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OH YES THEY DID: Super Villain Koch Brothers Are Secret Investors in Mega-Successful ‘Wonder Woman’ Movie

Steven Mnuchin brought in the right-wing power brokers, as well as Bill Gates, to help fund such Hollywood projects as ‘Dunkirk’ and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming ‘Ready Player One.’

Tatiana Siegel reports: Though they might be the most reviled figures among Hollywood’s liberal crowd, the Koch brothers have been a silent investor in Warner Bros.‘ slate of movies for four years.

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Sources say Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch — who are worth a combined $96.2 billion and wield enormous power in political circles as major backers of right-wing politicians — took a significant stake valued at tens of millions of dollars in RatPac-Dune Entertainment. Now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought the brothers in as investors as part of a $450 million deal struck in 2013 — a move that was never disclosed because RatPac-Dune is a private company.

Though Mnuchin is no longer involved with the slate financing facility, having recently put his stake into a blind trust in order to avoid a conflict of interest, the Koch brothers continue to be stakeholders in such films as Wonder Woman, Dunkirk and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One.

A RatPac spokesperson didn’t respond to a request. A spokesperson for Koch Industries says, “Charles Koch, David Koch and Koch Industries do not have any involvement with this investment.”

The brothers aren’t the only unlikely billionaires who have sunk money into the Warner Bros. deal. Sources say Mnuchin also brought in Bill Gates for an amount similar to the Koch brothers’. Read the rest of this entry »

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Movie Poster: ‘L’Entraineuse Fatale’

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‘Hair-Raising Hare’: Bugs Bunny

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Source: Mudwerks 


[VIDEO] Daffy Doc: ‘Going Crazy’, 1938

The Daffy Doc is a 1938 animated short subject directed by Bob Clampett starring Daffy Duck and featuring Porky Pig.

Plot: In this short feature by Bob Clampett, the story takes place at the Stitch in Time Hospital where their motto is “As ye sew so shall ye rip!” In the operating room Dr. Quack, assisted by Dr. Daffy Duck (“also a quack”) is about to perform surgery. As the operation starts and Dr. Quack asks for his instruments in an increasing rate, Daffy goes berserk and jumps around the room, tossing the instruments in the air and using the air bag as a punching bag.

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He is then ejected from the room and ends up stuck in an iron lung. He fights his way out of it, but his body begins to inflate and deflate several times. Humiliated, Daffy insists that he will not take this lying down and states that he will soon get his own patient. Daffy opens the window and sees Porky Pig strolling by the hospital. Seeing his big chance, Daffy follows Porky around the corner and knocks him out with his mallet then carries him inside on a stretcher. Inside a hospital room, Daffy is examining Porky by checking his heartbeat with a ratty stethoscope and his temperature with a thermometer, which turn out to be a lollipop. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Lippy The Lion & Hardy Har Har: ‘A Thousand And One Frights’

Lippy The Lion & Hardy Har Har 11 – A Thousand And One Frights

 


[VIDEO] ‘A Wild Hare’, 1940: Happy Birthday, Wabbit! Bugs Bunny Turns 75 Years Old

The world’s favorite cartoon rabbit is 75 years old today. Bugs Bunny made his first appearance in 1940 in the theatrical short “A Wild Hare.” CBSN’s Elaine Quijano shows us how his catch line, “What’s up doc?” has stuck ever since.

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At WSJ, Mike Ayers writes:

 Bugs is being hunted down by Elmer Fudd, a dance the two would engage in for many years to come. In the first appearance, Bugs’s voice is a bit deeper, but his penchant for trickery at Elmer’s expense is immediate.

Watch the cartoon above.

Fun fact about “A Wild Hare”: In 1940, it received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Short, but lost to “The Milky Way.”

