9 Movies That Deserved More Oscar Love in 2018

Some very deserving actors, actresses and filmmakers got snubbed during this year’s Oscar nominations, making it one of the most shocking award run-ups yet. With the 90th Annual Academy Awards ceremony taking place on March 4, there was much speculation about which movies and performances would gain Oscar nods. There are those films that were certain to be recognized. Then there were those that stood an outside chance. As usual, we have come to realize, that as far as the Academy Awards are concerned, nothing is going to happen the way we think it will when it comes to the Oscar nominations in any given year.

Which leads us to the Oscar snub. A quick look at describes a snub as a way to “rebuff, ignore, or spurn disdainfully.” Now, I am not sure that any of the parties or films on this list would use those words for why they weren’t nominated. At the same time, I am sure that they would describe themselves as feeling dissed. And if you want dissed, this list describes what the Academy did in spades.

Every year there are performances and movies that don’t get a fair shake at the Oscars. This is the nature of the movie business and if you’re dependent on accolades to get rich then you better start investing a living space under a freeway. One has to wonder however, why did some films get picked over others that seemed to be a lock for the golden statue?

The nature of all these awards shows is, by design, highly subjective. It certainly doesn’t seem like some of the performances and movies were purposely left out. However, the films on this list were such glaring omissions on the day the Oscar nominees were announced, that it doesn’t seem to make sense that they weren’t honored by Hollywood’s most elite machine.

What this list attempts to do is make a case for why said performer, director or movie should’ve been treated better. In some cases, conjecture will be offered to try and explain the mindset of the snub in question. So thicken up your skin and get ready for the 9 biggest Oscar snubs of 2018.

Jessica Chastain for Best Actress in Molly’s Game

Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game

The main character’s name is in the title for crying out loud! Yet, the Academy of Arts and Sciences took it upon themselves to completely ignore the Molly in Molly’s Game. Jessica Chastain just keeps making good movie after good movie. She’s a go to actress for the roles that others just aren’t able to perform. So how in the world did the Academy miss such a performance? Maybe Molly’s Game just wasn’t as popular as it should’ve been? The actresses that were elected were in films that had momentum. Sadly, when Molly’s Game seemed to come to the table, though it performed similarly at the box office, award givers didn’t appear that interested in taking her hand and leading it towards an Oscar.

The Disaster Artist for Best Picture

Diaster Artist

Didn’t the Academy see the brilliance in bestowing a Best Picture Oscar nomination on The Disaster Artist? The film was about the making of The Room, a movie that many consider to be the worst film ever made. Okay, to be fair, The Disaster Artist is your garden variety biopic with really big actors involved. As somebody who loves (and makes) movies, I loved everything about The Disaster Artist, but that’s because I’m in that low budget world. Many people aren’t so this film probably doesn’t resonate as much. So why is this a snub? Well, the Academy prides itself on celebrating the spirit of artistry. What film had more artistic spirit in 2017 than The Disaster Artist? None. So why was this movie snubbed again?

Wonder Woman for Best Picture

Wonder Woman Best Picture

Wonder Woman has probably made more money than the collective grosses of all the films that were nominated for an Oscar. So, of course, it would have to be snubbed, right? In a year that has seen the #metoo and #timesup movements essentially reshape the film industry, what film could better usher all of this change in than Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman? This snub seems simple actually. The Academy has long had a tradition of favoring lower budgeted (ie. artistic) movies. Wonder Woman with it’s $149 million dollar budget and nearly half a billion dollar in grosses, just wasn’t seen as the film to say, “Hey film industry, there’s a new sheriff in town!” Perhaps it looked too much like the old one to get any Academy Awards love? What say you, Oscars?

