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Warner Bros, and its disastrous movie summer of 1997

13 June 2016 2:21 PM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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Warner Bros has struggled with its blockbusters of late. But back in summer 1997 - Batman & Robin's year - it faced not dissimilar problems.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Warner Bros, following a string of costly movies that hadn’t hit box office gold (Pan, Jupiter Ascending, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., In The Heart Of The Sea), was restructuring its blockbuster movie business. Fewer films, fewer risks, more franchises, and more centering around movie universes seems to be the new approach, and the appointment of a new corporate team to oversee the Harry Potter franchise last week was one part of that.

In some ways, it marks the end of an era. Whilst it retains its relationships with key directing talent (Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan for instance), Warner Bros was, for the bulk of the 1990s in particular, the studio that the others were trying to mimic. It worked with the same stars and filmmakers time and time again, and under then-chiefs Terry Semel and Robert Daly, relationships with key talent were paramount.

Furthermore, the studio knew to leave that talent to do its job, and was also ahead of the pack in developing franchises that it could rely on to give it a string of hits.

However, whilst Warner Bros is having troubles now, its way of doing business was first seriously challenged by the failure of its slate in the summer of 1997. Once again, it seemed to have a line up to cherish, that others were envious of. But as film by film failed to click, every facet of Warner Bros’ blockbuster strategy suddenly came under scrutiny, and would ultimately fairly dramatically change. Just two summers later, the studio released The Matrix, and blockbuster cinema changed again.

But come the start of summer 1997? These are the movies that Warner Bros had lined up, and this is what happened…

February - National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation

Things actually had got off to a decent enough start for the studio earlier in the year, so it's worth kicking off there. It brought Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back together, for the fourth National Lampoon movie, and the first since 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Interestingly, it dropped the National Lampoon moniker in the Us, and instead released the eventual movie as Vegas Vacation. It was a belated sequel, back when belated sequels weren’t that big a thing.

The film was quickly pulled apart by reviewers, but it still just about clawed a profit. The production budget of $25m was eclipsed by the Us gross of $36m, and the movie would do comfortable business on video/DVD. Not a massive hit, then, but hardly a project that had a sense of foreboding about it.

Yet the problems were not far away.

May – Father's Day

Warner Bros had a mix of movies released in the Us in March and April 1997, including modest Wesley Snipes-headlined thriller Murder At 1600, and family flick Shiloh. But it launched its summer season with Father’s Day, an expensive packaged comedy from director Ivan Reitman, starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. It had hit written all over it.

Father’s Day was one of the movies packaged by the CAA agency, and its then-head, Mike Ovitz (listed regularly by Premiere magazine in the 1990s as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, if not the most powerful man). That he brought together the stars, the director and the project, gave a studio a price tag, and the studio duly paid it. Given Warner Bros’ devotion to star talent (Mel Gibson, then one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and a major Warner Bros talent, was persuaded to film a cameo), it was a natural home for the film. It quickly did the deal. few questions asked.

That package, and CAA’s fees for putting it together, brought the budget for a fairly straightforward comedy to a then-staggering $85m. The problem, though, was that the film simply wasn’t very good. It’s one of those projects that looks great on paper, less great when exposed on a great big screen. Warner Bros has snapped it up, without - it seems - even properly reading the script. 

Premiere magazine quoted a Warner Bros insider back in November 1997 as saying “when [CAA] calls and says ‘we have a package, Father’s Day, with Williams and Crystal and Reitman, we say ‘great’”, adding “we don’t scrutinise the production. When we saw the movie, it took the wind out of us. We kept reshooting and enhancing, but you can’t fix something that’s bad”.

And it was bad.

The movie would prove to be the first big misfire of the summer, grossing just $35m in the Us, and not adding a fat lot more elsewhere in the world. Warner Bros’ first film of the summer was a certified flop. More would soon follow.

May - Addicted To Love

A more modestly priced project was Addicted To Love, a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick. Just over a year later, Warner Bros would hit big when Meg Ryan reunited with Tom Hanks for Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail. But here? The film was a modest success, at best.

