Tag Archives: The Hollywood Reporter

Patty Jenkins signs historic deal to direct ‘Wonder Woman 2’

Patty Jenkins has officially signed on to direct Wonder Woman 2, which was first reported by Variety.

The sequel to the year’s second highest domestic grossing film, sitting at $410 million from US and Canada, which puts it in the 5th spot for highest domestic grossing superhero films of all time (only behind the two Avengers films and the last two Nolan Dark Knight films), is slated to hit theaters on December 13, 2019.

Not only will Jenkins direct, but she will also co-write and produce the second installment — two positions she didn’t hold with the first. The first had an all-male writing team of Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs. According to The Hollywood Reporter, while Jenkins made $1 million for directing Wonder Woman, she’ll make in the range of $7 to $9 million for duties on the Amazonian’s second solo feature. These numbers would make her the highest paid female director in history. According the same reports, Jenkins will also make significant backend, which comes from box office gross.

Jenkins had only signed on for one film, coming onto the project after Michelle MacLaren exited due to differences in vision with the studio, which is why Jenkins had to enter negotiations for a second in the first place. With the film becoming a box office smash and the first critical hit for the DCEU, when it desperately needed one, Jenkins then held a lot of negotiating power. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Jenkins asked for pay similar to that given to Zack Snyder when he signed on for a second film. Snyder directed Man of Steel, which released to lukewarm reviews, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was critically smashed.

Gal Gadot will appear as Wonder Woman for the third time in the DCEU superhero team-up Justice League, which opens on November 17.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore.

Trial: Who is the best movie villain of the year so far?

*Trials is a weekly series in which two writers tackle a proposed question or task. After they’ve written their opening statements, the writers will offer rebuttal arguments against the other’s and for their own, and a third writer will come in to make the verdict.*

This week’s question: Who is the best movie villain of the year so far?

Writers: Harrison Tunggal and Kyle Kizu
Judge: Levi Hill

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Harrison’s argument:

Easily, the best villain — or rather, villains — of the year comes from Jordan Peele’s Get Out. The Armitage family function as terrific movie villains in every conceivable way. They offer thrills that more than justify the price of an admission ticket, but also transcend the entertainment value of a masterfully crafted horror film.

The Armitages hold up a mirror to our society in the most affecting way possible, presenting us with a clan of white liberals that are as destructive as any MAGA-branded, outed racist and as insidious as Freddie Krueger. Sure, maybe Dean (Bradley Whitford) would have voted for Obama for a third term, but the way he drives the point home is more like a nervous tic designed to hide a deep-seated undercurrent of racism, rather than anything remotely approaching sincerity. It’s a feeble attempt at preserving the illusion of white racial innocence, an illusion that is outed as soon as the Armitages host their party — less of a party, and more of a montage of barbed microaggressions.

And if it wasn’t obvious that the Armitages are innately and intensely harmful, then they reveal themselves as outright monsters when they enact their body-snatching plan, trapping Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) in the Sunken Place while they perform their heinous operation. Jordan Peele has been direct in naming the Sunken Place as a metaphor for the silencing of Black voices, while the Armitages’ body-snatching operation is a literal takeover of Black bodies.

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Though I can’t know what it’s like to view Get Out as a Black audience member, it is clear that Peele’s film is a cinematic expression of racial anxiety — one made from a uniquely Black perspective. This expression of racial anxiety is effective, by and large, because of the Armitages, and the writing behind them.

Going beyond the abstract, the Armitages are an example of compelling villains, particularly Rose (Allison Williams). When she gets found out, she resorts to attempting to seduce Rod (Lil Rel Howery), a truly despicable moment in a film filled with them. She also tries to use her whiteness to pin the violent third act on Chris. Thankfully, it doesn’t work, but it once again exemplifies the depths of depravity that define Rose. Jeremy’s (Caleb Landry Jones) overbearing masculinity and Missy’s (Catherine Keener) hypnotic tea cup only add to the villainy.

Ultimately, the Armitages represent a villain we’ve never seen before. As white liberals, the Armitages are a far-cry from Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), or the snarling Epps (Michael Fassbender), which allows them to lend nuance to conversations about race, making them significant in the pantheon of film. Confronting racial anxieties has become ever more important — this country’s leadership is exacerbating such anxieties, rather than soothing them and finding solutions to them. Therefore, it is up to us to shoulder that burden, and films like Get Out — through its nuanced villains, among other aspects — can point us in the right direction.

