Black Panther Is First Movie Since Avatar to Win Box Office 5 Weeks in a Row

Marvel’s Black Panther had no problems staying number one at the box office this weekend. The movie has now been number one for 5 consecutive weeks, making it the first blockbuster to do so since 2009′s Avatar. Additionally, Black Panther is only a few days away from becoming the highest grossing Marvel movie domestically released thus far, currently at $605.4 million while the first Avengers movie is at $623 million.

Tomb Raider was the expected competition this week, after A Wrinkle in Time failed to challenge Black Panther at the box office. However, weak reviews for the video game reboot led to sluggish ticket sales in its opening frame, earning only $23.5 million, which was no match for the $27 million that Black Panther brought in. While Tomb Raider didn’t do as well as many thought, the action film is expected to bring in some cash overseas, when it’s released in China. The Christian drama, I Can Only Imagine beat out A Wrinkle in Time with a respectable $17.1 million.

Disney head Bob Eiger recently spoke about the company being in competition with itself and that was definitely the case with Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time. Ryan Coogler’s movie had the benefit of rave reviews from nearly all critics, which resulted in an opening weekend that nobody predicted. Now, the Marvel movie has gone on to become one of the highest grossing movies of all time with relative ease, but it has its own competition on its way in the form of Infinity War.

Disney will once again be in direct competition with itself with the release of Infinity War at the end of April. While Black Panther stomped pre-sale ticket sales, Infinity War decimated those numbers in a few hours on Friday. Worldwide, Black Panther has earned $1.1 billion and Infinity War is expected to get past that number with relative ease. However, both movies feature Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, which means that the actor, along with some of the returning cast, will have been in two of the biggest movies of all time, released in the same year.

Black Panther is now in rare company, becoming the 7th movie in box office history to cross the $600 million mark domestically. It’s been a remarkable ride for the Marvel movie that has now become a cultural world-wide phenomenon since its release. People that wouldn’t normally go see a superhero movie have flocked to theaters to see what all of the fuss is about, and it really doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In a few days, Black Panther will surpass the Avengers to become the highest grossing superhero movie in North America ever. You can read more about the crazy box office ride of Marvel’s Black Panther over at Box Office Mojo.


Benedict Cumberbatch Broke a Big Marvel Rule on Infinity War Set

Benedict Cumberbatch pulled a no-no on the set of Avengers: Infinity War. Yes, the man behind Doctor Strange broke a cardinal Marvel rule, but he’s living to not only laugh but also tell about it. Sort of. He won’t give anyone the specifics, but he is one of the few to have read the entire script for the epic sequel. Even though he definitely wasn’t supposed to.

Marvel is keeping all Infinity War secrets closely guarded. So much so that directors Joe and Anthony Russo kept the full script out of the actors’ hands, only feeding them their pages one sheet at a time. This has helped ensure that no big spoilers get out. But somehow, Benedict Arnold, whoops, we mean Cumberbatch…Somehow managed to get his hands on the thick script, and he couldn’t help but read it as fast as he could before it got yanked away. And now he knows ALL of the movies big secrets.

Benedict Cumberbatch will reprise his role as Doctor Stephen Strange in Infinity War. And we’ve seen him being tortured by the Black Order in the most recent trailer. He plays a key part in all the action, so he already was privy to quite a bit of the movie’s true plot as it has been laid out. But he decided to take things a bit further than this Marvel co-stars, who played by the rules. Asked what he knows about the story, he couldn’t hold back that he knows pretty much everything.

“Well, that’s a loaded question, because I’m not supposed to have read the script. But I have. It’s just mind-blowingly epic. What I thought is, this just doesn’t stop. Once it starts, it does. Not. Stop. It’s just this horrible, brilliant, terrifying, at times funny, at times very moving, relentless action. It’s like everyone’s constantly in crisis, and catching up with themselves, and it’s really breathless to read a script like that. This isn’t a slow burn. You’re really thrown in helter-skelter. [Laughs] It’s got a lot of facets to it, but I think the main one for me was just how utterly relentless the events and action were.”