On “Looney Tunes” animator Chuck Jones’s Facebook page, a note about “Wild Hare” director Tex Avery was posted, with six tips Jones learned from Avery about art and animation:

Happy 75th Anniversary, Bugs Bunny! Bugs first appearance was on July 27, 1940 in a short cartoon directed by Tex Avery, “A Wild Hare”. In August of 1980 when Tex passed away, Chuck wrote an appreciation that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. It said in part:

“What Tex taught me was this:

“1. You must love what you caricature. You must not mock it–unless it is ridiculously self-important.

“2. You must learn to respect that golden atom, that single-frame of action, that 1/24th of a second, because the difference between lightning and the lightning bug may hinge on that single frame.

“3. You must respect the impulsive thought and try to implement it. You cannot perform as a director by what you already know, you must depend on the flash of inspiration that you do not expect and do not know. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ [HD] Comic-Con Trailer

Zack Snyder‘s BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is in theaters March 25, 2016.
http://batmanvsupermanmovie.com
http://www.facebook.com/batmanvsuperman


[VIDEO] Looney Toons: ‘Daffy The Commando’ 1943 (Remastered) 1080p HD

Daffy — The Commando is a 1943 Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Friz Freleng. Daffy Duck is a commando, dropped behind enemy lines, and causes havoc to the German commander, Von Vulture, who tries to capture him. As with many of the World War II-themed cartoons put out by the major studios, Daffy – The Commando was withheld from broadcast or video distribution after the war. Read the rest of this entry »


Saturday Morning Cartoon: Foghorn Leghorn

This weekend’s unofficial sponsor of Ace of Spades HQ Saturday thread


China Escalates Hollywood Partnerships, Aiming to Compete One Day

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With China adding an average of 15 cinema screens every day, the country’s box office brought in $4.8 billion last year, tripling in size since 2010

SHANGHAI —  writes: Tucked away in a quiet design studio in this fast-growing city, a team of young animators, illustrators and computer programmers is bringing an ancient Chinese village to digital life.

Using three-dimensional texture painting software, the team — mostly graduates of China’s leading arts schools — is adding intricate details to temples, palaces and pagodas. Team members are also helping animate the movements of the digital characters, including two pandas named Po and Mei Mei.

“Because of the importance of the Chinese market to Hollywood, no one wants to make movies that offend China. Some may see that as self-censorship.”

— T.J. Green, a former Warner Bros. executive who now runs Apex Entertainment, which builds cinemas in China

“This is what I really love to do,” says Fang Zheng, a 32-year-old animator who studied environmental arts in college. “I’ve always been interested in characters and cartoons and things like that.”

[Read the full text here, at New York Times]

The project, part of the next installment of the blockbuster Hollywood film franchise “Kung Fu Panda,” represents a shift in China’s moviemaking ambitions.

“We want to learn how to make movies that appeal to a global audience. Eventually, we need to go global.”

— Ren Zhonglun, president of the state-run Shanghai Film Group, which is also negotiating to form alliances in Hollywood

No longer content simply to build movie sets and provide extras in Hollywood films, Chinese studios are moving up the value chain, helping to develop, design and produce world-class films and animated features. They want a bigger role in the creative process, one that will allow them to reap more rewards, financially and artistically.

An animator in the Shanghai offices of Oriental DreamWorks, the Chinese partner of the American studio DreamWorks Animation. Credit Tim Franco for The New York Times

An animator in the Shanghai offices of Oriental DreamWorks, the Chinese partner of the American studio DreamWorks Animation. Credit Tim Franco for The New York Times

Kung Fu Panda 3” is the first collaboration between Hollywood’s DreamWorks Animation and its Chinese partner, Oriental DreamWorks, which is partly owned by a government investment fund and a private equity firm, China Media Capital. DreamWorks Animation has taken the lead in the creative and design work for the animated feature, which is scheduled for release in early 2016. Oriental DreamWorks contributes by adding Chinese elements, creating storyboards and building parts of the 3-D digital sets.

“We’re trying to develop Chinese creative talents,” says James Fong, the chief executive of Oriental DreamWorks.

It is part of a broader push by China Media Capital into the entertainment business. Over the last few years, the investment firm has made deals with Warner Bros. and the IMAX Corporation of Canada. It also helped develop a Chinese version of the hit TV show “The Voice.

