Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Box Office (10/31/10): Saw 7 3D rules over one last Halloween weekend.

The Saw series has been a Halloween weekend custom of sorts for the last six years. It debuted in third place on Halloween weekend 2004, where it opened with $18 million behind the second weekend of The Grudge and the opening weekend of Ray. From 2005 until 2009, Saw ruled the annual Halloween roast, with $30-33 million opening weekends in the Halloween or pre-Halloween weekend. Last year, it didn't quite go as planned. Fueled by viewer antipathy over the dull and listless Saw V, and the wide-release of the slow-building Paranormal Activity, Saw VI (ironically the best film in the Saw series) crumbled over the weekend before Halloween, opened with just $14 million before ending with just $27 million. This year, Lionsgate went back to the safety of Halloween weekend, and declined to open directly against Paranormal Activity 2. With ads (trailer 1 and trailer 2) touting the 3D gimmickry and alleging that Saw VII would be the final chapter in the series, could the long-running franchise regain some of its lost box office luster. The answer? Not really...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Saw VII 3D (2010)

91 minutes
rated R

by Scott Mendelson

Saw VII is an unnecessary epilogue to a series that already had a pretty satisfying finale. Saw VI succeeded in returning Tobin Bell to the center stage, while devising a compelling story that brought the story full circle and tied up every reasonable loose end. Saw VII adds nothing of value to the universe, aside from a last-minute 'twist' that anyone with half-a-brain could see coming from the first reel. It also may very well be the worst film in the long-running franchise. It is sloppily plotted and abysmally-acted. Worst of all, it seemingly goes out of its way to avoid every element that made the series unique and worth defending. This is a Saw picture that makes one embarrassed to have enjoyed the prior installments.

Goodbye John. A farewell to Saw, as Jigsaw lays his last trap.

For one half a decade, he has thrilled us with his adventures, amazed us with his discoveries, and inspired us with his courage. His traps were beyond imagination. His name has become legend, his cohorts the finest ever assembled. We have traveled beside him from one poorly-lit warehouse or factory to another. He has been our guide, our protector, and our friend. Now, you are invited to join him, for one last game...

Chris Evans as Captain America debuts in Entertainment Weekly.

For a sneak peak at the actual article from tomorrow's issue, click here. No complaints here, it's a surprisingly solid look that combines a certain period-realism with the gee-whiz aspect of the character. Purists may carp over this or that detail, but Matt Salinger wore a costume EXACTLY like the comic book version back in 1990, and it didn't make that movie any better. This should be a fun time for geeks, as we'll soon start seeing real screenshots and actual trailers for the geek-centric films of next summer. We already know that we're getting a Green Lantern trailer before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I, and there's a good chance that we'll see trailers for Thor and/or Captain America before Paramount's Megamind or Morning Glory (or everyone could just pile on behind Mr. Potter). Captain America is arguably the biggest question mark of the comic pictures. It's the best known property but also faces an uphill battle with its period setting and it's release date smack in the middle of July, a week after the Harry Potter finale and a week before Jon Favreau's Cowboys vs. Aliens. Once again, why oh why didn't Paramount schedule Captain America to open over July 4th weekend?

Scott Mendelson

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wow, actual Batman 3 news! The Dark Knight Rises will be 2D, with no Riddler.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, or maybe because the rumor mill has gone into hyper-drive over the last few years, but I've spent quite a bit of time rolling my eyes at the nonstop onslaught of false rumors and non-news regarding Chris Nolan's third and theoretically final Batman picture. Some random blog posts a random rumor, and every other site runs with it and offers their subjective commentary before said rumor is debunked. So, when actual news turns up, straight from Chris Nolan himself, it is a somewhat noteworthy event. Long-story short. Chris Nolan revealed in an interview with the LA Times that the third Batman film will not be shot in 3D. It will not feature the Riddler. And it will be titled The Dark Knight Rises. Oh, and there's looking for a female lead of some kind, but that's not really news.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Right or Wrong, The Hangover 2 does not need Mel Gibson.

Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and the rest of the cast just plain didn't want Mel Gibson in The Hangover 2. That much we know, as his cameo role as a crazed tattoo artist was announced, then retracted and recast with Liam Neeson in just a few days last week. Since then, there has been much speculation and discussion in the blogosphere, much of it centering on the alleged hypocrisy of allowing a convicted rapist (Mike Tyson) to appear in the original Hangover while crying foul at casting a man who is an occasional drunk driver and periodic anti-Semite/racist asshole. But sometimes it's really not that complicated. What if the disapproval over casting Mel Gibson in The Hangover 2 had nothing to do with morality, but with simple business sense?

