Sunday, January 31, 2010
There are rumors circulating out there that a certain Web Slinger has already been chosen...
And if you've been following the blog you'll know that I wouldn't be very happy were they to turn out to be true. But it is supposed to be Johnny Quest himself. Or at least the guy that some Suits wanted to play JB. Now, he was wrong for that character because he was way too old, but he's just as wrong to play your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Zac Efron has been hand-picked by Tobey Maguire himself as the replacement. I'll believe it when I see it in the trades... until then it's just an extremely viscous rumor that hasn't been substantiated. I can't believe that they would think we'd buy Zac as a high school student; I didn't buy him as a high school student years ago in HSM so I can't imagine him as one now. I very much doubt this to be true, but should it turn out to be so I've got my pen ready to spill out venom at the Sony Suits and if that doesn't work, I know a gypsy down by the rail road tracks that will curse anyone/thing I want for a six pack and a carton of cigarettes. In other words, I'm exploring my options should this bad idea turn into a horribly true nightmare.
Till then, I'm keeping my powder dry...
Hat Tip to /Film.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men...
Sam Raimi, that's who. This rumor has been surculating for years. It's been known that he was going to/wanting to make a new version of "The Shadow" but up until now it's been assumed that he would simply produce the film. Now comes word (and a script review) from IESB that this indeed could be Sam's next directing gig and it could be made through Sony.
I love serials and I love old pulp fiction, which is in itself a variation on those serials. I adore the Shadow, but Doc Savage is my all time fave. Still, I have a framed poster on my wall of a classic Shadow tale known as "The Grove of Doom." Sam is someone that I'd trust with this king of project. He knows the material and understands how it can be adapted proper and faithful. I await more info.
I'm standing by with my secret decoder ring...
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Wonder what it'll be like to play with one when it's in stock at the Apple Store?
The new Apple iPad...
Say what you want about it. I'm not betting against Steve Jobs, just like I'm not betting against James Cameron. Check it out, give it time to arrive and go see it yourself.
UPDATE: Steve Job's Keynote is now up. Click to watch/fawn/complain/whine...
On March 16th, "The Princess and the Frog" Blu-Ray/DVD will be released...
If you haven't seen it yet (shame on you!), then this is your chance to take a look at a beautiful little fairytale that audiences loved... at least those that showed up to see it. The film got great reviews, but the audiences to needed to make it a hit didn't materialize. Partially due to the release schedule with all those large films around it and somewhat due to the term "Princess" most likely. But it's a very good film, one that you will enjoy and one that you should and will want to own.
Reserve yours today...
"If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it's surprising that Apple is now a $50+ billion company. The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we're really excited about." - Steve Jobs
Wow, I thought that Steve Job's "Reality Distortion Field" only applied to those attending his speeches...
It appears the whole company now. The current state of a very depressed economy has had absolutely no effect on the Little Fruit Company. It's as if the world outside doesn't have any sway on Cupertino. Would that all business were immune to the disasters of modern economics.
If you don't know what I'm blathering about then you didn't see Apple's quarterly statement being released yesterday. To say that it was very good would be a great understatement. Maybe akin to saying that "Avatar" has made a profit.
Here's the skinny:
* Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 surged 50% from a year earlier to a record $3.4 billion, or $3.67 per share.
* Apple's sales rose 32% to a record $15.7 billion, easily sweeping past analysts' forecasts of $12.1 billion. The second straight quarter in which Apple posted record revenue.
* A 100% year-over-year rise in iPhone sales and a 33% increase in Mac sales. Apple sold a record 8.7 million iPhones in the quarter. That's up 17.6% from the 7.4 million it sold in the previous quarter and twice what it sold during the same quarter a year ago. Part of the sales increase was due to the release of the device in China last quarter.
* Despite the economic problems, Apple sold 3.4 million Macs in the quarter.
* Although the company lowered prices for many of its products last quarter, it still managed to grow gross margin to 40.9%, up from 37.9% a year ago. Apple beat Wall Street's consensus forecast by over five percentage points.
* The company anticipates earnings of about $2.06 to $2.18 per share in the current quarter on revenue of about $11 billion to $11.4 billion.
And then there is that little event being held at ten in the morning tomorrow. A new device will be introduced and expectation is high that it will be a tablet (iSlate, iPad, iTablet, iDon't Know). Word is that the device is being positioned for entertainment purposes more than a business. Media (print and electronic) and games are said to be a primary focus of the device and Jobs is said to be extremely happy with the results. Steve is a very demanding CEO so if he's happy, I really am curious as to what this device will be/do. What will it be? A competitor of the current tablets or something going after a PSP?
We'll know by this time tomorrow...
If you've been following the posts here since X-Mas you've noticed my love for all things Lanny and Wayne...
And the public agrees, along with the critics apparently. As I mentioned a short while back, it's my favorite thing the new regime has done. It's also the most successful thing they've done. By far, actually. The ratings for the show were beyond what The Alphabet Network had hoped for. And out of all things done since John Lasseter entered the picture ("How to hook up you Home Theater," "Bolt," "Princess and the Frog," "Prep & Landing"), it's the one, true hit; the only piece of animation to make it out of the ballpark in every sense of the word. And with success comes more of what the people like/want.
Another adventure with Lanny and Wayne is currently being worked on inside the story department of WDAS. It was to be. There is development being pushed for another special, although I don't know if it'll be another Christmas special and it most likely won't be ready for this year. But that is the thinking and another thought that hasn't yet been approve is to turn this into Pooh. Whahh?