He doesn’t give anything away really, but he sure does say a lot for someone who isn’t supposed to have read the script, and broke a major Marvel rule. The good Doctor goes onto explain how he came to have the entire script in his possession. He explains that an exception was made that allowed him to be the ultimate Marvel rule breaker, even though we believe Mark Ruffalo still holds that unique description.

“Well, it’s not Marvel’s practice to hand around the whole script of any particular one of their enterprises, especially a film as big as this, and as secret as this. I kind of had to have a bit of an overview to understand what I was doing in it. Maybe I’m just a bit more stupid than the other actors involved. I just need a little bit of special care. And they were very sweet, and chained me to something immovable whilst I read it, and unchained me after I finished reading it.”

Okay, so there was some cheating involved. Playing coy, the actor admits that he played dumb so that he could get his hands on every single word. But he’s not Tom Holland, who is notorious for spouting spoilers at a moments notice.

“And this is where the interview gets dull! Because I can’t really say. [Laughs] He’s pretty actively involved, he’s got quite an important Infinity Stone that’s in his vicinity, and that draws him into the action, as well as a couple of other characters’ plights, and stuff happens. [Laughs] That’s about it! That’s about all I think I can say,” Cumberbatch said.”

We don’t have long to wait until we all know what happened in Infinity War. The movie is arriving early than expected, and will be in theaters April 27. Tickets went on sale this past week. We can think Entertainment Weekly for dropping this fun little nugget of info.


Desilu Exploring U.S. Public Offering After Acquisition Of Israel’s Vonetize: Report

Desilu Studios, the production entity behind projects like V: The Movie, is exploring a public offering in the U.S. as part of its acquisition of Israeli tech company Vonetize.

Execs at Desilu said Friday they had acquired a controlling stake in Vonetize, which provides streaming technology for major studios as well as distribution, security and monetization. News of the transaction sent Vonetize shares up 83% on Sunday on the Tel Aviv stock exchange. Vonetize operates in more than 60 countries and has partnerships with Samsung, LG, Disney, Warner Bros., Fox, Sony, Universal and others.

According to a Reuters report, Desilu said it had bought a 10% stake in cash from controlling shareholders at a company valuation of $50 million, receiving an option to buy 44% more over the next 12 months. Vonetize said on Sunday that Desilu would list in the U.S. to finance the deal for the rest of its proposed stake in the Israeli business. Another option could be Vonetize initiating a dual listing on Nasdaq (along with Tel Aviv) this year and then merging Desilu into that listing through a share-swap transaction, Vonetize CEO Noam Josephides told Reuters.

In announcing the acquisition, execs said the technology arm in Desilu’s L.A. post-production facilities will work closely with Vonetize’s team to integrate the Israeli company’s technology. Desilu said the Vonetize tech will be a “driving force” across many of its operations, from direct-to-consumer streaming offerings to interactive experiences to digital commerce.

Desilu Studios is owned Desilu Corp., a diversified company with interests in theme parks, merchandising and streaming and exhibition technology. The name is a fabled one in Hollywood, dating to the original Desilu’s founding by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1950. Ball later bought out Arnaz and ran the company on her own for a period of years before selling it to Gulf + Western, which re-branded it as Paramount Television. Along with I Love Lucy, the company’s credits include Star Trek and The Untouchables.

“It has been my vision from day one to deliver our content direct to consumers via streaming or any other emerging and disruptive technologies,” Charles B. Hensley, Desilu’s Chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Discovering Vonetize in Israel through my Exec VP Steven Posen has been a game changer for us, with Exec VP Bobbie Celler expediting and advancing our global footprint exponentially.”

Josephides called Desilu “the embodiment of the classical Hollywood Studio with a modern twist, a progressive vision on converging film, TV, technology and ancillary experiences into a whole new level of entertainment.”

The studio did not immediately respond to a Deadline email seeking comment on the Reuters report.