Weekend Box Office Review (10/24/10): Paranormal Activity 2 scores record $41.5 million. Hereafter nets $12 million. Holdovers hold strong.

Paranormal Activity 2 blasted into the record books over the weekend, grossing $40.6 million in its first three days. That's the biggest opening ever for a supernatural horror picture, the second-largest debut for any kind of horror picture (behind Hannibal's $58 million debut in 2001), the biggest horror debut in October history, the fifth-biggest October opening on record, and the 19th-largest R-rated opening ever. Costing just $3 million, the Paramount sequel capitalized on the much-buzzed about original, which had a stunningly successful platform release over last September and October. If you recall, Paranormal Activity grossed $7.9 million on just 160 screens over the second weekend in October, and eventually went wide over the weekend before Halloween, where it famously kneecapped the long-running Saw franchise. If the original film's box office run slightly mirrored the run of the original Scream (small opening weekend, slow jog to $100 million+), then Paranormal Activity 2 is definitely Scream 2 (the Wes Craven sequel also came out a year after the original and scored an eye-popping $33 million debut in December 1997).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday Box Office (10/22/10): Paranormal Activity 2 grosses $20.1 million while Clint Eastwood's Hereafter grosses $4.1 million.

After scoring a record $6.3 million in midnight showings alone, Paranormal Activity 2 ended its first day with $20.1 million. For what it's worth, that means that Paranormal Activity 2 had one of the lowest 'midnight-to-opening day' multipliers in history. Only Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($22m midnight/$58m opening day), The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($26m/$72m), and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($30m/$68m) had a larger percentage of their opening day grosses from their respective midnight debuts. So there's a good chance that this horror sequel will end up just as front-loaded as, ironically, the Saw sequels. Still, a $3 million sequel with minimal advertising just scored $20 million in a single day, or about what the original made on its first weekend of wide release ($21 million) exactly a year ago. I'm sure no one at Paramount is shedding tears over the math regarding midnight sneaks. The film bested the $14.8 million opening day of The Ring Two (the previous record holder for supernatural horror), and scored the biggest opening day in history for an R-rated horror film. 2.2x weekend multiplier would give the picture about $45 million, which sounds about right. Anything above $39.1 million would top The Grudge and give Paranormal Activity 2 the biggest opening weekend for a supernatural horror picture.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 scores $6.3 million in midnight screenings, a record for an R-rated film. What does it mean for the opening weekend?

Beating a week-old record, Paramount's Paranormal Activity 2 grossed $6.3 million in midnight screenings last night. That beats the R-rated midnight record set by Watchmen ($4.6 million). Using midnight totals to tabulate a film's opening weekend is a risky gambit, but here are some numbers to chew on. Midnight showings can run around 5-8% of the opening weekend take (Jackass 3D, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Spider-Man 3, and Iron Man 2). But more frontloaded films can mean more frontloaded midnight showings, as suggested by Watchmen (8%) The Dark Knight (11%) and The Twilight Saga: New Moon (18%). Not helping matters is that many of the more frontloaded pictures to do significant midnight damage (the last two Harry Potter films, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Last Airbender, the Transformers films, the entire Star Wars prequel series) did not open on a Friday, which makes them almost useless as comparative examples.

Just in Time for Halloween: Ten of the Scariest Horror Films of the Last 20 Years.

Last Halloween, we discussed the very best direct-to-DVD horror films. The year before, we dealt with the very worst horror films that my wife ever forced me to watch. This year, we're dealing with the new classics. The goal of this list is pretty simple. I'm sure we're all sick and tired of seeing countless 'scariest movies of all time' lists every Halloween that basically include some combination of the same several movies. Among the movies that will not be on this list: Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jaws, Halloween, Alien, and The Shining. Nothing against those films, but I'd imagine that any film nerd who cares enough to read a list of great horror movies has probably already seen them. By limiting the list to the last twenty years, we automatically discount most of the staples that usually fill up such 'best of' lists for Halloween. Oh, and another thing, this is purely about theatrical movies that actually scared me, regardless of how high they rank in the quality totem pole. The Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, and The Sixth Sense are among my all-time favorite movies, but they didn't particularly frighten me in the traditional sense. So, without further ado, let's dive in.