Directed by Griffin Dunne (making his directorial debut), and put together in partnership with Miramax, Addicted To Love was based around the Robert Palmer song of the same name. But whilst it was sold as a romcom, the muddled final cut was actually a fair bit darker. There was an underlying nastiness to some moments in the film, and when the final box office was tallied, it came in lower than the usual returns for pictures from Ryan or Broderick. Counter-programming it against the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn’t massively help in this instance either, especially as the Jurassic Park sequel would smash opening weekend records.

Addicted To Love ended up with $34.6m at the Us box office. It would eke out a small profit.

June - Batman & Robin

And this is when the alarm bells started to ring very, very loudly. Summer 1997 was supposed to be about a trio of sure-fire hit sequels: Batman 4, Jurassic Park 2 and Speed 2. Only one of those would ultimately bring home the box office bacon, the others being destroyed by critics, and ultimately leaving far more empty seats than anticipated in multiplexes.

Batman & Robin, it’s easy to forget, came off the back of 1995’s Joel Schumacher-steered Batman reboot, Batman Forever that year's biggest movie). It had one of the fastest-growing stars in the world in the Batsuit (George Clooney), and the McDonald’s deals were signed even before the script was typed up. You don’t need us to tell you that you could tell, something of a theme already in Warner Bros' summer of '97.

That said, Batman & Robin still gave Warner Bros a big opening, but in the infancy of the internet as we know it, poisonous word of mouth was already beginning to spread. The film’s negative cost Warner Bros up to $140m, before marketing and distribution costs, and it opened in the Us to a hardly-sniffy $42m of business (although that was down from previous Batman movies).

But that word of mouth still accelerated its departure from cinemas. It was then very rare for a film to make over 40% of its Us gross in its first weekend. But that’s just what Batman & Robin did, taking $107.3m in America, part of a worldwide total of $238.2m. This was the worst return for a Batman movie to date, and Warner Bros had to swiftly put the brakes on plans to get Batman Triumphant moving.

It would be eight years until Batman returned to the big screen, in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Warner Bros would undergo big changes in the intervening period.

As for the immediate aftermath of Batman & Robin? Warner Bros co-chief Robert Daly would note at the end of '97 that “we’d have been better off with more action in the picture. The movie had to service too many characters”, adding that “the next Batman we do, in three years – and we have a deal with George Clooney to do it – will have one villain”.

Fortunately, Warner Bros’ one solid hit of the summer was just around the corner…

July - Contact

And breathe out.

Warner Bros bet heavily again on expensive talent here, with Robert Zemeckis bringing his adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Contact to the studio for his first film post-Forrest Gump. Warner Bros duly footed the $90m bill (back when that was still seen as a lot of money for a movie), a good chunk of which went to Jodie Foster. It invested heavily in special effects, and gave Zemeckis licence to make the film that he wanted.

The studio was rewarded with the most intelligent and arguably the best blockbuster of the summer. I’ve looked back at Contact in a lot more detail here, and it remains a fascinating film that’s stood the test of time (and arguably influenced Christopher Nolan’s more recent Interstellar).

Reviews were strong, it looked terrific, and the initial box office was good.

But then the problem hit. For whilst Contact was a solid hit for Warner Bros, it wasn’t a massively profitable one. Had Father’s Day and Batman & Robin shouldered the box office load there were supposed to, it perhaps wouldn’t have been a problem. But when they failed to take off, the pressure shifted to Contact.

The movie would gross $100.9m in the Us, and add another $70m overseas (this being an era were international box office rarely had the importance it has today). But once Warner Bros had paid its bills, there wasn’t a fat lot over for itself. Fortunately, the film still sells on disc and on-demand. Yet it wasn’t to be the massive hit the studio needed back in 1997.

July - One Eight Seven

From director Kevin Reynolds, the man who helmed Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Waterworld, came modestly-priced drama 187, starring Samuel L Jackson (in a strong performance). Warner Bros wouldn’t have had massive box office expectations for the film (although it can't have been unaware that the inspirational teacher sub-genre was always worth a few quid), and it shared production duties on the $20m movie with Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. But still, it would have had its eye on a modest success. What it got in return was red ink.

The film’s not a bad one, and certainly worth seeking out. But poor reviews gave the film an uphill struggle from the off – smaller productions arriving mid-summer really needed critics on their side, as they arguably still do – and it opened to just $2.2m of business (the less edgy, Michelle Pfeiffer-headlined school drama Dangerous Minds had been a surprise hit not two years before).

