Category Archives: Movies

The United States of Movies — 51 Iconic Films

Movies have touched almost every aspect of the American experience — and just about every square inch of land. Entertainment Weekly picks the one film that best captures the spirit and story of each state.

Check out the list HERE.

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Seven Most Tragic On-Set Accidents In Hollywood

Hollywood is known for its glamorous escapism, taking the audience away from the mundane routine of everyday living into a world of adventure and imagination. At the same time, there is a real side to Hollywood, depicted by the toil and sweat put into it by people laboring for hours both behind and in front of the camera. Injuries and accidents are a natural part of this process. Unfortunately, many a times, these accidents can be fatal, and can even involve serious litigation. Here are seven tragic accidents that occurred during the filming of some of the most memorable Hollywood movies.

1. Midnight Rider (Unreleased)

Based on the eventful life of rock and roll star Gregg Allman, Midnight Rider was all set to become a major hit. What was to be a seriously bad omen for the film, a tragic accident took place when shooting began on the first day. The director was shooting a scene on a railroad track on location with several actors and technicians. When a CSX train appeared on the tracks, the lookout issued a warning to the crew to get away from the tracks. Sarah Jones, one of the camera assistants, was unable to move in time and was hit by the incoming train. She lost her life in the accident. Fortunately, the executive producer and assistant director were charged with criminal trespass. The attorneys for the Jones family and Allan eventually reached an out of court settlement. This was a surprising settlement since in most cases involving railway crossing accidents, the railway firm is found guilty. In a railway crossing accident that occurred in 2008, railway law firm Pottroff & Karlin were able to secure a verdict against BNSF due to whose negligence four people were killed while crossing a railroad track in Anoka, Minnesota.

2. Gone in 60 Seconds 2 (Unreleased)

This is an extremely tragic accident that resulted in the untimely death of a promising Hollywood action director. A sequel to the 1974 hit Gone in 60 Seconds was under production in 1989 and director H.B. Halicki was at the top of his game at the time. Known for his jaw-dropping way of filming car stunts, Halicki had planned a number of thrilling car crashes for the sequel. While shooting one such scene, a cable snapped causing the tower it was holding up to crash onto a telephone pole. The said pole then fell on the director causing his death.

3. The Maze Runner (Unreleased)

While shooting for the third instalment in the Maze Runner franchise, an unfortunate accident put at risk the career of its promising lead Dylan O’Brien. The young lad showed immense promise as a future Hollywood lead when he won hearts in Teen Wolf. However, while performing a stunt involving a jump from the roof of a car to another, the young actor suffered an injury, causing the shoot and release to be postponed for some weeks. On discovering that the injury was more severe than initially thought, the release was pushed back by a year. The movie is expected to release in January 2018.

4. The Twilight Zone (1983)

The Twilight Zone is a landmark 1983 movie that became more famous for a morbid and fatal accident that occurred while filming. While executing an action sequence that required an explosion setting off under a helicopter in flight. As the helicopter was flying too low, it was heavily impacted by the shock of the explosion and veered off course. Its blades hit two actors resulting in decapitation of their heads. A third actor died after being crushed under the landing gear of the helicopter. As a result of this accident, several Hollywood producers avoided using helicopters for stunts in their movies.

5. Top Gun (1986)

The 1986 classic Top Gun is widely known for putting Tom Cruise on the map as one of Hollywood’s best leading men. However, little is known about a fatal accident during the shooting of the movie that took the life of a promising stunt artist, Art Scholl. On the day of the accident, Scholl was aboard a Pitts S-2 plane to capture aerial shots from an altitude. After executing a successful flat spin with his craft, he became unable to return to a safe altitude. Eventually, Scholl plunged with his plane into the sea, resulting in his death. His body was never found.

6. The Dark Knight (2008)

This accident relates to the unfortunate loss of an able stunt artist named Conway Wickliffe. Wickliffe was an upcoming and well-known stunt artist in Hollywood having worked on numerous successful films such as Die Another Day and Batman Begins. While preparing for a stunt scene in the 2008 release The Dark Knight, the one where The Joker destroys the Batmobile with a rocket launcher, Wickliffe was riding in a car going at 20 miles to the hour when the driver missed a 90-degree turn, slamming the car into a tree. Wickliffe suffered extreme trauma to the head and died instantly.