Eddie Murphy reviews Paranormal Activity 2.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The obvious gender double-standard of GQ's Glee photo shoot.

Look, Glee's Lea Michele is really hot, and Dianna Agron isn't too bad either. So as a heterosexual male, I have no objection if they choose to partake in a somewhat risque photo shoot for GQ Magazine, although I do wish they had arranged for Jayma Mays to participate as well. There are others who may partake in a certain amount of finger wagging on the whole principal of the matter, but I've always been of the live-and-let-live philosophy. But what I do find annoying, if not a little disturbing, is the obvious differences in how female leads Michele and Agron are shot versus how male lead Cory Monteith is photographed. The pictures above are the most obvious (and least risque) examples, and they arguably speak for themselves. But just in case you need the obvious pointed out: the women are shot in overtly salacious poses in a state of semi-undress. Monteith is photographed fully clothed and (in his solo photos) engaging in relatively asexual behavior such as playing the drums or goofing off in the gym. I certainly don't need or want to see Moneith's bare ass or the man who plays Finn in any kind of compromising positions, but why is it that the women must be photographed with imagery out of a pornographic fantasy, while the male lead (and in fact most male actors in glossy photo shoots) get away with not doing so much as unbuttoning their top buttons? If you were going to do an entire shoot with Michele and Agron playing off the 'naughty schoolgirl' fantasy, wouldn't it have been a little bit fair to at least have a couple shots of Monteith with his shirt removed? Again, I'm not trying to get on a high horse about sexism and the double-standard of how men and women are photographed in Hollywood, but well, once you glance at the Glee pictorial, it kinda makes the point for me.

Scott Mendelson

Scream 4 gets a mediocre, generic teaser.

This thing, or a version of it, premiered last week at the 2010 Scream Awards, which are airing tonight on Spike TV. I wish I could say that this teaser gave me a renewed confidence for a project that was made purely as a money grab, and has been plagued by all kinds of studio tinkering from the get-go (the Weinsteins interfering in a horror film... no!). But this frankly looks as generic as can be, feeling less like a genuine sequel than a remake that they really wanted to make but didn't have the guts to. It feels like a mishmash of all three Scream films (high-school murder spree, tie-in movie being filmed/released, Sydney suffering from survivor's guilt), with a token nod to the last ten years of grindhouse-type horror. I'll happily eat crow if this turns out to be as good as the first two films, and the final bit with Lucy Hale is worth a chuckle. But with Lauren Graham leaving because her character had allegedly been dumbed-down, with Hayden Panettiere allegedly furious that her character had been bimbo-ized, and with original writer Kevin Williamson being tossed off the project and replaced by Scream 3-scribe Ehren Kruger, this feels like a cold-hearted cash grab for all who remain onboard. Oh, and unless they do what I thought they were going to do in Scream 3 (make Dewey the killer), my money is on Allison Brie. She currently stars on Community and co-stars on Mad Men, how much time will she have to become a cornerstone of the new Scream series?. This nostalgia-fueled retread opens April 15th.

Scott Mendelson

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why did Paramount sell off distribution rights for Avengers and Iron Man 3 to Disney for a mere $115 million?

Just how much money trouble is Paramount in these days? Or, just how bad is Thor and/or Captain America? Or is Paramount in the middle of a major change in the kinds of films they make? The Wall Street Journal reports that Paramount plans to sell the distribution rights to The Avengers (due May 4th, 2012) and Iron Man 3 (just announced for May 3rd, 2013) to Disney for just $115 million. As you all know, Disney bought Marvel Studios for $4 billion a year ago, but we were told it would be a good-long while before Disney had the distribution rights to the characters they really wanted, the ones held by Fox (the X-Men, Daredevil, Fantastic Four) and Paramount (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, anyone associated with the Avengers), and Sony (Spider-Man). Well, Paramount just gave up its stake for a measly $115 million. Paramount will still distribute and market the 2011 summer tentpoles Thor and Captain America, but after that, it appears that Paramount's role in the Marvel universe is pretty much done.

The Fighter gets a darker, better second trailer.

