<p>That is a car exploding out of the front end of an airplane. Is it any wonder the 'Fast &amp; Furious' franchise just keeps on growing?</p>

That is a car exploding out of the front end of an airplane. Is it any wonder the 'Fast & Furious' franchise just keeps on growing?

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Fast & Furious 7' stakes out a 2014 release date

A new director and no Dwayne Johnson doesn't slow the studio down at all

Universal is not fooling around.

I understand. They've been looking for their ATM, their cash machine that reliably spits out money every time they release a new film in the series, and it's been a struggle at times. They sort of backed into this one. I guarantee there was no one at the studio at the time that "The Fast and The Furious" was made who had a vision of the franchise that exists now.

Justin Lin deserves a lot of credit for turning this into what can legitimately be called a mega-franchise now. At this point, it's such a big series, and the scale of the mayhem in each film seems to be swelling. Now that Lin is leaving, it would be easy to imagine that the studio would be worried. If you drop the ball even once with a series like this, you risk burning it down, and that's the last thing Universal wants.

Now that James Wan is onboard to direct the seventh film in the series, Universal wants to make it clear that they are moving full speed ahead with a new movie, and today, as part of their CinemaCon presentation, they announced that July 11, 2014 is going belong to them.

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<p>Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is going to be humbled by the events of 'Star Trek Into Darkness'</p>

Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is going to be humbled by the events of 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Final 'Star Trek Into Darkness' trailer test Captain Kirk and the Enterprise

And even now, they're still keeping their secrets close

The moment I was hooked by the trailers for the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot was when Pike (Bruce Greenwood) challenged Jim Kirk (Chris Pine) to try to live up to the legacy of his father. The score, Greenwood's delivery, and the weight of what he was saying… all of that combined hit me dead center, and from that point on, they sort of had me on the hook.

I feel like it's a very smart choice, then, to bring this final trailer in the ad campaign for this summer's "Star Trek Into Darkness" back around to the two of them, Pike and Kirk, once again sitting together, once again discussing Kirk's potential as a leader. Pike is such a particular figure in "Trek" history, and perhaps the most significant refiguring in this new rebooted version of the "Trek" universe is the way he and Kirk deal with one another. You can't do much better in terms of mentor figures than Greenwood's Pike, and Kirk needs that voice in his ear, someone willing to push him and dare him to be a better person.

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<p>Danny McBride's dancing as the world ends, and he couldn't be happier.</p>

Danny McBride's dancing as the world ends, and he couldn't be happier.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Set Visit: Danny McBride says 'This Is The End' is full of terrible things happening to famous people

We head to New Orleans for the end of the world in the first part of our set visit

NEW ORLEANS - If you're looking for a place to stage the end of the world, it seems to me that New Orleans is a pretty good choice.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are a formidable creative partnership. Standing on a soundstage for the first film they're co-directing, I was struck by just how laser focused their vision for their career has been and how well they've managed to build a space for them to make the films that genuinely make them laugh. When I first met Seth, it was at the premiere for "Anchorman." If you don't remember his role in the film, I wouldn't blame you. He plays a news cameraman, and in a film that seemed to be a showcase for one incredible character bit after another, Seth was one of the few people who didn't really have a giant moment.

The party after the premiere was at the Roosevelt, and it was a particularly rowdy celebration. That was a film that almost didn't happen several times along the way during development, and it seemed like everyone assembled understood just how much of a miracle it was that it even existed. At one point during the evening, I saw Seth Rogen sitting by himself at a table, and I walked over to say hello.

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<p>Would Tom Cruise really be willing to go up against another alien invasion so soon after the back to back experience of 'Oblivion' (seen here)&nbsp;and 'All You Need Is Kill'</p>

Would Tom Cruise really be willing to go up against another alien invasion so soon after the back to back experience of 'Oblivion' (seen here) and 'All You Need Is Kill'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tom Cruise may go 'Top Gun' against alien forces in 'Yukikaze'

Will the actor really sign on for a fourth alien invasion film?

If I didn't know better, I'd say Tom Cruise is a nerd.

