Can Sony Hack This?
Easily the biggest news to come out towards the end of 2015 was the Sony hacking scandal and the ensuring fallout.
The controversy began when Sony employees arrived at work on November 24th to discover their computers hacked, unreleased films dumped on torrent sites with employee information stolen and embarrassing email correspondence leaked to the media. Potential links began to emerge days later between the hackers, an anonymous group known as the Guardians Of Peace, and the country of North Korea, both opposing The Interview.
By early December the threatening emails had begun, though The Interview wasn’t directly referenced until December 16th. They heavily suggested the premiere, along with other cinemas screening the film, would be targeted in a manner similar to the 9/11 attacks unless the film was pulled. On December 17th Sony cancelled the Christmas release date, which earned the ire of those in the film industry but praise from the GOP. In another email they then instructed Sony to remove all relating content from social media. By December 20th it was like The Interview never existed. The hackers had won.
While all this was going on theories were flying as to whether North Korea were truly involved. After brief investigations the FBI and U.S government seemed to agree that North Korea instigated the hack, but by December 17th a variety of sources claimed there was no concrete evidence. The country did itself no favours by morally supporting the cancellation of the film, but they did attempt a joint investigation with the United States, which fell on deaf ears. Detractors began to claim the U.S government knew more, or were more involved, than they were letting on. At his end of year press conference U.S President Barrack Obama would decry Sony’s cancellation of The Interview while maintaining belief of North Korean involvement.
On December 21st Sony announced plans to somehow release The Interview after all, entering negotiations on December 24th with YouTube, Google Play, and Xbox Live to stream the movie while selected theatres would carry the film on Christmas Day. The entire country and film industry celebrated in triumph as over the Christmas weekend The Interview would bring in close to $20 million, the originally predicted number before the hack. Meanwhile the U.S government, FBI, and even the NSA continued to lay blame on North Korea with no evidence.
The effect of the hacking scandal and the censorship of The Interview had a ripple effect across the industry as Paramount Pictures banned screenings of the 2004 marionette comedy Team America: World Police, while plans for Pyongyang, a Steve Carrell / Gore Verbinski comedy set in North Korea, was cancelled altogether.
Despite the eventual limited release of the material they attempted to censor a small group of faceless blackmail artists can sit in victory, as they managed to take on the American film industry, and to a certain extent, won the day. Email leaks still continue currently, but what effect this will have on controversial cinema productions in the future remains to be seen.
Sony Hustling Their Female Leads?
The ripple effect from Sony’s leaked emails doesn’t just end with The Interview. Correspondence between the higher-ups at Sony have revealed a potential gender bias when it comes to percentages from earnings, in this case the cast of 2013’s American Hustle. Of the five starring roles the male leads (Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner) all earned 9%, while the female leads (Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence) were earning two percent less. In fact, it took some wrangling to get Lawrence, who was originally at 5%, up to the seven she is now.
Amazingly the blow-out hasn’t been as huge as one would think, but if this is just the beginning, considering the amount of content leaked already, you can imagine just how bad this might get for Sony.
Fairy Tales And Superheroes And Dinosaurs, Oh My!
If I could to take a guess at Disney’s fortune in the coming year I’d have to say plentiful. They have released their film schedule for the new year, and the line-up is one any movie-goer could be proud of. It starts with LucasFilm’s Strange Magic on January 23rd and ends with the hugely anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18th. In between we’ve got a little taste of everything, from the live-action re-imagined Cinderella (March 13th), Tomorrowland (May 22nd), and Andy Serkis’ The Jungle Book (October 9th), to the animated films Inside Out (June 19th), and The Good Dinosar (November 25th), along with Marvel Comics Ant-Man (July 17th).
… … Oh, and of course there’s that other one, something called Avengers: Age Of Ultron (May 1st).
What’s This Adam Ant Biopic Marvel Is Making?
Speaking of Marvel films, after a rocky start the last piece of Marvel’s “Phase 2” seems to have been laid. When Edgar Wright left production we were left wondering what would happen, with star Evangeline Lily even stating she briefly considered dropping out. Since then she has given a glowing review of the heist film we all suspected it to be, and not only has principal photography been completed by director Peyton Reed but an official synopsis and character details have been released, along with the first image of the film’s villain, Yellowjacket.
After almost failing to even make it past pre-production Ant-Man is now turning out to be one of this year’s most promising superhero flicks.
