Two decades ago, could any of us have predicted the future that awaited Harry Potter? One massively successful book expanded to seven, which begat a theme park, a universe’s worth of merchandising, eight films, a play, and a new tangentially related franchise. And for those fans who still want more Potter, there is Pottermore.
The news that Ron Howard would take the directorial reins on Han Solo from Chris Miller and Phil Lord was met with a mixed reception by the ardent Star Wars fanbase. Some remembered Howard as the director behind Apollo 13, a movie partially set in outer space (the same location as much of Han Solo, presumably!), and figured he’d be right for the job. Others had fresher recollections of Ron Howard’s Inferno, a.k.a. Bad Tom Hanks Hairpiece 3, and expressed some misgivings. But today, one ardent supporter of Howard‘s has made a statement from the shadows on why he’s a perfect fit for the franchise, though he may have some rubbery, alien skin in the game.
In a newly posted video, film score composer Mark Korven shows off his demon baby, a one-of-a-kind noisemaker he’s affectionately dubbed The Apprehension Engine. Tired of the same old samples cropping up in movie after movie, the musician (whose credits include Vincenzo Natali’s Cube and, more recently, colonial-era chiller The Witch) wanted something he could use to produce original sound effects. He commissioned guitar maker Tony Duggan-Smith to create the nightmarish machine in the video above, which uses metal rulers, curled scrap metal, and other assorted bits of junk to generate supremely disturbing... music?
Say you’re filmmaker Alex Kurtzman. To the outside observer, it would appear you have it all: a multi-picture deal with Universal to spearhead their Dark Universe initiative, more money than God, probably a bunch of boats, Tom Cruise’s cell phone number. And yet you’re driven mad by the one thing you can’t seem to get, which is the respect of the critics. Like pretty much everything you’ve ever done, the reviews have been downright vitriolic (and to make matters worse, your latest film The Mummy has not been the cash factory Universal was hoping for, now poised to lose the studio a cool $95 million even after a handsome global gross), souring your day even as you fail upwards into the next multi-million-dollar project.
Spend long enough interviewing actors for a living, you start to pick little things up. For instance, whenever a performer’s discussing their most recent production and utters any variant on the phrase “it really felt like the cast and crew was one big family,” that’s a major red flag that they’re full of crap. Costars are coworkers, and usually for about six months, and that’s on the longer side. But the ladies of Pitch Perfect 3 seem to be pretty earnest when they gush about the spirit of sisterhood and camaraderie that dominated the atmosphere on set. And for those as skeptical of myself, they proved it with video evidence.
A celebrity ritual no less time-honored than the public callout, the public apology is a vital part of being and remaining famous. Think of it like an annual physical, but for your public profile: say something wild enough to grab some headlines and ensure that your name’s sticking in the population’s heads, let it sit for a short while, and once the time is right, issue a dignified apology to show humility and self-awareness. It’s a rich Hollywood tradition, and Elizabeth Banks is the latest personality to run this gauntlet. But when you come at the king, and most especially when that king is literal King of Hollywood Steven Spielberg, you best not miss.
Here’s how thoroughly Batman’s influence has permeated the mainstream: he’s claimed tacit ownership of the very notion of shining a light into the sky. The Bat-Signal, introduced in the comics as Gotham City’s method of summoning the Dark Knight, has been endlessly parodied in the annals of pop-culture — just earlier this month, the poster for Captain Underpants paid homage to the iconic (a word I mean here literally, and not in the ‘a photo of the Kardashians’ sense) design of the skyward spotlight. And all too appropriately, the Bat-Signal will now be used to give one former Batman, the dearly departed Adam West, a proper send-off.
It’s a tableau with which anyone who watches the news is all too familiar: police station, pair of white interrogators, terrified-looking black man. But it’s not from last night’s 10 o’clock broadcast — the year is 1967, and that’s Star Wars star John Boyega in the chair, fielding aggressive and leading questions from the stern officers. It’s a tense scene bordering on the sickening, and the trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s supercharged period piece Detroit only get more brutal from there.
Do you wanna build a snowman... again? Disney sure hopes so, as they announced in a new press release today that their mega-successful Frozen would gain a sort of mini-sequel in an upcoming short to be bundled with Coco. But Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is no ordinary lead-in to the main event; it sounds like quite a bit has gone into the short that Disney repeatedly refers to as a “featurette,” running at 21 minutes and including four new songs, as well as returning cast members Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff. Parents, batten down the hatches, for a new ‘Let It Go’ is close at hand.
Netflix has been notoriously secretive about their data, whether that’s subscription demographics or the all-important individual streaming figures for specific titles. Though they’ve grown into a major player in the world of entertainment, we really have no earthly idea whether Netflix is successful or not. (They almost definitely are, unless this is the single most brazen bluff in showbiz history.) The only knowledge we have of Netflix’s inner workings comes from the occasional missive issued by content head Ted Sarandos, who made one such announcement in a recent letter to shareholders. Among the financial jargon and quarterly earnings reports, Sarandos dropped the chilling detail that Netflix’s 100 million-strong user base has collectively streamed over 500 million hours of Adam Sandler movies since The Ridiculous Six opened. Today, ScreenCrush invites you to consider the brain-collapsing enormity of that number.
As the guy behind An American Werewolf in London, one of the most widely adored monster movies in the genre’s gloriously ignoble history, people care what John Landis has to say about the state of the American studio creature feature. The current talking point du jour is Universal’s connected franchise of Dark Universe monster movies, a planned network of seven interlocking films featuring their most famed ghouls. This past weekend, their flagship entry The Mummy gave a mixed performance at the box office, mustering up a paltry $32 million domestically, but giving star Tom Cruise his biggest global opening of all time. It’s an embarrassment at home but a smash abroad, and Landis has some thoughts on the matter.
Spider-Man’s a true New Yorker: he understands when to take the 6 train versus rolling the dice on the 2nd Avenue subway, he knows where to get the Bronx’s best chopped cheese, and when he needs a snack in a pinch, he hits up his friendly neighborhood bodega. In the latest promotional spot for the umpteenth reboot Spider-Man: Homecoming, the web-head is late to a big NBA Finals watching party at Tony Stark’s place. (The commercial was written to air specifically during the basketball playoffs this year.) But when he ducks into a nearby bodega — for those uninitiated, it’s really just a corner convenience store, but immeasurably better in every way — he has a chance encounter.
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