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1-20 of 93 items from 2016   « Prev | Next »

Comic-Con 2016: Watch the First Trailer for Kong: Skull Island

23 July 2016 1:11 PM, PDT | DailyDead | See recent DailyDead news »

“This planet doesn’t belong to us…” Daily Dead’s live Hall H coverage from Comic-Con continues with the release of Warner Bros.’ first official trailer for Kong: Skull Island.

Press Release: Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “Kong: Skull Island” reimagines the origin of the mythic Kong in a compelling, original adventure from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (“The Kings of Summer”).

In the film, a diverse team of explorers is brought together to venture deep into an uncharted island in the Pacific – as beautiful as it is treacherous – unaware that they’re crossing into the domain of the mythic Kong.

Kong: Skull Island” stars Tom Hiddleston (“The Avengers,” “Thor: The Dark World”), Samuel L. Jackson (“The Hateful Eight,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), Oscar winner Brie Larson (“Room,” “Trainwreck”), John Goodman (“Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Argo”) and John C. Reilly (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Step Brothers”). The international ensemble cast also »

- Derek Anderson

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Watch The Trailer For The Disney Animator Documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life

21 July 2016 12:52 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

A new trailer has been released for Floyd Norman: An Animated Life.

From filmmakers Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey, the feel good documentary is an intimate journey through the celebrated life and career of the ‘Forrest Gump’ of the animation industry – Disney Legend,  Floyd Norman.

In Theaters, On Demand and Digital HD August 26, 2016

Comic-Con Screening & Panel July 22nd tomorrow Friday, (July 22nd at 3:10pm) followed by a Q&A with Floyd, the filmmakers Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey and composer Ryan Shore – a separate panel will be held that evening at 9pm.

Hired as the first African-American at Disney in 1956, Floyd worked on such classics as Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians, to name a few. In 1967, he was hand-picked by Walt Disney to join the story team on The Jungle Book. He would later work at Hanna Barbera on many classic cartoons, including Scooby Doo. His talents would later take »

- Michelle McCue

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Cineplex's own Ian Shaw on the changing theatre industry

20 July 2016 10:58 AM, PDT | Cineplex | See recent Cineplex news »

Cineplex's own Ian Shaw on the changing theatre industryCineplex's own Ian Shaw on the changing theatre industryAmanda Wood7/20/2016 12:58:00 Pm

Cineplex is proud to be a Canadian company, and we’re proud to be a part of the Canadian film industry. We’re lucky enough to count some industry vets as part of the Cineplex family, and they’ve helped turn Cineplex into the national brand it is today.

Ian Shaw is one such industry vet, having worked in the film exhibition industry for forty years. Ian is the Vice President of Purchasing, Supply Management and Facilities here at Cineplex, and he was also last year’s recipient of the Canadian Picture Pioneers’ Pioneer of the Year award. He’s been with Cineplex for a long time, but he didn’t always work here at home office.

Ian began his career in the Canadian film industry working at a drive-in theatre in Pickering, »

- Amanda Wood

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Film Acquisition Roundup: Oscilloscope Dates ‘Girl Asleep,’ 26 Aries Sets First Theatrical Release And More

15 July 2016 7:00 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Keep up with the wild and wooly world of indie film acquisitions with our weekly Rundown of everything that’s been picked up around the globe. Check out last week’s Rundown here.

– Oscilloscope Laboratories will open Rosemary Myers’ subversive debut feature, “Girl Asleep,” preceded by Amy Nicholson’s delightful, award-winning documentary short, “Pickle,” at Landmark NuArt in Los Angeles on September 23 and at Landmark Sunshine in New York on September 30, with a nationwide rollout to follow. Billed as “a vibrant portrayal of Australian adolescence” the film follows what happens when “Greta Driscoll’s bubble of obscure loserdom is burst [and] her parents throw her a surprise 15th birthday party and invite the whole school! Perfectly content being a wallflower, suddenly Greta’s flung far from her comfort zone into a distant, parallel place.”