Remember how "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" was created? It wasn't made as a feature, originally broke apart into shorts. Walt didn't feel it was ready to be seen by the public as an entire film, so he broke it into pieces. Once the first part was a success, the rest moved into production and a few years after the last one was completed they combined all of them and put it together as a feature. No one today thinks anything other than it being a feature. By that I mean kids and most adults. The thinking right now amongst those at the hat is... maybe. They like this idea for the Christmas Elves, and that's the thinking of the moment. If the next special delivers the same kind of numbers it'll be a given that this strategy follows up.
Does that mean we get a full film that gets a DVD/Blu-Ray release or a theatrical release? Too early to know for sure, but should the further adventures of these little guys prove popular then a combined feature will get at least a limited run (ala: "Tinker Bell") before going to home video. If all things go well, you might see a full release on the schedule, but not for a few years. Think 2012 or 2013, at least. But it's fun and great to hear. I don't know if the original directors, Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton will be heading the project, but I'd trust it more if they were.
Time will tell...
Monday, January 25, 2010
In 1906 an earthquake hit the city of San Fransisco that absolutely devastated the area beyond all recognition...
And Brad Bird was nowhere to be seen. Remember Brad Bird? He's the amazingly gifted director that has produced genius works like "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille." Bird's current project, one that he's been actively working on for the last two years is "1906." It's the project he was working on after The Incredibles when John Lasseter asked him to direct a film about a cooking rat. Out of respect for John he set it aside and began trying to rework Jan Pinkava's original concept into something filmable. After it was all over he went back to his passion project and he's been there ever since.
Time has kept ticking and it seems no closer to being made than before. There is no official start date. There is no studio approval from Warner or its Disney-Pixar partnership. Yes, the Mouse is involved, but Warner is the active partner in this. The budget and length of the script are said to be problems for the Suits that weld power over Brad's fate. And there is doubt that they will give it approval. Bird has turned in at least two drafts and is awaiting a decision. Several Bothans that I talked to are starting to express doubt that it'll ever come to pass. Not that it isn't a great script that would make a great film, but the length and size of the budget make some at Warner very nervous. Think of it as a project of "Titanic" proportions and yes I meant the innuendo.
And so Brad Bird waits. The question is how long will he wait if the Suits continue to have cold feet? He's already been away for two years. Will he try and get the studio to release the project if they turn him down? Perhaps he'll go back to Pixar and start working on another film (Incredibles 2, Ray Gunn)? Or move on to another live-action project? We don't know for sure, but if this film isn't in pre-production by the end of 2010, it most likely won't happen. Or at least won't happen anytime soon. And then we'll have to wonder what else Bird has up his sleeve. Does he have something else brewing as a back up? Another passion that awaits to be filmed. Live-action or animation, it doesn't matter to me because Brad Bird is a genius and I await anything he does. I don't care if it's this film about an earthquake or something else.
Either way, it'll be an earthquake to me to hear Brad is working on something...
Saturday, January 23, 2010
If you're a big fan of Pixar and want to help out with the trouble down in Haiti then you might like this...
Lee Unkrich is having an auction over on E-Bay for several one of a kind items that only a Pixar employee would have access to. Everything from a Toy Story 3 sign poster by Tom Hanks to a Wall-E crew jacket to a four pack of soda made for the Monsters Inc. guys and more. Much more. All the money will go to the relief of those suffering from the tragic events on the island of Haiti.
Check it out here.
It's good to help people while still doing something you actually love...
Friday, January 22, 2010
I mean, a mouse.
It won't be out till February 2, but here's a look at the cover. Through the perspective of time you can see how far the little studio has come. From creating little animated shorts to theatrical animated features to moving into live-action films to television to many television series to multiple film divisions to internet. A long way over such a specific passage of time. Today the studio is busy with several projects that will cost a quarter of a billion dollars each. At least three will be out in the next year with more to come the following year. Not bad for a tiny little place on Hyperion Avenue in a quiet suburb of the sleepy town of Los Angeles, huh?
Just imagine what you can do with a dream...
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Well, Sony has made an interesting choice for their director of the next "Spider-Man" film...
As was rumored, Marc Webb will be behind the camera for the next Spider-M4n film. Webb is an interesting choice, but one that I can see doing a very good job of translating a young Web Slinger to the world. He showed that he was adept at handling the intricacies of young relationships with "500 Days of Summer" and now he'll get to do the same with Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Or Mary Jane if they continue down that route. I'd prefer them to start with Gwen since it's a reboot. But please, please don't let this be an origin film. We don't need to waste a half an hour of the film watching what we've seen before. And we don't need a reinterpretation of the Green Goblin either. There are plenty of villains for him to face without the retread of already used characters. Kraven would be a great choice, but not from that really crappy script that Sony commissioned originally for part 4. Please don't use that one. Please.
I look forward to seeing this film unfold and evole. Webb has a lot riding on this. If it fails, it'll make Sony pause before doing another one and the Mouse knows that the longer they wait between projects, the sooner Spidey will come home.
Bob Iger is watch you Marc...
I suppose you've seen the rumors on the web about another possible Disney reinterpretation from Tim Burton...
I actually wrote a post that I never published on Aurora's Nemesis last year. I didn't get around to finishing it, so maybe I'll go back and find it sometime this year. But about that rumor, the one about Tim doing to "Sleeping Beauty" what he's done to "Alice in Wonderland." This time told from Maleficent's point of view. That would be a cool project to me. It certainly explains why the Mouse registered that "maleficentmovie.com" domain name last year.
But we have to remember that Burton is a very busy man and unless a hole frees up in his schedule then, even if it's true you won't be seeing this for four or five more years. He has that stop-motion animation project for Disney that is in pre-production right now and then there is "Dark Shadows" which is supposed to start filming later this year. Now, that movie has had many delays and it appears they're having script problems. That right there would be your opening, but that presumes that they already have a script for this twisted take on Sleeping Beauty. And then you have to ask, what part will Johnny Depp play? Prince Phillip? That said, the prospect of seeing the Dark Fairy turn into that purple dragon in live action sounds like an amazing night at the movies.