By the time its run was done, 187 hadn’t even come close to covering its production costs, with just under $6m banked.

Warner Bros’ summer slate was running out of films. But at least it had one of its most reliable movie stars around the corner…

August - Conspiracy Theory

What could go wrong? Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts were two of the biggest movie stars in the world in 1997, at a time when movie stars still equated to box office gold. Director Richard Donner, one of Warner Bros’ favourite directors, had delivered the Lethal Weapons, Maverick, Superman, The Goonies and more for the studio. Put them altogether, with Patrick Stewart (coming to wider public consciousness at the time off the back of his Star Trek: The Next Generation work) as a villain, and it should have been a big hit.

Conspiracy Theory proved to be one of the more ambitious summer blockbusters of the era. It lacks a good first act, which would be really useful in actually setting up more of what’s going on. But Gibson played an edgy cab driver who believes in deep government conspiracies, and finds himself getting closer to the truth than those around him sometimes give him credit for.

Warner Bros was probably expecting another Lethal Weapon with the reunion of Gibson (who had to be persuaded to take Conspiracy Theory on) and Donner (it’s pretty much what it got with the hugely enjoyable Maverick a few years’ earlier), but instead it got a darker drama, with an uneasy central character that didn’t exactly play to the summer box office crowd.

The bigger problem, though, was that the film never quite worked as well as you might hope. Yet star power did have advantages. While no juggernaut, the film did decent business, grossing $137m worldwide off the back of an $80m budget ($40m of which was spent on the salaries for the talent before a single roll of film was loaded into a camera). That said, in the Us it knocked a genuine smash hit, Air Force One, off the top spot. Mind you in hindsight, that was probably the film that the studio wished it had made (the cockpit set of Warner Bros' own Executive Decision was repurposed for Air Force One, fact fans).

Still: Warner Bros did get Lethal Weapon 4 off Gibson and Donner a year later…

August - Free Willy 3: The Rescue

Yeah.

Warner Bros opened its third Free Willy film on the same day as Conspiracy Theory (can you imagine a studio opening two big films on the same day now), but it was clear that this was a franchise long past its best days (and its best days hardly bring back the fondest of memories).

Still, Free Willy movies were relatively modest in cost to put together, and Warner Bros presumably felt this was a simple cashpoint project. But in a year when lots of family movies did less business than expected (Disney’s Hercules, Fox’s Home Alone 3, Disney’s Mr Magoo), Free Willy 3 barely troubled the box office. It took in just over $3m in total, and Willy would not be seen on the inside of a cinema again.

August - Steel

Not much was expected from Steel, a superhero movie headlined by Shaquille O’Neal. Which was fortunate, because not much was had.

It had a mid-August release date in the Us, at a point when a mid-August release date was more of a dumping ground than anything else. And even though the budget was set at a relatively low $16m, the film – and it’s an overused time – pretty much bombed. It took $1.7m at the Us box office, and given that its appeal hinged on a major American sports star whose fame hardly transcended the globe, its international takings did not save it (it went straight to video in many territories).

It was a miserable end to what, for warner bros, had been a thoroughly miserable summer.

So what did hit big in summer 1997?

Summer 1997 was infamous for big films failing to take off in the way that had been expected – Hercules, Speed 2, and the aforementioned Warner Bros movies – but there were several bright spots. The big winner would be Barry Sonnenfeld’s light and sprightly sci-fi comedy Men In Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Star power too helped score big hits for Harrison Ford (Air Force One), Julia Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and John Travolta (Face/Off).

This was also the summer that Nicolas Cage cemented his action movie credentials with Face/Off and Con Air. Crucially, though, the star movies that hit were the ones that veered on the side of 'good'. For the first of many years, the internet was blamed for this.

Oh, and later in the year, incidentally, Titanic would redefine just what constituted a box office hit...

What came next for Warner Bros?

In the rest of 1997, Warner Bros had a mix of projects that again enjoyed mixed fortunes. The standout was Curtis Hanson’s stunning adaptation of L.A. Confidential, that also proved to be a surprise box office success. The Devil’s Advocate didn’t do too badly either.

