Sam Flynn’s 7: The Week in Pop Culture – April 17-24

The week is long and hard, that’s why every Friday, you can relax and catch up on everything you need to know in Hollywood and beyond with Sam Flynn’s 7, my breakdown and analysis of the week in film and TV.

Big news week, with Cinema Con, where distributors present their forthcoming films to theater owners and journalists, and a veritable truckload of talk and info about new and upcoming movies as actors and filmmakers hit the press circuit.

1. CINEMA CON!!!!

Pop culture conventions like Comic Con have become mainstream events. Last week was the Star Wars Celebration. This week brings us Cinema Con, the yearly exhibition by distributors like Sony, Warner Bros., Universal, and others for theater owners and journalists. Here’s a breakdown of what I thought were the notable happenings:

Disney continues its steps to world domination, as detailed in the above image tweeted by Slashfilm’s Peter Sciretta  detailing their upcoming film slate. Holy. Shit. They used to say 2015 would be the blockbuster apex but 2017 looks like a bloodbath.

In addition, new Sony chairman (replacing the outgoing Amy Pascal) and former Fox executive Tom Rothman revealed the increasingly-busy Phil Lord & Chris Miller will be developing an animated Spider-Man film for release July, 20, 2018. This comes a year after the already-announced new Spider-Man film introduces the webslinger to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Thought: Aren’t these two films aimed at the same audience i.e. kids especially young boys? I mean, the “live-action” movies have so much CGI, they’re practically animated already).

Non-franchise films that impresses included Vacation, the sequel/reboot of the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise starring Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, and original stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. The footage also showed a hilarious turn by Thor himself Chris Hemsworth, in all his ripped and hung glory. And I’m all for rim job jokes.

Another was The Martian, the new film from one of my favorite filmmakers Ridley Scott about an astronaut (Matt Damon) stranded on Mars. Everyone in the online film community knows anticipating a Ridley Scott film is a deadly proposition, because while he is among the best at what he does, he doesn’t necessarily make GOOD films. And, after a string of disappointing attempts at hard or classical sci-fi (Scott’s own Prometheus and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar come to mind), The Martian seems like it might hit that sweet spot that’s so difficult to find. Guys, you know what I’m talking about.

2. Star Wars: Anthology: Rogue One details and casting

It’s a new day in Hollywood where up is down, left is right, and, finally, diversity is profitable. Not that it ever wasn’t; it’s a no-brainer that maybe not making every film for white dudes could open up new markets. Now international sales are the backbone of the film business and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – starring Jennifer Lawrence – was the second highest-grossing film 0f 2014. American Sniper swiped the top spot by riding a wave of jingoism through the first couple months of 2015. One step forward, two steps back.

Anyway, it’s a good day when people of color get more opportunities and Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) is getting his, as he is reportedly in talks to join star Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) in Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars: Anthology: Rogue One. Edwards described the film, set between 2005’s Revenge of the Sith and 1977’s original, as a war story focused not on Jedi, but instead the “normal” resistance fighters of the Rebel Alliance who stole the plans for the Death Star, allowing Luke Skywalker to destroy it. Ben Mendelsohn (excellent on Netflix’s recent offering Bloodline. Read my review) has been heavily rumored for a part and Variety confirms he will be the main villain.

3. X-Men Apocalypse updates

Speaking of villains! As Avengers: Age of Ultron prepares to blow the door off of summer movie season 2015, next’s year blockbusters are either in production, or gearing up. One of those is the supposed “final” chapter in the X-Men prequels, X-Men: Apocalypse, coming May 27, 2016. Oscar Isaac (the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will portray the titular villain, an ancient Egyptian mutant who awakes in the 1980s and he’s PISSED about Reaganomics or something.

Speaking with IGN UK, while on the press rounds for his sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, Isaac spoke at length about the coming film. On his infamous henchmen the Four Horsemen:

“Without giving anything away, the recruitment of the Four Horsemen is very cool. It’s very interesting the way that he does that. You know the idea of – the way that cult leaders do – they find people that are in need of something and try to fulfill that thing in them – as it relates to every one of the Horseman.

On whether the character will retain the power to transform:

“Absolutely. And at the same time figuring out what the limits are and how it relates to how he moves and what it costs him. That’s always a fun thing. So to be able to sit with [writer/producer] Simon Kinberg and – as a fan – just go through it and be like, ‘Well what about this!?! You know, this is something that he does in the comics and is there a way to incorporate this? Or if he has this power suddenly how do we make that not come out of nowhere?’ So it’s really fun to map that thing out. But yes, the nature of how his powers manifest themselves is to a certain extent quite open to interpretation. Because there are so many and they are so vast.”

On the character’s goals:

“On an individual level he’s able to reveal the true power of his Horsemen and what’s true to them. And I think to reveal the weakness – how weak we’ve become. Because this is an ancient entity. So to come to – I think 1983 – and say, ‘How did the world become so weak? How did we allow ourselves to become to weak and to enslave ourselves.’ I think that’s where he’s coming from.”

Simon Kinberg said in an interview with IGN that the film will radically alter the X-Men universe as they move toward further cohesion a la the successful Marvel films.

“All of the films are aware of each other. I know what’s happening in each story, of each of the movies and they certainly acknowledge each other. Things that happen in one film are acknowledged by the other movies.

The result of the aftermath of Apocalypse is something that will impact the course of history in the world in much the same way that the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past did. From 1973 forward, the world knew about mutants. A mutant took a football stadium and dropped it on the White House. That’s not the history we were raised on.

So, instead of ignoring it, all of the movies that come after that in the timeline acknowledge it and embrace it, and it becomes part of the complicated reality of X-Men history on film. The films are all going to be informed by one another.”