Armie Hammer for Best Supporting Actor in Call Me By Your Name

Armie Hammer Call me By your Name

In films such as The Social Network and J. Edgar, Armie Hammer has shown a depth of range and intensity. However, it is Hammer’s deeply soulful performance as Oliver in Call Me By Your Name that really has people talking. This tale of teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and the relationship he forms with Hammer’s character is nothing short of poetic. That Chalamet caught the eye of the Academy, and is staring down Oscar gold, and somehow Hammer did not, really makes one wonder. Has Hammer been hurt by such big budget films as The Man From Uncle? Can he not be seen as a serious actor. This is one snub that really feels… like a full on snub.

The Florida Project for Best Picture

The Florida Project

The fact that Willem Dafoe got nominated for Best Supporting actor Oscar is enough for The Florida Project, right? Maverick director Sean Baker (Tangerine) should be thankful that his style and sensibility was even recognized at all it would seem. However, as quirky as The Florida Project is, it honestly seems to have deserved a Best Picture nomination. Times are changing. We are seeing seismic shifts in the film industry and the world. Like Wonder Woman, what better way to show everyone that the revolution will be televised? The Florida Project deserves to be up there with the other 9 Oscar nominees.

James Franco for Best Actor in The Disaster Artist

James Franco The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist may not be some amazing cinematic achievement. However, James Franco playing Tommy Wiseau is amazing and one wonders why The Disaster Artist didn’t at least garner a nomination. Okay, playing Tommy Wiseau isn’t like Robert DeNiro playing Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. At the same time, Franco is excellent as this man who lives by his own rules. He totally inhabits this character and in the process, The Disaster Artist will bring even more light to the cult phenomenon (can we still it that?) known as The Room. Still, this snub has to hurt. Most speculate that Franco and his movie didn’t make the cut because of the sexual misconduct accusations that came out after the actor won his Golden Globe for Best Actor. It certainly didn’t help him at all when it came time to call out the Oscars.

Tom Hanks for Best Actor in The Post

Tomm Hanks <strong><em>The Post</em></strong>

How can Tom Hanks be in a movie this good and not at least garner an Oscar nomination? Who knows? However, anybody who has watched The Post knows that at as great as Meryl Streep is in The Post (and she was nominated for Best Actress), every Ali needs their Frazier. Hanks and Streep go back and forth here and the scenes between them sizzle like the screwball comedy films of Frank Capra. Also, when one considers how the news media is being assailed every day by our current Administration, how could this important performance in this important film be snubbed when it comes to the Oscars?

My Life as a Zucchini for Best Animated Film

My Life as a Zucchini

Alright, this snub is probably not a snub if we’re going by the legitimate definition of the term. My Life as a Zucchini was released on February 24, 2017 in the United States. However, it came out in France on May 15 of 2016. So, that probably disqualified it for any sort of Academy consideration. But this is still a snub. Why? The Academy seems to have a history of bending or altering rules… for certain people. How else to explain why Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004? That film was many things but it was no more a Foreign Film than Good Burger. Considering the message of My Life as a Zucchini, the artistry, and it’s sheer genre bending nature, I don’t know why the Academy couldn’t have made an exception. Due to that I am considering this a major Oscar snub!

Steven Spielberg as Best Director for The Post

Steven Spielberg <strong><em>The Post</em></strong>

For The Post director Steven Spielberg it must’ve felt like 1976 all over again. That year he was snubbed for Jaws. It sorta made sense. Jaws was a popcorn picture not a contender for the Oscars. The beginning of McMovies taking over cinema. The Post is an impeccable film about a timely subject. In fact, The Post might be more of a political film than Munich. Whatever the case, this tale of the release of the Pentagon papers which was ultimately a precursor to the Watergate scandal that got Richard Nixon ousted from office, shows a director at the top of his craft. Why was Spielberg not recognized? Could it be that he normally is and the Academy felt that it was time for new blood? Whatever the reason this is a glaring omission.


Guardians Director Confirms Yet Again That Baby Groot Is Groot’s Son

It turns out Baby Groot is actually Groot’s son. At the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot heroically sacrificed himself in order to save the rest of the team. It was a beautiful moment, but one that resulted in the talking tree giving his life. Rocket saved a twig of Groot and planted the root, which resulted in the character we now know as Baby Groot. While it’s been clear for some time that this isn’t the same Groot, James Gunn reveals once again that Baby Groot is the original Groot’s son. And he’s telling you for the last time!

