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Forest Whitaker Joins Action-Thriller ‘How It Ends’

Forest Whitaker is boarding David M. Rosenthal’s action-thriller How It Ends written by Brooks McLaren.

Pic, which is set against a mysterious apocalyptic event that turns the roads into mayhem, follows a young father who will stop at nothing to get home to his pregnant wife on the other side of the country. Theo James also stars.

Paul Schiff, Tai Duncan, Kelly McCormick, and Patrick Newall serve as producers. Sierra/Affinity developed the project with Paul Schiff Productions, and is handling worldwide sales and financing of the film. Sierra’s Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg are EPs. This past January, Netflix acquired worldwide rights to How It Ends. Production starts next month in Winnipeg, Canada.

Whitaker was seen last year Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Arrival and he recently wrapped Marvel’s Black Panther which is due out on Feb. 16. He won a leading actor Oscar for his turn in Fox Searchlight’s The Last King of Scotland. Whitaker is repped by WME and Brillstein.

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Khloe Kardashian Admitted She Faked Trying To Have Kids With Lamar Odom

Looks like Khloe Kardashian was not so keen on the idea of having Lamar Odom’s baby, after all.

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Deborah Spera Inks First-Look Deal With AMC

Veteran TV producer Deborah Spera and her production company, One-Two Punch Productions, have closed a two-year first-look deal with AMC. Under the pact, the cable network will have first crack at Spera’s development.

Spera is former president of Mark Gordon Prods. who served as an executive producer on Criminal Minds, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Reaper and Lifetime’s Army Wives during her stint at the production company, then based at ABC Studios.

In 2011, Spera teamed with Maria Grasso to launch One-Two Punch Prods. which was based at Sony TV and most recently was under a first-look deal at ITV Studios America. Spera took over One-Two Punch Prods. last summer when Grosso left to run Marti Noxon’s company.

Spera, whose series executive producing credits also include MTV’s Finding Carter, is repped by WME and Bob Myman of Myman Greenspan.

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‘The Great War’ EP Mark Samels On The War That Shapes America Today

The story of The Great War is one that has been told and retold, from every imaginable vantage point, with enough volumes written on the subject to fill libraries—a fact that might leave some with the belief that there is little more to say. As PBS’ six-hour series so powerfully reveals, this is simply not so.

Honing in on a number of the war’s lesser-known, heroic figures, in addition to the names that litter textbooks, The Great War examines a critical turning point in American history over 100 years ago which set the stage for today’s America, in all its advancements and continued challenges.

Below, executive producer Mark Samels—the mind behind American Experience, PBS’ Emmy-winning flagship history series—discusses the ramifications of the conflict ironically dubbed The War to End All Wars, and the process of working with archival footage to create a more modern, immediate and palpable experience of a historical moment.

Courtesy of National Archives

As the executive producer of American Experience, what is your thought process in developing films, and what made you want to take on World War I in a documentary series?

I think one of the hallmarks of our series, as we approach our 30th anniversary next year, is the ability to take on subjects that are not as well-known as they should be. At the top of the list of candidates for that is the First World War, which I knew relatively little about three years ago. I think I knew what most people knew: soldiers coming out of the trenches, and a little bit of confusion of how long we were over there fighting, how many Americans were killed, and what it all added up to.

The more I looked into it, the more I realized that it was not only interesting as a narrative, but it was absolutely momentous in terms of shaping the country that we live in today, which is a country that’s engaged in the world. This is the moment when we became engaged in the world, after years of debate and discussion about whether that was a good idea or not.

That was the impetus for it, and that’s why we chose to do it at scale—you know, the six hours. We don’t have soldiers going overseas to France until the middle of the second show—it was very much about the time and the role of this event, from the discussion and debates beginning in 1914, all the way through the peace treaties of 1919.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

It’s interesting to watch footage from that era because while camera technology was clearly available, it wasn’t until Vietnam that the American public gained a more immediate visual connection to war, through the medium of television.

