Our children won’t believe us when we tell them that there used to be doubt over whether a female-fronted superhero movie would work at the box office. Even at present, the days of studio executive hand-wringing over whether audiences would deign to shell out their precious $11.75 to see a film in which a woman — who was not a man — did superhero things feel favorably remote. For director Patty Jenkins and her marble-carved star Gal Gadot have proven beyond all debate and rage-choked internet commenting that women are perfectly capable of making a whole mess of money during blockbuster season. And now it’s official.
It may be hard to believe now, but there was once a time when studios would wait until a release had proven itself at the box-office before investing in a massive franchise around it. But the likes of DC, Marvel, and the future firee at Universal who came up with the Dark Universe boondoggle have now set a standard of placing the cart before the horse, and other studios cannot help but follow suit. Fox is the latest showbiz entity to go all-in on an untested concept, banking that the respectable profits generated by that Goosebumps movie from 2015 that you’ve already forgotten about shall be a bellwether for future riches.
Lily James cannot fight the music. In the title role of 2015’s handsome Cinderella rework, her beautiful singing served as a plot point, attracting a suitor to her like a sailor drawn in by a siren’s song. She’s gotten another bump in visibility as the female lead of Baby Driver, another film fundamentally oriented around music. (The swooningly romantic scene in which she and her crush Baby share a pair of earbuds at a laundromat is already a fan-favorite.) Now she’s taken her next major role, and it’s sure to put her vocal cords through their paces.
Rough day to be Ben Affleck, the kind of day that makes you just wanna get away from it all by sneaking into your car and having a quick sad-vape. His performance as Batman has begun to emerge the fanbase’s most-loathed, and to add insult to injury, he was ousted from the director’s chair on upcoming solo film The Batman. Now, even more insult has been added to that injury, as replacement director Matt Reeves has begun to clean house and get himself comfy in a new franchise.
The memory of Ang Lee, sensitive humanist auteur from Taiwan's New Wave has become a distant memory over the past decade or so. All hail Ang Lee, constructor of boundary-pushing technical spectacle! He earned his second Best Director Academy Award for besting the hazard-trifecta of children, animals, and water with Life of Pi and then introduced public audiences to high-framerate hyperreal photography with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk last year. (Though opinions on the extent to which he succeeded on that second one vary wildly.) And now, the news is out that he’ll rejoin us in 2019 for another huge undertaking.
All of a sudden, everybody wants a piece of Luca Guadagnino. The Italian arthouse filmmaker found crossover success with his English-language drama A Bigger Splash (and gave Dakota Johnson the first role of her career actually worthy of her talents) and was crowned the informal king of Sundance for his reportedly outstanding romance Call Me By Your Name. Never one to rest on his laurels, Guadagnino’s currently hard at work on a remake of Italian horror classic Suspiria with Johnson, Tilda Swinton, and Chloe Grace-Moretz, but he won’t even rest on the laurels he’s yet to claim, either.
Not a whole lot of people ended up seeing last year’s minimalist horrorshow The Eyes of My Mother, but most of those who did were suitably impressed. Director Nicolas Pesce’s stripped-down approach to small-town sadism earned the respect of the juries at Sundance and the same set of horror purists who made The Witch an out-of-nowhere hit. An emerging artist with a clearly defined sense of style, Pesce stuck out as a talent to watch, and those who had kept tabs on the director will be pleased to see he’s landed his next gig. And you may already be familiar with his next project, too.
The people cannot get enough Batman. He’s everywhere: he fought Superman, now he’s in the Justice League, soon he’ll return to another solo movie, and he ended up back in the news due to Adam West’s passing — we’re living in the Batman-est of all possible worlds. And those Batmaniacs clamoring for more time with the Caped Crusader before he returns in Justice League on November 17 are in luck, because Bruce Wayne and a couple familiar friends will storm nationwide theaters for a special one-night engagement this summer.
Today marks the one-year mark until we get the sequel to the 2015 box-office-crusher Jurassic World, and Universal wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion. Now look down at that glass of water you've got close at hand. Tiny ripples in the center, a distant thunderous thudding in the distance. New information is close at hand.
Funny how there aren’t any movies about creepy-looking dolls that stay inanimate. The tradition of killer miniatures is a rich and varied one, stretching from smart-mouthed icon Chucky to Twilight Zone resident Talking Tina to the gang of supremely ticked-off slave toys in Tales From the Hood’s third quarter. The unsettling lifelessness of a doll’s visage has made it a reliable source of horror in the past, and the Conjuring franchise struck its own vein of gold with the homicidal, pigtailed Annabelle. The precocious little psychopath got her own starring vehicle in 2014 with the simply-titled spinoff Annabelle, and now we’re taking a step back in time to witness her dark baptism in blood.
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