Speaking of spinoffs, Channing Tatum appeared at CinemaCon this week and was asked about premiering his take on Gambit in ‘Apocalypse’. Talking with MTV, Tatum seems to think we won’t be seeing him until the solo Gambit film October 7, 2016.

“I don’t know if I’m at liberty to say, but I think we want to… I don’t think I want to introduce Gambit until you can really explain who Gambit is.”

In related news, Lucas Till will return as Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok, historically Cyclops’ father, although here brother seems just as likely. Jennifer Lawrence has already confirmed it will be her last outing as the blue-skinned shapeshifter Mystique. Other stars’ contracts are also up, so the film’s casting has stocked up on young versions of classic characters like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, and Nightcrawler.

4. TV – ABC plans more Marvel shows, Daredevil renewed, Pileggi returns to X-Files

Superheroes conquered movies, now they’re moving to the TV. To me, this only makes sense. Comics back in the day were episodic serials much like television. And, with the advent of the Golden Age of TV, there’s more power for creators to take risks and not worry about pleasing everyone for broadcast. EW reports John Ridley, writer of 12 Years a Slave and creator of the recent ABC drama American Crime, will develop and re-imagine an unspecified Marvel hero for the network.

Meanwhile, rumors of an Agents of SHIELD spinoff became concrete when Deadline revealed current regulars Adrianne Palicki (Bobbi Morse / Mockingbird) and Nick Blood (Lance Hunter) would headline the proposed show. I’m against taking Palicki out of SHIELD, but I am for getting rid of the useless and annoying Blood. What a catch-22. Agents of SHIELD looks likely for a third season renewal while Agent Carter, a 1940s-set prequel, is on the bubble.

In more positive news, Netflix renewed Daredevil for a second season to premiere in 2016. Showrunner Steven DeKnight will be stepping down and writers Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez will replace him. Please, please, please tell me the plan is to adapt Born Again. PLEASE. Follow-up A.K.A. Jessica Jones will premiere later this year and will be followed by the series Luke Cage, Iron Fist, leading to The Defenders.

Also, Mitch Pileggi will return as Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully’s crusty FBI boss, in the six-episode X-Files revival coming next year (although, for reasons best explained elsewhere, this is probably the wrong thing to do).

5. True Detective, Batman v Superman posters

It wouldn’t be True Detective without bleak observations of our decaying and corrupt world and this Season 2 poster shows HBO understands this. You can find two more on their Twitter page. After the euphoric reaction to the first season and the writing of Nic Pizzolatto, I am of course anticipating it but I fear a sophomore slump that will either dial up the elements that worked and blow them out or pivot away into a different show. Either way though, I’ll be watching. HBO 1, Sam 0.

In addition to the trailer that dropped (embedded at the bottom of this post), Zack Snyder revealed the first posters for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. An interesting street-art quality to these, something the trailer also echoed. I reiterate my support for Ben Affleck too. I think Batfleck will be perfect for the outwardly-carefree, inwardly-tortured nature of Bruce Wayne. Plus that chin, yo. Snyder also tweeted a photo of the new Batsuit, in full.

6. TRAILERS – final Fantastic Four, Jurrasic World trailers

In addition to the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, we got new ones from Fantastic Four, the reboot coming August 7 starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell as Marvel’s “First Family.” I am a lover of director Josh Trank’s debut feature Chronicle – which covered similar superpowered terrain – and his description of making a dark Amblin film by way of David Cronenberg is the exact series of words that convinces me this is going to rock in every way the previous films didn’t. Also, stop asking Michael B. Jordan about racial shit. Seriously, it’s embarrassing.

Jurassic World gave us a global trailer and the best look yet at the film and its finished effects. Jurassic Park, like many 90s kids, is seminal for me and I’ve been waiting for a fourth ever since I got into entertainment journalism at age 12. Like the rest of the world, I fell in love with Chris Pratt through last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy and, like Trank, Colin Trevarrow is an ascending director on his second feature given the reigns of a billion-dollar franchise. But, like Trank, it’s less the brand (Jurassic Park III cured me of blindly trusting franchise films) and more his take on the material that makes this film exciting to me. Genetically-modified dinosaur? Check. Vincent D’Onofrio? Check. I could do without the kids, but, hey, I get it; they’re little versions of people and they deserve time too I guess.

7. CASTING – ID4-2, The Big Short, Beauty and the Beast, Common, Spider-Man

BIG WEEK for casting, so much so I had to make it’s own category for today’s 7.

  • INDEPENDENCE DAY 2: Roland Emmerich announced via Twitter that Bill Pullman and Judd Hirsch will return to their roles as former President Thomas Whitmore and cantankerous Julius Levinson, father of also-returning Jeff Goldbum’s David Levinson in the sequel to the 90s alien invasion flick, hitting just in time for the 20-year anniversary next year. Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher lead the new cast.
  • THE BIG SHORT: Filming has gotten underway in New Orleans on Adam McKay’s financial drama. Previously announced stars, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt, are confirmed and joined by Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei, Tracy Letts, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Byron Mann, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong and Finn Wittrock.
  • BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Following the success of last year’s Maleficent and last month’s Cinderella, the cast as rounded out for Disney’s live-action take on the classic tale. Ewan McGregor to play the candelabra Lumiere (voiced by Jerry Orbach in the film) and Stanley Tucci to play an original character, a talking piano. They join Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, and others in the Bill Condon film.
  • SPIDER-MAN: Lastly, we have the names of the finalists for our new Spider-Man. According to The Wrap, they are Asa Butterfield, Liam James, Nat Wolff, Tom Holland, and Timothee Chalamet. I formally announce myself as a candidate as well.

About Sam Flynn

Wasting oxygen since 1992, Sam thanks the gods he doesn't believe in everyday his parents didn't discard him as an infant. It would have been the sensible thing to do.
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