A new column examines what might have been with Brad Pitt and 'To The White Sea'
Credit: Paramount Pictures

A new column examines what might have been with Brad Pitt and 'To The White Sea'

A mysterious theater gives us a look at a film that should have been made

THE CORNER SHOW #1
discovered and curated by Drew McWeeny

The following is the first installment in a new regular feature here at HitFix. People are fascinated by stories of films that were almost made, and we've certainly dug into that subject in the past. This is a new way of doing that in an ongoing format, and we hope you enjoy what is meant to be a game, a fun way of looking at an alternate movie history.

It is safe to say that I had a very challenging 2014. So maybe what happened was a complete break with reality. Who could blame me? There's only so much anyone can take, and I've certainly had my own limits tested recently.

So trust me.. at first, I considered forgetting all about what happened this past weekend and never writing a word about it. But it was so strange and so special that before I get underway with our regularly scheduled programming, I feel like I have to write this up and share it.

Let's be clear. You're not going to believe what I have to tell you today.

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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets dangerous with addition of 'The Raid 2' stunt team
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets dangerous with addition of 'The Raid 2' stunt team

Oh, man, I hope they give that one dude laser knives

Even the staunchest haters of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," will most likely admit a grudging respect for the way Ray Park brought Darth Maul to life. Casting a talented stunt performer who could also act was the smartest thing Lucas did in that whole film, because Park brought that physicality to everything he played in the film, even when he was just pacing.

When I recently posted my "Top Ten Of 2014" list, I had "The Raid 2" right there at #10 on the list. I think it's an incredibly made film, and a big part of that is because the stunt team on that movie is top-notch, unrelenting, and precise in a way that allows them to do things that look impossible. As you can see in the piece embedded at the top of this article, I spoke with Iko Uwais, the star of the film, at Sundance a year ago. I think these guys are crazy good at what they do.

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The curious case of Rotten Tomatoes and 'The Brass Teapot'
Credit: Magnolia Pictures

The curious case of Rotten Tomatoes and 'The Brass Teapot'

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
A look at a different aspect of the relationship between filmmakers and critics

A little over a week ago, I got an e-mail from Stuart Zakim, a publicist I've heard from a few times in the past, and I scanned it, as I try to scan everything that hits my e-mail box.

Here's where I'm going to give you a look at how the sausage gets made. For the most part, I write based on instinct and time and opportunity. I would like to write ten times the material I write at the moment, because there are that many things I'd like to share with you. There are that many things worth discussing. And every time I feel the moment to discuss something slip by, and I don't get a chance to write about something, it drives me crazy.

So one of the things I try not to get pulled into is what I like to call "other people's priorities." That sounds heartless, and there are moments where it feels heartless, but I have to have some rules about what I'll cover. There are things that are obviously very important to the people who are e-mailing me, and considering I get about 30 of those a day on slow days and sometimes many more than that, there's absolutely no way I can even begin to do that for all of them.

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Neill Blomkamp reveals some thrilling concept art for an unmade 'Alien' film
Credit: Neill Blomkamp

Neill Blomkamp reveals some thrilling concept art for an unmade 'Alien' film

You can tell 'Aliens' is this guy's favorite movie

What the heck was Neill Blomkamp working on?

In several interviews he gave in 2013, Blomkamp said that he would love to do an "Alien" film, but I don't remember ever hearing any official news that he had been hired to do any development towards that goal. I remember him saying that "Aliens" was his favorite film of all time at a special "Elysium" event as well, so it's something that is in his blood.

Yesterday, though, Blomkamp decided to start the New Year off with a blast. He posted eight images to his Instagram account that suggest that he was indeed developing an "Alien" movie. His captions also suggest that the movie is now dead. From his comments on Twitter, it sounds like he never had the gig officially, but instead was working on this material as a thing he wanted to pitch to the studio at some point, and for whatever reason, his enthusiasm has now cooled and he seems to be off to other projects.

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Here we go, 2015

The first day of 2015 is drawing to a close, and I'm watching my first movie of the year.

I remember enjoying "Sleepy Hollow" when it came out, and I'm struck again by how much fun it looks like both Burton and Depp are having all the way through. It doesn't work 100%, but considering how much I genuinely loathe "Alice In Wonderland," it's hard to believe it's the same creative team a mere decade earlier.

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2015's most anticipated movies from 'Star Wars' to 'SPECTRE'
Credit: HitFix

2015's most anticipated movies from 'Star Wars' to 'SPECTRE'

We showcase 40 of the most exciting titles from the year ahead

What lands a film a spot on our "most anticipated" list?

That was a question we discussed internally as we started voting on the films on this list, and 2015 is a particularly dense year for releases. So many movies, so many big movies, and so many reasons to be excited.

We ended up using a hard-to-quantify mix of our own personal interests, the buzz that we've sensed from you, our readers, as we've been covering these films so far, and a sense based on other things we've seen and heard that add up to a movie we believe will be part of the larger conversation in some significant way.