Scrapped Justice League 2 Plans Teased by Zack Snyder

Justice League 2 probably won’t happen. But now we have a little better understanding of what it was supposed to be. The first Justice League was an unmitigated disaster. Not from top to bottom, but enough so that it faltered and failed, and fell out of the box office at an expedient rate, racking up bad reviews from fans and critics alike. Warner Bros. is still trying to sort out the shrapnel from this bomb as it pieces back what it’s DCEU will look like in the future. And it doesn’t sound like a sequel is part of those plans. Even though it was supposed to be.

That said, Justice League did follow Marvel in that it gave fans two intriguing post-credit scenes. One was merely for fun, as The Flash and Superman raced to see who is faster. The other, later one that came at the very end actually got a lot of fans all hot and bothered for what was to come in the DCEU. Deathstroke and Lex Luthor on a boat hold a lot of possibilities. But now Jesse Eisenberg doesn’t know if he’ll ever reprise his iconic bald headed villain, and poor Joe Manganiello may only ever get that two minute scene.

Zack Snyder was supposed to direct Justice League as an epic 2-Part movie. Some say he was fired from the first film, others say he left to attend to a family tragedy. We do know for certain that Joss Whedon was brought in to repair and fix all the leaks in Part 1. And that way too many fans hate him for it, claiming he ruined the movie. Some still call out for the mythical Synder cut, which may or may not exist. It also may or may not be any good. Some have said what Snyder was working on was unwatchable.

However you paint it, Zack Synder’s time in the DCEU is over. But now he’s starting to peel the skin off what he originally had planned. One fan has discovered that Snyder is once again using his favorite social media platform of choice, Vero, to tease wha he had planned for the next installment. He shows of three crosses in the background of Superman’s death scene, which is found in the R-Rated Ultimate cut of Batman V Superman. The director then points out that this very scene was a stealth reference to what he was planning to do with the events and plot line of Justice League 2.

Zack Snyder uses the hashtag #untilitwasnt in describing what he is showing off, meaning that these plans are more than likely completely canceled by Warner Bros. and DC Films. So, what is the meaning behind the three crosses? Some speculate that these represent the New Gods, who were first introduced via Steppenwolf in Justice League, arriving as the main villain looking for the Mother Boxes. We know from what happened leading up to the release of the movie that Steppenwolf was supposed to continue on in Justice League 2, helping to introduce Darkseid.

Snyder may be revealing this information now as it has been announced that A Wrinkle in Time director Ava Duvernay is making The New Gods movie, which will stand outside of the DCEU. It’s possible that we’ll learn more about Zack Snyder’s plans via the director himself as he continues to tease little pieces on social media, and as The New Gods movie takes things in a different direction.

For now, the DC movie universe is in constant flux. Aquaman is finished shooting with Jason Momoa at the forefront. And Wonder Woman 2 is definitely happening with origin director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot back in the lead. DC Films has also confirmed directors for Flashpoint with Ezra Miller reprising his role as Barry Allen. So the DCEU isn’t dead by any means. But after these three movies, who knows where it will go? Shazam is rumored to bring Henry Cavill back as Superman, and is shooting now, but it stands just on the peripheral. Then there is producer Martin Scorsese’s Joker origin movie, Duvernay’s New Gods, and a few other loose strings handing. Plus, Suicide Squad 2 is dangling in the balance. One thing is for certain, there won’t be an immediate sequel to Justice League and Zack Snyder is done with this universe. Zack Snyder’s Vero account update was first shared on Reddit.

Justice League 2 plans Zack Snyder


‘Black Panther’ Keeps B.O. Treasure From ‘Tomb Raider’; How ‘I Can Only Imagine’ Hit A $17M High Note

Sunday AM final update: Disney/Marvel’s Black Panther once again prevented any other major studio title from advancing on its No. 1 turf with a fifth weekend haul of $27MBlack Panther will cross the $600M threshold today on its 31st day of release, becoming the second-fastest to that mark after Star Wars The Force Awakens (12 days) and ahead of Jurassic World (36 days) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (37 days).


