SAG Records Dispute Claim That Stuntwoman Worked While Receiving Disability Pay

Leslie Hoffman has been battling the SAG Pension & Health Plans for years, fighting for the benefits she earned during her long and bruising career as one of Hollywood’s top stuntwomen. After she became disabled and unable to work in 2002, she began collecting SAG disability pension benefits. But after a slipshod investigation, the plan trustees determined that she had worked and held herself out for work while collecting those benefits and ordered her to repay $123,827.50 in benefits she’d received over a 13-year period, plus another $8,457.72 in interest on those payments.

Hoffman filed suit, and her case has been rattling around in the courts for years, but it turns out that the trustees and the Plans’ attorneys have known all along that she never worked under SAG’s jurisdiction while disabled. In fact, the Plans’ own records, obtained by Deadline, show that she has had no SAG earnings at all, except residuals, since 2001.

The only exception during all those years was the $332.86 she received in April 2005 from her work as a stunt coordinator on a film called Everything Put Together. But that film actually was shot in 1999 and released in January 2000, two years before she qualified for SAG and state disability – something the trustees knew all along.

And yet, despite knowing that she had no earnings under the union’s contract as a stunt performer or coordinator during all those years, the Plan’s trustees accused her of having “been engaged on certain projects as a stunt coordinator during the course of your claimed disability.”

Minutes of a board of trustees meeting show that while reviewing a spreadsheet of her work history, one trustee pointed out, “She got hired for active work of some sort. She was able to work in 2005. And she’s … correct?”

“I don’t know,” said another trustee.

“I don’t think so,” said another. “Those were in ’99.”

Indeed, those were the earnings from the work she’d done on Everything Put Together. And though the work had been done in 1999, that $332.86 in earnings was listed in 2005 because that’s when SAG forced the company to pay all the stunt performers an upgrade – six years after the low-budget film was shot. Other than that, she received no SAG income, other than residuals, during the years she was collecting SAG disability pay.

But you’d never know it by reading SAG Pension Plan attorney Jeffrey Kravitz’s reply to Hoffman’s opening brief, filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That reply, filed on June 15, goes into great detail about the history of the case but leaves out one key detail – that she hadn’t earned a dime under SAG contracts since 2002, even though Kravitz told the court that she had, while knowing that she hadn’t.

“Hoffman was holding herself out as available to work and did in fact work as a stunt coordinator, whether in a professional or an amateur capacity,” Kravitz wrote.

SAG Pension & Health Plans Strips Disabled Stuntwoman Of Her Pension

Minutes of another trustees meeting show that one of the trustees wondered “if there was a conclusion there is no work under a SAG contract that she could be … you know, be a telemarketer from home or something like that?”

In fact, during all those years, she never once worked in a “professional” capacity as a stunt coordinator, which is born out by the Plans’ own records. Her income tax records, which were provided to the Plan, also show that she received no pay at all as a stunt performer or coordinator during those years.

Her tax records were provided to the Plan’s benefit appeals committee, but in her brief, her attorney, Charles Fleishman, alleged that the committee “did not review Ms. Hoffman’s tax returns.” Kravitz, however, artfully argued that “in fact, the tax returns and a summary there of were made available to the committee, and even had they not been, the returns would not necessarily reveal that she had held herself out to work. Her website revealed that.”

Kravitz noted that in 2014, her website said that “Leslie is now coordinating stunts for Starship Farragut fan series.” He failed to tell the court, however, that she received no pay for this “work.”

Known for her stunt work on the Star Trek series Deep Voyager and Deep Space Nine, Hoffman had been invited to come “play” on the fan film, and paid her own expenses. “I’ve been a Trekkie since the ‘60s,” she said in a telephone interview. “Now I’m not allowed to be a Trekkie anymore?” Then, upset, she threw up.

As more proof of her alleged work history on unpaid fan films, Kravitz cited a recommendation from what he called a “client” of hers who appeared on her LinkedIn profile in 2014. It was written by Thomas Dahl, a Swedish fan filmmaker. “Leslie Hoffman,” Dahl wrote, “is hired as a stuntwoman, a stunt coordinator/advisor and an actress in the largest MTC production to date, and although the project has just started, I’d very much like to point out what a joy she is to work with.”

