Kevin Smith Credits Infinity War for Keeping Him Alive

Kevin Smith has bounced back since his recent, life-threatening heart attack. And he’s happy he lived long enough to see the new Avengers: Infinity War trailer, just like the rest of us. Smith is an unabashed and very vocal fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, like any fan, Avengers: Infinity War represents ten years of investment all wrapped up in one big, epic movie. Smith’s reaction to the new trailer pokes fun at his heart attack, saying that he survived the ordeal in order to witness the new Avengers movie for himself.

The first Avengers: Infinity war teaser trailer, which was released back in November, brought Kevin Smith to tears. That’s not necessarily a common occurrence, as we regularly report on the Clerks director’s very intense reactions to comic book movies, be it good or bad. In the case of something like the Venom trailer, it was bad. In the case of this new full-length Infinity War trailer, it’s as good as can be. In a post to his Twitter account after viewing the trailer, Smith says his anticipation for the MCU could help keep him alive for decades to come. Here’s what he had to say about it.

“This film is why I survived my heart attack. I refuse to die til I see @Avengers. In fact, anticipation for all of these flicks might keep me alive for decades. I will accept eternity only if/when the most important Kevin in the world (Kevin Feige) is done making @Marvel movies.”

While there’s no official ranking of the world’s most important guys named Kevin, it’s not hard to imagine that Kevin Feige would come out on top of that list, were it to exist, as Smith suggests here. The man has had a vision for the MCU has literally changed Hollywood forever. That grand experiment is coming to a head with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, which will conclude Phase 3 of the MCU.

In late February, Kevin Smith took to social media to alert his fans that he had suffered a massive heart attack after performing one of two stand-up shows he was shooting for a new special. Following a surgery, Smith was up and around rather quickly, but was lucky to be alive, as the kind of heart attack he suffered is often referred to as a “widow maker.” Fortunately for Smith and his legions of fans, he’ll be around to see Avengers: Infinity War with the rest of us.

Tickets for Avengers are now on sale, so if you’re like Kevin Smith and are feeling particularly eager and passionate about seeing the movie as soon as possible, best grab your seats sooner rather than later. Marvel is unleashing the destructive power of Thanos on the universe when Avengers: Infinity War arrives in theaters on April 27, which is a week sooner than the originally reported May 4 release date. You can check out Kevin Kevin Smith’s Twitter post for yourself below.

This film is why I survived my heart attack. I refuse to die til I see @Avengers. In fact, anticipation for all of these flicks might keep me alive for decades. I will accept eternity only if/when the most important Kevin in the world (Kevin Faige) is done making @Marvel movies.

— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) March 16, 2018


Academy President John Bailey Is Under Investigation for Sexual Harassment

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched an investigation against its president, John Bailey, for sexual harassment. Sources reveal that the Academy received three separate claims of harassment against John Bailey, and immediately launched an investigation into these claims. There is no word on how long this investigation may take, but it may lead to a rather short tenure as president for John Bailey.

Bailey was elected as the Academy’s new president in August 2017, in a rather surprising turn of events, after actress Laura Dern took herself out of the running (she still serves as a governor of the acting branch). This lead to Bailey, one of the governors of the cinematographer’s guild, beating veteran casting director David Rubin in the Academy president election. Bailey was the first “below the line” (crew member) president of the Academy since the 1980s, and he had often been vocally critical of Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and her leadership.

As for the allegations, no details have been released about the accusers or when the sexual misconduct took place. If the Academy forces Bailey to step down following their investigation, he will be temporarily replaced by veteran makeup artist Lois Burwell, the Academy’s vice president, until the Academy’s next election in July. Bailey was elected to a four-year term as president of the Academy, which has already been quite noteworthy, since his tenure has come as the Academy voted to expel Harvey Weinstein from its ranks, just the second time an Academy member has been expelled in history.

The Academy also set up a code of conduct in December, which states that members may be either disciplined or expelled for any type of abuse, harassment or discrimination. This process also set up a claims process that laid out how these allegations will be investigated. The claims are reviewed by the Academy’s Membership and Administration committee, and if the allegations are proved to be credible, they will be forwarded to the Board of Governors where they will determine if any disciplinary actions will be taken.

John Bailey is a veteran cinematographer who has over 80 credits to his name, including Ordinary People, American Gigolo, The Big Chill, Silverado, The Accidental Tourist, Groundhog Day, My Blue Heaven, For the Love of the Game, Antitrust, Mad Money, The Forger, A Walk in the Woods and most recently How to Be A Latin Lover. He is also a noted film scholar and historian who has taken an interest in how the various crafts of film production will be represented in the Academy museum, which is currently in construction in Los Angeles, slated to open in 2019. His election was seen as a surprise to many after the four-year term of Cheryl Boone Isaacs, an African-American female who helped lead the Academy’s push for more diversity in its ranks, with a goal of doubling its diverse members by 2020. Variety broke the news about this investigation into John Bailey for three separate sexual harassment claims.


