Disney & Lucasfilm Kick Off 100 Day Countdown to The Rise of Skywalker

Let the countdown begin, as we're 100 days away from The Rise of Skywalker. Lucasfilm has officially kicked off the countdown, with a teaser that focuses on the duel between Kylo Ren and Rey, which we saw in the recently released trailer from D23. The brief teaser was shared with the following caption."100 days until the saga ends... #TheRiseOfSkywalker is in cinemas 19 December!"The Rise of Skywalker arrives in the U.K. on December 19, whereas it officially rolls out nationwide in the U.S. on December 20. However, given the popularity of Thursday night preview screenings, the movie will essentially be making its way to theaters on the evening of the 19th domestically. So, either way, we're at that 100-day countdown. And, even though the conclusion to this sequel trilogy is just over the horizon, we're still left with a great many questions and precious few answers. How will the Skywalker saga conclude? Is it possible to satisfyingly wrap up more than four decades of storytelling in a single movie?What we know for sure is that J.J. Abrams is back at the helm for this installment. Abrams was recruited by Disney following the $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm to direct what would become The Force Awakens. Few pop culture events have ever generated that level of hype that Episode VII managed to, and few movies have ever generated such success at the box office, as the long-awaited return to a galaxy far, far away generated more than $2 billion worldwide. Once Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) was fired from Episode IX, it made every bit of sense to turn back to Abrams so that he could finish what he started.Yet, a lot has changed in the last few years. Rian Johnson took over to write and direct Star Wars Episode VIII, which we now know as The Last Jedi. While a major commercial success, the middle entry in this trilogy remains divisive amongst the fanbase. A small yet vocal contingent has made things particularly ugly since the movie's release. In any event, Lucasfilm now has the unique challenge of trying to please both those who liked The Last Jedi, and those who didn't. Bringing any story to a close is challenging, but this comes with added difficulty.Related: Rise of Skywalker Wasn't Really Derailed by Last Jedi Insists J.J. AbramsDaisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels all return. Ian McDiarmid will reprise his role as Emperor Palpatine and Billy Dee Williams is finally coming back as Lando Calrissian. New cast members include Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant and Keri Russell. Carrie Fisher, though no longer with us, will appear once more as Leia Organa via unused footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Be sure to check out the countdown teaser from the Star Wars UK Twitter account for yourself.100 days until the saga ends… #TheRiseOfSkywalker is in cinemas 19 December! pic.twitter.com/no4qz2IPYT— Star Wars UK (@StarWarsUK) September 10, 2019 Topics: Star Wars 9, Star WarsWriter of various things on the internet (mostly about movies) since 2013. Major lover of popcorn flicks. Avid appreciator of James Bond, Marvel and Star Wars. Has a tremendously fat cat named Buster and still buys CDs. I’ve got my reasons.

I Get a Kick Out of Entertaining People: Robert Shaye, Founder of New Line Cinema and Unique Features, on Directing his Third Film, Ambition