James Gunn, who directed both Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, regularly engages with fans on social media and is happy to answer questions. Gunn was pulled into a debate on Twitter that had to do with pitting Baby Groot against Porgs, as seen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which led to Gunn revealing this bit of information. Here’s what he had to say.

“First Groot is dead. Baby Groot is his son.”

Pretty cut and dry. James Gunn also further said, “Yes that’s why he has a different personality,” while replying to another fan in the thread. Previously, Gunn has made it clear that this isn’t some carbon copy of the first Groot and that it is a different character. But saying that Baby Groot is Groot’s son adds another layer to the whole thing. Here’s what the director had to say about it prior to the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 last year.

“Although I don’t necessarily think it’s obvious in Vol. 1, it’s important to say that if you exploded and a little glob of you started growing into a baby, I would not assume that baby was you. I do think it’s more obvious in Vol. 2, as Baby Groot has a different personality than Groot, none of his memories, and is much, much dumber.”

This is interesting for a few reasons. For one, it makes it crystal clear who Baby Groot is. It also means that Groot really, truly died in Guardians of the Galaxy. That makes James Gunn one of few Marvel directors to include meaningful deaths in his movies that aren’t the main bad guy. Yondu also had an incredibly meaningful and, as Gunn swears, permanent death in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The MCU has had quite a few deaths that weren’t actually deaths and hasn’t committed to killing very many major characters over the years. So credit to Gunn for that.

We’re poised to see Groot in yet another form, as he’ll be a teenage Groot when he shows up in Avengers: Infinity War. This was first teased in a post-credits scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Some fans tried to argue against Gunn on Twitter, but he was there to combat them at every turn. The big takeaway here: Groot has a son, and his name is Groot. You can check out James Gunn’s Twitter posts on the subject for yourself below.

First Groot is dead. Baby Groot is his son.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 27, 2018

Yes that’s why he has a different personality.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 27, 2018

The internet is like Groundhog Day every time I point out first Groot died. Baby Groot has a different personality, a different body, no memories of adult Groot & adult Groot’s sacrifice actually meant something. New round of news stories & collective gasping again & again.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 27, 2018

Even if what you say is true – and it may not be true that Groot was asexually reproduced – then you would believe Barbra Streisand’s new dogs are her original dog and that is so very clearly not the case.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 27, 2018

First of all, again, that may not be true. Secondly, my friends Bob and Eric Weisenberg will be a bit upset to hear that they are each other.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 27, 2018


Shazam First Look at Zachary Levi in Costume

It appears as though we have our first look at Zachary Levi in costume as Shazam!, and for better or for worse, it may not be what many DC fans were expecting. Filming started recently on the DC movie, which has been in development for years and finally got going under the direction of David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation). Though, Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam will not appear in this version. Now, thanks to a set photo that has leaked online, we may have our first look at Levi in costume, which reveals quite a bit in terms of what to expect from Shazam when it arrives in theaters next year.

The photo was first posted to the DC_Cinematic Reddit page and features Zachary Levi, standing amidst members of the film crew, in his Shazam costume. The costume, in many ways, even though we’re only seeing it from the back, looks to be quite faithful to the colorful, bright costume from the world of DC Comics. It also is in stark contrast to what we’re used to with the recent live-action DC movies, which could be good or bad depending on you feel about movies like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. The photo also reveals Christmas decorations in the background, which implies that the movie will be taking place around the holiday season.

It’s also pretty clear that, even though Zachary Levi has been reportedly bulking up for the role ever since he landed the titular role in Shazam last fall, that the suit has been padded. Henry Cavill is a man of great stature and he’s quite built, so he can play Superman without augmenting his muscles. Shazam is meant to be just as big as a character like Superman, but Levi clearly isn’t that big in real life. So are they going to CGI some muscles on him in post-production? Either way, it looks like they’re not going to slim down the character for the Shazam movie.

