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Lasers. They're the future of cinema, so you better get used to it. I've been attending CinemaCon (formerly ShoWest), the movie theater owners' convention, for the last 9 years and have seen many fantastic technical demos. One year James Cameron came and showed us his first look at High Frame Rates; one year Dolby introduced their (now everywhere) Atmos sound system with a custom install in a big auditorium where we get to see screenings. This year, Dolby held a demo of their latest offering - a system called Dolby Vision (we've written about it recently). It runs on two 4K laser projectors and they claimed that the contrast ratio they were getting up to is 1,000,000:1. Most cinemas today are barely 2,000:1. It was mesmerizing to see.
Can it be done? Can (and will) a movie studio successfully market a major movie without any trailers or clips or actual footage from the movie? (And I don't mean a tiny indie that becomes a big hit.) That's the question bouncing around my head this week, augmented by all the marketing madness occurring at the CinemaCon convention (where movie studios go all out showing movie theater owners their slate for the upcoming year). With the release of the latest Tomorrowland trailer this week, the discussion has restarted on Twitter about not watching any trailers at all any more, a growing movement among dedicated movie lovers. So, that makes me wonder: is marketing a movie successfully without spoiling any footage possible?
"For more than a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire…" Plenty of new details about the expanded Star Wars universe revealed, as the Star Wars Celebration event in Anaheim ended with a panel featuring director Gareth Edwards. After bring us Godzilla, Gareth is next set to direct the first "spin-off" solo Star Wars movie after Disney bought Lucasfilm and brought back Star Wars. It was revealed recently that the title of the December 2016 film would be Rogue One, but during the panel they played a very early, brief teaser trailer for Rogue One that featured a different title. Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One is what the title card shows in that, but we also know more details about the plot - and it's not really about X-Wings.
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? There is nothing more human than the will to survive. In theaters in the US starting today is the feature directorial debut of sci-fi screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd), a film called Ex Machina about a man and his creation. Oscar Isaac stars as Nathan, the billionaire founder of a technology company, along with Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb, a young programmer brought to Nathan's home to test one of his new robots. Alicia Vikander plays Ava, an artificial intelligence humanoid designed by Nathan that Caleb is instructed to test, to see just how real she really is. Once you've seen it, leave a comment below with your own thoughts on Alex Garland's Ex Machina.
Are you ready for the next big thing in movie theater technology?! Dolby is hoping you're ready! AMC and Dolby have announced an exciting new partnership for their "premium cinema offering" that's part of the AMC Prime experience. The new "experience" is being called Dolby Cinema, and it will feature the latest in cinema technology including Dolby Atmos sound, Dolby Vision laser projection, and rumble seats synced to the movie (oh boy). Prime is an already-existing premium offering found at some AMC theatres featuring "power reclining seats with seat transducers" in addition to the best sound/projection they can install. To top it off, they're partnering with Dolby to make it better, and it's expanding to four locations this summer.
You're never too old, it's never too late, to change your life, to start something new. How about becoming a feature film director? Or a screenwriter? Throughout the years we've always tried to provide some extra inspiration for our filmmaker/storyteller readers and this fine infographic is the perfect bit of inspiration to share. Nathalie at the site Mentorless has created an infographic titled It's Never Too Late To Make Your First Feature Film that takes a look at 26 filmmakers "with an international career that made their first feature film in their 30s or 40s, proving that it's never too late to start making films." Indeed. She breaks down each into 4 categories, including their age when they directed an "international breakthrough".
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? "This takes crazy to a whole 'nother level!" It's here. It's time. Universal has released Furious 7, the latest "high octane" sequel in the never-ending Fast and the Furious franchise started back in 2001. This one is directed by James Wan, starring the original cast and tons of other actors all over. Furious 7 features the late Paul Walker, plus Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, Tyrese, Elsa Pataky, Lucas Black, Tony Jaa, Kurt Russell, Gal Gadot and Michelle Rodriguez. So how is it? Any good? Are they getting better or worse as it goes? Do you want to see even more? Once you've seen it, leave a comment below with your thoughts on James Wan's Furious 7.