Now all they have to do is write it...
Monday, January 18, 2010
The Mouse is determined to let everyone know that POTC 4 is a go...
Johnny Depp must be happy with the script for the sequel to the his most famous character or at least he's confidant enough to be moving ahead. I don't think Walt Disney Pictures would be mentioning a release date, cast, crew and a general start date if they weren't positive that Captain Jack was on board.
It appears that much of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" will be shot in Hawaii (specifically Kauai and Oahu). Not a bad place to shoot a film, if you ask me. So I guess that the Fountain of Youth is in the Islands, of all places. Disney keeps making references to a continued commitment to Hawaii, with the new Resort Hotel, Cruise Line possibilities, LOST, ect. and I someday dream of them deciding to go all out and building an entire resort (hotels, theme park, shopping areas) designed a new variation of Port Disney concept there. Perfect spot, don't you think? But it would be an expensive proposition that I don't see them approving in these troubled financial times. But I can dream, can't I?
Back to the film. I know people have referred to Hawaii as a paradise, but I guess Jack Sparrow had some inside knowledge based on that little map he had. We don't know where the actual setting of the film will be, but if they're going to remotely follow the book, I'd say it's going to be in the Caribbean somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. But they'll be filming in the Pacific Ocean... hmmm? I wonder if New Orleans is going to play any role in this film. And then there's the ultimate pirate villain that will likely be causing Sparrow and Barbossa many problems. Now, I can't wait to hear about this new script. Actually, I'm debating if I should read it if/when I get it or wait for the actual film.
It is after all, only one more summer away...
Of the first decade of the twenty-first century, that is...
I figured as long as everyone was making lists and I was doing the same, I'd list the top ten films of the last decade for me (2000 - 2009). Notice I said "for me." This is a list of what I liked and what was important to me and in my own opinion. Not what was the most "culturally relevant" or "critically praised" or even "cinematic statements." This is what Honor Hunter liked and what he/I felt were the most significant films to me. If you don't agree, so be it. Everyone has an opinion. Put it on your blog.
So, here is the list, starting in no order and no ranking:
Lord of the Rings - In my opinion, the best trilogy of films ever made. As much as I love Star Wars, it has far more flaws than Peter Jackson's sweeping, poignant and epic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece. Although "The Fellowship of the Ring" is the best, they all hold up remarkably well. I personally prefer the special editions because you can never get enough Middle Earth, can you?
The Dark Knight - the brilliant realization of my favorite comic book character. An example of pop culture transcending art and rising above something that is just commercial. Christopher Nolan's brutal, raw telling of the madness a man goes through to save or destroy a city is chillingly intelligent, thought provoking and thrilling all at once. And again anytime you put it back in to watch.
The Incredibles - Brad Bird's wonderful twist on superhero comics. He takes what could essentially be a parody of Fantastic Four and spins it around. What "Watchmen" does for the dark side of comics, this film did for the lighter side of that medium. The first ten minutes of this film has more heart and crafting of story than just about anything that came out over the entire decade. To watch Edna Mold go to work with Mr. Incredible was a wonderful joy. Each and every character was real, not a cardboard cutout like you'd find in a hundred other, horrid adaptations of the comics medium.
Oldboy - A truly, mind altering experience that is pure cinema. This is Chan-wook Park's brilliant adaption of a popular Japanese manga that is nothing less that stunning. The story of a man who is taken one night for his family, locked in a room for fifteen years and then suddenly let go so as to exact revenge on who did this. The film is incredibly well crafted and doesn't follow Hollywood convention. And the ending pays off, unlike most movies.
Battle Royale - An adaptation of Japanese novel by Koushun Takami. This one set in an alternate reality where a group of school kids are kidnapped and sent to an island where they have to fight and kill each other to survive till the end of a brutal indoctrination called The Program. Kinji Fukasaku's adaption is primal and tragic all at once while still gripping you till the end to see what happens and who survives. Not for the faint of heart, but filled with the emotion of the heart.
Irréversible - Gaspar Noé's film about the repercussions of violence and what happens when we lose control of what makes us human and what makes us civilized. The most brilliant part of it is that it's told in reverse. From the closing credits we see the devastation of something horrible and the story unfolds literally in reverse. The film moves all the way backward with you realizing each moment how everything before has affected the characters. When the end/beginning happens the realization of how precious those moments of life come into perspective and the decisions we make seem far more important... and sadly, irreversible.
Casino Royale - the bold rebooting of the Bond franchise that takes Ian Fleming's secret agent back to where he all started. Based on the first novel about the character, which has never been done justice, the film has an incredibly adult and intelligent script and is told in such a more realistic style than most of the Bond films of the last couple decades. Daniel Craig IS Bond. The best one since Connery... actually the only one since him. All others are pale imitations, only pale shadows.
The 40 Year Old Virgin - The Judd Apatow comedy that is vulgar, crass and genuine. A film that I didn't want to see. It just didn't appeal to me, from the poster to the preview. And then the reviews came in and my friends saw it. I always trust their taste, since it's similar to mine. After seeing it, I was amazed. It may sound strange to some, but I felt it could have been up for Best Picture that year. Not every film that's nominated needs to be a serious drama or action film. A film of this delicate humor is just as difficult to make as a period piece or a sweeping historical epic. Steve Carell is all at once honest and sincere in his portrayal of an awkward, lovable man that just can't seem to grow up.
The Departed/Infernal Affairs - Martin Scorsese's American adaptation of the intense Infernal Affairs is just as great. Both films follow the seedy side of the underbelly of the crime world. The Chinese version (whose actual name translates to "The Non-Stop Path") follows a cop trying to penetrate a criminal organization in Hong Kong instead of Scorsese's Boston. Both are engrossing tales of human loss and destruction that are compelling on a larger human canvas. If you haven't seen the original, I highly recommend it.