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Kyle’s argument:

While it’s an especially on-brand choice, I believe that my pick for the best villain of the year so far is the right one: “the enemy” from Dunkirk. We’ve seen “the enemy” in countless pictures before — flaunted with their symbol, uniform and leader. But we’ve never seen them quite like this. In Dunkirk, “the enemy” is faceless, a haunting spectre that terrorizes the British soldiers like the shark does to the beach goers in Jaws. And in that sense, “the enemy” is all the more frightening for it. Not only is there a sense of realism to the approach — as the real soldiers themselves almost certainly lacked any visual — but it also allows Christopher Nolan to get creative.

The main visual we do have are the ME 109 planes, and there’s something about how they’re realized that’s more terrifying than if we were also in their cockpits. They pop up of nowhere, coming “out of the sun.” They follow determinedly, with an unstoppable motivation, a horrifying monster always on our soldiers’ tails, and they hold equal terror in their evasion, a villain just out of grasp.

But with any other visuals taken away, Nolan turns to the other sensory aspects, mainly sound. The sound design of Dunkirk almost feels as though it’s for a horror film, which leads to some seriously horrific scenes of destruction and death. As eyes wander into the sky and bodies start to scramble or duck for cover, the hard cut to the approaching dive-bombers, their intimidation horns sounding out, is literally arresting and utterly transfixing.

Warner Bros./Courtesy

And their impact is devastating, with bombs lifting sand and soldiers into the air and gunshots splintering and riddling the wood of the mole as man after man takes cover.

“The enemy” terrifies even simply with its guns. Bullets pierce without origin, with a purpose solely to murder. The opening scene as soldier after soldier falls and, when Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) makes it over the fence, the gate is blown apart by countless bullets stands next to the Dutch ship scene where three gunshots inject endless fear into the soldiers below as two of the most frightening in the film.

And that’s exactly where “the enemy” becomes more than just a faceless villain. Below deck of the Dutch ship, and on deck of the Moonstone with the Shivering Soldier (Cillian Murphy), our men start to tear each other apart, absolutely terrified by the thought of murder. “The enemy” invokes a fear of annihilation, a fear that digs into our characters’ bones and causes them to turn on each other — the only direct uses of “German” being directed at our own allies. While the sounds are scary as all hell, and would alone be almost enough reason to win, it’s the effect that “the enemy” creates here that puts them over the top. Without ever being seen, they get into the minds of our heroes and almost pull them apart.

We’ve all been granted far too omnipresent, omniscient views of “the enemy” in countless films before. Dunkirk’s rendering is one of the first that shows us how real soldiers likely saw them. And we all know who they are and what they stand for, so seeing them in this light is refreshing and, truly and immensely, far more terrifying.

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Harrison’s rebuttal:

First and foremost, Kyle, your undying love of all things Nolan will never cease to draw my utmost respect and admiration. Additionally, before I make my points, I would like to emphasize that my rebuttal is not intended to detract from the validity of “the enemy” as a movie villain, nor as a real-world source of evil. I am in no way saying that Nazis are less terrifying than the Armitages — both represent terrible evils that must be stamped out with the utmost vigor.

While I admire Nolan’s creativity in showing characters reacting to “the enemy,” I will assert that the uniqueness of the Armitages in cinema makes them the more significant villain. Jordan Peele doesn’t show us images of overt racism, but rather tries to impart a deeper understanding of the fears and anxieties of Black people by showing us villainous white liberals — people that seem harmless enough, but would reject such a deeper understanding, which only intensifies the aforementioned fears and anxieties.

Both Nolan and Peele show us new takes on villains we’ve seen before, but I would argue that Peele gives us new dimensions to a conventional racist antagonist, whereas Nolan removes dimensions from his Nazi antagonists. Again, this is not a criticism, just an observation — I mean, Nolan doesn’t give them faces or names. Nolan streamlines his antagonists, distilling “the enemy” into one thing —  the sense of fear they cause.

In contrast, Peele gives the Armitages many different angles of deplorability — the privilege that Rose embraces, the objectification of Black people that all of the Armitages are guilty of, and the denial of a Black person’s consciousness that is the Armitages’ ultimate goal. Solely in regard to the films, the Armitages represent a wider swath of villainy than “the enemy.”

Finally, the Armitages are a deliberate exercise in scathing social commentary. While “the enemy” is as relevant today as they were in 1940, Dunkirk doesn’t deliberately position its antagonists as social commentary. “The enemy” exists in the film to escalate tension, but does little else, unlike the Armitages in Get Out. As such, Get Out has the better villain, on the basis that the Armitages antagonize Chris, while also serving the film’s satiric and symbolic ends.