Check out our previous box office update and industry analysis on Black Panther reaping $461M in profit. 

For a reboot priced at $90M+, Tomb Raider didn’t wow stateside with a studio-reported weekend of $23.5M plus an overall B CinemaScore, and 70% overall positive on PostTrak. MGM/Warner Bros. are hoping to make up for that shortfall abroad, but the fact that they’re co-financiers on this feature indicates that they knew there was some inherent risk that needed to be mitigated. Tomb Raider‘s opening was only 8% higher than the second 2003 Tomb Raider movie, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life starring Angelina Jolie ($21.7M). That sequel closed the whole franchise down for another 15 years, and if the creators wanted to resuscitate this brand, it had to be better than where the franchise left off. Critics and audiences just weren’t feeling it.

If Tomb Raider carried a production cost in the $50M-$60M range like a Resident Evil, MGM/Warner Bros. could be looking at a mini-genre franchise here akin to what Screen Gems owns. Mostly guy video game fans turned out at 56%. The studios can celebrate the fact that Tomb Raider is the No. 1 film worldwide with $108M this weekend, 78% of that figure coming from abroad. I’ve heard that $275M is the magic number worldwide for a breakeven point, but there are some film finance executives who believe it’s much higher. Imax drew $9.4M on Tomb Raider worldwide, $2.6M of that coming from 400 domestic auditoriums.

Overseas, Alicia Vikander has been traveling to different markets and Warner Bros. sold Tomb Raider as a global campaign. The first trailer, which Vikander introduced on Late Late Show with James Corden drew 100M views, and there was a clever featurette showing how Vikander trained and how she went through hell in her prep. Essentially, the point here was to defy audience expectations who believed that Angelina Jolie should be reprising her role, and proving that Vikander earned her stripes as the iconic character. Relish Mix notices that Daniel Wu is the only social media star with a 1M following, however, WB did other things to get Vikander out in the ether, read in an effort to stoke female audiences, the Oscar-winning actress appeared in Vogue YouTube videos.

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It is truly a tough marketplace right now where social media dictates zeitgeist tastes in nano-seconds. Overall weekend ticket sales according to ComScore were at $135M, down close to 50% from the same period a year ago. In regards to tracking, it’s taking into account the power of Black Panther, and that’s the reason why we haven’t seen opening projections increase dramatically in recent weeks for A Wrinkle in Time, Tomb Raider and next week’s Legenadary/Universal title Pacific Rim Uprising which is looking at a $24M-$31M start (a very similar range that Tomb Raider possessed going into this weekend). When this version of Tomb Raider was greenlit, neither Warner Bros. or MGM had any concern about Black Panther. Tomb Raider is opening essentially a month after Black Panther and it’s rare for a February release to own the top spot for five weekends running. “It use to be more straightforward,” says one executive about the theatrical marketplace, “you could get clever on how you market, but individual tastes change dramatically from the point of greenlight to release.”

Roadside Attractions

The biggest eyebrow raiser over the weekend was Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate’s Christian rock movie I Can Only ImagineAs a number of faith-based titles have flooded the market over the last four years, tracking wasn’t expecting this one, about the backstory of MercyMe song, to hit a high note. But this $7M production made its budget back in 3-days after earning a $17M 3-day and a A+ CinemaScore. Pic drew 67% female, 80% over 35. The assumption heading into the weekend was that Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon after earning strong previews of $800K last Saturday would potentially be the one to overperform. The $10M production still did fine with an $11.5M three day, and A+ CinemaScore.

Love, Simon drew 58% females, 42% males with 59% under 25. The movie over-indexed in the west, Northeast, and Midwest; slightly under-indexed in the Rockies; and under-indexed in the south and southeast. Top 20 markets that over-indexed include LA, NY, SF, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Top grossing theaters came from LA, NY, SF, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, and San Antonio. Canada repped 5.6% of the weekend’s take.