Now THIS looks more like an awards contender. The first trailer seemed to be a star-filled variation on the kind of films that MMA puts on on DVD through their Tapout franchise. Of course, it didn't help that the film highlighted Mark Wahlberg (an actor I find quite overrated) and his relationship with Amy Adams, basically forced to play 'the girl'. This second trailer, which premiered on last night's Mad Men finale, highlights the family trauma between Wahlberg, brother Christian Bale, and mother Melissa Leo. The trailer is an artier, moodier little piece of advertising, which makes the film appear a whole lot more interesting. Alas, it still loses big points for not giving fellow Academy Award nominee Melissa Leo star billing in the cast role-call. This is just another example, along with Paramolunt's True Grit and Fox's Love and Other Drugs, of studios cutting one trailer for the 'general moviegoers' and another one for the film snobs. Anyway, The Fighter will be released on December 10th.

Scott Mendelson

What does a cartoon have to do to get a 'G' these days? Tangled gets PG for 'brief mild violence'.

The Lion King had a major character's father being murdered onscreen, another major character being eaten alive by hyenas, and a young child snuggling up beside the corpse of the above-mentioned recently deceased father. Tarzan opened with a blood-stained cabin containing two corpses and an infant being eaten alive off screen, and it ended with the onscreen shooting death of a major character and the hanging of the lead villain. The Hunchback of Notre Dame had an onscreen neck-breaking murder of a young mother, the attempted drowning of her baby, and an entire subplot involving the villain's desire to screw and/or murder the heroine because of his guilt-ridden lustings for her that felt like a cross between Schindler's List and Sweeney Todd (great movie and great song though... why don't they make kids toys that sing "Hellfire"?). Yet they all received G-ratings from the MPAA back in the 1990s. Yet just last week, Walt Disney's Tangled received a PG rating for the unholy crime of 'brief mild violence' (trailer 01 and trailer 02).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend box office (10/17/10): Jackass 3-D sets October, documentary records, while Red opens strong.

Jackass 3-D grossed a whopping $50.3 million in its debut weekend, setting several records and setting punditry tongues wagging in the process. First of all, the film bested the $48.1 million opening weekend for Scary Movie 3 in 2003, taking the October opening weekend record. Second of all, the opening figure is far and away the best opening weekend for any kind of non-fiction/documentary film in history. If you count this series as a documentary franchise (which I do), then the third entry is now the fifth-highest grossing documentary in history in just three days. It stands behind Jackass: The Movie ($64 million), Jackass Number Two ($72 million), March of the Penguins ($77 million), and Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119 million). While the franchise has mediocre legs (part one had a 2.9x weekend-to-total multiplier in 2002 and part two had a 2.4x multiplier in 2006), thus making $100 million+ not quite a sure thing yet, there is little doubt that the film will end its domestic run as the second-highest grossing documentary/non-fiction film of all time. Still, 3-D films seem to have better legs than average (witness the useless My Soul to Take dropping just 54% in weekend two, as well as the inexplicably strong holds of Legends of the Guardians, now at $46 million), partially because they keep the bigger auditoriums for longer periods of time. If it can manage a mere 2.4x multiplier, it will in fact surpass the Michael Moore anti-Bush epic.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why Peter Jackson signing on to direct The Hobbit is a tragedy.

I've been down this road before, but now that it's official, it's worth repeating. After years of speculation and attempted pawn-offs, Peter Jackson is in fact directing The Hobbit. As of today, MGM and Warner Bros. have reached a deal to fund two films based on The Hobbit at an absurd cost of $500 million. First of all, at $250 million apiece, each film will basically have to perform like The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring just to break even. Each film will basically cost what the first two Lord of the Rings films cost combined, and the whole two-film project will cost around $100 million more than the original three films cost back in 2001-2003. I suppose this is exciting news for the hardcore fans of the original series, as well as JRR Tolkien fans in general. While I firmly believe that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is the most impressive film achievement of the just-finished decade, I can't help feeling a little depressed at the news. This isn't a case of Peter Jackson returning in glory to a franchise that made him a legend. This truly feels like a case of Peter Jackson, unfairly marginalized because of one wrongly-lambasted box office smash (King Kong) and one genuine misfire (The Lovely Bones), begrudgingly returning to Middle Earth because he had no where left to go.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Will be back soon...

As sometimes happens, real life gets in the way (nothing bad, just hectic), which explains the lack of updates over the last few days. Worst case scenario, I'll be back on Sunday for the usual box office review, and then we'll back to business. In the meantime, Dylan Baker is probably a bit pissed off right now, and Tom Hardy is a wonderful, inspired choice for Robin: the Boy Wonder. See you all soon...