Shazam is one of very few sure things when it comes to the future of live-action DC movies. Warner Bros. had decided to completely shift their strategy following the disappointment of Justice League. Outside of Shazam, they also have Aquaman coming out this December and Wonder Woman 2 next year. It also looks like Suicide Squad 2 will happen, but beyond that, not even The Batman is as sure as it once was. With that in mind, Shazam will represent the first movie to actually enter production with this new mindset and new DC Films team in place, which could result in a very different kind of DC movie. One with padded suit muscles.

In addition to Zachary Levi, the movie also stars Asher Angel as the young boy who transforms into the DC hero. Grace Fulton, Cooper Andrews, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Faithe Herman and Ron Cephas Jones are also on board, with Mark Strong as the main villain, Doctor Sivana, whom you can also see standing in the photo. Though we’re not sure he’s in costume. Shazam is set to arrive in theaters on April 5, 2019. Be sure to check out the set photo featuring Zachary Levi in costume, courtesy of the Twitter account, for yourself below.

BREAKING: This may be our first look at Zachary Levi as Shazam. Expect an official reveal soon.

— (@BatmanNewsCom) February 27, 2018


Predicting the 2018 Oscar Winners

Welcome to the 2018 Academy Awards predictions list, where we take a calculated guess at who is destined to win the big awards this Sunday night. There will be plenty of winners, but even more losers. And not everyone can go home with a little golden man in their hands. But some will. Should they? That all depends on your stance. Today, we look at who the most deserving artists are and why they should be chosen over everyone else in their category. This is a strange year for the Oscars, and perhaps the most socially conscious telecast that has ever happened for the awards show.

The 2018 presentation on March 4th will continue Hollywood’s reckoning with sexual harassment and violence against women. The year in movies can be simply summarized by #MeToo and the rallying cry, Time’s Up. The award season began with an earthquake that is still reverberating. Last October, Harvey Weinstein, head of The Weinstein Company and founder of Miramax films, was brought down by horrific rape allegations from numerous actresses. The tidal wave that followed ended the careers of Louis C.K., Danny Masterson, Roy Price (Head of Amazon Studios), and multiple Oscar winner Kevin Spacey; who was unceremoniously cut from Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World and replaced by Christopher Plummer weeks before release. This was just the beginning. The firestorm leaped from Tinsel Town and took down media heavyweights such as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and comedian turned politician, Al Franken.

The #MeToo movement then galvanized the Golden Globes with a fiery speech from Oprah Winfrey, the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. James Franco, who won the Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist, was called out for wearing a Time’s Up pin to the ceremony. Actresses came out of the woodwork to accuse Franco of sexual exploitation. By the time the Oscar nominations were released on January 23rd, anyone with even a hint of scandal was scrubbed. Franco and The Disaster Artist were almost shut out, receiving only one nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Casey Affleck, the winner of last year’s Best Actor Oscar, declined to present the Best Actress award this year. He wanted to avoid controversy because of his previous sexual misconduct allegations on the set of the 2010 film I’m Still Here.

The resulting nominations list was somewhat diverse by Hollywood standards, but still a far cry from gender or racial equity. Greta Gerwig was just the fifth woman to receive a directing nomination for Lady Bird. She’s also nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Biracial director Jordan Peele scored a twofer with Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Rachel Morrison became the first female cinematographer in Academy Awards history to be nominated. She was recognized for her work in Mudbound, a Netflix film that did not get a Best Picture nod. Mary J. Blige did get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Mudbound. Octavia Spencer was also nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for The Shape of Water. She won previously for The Help. This was the first time that two women of color were nominated in any category. It is at least a step away from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2015.