The interesting thing about the First World War is that it’s 100 years ago, and yet it’s really the first war that took place within the era of motion pictures. A lot of those motion pictures are remarkable for the fact that they occurred—certainly, under the circumstances that there were cameramen out there during this absolute brutal warfare—and they also feel kind of distant, because of the technology of the time.

They’re often shot at a distance, they’re shot in wide-angle because they didn’t have lenses that were fast enough to record close-ups. It’s documented, but it’s documented in a very non-modern way. It’s out there at a remove.

Can you explain the process of combing through what must have been an immense amount of archival footage in putting together this series?

We went to 150 sources of archival material, in the U.S. and around the world, over the course of two years, and scoured these archives for material. There was even more than we even dreamed there was, but we also had to make it work for a contemporary audience.

We did that by spending a lot of time and resources on doing two things. One was cleaning up the ravages of time—cleaning up scratches and dirt [on the film], and restoring it to how it would have looked then—and the other was selectively reframing, and using technology to crawl into the image, and bring it closer to us, so that we could bring the phenomenon closer to the audience.

I think that’s why it feels like you’re seeing this war in motion pictures for the first time.

Courtesy of National Archives

Among the series’ many aspects is a fascinating study of President Woodrow Wilson, whose actions often contradicted his ideals.

Absolutely, I think you nailed it with the word “contradictions.” One of the great things narratively about this story is that you have this central character who is just a crosscurrent of positives and negatives. He is the one who is trying to imagine how this atrocity and this bloodbath can be turned into something that’ll bring nations closer together, and he really did believe that this could be a war to end all great wars.

He was incredibly smart— a college professor, Ph.D., wonderful speaker, beautiful writer. His speeches from the time are just so extraordinary, and he was so articulate and so thoughtful. Yet, like we all [are], he was shaped by his upbringing and his time.

A southerner who had grown up in the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction, he was incredibly on the wrong side of racial relations. He reinstituted segregation, and he was also was very stubborn. His inability to compromise over the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations at the end of Episode 3 is so tragic, and even his supporters say it’s just so hard to understand why he couldn’t give a little to get the League of Nations passed by Congress.

[American biographer] Scott Berg, I think, is in turmoil over Wilson’s intransigence, and how he lost everything he’d worked for. He’s a remarkable, almost Shakespearean character—and then, of course, in the midst of this, he loses his wife, and he falls madly in love, so he’s distracted by his passions, as well. [Laughs] He’s an amazing character at the center.

Courtesy of National Archives

The Great War dives deep, going beyond the major players to tell the stories of lesser-known figures caught up in the war—pilots, soldiers, and nurses, among others. How did you come upon these characters, whose experiences flesh out our understanding of the war?

That was exactly what we set out to do at the beginning. In addition to some of the major figures of the time—[General] John Pershing, Jane Addams—we talked about the need for characters that we hadn’t heard about who represented the full spectrum of people that got pulled into this.

Events like this, there are relatively few of them in history, but they form a vortex and pull people in from all different walks of life, and different perspectives, and push them together into something that they would have never been a part of together before. We wanted to represent that.

It’s the African-American from the Deep South who volunteers and becomes part of the French Foreign Legion. How does that even happen? We have Mary Borden—an American living a comfortable life in London, with children—who decides that she has to get to the front and set up an ambulance corps, a hospital, and she’s there on the front lines of the war from near the beginning.

Over and over again, if you dig—and we dug for more than a year, looking for characters—you find how the war touched so many people’s lives, at home and abroad.

That’s the thing I feel best about the series, the time that we put into unearthing those stories, and connecting them, and showing that this is not a military story, this was not a political story—this was an everything story, and it touched every person.

Courtesy of National Archives

In your view, why is this series such a pertinent and powerful watch at this point in history? It seems to set up, intentionally or otherwise, certain parallels to the world we live in now, and the current presidential administration.