7. The Expendables 2 (2012)

The successful 2012 revenge drama The Expendables 2 had a lot riding on it thanks to the immensely successful prequel. Sylvester Stallone had roped in famed director Simon West who had previously directed Con Air among other successful movies. While shooting a scene involving an explosion, two stunt artists named Kun Liu and Nuo Sun were badly injured. While Sun survived his injuries and recovered completely, Liu succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

Tragedies like these simply go to show that life can be very unpredictable, even on a Hollywood film set. The make-believe world of Hollywood can be equally gritty and real as real life itself. Loss of human life is tragic and people working in Hollywood have witnessed such incidents at close range. At times these incidents are hidden from media glare, but at others they become fodder for relentless media scrutiny, especially when these incidents become legal cases. Thus, it is important to be aware of the sacrifices and loss that goes into completing a grand feature film.

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Female Roles In TV & Movies

Let’s hear it for the girls!

For so many years, the realm of the action hero, both on film and on TV, has been almost exclusively made up of males. Yet the last couple of years have seen a significant shift, with female superheroes and leading ladies coming at us from all directions.

The unexpected trail-blazers of the new wave of girl power were led by Melissa McCarthy in the all-female Ghostbusters reboot in the summer of 2016. Taking on the classic supernatural men’s “buddy movie”, many expected the gender switch remake to fall flat. As it turned out, it did well both critically and at the box office, with McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and the irrepressible Kate McKinnon busting every bit as hard as Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and company.

And if Ghostbusters blazed a trail, then Wonder Woman burned that trail to the ground. DC’s first female led superhero movie starred Gal Gadot as the legendary Diana, Princess of the Amazons. It was also the first Marvel blockbuster to be directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, with a largely female crew. Made for just $149m, it has so far grossed almost $800m, with the DVD and BluRay releases still to come in time for Christmas.

Source: Wikimedia

Even the bastion of the male ego, the James Bond-style super spy, has been cracked by the recent release of Atomic Blonde, starring Charlize Theron as MI6’s top agent. Hard as nails and taking on all comers, she is a stark contrast to the typical tuxedo-clad James Bond in Diamonds are Forever, who was constantly hanging out in the casino surrounded by beautiful women who barely got a line, let alone any sort of character to work with.

Perhaps the best thing about this new wave of female heroes is that they are not trying to fill the same shoes as the men, but instead doing things in entirely their own way. Wonder Woman was a significant departure from the ego driven, macho, tough guys who had typically lead Marvel films; Charlize Theron’s character very much challenged the male characters on her own terms, giving every bit as good as she got, and then some — all while retaining her own uniquely female style.

Source: Wikimedia

There is plenty more to come, too, with Marvel announcing last year that Captain Marvel will be played by Oscar winning “Room” actress, Brie Larson. The announcement was made long before the huge box office success of Wonder Woman, and it shows a real commitment to strong female roles from one of the biggest movie franchises there is. Add in strong roles for Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan in Guardians of the Galaxy, and things are really starting to shift away from the days where all superheroes were “something-man”.

Source: Wikimedia

Perhaps the biggest leap forward for women on screen was the recent announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who in the long-running British TV sci-fi series. After twelve straight male Time Lords, Whittaker will break the mold in spectacular fashion when she arrives in the Christmas special to replace Peter Capaldi.

The series has been building up to this for some time, with the only other remaining Time Lord regenerating from The Master to Missy, played by Michelle Gomez. This clearly set the precedent for female Time Lords and opened the door for the groundbreaking announcement, made dramatically (and somewhat ironically) by the BBC at the end of the Men’s Final at Wimbledon.

It is still far from a level playing field, especially with so many movies based on comic book characters from another, less enlightened era. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to not only see studios and TV channels taking these risks, but also to be rewarded by the kind of critical and commercial success that will encourage them to keep doing it.

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The IT Experience, A Pop-Up Haunted House In Hollywood Based On The Stephen King Novel

The IT Experience,” a new pop-up haunted house at Hollywood and Vine, offers fans of Stephen King’s classic 1986 novel IT a chance to step into the world of Pennywise the clown. The haunted house is for fans 18 and over, and comes ahead of the film adaptation, which opens September 8.