Warner Bros./Courtesy

Kyle’s rebuttal:

Similarly to your rebuttal, it’s difficult to argue against how good of villains the Armitages are. Get Out is truly a landmark film and the unforgiving, scathing, honest and raw depiction of the damage that white liberals, apparent allies, cause is deeply nuanced in regard to how Jordan Peele writes and directs them. It’s a deeply needed portrayal within cinema. So, in rebutting, my framing is to simply show how “the enemy” is a better villain, not how the Armitages are worse.

I have to address the comment about how Nolan removes dimensions from “the enemy” because that’s exactly why they’re so phenomenally impactful. We know what “the enemy” stands for. We know the absolute atrocities that they committed and we’ve been beaten over the head with depictions of their deplorable ideology.

Thus, when Nolan removes those dimensions to focus in on a singular aspect, it actually enhances “the enemy” in ways that only reduction could. Dunkirk focuses on the visceral, invasive physicality of “the enemy” and its devastation. The film shows us images of death, tactics of intimidation — the “We surround you” papers are breathtaking in how much evil three words exude despite their simplicity — and effects of fear like we’ve never seen them before. So, because we already know the nuance, or lack thereof, of who “the enemy” is and what they represent, showing them in this light is actually a grander, more impactful and more horrifying rendering of them than we’ve gotten before.

It’s like Jaws, but if the shark were a Nazi. It’s like a Nazi shark. I mean, come on.

Warner Bros./Courtesy

As I said before, the Armitages are terrifying villains. And I don’t want to argue with how Peele depicts them — it’s an approach that does its job and does it so well that it becomes deeply resonant in today’s world. I think, in purely cinematic terms, their tracks could’ve been laid a bit more methodically. I don’t mean this to undermine how abrasive and jarring white people’s microaggressive statements are, but it feels as though, in terms of cinematic crafting of villains, they might have even been more effective with a more paced out progression.

It’s difficult to argue that Get Out isn’t clearly more of a social commentary than Dunkirk is, but I do think that Dunkirk has a very subtle political idea that goes along with not naming “the enemy.” In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mark Rylance posited the idea that the Germans have been villainized enough in regard to the Nazis. They’re a country with guilt hanging over their heads and, more importantly, they’re a country that’s moved on from that evil while it’s in America where, somehow, neo-Nazis now hold a world stage. In that sense, not naming “the enemy” becomes more empathetic and all encompassing as it’s not a people that the soldiers were fighting, but rather an ideology. The soldiers were fighting fear and hatred, and that is something still relevant today.

Levi’s Verdict:

As the second edition of Trial, or the Kyle vs. Harrison show, I once again had the dubious honor of having to choose between two wonderful arguments. Yet, instead of masking who I think is the winner, like I did last time, I will just come out and say that Harrison, once again, wins in a tough battle. Reading the rebuttals of both, I feel that this edition offered much more succinct arguments from both sides. Both promoted their arguments and neither attempted to bring down the others. That is a testament to the strength of both writers and the ideas behind both.

Kyle’s argument about how “the enemy” revolutionizes how we typically see war villains is true. It did. And Nolan’s Dunkirk is a stunning achievement. The way that it’s the ideology being fought — a violent, pretty much unseen force — is a frightening metaphor for how those violent, deep-rooted ideologies can pervade at any time. It’s quite like the shark in Jaws, as Kyle mentions, but with real ideological fervor and fear. Hatred and fear still persist today — both nameless and faceless.

But to me, the tangible reality of Get Out’s villains, the Armitages and white liberals, are a far too pertinent villain of today.

Universal Pictures/Courtesy

Peele’s film magnifies the anxieties regarding the way African Americans are viewed within society — with their voices silenced, with their bodies sexualized and glorified, with their minds traumatized — and the film confronts both openly racist and subtly racist white people and their causation in the way society problematically operates today. Because of the fact that Get Out puts a face to the ideologies and spends time letting the audience get to know the fake-good intentions of the Armitages, only to show their truly monstrous and manipulative plans, Peele makes a specific, yet wide critique of white people in America.

Ideologies scare us all. But a face to the ideology scares us just a little more.

Winner: Harrison Tunggal

 

Do you agree with Levi’s verdict? Sound off in the comments for which villain you think is better, or if you would’ve chosen another one entirely.

Featured image via Universal Pictures.