It is in this context that we have Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water leading the pack with thirteen nominations. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk was second with eight nominations, followed by Martin McDonough’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with seven. Each film scored a Best Film nod, but Martin McDonough, inexplicably, was shut out for director. The battle on all fronts seems to be between The Shape of Water and Three Billboards. Both films have cleaned up at the Golden Globes and SAG awards. But the Best Film and Best Director awards do lean towards The Shape of Water. The film won the Producers Guild Award, which is a usually reliable bellwether for the Oscars.

I have several issues with this year’s nominations. The Disaster Artist, Mudbound, The Florida Project, and I, Tonya deserved Best Picture nominations. I think these films were just as good, if not better than Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name. James Franco, who as far as I know hasn’t been charged with any crimes, deserved a nomination for his brilliant portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. As much as I love Denzel Washington and his performance in the lackluster Roman J. Israel, Esq., the academy played it safe by cutting Franco. Dee Rees was also snubbed for Best Director and Best Film. Her Mudbound, along with Craig Gillespie’s brilliant black comedy, I, Tonya are superior films to Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name. Greta Gerwig won a Golden Globe for directing Lady Bird. She’s nominated again for the Oscar. I respect her efforts and accomplishments, but Lady Bird especially is a headscratcher for me. I strongly feel that Mudbound and I, Tonya were shut out by weak studio PR campaigns. Here are my picks in the six main categories.

Best Picture – Get Out

Get Out Oscar Nomination Best Picture

Jordan Peele’s Get Out is the best film of 2017. This ingenious thriller is a biting satire of interracial relationships, liberal sentiments, and black characters in horror films. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is invited by his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her family. The rub is that he’s black, she’s white, and her family doesn’t know. Chris suspects something is off with his hosts, but has no clue what’s in store. Get Out is wickedly entertaining with a reveal that no one sees coming. I usually find horror films to be gratuitous and trite. Get Out is a clever take and certainly one of the best films ever in the genre. Get Out is a long shot to win, but certainly deserves it.

Best Director – Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk

Dunkirk Christopher Nolan Director

Christopher Nolan delivers greatness in this lean war film. Set in June 1940, more than three hundred thousand Allied troops are stuck on the French beach of Dunkirk. Facing annihilation by the Nazis, the British send an armada of civilian boats to rescue the soldiers. This war epic is not filled with rousing speeches and earnest character development. It is escape or be killed. Nolan vividly captures the harrowing journey from multiple points of view. Dunkirk is brilliantly shot and acted with a terse sensibility. Nolan will probably lose to Guillermo Del Toro, but he is definitely in competition for Best Director.

Best Actor – Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour

The Darkest Hour Gary Oldman Best Actor

Veteran actor Gary Oldman is an absolute lock to win Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour is essentially the political side of the Dunkirk story. In May of 1940, Neville Chamberlain is forced out as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Winston Churchill is chosen to replace him after much consternation. Churchill, a brash and bold figure, refuses to negotiate with the Germans. He despises Hitler, but the entire British infantry is on the verge of being wiped out on the beaches of Dunkirk. Churchill’s decisions defined the outcome of World War II and earned him a revered place in history. Oldman is unrecognizable under the marvelous make-up and costumes.

Best Actress – Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water

Shape of Water Sally Hawkins Best Actress

Writer/director Guillermo Del Toro is the man to beat this year. His beautifully shot The Shape of Water has been a critical darling since it won the Venice Film Festival last August. Set in 1960′s Baltimore, a mute janitor (Sally Hawkins) begins a love affair with a captured amphibious man (Doug Jones) at a top secret government facility. The performances, especially Sally Hawkins who earned a Best Actress nod, are towering. My issue is that the romance between girl and fish is too quickly developed. They round the bases in record screen time. That, and the steadfast nature of the villain (Michael Shannon), was too glaring to overlook. I’m in the minority here. The Shape of Water is beloved. I think it’s pretty good, but not remotely in the same breath as Del Toro’s masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth. Sally Hawkins was absolutely incredible in Maudie, an indie film with Ethan Hawke that came out in early summer last year. Hawkin’s deserves to win Best Actress for amazing performances in both films, but will likely lose to Frances McDormand or Saoirse Ronan.