Trouble is, she was never hired by Dahl and was not a “joy to work with” because she never worked with him, and she was never Dahl’s “client,” as Kravitz told the court. Dahl had asked her to come to Sweden to work on his project, but she declined, citing ill health. And it was Dahl – not Hoffman – who posted that comment on her LinkedIn profile – something he now deeply regrets. “They have twisted the truth to a degree that in my country would mean jail time for those in charge,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

In a letter dated today, Dahl expressed his “utmost concern” that his mistake is being used against Hoffman in court. Read the letter here.

And this isn’t the first time the Plans have used inaccurate information as evidence to deny her benefits. It their initial ruling, the trustees offered a smudged printout from her IMDb page that listed her stunt work on a 2006 short film called Far as the Eye Can See as proof that she’d worked while receiving disability payments. As it turns out, that film, like the one for which she’d received the $332.86 upgrade, was shot in 1999 – years before she claimed disability. Proof that the Plan recognized that mistake is evidenced by the fact that Kravitz doesn’t mention it as evidence in his court filing; nor does he mention that it was once used as the basis for denying her benefits.

And yet he claims that “Hoffman has perpetrated a fraud upon the court and upon the Plan through her false representations regarding her ability to work.”

Hoffman was hospitalized three times for depression in 2003 and twice more in 2012, the last following an attempted suicide. In his reply, however, Kravitz appears to make light of her long history of mental instability, saying that it was not caused by the numerous head injuries and brain traumas her doctors diagnosed but rather by the stress of the lawsuit she’d filed against the Plan and the death of a pet bird.

“The plain language of the Plan states that an occupational disability pension requires that ‘the disability occur in the course of employment,’” he wrote. “Hoffman’s disability, as described by her treating psychiatrist and the Social Security Administration was ‘severe major depression.’ There is zero evidence in the administrative record that establishes that Hoffman’s severe major depression occurred in the course of her employment. The record does establish, however, that Hoffman has many other circumstances and events in her life that led to her diagnosis of severe major depression. For example, in a later report, one therapist said Hoffman was upset about this lawsuit and the death of her parakeet.”

But despite her long history of head injuries and mental instability, Kravitz claims that she should be able to go out and get a job as a stunt coordinator on a major film or TV show today. Hoffman, he wrote, “was and is able to engage in substantial gainful activity, as evidenced by the fact that Hoffman had been holding herself out as available to work as a stunt coordinator and has been engaged on several projects during the course of her claimed disability.”

But just because a mentally disabled person may have “held herself out” as employable, doesn’t mean that she actually is. In fact, any filmmaker who would hire a stunt coordinator with her undisputed history of mental illness would subject themselves to major legal consequences if a stunt accident were to happen on the set. For not only can she not do the job of designing, choreographing and supervising complex stunt scenes, she cannot and should not be hired to do it.

Kravitz, a former California deputy attorney general who’s currently a partner at Fox Rothschild specializing in copyright, trademark and unfair competition matters, declined comment.


‘Fargo’s David Thewlis On The Season Finale & Sinking His Teeth Into A Villain For All Times

Closing out its third (and possibly final) season tonight, Noah Hawley’s Fargo has always been marvelously specific with its characters, and particularly its villains.

From Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton)’s bizarre bowl cut in Season 1 to V.M. Vargas (David Thewlis)’s rotten teeth in Season 3, the series makes surprising visual choices that defy understanding and elicit conversation. Alongside his henchmen, portrayed by Goran Bogdan and Andy Yu, Thewlis made the most of his Fargo experience, relishing the chance to gaslight and toy with the Parking Lot King of Minnesota.

Speaking with Deadline, the actor discusses his exciting first brush with episodic television, cultivating Varga’s physicality and his thoughts on Varga’s final scene.

Chris Large/FX

Were you a Fargo viewer prior to entering this universe?

I was. I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers and the film—I’ve seen it several times. I was one of those people who thought it was a terrible idea to make it a series. Obviously, it wasn’t; it was a great idea.

I’d seen both seasons before talking to Noah about this, so I was very familiar with it. When my agent said, “They’re interested in you for Season 3 and Noah wants to meet you,” I jumped at the chance.

V.M. Varga is a rich, enigmatic character. How did Hawley first describe the character to you?

It was a little difficult, really, because there wasn’t a lot to go on at first. We only had three episodes written that Noah could show me—one of them being Episode 3, which doesn’t involve anyone but Gloria.