Bravo, Sony, on the family front as Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle crossed $400M, just $3.5M away from toppling Spider-Man to become the studio’s highest grossing movie ever at the domestic B.O. Also, Peter Rabbit hopped past $100M.


Roadside Attractions

I Can Only Imagine surfaced on Roadside Attractions’ radar late last summer after the executives caught a screening of the pic at the DGA theater. Universal and Sony were also in the mix, vying for the Andrew and Jon Erwin-directed title, but RSA won out. The title was referred to them by faith-based marketing firm Working Title Agency. Given the success of this movie, RSA will be expanding the pic to north of 2,000 runs. Given how high this movie started, it’s looking at a 4-5x multiple. Heaven Is Real four years ago opened to $22.5M and legged out to $91.4M (4x) while God’s Not Dead debuted to $9.2M and churned out a huge 6.6x of $60.7M.

The movie tells the backstory about MercyMe’s beloved 17-year old song “I Can Only Imagine”.

“There’s a huge brand awareness for the song in the Christian community,” says RSA co-founder and co-president Howard Cohen, “while not a musical, it’s a music-movie, and when they hit, they strike a chord.”

Why didn’t tracking see this movie coming? They projected its weekend outcome in the low single digits. Recent history has shown that most faith-based films aren’t popping, but also, hardcore Christians are a specific subset of moviegoers that a statistical sampling doesn’t necessarily cover as a whole.

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, RSA had MercyMe announce advance ticket sales on Facebook Live. Selling advance tickets for a faith-based title was an anomaly. It’s not done often with such titles, Sony’s War Room being one of the last ones. When RSA began noticing that I Can Only Imagine logged $1.6M in advance ticket sales, they knew they had something special. Fandango reported that the movie was their fifth best seller heading into the weekend.

Other marketing highlights for I Can Only Imagine which had a heavy presence on social media and Christian and country music radio stationsNationally-known evangelist Greg Laurie sat down with co-director Jon Erwin for a March 1 webinar that lasted 37 minutes that posted on Facebook. In that talk, they told people how to buy pre-sale movie tickets and directed people to City on the Hill which was giving out Church “Campaign Kits” for the film. They also provided special screenings ahead of time. Air1 gave away tickets for opening day. Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe, went around and sang the song live on radio stations like 95.9 (the Fish) FM, a Christian music station. Working Title was hired to handle the faith-based end of marketing.

Studio reported figures for the weekend  of March 16-18:

1..) Black Panther (DIS), 3,834 theaters (-108)  / $7.5M Fri /$11.6M Sat/$7.8M Sun / 3-day: $27M (-34%)/Total: $605.4M/Wk 5

2..) Tomb Raider (MGM/WB), 3,854 theaters  / $9M Fri (includes $2.1M of previews) /$8.8M Sat/$5.7M Sun/3-day: $23.5M /Wk 1

3..) I Can Only Imagine (RSA/LG), 1,629 theaters  / $6.2M Fri /$6M Sat/$4.8M Sun/3-day: $17M /Wk 1

4..) A Wrinkle in Time (DIS), 3,980 theaters (0)  / $4.6m Fri/$7M Sat/ $5M Sun/3-day: $16.6M (-50%)/Total: $61M/Wk 2

5..) Love, Simon (FOX), 2,402 theaters  / $4.6M Fri /$4.1m Sat/$2.8M Sun/3-day: $11.5M /Wk 1

6..) Game Night (NL/WB), 2,686 theaters (-375) / $1.7m Fri /$2.4m Sat/$1.4M Sun/3-day: $5.6M (-29%)/Total: $54.1M/Wk 4

7..) Peter Rabbit (SONY), 2,725 theaters (-387)  / $1.4M Fri  /$2.2M Sat/ $1.5M Sun/3-day: $5.2M (-23%) /Total: $102.4M/Wk 6