Best Supporting Actor – Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project

The Florida Project Willem Dafoe The Florida Project

Willem Dafoe, known for playing edgier roles in his storied career, is all heart and compassion in The Florida Project. He co-stars as Bobby Hicks, the manager of The Magic Castle Hotel, a low rent, final stop before the streets, home for poverty stricken kids and their families. Set in Kissimmee, Florida, the same town as Disney World, Bobby does his best to protect the children from harsh reality. The motel marks a stark contrast to the fairy tale, tourist trap of the so called Magic Kingdom. Dafoe will have a hard time beating Sam Rockwell, who won the SAG and Golden Globe for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Best Supporting Actress – Allison Janney for I, Tonya

I Tonya Allison Janney Best Supporting Actor

Allison Janney has conquered television with seven primetime Emmy awards. She needs to clear space on the shelf for her first Oscar. Janney is both terrifying and hilarious as LaVona Golden, the cruel mother of figure skater Tonya Harding. Golden was a brutal, wretched parent that rained physical and verbal abuse on her daughter. Allison Janney is unsparing in her depiction of this vile woman. I, Tonya is a film that tears at your insides. It’s knockdown funny, shockingly violent, and heartbreaking at the same time.

The Rest of the Winners

Coco Best Animated Feature Film Oscar Nomination

Best Animated Feature should go to Coco, with Original Screenplay going to Jordan Peele for Get Out. Best Adapted Screenplay should definitely land with Virgil Williams and Dee Rees for Mudbound. Roger Deakins has Best Cinematography on lock for Blade Runner 2049. The prediction is for Best Documentary to go to Feras Fayyad for Last Men in Aleppo. And the Best Foreign Film should definitely go to The Square.


Scarface Remake Brings Back Director Antoine Fuqua

Universal Pictures has entered negotiations with director Antoine Fuqua to take the helm of their long-awaited Scarface remake, once again. The filmmaker had previously been attached to direct, but he backed out in late January over scheduling conflicts with The Equalizer 2. Ironically, Diego Luna had been attached to star at the same time as Fuqua was leaving, and now the actor’s involvement is uncertain, since the changing production timeline may result in scheduling conflicts for the actor.

Last February, Universal Pictures set an August 10, 2018 release date, while bringing in the Coen Brothers to rewrite the script. We reported in May that Suicide Squad and Bright director David Ayer was in talks to take the helm, but we reported in July that he has backed away from the project due to creative differences. David Ayer’s exit from the project was the last update we had until now, with this latest report revealing that Universal has dropped the summer 2018 date as the studio looks to put this long-gestating project together once again.

This remake will be set in contemporary Los Angeles, continuing the tradition of each new Scarface movie being set in a different city. The original 1932 Scarface movie, directed by Howard Hawks, starred Paul Muni as Chicago gangster Tony Camonte. The 1983 remake, directed by Brian De Palma from a script by Oliver Stone, followed Cuban immigrant Tony Montana and his rise through the criminal underworld in Miami. No details have been given for the title character in this new installment quite yet, and there is no indication as to when production may start, or when the studio may be eyeing this project for release.

The development on this Scarface remake actually goes back a number of years, with David Ayer coming aboard in 2011 to write the script, before Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show, Donnie Brasco) took over writing duties in 2012. David Yates (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) was attached to direct in 2013, with Pablo Larrain (No) set to take the helm in 2014 and Jonathan Herman (Straight Outta Compton) coming aboard in 2015 to write the script. The latest version of the script is from Herman, Ayer and the Coen Brothers, but it’s unclear if another writer will come aboard and re-work the script for Antoine Fuqua.

Dylan Clark (War For the Planet of the Apes) is producing through his Dylan Clark Productions company alongside Marty Bregman, who produced the 1983 Scarfacemovie, with Scott Stuber serving as an executive producer. This report from Deadline states that Fuqua met with Universal studio brass this week, and that the prospects for this project look “strong,” although there is still a long road ahead before this project gets off the ground. Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 2 is slated for release on July 20. He is also attached to direct and produce the TV series Omerta, based on Mario Puzo’s final novel, which has Sylvester Stallone attached to star, although there have been no updates on that project in some time.