by Chaz Ebert September 18, 2019   |  Print Page TweetWhen I learned that Robert Shaye (Bob), founder of New Line Cinema and Unique Features, had directed his third feature, "Ambition," I knew that I had to interview him myself. He produced some of the biggest horror and fantasy films at a time when independent filmmakers and studios were not thought of as mainstream. Among his producing credits are "A Nightmare on Elm Street," both screen versions of "Hairspray" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. After New Line Cinema was merged with Warner Bros. Pictures in 2008, Bob and his partner Michael Lynne left and started Unique Features. Roger had great affection for many of Bob's films, and over the years, they became friends. My husband often advocated for Bob's suggestion that the MPAA implement an “A-rating” for films considered more adult than R and less explicit than X.Advertisement Bob's new thriller, "Ambition," is about a young musician, Jude (Katherine Hughes), who's preparing for a competition when mysterious and malevolent forces cause her sense of reality to fracture. The film opens in select theaters, On Demand and on digital platforms this Friday, September 20th. In the following conversation, we discuss everything from his initial impressions of "Pink Flamingos" to his thoughts regarding the need for inclusivity in the film industry.—Chaz Ebert I wanted to do this interview myself because Roger had so much respect for what you did in the film industry. I’m really glad to talk to you for many reasons. It takes me back to that conversation Roger and I had in front of a bunch of people at Telluride about 10 or 15 years ago, and how much fun it was. I think it's so wonderful that you're carrying on the tradition. Today is actually Werner Herzog’s birthday. We are both old goats, and after a period of time, you start getting a little philosophical. I was going back and reading some of the stuff that Roger had written, and he mentioned in his book Awake in the Dark that he had met Herzog at a party that was held at your house. Yeah, it was at my place on Second Avenue and 14th Street, which is where New Line got started. Roger brought a bottle of bourbon, and the three of us sat in my little living room.  When you founded New Line in 1967, had you already gone to Columbia Law School? Yes. I went to law school from 1961 to 64. I was fortunate—as opposed to clever—enough that right after I had been drafted to go to Vietnam, my Fulbright acceptance letter arrived. I sent it to my draft board and said, “I’m sorry, the government is calling me for a higher duty.” [laughs] Instead of going to Vietnam, I went to Stockholm. That was really a higher duty. I spent a few years there, and when I got back, I went to work for the Museum of Modern Art. Advertisement So you had an interest in art and culture back then, even though you went to law school? I would say art and culture is a bit of a stretch. It turned out that I was always very interested in great movies. It was more about visuality and ultimately, at the end of the day, entertainment, whether it's just for a pure giggle or whether it's intellectual. I really get a kick out of entertaining people. I even like to cook for them often because it gives me pleasure. I’m a bit like a Jewish mother in that regard. [laughs] One of the things that Roger and I used to discuss is the fact that you actually are the one who helped catapult independent films into the mainstream. I'm sure that wasn't your ultimate goal in 1967, but why did you think that you could even start an independent film company back then, being from Detroit? I had made a short film that won a bunch of prizes, and I tried to get it distributed. Janus Films had a program of short films that they were sending around to college campuses, and they rejected my film. The only distributor I could find was the Filmmakers’ Cooperative in New York, Jonas Mekas’ place, which I think is still in existence. I wasn't getting the kind of response that I thought I was entitled to, so out of either ignorance or arrogance, one or the other, I just said, “What the hell, I'll put together my own film program by distributing it myself, and I'm going to include the films I directed without any stinky distributors saying yes or no.” I am not a film snob in that way. One of our early films, as you know, was “Pink Flamingos,” which is hardly anything that Film Comment would want to write about, at least at that time. And now it’s a cult classic!  I like to turn people on. That’s not a pitch, it’s actually an honest statement. Anything I can do to entertain and to thrill and to provoke interests me. John Waters' "Pink Flamingos." Courtesy of New Line Cinema. How were you able to find John Waters at that time? We didn't have any money. Our office was above Smith’s Bar and Grill on 13th Street. It was at the corner of 13th Street and University Place, and for a company that was distributing movies to colleges, I thought University Place was the perfect address. Instead, it turned out to be a crummy little loft space above the bar with a steam table in it, so we were just scratching around and trying to find stuff. I just had lunch yesterday with Bob Blechman, one of the filmmakers who was in one of the first packages we had. I met a guy who represented the Czech film industry in the United States named Jerry Rappaport. Advertisement Or as he used to call himself, Jerry Rappa-Pappa-Pappa-Port. [laughs] He was a real character. There was a program of films at the Museum of Modern Art when I was working there, and he agreed to let me distribute two films for nothing. We're offering nothing except our hard work, and I said, “I'll split everything 50/50, and you can take it away if you don't have a certain amount of money after nine months. Just give me a chance.” It was the stuff that nobody else wanted, and they felt flattered that I wanted to distribute it. I didn’t know who John Waters was from Adam when his 16 millimeter film case arrived in my loft from the trusty mailman. It was a film called “Multiple Maniacs,” and I looked at it and said, “Woah, I have no clue what's going on here.”  