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The name of the first 'Star Wars' spinoff film is 'Rogue One'

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Felicity Jones

The name of the first "Star Wars" spinoff movie will be called "Rogue One." 

Disney CEO Bob Iger made the announcement Thursday during the company's annual shareholders' meeting.

StarWars.com has the full announcement.

The film will be directed by Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla") and will star Felicity Jones.

Those in attendance received a quick glimpse at concept art for the film.

"Rogue One" will be released December 16, 2016 and will begin filming in London this summer.

Previously, Iger confirmed at least three "Star Wars" spinoff films are in the works.

"Star Wars: Episode VII" will be released December 18, 2015.

Here's the announcement from StarWars.com:

This morning at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, across the street from Lucasfilm, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger hosted a shareholder meeting where he announced news regarding the first Star Wars stand-alone movie as well as Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga. Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (MonstersGodzilla) and written by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (CinderellaAbout a BoyAntz). The first actress cast is Felicity Jones, who garnered an Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim for her performance in The Theory of Everything. The idea for the story of Rogue One came from John Knoll, an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic. He will executive produce along with Simon Emanuel (The Dark Knight RisesFast & Furious 6) and Jason McGatlin (TintinWar of the Worlds). Kathleen Kennedy and Tony To (Band of BrothersThe Pacific) are on board to produce and John Swartz (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will co-produce. The film starts shooting this summer in London and is due for release on December 16, 2016.

In addition, Iger confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. The film, which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is set for release on May 26, 2017 — forty years and a day after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Johnson is widely considered one of cinema’s most gifted young filmmakers, having directed the modern sci-fi classic, Looper, as well as Brick and The Brothers Bloom. He was also behind the camera for three episodes of the critically-acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad, including “Ozymandias,” which series creator Vince Gilligan named as the best installment of the show. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman, producer of LooperDon JonBrick, and The Brothers Bloom, are on board to produce.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

SEE ALSO: Disney's 2017 movie schedule is insane

AND: Disney shareholders got a first glimpse at "Rogue One" concept art

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The First 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Trailer Is Here!

Disney announces a sequel to 'Frozen' — the highest-grossing animated movie of all time

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elsa disney

It's official!

A "Frozen" sequel is definitely happening.

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced "Frozen 2" is in the works along with Disney and Pixar studios chief creative officer John Lasseter and "Frozen" voice actor Josh Gad at the company's annual shareholders' meeting.

Variety first reported the news

“We enjoyed making Frozen Fever so much and being back in that world with those characters,” said Lasseter. “Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have come up with a great idea for a sequel and you will be hearing a lot more about it and we’re taking you back to Arendelle. We are so excited about that.” 

The 2013 movie has grossed over $1.2 billion at theaters, making it the highest-grossing animated picture of all time.

Both Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck will return to direct.

Some of the cast and crew immediately took to Twitter after the news was released.

 

  

Here are Lasseter and Gad backstage at the event:

 on

 

A short, "Frozen Fever" will debut in theaters exclusively in front of Disney's live-action "Cinderella" this weekend.

No release date has been announced.

SEE ALSO: Bob Iger announces the name of the first "Star Wars" spinoff

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Disney's Live-Action Version Of 'Cinderella' Finally Gets A Full-Length Trailer

2017 is going to be an absolutely huge year for Disney

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star wars the force awakens sithDisney's 2017 lineup just became even bigger. 

Thursday, at the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO Bob Iger announced "Star Wars: Episode VIII"will be released May 26, 2017.

The addition of "Star Wars"to the summer schedule is huge. It gives the Mouse House two big releases for the month of May. A followup to "Guardians of the Galaxy" is set to debut at the top of the month.

May will be the start of a huge summer 2017 for Disney, one which should definitely be envied by other studios.

In February, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures announced a huge partnership that will allow Spider-Man to appear in future Marvel movies. The deal included a new Spider-Man movie that will hit theaters July 28, 2017.

amazing spider manWith Spidey and "Star Wars" in the summer lineup, Disney's 2017 has the possibility of becoming one the studio's biggest years — if not the best — at the box office.