However, two of the studio’s key filmmakers failed to really deliver come the end of 1997. Clint Eastwood’s Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil failed to ignite (although many felt he was always on a hiding to nothing in trying to adapt that for the screen), and Kevin Costner’s The Postman would prove arguably the most expensive box office disappointment of the year. No wonder the studio rushed Lethal Weapon 4 into production for summer 1998. Oh, and it had The Avengers underway too (not that one), that would prove to be a 1998 disappointment.

The studio would eventually take action. The Daly-Semel management team, that had reigned for 15 years, would break up at the end of 1999, as its traditional way of doing business became less successful. The pair had already future projects that were director driven to an extent (Eyes Wide Shut), and it would still invest in movies with stars (Wild Wild West). But the immediate plan of action following the disappointment of summer 1997 – to get Batman 5 and Superman Lives made – would falter. It wouldn’t be until 1999’s The Matrix (a film that Daly and Semel struggled to get) and – crucially – 2001’s Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone that the studio would really get its swagger back...

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Movies Feature Simon Brew Warner Bros 16 Jun 2016 - 05:19 Conspiracy Theory Father's Day Addicted To Love Contact National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation One Eight Seven Steel Batman & Robin Free Willy 3: The Rescue »

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The Complete Works Ep. 20: Nicolas Cage – Deadfall (1993)

13 June 2016 9:15 AM, PDT | Film-Book | See recent Film-Book news »

The Complete Works is an in-depth, introspective, and, quite frankly, insane idea – FilmBook contributor Mike Smith and his co-host Mike DeCriscio are going to take a look at every film in the filmography of Nicolas Cage, one crazy screaming scene at a time. This week, Mike and Mike discuss Nicolas Cage’s role in 1993’s […] »

- Michael Smith

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Ghost Rider: Norman Reedus is keen on the role

10 June 2016 1:24 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus is keen to play Marvel’s fiery-skull antihero Ghost Rider...

This article contains some fruity language.

Norman Reedus is a huge motorcycle enthusiast. As well as riding around on one between brutal crossbow-assisted kills in The Walking Dead, he also hosts Ride With Norman Reedus on AMC. And he’s not gonna stop there – he’s got his eye on another motorbike-themed gig, that of Marvel’s chopper-loving action hero Ghost Rider.

Since Nicolas Cage last played the burning skull vigilante Johnny Blaze in Columbia’s 2012 movie Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, the rights to the character have reverted back to Marvel Studios. The same thing happened to Daredevil and The Punisher, both of whom were quickly incorporated into the Netflix wing of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

If Marvel Studios do attempt to revamp Ghost Rider, would Mr Reedus fancy the role? »

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Jude Law Explains Why He Turned Down Superman Back In The Day

9 June 2016 9:30 PM, PDT | Movies.com | See recent Movies.com news »

Superman has existed in many, many forms over the years. On the big screen alone he's been played by four different actors over the course of six decades. And then there's a number of other small screen TV versions, not to mention a further handful of different voice performers over the years. In total we're look at well over a dozen different portrayals of Superman in modern media alone. And yet there are still more Supermen that could have been. The most famoust alternate reality Superman is perhaps Nicolas Cage, who would have played the Man of Steel in Tim Burton's abandoned movie. He's not the only '90s icon to almost wear the suit, though. Jude Law also turned down Superman. Funnily enough, Law passed on the project after he saw himself in the...

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- Peter Hall

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Norman Reedus Says “F*ck Yeah” To Playing Ghost Rider

9 June 2016 3:55 PM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

His character on The Walking Dead rides a bike, and he now has a new AMC TV series which explores motorcycle culture, so it probably won’t come as much of a surprise that real-life biker enthusiast Norman Reedus is interested in suiting up as the demonic Marvel antihero, Ghost Rider.

In a recent interview with Uproxx, here’s what the actor had to say when asked if he’d like to play the part:

Hell yeah. It would be a blast. Do I get a skull face that’s on fire and all that stuff? F— yeah. I’m down.

We’ve previously had to endure two pretty awful Ghost Rider movies starring Nicholas Cage, but a couple of years ago Marvel Studios finally got the rights to the character back and fans have been hoping to see justice done to Johnny Blaze ever since.

There’ve been rumors »

- Mark Cassidy

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Superman: Jude Law on why he turned the role down

9 June 2016 11:15 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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Jude Law has been chatting again about how he nearly became Superman...