Walking into the Niebolt House, named for the abandoned house where the Loser’s Club first encounters Pennywise in the novel, guests will be able to experience “where IT lives” as they are guided by Georgie, whose wayward paper sailboat sets the story in motion in the book and film, through the 5,000-square-foot house as they venture from room to room through immersive sets inspired by scenes from the film with authentic props.

In groups of seven, visitors will form their own Loser’s Club as they traverse the haunted lair of the murderous entity known as It for a 20-minute experience encountering pneumatic surprises, live actors, holographic images and animatronic beings.

The IT Experience will be open daily from Aug. 14 through Sept. 10 at Hollywood Blvd. and Vine St. in Hollywood.

More info HERE.

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The Film Empire Hollywood Panel and Mixer 

Mixknowledgy hosted a red carpet soiree last Friday to celebrate a few things—most notably the launch of it’s sister company, The Film Empire.  The formal evening, held at DTLA’s chicly intimate underground venue The Reserve, consisted of back-to-back Hollywood Panels featuring top industry professionals and a party designed for networking among entertainment’s elite.

Highlighted by instructive panels, and bookended by opportunities to step away and socialize (read: trade business cards,) it was a shot to both learn and get-to-know in one night.  Panels included Rising Stars; Screenwriters and Literary Representation; Casting; Finance, Production, and Marketing; and my personal favorite, Women Directors, (the impressive lineup included Julie Anne Robinson of Orange is The New Black, The Catch, and Grey’s Anatomy; Stacy Title of Bye Bye Man; and Deborah Chow of Fear the Walking Dead and Reign)

Although there were actors in the opening “Talent” panel—rapturous 8-year-old Aniela Gumb of Grey’s Anatomy highlighted the future of this often brash and frothy world—this night was not about the outfacing side of what makes Los Angeles such a powerhouse.  There is the super-glitz of Hollywood, and then there is the true grit—the nuts and bolts in the background.  The people who do the actual pencil-and-paper-pushing of the entertainment industry.  Friday night’s foray into speed-networking, though it was punctuated by plenty of laughter and sported it’s fair share of glamour, was what the hard work of this business is all about. This is the part one puts their wine glass away for and takes seriously.

The Film Empire sponsors ongoing screenwriting competitions in an effort to find and promote promising new filmmakers.  Grand prize winner Daniel Mentz attended and met with panel members and VIP guests.  Producer and co-founder of MixKnowledgy & The Film Empire Brandon Waites sponsored the event alongside partner Erman Baradi, who was named a “top networker in Hollywood” by the Huffington Post.

Written by Audrey Rock

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Karate Kid Series Reuniting Ralph Macchio & William Zabka Coming To YouTube Red

Cobra Kai will debut next year on YouTube’s subscription service, YouTube Red. The 10-episode series is described as a comedy that picks up 30 years after the events of the original movie as down on his luck Johnny Lawrence, again played by Billy Zabka, re-opens the Cobra Kai dojo.

You remember, the school run by misunderstood evil sensei John Kreese, whose mantra was “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”

Naturally, this catches the attention of Johnny’s former rival, Daniel LaRusso, played by Ralph Macchio. While now successful in life, he still misses his late mentor, Mr. Miyagi, who taught “Daniel-san” karate while sneakily forcing him to renovate his house and wax his car.

“Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enormous fans of ‘The Karate Kid,'” executive producers Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg said in a statement. “‘Cobra Kai’ will be a true continuation of the original films — packed with comedy, heart and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry.”

Look for Cobra Kai to come to YouTube Red in 2018.

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Patrón Teams With Guillermo del Toro For New Limited-Edition Tequila

Oscar-nominated film director Guillermo del Toro, has brought his imaginative art to an unlikely canvas, an intricately elaborate, limited-edition release from Patrón tequila.

This partnership marks one of the first collaborations in which del Toro has engaged outside of the entertainment industry, and among a handful of partnerships carefully selected by Patrón over its long history.

The drawings on the packaging were inspired by jimadores, the skilled laborers in Mexico who for generations have hand-harvested and trimmed the Weber Blue Agave that creates tequila centerpiece glass bottle.

Only a very limited number of sets of Patrón x Guillermo del Toro were produced, and are currently available at fine spirits and liquor retailers across the US for the suggested retail price of $399.

