Paranormal Activity 2

Never give your dog and your baby coffee before bed.

Credit: Paramount

Want to see 'Paranormal Activity 2' in Hollywood this Wednesday?

10 talented writers can win VIP passes to the event and skip the line!

Attention all LA area horror fans who want to see "Paranormal Activity 2" before everyone else in the universe:

Paramount Pictures will be holding a special FREE midnight screening at the Arclight Hollywood this Wednesday, October 20th.

They ask that you arrive early, as the line will begin forming at 4:00PM. Seating will be first come first served. Folks who RSVP and show up will get free food and a chance to win prizes like iPads, XBoxes and more cool stuff. (full details in flyer after the jump)

Don't feel like lining up for hours? HitFix has secured 10 VIP passes for Motion/Captured readers, make the jump to find out how to get yours!

A word of warning, though.  This will require you to either tell your best true-life ghost story, or to come up with one that makes us believe it's true.  The very best of them will be excerpted this Wednesday in the Morning Read in addition to winning one of those 10 VIP passes.

Ready for the details?

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<p>One of the highlights of 2009's 'The Hangover' was the cameo appearance by Mike Tyson, and now it looks like the big celebrity cameo for the sequel has already been spoiled by overeager headlines.</p>

One of the highlights of 2009's 'The Hangover' was the cameo appearance by Mike Tyson, and now it looks like the big celebrity cameo for the sequel has already been spoiled by overeager headlines.

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

The Morning Read: Did the internet just ruin 'The Hangover 2' celebrity cameo surprise?

Plus more on Marvel/Disney/Paramount and a look at the Green Lantern's Power Battery

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Without question, the biggest news of the morning is the announcement that Disney will be releasing "Iron Man 3" and "The Avengers."  It was inevitable, but I think everyone watching the situation from the outside expected this to be a long and ugly legal process, if not an outright war.  Instead, this one settlement makes it all go away, and the march towards "The Avenges" continues without hesitation or incident, it seems, exactly as Marvel wants.

Look, you may not like the face of modern event movies.  You may not like the movies Marvel makes.  But there is no way to argue now that they've been anything less than uncanny about trying to build a Marvel Universe onscreen.  I'm amazed this played out the way it did because it's such a defining moment for Paramount.  I like the folks over there, and I think they've had a really strong run of big movies in the last few years, with some very smart salesmanship on some tricky titles.  I also think they've got the sort of team that knows what to do when you hand them a giant "Duh" home run, and that's not always true.  I've seen great movies that should have been hits wildly mishandled many times.  Paramount has had plenty of lean years creatively, too, though, even in the time since I've started doing this job, and the loss of Marvel is something that has to be seriously considered over there.  Taking a cash payout instead of dragging things into court for a possible piece of profits is a reasonable outcome, but it's also a choice that marks a quiet passage from one era of Paramount to the next.

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<p>Nick Frost and Simon Pegg headline the SF/comedy road trip movie 'Paul,' and Universal just released the first teaser trailer.</p>

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg headline the SF/comedy road trip movie 'Paul,' and Universal just released the first teaser trailer.

Credit: Universal

Watch: The first teaser trailer for Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in 'Paul' is online now

Meet the title alien as voiced by Seth Rogen in the first peek at the film

Simon Pegg just posted an early morning Monday surprise on Twitter, a link to the first teaser trailer for the new SF/comedy "Paul."

There was a really strong presentation for this one at Comic-Con this summer, and this teaser trailer offers up a good long look at the title character, a classic gray alien trapped on Earth who escapes from Area 51 and hooks up with two comic nerds from the UK who are enjoying a post-Comic-Con road trip together.

I was curious to see how Universal was planning to handle Paul in the advertising.  I guess the only way you can handle him is to offer up a full-on here-he-is introduction like this.  Anything else would be disingenuous, and I think Universal knows it.

I'm excited to see what happens when you combine totally different comic voices like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and Kristen Wiig and Jason Bateman and Bill Hader and Jane Lynch and Sigourney Weaver and Seth Rogen and Greg Mottola.  It's a pretty strong line-up of people involved.

It's a very different sense of humor than "Shaun Of The Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," and I think seeing what happens when these guys step outside their comfort zone of working with Edgar Wright is important.  When Edgar stepped away, the result was "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," so that seems to have been worthwhile.

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<p>The last time Hollywood got hot and bothered about Christopher Columbus, this happened.&nbsp; Have we forgotten already?</p>

The last time Hollywood got hot and bothered about Christopher Columbus, this happened.  Have we forgotten already?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

McG and Richard Branson team up on a '300'-style take on Christopher Columbus

The promise of cultural insensitivity bordering on lunacy makes this almost too good to believe

Okay, I love this story.  I love everything about this story.

Richard Branson is one of those guys who has so much money and so much clout that he can pretty much do whatever he wants.  I love his airplanes.  LOVE them.  Flying Transatlantic in Virgin Upper Class was one of the few truly great experiences I've ever had in the air.  If I could fly Virgin America everywhere, I would.  I'm not at all shocked that he's finally turned his attention to the notion of movie making.  Figured it was just a matter of time.