Long before the DC Extended Universe was even a glimmer in Warner Bros' eye, and before shared cinematic universes in general were even a thing, there were hopes to bring Superman back to the big screen after what had been a nearly 20 year absence. After the ongoing saga of the project known as Superman Lives with names like Tim Burton, Kevin Smith, and Nicolas Cage attached, Warner Bros decided to go in another direction, and other actors were approached, including Jude Law.

Law appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert in the Us, and he spoke about why he decided not to put on the red cape. Now, he's not clear about which version of the project he's referring to here. Law's name was mentioned in connection with the original Batman V Superman movie »

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‘Hell Yeah’ Norman Reedus Wants to Play Ghost Rider for Marvel

9 June 2016 9:39 AM, PDT | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

Norman Reedus rides a motorcycle on “Walking Dead,” explores motorcycle culture in the new AMC series “Ride With Norman Reedus,” and wouldn’t mind riding a motorcycle for Marvel next. Uproxx asked the actor if he would be interested in starring in a “Ghost Rider” reboot, and the TV star seemed pretty excited about the possibility of playing that particular superhero. “Hell yeah. It would be a blast,” Reedus said. “Do I get a skull face that’s on fire and all that stuff? F— yeah. I’m down.” The 2007 film “Ghost Rider,” which starred Nicolas Cage as the hellish hero, »

- Beatrice Verhoeven

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Walking Dead Star Norman Reedus Wants to Play Ghost Rider

9 June 2016 8:55 AM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Everyone knows Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead, and while we are all awaiting to see who "Lucille" decided to pick on at the end of season 6, he is keeping himself busy. Reedus is currently out promoting his new show Ride With Norman Reedus and as it turns out, there is another comic book character he may want to play. When the subject came up, Reedus said that he would like to take on the role of Ghost Rider.

Reedus was doing an interview with Uproxx about his new show which will be airing on AMC starting on June 12 and at the end of the interview, the subject of a Ghost Rider reboot came up. He was asked point blank if he would like to take on the role of Johnny Blaze and was very enthusiastic about the prospect. Here is what Reedus had to say about the hypothetical opportunity. »

- MovieWeb

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From Dusk Till Dawn Season 3 Directors Announced, New Cast Members Revealed

7 June 2016 11:32 AM, PDT | DailyDead | See recent DailyDead news »

The characters fortunate enough to survive the blood-splattered brawl at the end of Season 2 will return in the upcoming third season of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, and to help hold over fans with a culebra-like thirst for new episodes, Miramax and El Rey Network have revealed Season 3’s directors and additional cast members.

Press Release: June 7, 2016 (Los Angeles, CA / Austin, TX) – Miramax® and El Rey Network released today the list of directors that will helm the 10 episodes of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series season three. Additionally, Nicky Whelan (House of Lies, The Wedding Ringer) and Maurice Compte (Breaking Bad, Narcos) have joined the cast of season three. Compte will play Brassa a mysterious Rasputin-like figure who takes on the Gecko brothers. Whelan’s character will be revealed on air.

The list of directors includes several newcomers to the series including Eagle Egilsson, who is known for »

- Derek Anderson

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Ridley Scott to Receive American Cinematheque Honor

7 June 2016 11:08 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Director-producer Ridley Scott will receive the 30th American Cinematheque award.

The presentation will take place on Oct. 14 at the Beverly Hilton.

Scott received Academy Award director nominations for “Black Hawk Down,” “Gladiator” and “Thelma and Louise.” Othe directing credits include “Alien,” “Black Rain,” “Blade Runner,” “The Duelists,” “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” “G.I. Jane,” “Kingdom of Heaven,” “Legend,” “The Martian,” “Matchstick Men,” “Prometheus,” “Robin Hood,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “White Squall.”

The American Cinematheque is extremely pleased to honor Ridley Scott as the 30th recipient of the American Cinematheque award at our celebration this year,” said American Cinematheque Chairman Rick Nicita. “To state it simply, Ridley Scott is one of the greatest directors in the history of the motion picture.”