8..) Strangers: Prey at Night (AVI), 2,464 theaters  (0)/ $1.5M Fri /$1.9M Sat/ $1.3M Sun/3-day: $4.8M (-54%)/Total:$18.6M/Wk 2

9..) Red Sparrow (FOX), 2,583 theaters (-481)  / $1.3m Fri /$1.9M Sat/ $1.2M Sun/3-day: $4.4M (-48%)/Total: $39.6M/ Wk 3

10..) Death Wish (MGM), 2,676 theaters (-206)  / $952K Fri /$1.4M Sat/ $952K Sun/3-day: $3.3M (-49%)/Total: $30M/Wk 3


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 1,556 theaters (-601)  / $463K Fri  /$745k Sat/ $442K Sun/3-day: $1.65M (-40%) /Total: $400.2M/Wk 14

7 Days in Entebbe (FOCUS), 838 theaters  / $545k Fri /$637K Sat/ $446K Sun/3-day: $1.63M /Wk 1

Flower (ORCH), 3 theaters  / $28k Fri /$15K Sat/ $15K Sun/PTA: $19,2K/3-day: $57,8k /Wk 1


Weekend Box Office: ‘Black Panther’ Buries ‘Tomb Raider’ With $27M

In a surprise upset, the faith-based ‘I Can Only Imagine’ — about the most popular Christian song in history — beats ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and ‘Love, Simon.’

read more


Shia LaBeouf to Play His Dad in Biopic About Himself

Lucas Hedges has signed on to play Shia LaBeouf in Honey Boy, which LaBeouf wrote, essentially making it an auto-biopic. LaBeouf wrote the movie under the pseudonym Otis Lort and will also act in the project, playing his own father. The mysterious project will tell the tale behind LaBeouf’s relationship with his dad James. Shia LaBeouf recently held a long interview touching on all of the aspects of his life, including Honey Boy, as well as revealing that rapper Kanye West stole a lot of his clothes.

The description of the script is pretty interesting, to say the least. Honey Boy will detail the relationship between Shia LaBeouf and his former clown and drug addict father, James. The descriptions reads, “A child actor and his law-breaking, alcohol-abusing father attempt to mend their contentious relationship over the course of a decade.” The story will take place right around the time that LaBeouf was starring in Disney’s Even Stevens. This is a lot to take in, especially after LaBeouf once again publicly took a dump on Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg again.

While the announcement of Shia LaBeouf writing his own biopic sounds surprising, it really isn’t. The actor has been exploring his own fascination with himself as an art form for quite a while now. This the actor that set up an art installation that was simply LaBeouf sitting and watching his own movies, with a camera focused on his face. Some critics found it deep while others dismissed it as Shia LaBeouf smelling his own farts and trying way too hard to be edgy. Whatever the case may be, LaBeouf is going to explore his life through the eyes of his father next.

Alma Har’el, the promising filmmaker behind 2011′s Bombay Beach will direct Honey Boy, and is expected to push Shia LaBeouf, which the actor really wants. Let’s just hope he can take criticism better than he did during his art installation this time around. “Honey Boy” is reportedly the nickname that LaBeouf’s father gave him when he was a child actor, but other than that, it’s not clear exactly how far the movie will go into Shia LaBeouf’s life. It will more than likely not include any of the actor’s recent activity.

In other Shia LaBeouf news, he decided that he wasn’t going to trash Transformers again during a recent interview, but he quickly changed his mind. LaBeouf says that the movies “felt irrelevant” and when on to say that, “They felt dated as f*ck…” LaBeouf wanted to make more challenging films and namedrops some classic movies before saying, “you feel like it’s the antithesis of your purpose on this planet.” Now, these are some pretty big shoes to fill when you go on to release a movie about yourself. You can read more about Shia LaBeouf’s Honey Boy at Deadline.