The revelation of this story, for all of us on the production team, is basically confirming the idea that there is relatively little new under the sun.

One of the dominant tensions in American society from 1914 to 1919 was the tension between national security and civil liberties. We were refashioning ourselves as a player on the world stage, we were worried about this all-of-a-sudden polyglot society we’re in. We had this period of mass immigration, highly suspicious of what were called “hyphenated Americans,” really worried that the fabric of loyal Americans coming out of the 19th century was now starting to fray with all this diversity.

Who could we trust? “Who was really an American?” became one of the biggest questions that people asked. This is another part of Woodrow Wilson’s head-banging complexity—this idealist was willing to set fire to the Bill of Rights and pass this Sedition Act because he just could not stand any criticism of the war effort.

He thought that it was such a huge risk that the country was taking, entering this bloodbath, that everyone had to be on the same side, and damn it if they weren’t—we’re going to throw them in prison.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The reverberations of that tension are in the newspapers every day today—every day. Immigration, civil liberties, America’s role in the world, the status of women, the status of minorities, our foreign policy and how it affects our domestic policy. It really crystalized a hundred years ago, and we’re still living with the ramifications of that.

It’s playing out differently. I tend to subscribe more to Mark Twain’s view of history, which is, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot.” I think that’s what this whole story’s about, and why it’s worth seeing.

We made a lot of really good choices as a nation in this time period, we made some bad choices, but knowing that we’ve gone through these questions before, and that we’ve struggled with them, and dealt with them, and haven’t always arrived at a great place with them, but oftentimes have…

Listen, we went over there and had just completely exhausted forces in our allies, France and Britain. We turned the tide and brought this war to an end. That was a huge achievement, but we failed to really bring the peace back, and we started ripping apart the treaty as soon as it got back here. We’re still dealing with the consequences of that.

While Woodrow Wilson and Donald Trump are quite different characters, there are, arguably, similarities to tease out, in terms of the policies you’ve mentioned and the atmosphere of paranoia they have both devised, cultivating suspicion of immigrants and setting citizens against their neighbors. 

I’m a little hesitant to dive into the [current] President. [Laughs] I think folks like Alex Gibney live a lot more in the present than I do, but I can tell you that living in a time when we’re looking for some sort of stability or guidepost, one of the things people have reached out for is to reread Orwell’s 1984. World War I took place in a very Orwellian space, where you had the biggest propaganda campaign ever conducted in American history, and what was true, what wasn’t true, who was an American, who’s not an American—all of those questions are there.

I think they’ve been there from the beginning, in such a diverse, polyglot nation. Paranoia has some easy inroads in, and things can build, so whatever we call the populist moment we’re in right now, and what it feeds on, it’s a very strong current in American life.

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The Blob Remake Poster Rips Off Alien

A new sales art poster for the upcoming The Blob remake has made its way online via Arclight Films, and it very reminiscent of another movie franchise. The Blob remake has been talked about for a very long time now, but it seems like we might be getting closer to the remake becoming a reality. Another production poster came out last week and it added Halle Berry to the Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) directed remake. What’s curious about the poster from last week is that it does not have Samuel L. Jackson’s name on it. Jackson has reportedly been attached to the project since 2015. Confusing matters even more is the new poster from Arclight Films that has West’s name and Jackson’s, but no mention of Berry.

The sales art poster is pretty sparse without much color, but one thing is clear: it looks exactly like the artwork for the Alien franchise. Like a lot. Now this is just the sales art and it could change as most sales art does, but the Independence Day 2 sales art looked pretty much unchanged from the original. This new poster shows the earth with a green fracture running through it, an image that looks like it was slapped together on an iPhone in about 2 and half minutes. Let’s hope that the movie is better than the art.