Amélie - Jean-Pierre Jeunet's sweet, innocent take on love and life for a young Parisian girl and all the thing she does to help others as she travels through life living/loving/experiencing. A truly joyful take on growing up, falling in love and looking at life through the prism of such a sweet, angelic perspective. And as with any film by Jeunet, a visual feast. The camera is a glorious paintbrush in his hands. Great film for lovers or lovers of film.
Almost Famous - Cameron Crowe's lyrical tribute to his childhood. A wonderful coming of age story in a time not of innocence, but naivete and excess. The semi-autobiographical tale of a young kid that goes on the road with a rock band to document their tour for Rolling Stone magazine is a love letter to rock & roll in all its sweet and sad aspects. The characters are all too real and the story is a joy to just sit back and watch... oh, and the music ain't too bad either.
And now on to the next decade of films...
Apple today e-mailed most of the media with a teaser confirming that event it was rumored to be having next week...
If you were one of the privileged few to have gotten an invite it would have looked exactly like what you see above you. Cause that's one of the invites. We'll find out exactly what Steve wants to dominate this year when he introduces it on January 27th. Remember that date.
Most of the press reporting on the iPod didn't think it would be that memorable and look at how the world has changed since then...
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I know many are saddened that "King of the Elves" got put into turnaround, but nothing ever dies in Hollywood...
It may rise again at a later date or in another incarnation. Just like WDI happens to always find places for projects that got canceled in earlier forms. Some day we might see Phillip K. Dick's fantasy short story come to life.
Until then, take a look at some of the character designs that Rune Brandt did for the development.
Not exactly Middle Earth Elves, are they...
Hat Tip to Cathicks.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Principle photography commenced today on Walt Disney Pictures "John Carter of Mar" in London...
And it is a Disney production, guys. Some people have been under the assumption that this is a Pixar production. It is not, it'll be under the Mouse's moniker, but it does have a few of the Lamp's talent on it. Not to mention a great deal of support from those up in Emeryville.
Here is the official statement:
WALT DISNEY PICTURES’ “JOHN CARTER OF MARS” BEGINS PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN LONDON
BURBANK, Calif. (January 15, 2010) – Principal photography is underway in London for Walt Disney Pictures’ “JOHN CARTER OF MARS.” Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton brings this captivating hero to the big screen in a stunning adventure epic set on the wounded planet of Mars, a world inhabited by warrior tribes and exotic desert beings. Based on the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom Series,” the film chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter, who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants.
Produced for Walt Disney Pictures by Jim Morris (“WALL•E,” “Ratatouille”) and Colin Wilson ("Avatar," “War of the Worlds”), the live action/animation film marks Academy Award®-winning director/writer Andrew Stanton’s (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”) first foray into live action. Stanton directed and co-wrote the screenplay for Disney•Pixar’s “WALL•E,” which earned the Academy Award and Golden Globe® for Best Animated Feature (2008); Stanton was nominated for an Oscar® for the screenplay. He made his directorial debut with Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” garnering an Academy Award-nomination for Best Original Screenplay and winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (2003). He has worked as a screenwriter and/or executive producer on Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life” (which he also co-directed), “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Ratatouille” and “Up.”
“I have been waiting my whole life to see the characters and worlds of ‘John Carter of Mars’ realized on the big screen,” says Stanton. “It is just a wonderful bonus that I have anything to do with it.”
The stellar ensemble cast is led by Taylor Kitsch (NBC’S “Friday Night Lights”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) in the title role, Lynn Collins (“50 First Dates,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) as the warrior princess Dejah Thoris and Oscar® nominee Willem Dafoe (“Spider-Man 3,” “Shadow of a Vampire”) as Martian inhabitant Tars Tarkas. The cast also includes Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways,” Spider-Man 3), Polly Walker (upcoming “Clash of the Titans,” “Patriot Games”), Samantha Morton (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “In America”), Mark Strong ("Sherlock Holmes," “Body of Lies”), Ciaran Hinds (“Munich,” “There Will Be Blood”), British actor Dominic West (“300,” “Chicago”), James Purefoy (“Vanity Fair,” “Resident Evil”) and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”). Daryl Sabara (“Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” “Spy Kids”) takes the role of John Carter’s teenaged nephew, Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The creative team includes Oscar®-nominated production designer Nathan Crowley (“Public Enemies,” “The Dark Knight,” “Batman Begins”), costume designer Mayes Rubeo (“Avatar,” “Apocalypto”), cinematographer Daniel Mindel (“Star Trek,” “Mission Impossible III,” “Spygame”) and video effects supervisor Peter Chiang (“The Reader,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”).
JOHN CARTER OF MARS
WALT DISNEY PICTURES
Release Date: TBD
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, with Thomas Hayden Church and Willem Dafoe
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producers: Jim Morris and Colin Wilson
Screenplay by: Andrew Stanton & Mark Andrews (credit not final)
Based on the story by: Edgar Rice Burroughs
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL-E”), JOHN CARTER OF MARS brings this captivating hero to the big screen in a stunning adventure epic set on the wounded planet of Mars, a world inhabited by warrior tribes and exotic desert beings. Based on the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom Series,” the film chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter (TAYLOR KITSCH), who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants, including Tars Tarkas (WILLEM DAFOE) and Dejah Thoris (LYNN COLLINS).
· Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago and is best known for writing and creating Tarzan – still one of the most successful and iconic fictional creations of all time. JOHN CARTER OF MARS is based on Burroughs’ first novel, “A Princess of Mars.”