Filmmakers are very crafty storytellers. The best ones know how to use the visual medium known as cinema to not only tell a story, but make us feel emotions of all kinds, and empathize with characters and people we have never met before. Filmmakers are also adept enough to link themes and patterns in the story through visual cues. In this video essay from Jacob T. Swinney titled First and Final Frames, he shows us how important the opening and closing shots are in every movie. At first you may think they have no connection, but it'll really hit you when you see the Gone Girl moment and it builds from there. This montage of over 50 films, showing the opening/closing shots side-by-side, also features the music "Any Other Name" by Thomas Newman from the American Beauty soundtrack. It's much more mesmerizing than I was expecting.
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? "I'm consciousness. I'm alive. I'm Chappie." It's time for more sci-fi. Director Neill Blomkamp (of District 9, Elysium) returns with his third feature, Chappie, set in a near-future South Africa about a robot given life through artificial intelligence. Sharlto Copley stars as Chappie the robot (in motion capture) with Dev Patel, Ninja & Yo-Landi Visser (of Die Antwoord), Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Jose Pablo Cantillo. So how is Blomkamp's new robot movie - any good? Better than Elysium, same as District 9? How are the human characters compared to Chappie? If you've seen it, leave a comment below with your own thoughts on Neill Blomkamp's new sci-fi Chappie.
Ah yes, it's time to delve into the cinephile mind of Edgar Wright. What films have influenced him as a filmmaker, which are his favorites? Edgar (follow him on twitter @edgarwright) recently stopped by the Criterion Collection offices in New York and raided their DVD closet, as all respectable filmmakers must do. In the video they released, he talks about 3 specific films that he pulls from the shelf. However, Criterion has also published his list of Top 10 films to compliment the DVD/Blu-ray selections. Do you think you know his favorites already? Find out and discover more films from Edgar's Criterion raid. Order your Criterion here.
"It could be a game changer," but they're afraid of it. Here we go again with movie theater chains. Earlier this week Netflix announced they're acquiring and distributing the new film Beasts with No Nation, a feature from Cary Fukunaga starring Idris Elba as the commander of a group of guerrilla fighters in Africa. Despite Netflix starting out as a DVD company, they've grown considerably. Beasts with No Nation will not only be released on the Netflix platform, but it will be released in theaters by the company, with a "vigorous push in Oscar season." Their release strategy of going to theaters and VOD at the same time still scares some movie theater owners, and the big chains have backed out of releasing this film altogether. Ugh.
Ever since Iñárritu's Birdman won Best Picture (and a bunch of other Oscars) a week ago, the film has received plenty of criticism and negativity. I, however, will defend the film as I think it's an exciting and original look at the struggles of artistry, told through the opening of a stage performance. One of my other favorite films in recent year was another Oscar winner, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, and it is very similar to Birdman in many ways. Thanks to a tip from Film School Rejects, an editor named Miguel Branco has cut together a video showing side-by-side visual comparisons between Birdman and Black Swan. It's rather mesmerizing to watch set to Alexandre Desplat's lovely "Wong Chia Chi's Theme" from Lust, Caution.
Now that you've seen it, what did you think? It's about distraction. It's about focus. Now in theaters is the latest movie starring Will Smith, titled Focus, co-starring Margot Robbie of The Wolf of Wall Street. Smith plays Nicky, a con man in the midst of his latest scheme who is thrown for a loop when an accomplished femme fatale from his past shows up. Focus comes from the directors of Crazy Stupid Love and I Love You Phillip Morris, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and the cast also includes Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Rodrigo Santoro and BD Wong. So how is it? Worth your time or not? Is the heist even a good one? Once you've seen it, if you see it, post a comment with your thoughts on Focus.
Even though Sony Pictures has a lot to be happy about following their new deal to share Spider-Man, with Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige producing a new franchise for the webslinger, the studio is still recovering from a rough end to 2014. Sony Pictures was the victim of a major cyber attack that saw many embarrassing and revealing things revealed in private company documents and e-mails. Once the dust settled on the debacle, which included the threatened release of The Interview, the studio's longtime co-chair Amy Pascal stepped down from her position. And now a replacement has been found, but it doesn't sound good.