“From his first feature, ‘The Duelists,’ to his most recent, ‘The Martian,’ the films of Ridley Scott have combined keenly observed humanity with dazzling state-of-the-art effects and design in »

- Dave McNary

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8 powerfully effective voice-overs in modern movies

7 June 2016 6:31 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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Sometimes funny, often poignant, narration can be hugely effective when deployed successfully. Ryan picks a few great examples...

“God help you if you use voice-over in your work my friends! God help you. That’s flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can use narration to explain the thoughts of a character.”

So says screenwriting coach Robert McKee in Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s 2002 film, Adaptation. Well, not the real screenwriting coach Robert Mckee, but the one played in superbly aggressive style by actor Brian Cox, who stomps about on stage at a writing seminar like an angry bull. Brilliantly, McKee’s condemnation of voice-overs interrupts the interior thoughts, as narrated by Nicolas Cage’s fictionalised version of Charlie Kaufman - a terminally anxious screenwriter with an Everest-sized case of writer’s block.

It’s an example of the quirky, hall-of-mirrors kind of humour that courses through Adaptation, »

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John Oliver Beats Oprah By Giving Away $15M On ‘Last Week Tonight’

6 June 2016 7:50 AM, PDT | Deadline TV | See recent Deadline TV news »

John Oliver last night tackled this country’s epidemic of personal debt, which he explained as "the reason Nicolas Cage has made so many great choices over the years" in his movie roles. American households collectively owe more than $12 trillion, about $440 billion of which is at least 90 days past overdue. That has given birth to a billion-dollar debt buying industry. Debt buyers  acquire the right to collect debts from the original creditors. Some of these outfits are… »

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Top Ridiculous Scenes In Movies

3 June 2016 6:14 AM, PDT | SneakPeek | See recent SneakPeek news »

Some movies have been accused of stretching reality in order to keep their stories 'flowing', with viewers usually forced to suspend their disbelief. Then there are those moments when we admit there are plot devices in some serious films that are just plain ridiculous including "Kill Bill: Vol. 2", "Face/Off", "Run Lola Run", "The Untouchables" and "Rocky":

"Kill Bill: Vol. 2"

In writer/director Quentin Tarantino's 2004 revenge action thriller, 'Beatrice' (Uma Thurman) aka 'The Bride' embarks on a slice 'n dice rampage, to take out the 'Deadly Vipers' gang of killers that left her for dead on her wedding day.

Unfortunately her quest is near-terminated by 'Budd', the brother of 'Bill'  who shoots her in the chest and, with the help of 'Elle Driver', buries Bea in a coffin - alive.

Recalling the teachings of her master 'Pai Mei', and her struggles in punching through a wooden board, »

- Michael Stevens

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The Trust review – a misfire on every level

29 May 2016 12:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Elijah Wood is an unconvincing police officer in this disastrous heist drama

This corrupt cop heist flick is a tonal car crash that winks conspiratorially as it dispatches supporting characters by shooting them in the face. Without the wry, genre-savvy smarts of Tarantino or the propulsive drive of someone such as David Ayer, this is a misfire on every conceivable level. And none more so than the casting. Nicolas Cage reprises his Bad Lieutenant persona as Vegas policeman turned criminal mastermind Stone. But it is Elijah Wood as his partner who is most problematic. There are foetuses that would be more convincing in the role of a jaded lawman than Wood. You can festoon him with hookers and drug paraphernalia – he still looks like a newly hatched baby bird.

Continue reading »

- Wendy Ide

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Giveaway – Win a DVD bundle to celebrate the release of The Trust

28 May 2016 2:23 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

The Trust comes to Cinemas and On Demand on 27th May and to support the release we have an amazing DVD bundle to give away which includes the following titles:

Momentum

Kidnapping Freddie Heineken

Mojave

Exposed

The Loft

Hours

Into the Grizzly Maze

Dying of the light

Bad Lieutenant meets Lethal Weapon in this blackly-comic buddy cop thriller. Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Kick-Ass) delivers his best performance in years as a nihilistic cop who teams with a reluctant young officer played by Elijah Wood (Maniac, Sin City) to stage a big money heist. After premiering at SXSW, The Trust has already picked up a word-of-mouth reputation as the crime thriller to watch this year.