· Academy Award®-winning director/writer Andrew Stanton directed and co-wrote the screenplay for “WALL•E,” which earned the Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award® for Best Animated Feature of 2008. He was Oscar® nominated for the screenplay. He made his directorial debut with “Finding Nemo,” garnering an Academy Award® nomination for Best Original Screenplay and winning the Oscar® for Best Animated Feature Film of 2003. He was one of the four screenwriters to receive an Oscar® nomination in 1996 for his contribution to “Toy Story,” and went on to receive credit as a screenwriter on subsequent Pixar films “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “WALL•E.” He served as co-director on “A Bug’s Life,” and was the executive producer of “Monsters, Inc.,” the 2006 Academy Award-winning “Ratatouille” and the 2009 smash hit “Up.”
Set in the wounded planet of Mars, JOHN CARTER OF MARS chronicles the journey of Civil-War veteran John Carter (TAYLOR KITSCH), who finds himself battling a new and mysterious war amidst a host of strange Martian inhabitants, including Tars Tarkas (WILLEM DAFOE) and Dejah Thoris (LYNN COLLINS).
I await the trailer for this like you wouldn't believe...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
With "Captain America's" to start filming this summer, many are wondering the tone and setting of Marvel's Boy Scout...
Boxoffice Magazine has an interview with Joe Johnston, the director of the film about what fans and film goers alike can expect.
Many were wondering if it would be a period setting or it would be a contemporary setting. It seems that it'll be both. Kind of like "Saving Private Ryan" was; as in bookends. The bulk of the film will be set during World War II, but the beginning and ending would be set in the present. I'd guess that this is being done to set up "The Avengers" movie that will shoot right after this film. There's a lot of other interesting stuff he has to say about the project, so go over and take a look.
Hat Tip to Dark Horizons.
It appears the person that Ross wants to replace Oren is a familiar one...
At least if you've been following some Disney news of late. The producer of "Tron Legacy" and the upcoming remake of "The Black Hole," Sean Bailey is said to be Rich Ross' first choice. No word yet if he's accepted the offer, but I can say, from my perspective he's a good choice. I'd feel comfortable with him running production. He seems to know what is good for Disney and film geeks in general.
Bailey was also attached as producer on the shelved 20k prequel and several other projects at the Mouse. If Iger and Ross bag him it'll alleviate a great deal of concern about the new chairman of Walt Disney Studios lack of film experience. Now if we'd only get Ross to start buying up projects so we can get a better idea of his taste. Or lack thereof. Then we'd have a better assessment of the future of films from Disney and Touchstone from late 2011/early 2012... because that is the earliest we will see if his strategy is working.
It's official, Bailey gets the job. Here's the Mouse's press release:
The Walt Disney Studios Names Sean Bailey President of Production
Additional Changes Reinforce Studios' New Strategic Direction
BURBANK, Calif., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Rich Ross, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios (TWDS), announced today that Sean Bailey has been named President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production as the segment continues to restructure its operation. In his new role, he will oversee all aspects of live-action development, film production and physical production for Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures. Additional changes to international theatrical distribution, multicultural initiatives, publicity, communications and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment were made as part of the business' new strategic direction.
"Building upon a strong foundation with the company, Sean brings great creative instincts and considerable filmmaking experience to his new role at The Walt Disney Studios. His close relationships throughout the creative community and industry at large make him an ideal leader to set the direction of TWDS' future film slates," said Ross. "Sean's talent, energy, and commitment to delivering quality content will help us achieve our goals of producing and distributing Disney-branded movies that entertain audiences worldwide."
"I am honored and thrilled to join a company with the history and tradition of The Walt Disney Studios," said Bailey. "Working with the strong team that has been assembled under Rich's leadership, I look forward to working with the Studios' impressive array of talented filmmakers to create entertaining, inspiring films that uphold the legacy and quality of classic Disney movies and capture the imagination of our global audiences."
Bailey's feature film producing credits include Matchstick Men, Gone Baby Gone and the upcoming Disney film, Tron Legacy. He is the founder and president of the production company, Idealogy, Inc. He also co-founded the integrated media firm, LivePlanet, with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Chris Moore and was the executive producer of several high profile television programs including LivePlanet's three-time Emmy-nominated Project Greenlight. Sean wrote the screenplay Liberty for The Walt Disney Company and co-wrote the screenplay Solace.
Sean has created, packaged and developed film, television and new media concepts for Walt Disney Pictures, Miramax, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks, New Line Cinema, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., and all of the major television networks.
To further streamline the distribution of future TWDS' theatrical content, Ross also announced today that 23-year Disney veteran Chuck Viane, President, Distribution for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, will take on all aspects of international sales and distribution across 70 countries, in addition to his on-going responsibilities overseeing domestic sales and distribution operations. Viane will report directly to Bob Chapek, President of Distribution for The Walt Disney Studios.
Other executives will take on new assignments as part of the Studios' restructuring. Christine Cadena, currently Senior Vice President, Marketing, Synergy and Franchise Development, will become Senior Vice President, Multicultural Initiatives, leading all diversity and multicultural efforts. Michelle Sewell has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Global Publicity, overseeing the domestic and international publicity departments, and is responsible for formulating and executing worldwide publicity campaigns for all live-action and animated motion pictures. She will report to the head of marketing.
The Studios' communications team will also transition as John Nicoletti becomes Vice President, Global Communications and Paul Roeder moves to Director, Global Communications. Heidi Trotta, Senior Vice President of Studio Communications, will stay on as a consultant for a transitional period.
Cadena, Nicoletti and Trotta will report directly to Ross.
"I'm fortunate that I have been able to access the deep talent pool within the Studio and throughout The Walt Disney Company," said Ross.
In addition to the executive level changes, the Studio will also continue its reorganization of the workforce at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
"Our industry is evolving rapidly and in order to remain at its forefront, we are adapting our organization to be more agile, creative and responsive," said Ross.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
And on a lighter note...