He's going to be co-producing with Relativity Media, and they've picked their first film to make together.  If it's any indication of what sort of films we can expect from their collaboration, then I'm excited because if there's one thing I love, it's big expensive terrible movies.

"Columbus," a spec script by T.S. Nowlin, sold to Virgin Produced with McG attached to direct the film.  Here's the best part… Deadline describes the film as "a '300'-style film about Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America."

I can understand why Richard Branson would want to make a film that celebrates the idea of exploration and discovery.  That's his whole identity summed up.  But when I read "a '300'-style film about… his discovery of America," that suggests an action movie.  I hope it's full of completely insane battle sequences with Columbus and his army of super-ripped sailors filling lots and lots of Evil Injuns as they take the New World by force.

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<p>Martin Freeman</p>

Martin Freeman

Credit: AP

'Hobbit' casting rumors kick into high gear with Martin Freeman, Michael Fassbender and more

At least one former 'Doctor Who' may join the cast as well

Now's when things start getting interesting.

Until this point, any and all conversation about casting for "The Hobbit" has been little more than a game of hypotheticals for fans.  Now, with the announcement having been made officially that Peter Jackson will direct both films in 3D, casting is underway for the film's February start date.

Obviously the biggest question regarding "The Hobbit" has to be "Who will play Bilbo Baggins?"  In my article about the greenlight being given, I stated my preference, one I've been saying in public for a few years now.  Imagine my joy at the idea that Martin Freeman, best known as Tim from the original "Office," might actually turn out to be the man they hire for the job.  Most recently, he played Watson in the exceptional new BBC series, "Sherlock," and it's a reminder of just what a great combination of open curiosity and wry wit he's capable of given the right material.  He's an exceptional choice for the role, and if it's true he's first on the list, I think Jackson and company may have hit a home run.

There are obviously going to have to be returning cast members like Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis, but for the most part, "The Hobbit" offers dozens of new roles, great roles, and it's going to give Jackson a lot of room to put together amazing actors from around the world to help bring this new corner of Middle-earth to life.  Right now, we're starting to hear names like David "Dr. Who" Tennant and Jimmy Nesbitt being mentioned, although without any particular character name attached.  I'm pleased to see Michael Fassbender also in contention for a role in the film, and if all of these guys end up in one film together, it's going to be an embarrassingly good cast.

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<p>I'm guessing Peter Jackson feels like this was a lifetime ago, and yet he's headed back to Middle-earth for two 'Hobbit' films now that Warner has given him the greenlight</p>

I'm guessing Peter Jackson feels like this was a lifetime ago, and yet he's headed back to Middle-earth for two 'Hobbit' films now that Warner has given him the greenlight

Credit: New Line Cinema

Official: Peter Jackson directing two greenlit 'Hobbit' films

Some details remain to be determined, but the biggest choice of all has been made

And in the end, we all get what we wanted in the first place.

Warner Bros. has officially confirmed that the greenlight has been given for Peter Jackson to direct two "Hobbit" films article with production set to start in February 2011.

In an official press release, Jackson says, "Exploring Tolkien's Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal film-making experience."  I'd say that's an understatement.  Maybe we've forgotten a bit at this end of the decade just how unreal the entire proposition sounded when we first heard about Jackson's plans for "Lord Of The Rings," and yet by the time he was finished, there was little argument that he had accomplished one of the singular feats in fantasy filmmaking.

Over the last year, the drama surrounding the making of "The Hobbit" has threatened to overwhelm any conversation about the film itself, and when Guillermo Del Toro left the film earlier this year, it looked like the film was further away from happening than ever before.  If I was a betting men, I'd probably be losing money today because I felt sure the MGM bankruptcy issues would keep the movie from happening this year at all.  So many films are stuck in the black hole of MGM's money troubles that I didn't have faith this one project would be the exception.

And yet here we are, with Peter Jackson saying, "It's an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty, and drama.  We're looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo and our friends at New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers and MGM."

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<p>Angelina Jolie, seen here in Oliver Stone's 'Alexander,' may play royalty of a different sort if James Cameron signs on to direct 'Cleopatra'</p>

Angelina Jolie, seen here in Oliver Stone's 'Alexander,' may play royalty of a different sort if James Cameron signs on to direct 'Cleopatra'

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Morning Read: Cameron on 'Cleopatra'? Angelina Jolie may star in 3D epic for 'Avatar' auteur

Plus two 'Snow Whites,' some 'Back To The Future,' and Cage 'Drives Angry'

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I don't know what to make of the idea of James Cameron making "Cleopatra."

I thought the Steven Soderbergh "Cleo" sounded absolutely lunatic, and I really wanted to see that happen.  I doubt it ever will, though, if Cameron ends up signing on to direct Angelina Jolie in a 3D adaptation of the non-fiction book, "Cleopatra: A Life."  Jolie's already onboard, and Scott Rudin is producing the film.  Evidently the script is by Brian Helgeland and lit a fire under the studio.  Stacy Schiff, who wrote the book, is excited by the idea of Jolie being joined by Brad Pitt as Mark Antony, and that's evidently been the goal since the moment Rudin bought the rights to the book.  It sounds like Schiff has laid out a very different historical portrait of Cleopatra than we've ever seen represented before, and on an epic scale.