Paging Doctor Strange
It’s official. After searching high and low with a number of different actor’s attached director Scott Derrickson has come back around to his original choice: Benedict Cumberpatch is Doctor Strange. What’s even better is we won’t have to wait for the good Doctor’s starring film to be released before we can catch a glimpse. Rumour has it Cumberpatch may have filmed a cameo for one, or both, of the upcoming Avengers: Age Of Ultron or Captain America: Civil War.
What’s most interesting, however, is the indecision around casting. Three culturally diverse actor’s; Morgan Freeman, Bill Nighy, and Ken Watanabe, are all being considered for a role in the film. The interesting part? There’s only one role.
Suicide Squad! Assemble!
The last piece of the Suicide Squad casting puzzle has been put in place with word two-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis has been cast as the founder of the titular villainous team, Amanda Waller. This is a welcome addition in comparison to the studio’s original choice of Oprah Winfrey (though a part of me was a bit curious), and completes the line-up for what is one of DC’s heaviest in terms of star power. The cast, headlined by Will Smith, includes the likes of Tom Hardy, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Carla Delevingne, and for some reason Jai Courtney. Production begins in August for a 2016 release.
Watch Out, Here Comes A Spiderman Reboot
One of the biggest victims of the Sony hacking scandal has been the future plans for the ailing Spider-Man franchise. The last effort was considered such a disappointment that current plans were shelved and creators sent back to the drawing board to determine what to do next.
One of the emails revealed Sony were considering accepting an offer of a crossover with Marvel and Disney in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. The deal would include three new Spider-Man films, all without the current starring cast, while Sony would retain all control over creative, marketing, and distribution. Negotiations broke down, though the door is still open, and now Sony are content with pushing forward with new plans for villainous spin-offs Venom and Sinister Six, as well as a female-led Spider-Man film. As for the web-slinger, newer email leaks reveal a list of directors Sony would want to take over any future films as well as offers from others to try and save the superhero.
Exodus In Exile
Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is fast becoming the only film in history to somehow alienate every religious denomination on earth. First the ethnicity of the cast was called into question (white actors portraying Hebrews and Egyptians), and Scott did himself no favours by seemingly making light of the protest. After that the accuracy of the story and its characters were called into question. Now they’ve managed to have the film banned in both Egypt, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait over depictions of Moses, a prophet of Allah and “historical inaccuracies”. Great publicity.
It’s Still A Tough Job Casting This Steve Jobs Biopic
This Steve Jobs film just seems to have crap perpetually rained on it no matter how hard it tries. The rights to the film were not only given up by Sony but offered to rivals for free while the actors and directors who have joined and left the project has been like a carousel ride. That ride has continued into December with word Natalie Portman would not be joining the project.
But now the carousel could be coming to a stop as word the up and coming Katherine Waterston has signed on for a role in the film with Kate Winslet in negotiations, though with the latter nothing has been set in stone just yet.
Star Wars: The Cast Awakens
Star Wars fans are some of the most fanatical in the history of fandom, and it was only a matter of time before the new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was given the ‘swede’ treatment. For those that don’t know sweding is the act of recreating a trailer or film with home-made props and costumes and no budget, with the film Be Kind, Rewind based entirely around the concept. It may seem strange but some of the efforts are quite good, case in point:
One thing that was noticeably absent from the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens were the three key players; Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. Now Hamill has broken silence, saying he feels the sequel trilogy are about a new generation while he is simply doing them a service. He also said that for him it was ‘all or nothing’, and that if either of Fisher or Ford hadn’t of signed on neither would he. He also gave praise to the props department, specifically for the new droid featured in the trailer, BB-8, an actual remote-control prop.
Speaking of the stars involved, Disney CEO Bob Iger has managed to snag himself a photograph with a certain co-star of Ford’s. Iger sneakily scored a snap with the one and only, new and improved Millennium Falcon… or so it would seem. Believe it or not the Falcon isn’t really there, simply a trick devised by Industrial Light & Magic, but it’s still cool to look at.
In other casting news, Andy Serkis has a big year ahead of him. On top of Star Wars he’s also scored himself two role’s, one live-action the other motion capture, in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, while releasing his own project The Jungle Book. At one point that wasn’t enough, with word coming through Serkis would be playing two characters in The Force Awakens, though he has since clarified that not to be the case.