That's saying something because 2015 is expected to be a huge one for Disney, which owns Marvel.

The studio will release two of this year's most anticipated films: "The Avengers" sequel "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," and "Star Wars: Episode VII."

The first "Avengers" film grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide. "Star Wars" on its own has the potential of becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time. Analysts have predicted the sequel could hit $2 billion at theaters worldwide. The Guardian made a case that "Episode VII"could be the first $3 billion film. (For reference, 2009's "Avatar" made $2.7 billion worldwide.)

So how is 2017 shaping up?

The addition of Spider-Man gives Walt Disney Studios three Marvel movies in theaters that year. In general, the Mouse House puts out two per year.

Disney, which owns Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Marvel Studios under its umbrella of movie-making vehicles, will also put out a long-awaited "Toy Story" sequel. A fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film with Johnny Depp is also expected. 

Here's a look at Disney's big movies for 2017 so far:

Release dateMovieDisney property
May 5, 2017"Guardians of the Galaxy 2"Marvel
May 26, 2017"Star Wars: Episode VIII"Lucasfilm
June 16, 2017"Toy Story 4"Pixar
July 7, 2017"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales"Disney
July 28, 2017untitled Spider-Man movieMarvel / Sony Pictures
Nov. 3, 2017"Thor: Ragnarok"Marvel

Another Pixar movie, currently untitled, may be released in November.

The Street's Chris Katje predicts three of those, "Toy Story 4,""Spider-Man," and "Star Wars," will be at least $1 billion movies.

"Toy Story 3" grossed over $1 billion at theaters in 2010. Another "Pirates" film has a good chance of cracking $1 billion also. The fourth film made $963.4 million.

toy story that time forgotThe "Spider-Man" estimate may be a bit high considering the two most recent films featuring the hero each failed to crack $800 million at the box office. (The highest-grossing "Spider-Man" movie is 2007's critically panned "Spider-Man 3," with $890 million.)

With five Spider-Man movies between 2002 and 2014, it is unclear how receptive people will be to a third Spider-Man reboot in such a small time period.

However, fans are pretty excited for Spidey's triumphant return to Marvel. After the announcement was made, Marvel became a trending topic on Twitter, with the hashtag #WelcomeHomeSpiderman becoming a favorite on the social media site. 

If anyone is able to bring the webslinger back to the big screen, it's Disney's well-oiled Marvel Cinematic Universe.

One thing’s for sure, Disney's lineup is going to be incredibly tough for other studios to compete with. If it all pans out, the company could have four billion-dollar movies come 2017.

SEE ALSO: The name of the first "Star Wars" spinoff movie is "Rogue One"

AND: Marvel changed the release dates for a bunch of its movies

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The First 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Trailer Is Here!

Disney will ban smoking in all future Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm movies

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bob iger walt disney company

Disney will ban smoking in all its future movies aimed towards kids.

Bob Iger said the company will "absolutely prohibit" the use of smoking in Disney films rated PG-13 and under at Thursday's annual shareholder meeting during a Q&A session.

“We are extending our policy to prohibit smoking in movies across the board: Marvel, Lucas, Pixar, and Disney films,” said Iger, according to The Wrap

Iger said the only exception will be in films which involve historical figures known for smoking.

“For instance, we’ve been doing a movie on Abraham Lincoln, he was a smoker, and we would consider that acceptable," said Iger. “But in terms of any new characters that are created for any of those films, under any of those labels, we will absolutely prohibit smoking in any of those films."

Disney previously put a smoking ban in place to movies produced by the company after 2007. 

The company details its no-smoking policy in films on its website.