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The Beatles: Yellow Submarine Coming To Titan Comics In 2018 

For the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, the Apple Corporation is authorizing a comic book adaptation of the classic film with Titan Comics. The book is slated for release in 2018.

The movie, originally released in July 1968, saw animated versions of Paul, John, George and Ringo led to Pepperland by Captain Fred in an attempt to rescue it from the menace of the music-hating Blue Meanies. A mix of psychedelia and straight-forward animation that featured unreleased Beatles tracks and a cameo from the live-action band themselves, Yellow Submarine went on to become both critically acclaimed — it received a New York Film Critics Circle Special Award in 1968 — and warmly embraced by fans.

“We’re thrilled to be publishing The Beatles: Yellow Submarine for the 50th Anniversary of this fantastic movie,” Titan publishing director Chris Teather told the Hollywood Reporter. “We can’t wait for Beatles fans to experience this official adaptation.”

Incoming MAD Magazine editor Bill Morrison wrote and illustrated The Beatles: Yellow Submarine.

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Watch The LEGO Ninjago Movie Comic-Con Trailer

Warner Bros. Pictures has released the new LEGO Ninjago Movie Comic-Con trailer.

A new animated adventure in Warner Bros. Pictures’ LEGO franchise, The LEGO Ninjago Movie stars Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Zach Woods, and the legendary Jackie Chan.

In this big-screen NINJAGO adventure, the battle for NINJAGO City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, who are all secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat evil warlord Garmadon, The Worst Guy Ever, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. Pitting mech against mech and father against son, the epic showdown will test this fierce but undisciplined team of modern-day ninjas who must learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash their inner power of Spinjitzu.

Jackie Chan (Kung Fu Panda, The Karate Kid) stars as Master Wu; Justin Theroux (Megamind, The Leftovers) is Garmadon; Dave Franco (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) plays Lloyd; and Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse) is Lloyd’s mom, Koko. Making up the secret ninja crew, Fred Armisen (The Jim Gaffigan Show, SNL) voices Cole; Abbi Jacobson (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) plays Nya; Kumail Nanjiani (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) is Jay; Michael Peña (Ant-Man, The Martian) is Kai; and Zach Woods (Silicon Valley) voices Zane.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie marks the feature film directorial debut of Charlie Bean (TRON: Uprising). The screenplay is by Hilary Winston & Bob Logan & Paul Fisher, story by Kevin Hageman & Dan Hageman and Hilary Winston & Bob Logan & Paul Fisher, based on LEGO Construction Toys.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is produced by Dan Lin, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Roy Lee, who previously collaborated on the worldwide box-office phenomenon The LEGO Movie, along with Maryann Garger (Flushed Away). Serving as executive producers are John Powers Middleton, Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKay, Jill Wilfert, and Keith Malone.

The film is slated to open nationwide on September 22, 2017.

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Todd McFarlane Teams With Blumhouse For Spawn Reboot

Todd McFarlane officially announced on Facebook that a new Spawn film is coming and he has big guns behind him.

Todd McFarlane and his entertainment division (McFarlane Films) is partnering with Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions, the producing force behind recent hits Get Out, Split, and The Purge franchise, to develop a feature film around the Spawn comic character created by McFarlane and published by Image Comics. McFarlane has written the first draft of the screenplay and is set to make his directorial debut in this dark exploration of one of comics’ most popular characters.

“Having worked with many visionary directors, I think Todd’s unique artistic talents will only add to his role as director of this film,” Blum said.

“We’ve gone from the theoretical to now we’re making movies,” McFarlane said. “Blumhouse. Spawn. Badass. R. Get ready for it, we’re going into production. No more talking, it’s time to do.”

McFarlane is known for reinventing the look of Spider-Man as well as co-creating the Venom character for Marvel Comics.

First appearing in 1992’s Spawn #1, the character quickly became the symbol for 1990s comics dark and brutal antiheroes. His Hellspawn powers allow him to teleport, shape shift, and utilize a variety of weapons (notably chains) in combat.

Spawn previously made the leap to the big screen in 1997 with Michael Jai White in the title role and then on television as an HBO animated miniseries, titled Todd McFarlane’s Spawn.

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