The Blob remake is said to be a “terrifying reimagining” of the 1958 science fiction classic that starred Steve McQueen. The plot is reportedly about a band of coal miners uncovering something weird deep into the earth and through some kind of mistake, they unleash a hideous creature beyond belief and imagination into the world. Now the local townsfolk must save the world from The Blob. A lot has been said about another remake or re-imagination of The Blob, some fans are excited, if not getting impatient, while others think that it’s a bad idea on numerous different levels.

One of the hip (and welcome) trends in Hollywood today is the use of practical effects. J.J. Abrams used a lot of practical effects in The Force Awakens to great effect and more directors are looking towards the tangible to tell their stories at the moment. West was quoted as saying that.

“With modern CGI we can now fully realize the potential of The Blob. The world I create will be totally believable, immersive and emotionally satisfying. It’s a thrill to introduce an enduring icon to a wider audience and a whole new era of fans.”

It’s still really early to tell, but hopefully Simon West’s vision rings true. It’s hard to say, when part of the charm of the original movie is the practical, unsophisticated effects. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding West’s The Blob remake and it’s not even clear if he is still attached to direct. At one point, it was supposed to be the next feature film project for musician Rob Zombie. In addition, we still don’t know who will be starring in the project because of the two conflicting pieces of sales art that have been released. Hopefully more official news rolls in soon. In the mean time, check out the derivative sales art poster below.

<em>The Blob</em> remake Poster

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It’s a Trap: Billy Bass Gets an Admiral Ackbar Makeover

Last week it was a fish without eyes and this week it’s a fish with Admiral Ackbar’s head on it. Star Wars has had some pretty bizarre merchandise over the last 40 years, a lot of it official and some not so much, but this one is right up there in the weird department. Admiral Ackbar has always shown more than a passing resemblance to a goldfish, and now his face is on a Billy Big Mouth Bass. The animatronic singing fish, often seen on your weird uncle’s wall has gotten a makeover thanks to ThinkGeek.

Instead of singing “Take Me to the River” or “Bad to the Bone,” Ackbar wiggles his tail to the “Cantina Song” and then yells out his iconic line: “It’s a trap!” The product description is worth reading as it sets up a fictional back-story to the selfless Ackbar.

“Admiral Ackbar had a long history about pointing out things to his fellow creatures, it’s one of the reasons he rose so quickly in rank! When he was but a paralarva, he was quick to identify other sea creatures (“IT’S A CARP!”). So, in honor of his intelligence and leadership, we created this Star Wars Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass for all of us to have a little more Ackbar in our lives.”

Ackbar actually looks pretty good as a fish and don’t lie, you know you want one. The product was originally set as an April Fools Day trick in 2012 by ThinkGeek, but now it’s a real due to the public outcry of being teased with the talking fish. The company is also the creator of the Tauntaun sleeping bag, which was also originally an April Fools joke that has been made a reality. The Tauntaun sleeping bag is quality, but it’s hard to get it back to its full glory after a cat decides to pee on it, trust me. The company has also put out the famous Wampa rug that you can setup and show off to your friends for $129.99. The Admiral Ackbar talking bass is up for sale on their site for $39.99.

The Billy the Big Mouth Bass was invented in December of 1998 and put on sale in early 1999. The bass represents a largemouth bass who sings to popular songs like “Don’t Worry be Happy” and “Take Me to the River.” Al Green wrote and recorded “Take Me to the River” and has said that he has made more off of the royalties from the singing fish then he ever did through selling records, which speaks to the initial enormous popularity of the product. The concept has been modified a lot over the years, but this is the first time that we get to see a Star Wars version of the famous wall mounted fish.

Ackbar is not technically a fish; he’s a member of the Mon Calamari, an amphibious species from the Watery planet of Mon Cala. We’ll let ThinkGeek slide on this mistake this time. You can head over to ThinkGeek to own your own Admiral Ackbar talking “fish” right now and hang it over your toilet. Check out the original April Fools video below.