– NYC-based film production and theatrical distribution company 26 Aries will release their first theatrical release, Kurt Vincent’s »

- Kate Erbland

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The political messages in blockbuster movies

14 July 2016 11:18 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Andrew Blair Jul 20, 2016

From Forrest Gump and The Incredibles, through to Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and The Muppets - exploring the politics of big films.

Some movies wear their political messages lightly, some club you over the head. Guardians Of The Galaxy’s most explicit political statement is probably ‘We are Groot’, which could mean anything from ‘You’re my friends’ to a thesis on the benefits of intersectionality. Team America: World Police, on the other hand, provides an argument for military intervention that probably isn’t covered in the Chilcot Report.

Some movies, though, have messages buried at varying depths in the subtext that don’t come out straight away upon the their release. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, despite having been published in 1955, achieved this. The influence of World War One - the trenches and mechanised warfare - influence a technophobia, as does growing up near the Black Country. »

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Tom Hanks Pays Tribute to Dead Mother: ‘Safe Crossing, Mom’

12 July 2016 4:09 PM, PDT | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

It’s a sad day for Tom Hanks. The “Forrest Gump” star took to his Instagram account to pay tribute to his mother, Janet Marylyn Frager, in an announcement of her death on Tuesday. She was 84. “This beauty? My mom. She was the difference in many lives. Many lives,” the 60-year-old actor wrote. “We say goodbye to her today. Safe crossing, mom!” Also Read: The Evolution of Tom Hanks' Hair: From 'Bosom Buddies' to 'Da Vinci Code' Frager and Hanks’ father, Amos Mefford Hanks, divorced in 1960. Hanks’ father died in 1992. The actor later shared a photo of State Theatre in Red Bluff, »

- Tim Kenneally

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That Time Tom Hanks Re-Created Every Tom Hanks Movie in Under 8 Minutes

8 July 2016 4:00 PM, PDT | POPSUGAR | See recent BuzzSugar news »

America's sweetheart Tom Hanks turns 60 on Saturday, and we're celebrating by remembering that time he continued to be every person's hero by re-creating every one of his movies. The actor appeared on the very first night of The Late Late Show with James Corden last year, and he and the host recited a few lines from everything from Forrest Gump to Turner & Hooch to You've Got Mail. Basically, Hanks is up for anything, and we should all try to hire him at our next birthday parties to do impressions of himself, because this is spectacular. »

- Maggie Pehanick

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Norman Lear Looks Back at His Life and Career: ‘I Don’t Have a Single Regret’

8 July 2016 12:30 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Norman Lear is arguably one of the most important crusaders for free speech. He created boundary-pushing sitcoms like “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons” and “Maude,” which tackled hot-button issues like racism, sex and abortion during an era when television largely avoided controversy, and he also founded the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way. So the documentary team of Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, best known for “12th & Delaware” and “Jesus Camp,” were understandably shocked that no one had made a movie about the 93-year-old icon’s life story.

“We couldn’t believe it, we were astonished,” Ewing told Variety on Thursday night at the New York premiere of their documentary “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You,” the first theatrical release from American Masters Pictures. The event was held at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

“Aside from the fact that he revolutionized the sitcom, we »

- Michael Tedder

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Why Daniel Radcliffe Deserves an Oscar For ‘Swiss Army Man’

1 July 2016 5:17 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

At 26, Daniel Radcliffe has fans to last him a lifetime, but now is the time to recognize him as one of the great actors working today. Chosen from droves of adorable English schoolchildren, Radcliffe was plucked from obscurity to play “The Boy Who Lives” in a fleet of “Harry Potter” blockbusters. Shouldering the weight of global fame and intense fandom, he made the treacherous crossing from child star to respected thespian by challenging himself with naked and vulnerable Broadway turn in “Equus,” a dark comedy TV series “The Young Doctor’s Notebook,” and the role of a young Allen Ginsburg in the biopic “Kill Your Darlings.” In comedies  “Trainwreck” and “Victor Frankenstein” as well as the horrific “The Woman in Black” and “Horns,” we’ve witnessed Radcliffe’s emergence as a dynamic and daring young actor who is bankable if not a guaranteed marquee draw.