Infinity War Is Directly Influenced by These 3 Marvel Comics

While the first trailer released for Avengers: Infinity War left a lot to the imagination, the brand-new second trailer begins to shed some light on the fate of the Avengers. In a recent interview, the Russo Brothers discussed the Marvel Comics influences on the epic movie, noting that they took elements from three distinct storylines. We’ve already seen one of the major storylines from the comics involving Doctor Strange in the new Infinity War trailer and there are certain other elements that may point directly to certain portions of the story arcs represented in the comics.

Three Marvel Comics stories have distinct influences on Infinity War, according to the Russo Brothers. The directing duo briefly discussed how these influences directly impacted the movie as well as what they like about them. The first of which is the Jim Starlin’s Infinity Gauntlet, which was a 6-issue limited series released at the end of 1991. Joe Russo explains.

“Certainly the Starlin book was our jumping-off point. It’s a brilliant comic. The ideas behind it are so large, it’s what pushed us to go for the scale that we’re going for on these movies. Anthony and I love the post-modern comics, so we’re also drawing from Infinity, the newer stuff. We’re combining it all into, again, what’s our favorite stuff, and how do we see elements from each helping our story, and the story that we want to tell.”

Jonathan Hickman’s limited series Infinity was the other major influence that Joe Russo brought up, which came out in 2013. The storyline is hinted at in the new trailer for Infinity War when Ebony Maw is seen torturing Doctor Strange. In Hickman’s comic, Thanos and his Black Order are able to use Strange as a double agent while torturing him to lead the Mad Titan to all of the Infinity Stones. It isn’t clear if that storyline will be exactly the same as the Infinity comic, but it certainly is an influence that Marvel Comic fans have picked up on.

The third influence on Infinity War comes from the Secret Avengers series that ran from 2010 to 2015. Secret Avengers references first started popping up in Captain America: Civil War and those elements will continue on to the upcoming Infinity War. The Secret Avengers are protecting the world on their own terms after the events of Civil War, but they will join in against the epic battle with Thanos for Infinity War.

Those are three pretty respected influences to be culling from to form Infinity War and it will be very interesting to see how the Russo Brothers were able to pull from each source to craft something brand-new and fresh. The new trailer definitely has a dark undertone and hints at the death of some of the most famous superheroes in history, which comes from original Marvel Comics storylines that the directors have mixed together. As for what they took from where, we’ll have to wait until April 27th. You can check out the rest of the interview with the Russo Brothers over at

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Isle of Dogs Preview Reveals the Magic Behind the Mutts

Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs is a return to stop-motion animation for the acclaimed director, his first feature of the like since Fantastic Mr. Fox. This behind the scenes look shows how a team of 25 different animators, along with the help of 10 assistants, brought the upcoming movie to life. It took a very long time, a lot of patience and a staggering degree of attention to detail.

This is a movie that has looked great ever since the first trailer debuted online, but this video offers a new level of appreciation for just how much work went into bringing Wes Anderson’s vision to life. There is a painstaking, complicated process that goes into bringing these miniature puppets to life. And this video shows how working with dogs and humans added extra layers of development in the animation process. There’s a reason everyone doesn’t do stop-motion animation these days. It’s a difficult thing to accomplish, but as we see in the video, it can yield amazing results, when executed correctly.

Isle of Dogs not only benefits from the directing style of Wes Anderson and a team of amazing animators, but he’s also assembled a truly amazing voice cast for the movie. Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunicki Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Mari Katsuki, Fisher Stevens, Nijiro Murakami, Liev Schreiber and Courtney B. Vance all star in the animated feature. This also marks Anderson’s first movie since Grand Budapest Hotel, which garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

Though Isle of Dogs hasn’t debuted in theaters yet, early buzz has been terrific. Currently, the movie sits at a 97 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with just a single negative review to its name. We’ll be hearing some more buzz for the movie very shortly, as it’s set to close out the film portion of this year’s SXSW festival in Austin on Saturday night. So not only will we be getting some more critical reactions, but those from the general moviegoing public will have the chance to weigh in as well. As we’ve seen recently, there can be a rather wide gap between the critic rating on the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

On Friday, March 23, the movie will open in limited release in Austin, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington D.C. It will expand on March 28 before opening in theaters nationwide on April 6. That will give Isle of Dogs at least a week before some of this year’s major blockbusters, like Rampage and Avengers: Infinity War roll out. Blockers, which also recently debuted at SXSW, also rolls out in theaters on April 6, but there should be room for both movies to do well. Be sure to check out the new Isle of Dogs featurette, courtesy of the Fox Searchlight YouTube channel, for yourself below.

