Emma Stone Passes J-Law as Highest-Paid Actress

Now that the Academy has honored Emma Stone with a much-deserved Oscar for her performance in “La La Land,” she has become a hot commodity and, if advanced buzz is any indication, her performance as Billie Jean King in this fall’s upcoming “The Battle of the Sexes” might land her another nomination.

George Lucas Still Offers Kathleen Kennedy Jedi Advice For ‘Star Wars’

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Even though for many, there was much to dislike about the George Lucas‘ “Star Wars” prequels, you have to respect the guy for seeing it through because, in the end, what we were watching was, in fact, his full cinematic vision splattered on screen. Lucas created worlds unlike any others with the prequels, and while they were heavily flawed, but one must admire the way he built up these stories from scratch. This feat is even more remarkable when you look at how every successful movie today is based on some kind of source material. What Lucas did with “Star Wars” would probably not be able to happen with today’s blockbusters, or at the very least the lack of financing would stop short any kind of project of this magnitude.
It’s safe to say that it must have been heartbreaking for Lucas to sell the rights of “Star Wars” to Disney, a deal which he stated to Business Insider was akin to selling off one of his “kids.” He’s also been vocal about Disney’s insistence to take over complete creative control of the films.
“They looked at the stories and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans,’ ” Lucas said in 2015. “I said, ‘All I want to do is tell a story’… They decided they didn’t want to use those [my] stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing. They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway — if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore. All I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.'”
So, the next question would be, does Lucas have any role in the making of these new Disney-backed “Star Wars” movies? According to Lucasfilm head honchoKathleen Kennedy, Lucas does give advice every once in a while, albeit in the quietest of whispers:
“He’ll whisper in my ear every now and then. Usually, it’s something specific or important to him about Jedi training. Things like that,” she told EW.
There have barely been any examples of Lucas interfering in the creative process of these new “Star Wars” films, with “Rogue One” director Gareth Edwardsstating last year that Lucas’ input was limited to “jokes and encouragement to not screw up.”
You have to think that despite reaping an incomprehensibly large sum of money in selling the rights to Disney, Lucas must still be heartbroken at the prospect of others messing around with a creative endeavor he’s worked on for more than four decades. He lived and breathed “Star Wars” since the ’70s, putting everything else on hold.  People forget that he showed tremendous cinematic promise when he did 1973’s “American Graffiti,” a film which is still considered one of the milestones of 1970s cinema, and that he sacrificed that potential to fully delve into the “Star Wars” universe for the rest of his career. Here’s hoping Lucas can rest easy with someone else at the wheel.

"The Killing of A Sacred Deer" is flawed, but fascinating

My dispatch from Cannes:

Yorgos Lanthimos is a director that doesn’t mind bewildering and angering audiences. With Dogtooth and The Lobster he made brilliantly dissected and scathing satires of the patriarchal family. He’s at it again with The Killing of A Sacred Deer, which all, but confirms him as a sort of Bunuel for the 21st Century. Colin Farrell plays Steven, a deadpan surgeon still haunted by the failed surgery he did many years ago, while inebriated, which cost the life of the patient. This incident returns in the form of a sinister teenage boy who wants to make sure Steven’s life starts to fall apart in very personal ways. The film is an unabashed nightmare, a stalker thriller that delves into the surreal with an operatic and mesmerizing finale that will have you up in stitches. Farrell and Kidman, playing his wife, command the screen with ingeniously playful performances There are no winners in Lanthimos’ world, so beware. 

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” opens on November 3rd via A24

MUST WATCH: Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News

The Charlottesville riots have been on everybody's mind this past week. The most comprehensive document of this, I must say, historic and dark day in American history has been Vice's tremendous behind-the-scenes look at the terror.

Casey Affleck Thinks Ben Affleck Isn't Doing 'The Batman'

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Rumors have been swirling as to whether or not Ben Affleck will be staying on as Batman in the DCEU. It all started when Affleck stepped down as director for the upcoming "The Batman," which consequently had Matt Reeves taking over the director's chair.  Affleck has also been going through his own personal problems which led to him recently leaving J.C. Chandor's "Triple Frontier." Add in the fact that the "Batman vs Superman" movie he was part of was met with mediocre reviews and it seems like the guy probably needs to take a breather. It's, of course, hard to relax when the WB counts on you being their Batman. Through all this Affleck has explicitly denied leaving reiterating earlier this summer:

Netflix Co-Founder’s Crazy Plan: Pay $10 a Month, Go to the Movies All You Want

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Yes, we all know the moviegoing paradigm is shifting. Especially with movie theaters struggling to make ends meet. A head-turning moment for execs just happened with this summer's box-office tally. Hollywood will fail to crack $4B in ticket sales for the first time since 2006. That is a problem. The number of moviegoers buying tickets is severely down and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon are making people stay at home instead of churning out their hard-earned money for overpriced parking, popcorn and movie tickets. It's a no-brainer decision for many; Why go through all that effort to watch a movie when you can just stay in the comfort of your own home, save money, and not have any of the annoyances that come with watching a movie in public (texting, talking). 
Mitch Lowe, a Netflix co-founder, had people talking today. His idea to save the industry was met with celebratory approval by audiences, but with vehement negative rebuttal by a theater chain. His theory is simple, how about you let people come to all the showings they want, but they just pay $10 each month, less than the price of an average single ticket.

