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Robert Downey Jr. Joins ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

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It looks like the team-up of Spider-Man and Iron Man seen in Captain America: Civil War won’t be the duo’s last.

Robert Downey Jr., who plays the red and gold-armored Marvel character, has closed a deal to join the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Marvel and Sony’s reboot of the web-crawling superhero, sources tell THR.

Tom Holland will star as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and is making his debut as the character in Civil War (and already garnering praise for his take on the role).

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

The movie establishes a key relationship between Tony Stark/Iron Man and Parker and Homecoming will continue that thread.

Homecoming has been casting up ahead of its June start of production. Marisa Tomei will play Aunt May, while Zendaya is one of the female leads. Tony Revolori, who starred opposite Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Laura Harrier, who appeared in the soap opera One Life to Live, are also boarding the production, which is being produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal. Read the rest of this entry »

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R. Kikuo Johnson Illustration for The New Yorker‘s Anthony Lane Review of ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’

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Anthony Lane reviews “Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation”:

Tom Cruise is in excellent fettle, relaxing like a high-wire artist into the tensest of predicaments, and securing his status as the Dorian Gray of action movies. So what if his portrait decays with age in a vault at Paramount Pictures, as long as he preserves the smooth, unfading cockiness of youth?

Read on.

Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson


John Anderson: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Review: A Superpowered Spectacle

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Superheroes return in Marvel’s effects-and wit-filled sequel

John Anderson writes: Those truly committed to the Kremlinology of Marvel Comics will find “Avengers: Age of Ultron” a revelatory piece of 3-D entertainment. Who knew that the evil Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) had been working on the kind of robotics that would provide superhero/industrialist Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the groundwork for developing an artificial intelligence that could threaten the existence of all human life on Earth? Who knew The Incredible Hulk could be a romantic lead?

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For those more concerned with what “The Avengers” movies do best—outsize spectacle and wry comedy—“Age of Ultron” has to be declared a victory. “Victory should be honored with revels,” declares hammer-throwing Scandinavian elocutionist Thor (Chris Hemsworth). “Who doesn’t love revels?” answers snark specialist Stark. “Revels” is a good word to describe it all, if one tends to revel in effects-driven mass destruction for the good of mankind.

[Read the full text here at WSJ]

Director Joss Whedon, under the auspices of the almost supernaturally profitable Marvel-Disney alliance, has brought back the core of 2012’s “The Avengers”—Mr. Hemsworth, Mr. Downey, Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye)—along with several subordinate supervillains and heroes to embellish the plot and set up the sequel (well on its way, to judge by the closing moments of “Ultron”). They include the brother-sister act of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen), whose superpowers are the result of Strucker’s experiments and whose antipathy toward the Avengers is rooted in the devastation visited upon their native Sokovia by now-reformed war merchant Tony Stark.

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If any of this seems complicated—the fictional Sokovia, for instance, or that there was also a Quicksilver in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”—you really have to just let it go, the momentum of the movie being too much for cogitation. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Is the Next Big Step for Korean Model-Turned-Actress Claudia Kim

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Imagine making your film debut in a movie that likely will gross more than $1 billion at the global box office. It sounds like a dream, but for South Korean model-turned-actor Claudia Kim, who has an important supporting role in Marvel‘s Avengers: Age of Ultron,” it is reality.

“I’m just so grateful. I auditioned without knowing what kind of project it was,” the 30-year-old Kim told Speakeasy in a telephone interview earlier this month. “Really, I was excited that finally I could do a movie. I’m so happy how it turned out.”

[Read the full text here, at Korea Real Time – WSJ]

Kim had previously appeared in Netflix’s “Marco Polo” series as well as several shows in her native South Korea, and now she is rubbing elbows with the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and James Spader. In “Age of Ultron, she plays Dr. Helen Cho, a leading scientist who hangs with the Avengers but ultimately becomes a pawn in the villainous Ultron’s (Spader) plan to dominate the world.

“I’m just so grateful. I auditioned without knowing what kind of project it was. Really, I was excited that finally I could do a movie. I’m so happy how it turned out.”

— Kim, in a telephone interview with Speakeasy earlier this month

Yet, while Kim is pleased to be involved in a project of this size and popularity, she tries to keep her career in perspective.  ”It’s still just another step for me, and it’s not because of this that I have such high expectations for the next project,” she said. “I’m just going to continue to think about what kind of films I want to do and what’s out there for me to audition for, and I love trying.”

From left, Cobie Smulders, Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Claudia Kim, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. -  Marvel

From left, Cobie Smulders, Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Claudia Kim, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. – Marvel

Kim also talked about how she discussed South Korean cinema with Evans, who starred in South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer,” and she revealed which “Avengers” cast member really went out of his way to make her feel comfortable on set. An edited transcript of the interview follows.

When you read the part of Dr. Cho, she is very involved with the Avengers, she’s hanging out at parties. Did you approach the part worried that you would be around all these big superhero types, or were you fairly confident in yourself?

Of course I was nervous and excited at the same time. I felt the same way on set, but everyone was so welcoming, they made me feel really comfortable. Personally, I loved the challenge.

What did you guys do on down time? Was there was a lot of talk? Did you have fun? Did you hang out?

What was so inspiring and something I wanted to learn was how comfortable they were on set. All together, they got along so well. They were just making jokes, and within that process they would think of something even more brilliant. I was just enjoying that process, really.