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Rachel Weisz Seduces In ‘My Cousin Rachel’; Sam Elliott Is ‘The Hero’ – Specialty Box Office Preview

Fox Searchlight is opening My Cousin Rachel starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin in over five hundred locations this weekend, the widest of the upcoming weekend’s offerings. The feature by writer-director Roger Michell is the second big screen version of the title based on a novel by Daphne Du Maurier. Roadside Attractions and FilmNation are teaming on Sundance debut Beatriz At Dinner, starring Salma Hayek and John Lithgow. The film’s trailer has had 23 million views, in part pushed by a story of a Mexican immigrant who meets a brash self-absorbed billionaire. The Orchard is opening fellow Sundance premiere The Hero starring Sam Elliott ahead of its original fall release. The company is viewing Elliott’s performance as likely awards-worthy as it begins a slow roll-out over summer and into autumn. And Oscilloscope is opening documentary Night School Friday, with part of its proceeds going to an organization featured in the film about people trying to escape poverty through education.

Fox Searchlight

My Cousin Rachel
Director-writer: Roger Michell
Writer: Daphne Du Maurier (novel)
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

In 2014, writer-filmmaker Roger Michell read an old copy of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel My Cousin Rachel, which he found at his mother’s house. Initially, he did not read it with the possible intention of doing another big screen adaptation of the story, according to producer Kevin Loader, who is a partner of Michell’s in their London-based production company Free Range. But after reading the book, he saw a project opportunity.

“He came in and told me I should read it,” said Loader. “I hadn’t seen the original film (1952) with Richard Burton. We knew there were some Du Maurier revivals in the air, but we did think this could be a fabulous film. Fox, which did the original movie, still had the rights.”

Searchlight describes My Cousin Rachel as a “dark and layered romance” about a young Englishman who plots revenge against his mysterious and beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. His feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling helplessly and obsessively in love with her.

“Fox didn’t want to release the rights, so we said that maybe we could make it for them,” said Loader. “We have a relationship with [former Fox exec] Claudia Lewis, and she pretty quickly said yes. Roger wanted to do the adaptation of the novel, which was something he hadn’t done in a while.”

Roger Michell wrote his adaptation for the latest big screen version of My Cousin Rachel about two years ago. Fox financed the project along with “their usual partners in the U.K.,” according to Loader. He said that there had been a false start to shoot in 2015, but because of talent availability, they had to hold off one year.

“Sam Caflin was lined up early,” said Loader. “Rachel had a very busy 2015 including The Lobster and Denial, so in the end, we missed a [seasonal] window. We wanted to shoot from winter into spring and into early summer. So after the 2015 window passed, we waited, but that worked for her schedule as well.”

The feature shot over nine weeks in various U.K. locations in addition to one week in Italy. “The shoot was very contained in some ways,” he added. “We shot a lot in a house near London, and then shot in the West Country. We were keen not to make it too traditionally gothic.”

Fox Searchlight will open My Cousin Rachel in 525 theaters across the U.S. and Canada June 9. The company said it is in a “great mixture of the best arthouse/specialty and upscale multiplexes available.”

Roadside Attractions/FilmNation

Beatriz At Dinner
Director: Miguel Arteta
Writer: Mike White
Cast: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloë Sevigny, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, David Warshofsky, Natalia Abelleyra
Distributors: Roadside Attractions/FilmNation

Roadside Attractions and FilmNation picked up Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz At Dinner out of the Sundance Film Festival where it debuted. The two entities had worked in tandem on other releases, but previously Roadside spearheaded U.S. distribution while FilmNation handled other territories.

“They approached me before the festival and asked me if we should try and do this,” said Howard Cohen, co-president of Roadside Attractions. “They wanted to see what it’s like to be in the U.S. market.”

In the film, Salma Hayek plays Beatriz, an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico. She has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner. Doug Strutt (John Lithgow), meanwhile, is a cutthroat, self-satisfied billionaire. When these two opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will be the same.