How Star Wars Plays a Role in Ready Player One

The pre-production of Ready Player One spent nearly 3 years trying to obtain the rights from different studios to use for the hundreds of Easter Eggs featured in the movie. Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount, etc. But, it was heavily rumored that Steven Spielberg, who is one of George Lucas’ best friends, was not able to secure rights from Disney and Lucasfilm to use Star Wars imagery in the upcoming big screen adaptation of Ernest Cline’s nostalgia fest novel. These rumors have proven to be false by Spielberg, who confirms that Star Wars plays a part in the Ready Player One movie.

For those familiar with Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel, the X-Wing Fighter plays a pivotal role in Ready Player One, but will it be featured in the movie? According to Steven Spielberg, it most certainly will, though it’s not clear just how big of a part the iconic fighter ship will have. In a recent interview, the legendary director addressed the Star Wars rumors and indicated that there definitely are some Easter Eggs in the movie from the franchise. Spielberg had this to say.

“If you look very carefully you’ll see an R2-D2 somewhere, you’ll see an X-Wing somewhere. But we didn’t want to use the main cultural icons from any of Disney’s Star Wars films because those are ongoing. That’s really part of our contemporary world right now, and even though it began in the 80s, it is so much a part of our real life today in the 21st century. So we asked for some of the smaller items and Disney gave us everything we asked for.”

Steven Spielberg admits that you may have to look pretty closely for some of the Star Wars Easter Eggs, but they are there. He also turns down the notion that Disney and Lucasfilm would not let Ready Player One use their properties by stating that Star Wars is very much something that fits into the current cultural landscape, which is why they chose what they did and only used a little bit of. Ready Player One is firmly placed in the nostalgia from the 1980s and 90s.

As for collecting the rest of the properties, Steven Spielberg reveals that it was pretty difficult to collect all of the different IPs from the studios. As previously noted, it took nearly 3 years to track everything down and secure the right for all of the Easter Eggs that end up in the film. As it turns out, the director says that they wanted everything, and he was surprised about everybody coming on board to help. He explains.

“It was difficult because we were so greedy about wanting so many cultural references throughout the 80s and 90s, but everybody cooperated, you know. We got, 20th Century Fox and Universal and Paramount and Sony and Disney. Everybody basically came on board to help us take their IPs and allow us to create Easter eggs from their own cultural phenomenon.”

Ready Player One ran into some backlash for using too much from the past in their marketing campaign, which has since changed direction to focus more on the story. Critics and fans were quick to point out that the movie just looked like a commercial promoting the classic movies and video games from the 80s and 90s, without showing any real substance. However, the reviews have started to trickle in, and it seems that those worrying about a lack of substance were maybe in the wrong. You can read the rest of the interview with Steven Spielberg via Erik Davis’ Twitter account.

EXCLUSIVE: Contrary to reports spreading now, Disney did let Steven Spielberg use #StarWars in #ReadyPlayerOne. Here, Spielberg explains to me how they snagged IP rights from all the studios and what STAR WARS Easter Eggs to look for in the new film, in theaters 3/29

— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) March 16, 2018


Keyboard Cat, Internet Sensation, Dies at Age 9

Bento the Keyboard Cat passed away on March 8th. He was 9 years old. Keyboard Cat was an internet sensation that kicked off in 2009 when the video of a cat playing piano went viral. In the years since, Bento, from Spokane, Washington starred in pistachio commercials and in his own merchandising that generated a ton of cash for owner Charlie Schmidt. Schmidt released a tribute video to Bento the Keyboard Cat yesterday, which was also the official confirmation of the beloved feline’s death.

When Keyboard Cat became a viral sensation on YouTube, the original Keyboard Cat had already passed away. The video had been made in 1984 with Charlies Schmidt’s cat Fatso, who had died before the 2009 internet explosion. So, Schmidt went to a local animal shelter to find a suitable replacement, which resulted in the adoption of Bento, who made all of the Keyboard Cat videos from 2009 and onwards. Bento is the one in the commercials and seen on all of the merchandise that has been released over the past 9 years.