Is it any surprise that "Star Wars" is on top of this list? From the morning the news broke that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm, there has been an amazing amount of scrutiny placed on every single tidbit of information about the plan for how to bring "Star Wars" back to life. And even so, JJ Abrams has done an exceptional job at controlling how much information is out there, so there's plenty of room for discovery ahead for audiences as the next year unfolds.

That's a big part of anticipation. There are plenty of movies that arrive in theaters already fully digested by pop culture, so the release of the film feels almost like an anti-climax. For the films on this list, we're counting on there being plenty that you don't know, plenty of surprises still to be had, and plenty of pleasures ahead. It's such an exciting year that we pushed our original 25 spots on the list to a full 40, and we still feel like there's plenty we missed.

Here it is. Dig in. Let us know which ones of these you're excited about, and which ones we've convinced you about, and what you feel like we should have included. And then buckle up because 2015's going to be a big one, end to end.

Vote for your most anticipated movie of 2015 in the poll below.

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Yipee Ki Yay! Film Nerd 2.0 shares a 'Die Hard' and 'Scrooged' holiday double-feature
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Yipee Ki Yay! Film Nerd 2.0 shares a 'Die Hard' and 'Scrooged' holiday double-feature

Perhaps not the most conventional of holiday fare, sure, but effective

Toshi feels emboldened these days, and he's getting a bit ahead of himself.

After he saw "The Terminator," he spent an afternoon going through my Blu-ray shelves and moving things around. It always makes me laugh when he leaves because I can see exactly what he's been thinking about. He's got a bunch of R-rated movies on his mind, and for the vast majority of them, he's out of his mind. No way. Not for years still.

But there are some films that are going to sneak into the rotation, and this year, I was given a very clear mandate for one of the weekends the boys spent here: Christmas movies only. The boys were in a particularly rowdy mood when we got together, and at the end of the day, I told the boys they were going to get a double-feature if they got totally ready for bed before the movies. Pajamas were changed into, pillows and blankets moved out to the couch, and we settled in for an evening together.

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Review: Fairy-tale mash-up 'Into The Woods' feels stagebound and small as a movie
Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Review: Fairy-tale mash-up 'Into The Woods' feels stagebound and small as a movie

HitFix
C+
Readers
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Rob Marshall's really not good at this, folks

It is not the fault of anyone involved with "Into The Woods" that in the time since the musical originally opened on stage, it has been rendered redundant. When it opened on Broadway in 1987, one of the things that made it stand out was just how much of a post-modern spin it put on the entire notion of happily ever after. In the decades since then, pop culture has turned into one giant "don't take any of this too seriously" wink, and fairy tales have been deconstructed so completely that it feels like this has been completely digested already.

Besides, part of me is almost convinced that Sondheim just doesn't work on film.

We're talking about a show that won the Tony for Best Score, Best Book and Best Actress, beating the 900-pound gorilla of the year, "The Phantom Of The Opera." Impressive, and it cleaned up at the Drama Desk Awards as well, where it actually took Outstanding Musical. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine are long-time collaborators who seem to innately understand one another, and they both understand theater on an almost molecular level. When you see one of their productions, they are in total control.

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Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' reportedly banned by Egypt and Morocco

Ridley Scott's 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' reportedly banned by Egypt and Morocco

Historical inaccuracy is the least of the movie's problems

Part of my Christmas Eve was spent watching the HD copy of "The Interview" that I bought on my XBox One, happily supporting Sony's decision to make it available at home as well as in any of the indie theaters who were willing to book the movie for its Christmas Day release.

Over the last week or so, I've done a number of interviews in which people wanted to talk about what happened with "The Interview," and one of the words that I've heard bandied about repeatedly was "banned." I was asked a few times about what got "The Interview" banned, and I had to explain that nobody had banned the movie. That's a near-total misunderstanding of the situation, or an egregiously wrong choice of words.

The truth is that there are very few movies that can claim to have been banned by or in the United States. There is a broader conversation to be had about the way there are economic restrictions imposed on films based on their content all the time, and how the MPAA's ratings board absolutely should answer for the way they use their most difficult ratings as a way of forcing certain types of films completely out of the mainstream. Technically speaking, though, films don't get banned here.

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'Entourage' trailer is big and slick and instantly divisive
Credit: Warner Bros.

'Entourage' trailer is big and slick and instantly divisive

How about that Mark Wahlberg cameo?

The "Entourage" movie trailer has been online for about twenty minutes at this point, and I've already seen a remarkable divide emerge between people who are excited for it and think it looks awesome and people who are making jokes about needing to shower in Valtrex after seeing the trailer.

If nothing else, then, it seems like they've upped the production value of "Entourage" just based on this first glimpse at the way the movie looks. Just that opening bit, from what I assume is the movie within the movie, looks like a real movie, something that they never quite pulled off on the show, no matter how hard they tried.

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