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Creed 2 Set Video Shows Drago & Son Recreating an Iconic Rocky Moment

It looks like Creed 2 will have a callback to the original Rocky movie. Dolph Lundgren, who is back to reprise his role of Ivan Drago was spotted with Florian Munteanu, who plays his son, on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art training, much like Sylvester Stallone did in 1976. The filming location is a famous Philadelphia tourist destination known as the “Rocky Steps” and even has the Rocky statue below that hundreds of people snap their picture with every day.

Earlier this week, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren released videos of themselves training for their parts in Creed 2 and it looks like production has officially begun for Lundgren and Florian Munteanu. Nobody else from the cast was present on the set in the fan-shot video that was released online. The caption for the video does imply that it was the first day of shooting, but that has not been officially confirmed. When asked about filming for Creed 2 in February while promoting Black Panther, star Michael B. Jordan said that he would be joining up with the cast within a few months, which matches the timeline.

In the new fan-shot footage from the set of Creed 2, Ivan Drago and his son are training on the iconic “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia. Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago is the man responsible for killing Creed’s father in Rocky IV during a boxing match, which means that the sequel is about to get a lot more intense, especially watching Drago and son train on the famous steps where Rocky trains. Not much else is shown in the short clip, but it’s cool to see that production has started.

In the aforementioned training videos that Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren released, 71-year old Stallone can be seen doing pull-ups with an additional 100 lbs. attached to his legs. In Lundgren’s lengthy video, he gives insight into the intense training that he’s been challenging himself for Creed 2 with. Lundgren is seen with a trainer who is correcting his movements while pushing the actor to go faster and harder. Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren are training harder than people half of their age, which is pretty remarkable since Lundgren just had double hip replacement surgery and Stallone was rumored to be dead.

Now that production has begun on Creed 2, it’s only a matter of time before Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan are spotted on the set. Though Ryan Coogler won’t be back to helm the sequel, he has nothing but love and respect for the cast and crew and says that he’s excited to see what they come up with. Creed 2 will hit theaters on November 21st, but you can check out some brief fan-shot footage from the first day of filming below, thanks to John Fallon’s Twitter account.

Video! First day of shooting on #CREED2 in #Philadelphia. @Dolph_Lundgren and #FlorianMunteanu
at the #Rocky steps no less.

— John Fallon (@johnhfallon) March 16, 2018

[email protected]_Lundgren and #FlorianMunteanu at the #Rocky shooting #CREED2 in #Philadelphia.

— John Fallon (@johnhfallon) March 16, 2018


The Rock’s Red Notice Gets 2020 Summer Release Date

Universal Pictures and Legendary are wasting no time moving forward with Dwayne Johnson’s Red Notice, with the studio setting a June 12, 2020 release date for this new action-thriller. This comes just a month after Universal won a heated bidding war for the project that was bid on by almost every studio in town, along with Netflix. The project reunites The Rock with his Central Intelligence and Skyscraper director Rawson Marshall Thurber. Here’s what Dwayne Johnson had to say on Instagram this morning, sharing a photo of himself at dinner with Thurber and producers Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia, where the Red Notice idea was first pitched to Johnson, while sharing new plot details.

“Cool news. Mark the date: Universal Studios declares June 12, 2020 the official theatrical release date for our Red Notice. It all started at this dinner where the idea of Red Notice was first pitched to me by our writer/director @rawsonthurber to my left. Producers @flynnpictureco & @hhgarcia41on the flanks. I’ll play an Interpol Agent who treads the globe to hunt down the greatest art thief the world has ever seen. You may recall this was the idea that caused quite the bidding war in Hollywood a few months ago, leading to a very big groundbreaking sale. It all starts with a dream, hard work… and lots of tequila. Save the date: Red Notice: June 12, 2020.”

When we reported on the bidding war that Universal Pictures won last month, it was revealed that Dwayne Johnson would take home a $20 million payday to star, with Rawson Marshall Thurber also getting a whopping eight-figure salary to both write the script and direct. The movie is budgeted at $125 million, and it’s also a “two-hander,” meaning the studio will still need to find another A-lister to star, presumably as the art thief, alongside The Rock. Production is expected to begin in the spring of 2019.