There were only the first two episodes, and Varga doesn’t feature that strongly in the first two, so it was a little like, “Is this a guest star type of part?” But Noah assured me, no, he would be a part that grew and grew and went some way to explaining how that would be happening.

Because, even when you watch the series, it’s rather enigmatic to grasp who Varga is and what he’s about, it was even more confusing for Noah to have to define him to me, with nothing really written yet, and for me to grasp the world that he was in.

As each episode came out, we’ve seen a little more of him, but there was certainly enough there in Noah’s description. I just trusted Noah Hawley, basically, seeing what he’d done in two seasons. I just had to wait and see as the scripts came in how I would develop this terrible fellow.

Chris Large/FX

Is it a fun challenge to play a character like Varga, a villain of seemingly unlimited knowledge and power?

It’s always more fun to play someone who’s as complex as this, in nefarious ways. I’ve realized over the years I either play very good people or very bad people, and I think I always enjoy the very bad people more.

I enjoy things that are so far away from me; that’s why when I play things that are a little bit closer to me, I get really bored. When it’s something that’s the antithesis of what I am, there’s much more to lose yourself in.

I think I’ve had more fun playing Varga than I’ve had for quite a number of years, playing anything. It’s just so beautifully written. Every few weeks, I got a new script, I’d settle down with a cup of coffee like I was about to read Anna Karenina.

I was like, “Oh, I can’t wait to see how this character’s developing,” because that’s new to me. I’ve not done episodic TV, so I wasn’t accustomed to seeing a character I was playing develop as I was playing it.

That was a real thrill. When you read a film script, you get it all at once, and the mystery goes quite quickly, but the mystery remained as we were shooting it, so that’s been really good fun.

It’s funny you mention Anna KareninaFargo certainly has the qualities of a classic Russian novel.

I suppose—that’s a bit of a Freudian slip. [laughs] Yeah, there’s certainly something Russian going on in this. I never quite pinned down exactly what’s going on there, but I love this Russian motif running through the series, that’s running through Varga’s story. It’s never explicitly explained, but it’s a wonderful backdrop to the whole thing.

Chris Large/FX

How much backstory were you given with Varga? His bulimia, his teeth and the way he dresses become critical aspects in understanding the character.

[The bulimia] wasn’t there when we had our initial conversation. One day, Noah called me before we started shooting, and said, “I find myself following this thread, and I’ve got this idea that he should be bulimic,” which was totally out of the blue, and didn’t fit in at all with what I understood of Varga heretofore.

But I’d not put him on camera yet, and I thought this was rather wonderful. This was something I’d experienced, not with myself, but I know bulimic people in my life, past and present, and it’s something I’ve been rather fascinated with, and that’s where the teeth idea came from.

Noah’s idea was that he would have these fractured teeth, and that became a whole series of meetings and decisions, without wanting to go too far. But this really helped me with the physicality, because there’s this motif of the predator and the prey that runs through all of Fargo—the “Peter and the Wolf” story explicitly in this when you first see his vomiting and the teeth explained.

He obviously is the wolf, even though I think there’s something almost reptilian about him, as well. I was thinking in those terms before I latched onto the wolf; what with my Harry Potter history, I don’t want to particularly feel like this guy’s a wolf. You often think of characters in terms of their animals.

With the clothing, there are lines referring to why he dresses like he dresses—this is a $200 suit, this is a secondhand tie, I fly coach—all that business of hiding his extreme wealth to hide away from the retribution he believes is coming from the poor. It’s a strange philosophy [laughs]—he’s living in this truck and he’s like, “Well if you’re rich, you’re not living the life of the rich man,” apparently.

We didn’t really talk a lot about where Varga was when he wasn’t in Minnesota. There’s been virtually no backstory, to be honest. It didn’t seem necessary with this because Noah wasn’t interested in doing that, and I thought that was, for me, a different way of coming at things. I’m not sure it would have been useful, in this particular case, to overload him—unless one day Noah writes him a series of his own, and then we can go see where else he goes.

The only hint at any backstory is him mentioning that he was a housemaid’s boy and grew up in the kitchen below the stairs. I thought that if he’s going to be English and working class, I’ll give him this particular accent.

Chris Large/FX

You were doing an accent? I thought you might be, but if you were, it was quite subtle.

My accent goes all over the place, depending on where I am. Right now, I’m in London, and when I come to London, I tend to speak a bit more London. I’m actually from the north of England—from near Manchester—so it’s not my natural accent or Varga’s accent.