God Doesn’t Close A Door On The Enterprise Without Opening A Window
That’s the case for Roberto Orci and James Lin. Orci, the director of the last Star Trek outing, has had a rocky relationship with those involved in the film and fans alike. So much so that he actually went online to basically insult those who considered Star Trek: Into Darkness to be the worst in franchise history.
Unfortunately his efforts at diplomacy, if that’s what you want to call them, have failed, and after further clashes on his script and directing style he’s officially off the project, replaced by Fast & Furious 6 director Justin Lin. Though if you ask Orci he seems to offer no clean answer as to why he’s been sacked, nor has the script changed, nor is he fired completely and still works as a producer.
Meanwhile Lin has a monumental task ahead of him. He’s got to deal with the fallout from Star Trek: Into Darkness and Orci’s depature with no script and eighteen months to present a finished product in time for the Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.
It’s A Long Way To Broadway If You Wanna Put On A Show
It’s not the first time Broadway has covered rock tunes, and it won’t be the last. Some twelve years ago Jack Black made a film called School Of Rock, and surprisingly it was quite good. All this time later it’s still making somewhat of an impact, with a television adaptation in the works as well as a full-fledged Broadway musical brought to you by none other than the legend himself Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Casting is to take place in January while the music will feature original compositions from Webber, Glenn Slater and Mick Potter as well as a lot of the rock and metal songs featured in the original film.
What To ExSpectre When You’re ExSpectreing
The wait for James Bond fans is over. After much speculation and some casting news here and there it was officially announced that James Bond’s latest outing, Spectre, will hit theatres November 6th 2015.
Of course before they did that they had to tease everyone with rumours of casting and characters, but with the release date comes the official line-up for the film, which includes Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, and Christoph Waltz. The casting of Waltz and the name of the film furthered rumours that one of the most legendary Bond villains of all time would be making a long-awaited return, but that’s yet to to be confirmed. But they did hide the true nature of Naomie Harris’ role in Skyfall until release, so do we dare to dream?
If a certain theoretical physicist had his way we might have seen a totally different villain for Spectre. Stephen Hawking has revealed his ideal role in cinema would be that of a Bond villain, as the wheelchair and computerised voice would compliment perfectly. It may sound a little silly, but we’ve seen some outlandish things in the Bond series (a villain who uses voodoo for example), so I wouldn’t rule out a Hawking cameo just yet.
All the while there’s speculation as to who will be the next actor to order a shaken Martini. Current Bond incarnate Daniel Craig broke trends when he stepped into the role sporting blonde hair, and traditionalist fans did heckle at first but he’s since been accepted. Now we’re really stepping out with rumours the next man considered for the role is Idris Elba, who is… how shall I say this… … black. So far the only person to take issue with this is radio’s gross national product Rush Limbaugh, so would anyone object to this news knowing they’ll a) be forever labelled as racist, and b) throw their lot in with a guy like Limbaugh?
Who’s Paul Feig Gonna Call?
Because Bill Murray has taken his proton pack and gone home, as well as the loss of Harold Ramis, we can safely assume that a Ghostbusters 3 reunion film is off the table no matter how bad Dan Ackroyd wants it. Nevertheless, hope remains for the popular film series with a reboot based around a new generation of actresses is in the works, helmed by Paul Feig.
The news here isn’t so much that a third film is on its way but the amount of famous faces that want in on it. First there was Rebel Wilson, who worked with Feig on Bridesmaids, followed by Jennifer Lawrence revealing she’d had dinner with the director. Thanks again to some leaked emails, actresses such as Emma Stone, Melissa McCarthy (another Feig alumni), Lizzy Caplan, and Amy Schumer,have expressed interest in the film.
But not all is clean-cut. Rumours are abound of a Ghostbusters project spearheaded by Channing Tatum along with Chris Pratt. There are suggestions there could be two separate Ghostbusters films in the future but whether that is logical or not is up for debate.
Bill Murray himself has also stated he’d liked to see Stone and McCarthy on the project and further discussions between Feig and Sony have revealed he’d like to see Peter Dinklage and Cecily Strong in supporting roles. There is also room for one man in Feig’s Ghostbusters, something Ryan Gosling is apparently very interested in, but right now we’ve got more than enough starring power and only room for a select few. Casting should get interesting.
Special thanks to screencrush.com and screenrant.com for sources