John Alan Lasseter was born on this date in 1957. If you don't know who he is... you... really... are... on... the... wrong... blog. Really.
Lasseter, head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, Head of development for Toon Disney Studios, advisor to Disney Consumer Products and wine maker, wasn't in town today. Believe it, or not. Can you imagine how busy this guy is with all these titles? It's a wonder he has time to tie his shoes. Well, let me just say, from everyone here at Blue Sky Disney, happy birthday Uncle John. Or Mr. Lasseter, which ever you want your highness. Hehe. Yes, say it if you want. I'm a lemming. But if you do, you'll realize that you don't have a sense of humor and you need one.
One of the great things about Lasseter is his passion and belief in a project. He also has the ability to inspire those around him to do better than what they expected or even believed they could do. And another sign of his authenticity came at the D23 Expo. When everyone came out, from Iger, Rasulo and even Cook, there was a giant teleprompter set up that had their exact script. All of their words were just calculated and prepared beforehand. Not John. If you would have looked at the monitor during his keynote you would have seen this:
Talk about Tinkerbell film.
Talk about new Winnie the Pooh film.
Talk about Princess and the Frog.
See? He just put bullet points up to remind him about stuff so that he wouldn't forget anything. His entire speech was ad-libbed and from his heart. What he said, he believed. That is something that is very hard to come by in life, and even harder in Hollywood. That's something of true value there folks.
Have fun blowing out those candles, sir...
And so the deck of cards changes even more...
Truthfully, I was surprised when he wasn't let go when Dick Cook was fired. If you haven't heard the news, Oren Aviv, the President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production has been fired. Or resigned if you believe that Dick Cook did the same.
Much of the slate for this anointed marketing wundkind hasn't exactly panned out. He was one of Dick Cook's chief suits and was believed to be the one to succeed him should he step down. Aviv was the one primarily responsible for "National Treasure" and had guided much of the production as well as development over the past two years. Many of the projects he approved were disappointing in their box office returns, others like the "Jungle Cruise" adaption have failed to materialize. Here is his announcement:
Today, Oren Aviv announced that he is resigning his post of president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production.
Avis said, “As of today, I'm stepping down from my position as president of Production, Walt Disney Studios. I have loved every day that I have been at the studio and feel incredibly privileged to have been part of a team that enriched my life for 20 years.
I will miss all the amazing filmmakers, the many talented actors and most importantly the lifelong friends I've been so lucky to work with throughout my Disney career.
I'm proud of the hundreds of movies I've helped to make and market, especially the studio's upcoming films, from Alice in Wonderland and Prince of Persia to The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Tron. All have been extremely rewarding creative and personal endeavors for me, and have allowed me to work with the best group of executives and staff in the business.
I wish Disney, Bob Iger, Rich Ross and their new teams great success for many years to come.“
Rich Ross, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios stated, “Oren’s significant contributions to The Walt Disney Studios are well-documented and countless movie-goers have been entertained by his diverse portfolio of films,” said The Walt Disney Studios Chairman, Rich Ross. “We appreciate his work and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
A successor will be named at an appropriate time.
Expect more fallout as the Studio shakes off the last remnants of the Cook regime and moves forward with Ross' vision. As the NY Times artile mentions; expect a shake up in the home entertainment division soon, as well. And then there are "other" evolving situations.
Developing much more than you would know...
Monday, January 11, 2010
I forgot about this...
Today, principal photography began on Marvel Studios film adaptation of the comic character "Thor." Kenneth Branagh enters the world of geekdom today and will hopefully be worshipped alongside such heroes as Bryan Singer and Jon Favreau after we watch it on the silver screen. I'm rooting for him. I know it's not the script I read, but I'm trusting that Marvel knows how to treat their characters far better than the studio suits of the past. Particularly the ones in charge of Thor's last incarnation alongside the Incredible Hulk back in the 80's. Truly horrible, but not as bad as the Captain America of the 70's. Amazing how far comics have come over the past couple of decades, isn't it?
By the beard of Odin this sounds exciting...
Well, we won't be seeing Sam Raimi directing "Spider-Man 4" and we won't be watching Tobey Maguire swinging from building to building either...
Sony put out a press release today:
Culver City, CA (January 11, 2010) -- Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012.
Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.
The new chapter in the Spider-Man franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.
“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter's roots and we look forward to working once again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job,” said Sam Raimi.
“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade. This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “Now everything begins anew, and that’s got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012.”
"Spider-Man will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously," said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. "We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen."
I hope this doesn't mean the hole in Maguire's schedule will be filled playing Bilbo Baggins. He's a talented actor and I really liked his Peter Parker, but seeing him with hairy feet next Gandalf isn't something I look forward to. Raimi could move on to "World of Warcraft" which many thought was just a producing project for him. Now, the whole reboot comes into play with Spidey going back to high school and starting over. I don't mind that, but there is no need for an origin movie. We don't need to movie the story back to square one. It's been done and there is no need to show it to the two guys that don't know what happens when you get bit by a radioactive spider. Just start him off right after he's become the Webslinger and give him a new villain.
I wonder if the rush to get a film on to screen has anything to do with Marvel (read Disney's) ability to regain the character for filming by the Mouse? I don't know how long they have to make another sequel between films before the rights would expire/revert back to the comic book company/film studio/subsidiary of the Mouse. I hope that the next version is done with as much care as Raimi put into the first two and as little studio interference as the Suits put into the third one.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Amazing what a day brings...
At an event honoring the life of Roy E. Disney, the Walt Disney Company announced that the studio's animation building will be named after him. It's not known if this is the original animation building or another, new one. If it's a new one, The Roy E. Disney Animation Building would be built on the studio lot in Burbank, not in Glendale next to WDI on Flower Street as John Lasseter and Ed Catmull originally wanted.