Bento the Keyboard Cat was a slightly larger orange Tabby and in addition to the pistachio commercials, he also showed up in Starburst commercials thanks to the original viral success. Bento made frequent appearances in his hometown of Spokane, Washington and even appeared in a national ad campaign for the Shelter Pet Project to encourage others to adopt their pets from a shelter instead of buying from a pet store. Keyboard Cat and Charlie Schmidt were able to spread a lot of awareness about animal shelters for nearly a decade while entertaining millions all over the world with their musical antics.

As previously noted, the first Keyboard Cat video was filmed in 1984 on VHS by Charlie Schmidt. When asked what made him dust the old video off, Schmidt said that he wanted to show his then 15-year old daughter. At the time, he realized that the tape was starting to rapidly deteriorating, so he went and had it digitized after buying some equipment to do so. A friend later suggested that he upload it to YouTube, which Schmidt did, but it took a few years before the Keyboard Cat exploded and took the world by storm.

Speaking to Bento’s talents, Charlie Schmidt called him a “poser,” and marveled at the length of time the cat would stay in a pose or deal with being forced to pretend to play the keyboard while being filmed. Keyboard Cat had a good run and was adored by millions of people all over the world, but it’s not clear if the Schmidt family will go on to the local shelter to find another large, orange Tabby cat to carry on the tradition. For now, the family grieves the loss of their beloved pet, Bento. You can watch the emotional tribute video to Bento, the Keyboard Cat below, thanks to the Keyboard Cat YouTube channel.

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Leprechaun Returns Trailer Arrives for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s a St. Patrick’s Day miracle. SyFy has announced that they’re making another installment in the long-running Leprechaun franchise with Leprechaun Returns. The movie will be exclusive to the SyFy Network and it will premiere sometime in March of 2019, which will be just in time for another Leprechaun marathon like the one that SyFy is doing today. That’s right. All day today, you can watch every single installment in the Leprechaun franchise, even Back 2 Tha Hood, which comes on later tonight when everybody is nice and partied out.

No significant plot details have been released for Leprechaun Returns, but it will take place 25 years after the original 1993 Leprechaun movie, which starred Jennifer Aniston. The new movie finds the Leprechaun revived in the modern day when a group of sorority girls unwittingly awaken him while tearing down a cabin to build a new sorority house. This sounds like the perfect place for the Leprechaun to turn up and now we can’t wait for March of 2019.

Leprechaun Returns was written by Suzanne Keilly and directed by Steven Kostanski, and it will feature a cast including Taylor Spreitler as Lila, Pepi Sonuga as Katie, Sai Bennett as Rose, and Linden Porco as the Leprechaun, who is taking over for longtime star Warwick Davis. Leprechaun Returns will bring back a face from the original as well, but it’s not Jennifer Aniston. Instead it’s Mark Holton who is reprising his role as Ozzie. Overall, this could end up being as legendary as the first few Leprechaun movies, or at least a lot better than the installment in space.

The teaser clip for Leprechaun Returns features Linden Porco as the titular character flipping a gold coin to see if he should go on another killing spree. Obviously, the coin dictates a new killing spree, which makes sense, since it’s a two-headed coin. That sneaky little Leprechaun, always finding new ways to trick and murder people. This time, he’s going to college, which could make for some pretty good laughs, especially if he ends up enrolling in some classes, which more than likely won’t happen.

For those of you who can’t wait for next March to come around to see Leprechaun Returns, you can brush up all day today to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style with the aforementioned Leprechaun marathon on SyFy, which is already currently underway. For those wanting to watch the original 1993 classic, it comes on tonight at 8 PM Pacific. Today is definitely a good day to be a fan of the Leprechaun franchise, especially if you plan on staying inside and puking on your shoes as opposed to driving in the streets, where it’s very dangerous. More news about the project, as well as a full-length trailer will be released in the months to come, but for now we have the all-day marathon and this brand-new brief teaser for Leprechaun Returns, which you can watch below, courtesy of the The SyFy YouTube channel.

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