With so many massive studio tentpoles springing up all over, you’d be forgiven for letting the gestating Jumanji remake slip your mind. The rework of the ’90s kid-friendly fantasy film, playing under the somewhat unwieldy title Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (yeah, tack the tagline right onto the title, why not!) will come to theaters December 20, but prying eyes have already ensnared some key details about the film. There was the whole brouhaha surrounding Karen Gillan’s hilariously impractical jungle outfit and her mealy-mouthed explanation as to why her character had to get all hotted up for a nature expedition, a controversy I have dubbed Midriffgate, and now today brings news of another curious detail of story.
In 2012, a videotape of professional wrestler and handlebar mustache advocate Terry ‘Hulk Hogan’ Bollea engaged in sexual congress with one Heather Clem (estranged wife of radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, in one of this story’s more surreal details) surfaced online. Looking to hold someone responsible for what he felt was a violation of privacy, Hogan moved to take legal action against both Clem and Gawker, the media aggregation web site that originally posted the tape in question. Florida’s state court turned into a battleground, not just between the Hulkster and one of the Internet’s trashier publications, but between the moneyed elite and the free press.
Here’s how thoroughly Batman’s influence has permeated the mainstream: he’s claimed tacit ownership of the very notion of shining a light into the sky. The Bat-Signal, introduced in the comics as Gotham City’s method of summoning the Dark Knight, has been endlessly parodied in the annals of pop-culture — just earlier this month, the poster for Captain Underpants paid homage to the iconic (a word I mean here literally, and not in the ‘a photo of the Kardashians’ sense) design of the skyward spotlight. And all too appropriately, the Bat-Signal will now be used to give one former Batman, the dearly departed Adam West, a proper send-off.
Netflix has been notoriously secretive about their data, whether that’s subscription demographics or the all-important individual streaming figures for specific titles. Though they’ve grown into a major player in the world of entertainment, we really have no earthly idea whether Netflix is successful or not. (They almost definitely are, unless this is the single most brazen bluff in showbiz history.) The only knowledge we have of Netflix’s inner workings comes from the occasional missive issued by content head Ted Sarandos, who made one such announcement in a recent letter to shareholders. Among the financial jargon and quarterly earnings reports, Sarandos dropped the chilling detail that Netflix’s 100 million-strong user base has collectively streamed over 500 million hours of Adam Sandler movies since The Ridiculous Six opened. Today, ScreenCrush invites you to consider the brain-collapsing enormity of that number.
Martial arts expert and outspoken proponent of condom usage Jackie Chan is at it again, raring and ready to kick some enemy buttock even as he ages into his mid-sixties. The actor has kept up a steady stream of feature work (only some of which requires him to play chauffeur to a real live lion) and is currently preparing to re-mount his his kids’ cartoon series The Jackie Chan Adventures, but ever the work-horse, Chan’s just announced another new project. And what’s more, his next mission will pair him with a partner all too familiar to Eastern and Western audiences alike.
In case you weren’t aware, a pretty major situation has been percolating in the entertainment industry over the past month. Unsatisfied with the conditions of their work and continued employment, the Writers’ Guild of America went to the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers to renegotiate the terms of their collective contract. A bitter standoff summarily broke out, with the possibility of another writers’ strike — you may remember the last freeze-out, which stretched from late 2007 into early 2008 — looming on the horizon. Today brings a resolution to the saga of the last few weeks, and in true Hollywood fashion, everyone’s getting a happy ending.
The Overlook Film Festival just began its inaugural proceedings last night, inviting cinephiles and horror enthusiasts to take in some film with a singular location for a backdrop: the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon, better known to you as the Overlook Hotel and the setting of Stephen King adaptation The Shining. One could scarcely imagine a scene more apropos for the revelation that another big King remake is in the works, so Blumhouse (you know, the studio behind every horror blockbuster of the last few years) head Jason Blum and director-writer Akiva Goldsman took full advantage of their unique surroundings for a major announcement. And in the immortal words of Nelly, it’s getting hot in here.
Forcing audiences to watch a movie in which a dog lives, finds true happiness, and then dies over and over again would’ve been an act of sadism all on its own. But the crew of the upcoming family film A Dog’s Purpose have recently been outed as sadists of another, more stomach-churning sort. TMZ posted a shocking video from a second-unit shoot for the film in which an animal handler forces a reluctant German Shepard into rushing waters, the dog begins drowning, and handlers rush to retrieve the animal amid cries of “cut it! cut it!” PETA has already called for a boycott of the film, with the most shame heaped upon the industry supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, and the rest of the fallout has been swift.
When noted British actor and confirmed Caucasian male Joseph Fiennes announced last year that he’d play Michael Jackson for an upcoming TV series called Urban Myths, the public had an understandably adverse reaction. Though Fiennes confirmed that he’d portray the King of Pop after he got his controversial skin-whitening procedure, the fact remains that a white man would be playing an African-American man in a confusing sort of blackface without a literal black face. The Fiennes’ credit, he’s confessed to The Hollywood Reporter that he understands “why people are up in arms,” but hopes that audiences will be a little more understanding when they see that the show takes all sorts of liberties with the personal lives of historical figures.
Now that falsehoods have become almost entirely indistinguishable from fact in the American news media, the staffers of satirical publication The Onion can sit back and relax, having effectively taken over the industry they set out to spoof. (Full disclosure: I contribute to the A.V. Club, a division of the Onion media empire.) But instead of resting on their laurels, the originators of ‘fake news’ have set out to conquer new frontiers, having already moved into publishing and the untamed wilds of television. A new exclusive from the Hollywood Reporter indicates that not even the movie theaters of this great nation will be safe from the increasingly plausible absurdities of America’s self-proclaimed ‘finest news source.’
Dick Van Dyke remains a beloved and esteemed entertainer at age 91, fondly remembered for his charismatic performances as a hapless songwriter in Bye Bye Birdie and a sooty-faced chimneysweep in Disney’s 1964 musical Mary Poppins. What he’s remembered decidedly less fondly for is the other role he played in the period-piece musical, elderly bank chairman Mr. Dawes, Senior. Clad in old-age makeup and credited as “Nackvid Keyd” (an anagram of Dick Van Dyke), the notorious D.V.D. busted out a frightfully bad Cockney accent in his scenes as the tight-fisted money man. Widely mocked at the time and voted the second-worst accent ever in a poll from Empire, it was not the high point of Van Dyke’s impressive career.
The wheels of progress turn slowly out in Hollywood. Stars can be minted overnight, sure, but the actual process of production can churn along at an extremely gradual pace; a screenwriter, for instance, can spend years trying to sell a script as it floats around the purgatory of studio heads’ desk piles. As such, every showbiz scribe dreams of landing their latest unproduced project on The Black List, an annual roundup of the hottest up-for-grabs screenplays that provides them with a highly valuable bump in publicity. In recent years, such fine films as Manchester by the Sea, Miss Sloane, Spotlight, and The End of the Tour have all begun on The Black List, and yesterday brought the official announcement of 2016’s lineup.
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