With his latest, “Swiss Army Man, »

- Kristy Puchko

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Watch Tom Hanks In First Trailer For Sully

30 June 2016 11:50 AM, PDT | | See recent news »

155 passengers. 1 plane. 1 heroic pilot.

From Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper,” “Million Dollar Baby”) comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama Sully, starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks (“Bridge of Spies,” “Forrest Gump”) as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

Watch the brand new trailer now.

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career.

Sully also stars Aaron Eckhart (“Olympus Has Fallen,” “The Dark Knight”) as Sully’s copilot, Jeff Skiles, and Oscar nominee Laura Linney (“The Savages,” “Kinsey,” Showtime’s “The Big C”) as Sully’s wife, Lorraine Sullenberger.

Eastwood is directing the film from a screenplay by Todd Komarnicki, »

- Michelle McCue

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Clint Eastwood's Sully Trailer Stars Tom Hanks as a Real Life Hero

29 June 2016 6:26 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Earlier today, we showed you a first look at Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart in the upcoming biopic Sully. The debut of new posters and photos normally mean a trailer isn't too far behind, and sure enough, Warner Bros. released the first trailer this afternoon. While it's still early, this upcoming biopic could be a contender in the awards season race next year.

From Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (American Sniper, Million Dollar Baby) comes Warner Bros. Pictures' drama Sully," starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies, Forrest Gump) as Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the "Miracle on the Hudson" when Captain "Sully" Sullenberger glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding »

- MovieWeb

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Clint Eastwood’s ‘Sully’ gets a poster: Trailer due tomorrow

29 June 2016 9:55 AM, PDT | The Hollywood News | See recent The Hollywood News news »

We’ve just literally posted the first look image from Clint Eastwood‘s upcoming true story Sully, and now we can bring you the first poster. Warner Brothers are also promising the first trailer for the movie at 8am UK time tomorrow morning, which we’ll obviously bring you right away.

Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, and Laura Linney star in Clint Eastwood’s film, based upon the true story of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger who saved over 150 lives when he safely landed the plane on the Hudson river in New York.

Take a look at the poster below, followed by a ton of information on the film provided by the studio.

From Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper,” “Million Dollar Baby”) comes drama “Sully: Miracle On The Hudson”, starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks (“Bridge of Spies,” “Forrest Gump”) as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the “Miracle »

- Paul Heath

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Review: The Purge: Election Year Might be the Most Important Horror Movie of 2016

29 June 2016 6:37 AM, PDT | DailyDead | See recent DailyDead news »

Right now, the United States is at a major crossroads, and as a citizen, I don’t think I’ve ever been more worried about what the future holds for us than I have been over the last nine months. Regardless of whatever your political or social beliefs are, there’s no denying that collectively our nation is on the crux of something huge, which is why The Purge: Election Year might truly be the most important horror movie to be released this year.

While its message can be clunky at times, The Purge: Election Year is still purposeful in its storytelling, and considering everything that is happening around us—from the presidential campaign to gun debates to race relations to police violence to terrorism—I can’t help but feel we need a movie like this now more than ever. As someone who grew up watching films like Dawn of the Dead, »

- Heather Wixson

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5 Reasons We Still Love ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ 10 Years Later

28 June 2016 9:00 AM, PDT | | See recent Backstage news »

What a decade! Not sure what you’ve been up to, but we’ve watched “The Devil Wears Prada” about 46 times in the past 10 years. Sure, sure, other movies have made their mark. “12 Years a Slave,” “Argo,” and “Spotlight” are all beautifully made, important films, but man, “The Devil Wears Prada” is in a league all its own. It premiered exactly 10 years ago this week (June 30), so let’s celebrate Miranda Priestly, Runway, and the film that made you forever question wearing florals in the spring. (Groundbreaking.) Here are five reasons we still love “The Devil Wears Prada.” Its incredible ensemble.Put together by Emmy and Artios Award-winning casting director Ellen Lewis (“Forrest Gump,” “The Departed,”), the cast of “The Devil Wears Prada” is unquestionably stacked. Led by, of course, Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway (though this was pre-“Les Mis”), the ensemble boasts heavy hitters like Emily Blunt, »