Varga’s accent is a London accent—that’s simply because we don’t know where he’s from. He’s almost invisible, and he wasn’t identified as British in the first two scripts.

He could be Eastern European if we’re going that way. Noah said, “No, no, he’s not Eastern European, he’s not French, Italian, no.” Is he a bit Irish? “No.” Scottish? Welsh? Right, he’s English, because I do have to open my mouth and talk at some point.

I had to give him an accent, and he said, “English, yeah, but not super posh. Not upper class.” There’s a few little vowels and contestants, and those little things, and then the teeth.

When we did rehearsals, I always had to have the teeth in—I couldn’t really do it without the teeth. It didn’t sound right. I’ve brought the teeth back to England with me, in case I had to do any ADR. They’ve not asked for them back. [laughs]

Chris Large/FX

What were your personal thoughts on the roots of Varga’s bulimia?

There are two thoughts about it—whether you think it’s the one area of his life where he’s not in control, or an area of his life where’s he’s supremely in control. It’s obviously an expression of extreme greed, which is oozing out of Varga, but he’s such a controlling figure in every single way.

I’ve gone into detail with some people I know. Obviously, one thinks of young girls when thinking of bulimia and anorexia. I know a man who is bulimic—a very smart man, but also quite a controlling man, and a man who is very much in charge of the rest of his life. He’s not open about it—it’s something he doesn’t even know I know, to be honest.

This particular character wasn’t a million miles away from my thoughts, funnily enough, before I learned Noah wanted to include this facet to his character. I often draw from people in my own experience to base a character on, going back to my days with Mike Leigh.

What was it like working with Ewan McGregor and Michael Stuhlbarg, as their antagonist? You’re constantly gaslighting their characters throughout the series.

I like the term “gaslighting” and it comes from classic [Patrick] Hamilton, I understand. I think I’ve heard it in reference to Trump, in terms of gaslighting the whole f*cking country.

I really like it very much. With Ewan and Michael, it was a little different because Michael’s an actor who does remove himself from the chitter-chatter that takes place in between, when everyone’s hanging out, which I kind of like and understand.

I do that myself sometimes, and yet Ewan wasn’t like that. It was great fun, actually—the amazing scene with the dick in the cup. I love Michael Stuhlbarg in this—I think he’s the standout character in the whole thing.

We’re all actors who take the craft seriously, but there’s a lot of great fun, and you might say Varga was just total fun for me to get my teeth into if you’ll excuse the pun.

Chris Large/FX

What did you make of Varga’s final scene this season?

I must say I love the scene. We decided it might be cool if possible to actually shoot that as the very last scene of the whole season, and that’s what we did, so there’s very high pressure to that.

It’s a fantastic scene, and it’s so unexpected, I think. I don’t think people are going to think that’s the way the scene’s going to end.

In your mind, is this character emblematic of our times?

I think that’s certainly how I approached it. The series was created in the first 100 days of Trump. It was obviously conceived just before that, but Noah was still writing it as we were making it.

There’s clear references in there to what’s going on, and Varga is a supreme example of this bullsh*t, quite honestly. I love the conspiracy theories falling in there, and my research was really just watching American news when I was in North America.


Blade Runner 2049 Sneak Peek Features Exciting New Footage

It’s been almost two months since the second Blade Runner trailer was released, but if you’re chomping at the bit for even more footage, a new preview has surfaced that reveals new characters plus behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and filmmakers. The preview includes a few “before and after” shots, revealing that there was certainly an emphasis on practical effects, showcasing some of the massive set pieces and vehicles used in the production. We even hear from legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, who revealed that he has never worked on a movie with so many different sets and lighting patterns, revealing that, “technically, it’s quite challenging.”

This preview comes from Entertainment Weekly, which, along with plenty of new footage, also features interview segments with several of the main players, including executive producer Ridley Scott, who reveals that he couldn’t have dreamed that his original Blade Runner movie would still be so revered, 35 years later. The filmmaker adds that, while Blade Runner was always meant to be a stand-alone movie, there was simply more story to be told than the original’s two-hour runtime would allow. We also hear from Harrison Ford, who had this to say about revisiting his iconic character, Rick Deckard.