'Creed 2' taking shape with Ivan Drago

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As an incredibly cinematic sport, boxing films are often rife with clichés. So then, what a welcome surprise it was to have a "Rocky" movie that actually delivered the thrills and goosebumps that made the original 1976 film such a great film. Although the story might be familiar, Ryan Coogler's "Creed" had a freshness and vitality that only a young, talented filmmaker and actor could bring to the table. Coogler and his actor Michael B Jordan, fresh off their Sundance triumph just two years ago with "Fruitvale Station," infused Rocky with 21st century modernism and style that Sylvester Stallone would have never been able to pull off if he were the writer-director, although I will say  that 2006's "Rocky Balboa" wasn't half-bad either. The way Coogler shot "Creed" brought some much-needed new blood to the tired boxing genre, a perfect example would the way he reinvented how a boxing match could be shot. 

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, The Best Movie of the Year so far

Taken from my January dispatch at Sundance:

The romance between a seventeen year-old Italian boy named Elio (Timothée Chalamet), and an American summer guest Oliver (Armie Hammer) staying at his parents’ cliffside mansion in southern Italy, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name was the film most people believed would survive through next year’s Oscar season, and for good reason. Guadagnino has made one of the year’s best movies — sensual, sexy, and touching, it’s a film that is simply told, but packs a wallop by the end of its 130 minute running time.

THE FLORIDA PROJECT One of the Year's Very Best Films

from my Cannes dispatch:

After Tangerine, Sean Baker sets up his camera again with an eye towards uncharted America with “The Florida Project.” This time his eye goes towards the makeshift motels that litter the main avenues towards Disneyland, distilling a moist, colorful, and shimmering atmosphere, thanks to Alexis Zabe‘s beautiful photography. Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) is 6 years old and lives in a motel with her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite). On summer break, Mooney and her ragtag group of friends look for adventure as they roam through the outskirts of the motel while the adults around them struggle to make ends meet. Baker shoots his own “400 Blows” with his little band of insolent misfits. The atmosphere, paradoxically decadent and disenchanted, mixes what filmmaker himself calls “pop verité” cinema, to create a hybrid of hope and misery that feels both transcendent and groundbreaking. Like “Tangerine,” it is this sense of freedom, freshness and energy that, in Baker’s mise-en-scene, from the camera to the non-professional actors, the film maps contemporary America. Baker doesn’t succumb to the sirens of miserabilism, even though the final, sad frame might hint at this. Instead, he prefers the fanciful fantasy of the children who, in their flight forward, give themselves moments of happiness by the simple light of a blue sky.

Stan Lee Wants a Silver Surfer Movie

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Yes, please.

Lee still holds out hope that one character he's always been especially fond of will get another shot at Marvel movie stardom. Yes, we’re talking about the Silver Surfer, co-created by Lee and Jack Kirby during their halcyon run on The Fantastic Four. Lee is well aware the Surfer’s appearance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surferleft much to be desired. He hopes Norrin Radd gets another shot. 

“He’s the one I want to see more,” Lee said. “He’s the most philosophical of all the characters I’ve ever worked on. And I have an idea for my cameo in that one!”


Where is Nick Fury? Samuel L. Jackson confirms he won't be in upcoming 'Avengers' movies

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Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury has been part of the MCU since its very beginnings, after all, he led S.H.I.E.L.D. for years and spearheaded the Avengers Initiative to what it is today. Jackson appeared as Fury in almost every MCU movie between 2008's "Iron Man" up to 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." That's a grand total of six movies. Then, he disappeared. There have been six additional MCU movies since then and he's appeared in none of them. Where is Nick Fury? We don't really know. Either Marvel's creative head Kevin Feig has decided to cut his role entirely in the films or has grander plans for him in the future. 

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Teaser

My Cannes tweets:

Box Office Week: Annabelle: Creation opens to #1 with a great $35M, the 4th Conjuring film to open over $30M. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature has a disasterous opening at #3 with $8.9M. In domestic gross Wonder Woman passes $400M, Spider-man: Homecoming passes $300M, and Baby Driver passes $100M.

1. Annabelle: Creation $35 million
2. Dunkirk $11.4 million
3. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature $8.9 million
4. The Dark Tower $7.9 million
5. The Emoji Movie $6.6 million
6. Girls Trip $6.5 million
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming $6.1 million
8. Kidnap $5.2 million
9. The Glass Castle $4.9 million
10. Atomic Blonde $4.6 million

Movies Rumored To Have Been "Ghost-Directed"

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"Texas Chainsaw Massacre" director Tobe Hooper has always been credited as the director of "Poltergeist," but tell me you don't feel a Spielberg-ian vibe when you watch the film, of course you do. There have always been rumors — as well as accounts by cast and crew — that Steven Spielberg did, in fact, direct the movie. 

Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith on the day they formed United Artists (February 5, 1919)

Luc Besson Hates on Superhero Movies and Says 'Captain America' is 'Propaganda'

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Luc Besson's filmography is fairly impressive for a director that's never really received support from critics. He directed "Nikita," "Leon," and "The Fifth Element" back to back to back between 1990-1997. Fine. Those three films alone have allowed him enough creative freedom to direct whatever he wanted after those. The problem is the ensuing films weren't very good ("The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc," "Angel-A," "Arthur and the Invisibles," "The Family). He made somewhat of a comeback in 2014 with the underrated "Lucy," The Recently released "Valerian" was one of the most frustrating and dazzling movies I can remember, but what worked, those incredible visuals, was just spectacular and sucked you into its original world. It also was some of the best use of 3D I've ever seen. Of course, it tanked. Nobody came to see it. Its $200M budget has given a headache to the distributors and producers tied to the project.

Jon Woo back in the action genre for 'Manhunt'

John Woo‘s career has had so many ups and downs that we’ve lost track where he stands at the moment.