Scott Mendelson

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend Box Office Review (10/10/10): Social Network tops, Heigl underperforms, Lane opens to par, and Craven crashes.

A handful of new releases were not enough to dethrone the buzzy and generally terrific 'founding of Facebook' drama The Social Network from the top spot this weekend. Dropping a measly 31%, the David Fincher picture grossed $15.4 million in its second weekend. With a ten-day total of $46 million, the Aaron Sorkin-penned picture is still firmly locked in its status as Oscar front-runner. The much-discussed film ('is it accurate?' 'is it sexist?' 'is it a defining piece of generational cinema?') is quickly become a must-see motion picture, which bodes well in the coming weeks as the rest of the month is filled with horror titles. Barring unknown variables, The Social Network should stand as the water-cooler picture and the second-choice for general moviegoers at least until the holiday season.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A sigh of relief: Warner Bros. declines to release Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I in 3D. Will release part 7 on Nov 19th in 2D only.

In a somewhat shocking turnaround, Warner Bros. has announced today that they will be releasing the first portion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 35mm and IMAX 2D only, with no 3D conversion. The studio is claiming that there will not be enough time to properly convert the feature in 3D at a quality level they are comfortable with. That probably translates as 'we've seen the blowback of conversions with Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender, and we don't want to risk our golden goose in such a manner'. The last thing that Warner Bros. wants is a parade of reviews exclaiming 'the movie is good, but the 3D is terrible!'. Those who don't care for 3D, and especially detest 3D conversions are no doubt applauding the decision. For what it's worth, good on Warner for opting for going for quality over commerce.

Review: My Soul To Take: the 2D 35mm Experience (2010)

My Soul To Take
107 minutes
rated R

by Scott Mendelson

I often discuss the weird parallel nature of certain filmmakers. By that I mean that certain would-be auteurs are wildly inconsistent in their output. Could the same M. Night Shyamalan who wrote and directed The Sixth Sense also craft The Last Airbender? And could the same Chris Columbus have made both Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief? But there is no more inconsistent director out there than horror icon Wes Craven. Wes Craven basically defined the horror genre for a few decades, unleashing Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes in the 1970s, giving us A Nightmare On Elm Street in the 1980s, and then revitalizing the slasher film with the Scream series in the 1990s. Unfortunately, My Soul To Take is very much a film from the director of Cursed, Vampire In Brooklyn, and Deadly Friend. In some ways, it's actually worse than those.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sony confirms: Emma Stone cast as Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man reboot.

Now that this is fact, I can share what little I have to say about it. As has been rumored for the last half-week, Emma Stone has in fact been cast as the 'female lead'/'love interest in Marc Webb's Spider-Man reboot. To the surprise of many, she has been cast not as Mary Jane Watson, but as Gwen Stacey. Yes, we had heard early on that Mary Jane would not be the lead female character, but the rumors that Emma Stone was on tap led to obvious suspicions that MJ was going to be in the film after all. I know hair color can be changed, but it's funny how they cast a blonde (Kristen Dunst) as Mary Jane and then two redheads (Bryce Dallas Howard and now Emma Stone) as Gwen Stacey. Although, as noted in the press release, Stone is apparently a natural blond.

Zack Snyder gets the job to direct Chris Nolan's Superman.

I made a comment a couple weeks ago regarding the soft opening for Legends of the Guardians, basically saying that if Sucker Punch faltered next Spring that Zack Snyder would have to take a paycheck 'one for them' gig, jesting that there was an opening to direct Chris Nolan's Superman project. To those who scolded me for even suggesting such a thing, fearing that my offhand comment would get the executives thinking... Sorry. I'm a bit late to the show, but as most of you know by now, Zack Snyder has been chosen to helm the Chris Nolan-produced and David Goyer-written Superman reboot for Warner Bros. Yet more proof that David S. Goyer reads this site on a regular basis...

Review: Red (2010)

111 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

There is something to be said for the simple pleasures of watching seasoned performers give weight and potency to relatively shallow material. Red is, on its own merits, a sloppy and thin piece of genre film-making, often lacking basic narrative coherency. It is tonally inconsistent and takes its time to truly establish itself. But it eventually delivers on what it promises: an action-comedy starring a bunch of 'serious' actors who are more than willing to goof off for our amusement.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Coen Brothers True Grit remake gets a generic, uninspiring trailer.