Unlike the Hat Building, which was designed with Michael Eisner's ego in mind, this one would be designed with animators in mind. You know them, right? It would be filled with open spaces designed to make people bump into one another, kind of like that other animation complex in Northern California run by the Lamp. If it's a new building, the exact location on the lot wasn't revealed, but in all likelihood it will be placed in the parking lot across the street from the ABC Building. This is where it was originally planned over two years ago, but was nixed because of the cost the underground parking structure was deemed too expensive for that time. It's unknown what changes have been made, but if built, the designs would be heavily influenced by John and Ed with a little advise from Steve.
More to follow...
UPDATE: When I first heard this, I was curious as to why an announcement would be made on a Sunday, and it appears that this wasn't the original animation building, but the Hat Building, guys. A re-naming, not a new building. Big news like a new building would arrive on a weekday to get the most press. Renaming a building that isn't built for animation for a man that helped bring about the animation rebirth of the company isn't nearly as big of news as we would like. Check out the story here. It would be nice to see some of those other plans for the original "new" building. Being as we're in a recession right now, I'm not sure that we'll see a new structure unless WDAS starts making major box office which sadly, "Princess and the Frog" hasn't achieved.
More to follow II...
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Three years ago today Steve Jobs brought phones into the 21st century...
Apple's game changing device was introduced on January 9, 2007 to the speculation of many, the skepticism of some and the applause of the faithful few.
Amazing how things have changed since then...
Friday, January 8, 2010
Something is brewing in the Hat Building...
I've been getting some interesting e-mails from people I know with somewhat cryptic statements about rather curious moves coming down the pipe line. Walt Disney Animation Studios could soon be making some interesting moves/changes soon. Just thought I'd give you a heads-up.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Well, well, when it comes to release dates, Apple isn't the only one who has them...
Walt Disney Pictures has officially announced the release date of their next film about a certain captain. I don't know this for sure, but for such a firm statement about a delivery date, I'd think something would have had to be put in ink. Perhaps egos and trepidations have been put at ease? Perhaps. But remember this date:
May 20, 2011.
It's an awfully lot closer than it appears...
Hat Tip to Adam.
Three weeks from today something will happen...
What, we don't know. But something (Insanely Great?). It appears that Apple, Inc. will have an event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; announcing some form of a new device (iTablet, iSlate, WonderSlate, Slabonator?) as well as some possible peeks at an iPhone 4.o interation. Speculation is brewing and geeks like myself and reporters are all wondering what it will be. And will Steve Jobs be the one that presents it? I hope so.
Counting the days...
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Like Peter Parker changing into his secret identity, you can expect Disney XD to start morphing into a different place by the end of this year...
Well, it'll start to begin later this year, but that's more of just announcements and preparations. I'd say between 2011/12 you're going to quite a new line up of the cable network. Formerly Toon Disney, Disney XD is the male-centric cable channel that the Mouse wants to be the alternative to The Disney Channel, which is now predominately female/girl oriented. They've been attempting to duplicate the "Hannah Montana" experience with shows and all, but the drive to get more boys and their toys will kick into overdrive soon.
Marvel characters are being evaluated for several slots on the daily line up and at least two characters have or will very soon get a greenlight to head into production. This is just the first offerings from the Mighty House of Marvel. More are said to be coming, with 2012 looking to cast this network as a very superhero focused place on the dial. Expect every property in Marvel's catalog to be combed through to find the right collection of men in tights to attract the young boy demographic. It's those that Iger actually paid for... he's trying to get instant or close to instant cred with this group. The male sector doesn't go for anything labeled "Princess" too well and this the beginning of the company's attempt to win over these guys. Having them identify Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man, Thor and all the others with the Disney name is something that's going to be emphasised over the next few years as these characters make their home in their new house.
So if you need a hero, you're about to get one, or many actually...
Monday, January 4, 2010
Ok, I know everyone has their favorite films of 2009 and lots of websites/blogs put up their "Best Of" lists last week or so. I didn't want to get caught in all the clutter, so I waited till the first week of the new year. Those that were wondering what were my faves, runner ups and honorable mentions? Here you have it...
Honor's Top Ten Films of 2009:
Number 10 - Sherlock Holmes
Surprised? Not near as much as I was. I had zero interest in seeing this film. Absolutely none. The trailer looked like such a desecration of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic character. But the reviews kept coming up glowing. My friend that saw the film and felt protective about these historic characters of literature flipped for it, so I gave it a chance and went and seen it. And I loved it. It's an entirely different take, but it does feel the spirit and essence of Holme lies there. The casting of Downey Jr. and Law is brilliant and inspired. I had two problems with the story/script as the film was going along and by the end the major one was absolved and the minor point I had was abated. I can't wait for the sequel, but please don't let Brad Pitt turn out to be Moriarty... that would be a crime. One Sherlock Holmes couldn't solve.
Number 9 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I've loved the Harry Potter franchise since the Willie Wonka type fun of the original all the way through the darkening turns of poor Harry's life. I've gotten older and watched these three young actors grow up with their roles. With each film delving deeper into the dark secrets of Voldermort and his link to Harry. It's truly been a grand adventure and this film leading into the final book was a wonderful exploration of the pain of growing up; with or without a wand. Looking forward to the final battle.
Number 8 - Star Trek
I've never been a Trekkie or Trekker or whatever the latest interation is. I grew up a child of Star Wars, raised by George Lucas before he betrayed me, before he went to the Dark Side. That's why when I saw this film I was amazed at how fun it was... how much more like Star Wars than Trek it was. I know that'll offend some diehard fans, but it's how it felt and it a good way. The story of how Kirk and Spock met was a grand adventure and a great way to reboot a franchise. Now, if Disney or someone can pry the work of the Skywalkers away from Lucas, I'd suggest doing the same. But clearly, this is a new series of Star Trek films that will live long and prosper.