An employee in Shanghai at Oriental DreamWorks, which is collaborating with DreamWorks Animation on “Kung Fu Panda 3,” such as by adding detail to traditional Chinese structures. Credit Tim Franco for The New York Times

An employee in Shanghai at Oriental DreamWorks, which is collaborating with DreamWorks Animation on “Kung Fu Panda 3,” such as by adding detail to traditional Chinese structures. Credit Tim Franco for The New York Times

For American companies, such collaborations offer access to new talent and the chance to understand better a culture that will increasingly be portrayed in its films. And coproduction deals provide greater access to China’s tightly regulated market, which in a few years is expected to surpass the United States as the world’s biggest film market.

“We want to leverage the best of the Hollywood creativity with the best Chinese characteristics.  We make it faster, do it cheaper, and in the end do something really innovative.”

— James Fong, the chief executive of Oriental DreamWorks

With China adding an average of 15 cinema screens every day, the country’s box office brought in $4.8 billion last year, tripling in size since 2010, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. And Chinese piracy is no longer such a significant threat to American studios; for example, “Transformers: The Age of Extinction” made more money in China than in the United States.

An employee at Oriental DreamWorks. The company's chief executive said, "We’re trying to develop Chinese creative talents.” Credit Tim Franco for The New York Times

An employee at Oriental DreamWorks. The company’s chief executive said, “We’re trying to develop Chinese creative talents.” Credit Tim Franco for The New York Times

The rapidly growing market is reshaping the way Hollywood deals with China, from the scripts it accepts to the marketing strategies it adopts. Some of America’s biggest television and movie production houses, including HBO and Warner Bros., are already pushing into China with a raft of joint ventures, partnerships and cofinancing projects. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Bugs Bunny Cartoon: ‘Easter Yeggs’


‘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 »


Point of View and ‘Intrarealism’ in Hitchcock

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In 1980, in Wide AngleDaniel Sallitt writes:

Hitchcock’s work has always provided much of the source material for discussions of the nature of point of view and identification in the cinema. The most readily identifiable and frequently used sequence in Hitchcock has the characteristic form of alternation between closeups of a person looking at something and shots from the person’s point of view of what the person is seeing; this kind of sequence, embodying as it does a very pure notion of viewpoint, has always seemed the central instance of subjective cinema. Add to this the undeniable power of Hitchcock’s films to involve the spectator in the narrative in some way which has always seemed more direct than that of other films, and one has the makings of a rudimentary model of identification, with manipulation of visual point of view creating a sense of subjective involvement by proxy in the film universe. The purpose of this paper is to examine and question this model, which seems to me a simplification, albeit a very understandable one, of what is actually going on in the films.

[Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]]

The fact that Hitchcock’s point-of-view sequences often appear at moments of greatest narrative tension and viewer absorption may be part of the reason that we tend to assume a simple cause and effect relationship; it is, however, worth noting and examining the many examples of point-of-view or subjective sequences which don’t operate in the expected way. The particular point which I would dispute most strongly is that Hitchcock’s films are in some way dedicated to a notion of psychological subjectivity, that the films examine reality from an individual’s psychological viewpoint which we are compelled to share. It is necessary to ask exactly how Hitchcock employs subjective techniques, and exactly what their effect is, before deciding on what level subjectivity is operating in the films. In addition, I wish to identify more general aesthetic strategies operating in Hitchcock of which point of view is a specific manifestation.

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The first thing to consider on the subject of point of view and subjectivity is the frequency with which Hitchcock switches the visual point of view from character to character within a sequence. A few examples, chosen at random from among many: the switch to the crofter’s point of view as he spies on Donat and Peggy Ashcroft from outside the house in The Thirty-Nine Steps; in the church sequence in the second Man Who Knew Too Much, the pastor’s point-of-view shots of his wife informing him of Stewart and Day’s presence, in a sequence which otherwise works from Stewart and Day’s point of view; the transition from Grant and Bergman’s point of view in the wine cellar in Notorious to Rains’ point of view as he sees them kissing; the seamless alternation between the point of view of Bruno and Miriam in the fairground murder sequence in Strangers on a Train. There is no shortage of such examples; Hitchcock constantly exercises his option of moving from one point of view to another. What is most interesting about these alternations is that they jolt the spectator so little.