Certainly Cameron's the man you want to hire if you want a historical epic shot in 3D.  And he's always been drawn to powerful female protagonists, so it sounds like Schiff's book would be absolute catnip.  The things he's interested in right now as a producer and as a director are all fascinating to me.  There's "Fantastic Voyage" at Fox.  There's "At The Mountains Of Madness" at Universal.  There's the "Avatar" sequel.  There's the movie about the cave diving accident, and the other movie about the free diving couple.  And now, suddenly, there's also "Cleopatra."

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<p>I&nbsp;hope there's a whooooooooole lot of this in 'Top Gun 2'</p>

I hope there's a whooooooooole lot of this in 'Top Gun 2'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise is in for 'Top Gun 2,' and now Bruckheimer and Scott are, too?

Show of hands... who wants to see this film?

Okay, now you're just kidding, right?

Over the years, I've found myself outside looking in on all sorts of giant blockbuster hits, amazed at those moments when something I can't find any appeal in whatsoever becomes a pop culture phenomenon.  Case in point:  "Top Gun."  I think the film is a hilariously dated music video about a man, his plane, his half-naked oiled friends, and a woman he has absolutely no chemistry with.  But for many people, "Top Gun" is one of the flashpoints of the '80s, a beloved favorite.  In the recent comedy "Going The Distance," Justin Long's character harbors an almost creepy degree of love for the film.  Quentin Tarantino famously riffed on the movie in "Sleep With Me," calling it out for the Riefenstahl-style fetishized man meat parade that it is.  It is one of those films that you can reference and pretty much everyone's seen it or seen part of it or at least heard of it.  It is fundamental.

And, evidently, David Ellison is one of those giant fans.

I'd never heard his name before reading the story about how the "Top Gun" sequel seems to be coming together, but he is evidently the 27-year-old son of Larry Eliison, who is the world's sixth-richest man.  Ellison the Younger recently put together a $350 million fund that he plans to use to make movies with Paramount, including "Mission: Impossible 4."

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<p>Megamind (Will Ferrell) and Minion (David Cross) in the middle of a diabolical plan from the new Dreamworks animated superhero comedy, 'Megamind'</p>

Megamind (Will Ferrell) and Minion (David Cross) in the middle of a diabolical plan from the new Dreamworks animated superhero comedy, 'Megamind'

Credit: Dreamworks Animation

Want to see the first five minutes of 'Megamind' right now?

A sneak preview of the new superhero comedy from Dreamworks Animation

The idea of releasing the first five minutes of your movie online as a way of promoting it is something that we've only started to see in the last few years, and it was sort of novel the first few times.  I remember watching the opening scene of "28 Days Later" online and immediately needing to see the whole thing.  It was just a perfect compelling taste of what Danny Boyle had in mind.  It's a good example, because if you're going to release the opening scenes of your film as a way of promoting it, they'd better grab you right away.

I'll let you be the judge if Dreamworks Animation has accomplished that with their new film "Megamind," which I had a chance to see earlier this week. 

I'll be reviewing it once we get a little closer to release, but I think it's safe to say that this has been one of the very best years Dreamworks Animation has ever had.  People have a lot of justified love for "How To Train Your Dragon," and I think you'll see a similar reaction to this film when people finally get to see it.

When I moderate the panel for "Megamind" at this year's Comic-Con, we showed some early scenes that were quite striking, and that hinted at the film's "big idea," about a supervillain who finally kills the superhero he is always fighting, only to realize that without a hero, there is no meaning to his life.  It's a great existential dilemma to give a lead character, and in order to make that really work, you've got to have some sense of why this character is a bad guy in the first place.

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<p>Something very bad is about to happen in this scene from 'Jackass 3D,' which is the reason I&nbsp;can't take my eyes off the screen.</p>

Something very bad is about to happen in this scene from 'Jackass 3D,' which is the reason I can't take my eyes off the screen.

Credit: Paramount Pictures/Dickhouse

Review: 'Jackass 3D' stands with the best of the series

New toys seem to have inspired the boys to new heights of lunacy

At this point, I suspect you already know if you're a fan of "Jackass" or not.

After all, this is the tenth year they've been working together.  When I say "they," I'm referring to the strange conglomeration of personalities that, taken as a whole, constitutes what we know as "Jackass."  That includes Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, "Danger" Ehren, Preston Lacy, Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave Englund, Spike Jonze, and Jeff Tremaine, although it's not limited to them.  It's hard to believe that they've gotten a full decade of media life out of stunts that basically consist of either hitting each other, making each other do things that will make them throw up, or putting life and limb in harm's way.  Add some boners and poop, and that's pretty much it.

And yet they had their premiere this week at the Museum Of Modern Art.

Why is that?  What is it about "Jackass" that transcends the description of the most basic nature of their work?  This third film reinvigorates the cast and the creative team in a number of ways, and understanding what it was that happened that made the film work in a way that puts it on par with the best episodes of the original show is key to understanding their appeal and importance overall.

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