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11 strange or ill-advised abandoned movie sequels

27 June 2016 7:34 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Ryan Lambie Jun 30, 2016

Jessica Rabbit kidnapped by Nazis. Costner rescuing Princess Diana. We look back at a few strange movie sequels that were never made…

The multi-million dollar success of any movie will inevitably leave Hollywood executives clamouring for a sequel. And while there are plenty of movies whose stories are open-ended enough to warrant a return to the creative well, there are many times when coming up with a follow-up idea requires all sorts of imaginative leaps. Just look at something like Alien: Resurrection, which had to come up an elaborate reason why Ripley had (spoiler alert) managed to survive a swan-dive into a lead foundry in Alien 3.

Which brings us to this list, which is devoted to a few of the weirder sequel ideas that never made it to the big screen. An E.T. sequel in which little Elliott gets tortured by aliens? Forrest Gump dancing with Princess Diana? »

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Is This Why the Original Ghostbusters Don't Exist in the Reboot?

25 June 2016 10:30 AM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

A new TV spot for the Ghostbusters reboot debuted last week that had certain corners of the fan community raising their eyebrow. And it's very strange that it is included in the marketing materials at all. But it's been cause for alarm for some people. And it's calling into question various aspects of this franchise restarter from director Paul Feig and Sony Pictures. The footage has Melissa McCarthy's Abby Yates cracking wise to Toby Huss' Officer Stevenson about the 1990 movie Ghost. Now, some fans are clinging to a new theory that this may prove the original Ghostbusters still exist in this rebooted world, and that it all ties into a phenomenon known as 'The Mandela Effect'.

'The Mandela Effect' is a very real thing, in so much as certain individuals truly believe that the conspiracy exists. And yes, it's what some might consider a wackadoo conspiracy theory. Whether »

- MovieWeb

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Tom Hanks to receive Rome fest honour

22 June 2016 5:19 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Oscar-winner Meryl Streep to also attend this year’s festival.

Oscar-winning actor Tom Tanks is to attend the 11th Rome Film Fesival (Oct 13-26), where he will receive the festival’s lifetime achievement award.

The star of Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump and last year’s Bridge of Spies will also be the subject of a 15-strong retrospective, including Hanks’ work as a director on That Thing You Do! (1996) and Larry Crowne (2011).

“I consider Tom Hanks to be one of the greatest actors of all time,” said the festival’s artistic director Antonio Monda.

“His extraordinary talent and profound humanity make him a classic but always contemporary actor: his films and his performances will never be dated.”

Fellow Oscar-winner Meryl Streep is also set to attend the festival where she will talk about the great Italian actresses who influenced her, including Silvana Mangano.

In addition, screenwriter and director David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) will be the subject »

- (Michael Rosser)

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See How Classic Movie Locations Look Now

14 June 2016 7:52 AM, PDT | Fandango | See recent Fandango news »

Movie-location tourism continues to be on the rise. The thing is, places don't always look the same as they did on-screen, whether because of time and changes or because it was dressed up for the film. I recently took a trip to Savannah, Georgia, for instance and was disappointed to find that the Forrest Gump bench was just a prop and never actually a part of the city's Chippewa Square. Also, often times the current owners of the location aren't welcoming to tourists. Earlier...

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Meet the Guy Documenting Tons of Classic Movie Locations As They Look Now

13 June 2016 9:00 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

Movie location tourism continues to be on the rise, and it's something I quite enjoy myself. The thing is, places don't always look the same as they did on screen, whether because of time and changes or because it was dressed up for the film. I recently took a trip to Savannah, Georgia, for instance and was disappointed to find that the Forrest Gump bench was just a prop and never actually a part the city's Chippewa Square. Also, often times the current owners of the location aren't welcoming of tourists. Earlier this year, I visited the schoolhouse from Hitchcock's The Birds, which has signs all over it declaring that it's a private residence and to steer clear. We also recently shared the story of how the iconic house from the movie...

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- Christopher Campbell

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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 »




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


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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