This marks the second time that Universal and Legendary are teaming up on a Dwayne Johnson star vehicle, with the first being this summer’s Skyscraper, slated to hit theaters on July 13. This project follows the same type of trajectory as Skyscraper, with the original Red Notice pitch laying out the entire movie for executives before writing the script. Universal and Legendary then put it on the fast track. Dwayne Johnson was said to have moved his schedule around so he could shoot Red Notice next spring, but it remains unclear which project, or projects, may have been pushed back as a result.

As of now, Red Notice has no direct competition in its June 12, 2020 release slot, but it will be flanked by an untitled DC project on June 5, 2020 and an untitled Pixar animation project on June 19, 2020. Dwayne Johnson has New Line’s Rampage arriving on April 13, followed by Skyscraper on July 13. He will also start production on the Fast & Furious spin-off with Jason Statham this year, which has been given a July 26, 2019 release date, and he also has numerous other projects in the works like Black Adam, Doc Savage, Jungle Cruise, Big Trouble in Little China, The Janson Directive, San Andreas 2 and Jumanji 2. Take a look at the photo posted on Dwayne Johnson Instagram of the dinner where Red Notice all started.


AMC’s Infinity War Movie Marathon Lineup and Details Confirmed

We finally have some firm details on AMC’s upcoming Marvel marathon. As expected, the event won’t include every single MCU movie, but it includes a line-up of 11 movies that lead into Infinity War. Some fan-favorite movies were cut from the lineup, but it wasn’t realistic to assume anyone could actually sit through 19 movies in total. The biggest downside is that the Marvel marathon is only taking place at two theaters, one in New York City and one in Orlando.

For those who do live in or near New York and Orlando, the AMC Marvel marathon will set you back $75. Though, all things considered, that’s not an awfully high price to see 12 movies. But the snacks and soda tab could add up a bit over the course of more than 24-hours in a movie theater. The movies to screen during the marathon include Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther, which then leads into the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War.

The most unfortunate omission is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as it’s generally considered to be among the best movies in the MCU to date. Why show The Incredible Hulk and not The Winter Soldier? It’s also interesting that Thor: Ragnarok isn’t included in the lineup, considering how beloved the movie is by fans and how well it did at the box office. Not surprising is that Black Panther, which is one of the highest-grossing MCU movies ever, will play right before Avengers: Infinity War. The other movies not included in the marathon lineup are Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Avengers: Infinity War is an event the likes of which the world has never seen. An entire decade’s worth of interconnected filmmaking is coming together in one epic movie. That’s why so many fans were excited to hear about this AMC Marvel marathon. It’s just unfortunate that the theaters participating in the marathon are so limited, as the vast majority of those who would like to participate won’t have the chance. Why only two theaters are participating remains a mystery, but perhaps some more participating locations will be revealed closer to Infinity War‘s release on April 27.

Marvel just released the full-length trailer for Avengers: Infinity War and also began selling advance pre-sale tickets for the movie. So even if you can’t make the marathon, you can still scoop up your opening night tickets for Infinity War right now. The MCU marathon begins on April 25 at 1:30 p.m. at the AMC Empire 25 located in New York City and at the AMC Disney Springs 24 in Orlando, Florida. AMC hosted a similar marathon prior to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. This news comes to us courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.



Thumb benji 2018

There are few things more critic-proof than a cute puppy. The opening moments of Brandon Camp’s “Benji” stand as irrefutable evidence of this principle, as a mother canine and her offspring are carted off by malevolent dog catchers. Out of the shadows, the face of a pint-sized pup emerges, cocking his head in confusion as he watches his family vanish into oblivion. If tears aren’t starting to form in your eyes by the time the title card materializes, then you are clearly not the target audience for this picture. Released today on Netflix, “Benji” stubbornly follows in the paw prints of the franchise it intends to reboot. It’s directed by the son of Joe Camp, whose initial 1974 vehicle for the four-legged star became a surprise hit, grossing $45 million on a $500,000 budget, while garnering an Oscar nomination for Euel and Betty E. Box’s catchy title tune, “I Feel Love.” The acting wasn’t polished and the script was nothing special, but there was still a charm about the movie that was unmistakably old-fashioned. When Frances Bavier (a.k.a. Aunt Bee on “The Andy Griffith Show”) made her final screen appearance in an amusing cameo, she seemed entirely at home in the quaint, small town setting created by Camp. 