On second thought, maybe True Grit may not be a major Oscar contender. Last week's gorgeous teaser sold the film as some kind of powerhouse western drama, while this longer, more commercial trailer sells it as a rootin-tootin western adventure picture, where (according to the trailer) Hailee Steinfeld's Mattie Ross spends the second half of the picture as a damsel in distress in need of rescue by Jeff Bridges's Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damon's LeBouef from the diabolical Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). What was teased last week as a piece of art now feels like a paycheck project for the Coen Brothers, a generic western remake that happens to have a solid pedigree. Again, we're judging what's being sold, not what is, but this trailer doesn't look nearly as impressive as the teaser.

Scott Mendelson

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend box office (10/03/10): The Social Network scores, four horror films crumble, and holdovers remain steady.

It was good news for one major release and bad news for pretty much everything else. The much hyped and critically-acclaimed 'founding of Facebook' drama The Social Network debuted in number one this weekend with a strong $22.4 million three-day take. Predictions were all over the map for this one, with pundits guessing anywhere from $15 to $30 million. As usual, taking the average prediction usually gets you the right answer. Regardless of the breathless hype and relentless free media coverage, $22.4 million is pretty terrific for a two-hour adult drama with no genuine movie stars and a director (David Fincher) and writer (Aaron Sorkin) who are only known by name among the film nerds and the industry.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wonder Woman returns to TV, courtesy of David E. Kelly.

Well, I did not see this one coming at all. The Hollywood Reporter is, um, reporting that David E. Kelly has inked a deal with Warner Bros. Television to create a new Wonder Woman television show. No word on where the show will air or when it might premiere, but this is what happens when you spend ten years not making a movie. First Superman, which spent a decade in development hell only to have its thunder stolen by Smallville, and now Wonder Woman. Well, if the Warner Bros. feature division couldn't get off their asses and put together a big budget Wonder Woman movie (which Warner Bros. would love to have in theaters for July 19th, 2013), then we'd might as well let one of television's quirkier talents take a shot at the pioneering feminist superhero.

Coen Brothers True Grit remake gets a clever poster.

Thanks to Kris Tapley at In Contention for this one. A longer trailer will apparently be in theaters this weekend, and online next week.

Scott Mendelson

Confirmed by Warner Bros: Mad Men's Jared Harris cast as Professor Moriarty in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes 2.

This was reported at The Latino Review a few days ago, but I was hoping to hear official word before commenting. Apparently Warner Bros. just confirmed it, so I can now report it as likely fact. Anyway, The role of Professor Moriarty has been cast in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes 2. It's not anyone off the 'dream list' (Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Daniel Day Lewis), nor was it either of my personal preferences (John Hurt or Chiwetel Ejiofor). The arch-villain role instead went to character actor Jared Harris

Harris is best known for his supporting role in seasons 3 and 4 of Mad Men. He also had a supporting role in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (easily the best entry in the B-movie franchise) and a reoccurring role on Fringe. Oddly enough (...useless trivia alert...), he also appeared in the fine straight-to-DVD horror picture From Within, which starred Elizabeth Rice, who reoccurs as Roger Sterling's daughter on Mad Men.

There isn't much to say about this one. Although it warms the heart to see that Guy Ritchie went with a somewhat unknown actor rather than cast whatever star would say 'yes'. I enjoyed the first Sherlock Holmes, finding it to be a messy and flawed, but genuinely engaging character-study/detective film. There is plenty of room for improvement, this is a step in the right direction.

Scott Mendelson

'Rumors from the crazy guy on the corner': Ridley Scott wants $250 million for an R-rated Alien prequel?

According to Bleeding Cool, 20th Century Fox and director Ridley Scott are at odds over the upcoming Alien prequel that Scott has demeaned himself by taking on. Whether or not the world needs an Alien prequel, there is something a little sad about a past-his-prime director returning to the franchise that made him a name in order to salvage his box office bank-ability. Nevermind that the mediocre Robin Hood is his third-biggest worldwide grosser with $310 million, the insane $200 million budget and reliance on overseas dollars has rendered the film as a, at best, near-miss. But I digress, the issue at hand is Scott's insistence on an 'R' rating (fair enough), and his desire for a $250 million budget. Oh, well that... wait, what?!?!


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