Here's the outline, which was last updated March 20, 2012:

  • Disney policy prohibits product placement or promotion deals with respect to tobacco products for any movie it produces and Disney includes a statement to this effect on any movie in which tobacco products are depicted for which Disney is the sole or lead producer.
  • Disney has determined not to depict cigarette smoking in movies produced by it after 2007 and distributed under the Disney label.
  • Disney discourages depictions of cigarette smoking in movies produced in the United States for which a Disney entity is the sole or lead producer and which are released either as a Touchstone movie or Marvel movie, and seeks to limit cigarette smoking in those movies that are not rated “R” to:
    •   scenes in which smoking is part of the historical, biographical or cultural context of the scene oris important to the character or scene from a factual or creative standpoint, or
    •   scenes in which cigarette smoking is portrayed in an unfavorable light or the negative consequences of smoking are emphasized;
  • Disney will place anti-smoking public service announcements on DVD’s of new and newly re-mastered titles, not rated “R,” that depict cigarette smoking and will work with theater owners to encourage the exhibition of an anti-smoking public service announcement before the theatrical exhibition of any such movie.
  • Disney will include provisions in third-party distribution agreements for movies it distributes that are produced by others in the United States and for which principal photography has not begun at the time the third-party distribution agreement is signed advising filmmakers that it discourages depictions of cigarette smoking in movies that are not rated “R.”
  • For movies produced outside the United States or where Disney’s influence over the content of films is limited (such as movies co-produced by Disney), Disney seeks to discourage depiction of smoking in movies that are not rated “R” where we believe it is appropriate and practical to do so.
  • Disney regularly reviews the incidence of depictions of smoking in movies distributed by Disney entities. Compiled results of such reviews will be made public.

SEE ALSO: 2017 will be an absolutely huge year for Disney

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The First 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Trailer Is Here!

Disney showed off concept art for the 'Star Wars' spinoff to its shareholders

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felicity jones oscars 2015

Disney CEO Bob Iger unveiled the name and release date of the first "Star Wars" spinoff Thursday at the company's annual shareholder meeting.

"Rogue One" will be released December 16, 2016 and star Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything").

It wasn't the only treat attendees received. 

According to fan site Stitch Kingdom, which was on hand at the event, Disney also showed off the first concept art for the spinoff.

Here's how Stitch Kingdom described what they saw:

My personal take on it was it evoked concept art of a video game. It personally screamed Halo to me. It was very dark and done in greens, so it evoked the idea that it was being done under the cloak of night. Dozens of figures in fatigues appeared to be storming something with a strange helicopterish vehicle (open on the sides) in the background, releasing more troops.

/Film has a bit more info from others describing what they saw at the event. The image reportedly showed “4-5 armored, soldier-like persons on the ground.” A few ships were seen in the background.

Disney has yet to reveal any concept art for the film. 

We may not have to wait too long, though.

Next month, the annual "Star Wars" celebration will take place in Anaheim, California. 

Production on "Rogue One" is set to begin in London this summer.

SEE ALSO: Two theories on what the "Star Wars" spinoff could be about

AND: The release date for "Star Wars: Episode VIII"

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The First 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Trailer Is Here!

5 worrisome moviegoing trends in 2014

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man sitting in movie theaterThe worldwide box office saw only modest gains in 2014 as revenue tumbled in North America.

Global revenue reached $36.4 billion, a slim uptick of 1 percent over 2013 ($35.9 billion), according to the Motion Picture Association of America's annual report. For much of the past decade, global revenue has seen sizeable year-over-year gains, including 6.4 percent in 2012.

Without Asia — and particularly China — 2014 revenue would have certainly been down year-over-year. The Chinese box office grew by 34 percent to $4.8 billion, marking the first time that box office revenue has crossed $4 billion in any foreign market outside of North America.

In the U.S. and Canada, revenue fell a steep 5 percent to $10.4 billion (revenue also fell by 3 percent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Overseas, total international revenue came in at $26 billion, compared to $25 billion in 2013.

Here's five worrisome takeaways from the MPAA report:

1. The 32 percent problem

Admissions hit a 19-year low in North America, with 1.27 billion tickets sold. Part of the problem: 32 percent of the population in the U.S. and Canada didn't go to the movies at all. The same has been true for several years, but it's clear Hollywood needs to cull a new audience. According to the MPAA, there was actually a jump in the number of frequent moviegoers buying tickets (fueled largely by older consumers), so that means fewer "occasional" and "infrequent" moviegoers went to the cinema in 2014.