[See more –  in our Hitchcock archives at punditfromanotherplanet]

There is no more sense of dislocation or of a violation of rules than there is with any shift of emphasis from one aspect of a situation to another. On the basis of this observation, one should question the extent to which the use of a character as the focal point of a point-of-view sequence necessitates an adoption of that character’s psychological perspective on the event. If this were the case, one would expect to be jolted at each switch of point of view, as one were forced to adopt a different psychological orientation. Indeed, if we know anything about a character’s psychology during a point-of-view shot, it consists of stored knowledge from previous scenes or shots rather than information obtained from the shot itself; any inferences we make about the psychological state of our “stand-in” are just that, intellectualized inferences; whereas the direct impact of the shot comes instead from our perception of what one would see from this point in the film universe. Our eyes substitute for the character’s eyes, but we have no force acting on us at that moment to even make us aware of the character’s thoughts, much less to make us share them.

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As confirmation of this, note the large number of point-of-view shots in which there is no importance attached to the character’s psychology, or even in which there is no particular character corresponding to the point of view (for instance, when a shot previously established as a character’s point of view is repeated after the character has gone). A few examples: the early shot in Notorious in which we get the point of view of a newsman looking into the courtroom; in the scene in Foreign Correspondent in which the two fake policemen are trapped by an accumulation of hotel workers, the point-of-view shots of McCrea and Day escaping down the corridor as seen by the pseudo-cops; Raymond Burr’s point-of-view shots of the blindness inflicted by Stewart’s flashbulbs in Rear Window; the point-of-view shots through the windows of the stalled dining car in The Lady Vanishes, many of which have no observer of whom to be the point of view. Here there is little or no possibility of the point-of-view shots being intimately bound up with character psychology and still the shots work perfectly well, giving us no sense of being daring or unusual devices.

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The effect is very much as if we were simply borrowing a character’s eyes for a moment so that we could use their viewpoint. One concludes that, far from being a device to inflict the character’s psychology on us, the point-of-view shot is somehow rather impersonal and remote from the character whose point of view is being used, as if our direct experience of a viewpoint would always outweigh our intellectualized inference of what the shot would make the character feel. The point-of-view shot seems to be an accurate evocation of a character’s psychological state only when that psychological state resembles the one that the point-of-view shot naturally inflicts on us, the sense of suddenly having visual access to a new, different universe—as in, for example, the scenes of Vera Miles exploring the Bates house in Psycho, or of Fonda being jailed in The Wrong Man. Which is to say that the point-of-view shot is a means of putting the spectator in some relation, not to the character, but to the film universe. Read the rest of this entry »


[HD VIDEO] ‘American Sniper’

Official Trailer. From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. In theaters December 25th.

 


‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ Out June 2015

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Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has announced June 2, 2015 as the release date for “Batman: Arkham Knight.”

The massive open-world game originally had been set to be released this fall, but Warner Bros. wanted to give developer Rocksteady more time to finish the company’s final installment in its trilogy, which also includes the hits “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City.”

This year marks Batman’s 75th anniversary.

However, the date shift will also move “Batman” away from other big tentpole releases like this month’s “Destiny,” from Activision Blizzard, as well as the next installment of the “Call of Duty,” and “Assassin’s Creed” franchises.

A new Lego Batman game — “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham” — will still debut this fall.

Warner Bros. made the announcement via the game’s Twitter feed.