Christian Bale is a Western cavalryman in first ‘Hostiles’ trailer

Christian Bale and writer-director Scott Cooper have reteamed, after Out of the Furnace, for the upcoming Western Hostiles, which follows Captain Joseph J. Blocker (Bale) as he reluctantly escorts a Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and a grieving woman (Rosamund Pike) through hostile territory. The film premiered this weekend at Telluride Film Festival to incredible acclaim, with The Hollywood Reporter and Variety saying that Bale could be a very strong Oscar contender for his performance. Riding that buzz, Hostiles has dropped its first trailer, released through Deadline Hollywood.

Hostiles finds itself in a very unique position this fall, currently without a distributor, which may be why the trailer landed with Deadline instead of being released through a film company online. The film accompanied a tribute to Christian Bale’s career at Telluride, which started the buzz of who might acquire the title — with companies such as Annapurna (new to distribution), Sony Pictures Classics and Netflix rumored as in the mix. But Variety says that Telluride isn’t particularly a festival where titles get picked up and suggests that there won’t be any official news until, at the earliest, Toronto International Film Festival, where the film is set to screen next on September 11.

With a trailer dropping, it seems as though the film is eyeing a 2017 release, considering that, with the Oscar buzz, it would be a strange move to release a trailer now and then wait over a year to release it next fall. A distributor would have to act fast to put together a marketing campaign that can get enough people in the theater to then realize that awards potential. And it also seems, with the subject matter, that 2017 is the prime window for a release, as the film deals with themes of hatred, racism and reconciliation, and can compare to today’s times, as talked about by Scott Cooper in Variety’s film podcast Playback.

Featured image via Lorey Sebastian, Le Grisbi Productions and Waypoint Entertainment.

‘Dunkirk’ receiving Oscar push with Toronto International Film Festival IMAX screening

Christopher Nolan has a storied history with the Oscars. Many point to the snub of both The Dark Knight and Nolan as the reason why the Academy expanded the number of possible nominees to ten for the year after that film’s release. Most also call the omission of Nolan from Best Director for Inception a major snub of its year.

So, as Dunkirk was approaching, many felt that even if the film was great, it might have trouble being recognized at the Academy Awards. But when Dunkirk dropped, reviews raved not quite like they ever have for Nolan, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it an “impressionist masterpiece” and IndieWire claiming it as “the best film he’s ever made.” It also stands as his most well-received film on Metacritic, amassing a monumental score of 94, 12 points higher than his next best, The Dark Knight, at 82.

Currently, 9 out of the 20 experts on Gold Derby are predicting Dunkirk as the Best Picture winner with every expert expecting it to get nominated. Out of those same experts, 16 of them are predicting Christopher Nolan as the Best Director winner. Their predictions factor in festival premieres they’ve already seen and anticipate the strength of yet-to-be-released Oscar hopefuls, so it’s clear that, with its wide inclusion, Dunkirk has already stamped itself as a serious threat.

But Nolan isn’t one to campaign for awards, his films rarely showing up at festivals, so Dunkirk seemed like it would have to hold and hold strong — as summer releases generally have a harder time getting nominated — once the festival circuit fired up and the fall season began. It looks like, though, in a move that acknowledges the film’s potential, Dunkirk will be joining them.

Nolan’s World War II epic will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (via The Hollywood Reporter), which takes place September 7-17 and is where Nolan’s first film, Following, premiered. It won’t be a typical festival appearance, however, as it was IMAX who approached Warner Bros. to organize an IMAX 70mm screening of the film at the world’s first permanent IMAX theater, Cinesphere, in honor of the company’s 50th anniversary.

But the exposure should be just as ripe. TIFF’s director and CEO, Piers Handling, will introduce the film and its artistic director, Cameron Bailey, will host a Q&A with Christopher Nolan himself.

In a statement, Handling said the following:

“Dunkirk is quite remarkable. It sets a new standard for the visualization of war. Its form and structure is immersive and experiential and its attention to detail exemplary. This is a story for the times – one of resilience against all odds, ordinary people surviving amidst chaos. Christopher Nolan captures this seminal moment in history with an artist’s eye.”

Dunkirk is currently still in theaters, but will start to exit IMAX venues this Thursday. If the film is nominated for Best Picture, which a majority of critics expect, then it may return to screens at the beginning of 2018.

Featured image via Warner Bros.

Ed Skrein leaves ‘Hellboy’ reboot due to issues of whitewashing

Last week, British actor Ed Skrein, recently of Deadpool, joined the Hellboy reboot currently underway with David Harbour (Stranger Things) set in the lead role and Neil Marshall (The DescentGame of Thrones) in line to direct.

