<p>Early character designs from Brenda Chapman's 'Bear and the Bow,' which is now called 'Brave,' and which will no longer be directed by her.</p>

Early character designs from Brenda Chapman's 'Bear and the Bow,' which is now called 'Brave,' and which will no longer be directed by her.

Credit: Pixar/Disney

Director Brenda Chapman replaced on Pixar's 'Brave' while animation insiders buzz

As the first woman to helm a Pixar movie steps aside, what does this mean for the studio?

Female directors are not uncommon only in the world of animation.  There's a reason it was a big deal when Kathryn Bigelow won her Oscar last year.  I'm not a "meet a quota" kind of guy, but I do believe that a variety of voices is what we need in film if the art form is going to remain vital and interesting.  The more types of voices we have making films, the more perspective we gain on ourselves, and that's one of the primary reasons we make art in the first place.

Of course, when you're talking about giant budget franchise pictures, the word "art" is a little precious.  And as much as I enjoy the work of Pixar, they are absolutely one of the most important financial brands in modern Hollywood.  They have the best track record in the business for a reason.  They have a carefully managed story department, and they are ruthless during development.  They have had several major shake-ups on films, including "Cars," "Ratatouille," and "Toy Story 2," with directors being replaced and big chunks of story being thrown out.  Recently, they pulled the plug on "Newt," and some of the concept art for that ended up on their Facebook page.  John Lasseter is now also the man in charge over at Walt Disney Feature Animation, and he's had a major late-in-the-game influence on both "Bolt!," which began life under the direction of Chris Sanders as "American Dog," and "Tangled," which arrives in theaters next month in a very different form than was originally intended by Glen Keane.

Obviously, none of that matters if the film actually works.  And time after time, Pixar has managed to snatch success from the jaws of failure.  They've been quite open in discussing the way the process works.

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<p>Y'know, I can't blame that kid at all for being preoccupied with Angie Dickinson in 'Pretty Maids All In A Row,' new to DVD from Warner Archive.</p>

Y'know, I can't blame that kid at all for being preoccupied with Angie Dickinson in 'Pretty Maids All In A Row,' new to DVD from Warner Archive.

Credit: Warner Archive

One Thing I Love Today: Rock Hudson and Angie Dickinson in 'Pretty Maids All In A Row'

Warner Archive hits another home run with their release of Roger Vadim's sexploitation gem

Roger Vadim once referred to it as "the most enjoyable film I made in my career."  Gene Roddenberry fans generally have no idea it exists.  Rock Hudson was at the tail end of his career when he made it.  And the Osmonds recorded the totally awesome theme song.

So why doesn't everyone already own "Pretty Maids All In A Row"?

Oh, that's right.  It's been totally unavailable until next week, when Warner Archive (who should be given some sort of Congressional medal for their efforts in the last few years) releases the film on DVD for the first time.  I saw the movie in February of 1999, when I was at QT III, the third film festival that Quentin Tarantino programmed at the old original Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, and I fell for it, head over heels.  It's a slasher movie, and it's a teen sex comedy, and it's a sort of last lap around the pool for Rock Hudson, and somehow, all of these different things going on work together.

Angie Dickinson is exceptionally sexy in the film, and Rock Hudson may have been in his sunset years, but he is sharp and charming and manages to make an incredibly distasteful role into something almost charming.  Roger Vadim packed the film with crazy gorgeous '70s girls, all of whom seem practically offended by the notion of wearing clothing.  The young lead in the film, John David Carson, should have had a real career, but for some reason this is one of those one-offs.  I don't think Vadim is a great director, but I think he's occasionally a really fun director, and maybe it was the chemistry between his sensibility and the totally wackadoo screenplay by "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, who reveals himself as sort of a gleeful superfreak with this one.  Whatever the case, this was a case of Vadim getting it all just right.

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<p>Ben Affleck, seen here on the set of his latest film &quot;The Town,&quot; may direct and star in an adaptation of the Ken Grimwood SF&nbsp;romance 'Replay'</p>

Ben Affleck, seen here on the set of his latest film "The Town," may direct and star in an adaptation of the Ken Grimwood SF romance 'Replay'

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

Ben Affleck may direct and star in long in-development SF love story 'Replay'

Novel's been through a lot of hands, and may finally make it to the bigscreen

Ben Affleck could probably make any script in town right now if he wanted to.

"The Town" may not be a giant preposterous megahit, but the reviews were great and audiences have definitely responded.  What impresses studio execs when they look at something like "The Town" is a film for grown-ups that isn't based on a comic book and that stars adults and that was made for a reasonable cost, and that seems like the Holy Grail for these folks these days.

When they turn to Affleck, they're looking to him to make something that can be commercial, but that they can genuinely be proud of.  My guess is there are snowdrifts of scripts for long-dormant properties being dumped on Affleck's doorstep these days, and all he has to do is say yes if he wants to get one of them made.

Ken Grimwood's "Replay" is definitely not a new property.  The first time I remember hearing about the development of the novel into a film was in the mid-'90s, and at that point, it had already been kicking around for a while.  I was a fan when it was published in 1987, and it's one of those books that has stuck with me for decades, clearly, without ever revisiting it.  Grimwood's book is about a guy in his early '40s who has a heart attack.  Instead of dying, though, he wakes up in his 18-year-old body, with all of his memories of the 20-plus years that follow. 