2. Where were the tots?

Frequent moviegoers, defined as someone who goes to the cinema at least once a month or more, are Hollywood's most prized demo. This group makes up only 11 percent of the population but buy 51 percent of all tickets sold. In 2014, there was a steep fall off in the 2-11 age group, with only 2.7 million young children going to the movies, compared to 4.3 million the year before.

3. The Trouble with Generations X, Y and Z

There was also a precipitous drop off in the number of frequent moviegoers between the ages of 25 to 39 (including parents of the missing tots). Those in this category made 7.1 million trips to the cinema, compared to 8.2 million in 2013 and 9.9 million in 2012. It matters because, overall, this age group watches more movies than any other. There was also a continued fall off in the number of frequent moviegoers in the 18-24 age group. Conversely, frequent moviegoers in the 40-49 age group soared, from 3.2 million to 5.7 million, while frequent moviegoers 60 and older hit an all time high, making 5.3 million trips.

4. 3D Burnout

In 2010, 52 percent of moviegoers in North America saw a 3D title. Last year, that number fell by almost half to 27 percent, even though there were more 3D titles more than ever (47). In 2013, 31 percent of those going to the cinema saw a 3D title.

5. The gender balance

Since 2010, females have consistently made up a larger share of moviegoers, while the number of males has remained flat.

SEE ALSO: Robin Thicke and Pharrell's lawyer to appeal "Blurred Lines" verdict

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Forget IMAX — The Next Big Thing For Movie Theaters Is 4DX

The wife of Scientology's leader has allegedly been missing for 9 years, but HBO’s new documentary doesn't address it

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Church of Scientology

HBO’s documentary on the Church of Scientology, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” addresses rumors that have been swirling for years about the church. But the film's director, Alex Gibney, didn't tackle one of the biggest Scientology mysteries — the current location of the wife of Scientology leader, David Miscavige.

“At the end of the day, rather than doing stone skipping and covering as much as possible in a superficial way we chose to dig in on certain things,” Gibney told Business Insider on why he left the story out of the documentary.

David Miscavige

Gibney also told BI that though there was a longer version of the film that included more details about Scientology, the story of Miscavige’s allegedly missing wife, Shelley, was never investigated and they never filmed anything about it.

Shelley has allegedly been missing since 2006, reportedly following an incident where she filled several job vacancies without her husband’s permission, as initially reported by The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright (who would go on to write “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison of Belief,” the book that inspired Gibney’s film). 

To be clear, a spokesperson for the Church of Scientology has denied to Business Insider that Shelley is missing. That spokesperson called the HBO documentary a "propaganda film." (See the full statement at the end of this article.)

Church spokespeople have repeatedly denied through the years that Shelley is missing, Vanity Fair reported last year, but the rumors of her absence persist.

In 2012, Steve Hall, a former Scientologist, told BI that he believes she’s staying at the little-known “Church of Spiritual Technology,” a remote forest compound in Twin Peaks, California, near San Bernadino.

scientologyAfter actress Leah Remini, a 30-year vet of the church, left Scientology in 2013, she reportedly filed a missing persons report for Shelly with the Los Angeles Police Department. Her suspicion reportedly began years ago after noticing Shelly wasn’t with her husband at the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, in which David was Cruise’s best man. 

Around the time of Remini notifying the police, the journalist Tony Ortega, a longtime critic of the church with his blog "The Underground Bunker" (who is also featured in "Going Clear"), reported that Shelly is at the church’s secret compound in the mountains of Los Angeles.

Here's why Shelly is allegedly banished, according to Ortega:

“Early in 2004, at Scientology’s International Base — a secretive, 500-acre compound about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, near the town of Hemet — Miscavige took his ideas about discipline to strange new lengths. A few dozen executives he wanted to punish were locked into a set of rooms that had been an office, and “The Hole” was born. Over the next several years, even more executives who had fallen from his favor were added to the bizarre and harsh office-prison, reaching about 100 total prisoners.