Yet the key highlights of the “Benji” pictures have always been the stretches of wordless storytelling in which the audience is invited to take a dog’s eye view of the world, where average-sized people become fearsome in stature. Camp was a master at utilizing the Kuleshov effect, juxtaposing close-ups of his furry protagonist with footage of memories supposedly running through his mind, thus causing us to read all sorts of meaning into his facial expressions. Of course, dogs can be as expressive as any human, and the ace animal trainers enlisted by Camp certainly had their work cut out for them over the years, as the heroic pooch found himself in increasingly traumatizing encounters with villains—both human and otherwise. It makes sense that Blumhouse Productions would be interested in financing the new “Benji” flick, since there are numerous sequences here that veer on the brink of horror. Camp never shied away from portraying the dangerous forces in society that have a penchant for preying on innocence, and though kids are made of tougher stuff than many adults would suspect, very young viewers will likely find some scenes in these pictures too much to bear. All I remember about my experience of watching 1987’s “Benji the Hunted” as a kindergartener is I bawled through the first half and couldn’t bring myself to finish the rest. The film was a full-on survival thriller, with Benji protecting four cougar kittens in the wilderness, and if I was only slightly older, I would’ve been enthralled by their adventure.

Brandon Camp’s “Benji” stays true to the formula of his father’s original picture, and that is a smart move as well as a limitation. On one hand, the scenes involving the titular hero are as deftly handled as ever. Rather than have his thoughts articulated by a celebrity voice or—god forbid—make his gums flap via CGI, the film allows the dog’s face to tell the story, thanks in large part to the assured editing by Carsten Kurpanek. When a lonely boy, Carter (Gabriel Bateman), first locks eyes with the mixed breed stray, there is a sense of a tangible connection being forged between the pair. He feeds the mutt strawberries just as Elliott tempted E.T. with Reese’s Pieces, and it’s not long before we get the obligatory Spielberg homage in which the kid’s beloved creature—whisked under the nose of an oblivious single mom (Kiele Sanchez)—is hidden amidst a pile of stuffed animals. There’s a sweet scene in which Carter and his sister, Frankie (Darby Camp of “Big Little Lies”), name their new companion after Benjamin Franklin. “You look like a Benji,” says Carter. “He’s old and new at the same time.” That sort of line used by a movie to self-consciously comment on itself would seem out of place in a film aiming for realism, but these pictures have always been fixed in the realm of fantasy. When the brother and sister are kidnapped (a twist regrettably recycled from the 1974 film), they are obviously frightened, but they never quite lose their cool. Carter instinctively leaves clues that he hopes will guide Benji to the rescue, while Frankie calmly prays to God, requesting that the plot culminate in a guaranteed happy ending. Of course, real kids would be much more scarred by this sudden entrapment, but the film enables its young human protagonists to be as resilient as its canine without devolving into tiresome “Home Alone”-style slapstick.

The only other feature directing credit for Brandon Camp was 2009’s would-be romance, “Love Happens,” a film that was cornball in all the wrong ways. I still chortle at my memories of the scene in which a self-help guru instructs his seminar guests to block two lanes of traffic while describing what they see (honking horns, middle fingers, etc.). He then takes them up to a hotel roof, where the participants are able to witness the beauty they were missing in life. Of course, things will always seem more pleasant when you aren’t blocking two lanes of traffic. “Benji” has its own share of silliness, but that comes with the territory. It’s the sort of film where grown men, bereft of irony, will say lines like, “That dog wasn’t following protocol—he was following his heart!” The world of Benji is the same one inhabited by Lassie, where the barking of dogs is meant to signal more than, “Feed me,” or, “Don’t leave me!”, or, “I really need to go out.” There’s something pleasing about the unapologetic sincerity with which these films are crafted, and though Brandon may rely a touch too heavily on music montages and dialogue-driven scenarios, he has clearly inherited his father’s skills for directing a crisply paced family-friendly tearjerker. 

Children respond to films that don’t talk down to them, and the “Benji” pictures meet them at their level, treating their fears of the world with the seriousness they deserve, while empowering them with the hope that they will prevail. Throughout his career, Roger Ebert was an admirer of Benji, much to the chagrin of his television sparring partner, Gene Siskel. After being called on the carpet for recommending “Benji the Hunted” while giving a thumbs down to Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” Ebert explained that “reviews are relative.” While he noted that the dog picture wasn’t “one tenth” of the Kubrick one, it had to be analyzed within its own context, and when viewed on those terms, the film succeeded. I’ll be the first to admit that the best moments in the new “Benji” movie aren’t in the same league—or the same universe—as the first and most satisfying act of “Full Metal Jacket,” but that was never its intention. Even with the inclusion of modern cell phones, this 2018 release feels like it arrived fresh from 1974, and that is what makes it a delight.

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