And not just once, but in a cycle that he realizes is not unique to him.  The reasons why he is a Replayer, and the way he plays out these second and third and so on chances is what makes the material so powerful, and Grimwood plays riffs on this idea that you've never seen.  Sure, the idea of being caught in a loop like that is somewhat similar to "Groundhog Day" on the surface, but "Replay" digs deeper, and the book is powerfully emotional as well as wickedly high-concept.

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<p>It's starting to sound like this isn't the only Pinhead at Dimension Films.</p>

It's starting to sound like this isn't the only Pinhead at Dimension Films.

Credit: Dimension Films

A PG-13 'Hellraiser"? Sounds like Pinhead's running things at Dimension

Amber Heard can't save this franchise if this is true

Clive Barker's world is a dark, sick, wet, sexually disturbed world, and that's exactly as it should be.

When he began releasing the "Books Of Blood," it was a sensation because there seemed to be no line that he was afraid to cross, no taboo he was afraid to confront.  His stories were dangerous.  They felt personal.  They felt invasive.  Even now if you read them, they remain transgressive, almost too dark to take.

When he directed his first feature film "Hellraiser," the film seemed to ably reflect that sensibility on film.  It's not a perfect movie, but there's a sweaty, overheated quality to it that works, and that makes it feel like something you shouldn't be watching,  Since that first film, which never really felt like a franchise movie, the series has been subject to the law of diminishing returns, quickly becoming so coarse and stupid that it's hard to believe there was ever any merit to the original.  That's the real danger with doing one terrible sequel after another.  You can eventually turn something that started well into something that any right-thinking person would actively avoid.

Dimension Films has never been accused of under-exploiting the film properties they own.  They are a sequel factory, and they seem perfectly happy to pump out straight-to-video fare if that's the way it works out, with an eye on theatrical release if the stars align.  Little wonder they've been trying to get a new "Hellraiser" off the ground for a while, and there have been a few moments in the last couple of years where there were some interesting names attached. 

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<p>Martin Sheen is Captain Willard in the iconic opening moments of 'Apocalypse Now,' making a stunning debut on Blu-ray this week.</p>

Martin Sheen is Captain Willard in the iconic opening moments of 'Apocalypse Now,' making a stunning debut on Blu-ray this week.

Credit: American Zoetrope

'Apocalypse Now' arrives on Blu-ray in the single best home video version of the film so far

Plus five of you have a chance to win the Blu-ray for yourself

"This is the end."

The end of me rebuying "Apocalypse Now," anyway, because finally, after at least three previous home video editions, they got it right.

This is not a film I watch lightly.  When I watch "Apocalypse Now," it is with intent.  I treat it like a psychoactive substance.  My relationship with "Apocalypse Now" goes back at least 20 years, and it's one of those movies I point at as proof that there is magic involved in the making of films.  There's no way all the various ingredients of "Apocalypse Now" should add up to the movie that exists, but there it is.  Chaos and madness and blood and sickness and ego and hubris, all of it adding up to the uber high concept idea of Joseph Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness," told in an updated Vietnam setting, executed in such a way as to make a silly idea into harrowing, vibrant art.

When I worked at Dave's Video, the laserdisc store in Sherman Oaks, it was the early '90s, and a lot of the titles that are making their debut right now on Blu-ray were just rolling out on laserdisc.  The "Aliens" box set, for example, which we'll get into next week when Fox drops that whole series onto Blu-ray.  That was a huge deal at the time.  And when "Apocalypse Now" was released, it was given the Rolls Royce treatment.  Big giant double-disc set, and that CAV transfer was pretty much the end of the world back then.

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<p>A chilling image from 'Let Me In,' based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, whose new novel 'Handling The Undead' is in stores now.</p>

A chilling image from 'Let Me In,' based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, whose new novel 'Handling The Undead' is in stores now.

Credit: Overture Films

One Thing I Love Today: John Lindqvist's new novel 'Handling The Undead'

The author of 'Let The Right One In' crafts an equally-compelling follow-up

I started this column back at AICN, and I did it for a time here at HitFix as well, but it recently occurred to me during a conversation with a friend who has also been a reader since the early AICN days that this makes a nice bookend to the Morning Read, which runs three days a week.  I want to try different regular articles on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in place of the Morning Read, so there's always something familiar in the morning, Monday through Friday, with this column at the other side of the day as an anchor.

The "thing" in question can be… anything.  A concert.  A book.  A DVD.  An event.  A toy.  An experience.  A link to something particularly poignant.  Or crazy.  Or whatever.  The point is to spotlight one thing a day that might otherwise not get that spotlight.  Considering how many things are sent here for review, there is never a shortage of things that can be featured in this column, so why not bring it back?

After all, the more regular I am in providing certain things to you guys, then hopefully the more engaged you'll be.  That is the point here.  I don't ever want to think of this as me shouting into the void.  I hope to find ways to put some of these things I love into your hands as well, and later tonight, I'll be running a piece about "Apocalypse Now" that should you should check out for that exact reason.

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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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