“I think it’s kind of fun to play a character 30 years later. The story, the themes, the stunning visual environments, it was a pleasure to get back in the world of Blade Runner again. I’m used to trying on old clothes. Happily, they fit.”

This footage also gives us new glimpses at Sylvia Hoeks’ unspecified character, who tells Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard that they’re going home, while in a transport. We also hear from Ryan Gosling, who revealed that as soon as he heard Ridley Scott wanted to “continue the narrative” of Blade Runner, he was already invested and wanted to know what will happen next. We also hear from Jared Leto, who revealed earlier this month that his character is named Neander Wallace, and while we don’t know more about who he is, the actor reveals how grateful he was to “just be on the team,” working with Ridley Scott, director Denis Villeneuve and stars Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, while we get a small glimpse of him working with Denis Villeneuve.

Director Denis Villeneuve reveals that he has never felt more pressure on his shoulders, working on this film, mirroring comments he had made in the past about how this follow-up will never be able to live up to the expectations of the original Blade Runner. Production designer Dennis Gassner states that working on this film was like “walking on a knife’s edge,” since they were “riding the line between the original film with what we’re doing now.” The video also features shots with other cast members like Lennie James, while visual effects supervisor John Nelson reveals that they’re trying to keep the visual effects very grounded. Take a look at this preview for Blade Runner 2049, as we get closer and closer to the October 5 release date.


Netflix In Early ‘Highwaymen’ Talks; Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson Eyed To Play Bonnie & Clyde-Hunting Lawmen

EXCLUSIVE: Highwayman, the drama that once had Paul Newman and Robert Redford poised to play the veteran Texas Rangers who put an end to the violent robbery spree of Bonnie & Clyde, might finally find its way into production. Sources said Netflix is in early discussions to team Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner as the lawmen who hunted down Depression Era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, with John Lee Hancock directing. To do this, Netflix is negotiating to extricate the project from Universal Pictures, where it was originally set four years ago. There is a John Fusco script rewritten by Hancock, the filmmaker who directed the fact-based Michael Keaton-starrer The Founder, Saving Mr. Banks and The Blind Side. Casey Silver, who has patiently shepherded the picture for years, is the producer.

Costner would play legendary lawman Frank Hamer and Harrelson would play Manny Gault. They were out of the Rangers by the time Bonnie & Clyde started their robbery reign, but were commissioned as special investigators, coaxed by a consortium of banks to assemble a posse and end the robbery spree of the notorious gang reputed to have killed 13 cops and others. The details are different than the version depicted in the 1967 Arthur Penn-directed Bonnie and Clyde, which starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway (the stars reunited at the last Oscars for the film’s 50th anniversary, which didn’t end well after an accountant passed them the wrong Best Picture envelope). Highwaymen takes the vantage point of the formidable posse headed by Hamer, an old style Texas Ranger who’d survived 100 gunfights and killed 53 people. CAA reps Hancock and Harrelson, WME reps Costner.


Kraven & Mysterio Are Getting Their Own Spider-Man Spin-Offs

Sony is perhaps much more serious about this whole Spider-Man spin-off universe than we may have thought. We’ve known that they are working on a Venom movie, which will star Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, as well as Silver & Black, which will center on Silver Sable and Black Cat. Now comes word that the studio is also working on a couple of different spin-offs that will feature Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news as part of a huge interview with Sony’s Tom Rothman, who detailed some of the studio’s plans for their Marvel Universe, which was recently revealed to take place in the same world as Spider-Man: Homecoming. Knowing that, the news that Sony is working on Kraven and Mysterio projects suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting. Here’s what THR had to say about it.

“Other projects will focus on Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio. The idea, says a studio source, is to build out a world gradually rather than launch one immediately, as they had been trying with Spider-Man villain ensemble Sinister Six, which has been shelved.”

That may be a relatively small mention, but there are potentially huge implications there. Starting with Kraven the Hunter, he is a very classic Spider-Man villain, but his interest level to fans is inherently tied to him appearing on screen with Spidey. That primarily has to do with the fact that the Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline, which features Kraven hunting down and (seemingly) successfully killing Spider-Man, is one of the most beloved stories from the Spider-Man comics and something fans have wanted to see on the screen for a long time. However, since Amy Pascal recently confirmed that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker exists in this universe, and THR’s report says the goal is to get him to appear in some of these spin-offs, Kraven’s Last Hunt could be on the table. That’s speculative, but we can’t rule it out.