Sure, sure, he's been Captain Awesome since I was a young teenager, and he somehow looks better at his age than I've looked in my single best day ever, and he continues to somehow elude the same sort of career pitfalls that have sidelined even the most talented of his peers. So calling him a "nerd" may not be the traditional application of the word, but it seems to apply when you look at his taste in projects over the last few years.

It's one thing to do a couple of science-fiction movies in a row because Steven Spielberg calls, and "War Of The Worlds" and "Minority Report" are very different approaches to the same genre. With "Oblivion," "All You Need Is Kill," and the just-announced "Yukizake," Cruise seems to be almost single-handedly helping keep original science-fiction alive on the bigscreen. And, yes, I know he's not the filmmaker in each of these cases, but it's incredibly hard to get these films made, and when Cruise signs on, he can be the deciding factor for the financiers behind the films.

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<p>When we started discussing his long in-development adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's classic science-fiction novel, Morgan Freeman seemed very excited.</p>

When we started discussing his long in-development adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's classic science-fiction novel, Morgan Freeman seemed very excited.

Credit: HitFix

Morgan Freeman discusses why he keeps trying to get 'Rendezvous With Rama' made

The actor is also a producer, and one dream project has proven elusive so far

Everybody likes Morgan Freeman.

There aren't many actors you can say that about, but I honestly don't think I've ever had a conversation with someone where Freeman's name came up and someone said, "Oh, I can't stand him." That's kind of amazing. It's a testament to the fundamental honesty of what Freeman does on-camera, and the way he's picked and chosen roles over the last twenty-plus years.

He's one of those guys who worked for a long time in what must have felt like relative obscurity, one of his best-known roles being an ensemble part on "The Electric Company." All of that changed when "Street Smart" hit, and suddenly Hollywood figured out how great he was. Suddenly, he started getting the types of roles he deserved. Suddenly he was front and center in a number of big films, including the Oscar-winning smash hit "Driving Miss Daisy" and the Oscar-winning genre-defining Clint Eastwood film "Unforgiven."

Thanks to his distinctive voice and his warm, authoritative diction, Freeman's become the king of the voice-over work, and no one has made better use of that than Frank Darabont did in "The Shawshank Redemption," a film that seems to become more beloved with each passing year. I've spoken with him once or twice in the past, and he's always been cordial and engaging.

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<p>I&nbsp;hope if they do cast Wesley Snipes in 'The Expendables 3' that they insist that he look exactly like this.</p>

I hope if they do cast Wesley Snipes in 'The Expendables 3' that they insist that he look exactly like this.

Credit: Warner Bros

Sly Stallone claims Wesley Snipes is 'officially' an Expendable

Sounds like he'd love to have Mel Gibson direct the third film, too

What better way could there be for Wesley Snipes to celebrate his release from federal prison than signing up to co-star in 'The Expendables 3'?

And what better way could there be to learn the news than a middle-of-the-night Tweet by Sylvester Stallone himself?

Wesley Snipes has been out of circulation for a while, of course, and any time someone comes out of prison, it's a gamble about whether or not they're going to be able to pick up where they left off, and in entrainment, it seems like it's even more of a gamble. Sure, there are stories like Johnny Cash, and the public loves to forgive people they like, but I'm not sure Wesley Snipes was particularly beloved when he went into prison in the first place. He had burned a lot of bridges in the industry, and he wasn't exactly toplining giant studio movies anymore.

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<p>Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence chafe under the new roles that Peeta and Katniss are forced to play in 'The Hunger Games:&nbsp;Catching Fire'</p>

Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence chafe under the new roles that Peeta and Katniss are forced to play in 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

Credit: Lionsgate

First 'Catching Fire' trailer sparks big buzz during MTV Movie Awards

Katniss reluctantly swings back into action in our first look at the sequel

I'm curious to see what happens with "Catching Fire." Lionsgate did a very good job selling "The Hunger Games" to an audience much broader than just fans of the book, and while I was very fond of the film, it was not universally beloved. They may have shifted filmmakers, with Francis Lawrence stepping in for Gary Ross as director this time, but they're still facing a bit of an uphill battle in convincing the skeptical that they're going to like this second film more than the first one.