The casting, broke by The Hollywood Reporter, was an example of whitewashing because the character, Major Ben Daimio, is Japanese-American in the source material.

After the casting was announced, Jeff Yang, a CNN contributor and Editor-In-Chief of secretidentities.org, made a popular Twitter thread calling out the whitewashing, not only in Hellboy, but also within Hollywood in general. He offers various Asian actors that could’ve played the role of Daimio.

This year has seen plenty of controversy, of both whitewashing and cultural appropriation, with Ghost in the Shell, Iron Fist and Death Note, the last of which Netflix released this past weekend. Last year, Marvel and Tilda Swinton also encountered whitewashing backlash in regard to Swinton’s character in Dr. Strange.

While those actors stuck with their projects, Skrein is the first to step down from a role with consideration to whitewashing, at least of a major studio project. He made the announcement on Twitter this afternoon.

Skrein states that he was “unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage” and that, once it had been brought up, he decided to leave the film because of the “worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts.” He says: “It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity.”

Lionsgate also released an official statement along with Skrein’s exit, which can be found with The Hollywood Reporter‘s story.

“Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision.  It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.”

Look below for Skrein’s official statement from Twitter:

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

‘Girls Trip’ crosses $100 million at the domestic box office

Girls Trip, the comedy starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Reginal Hall and Tiffany Haddish, has just crossed $100 million at the domestic box office, making it the first film produced, directed, written and starring African Americans to do so, according to Blackfilm.com. Helmed by Malcolm D. Lee, director of Barbershop: The Next Cut, Undercover Brother and The Best ManGirls Trip has been wildly successful in its run.

Releasing the same weekend as Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, on July 22, the film pulled in a domestic opening of $31.2 million and only dipped 37% in its second weekend.

Rough Night, another all-female comedy from this summer, merely opened to $8 million domestically and finished its North American run at $22 million. According to Box Office Mojo, Girls Trip had a $19 million production budget and Rough Night had a $20 million production budget.

Baywatch, the male driven comedy starring apparent superstars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, was also beaten by Girls Trip. The remake opened to just $18.5 million domestically and left US and Canada theaters at $58 million.

At the moment, Girls Trip sits as the 20th highest domestic grossing film of the year. Other notable films that it has beaten are Ghost in the ShellThe Dark TowerThe Emoji MovieAlien: CovenantThe Mummy and Power Rangers. It should pass Baby Driver, which sits at $100.8 million, and has a chance at passing Fifty Shades Darker, which sits at $114.4 million.

In fact, the current top two domestic grossers of the year are female-led films Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman.

Regina Hall can be seen in Netflix’s Naked, which stars Marlon Wayans and released on the streaming site on August 11.

First reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Tiffany Haddish will join Kevin Hart and repair with director Malcolm D. Lee for Night School, which is set to open on September 28, 2018.

‘Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone film in development — Report

After years of speculation, Star Wars fans are finally getting one of their biggest wishes: an Obi-Wan Kenobi film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lucasfilm and Disney have begun development on their next standalone entry, centering on the Jedi made famous by Alec Guinness in the original trilogy and Ewan McGregor in the prequels.

Stephen Daldry, the Oscar-nominated director of Billy ElliotThe Hours and The Reader, is in talks to direct. There’s currently no script, but if Daldry were to sign on, he would work with the team at Lucasfilm to develop one, the report suggests. Daldry recently directed two episodes of the first season of Netflix’s Emmy-nominated The Crown, one of which, Hyde Park Corner, he’s in contention for. He also directed two episodes of the second season, which will air in December.

For years, Ewan McGregor has enthusiastically stated that he would play the character again in a future film. However, due to the project’s stage of development, McGregor has yet to be confirmed, nor has any other actor.

Lucasfilm and Disney are currently in the home stretch of production on their untitled Han Solo standalone, helmed by Ron Howard after the firing of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, of 21 Jump Street22 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie. The film, starring Alden Ehrenreich as the gunslinging smuggler alongside Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, holds a May 25, 2018 release date. Yoda and Boba Fett have been rumored to be subjects of future standalone films.

This next picture does not presently have a release date. Some have speculated that, keeping in line with release strategies of the episodes and the anthology films, Obi-Wan Kenobi may be gracing the screen as early as the summer of 2020 after the May 24, 2019, release of the untitled ninth episode, set to be directed by Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow.