's ready at the same time. It's not just at festivals, of course. Steven Spielberg's having a big fat crazy December in theaters in the US, with both "The Adventures Of Tintin" and "War Horse" opening within days of one another. But when it happens at a festival, it can create some really strange and fun echoes that link films that otherwise have nothing in common.
Even as we begin to wrap up 2011, we begin the adventure for 2012 with today's announcements of the first wave of titles for next year's Sundance Film Festival. I'm in the middle of running down my last few films for this year, and I'm focused on just making it to December 9th, when my year is sort of officially over. The reward for all of this work?
A blank slate, and as of today, I get to start figuring out what my January looks like.
This afternoon, the Sundance Institute released the line-ups for several of the sections of this year's festival, including the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions. Our team has already published the full line-up as announced, section by section, and you can see those here and here and here. HitFix will be in Park CIty to cover the festival of course, starting with the kickoff of January 19th, and I'm already overwhelmed just based on this early list of things.
Sundance says they've chosen 110 feature-length films from 31 countries, with 46 first-time directors in the mix. We'll get a look at some of the more adventurous sections of the festival, like NEXT, New Frontier, and of course Park City At Midnight tomorrow, and I'm sure many of my immediate must-sees will come from those lists. For now, though, let's look at the sections they have announced:
It's no fun when a campaign simply isn't working for me.
Especially when the film in question comes from a director I'm very intrigued by, features a cast that has real potential, and is based on a property I've loved since childhood. "John Carter" should be a film that has me on the hook from day one, a film I can't wait to see. At this point in the campaign, with the film coming out in March, I should be frothing at the mouth, ready to go, dying to see how the whole thing comes together.
I'm curious, certainly, but this week's launch of the new poster and the new trailer have left me just as cautious as I've been each step of the way so far. I think I just don't get the hook of this campaign, and that's totally removed from what I know about the film or the original Edgar Rice Burroughs books about a Civil War veteran who ends up embroiled in a new conflict on Mars or the various behind-the-scenes goings-on for this one. Just looking at the trailers and the posters, I'm interested in a "there are aliens and spaceships so I'll be there" sort of way, but not in a specific "you've got me" sort of way yet. Carter himself is so bland in these materials that it seems odd to have the film be named after him when he's the least dynamic thing we're seeing in the materials.