Paul Walker Documentary Will Honor Fast & Furious Actor

A Paul Walker documentary is in the works. The Fast and the Furious star died an untimely death in a tragic car accident back in 2013. However, in part because the Fast and Furious is one of the biggest franchises on the planet and a franchise that continues to honor his legacy, he’s remembered fondly by many and now, a documentary is being made that will chronicle his life and death.

Paramount Network will produce the documentary, along with I Am Heath Ledger producer Derik Murray. Network Entertainment is also involved. At the present time, the documentary, which will be titled I Am Paul Walker, doesn’t have a timetable for release, but all of the pieces seem to be in place. Adrian Buitenhuis, who directed I Am Heath Ledger, has been tapped to direct this deep look at Paul Walker’s life and career as well. Additional details on the documentary are reportedly going to be announced in the coming months.

I Am Paul Walker will feature interviews with many of those who worked with Paul Walker during his career, including those who worked with him on the Fast and Furious movies, as well as friends and those who knew him best, according to the producers. In addition to focusing on his prolific career as a movie star, the documentary will also focus on other things, including his passion for the world’s oceans and marine life, as well as his work in helping to rebuild Haiti after the nation faced a devastating earthquake.

Paul Walker was killed in November of 2013. He was a passenger in a Porsche at the time. He and the friend who was driving the car were both killed in the accident. Just a couple of months after his 40th birthday, Walker was in the middle of filming Furious 7. The movie was eventually finished using CGI along with an assist from his brothers to complete the final scenes in the movie and send off his character, Brian O’Connor, from the franchise. His passing was confirmed via a post on his official Facebook account.

“It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences.”

Outside of the Fast and Furious movies, Paul Walker starred in other notable movies such as Takers, Varsity Blues, She’s All That and Joy Ride. Derik Murray has produced several successful documentaries for Paramount Network in the past, including I Am Heath Ledger. He also produced the network’s documentaries on John F. Kennedy Jr., Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. This news comes to us courtesy of Deadline.


Analysts Believe Comcast’s Sky Bid Puts “Tanks On Fox’s Lawn”, Many Expect Murdoch-Backed Bidding War

Analysts are split as to whether Comcast’s $31B offer to buy Sky will kick-start a bidding war for the European pay-TV operator. However, the audacious bid puts “tanks on Fox’s lawn” according to key banker and has seen Sky shares hit their highest levels in nearly 20 years.

The timing of the move is interesting as it comes days after Sky won a number of the best rights packages for the English Premier League at a 14% discount on its previous deal, which could see it save around £200M (US$279M) per year.

The offer has pushed Sky shares up 22% to £13.50 (US$19), which is their highest since 2000 and above Comcast’s bid this morning.

Laith Khalaf, Senior Analyst at investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said that Comcast has “gazumped” 21st Century Fox. “Sky shares are now trading 2% above the Comcast offer price, so the market clearly smells the scent of some more action before this saga draws to a close.”

“The successful conclusion of the Premiership football rights auction has moved the dial for Sky, which secured more games at a lower cost than last time around. There may well be some reaction from 21st Century Fox… however, since the bid for Sky was launched, 21st Century Fox has agreed to sell many of its assets, including Sky, to Disney. It remains to be seen therefore what appetite Rupert Murdoch has to pursue Sky any further.”

Crispin Odey, Founder of hedge fund firm Odey Asset Management, which owns a small stake in Sky, and Rupert Murdoch’s former son-in-law, said that Fox would be furious with the offer from Comcast. “This is tanks on their lawn,” he told Bloomberg.