For fans of the Suzanne Collins series, I would imagine they're already totally onboard and excited and this trailer isn't about selling them on the film so much as it is a chance to see what choices have been made and how the new cast members look as they join the ensemble. What a difference a year has made in the life and the awareness level of Jennifer Lawrence. Last year when the first film came out, she was a promising young actress whose best known role was in a tiny indie film that made far more noise on the awards circuit than it did at the box-office.

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<p>General Zod is angry because Kal-El told him everyone on Earth had a bowl haircut.</p>

General Zod is angry because Kal-El told him everyone on Earth had a bowl haircut.

Credit: Warner Bros

General Zod has a message for Earth and we're not going to like it

The first official reveal of the villain from 'Man Of Steel' is intriguing

General Zod is coming, and we may be in trouble.

While it hasn't exactly been kept on the level of a state secret, Warner Bros. has played coy when addressing the idea of whether or not Michael Shannon was cast as Zod for Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel," which arrives in theaters this summer. Shannon confirmed it early on in a few interviews, but the studio kept quiet on the matter.

That all changes this week as the film's campaign kicks into a new gear, and part of that push is going to involve setting up Zod as the film's primary villain. Step one? Zod must watch a lot of pro-wrestling or a lot of Christopher Nolan Batman films because he's playing heel in a 30 second video that was posted to Facebook today. In it, there's a very Joker/Bane vibe as he lays out a demand for Earth. He wants Kal-El to be handed over, and he makes it clear that there will be consequences if his request is denied.

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<p>I may never eat mushrooms again thanks to 'Hannibal,' and that's after just two episodes.</p>

I may never eat mushrooms again thanks to 'Hannibal,' and that's after just two episodes.

Credit: NBC

Why I'm signing on for the full run of Bryan Fuller's 'Hannibal'

There's no reason this should work on TV, so why are we so impressed?

I was working at a movie theater in Florida when Michael Mann's "Manhunter" opened. It was released with no fanfare, and it was a non-event at the box-office. I was in high school at the time, and I would make an effort to see everything that played at our theater. I had no idea what to expect from "Manhunter," and Mann's name was not on my radar in the same way that it is today.

As a result, I walked in cold and walked out positively flattened by what I saw. I went out afterwards and I went to a bookstore and I got a copy of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon. I saw the film at least two or three more times in the fourteen days we played it, and I told several friends about it, taking them back to see it with me. When Silence Of The Lambs was released, it was already on my radar, and the news that Gene Hackman had optioned the rights and planned to make a film out of it only made it more attractive. I read it as soon as I could get my hands on a copy, and once again, I found myself captivated by the story being told. I loved the book, and I was bummed when Hackman dropped out of making it. When the film finally did come out, I was immediately a fan, amazed that I could handle two very different interpretations of Hannibal Lecter.

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<p>Chadwick Boseman's got to be feeling good about the work he did as Jackie Robinson in the new film '42'</p>

Chadwick Boseman's got to be feeling good about the work he did as Jackie Robinson in the new film '42'

Credit: HitFix

Chadwick Boseman talks about stepping into Jackie Robinson's shoes for '42'

How do you prepare to play a legend?

After seeing his work in "42" playing sports icon Jackie Robinson, I went to the IMDb to look him up, afraid I'd see that I somehow missed this guy. And while I'm pretty sure I've seen him onscreen before, it's safe to say that "42" is the biggest showcase he's had as a performer so far. For most audiences, "42" is going to be their introduction to him. And whatever you think of the film, it's safe to say that Boseman gives a charismatic central performance that should put him on the map for casting directors everywhere.

Stepping into the shoes of a giant is never easy, and one of the hardest things about doing a biopic is finding someone who can suggest the greatness that makes the subject worth talking about in the first place. With Jackie Robinson, you have a double challenge, because you have to not only somehow capture the enormous charisma that made him such a perfect candidate for mainstream integration but also do a credible job of suggesting the physical gifts that made Jackie such a joy to watch when he was on the field.

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