“We launched the trailer in April and highlighted the contemporary zeitgeist aspect [of the story],” said Cohen referring to the parallels between the Trump-esque character played by Lithgow and Hayek’s character who hails from south of the border. “The trailer exploded online. There were fifteen views of the trailer online soon after its release on Facebook and there are now up to 23 million. We think 40% of the views are Latino, but it’s clearly transcending. We’re fascinated to see how it translates into box office, but certainly it’s had a great life in the pre-marketing phase.”

Cohen added that Hayek, Lithgow and Connie Britton have made a number of appearances on late night shows. Additionally, Hayek and Miguel Arteta spent a day in Miami with Latino press.

Beatriz At Dinner will bow with three runs in Los Angeles Friday, including the Landmark and the Arclight Hollywood as well as two theaters in New York. Added Cohen: “We specifically wanted to go a bit wider in L.A. the first weekend, hoping to get a [big response] from Latino audiences.”

The Orchard

The Hero
Director-writer: Brett Haley
Writer: Marc Basch
Cast: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter, Nick Offerman, Katharine Ross, Doug Cox
Distributor: The Orchard

The Orchard saw Sam Elliott’s performance in Sundance premiere The Hero as potentially awards worthy and went after the title with vigor. The company initially considered a fall release, but moved its roll-out to this weekend.

“We put in an aggressive offer and locked and loaded the movie [at Sundance] within 48 hours,” said The Orchard’s Paul Davidson. “[Filmmaker] Brett Haley had great success with his last movie, I’ll See You In My Dreams. The Hero potentially has a broader audience.” Released by Bleecker Street in May 2015, Brett Haley’s I’ll See You In My Dreams, which also featured Elliott, grossed over $7.44M.

In The Hero, Elliott plays a former Western film icon, living a comfortable existence lending his golden voice to advertisements and smoking weed. He receives a lifetime achievement award and a cancer diagnosis that prompts him to reexamine his past. But a chance meeting with a sardonic comic has him looking to the future.

Following Sundance, The Orchard played The Hero at a number of other North American film festivals to build word-of-mouth. Its showings at those festivals convinced the distributor, according to Davidson, to move up its release.

“We still believe it’s a performance that will generate tons of excitement,” said Davidson. “One we saw audience reaction, we thought this was a good opportunity for a long run in the summer, and then hit an awards run in the fall.”

In addition to festivals, the company has been working with AARP on tastemaker screenings nationwide. Film organizations including the American Cinematheque in L.A., the Quad in New York as well as the Seattle International Film Festival have been doing retrospective screenings of Elliott’s work.

“In addition to reaching out to the older demographic — the film’s sweet spot — we also have an ensemble cast that hits the younger audience as well,” said Davidson. “So we’re targeting through social media and digital.”

Davidson added that Elliott is doing a host of media appearances. Also, there’s an “alt trailer” that is playing in select pot dispensaries. There’s also installations at the Arclight Hollywood and AMC Lincoln Square in New York where crowds can do a “Stache Yourself” by taking pictures with an image of Elliott’s signature mustache or other iconic examples of upper lip hair.

The Hero will open in four theaters Friday including the Landmark and Arclight Hollywood and Angelika and Lincoln Square in New York. Elliott, Laura Prepon and others will take part in select post-screening Q&As on both coasts. The Orchard will expand the feature to about 30 theaters on June 16 and will reach about 100 locations June 23. The company says it should be in around 550 theaters by the July 4th weekend.

Oscilloscope

Night School
Director: Andrew Cohn
Distributor: Oscilloscope

Night School distributor Oscilloscope said it plans to donate a portion of all proceeds from ticket sales to educational initiatives spearheaded by Goodwill Industries’ McClellan Scholars, the organization featured in the documentary. The title spotlights the struggles of a group of people facing down economic struggle to better themselves through adult education.

Night School is set in Indianapolis, which has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. For adult learners Greg, Melissa and Shynika, finally earning their high school diplomas could be a life-changing achievement. Night School observes their individual pursuits, fraught with the challenges of daily life and the broader systemic roadblocks faced by many low income Americans.