As for Mysterio, he is also a very classic Spider-Man bad guy and he has an interesting history with the movies. Sam Raimi’s vision for Spider-Man 4, which sadly never came to pass, was reportedly going to feature Mysterio as the main villain. He is a master of illusion, a hypnotist and roboticist who can use his power of illusion to make himself quite the deadly and formidable foe. Also, there’s that sweet costume with the fishbowl helmet. So it looks like he may get the chance to appear in a movie yet. Again, it seems hard to imagine him headlining a movie on his own, but we’ll see what Sony has in mind.

We still have a lot of questions as to how this Sony universe is going to work with the MCU, but this is getting very interesting. Lots of characters fans have wanted to see on screen for a long time are possibly going to get their day, but they largely hinge on Spider-Man being involved. We’ll have to wait and see how this all unfolds, but we should learn a lot when Spider-Man: Homecoming arrives next month, and even more when Venom hits theaters next year.


Stephen King’s IT Remake Is Rated R for Bloody Horror Violence

Ever since New Line Cinema started to put together their IT remake, the people behind this project have stressed that it will be rated R, and now that has been confirmed. Producer Roy Lee confirmed in February 2016 that they were aiming for an R-rating, while another producer, Dan Lin, reiterated in February of this year that it will be R-rated, while also confirming that the second movie is still happening. It was finally confirmed today by the Motion Picture Association of America that IT will be rated R, which will certainly make plenty of fans happy.

Box Office Mojo reports that the MPAA has handed out the IT R-rating today, for “Violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.” Now that the R-rating has been confirmed, perhaps fans will be treated with a red band trailer, offering a glimpse at some of the bloody violence and language that will be contained within this long-awaited theatrical remake. Regardless if a red band trailer happens or not, the second trailer has a lot to live up to, since the first trailer was so popular.

After the first IT trailer debuted in March, the footage shattered the record for most views in a 24-hour period, with an astonishing 197 million views. This easily broke the previous record of 139 million views set by The Fate of the Furious. The record for trailer views often leads to a huge opening weekend, with The Fate of the Furious opening at $98.7 million in April, while the previous record holder, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which had 127.6 million views for its trailer, opened with an impressive $174.7 million earlier this month. Star Wars: The Force Awakens previously set the record with 112 million views in the first 24 hours, which paved the way for its record breaking opening weekend of $247.9 million, although Fifty Shades Darker broke that record with 114 million views, and it opened to just $46.6 million, nearly half of the first Fifty Shades of Grey movie.

This movie will be the first of a two-movie adaptation, with this movie following the Losers Club, a group of kids in Derry, Maine who are forced to face their biggest fears, when children begin to disappear in their sleepy town. These kids will ultimately have to square off with a nefarious clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries. The second movie will reunite these Losers Club characters as adults, as they must band together once again to defeat Pennywise once and for all.

Back in March, Stephen King himself revealed that he has seen the full IT movie, and while he wouldn’t offer any specifics, he did state that fans should stop worrying about the movie, since the producers did a “wonderful job” with the adaptation. While the trailer was widely beloved, many actual clowns were quite upset with the movie’s portrayal of this clown trying to harm children, with one clown stating that the movie, and the spate of evil clown sightings, are “ruining” their whole business. It remains to be seen if any sort of formal protest will happen as we get closer to the IT remake’s September 8 release date.


Fantastic Four Reboot Planned as a Kids’ Movie?

While Marvel Studios has succeeded in getting back most of the rights to their comic book characters over the past few years, there are still a few big properties that have alluded them, primarily the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Both of these are controlled by 20th Century Fox, which may be eyeing yet another Fantastic Four reboot. Despite the critical and commercial failure of the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, producer Simon Kinberg teased in February that a Fantastic Four sequel may still happen, although if this new, unconfirmed report is to be believed, that won’t be the case. The studio is now reportedly eyeing a Fantastic Four reboot that will have a much different family twist.

The 2015 movie followed younger versions of Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Susan Storm (Kate Mara) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), based on the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics. Bleeding Cool reports that 20th Century Fox has brought on writer Seth Grahame-Smith to write a new Fantastic Four reboot that will go in a different direction than the 2015 movie, centering on Franklin and Valeria, the children of Reed Richard and Susan Storm, with Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm still part of the story as well. This unconfirmed report claims that the whole movie will be more “kid-centric,” said to be in the same vein as the Pixar hit The Incredibles.