The Trust Comes To UK Cinemas And On Demand May 27

The competition closes at midnight on Sunday, June 12th. UK readers only please. To enter, use one of the following methods…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

By »

- Gary Collinson

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Nicolas Cage gives an update on National Treasure 3

27 May 2016 9:00 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Back in October of 2013, director Jon Turteltaub revealed that he hoped to go into production on National Treasure 3 “within two years”, only for things to fall deathly silent on the third chapter in Disney’s action-adventure series.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, star Nicolas Cage has confirmed that the project remains a possibility, but so far they’ve been unable to nail down the script:

“I haven’t really heard anything about that,” states Cage. “I do know that those scripts are very difficult to write, because there has to be some credibility in terms of the facts and fact-checking, because it was relying on historical events. And then you have to make it entertaining. I know that it’s been a challenge to get the script where it needs to be. That’s as much as I’ve heard. But they’re still working on it.”

The »

- Gary Collinson

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Paul Schrader and Willem Dafoe: 'We thought we should really do the nasty'

27 May 2016 12:56 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Schrader and Dafoe – who plays psychotic criminal Mad Dog – discuss the director’s latest film, Dog Eat Dog, a bad-taste epic for the ‘post-rules generation’

Deep in the filth, squashed under the weight of the American dream, three men with crazy names (Troy, Mad Dog and Diesel) scrabble for space. Try as they might, the gangsters at the heart of Paul Schrader’s latest are damned. Down they go, still clinging to the hope of one last, redemptive job, digging on deep to the gates of hell.

Dog Eat Dog, which was let off the leash at last week’s Cannes film festival, is a hard-scrap story. Based on the book by former criminal, writer and actor Eddie Bunker (who played Reservoir Dogs’s Mr Blue), it’s set and shot among the strip malls and dive bars of post-crash Cleveland. Nicolas Cage stars as Troy, a once-wealthy heir whose fortunes have crumbled. »

- Henry Barnes

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The Trust review – offbeat thriller is a criminal waste of talent

26 May 2016 2:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Nicolas Cage throws in the odd burst of goofiness but this heist movie never settles into a groove and there’s not nearly enough tension or consistency

If you’re telling a story involving buddy cops, Las Vegas and a heist, you’d better have something new to bring to the party, but this potentially offbeat thriller relies too heavily on its lead actors: Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood. They’re set on breaking into a criminal strongroom they’ve located – with no clear idea what’s inside. It’s a tough job involving kidnap, German power tools and several hours of drilling from the apartment above. In time-honoured fashion, the well-laid plan goes awry, but the story never settles into a comfortable groove. Once in a while Nicolas Cage remembers he’s Nicolas Cage and throws in an offbeat line delivery or an incongruous burst of goofiness, but »

- Steve Rose

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Inside Johnny Depp's Rocky Romantic History: His Other Short Marriage and Broken Engagements

26 May 2016 9:30 AM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

[CUSTOM_PLAYER_BRIGHTCOVE "4911715140001"] After 15 months of marriage, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are calling it quits - but this is far from the first breakup the Oscar-nominated actor has weathered. People's former Sexiest Man Alive, 52, has been linked to a number of actress and models over the years - remember that "Winona forever" tattoo? - and previously endured a broken marriage and multiple botched engagements. With Depp's latest relationship ending after Heard, 30, filed a divorce petition on Monday, here's a look back at Depp's rocky romantic history: Lori Anne AllisonAt just 20 years old, Depp married makeup artist Lori Allison, then 25, shortly after moving »

- Jodi Guglielmi, @JodiGug3

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Teen Lust Review: All Hail This Satanic Sex Party

26 May 2016 8:40 AM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Teen Lust is definitely a dubious title. It's not one you want to order on the company dime while on a business trip. Nor do you want it read back to you while Visa runs a credit fraud check. And it's probably not a title you want your spouse spotting during that end of the month bill pay. Perhaps that's why we haven't heard too much about it yet. People are afraid. The movie may be hampered by it's gleefully inappropriate nomenclature. But that saucy title barely scratches at the surface of what hides behind it.

Yes, lovers of 80s sex comedies are in for a real treat. And the movie certainly trumps the idea that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. We, as true movie fans, just have to dig a litter deeper. If Teen Lust had of been released in 1986, or even in 1996, untouched, we'd be celebrating its anniversary as a classic. »

- MovieWeb

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