“Arkham City” bowed in 2011, with “Arkham Asylum” starting the franchise in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Mel Blanc & Bugs Bunny

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The Legendary Mel Blanc with Bugs Bunny


Vintage Movie Poster of the Day: Boris Karloff in ‘The Walking Dead’, 1942

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Silver Scream


[VIDEO] Official Trailer ‘The Judge’ Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga

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From the YouTube description:

In theaters October 10th. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures comes “The Judge,” starring Oscar® nominee Robert Downey Jr. (“Tropic Thunder,” the “Sherlock Holmes” films, the “Iron Man” franchise), Oscar® winner Robert Duvall (“Tender Mercies,” “Crazy Heart”) and Oscar® nominee Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air,” “The Conjuring”). The film is directed by David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”).

In “The Judge,” Downey stars as big city lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge (Duvall), is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

Starring alongside Downey, Duvall and Farmiga are Vincent D’Onofrio (TV’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent“), Jeremy Strong (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Lincoln”), Dax Shephard (TV’s “Parenthood”), and Oscar® winner Billy Bob Thornton (“Sling Blade,” “Friday Night Lights”). The film also stars Oscar® winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter,” “Prisoners”), Leighton Meester (TV’s “Gossip Girl”), Ken Howard (“J. Edgar,” “Michael Clayton”), Emma Tremblay (“Elysium”), Balthazar Getty (TV’s “Brothers & Sisters”), David Krumholtz (“This Is the End”), Sarah Lancaster (TV’s “Chuck”), Grace Zabriskie (TV’s “Big Love”) and Denis O’Hare (TV’s “True Blood”).

Best reason to watch, right here: Vera Farmiga.

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Read the rest of this entry »


Batman v Superman: Ben Affleck’s Batman to control army of drones from cave in Zack Snyder film?

A Warner Bros exec has teased the plot for Batman v Superman (Picture: Warner Bros/Reuters)

A Warner Bros exec has teased the plot for Batman v Superman (Picture: Warner Bros/Reuters)

Batman will be semi-retired and ‘controlling drones from the Batcave’ in the new Man of Steel sequel, it has been revealed.

Warner Bros film executive Daniel Alter teased the plot on his Twitter page giving fans a glimpse of what to expect from Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader.

Read the rest of this entry »


Hollywood, Babble On

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Mayor Garcetti does not know how to save the L.A. economy

By Kevin D. Williamson

I was recently told a wonderful story about a professional sports franchise in a low-tax state that distributes to its recruitment candidates a pamphlet describing in the most vulgar terms — X number of Rolexes, Y number of Bentleys — how much farther a $10 million contract goes there than in New York, California, or New Jersey. (Because it is unbelievably crass, it seems to me likely to be true.) Therein may be found an important lesson for new Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who is climbing the walls over the decline of Hollywood.

Read the rest of this entry »


Super-hero parodies do for porn industry what super-hero blockbusters do for Hollywood

By 

LOS ANGELES –  Super-hero blockbusters have been box office hits for Hollywood for decades. But now Superman, Batman and friends are topping the charts for another industry as well.

The porn industry.

Director Axel Braun has become most in-demand X-rated director in the world by taking popular super heroes and creating super successful porn parodies. The adult film director has directed more than 400 movies since 1990, but it was his work on “Batman XXX: A Porn Parody” in 2010 that cemented his name when it became the best-selling and most-rented title of 2010. Since then, Braun has released everything from “Spiderman XXX: A Porn Parody” to takes on “Star Wars,” “The Avengers” and “Iron Man.”

And get this: he doesn’t even film the sex scenes.

Braun’s latest is “Superman XXX: A Porn Parody,” released to capitalize on Warner Bros’ “Man of Steel.”

“I felt that Superman needed to step away from the dorky, fumbling Clark Kent cliché, and gain some of those elements that made Spider-Man so appealing to me as a kid, some of that vulnerability and not-so-perfect life. I tried to humanize him a little, make him a little more relatable to the general public and at the same time parody without resorting to slapstick,” Braun told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “I also used characters that we haven’t been able to see yet in a mainstream big-screen adaptation, like Livewire and Silver Banshee. After all, I am selling a fantasy, and what better way to do so than bringing a bunch of obscure, sexy super-villains to life?”

Read the rest of this entry »