“I thought there was something there about people going back and facing their fears,” said Night School director Andrew Cohn. “It’s not a film that has a big reveal. I knew it would live or die based on the access and intimacy I would get.”

After doing some initial research into adult education, Cohn saw a segment on PBS News Hour about a man who had not been in a formal educational setting for over thirty years at a school in an economically deprived area of Indianapolis. “It was very interesting because they provided all this support,” said Cohn. “I went to the school and I [ended up living near there] for eight months.”

The project received funding in part through bequests including a MacArthur grant as well as from Impact Partners.

“The broad idea was to show how hard it is to pull out of poverty,” said Cohn. “We had over 700 hours of footage. I like to shoot a lot. Halfway through we settled on some characters, and then lost one during the edit. My friend Zach and I did a bit of everything.”

The feature debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Oscilloscope boarded as distributor for Night School several months ago. The title will have limited runs beginning Friday at IFC Center in New York. The doc will also go to Laemmle’s Music Hall in L.A. Friday June 23 with further roll-outs to select theaters around the country.

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First Kill Trailer Teams Bruce Willis & Hayden Christensen

Hayden Christensen only has one shot to save his son’s life in the new trailer and poster for First Kill with Bruce Willis. This action-thriller is the latest from director Steven C. Miller, who recently wrapped production on the highly-anticipated Escape Plan 2: Hades, starring another big screen icon, Sylvester Stallone. First Kill actually marks the third collaboration between Steven C. Miller and Bruce Willis, following 2015′s Extraction and last year’s Marauders.

Lionsgate debuted the first trailer today, along with the poster which features both Hayden Christensen and Bruce Willis. In order to reconnect with his son Danny (Ty Shelton), big shot Wall Street broker Will (Hayden Christensen) takes his family on a hunting trip to the cabin where he grew up. While out hunting with Danny, the trip takes a deadly turn when they stumble upon several robbers and witness the murder of one of the criminals.

After becoming entangled in a bank heist gone bad that results in the kidnapping of Danny, Will is forced to help the kidnappers evade the police chief (Bruce Willis) and recover the stolen loot in exchange for his son’s life. The supporting cast includes Megan Leonard as Will’s wife Laura, Gethin Anthony as Levi Barrett, the man who kidnaps Will’s son Danny, along with Tyler Jon Olson as Tom and Shea Buckner as Charlie. Lionsgate has set a July 21 release date for First Kill, which will go up against Paramount’s Dunkirk, Universal’s Girls Trip and STX Entertainment’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Since this film will also be released on VOD the same day, it most likely will not get a wide theatrical release, but that has yet to be confirmed.

This action thriller also marks the fourth collaboration between director Steven C. Miller and producers Randall Emmett and George Furla. They first started working together on 2015′s Extraction, which starred Bruce Willis and Kellan Lutz, before reuniting with last year’s Marauders, with Bruce Willis, Dave Bautista and Christopher Meloni, and this year’s Arsenal, starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack and Adrien Grenier. They are also also producing the director’s next two films, Escape Plan 2: Hades, which is currently in post-production, and Escape Plan 3, which has already been given the green light, with Sylvester Stallone returning to star.

Bruce Willis will next be seen in Once Upon a Time in Venice, which hits theaters next weekend and reunites the actor with Cop Out writers Mark Cullen and Robb Cullen, who also direct. He also stars as Paul Kersey in director Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake, which doesn’t have a release date at this time, but is expected to arrive in theaters at some point this year. He will also return to the Unbreakable universe with director M. Night Shyamalan for a new film entitled Glass, which is a follow-up to both Unbreakable and this year’s hit thriller Split, where the actor made a surprise cameo during a post-credit sequence. Take a look at the first trailer and poster for First Kill below.

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<em>First Kill</em> Trailer

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