I always tried to reject stuff without insulting the filmmaker, because I had been insulted so many times, and I knew how badly it felt. So I sent John a decent letter that said, “I don't know who you are, but your stuff is interesting. It doesn't quite make it for me, but if you get something else that has a little bit more excitement and production value, we’d be glad to look at your next work.” About three months later, “Pink Flamingos” showed up. I went into our screening room, which was a room with a sheet tacked on the wall and a 16 millimeter projector on a table, and looked at this movie. I couldn't believe my eyes.  There was one scene that was so unbelievable that I actually turned off the projector, ran it backwards and looked at it again because I had never seen anything like it. It was a scene where David Lochary is driving an old Cadillac convertible with Mink Stole down a country road, and there’s a really cute hitchhiker sitting on a farm fence. She has her thumb out, and David drives by, honks his horn, gives her the finger and drives away. Then the girl takes off her pants, has a big penis, shows it to him and says, “Fuck you!” It turns out the girl was a transsexual who had taken all the hormones in preparation for a sex operation, and had grown breasts in the process. After I saw the film, and realized that it contained real people doing real things on camera, I called him up and said, “This is incredible, John.” Advertisement Back then, no one was showing things like that on camera. That film started our relationship. The guy from the Elgin Cinema, Ben Barenholtz, was just showing “El Topo,” and it had this huge midnight crowd. I showed him “Pink Flamingos,” and he reluctantly decided to take it on and show it at midnight as well. That's how the whole thing got started.  I'm glad you mentioned midnight movies because your choice to market the 1936 anti-drug film “Reefer Madness” as a comedy in the early 70s was so ahead of its time. It seemed like it really kind of gave birth to the modern midnight movie. That’s an interesting story too. The Olympia Theatre up near Columbia was going to be part of my exhibition, production and directing empire, and the guy who was managing the theater, Russell Schwartz, was helping NORML, the marijuana organization, market the film on college campuses, which is our primary market. We figured out a legal way to get a copy of the film, and we started to distribute it ourselves. It was one of the things that helped save our company. Russell went on to become the head of marketing at New Line for a while. I remember so many of the films you distributed—especially, of course, “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”  As Wes used to say, “Nightmare on Elm Street” was the film that built his house, and I guess—in many ways—it was the film that built ours. It was the first legitimate theatrical film that we had, even though we had done some other films before it. But that was the one that really clicked. Wes Craven's "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Courtesy of New Line Cinema. One of the things that Roger used to say, both about Wes Craven and about you, is that a film like “Nightmare” worked because the men behind it were smart, curious and knew that they had to hit people on multiple levels, not just in a simplistic way. Advertisement I agree with that. One of the only other times that happened was with “Lord of the Rings.” Nightmares are in everybody’s consciousness. Everybody knows what nightmares are like, and they know that sense of relief when they wake up, and it was just a dream. The idea Wes presented was that of a dream you don't wake up from, and if the monster really killed you in the dream, it would kill you for real. I figured it was going to be a fantastic marketing ploy, because you didn't have to convince people about what it was like. With “Ambition,” the tagline we're using right now is, “How would you like to kill your roommate?” For the millennial women who are our target audience, it struck me as being a suggestion that could resonate, because every kid who’s had a crummy roommate in their life might occasionally want to stick a knife in them. [laughs] And in this film, they actually do. You made one of the most classic gambles in the movie industry with your three-picture “Lord of the Rings” saga. When I go back and read about that deal, I wonder how in the world did you have the foresight and the vision to take a gamble like that, and did you think it was going to pay off? Sometimes I don’t pay enough attention. It’s like that poem goes, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” I’ve rushed into a few fools at times in my life where they turned out to be not as foolish as...