The 2015 Fantastic Four reboot was a disaster in every possible aspect, earning just $56.1 million domestically and $167.9 million worldwide from a $120 million budget. The low box office returns were paired with reports of unprofessional behavior from director Josh Trank while production was under way in New Orleans, with reports that he almost came to blows with star Michael B. Jordan. Just a few months after the movie hit theaters, there were rumors that Fantastic Four will return to Marvel, with a report claiming that Marvel was planning a reboot for 2020, but that was never verified.

20th Century Fox’s original deal with Marvel, which was made in the 1990s when Marvel was selling off the rights to several characters as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, gives them the rights to keep making Fantastic Four movies and X-Men movies for as long as they want. In recent years, Marvel has been able to win back the rights to several of the characters they signed away to rebuild the company, like Ghost Rider, Blade, The Punisher and Daredevil, just to name a few, with a major coup coming in 2015 when they finalized a deal with Sony to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Still, Marvel Studios has not been able to get back Fantastic Four, which reportedly angered Marvel to the point that they even killed off Fantastic Four and X-Men comics.

As for this Seth Grahame-Smith, he is no stranger to the superhero realm, having performed uncredited script polishes for Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. He was also slated to write the screenplay for and make his directorial debut with Warner Bros.’ DCEU entry The Flash. He also wrote the screenplays for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, along with the novel it was based on, Dark Shadows, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and this year’s hit LEGO Movie spin-off, The LEGO Batman Movie. As of now, this report about yet another Fantastic Four reboot has not been confirmed, but perhaps we’ll hear more about this potential project soon.


Carnage Is the Main Villain in Venom

Sony’s Spider-Man spin-offs continue to get more interesting by the minute. The studio is currently developing several movies, which will be centered on various characters from the Spider-Man universe, but may or may not actually include Spider-Man. The first of these movies is going to be a possibly R-rated Venom movie that is set for release next year and is to be directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland). Now we know who the villain is, and this is a huge deal. Carnage, aka Cletus Kasady, is going to be introduced on the big screen in the Venom movie.

The news comes courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, who recently spoke with Sony’s Tom Rothman about the Marvel Universe they are currently setting up. In the report, some new details about these movies were revealed and easily one of the biggest reveals is Carnage being in the Venom movie. That opens up a whole lot of possibilities and definitely lends credibility to the idea that this movie is going to be R-rated. Here’s what THR had to say about it.

“As for the expansion plans, Tom Hardy is starring in Venom, dated for Oct. 5, 2018, which will also feature the villain Carnage. A source says Holland is only contractually obligated to Spider-Man 2 and 3, but the intention is to bring him into the spinoffs and possibly other Marvel films (he is currently shooting Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War).”

It was hard to imagine a movie in which Venom was the good guy, but this is starting to make at least a little sense. Those who have read Marvel Comics over the years know that Carnage is one of the most ruthless and violent villains around. He makes Venom seem timid in some ways. In the beloved Maximum Carnage storyline, Venom actually teams up with Spider-Man, as well as Black Cat and Cloak and Dagger, in order to stop Carnage. So if there is one villain that could make Venom look a little less bad, it is Carnage. For those who may not be familiar, here is a brief character synopsis for Carnage.

“Cletus Kasady became a serial killer. He was then captured and sent to Ryker’s Island prison for 11 murders, though he bragged about killing a dozen more, where he shared a cell with Eddie Brock, the host of the alien symbiote that turns into the supervillain Venom. When Brock’s symbiote soon returned to be bonded again, allowing Venom to escape prison, the symbiote unknowingly left its offspring in the cell; due to its alien mindset, the symbiote felt no emotional attachment to its offspring, regarding it as insignificant, and thus never communicated its existence to Brock via their telepathic link. The new symbiote then bonded with Kasady, transforming him into Carnage.”

The THR report also mentions that the Sinister Six movie they were working on was scrapped. That said, by bringing in Venom and Carnage, and with Vulture and Shocker over in the MCU via Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was recently confirmed by Sony’s Amy Pascal to be in the same world as Venom, it is hard not to wonder if a Sinister Six movie is being bandied about. The report also mentions Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio, so that would more or less give us the six needed for that. We’ll have to wait and see, but for now, we can all just absorb the whole Carnage thing, which is, at least for Marvel fans, significant.

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