Number 7 - Avatar
The story of this film has been done a dozen times before. You're not going to see a revolutionary story with "Avatar," but you are going to see it told revolutionary. Not that the story isn't good, it is. But the way Cameron shows it has to be seen. It's essentially a Western told from the point of view of the Indians, set in space. Only in this case, the fantasy of a primitive civilization winning happens. It's a grand adventure and one I highly recommend you going on. Those that were expecting Jim to drop the ball will have to keep waiting.
Number 6 - The Hangover
I laughed, I cried. I laughed while crying. Without a doubt, the funniest thing I saw all year. My friends and I were just rolling in our seats watching this bachelor party gone awry turn into such an engrossing comedy. This film was so good that the studio asked for a sequel before the first one was out. And if you have seen it and left when the credits started; shame on you. Sit through them and watch the night before unfold for you. A great comedy, a great film.
Number 5 - The Hurt Locker
A gripping thriller/drama that has you from the get go. Kathyrn Bigelow, long known as someone that can hang with the boys, pulls out her best film. Ever. The story of a bomb disposal unit in Iraq from the viewpoint of their new, brash and risky new member is a fresh wonderful take on war films. Unlike recent films, it doesn't try to demean the military or preach politics. The film is decidedly apolitical and focuses on the human cost of war. To you and all those around you. And if you're a casting agent for the adaption of "Unchated" then take a good look at Jeremy Renner for the part of Nathan Drake. He's spot on and so is this movie.
Number 4 - District 9
The second biggest surprise I had at a screening this year. Neill Blomkamp's fictional sci-fi documentary is a riveting portrayal of life after dying aliens make contact with humanity. Filmed for a tenth of what "Avatar" cost, this story displays a heart that most big budget features forget to include or simply leave behind. Sharlto Copley Sharlto Copley delivers a vulnerable portrait of a flawed man who is stripped quite literally of his humanity after becoming contaminated by a foreign substance. This is intelligent geekiness at its best.
Number 3 - 500 Days of Summer
A bittersweet, urban fairytale about love and loss. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hopeless romantic that finds himself going back into his life trying to figure out why his girlfriend dumped him. This little fable is a great way to reacquaint yourself with why you fall in love and what happens when it all falls apart. I felt all bubbly after the credits started to roll on this little film. If you're a fan of the romantic comedy, this ain't it. If you're a fan of love and falling in it then put it in and push play. A fine, enchanting greeting card to your heart.
Number 2 - Up in the Air
Jason Reitman has a knack for the type of source material that I love. George Clooney hasn't been this fun to watch since "Out of Sight." I had a hard time putting this at number two on the list. It could have easily been number one. Both my top choices could have switched places at a moments whim. I love them both, but the only similarity they have is their title and being great films. Clooney plays a man who has lived his life on the road. He comes to a point where he has to confront if what he's been/done is really a life at all. It's the most unconventional of road films. He takes pause on his life and what it's all about when his livelihood is threatened by a young, corporate upstart. His life as well as hers evolves in ways unexpected that never go unchallenged. An intelligent, introspective look into ones life from the outside and inside. I loved it and it loved me back.
Number 1 - Up
Yes, Carl and his crew are my favorite film of the year. Believe it or not; for a person that runs a Disney blog, a Disney film (Pixar or not) rarely winds up being my favorite film of the year. That first four minute or so montage just hooks you in and makes you love this old Curmudgeon. Russell and Dug take you on a wonderful, quirky adventure that treats you to another Pixar masterpiece. I love this film far more than Pete Docter's first effort "Monsters Inc." and it's clear that Docter has grown tremendously as a director. I saw this film three times before I moved on to other films and the memory of it still left a deep impression. If you haven't seen it in theaters, then you need to go out and have a Blockbuster night. It'll make you believe a house can fly. Really.
Princess and the Frog
Yes, I can already hear some of you screaming. Sorry, it didn't make the top ten, but it got close. It could qualify as number eleven. It almost made it as number ten, but near the end of the year I saw "Sherlock Holmes" and 221B Baker Street's most famous resident beat out the Frog Princess. But make no mistake about my love for this film. It's a lovely, warm and wet kiss to hand-drawn animation. A very good story with amazingly beautiful 2D animation. And not the last one made with pencils as some of you have been worrying about. Go see it if you haven't yet. If you have seen it, go again. It won't disappoint you.
Where the Wild Things Are
Spike Jonze' take on the classic children's book is a dark, visually haunting stir of imagery and emerging adolescence. Many people were unhappy with the unresolved ending, but that's life and that's childhood. It doesn't end at a clear point just like this film.
The Lovely Bones
Peter Jackson's lovely adaption of the best selling novel about a girl's murder told from her viewpoint in heaven. Beautiful and hard to watch all at once.
Johnny Depp was great as John Dillinger and Michael Mann had a great script. Now if he would have made it in film or at least something that looked like film. His HD is too unforgiving.
A young man robs a post office and gets sentenced to seven year in jail only to spend thirty-four years in prison, thirty of it in solitary confinement. A brutal look at what keeps a man sane or insane, depending on your perspective. A crushing observation of the cult of celebrity culture.
I love old, classic Blaxploitation like "Coffey," "Black Caesar" and "Super Fly." I happen to also be a big fan the "Austin Powers" films. And where "Undercover Brother" fails, this film soars at. It's a great film to watch and enjoy, even if you've never seen "Shaft." Shut yer mouth.
And so Blue Sky Disney say goodbye to 2009 and look forward to the new year, the coming movies and all the other surprises that await...