Paul Richards, Media Analyst at institutional stockbrokers and corporate advisors Numis, said the Comcast offer was a “very good outcome” for Sky shareholders and said there was a feeling that there would be a “sweetening of the deal” from Fox, while Richard Hunter, Head of Markets at Interactive Investor, added that Murdoch’s 39% stake in Sky would complicate matters. “It is equally plausible that Fox will need to return with an improved bid, which the market was beginning to anticipate in any event.”

Not all analysts believe that Fox, particularly following its sale to Disney, will return with an improved offer. Ian Whittaker, Head of European Media at investment bank Liberum Capital, said: “We expect [the Comcast] deal to go through as we do not think Fox will want to get into a bidding war, especially given the complications surrounding Sky News.”

“Moreover, for many shareholders, the Comcast bid may be more attractive even if Fox does come back with a raised bid as it would come with much lower regulatory risk and the comments about investing in the U.K. content space, upholding news impartiality and a commitment to the U.K. in general are likely to help the bid gain favor with the U.K. government who may be looking for an optimal way to defuse the political risks from the Fox bid,” he added.

There has been no word from UK regulators or the British government, led in this matter by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock. However, his rival, Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said that Comcast’s bid must be “carefully scrutinized”.

“The UK’s media plurality and Sky’s high broadcasting standards are at stake in this bidding process. All bids including this new one from Comcast must be very carefully scrutinised. Comcast must demonstrate its commitment to plurality by guaranteeing a properly funded Sky News for at least a decade as a key condition of the sale,” he noted.

Next move, Murdoch.


Comcast Chief Brian Roberts Claims Content Partnerships & Technology Synergies Driving $31B Sky Deal

Closer content collaboration between NBC Universal and Sky as well as technology synergies are driving Comcast’s $31B offer to acquire European pay TV giant Sky, according to Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts.

Speaking to investors this morning moments after its audacious offer to usurp 21st Century Fox’s bid, Comcast chiefs admitted that it was a “unique moment given all of the proposals in play”.

“I believe there are many opportunities on the English-speaking content side to work together,” said Roberts. “We’re able to sit down with the NBC creatives and Sky’s creative team and there will be synergistic opportunities to work together on show concepts, film distribution and technology. We think it’s a great fit.”

NBC Universal and Sky have previously worked together on a number of programming fronts. The two companies co-produced Cole Haddon-penned horror drama Dracula in 2013. The Jonathan Rhys Meyers-fronted series, which was produced by NBCU-owned Carnival Films, aired on NBC in the U.S. and Sky Living in the UK. Carnival Films also produces one of Sky’s biggest recent hits, Jamestown (above), which is currently in its second season.

Roberts said that the deal would allow it to “accelerate” its strategy of producing local content around the world. He added that he did not think a tie-up between Comcast and Sky would damage the two companies’ relationships with key content providers such as Time Warner-owned HBO. “Sky’s content relationships are with some of the same companies that Comcast has relationships with such as HBO. I think we’re all very familiar and comfortable in those relationships evolving as ownership and acquisitions occur in media business,” he said.

Technology will also drive a deal. Sky has been increasingly rolling out its next generation platform Sky Q, this morning announcing a landmark partnership with music service Spotify, while Comcast operates the X1 Cloud DVR service in the U.S. “In an increasingly all digital world with capabilities whether they’re in the cloud or in the settop box to have incredible consumer experiences reimagined from where they are today. The prospect of us working together and seeing where that will lead is a very exciting thought for me,” added Roberts.

Comcast has also promised to maintain Sky News, one of the underlying issues that has stalled the 21st Century Fox bid. “Comcast recognizes that Sky News is an invaluable part of the UK news landscape and the Company intends to maintain Sky News’ existing brand and culture, as well as its strong track record for high-quality impartial news and adherence to broadcasting standards.”

The US cable operator believes that because it only has a “minimal presence in the UK media market”, it does not believe that its proposal creates any media plurality concerns in the UK. It stated that it had no preference as to whether it owned 100% of Sky or 51%. The deal would bring together Comcast’s 29M subscribers in the U.S. with Sky’s 23M subscribers across Europe, taking the combined total to over 50M.

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