Was there any particular cast member that you felt you really connected with?

I can only say such nice things about everyone, but James Spader really — he’s such an established actor, and he has so much more experience, and I was so grateful because he would really take care of me. He would ask, “Where should Dr. Cho be in this moment?” Or, “How do you feel about this?” He would really talk to me from my perspective. He would really care for me, and I’m so thankful for that.

Uli Latukefu, left, and Claudia Kim in ‘Marco Polo.’ Netflix/Everett

Uli Latukefu, left, and Claudia Kim in ‘Marco Polo.’ Netflix/Everett

When you finally saw the movie, and you saw yourself in front of this 10-foot evil robot instead of James Spader, how did that make you feel? Read the rest of this entry »


‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’: Hundreds of German Theaters Boycotting Marvel Film

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Ryan Gajewski reports: The heroes of Avengers: Age of Ultron won’t be assembling at a number of German theaters.

“We are worried, particularly about eastern Germany. When prices go up, then we have a serious problem that could force movie theaters to close.”

—  Karl-Heinz Meier, spokesman for advocacy group I.G. Nord

Theaters in 193 small towns in Germany are refusing to screen the Marvel blockbuster, citing Disney‘s raised rental fee for the film, according to German publication Deutsche Welle. In total, the film is being kept from 686 screens.

Cinema owners told DW that they were taken aback when Disney announced it was upping the fee from 47.7 to 53 percent of ticket sales. Additionally, Disney is cutting its advertising spend and will not provide advances for 3D glasses. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ Trailer: The Syndicate Is Real

 writes: For a while now, many Mission: Impossible fans have been wondering when we might get a proper look at the fifth installment, directed by Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) and starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, and more. After all, production on the film wrapped about a week ago, and since it was moved from its December release to avoid Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there’s barely four months to go until it hits theaters….(read more)

Screen Rant


[VIDEO] It’s Hulk vs Iron Man In New ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ Teaser Trailer

Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters on May 1, 2015

The trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultron have so far given us hints of an epic, city destroying, to-hell-with-the-clean-up and insurance costs battle between the Hulk and Iron Man and a new TV spot teaser from Marvel gives us just that little bit more.

We still have no idea why Iron Man dons the Hulkbuster armor to take on his rage-filled fellow Avenger, but we do get to see more of Black Widow, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Captain America and Hawkeye and Nick Fury all look equal parts concerned, confused and a little afraid….(read more)

The Hollywood Reporter


‘American Sniper’ Gets a Hero’s Welcome

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Resonating With People in Smaller Cities, Military Film Has Huge $105.3 Million Debut Weekend

Ben Fritz and Dan Molinski Steve Smith: an Army veteran and schoolteacher, walked out of a movie theater in Plano, Texas, on Saturday with tears in his eyes. After years of movie studios getting the military experience wrong with films like “The Hurt Locker,” the 33-year-old said, “American Sniper” had nailed it.
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“’American Sniper’ garnered better reviews than ‘Lone Survivor’ or ‘Unbroken’ and, unlike the latter two, received multiple Academy Award nominations, including for best picture—helping to ensure it performed well across the country and wasn’t exclusively a ‘red state’ phenomenon.”

Based on the memoir of Chris Kyle, reputed to be the deadliest sniper in the American military during the Iraq war, “American Sniper” opened to a phenomenal $105.3 million in the U.S. and Canada over the four-day holiday weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros., owned by Time Warner Inc.

“What these movies share is they’re utterly unironic. They treat American values honorably.”

— Michael Moses, Universal’s co-president of marketing

Its success was driven in large part by moviegoers like Mr. Smith who live in smaller cities and don’t regularly go to the multiplex.

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“Chris Kyle was a fellow veteran, a fellow Texan. He’s very much a true legend,” Mr. Smith said while holding hands with his wife, Crystal. “So it was basically a foregone conclusion I’d be here as soon as it opened.”

“When the phone calls started coming in from exhibitors, I realized we had something special happening in the South and in small towns where our movies sometimes find it difficult to resonate.”

— Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros.

Such a massive opening for a mid-budget drama was perhaps Hollywood’s biggest surprise since “Avengers” blew away box-office records by opening to $207 million in 2012. “Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, enjoyed the largest opening ever for a drama or R-rated film and more than doubled the prior record for Martin Luther King Day weekend.

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“Its success is the strongest evidence yet that audiences including veterans and cultural conservatives who are more concentrated in the South and Midwest feel underserved by Hollywood and will turn out in droves for movies that are inspiring, patriotic and sincere.”

Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures also had surprising success last month with the historical military drama “Unbroken” and last year with the Afghan war movie “Lone Survivor.”

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“Opening-night audiences gave “Sniper” an average grade of A+, according to market-research firm CinemaScore.”

Eight of the top 10 markets for “American Sniper” were in the South or Midwest, including San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston, Nashville and Albuquerque. Typically, major cities like New York and Los Angeles dominate the top theater rankings for a successful film because they have larger concentrations of frequent moviegoers and higher ticket prices.

All five of the top theaters for “Lone Survivor” were in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, while “Unbroken” performed extremely well in small cities such as Mesa, Ariz., and Lehi, Utah. Meanwhile, all three movies underperformed in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada, compared with the norm. Read the rest of this entry »