What Will It Take for Endgame Directors to Do Another Marvel Movie?

The Russo Brothers are confident that they will work with Marvel Studios again in the future. After the epic success of Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the directing duo are taking a break from working with Marvel to focus on smaller scale projects. They are currently out promoting their latest movie Mosul, which was shot completely in Arabic and pretty far away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that being said, the story behind the movie was introduced to the Russos by Avengers: Endgame co-screenwriter Stephen McFeely. But what would excite the directors enough to come back to Marvel Studios?Joe...


Rihanna Addresses The Batman Poison Ivy Rumors, Admits Her Obsession for the Villain

If Poison Ivy will be one of the villains set to face off with the Dark Knight in The Batman, actress and pop star Rihanna says she wants to play the part. Recently, Rihanna had conjured up rumors about her casting in the project when she posted a photo of her leather boots on Instagram, referring to the Batmobile in the caption.The rumored Rihanna casting then generated so much buzz the singer was asked directly about it by Entertainment Tonight, and while Rihanna says she has not been cast in the movie, she would love to audition for Poison Ivy if given the opportunity."That [post] has to do a lot with Batman [because] I have separate obsessions. I have [a] bigger obsession with Poison Ivy, I'm just being honest. And yeah, I dyed my hair red because of Uma Thurman in [Batman and Robin]. You know what, [Warner Bros.] didn't call me yet. But if they did, I would love to go in and try out because Poison Ivy is one of my obsessions in life. I did it for Halloween one year, I mean come on!"Rihanna doesn't have a hard time picturing herself in the role, and clearly she isn't the only one. Artist BossLogic is known for creating fan art depicting various performers as they would appear playing a variety of characters, and last year he drew up a convincing portrait of Rihanna as Poison Ivy. It wouldn't feel like a crazy casting choice either, as Rihanna has taken up acting in addition to her singing career. She has appeared in movies like Battleship, Ocean's 8, Home, Annie, and Guava Island. Additionally, the singer had a very memorable role in Bates Motel as Marion Crane, the part originally played by Janet Leigh in Alfred Hitchcock's original Psycho movie.The Batman has had a bit of a tumultuous production, with lots of issues behind the scenes leading to many creative changes. As of now, Matt Reeves is on board as the writer and director of the project, and the only name confirmed for the cast is The Lighthouse star Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. Word is that the movie's plot will follow the Dark Knight investigating a series of murders in Gotham City with every villain in the Rogues Gallery as a possible suspect. This leaves the door open for many of Batman's most familiar foes to appear in the movie, but it remains to be seen if Poison Ivy will be featured in the final product.Related: The Batman Wants Pierce Brosnan as Butler Alfred Pennyworth?Until casting announcements for The Batman are made official, all those awaiting for updates can do now is speculate over who might be showing up in the movie. Pierce Brosnan's name has come up in the rumor mill as a possible contender for the role of Alfred Pennyworth. Mahershala Ali was also rumored to be in the running for Commissioner Jim Gordon, though that likely won't happen given his recent Blade casting. Some other interesting casting choices from fan artists include David Tennant as the Riddler, Vanessa Kirby as Catwoman, and Macaulay Culkin as the Joker.It's easy to picture Rihanna as Poison Ivy, so Reeves should at least let her audition should the character appear in the movie. We'll all find out officially what happens in The Batman when the movie is released on June 25, 2021. This news comes to us from Entertainment Tonight. Topics: The Batman, BatmanPretty brains, lightning fingers. Find me at @HorrorGeekLife.

Arrow Favorite Willa Holland to Return and Recur During Final Season

Yass, Thea Queen! The character that Arrow fans most hoped would put in an appearance during the final season — Oliver’s sister, played by former series regular Willa Holland — will indeed be seen again, TVLine has learned. But wait, there’s more: Holland is confirmed to not just guest-star but...