Around that time, Miscavige also became obsessed with the base’s “Org Board.” It was a roster of jobs that Miscavige wanted filled, but for some reason his underlings could never fill out the empty slots in the roster to his satisfaction. People who worked there at the time tell us that Miscavige’s tirades about the org board were maddening and relentless.

Then in 2005, Miscavige did something surprising — he traveled to nearby Los Angeles to work on a publishing project, and Shelly stayed behind at the base. People who worked at the base tell us it was the first time they remembered seeing the couple apart.

Shelly took advantage of her husband’s absence to fill in the org board that had proved such a headache. She also made progress on another project Miscavige had been promising to start by moving his belongings out of a set of buildings called the ‘Villas.’ She moved his things into another set of rooms called ‘the G’s,’ so the Villas could be renovated…

When Miscavige returned from Los Angeles and found the org board filled and his belongings moved, he erupted. A week later — which was sometime late in 2005 or early in 2006, our sources tell us, Shelly vanished.” 

Business Insider reached out to Scientology to comment on Shelly's alleged disappearance:

"The false allegation about Mrs. Miscavige was debunked by the Los Angeles Police Department in a statement two years ago," a spokesperson for the church told BI in a written statement. "The police declared the rumor 'unfounded' and she continues in the Church as she always has. The notion that Mrs. Miscavige is missing is a conspiracy theory among Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright's unsavory sources. The rumor has resulted in the disgraceful harassment of Mr. and Mrs. Miscavige. It is disgusting. The Church has made information available about Mr. Gibney’s film at www.fredommag.org/hbo."

The Church of Scientology also disputed the existence of a place called "The Hole" to BI:

This is another tired, false and offensive allegation. The only “hole” at the Church property being referred to is on the golf course.  This again sources to the same small group of liars. This false propaganda was exposed as a lie in our video at freedommag.org/hbo/videos/exterminating-gibneys-propaganda.html.

But the so-called "hole" is featured in one of the most chilling scenes in “Going Clear.”

Former Scientology executives who claim to have been in the hole said Miscavige gathered the group in a room, put empty chairs in the middle of it, and told them to play musical chairs. He allegedly told them when one chair remained that person was allowed to stay in their position, and everyone else would be sent off to remote locations.

According to the film, Miscavige started playing the music, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and the staff began circling the chairs. When the music stopped the staff battled for seats. The fewer chairs that remained throughout the game, the more aggressive people were to get a chair, allegedly leading to punching and shoving. After one person finally remained, Miscavige told everyone in the room that he changed his mind and everyone was allowed to stay.

The group stayed in the hole and continued work on the org board, according to the film.

goingclear05

“This just is David Miscavige,” Mike Rinder, a former executive of Scientology who is featured in “Going Clear” and was involved in the alleged musical chairs incident, told reporters at HBO’s offices last week. “His personality type is sociopath. He takes a lot of things that in the hands of someone else would be innocuous and uses those as tools of weapons to abuse people.”

Scientology also disputed Rinder's comments:

"The source for these allegations, and Gibney’s primary subject, Mike Rinder, is talking about himself. Mr. Gibney and now yourself, due to prejudice and bias, have obliged in revising history for self-admitted suborners of perjury, perjurers and obstructers of justice.

Mike Rinder admitted in a January deposition to the exact opposite of what he says to Mr. Gibney in the film and now to you. He’s also a tainted source because he’s admitted to being paid by law firms seeking to score a payday suing the Church.  You should know that just today the Church won a decisive victory in the case Rinder and his attorney clients had been hoping to hit the jackpot on.

Rinder’s domestic abuse is documented by his ex-wife, brother, daughter and his ex-wife’s surgeon, and all of this would have been relevant to the film since Gibney shamelessly has Rinder lie about his ex-wife yet he didn’t ask her for comment or to sit for an interview, even when she was in New York to see him.

Alex Gibney and HBO cynically repackaged Mike Rinder into the poster boy for their new propaganda film. They flew Rinder around the country in five-star luxury to shill for their religious hatred, never mentioning that Rinder was expelled from his former religion for gross malfeasance. They hid that Mike Rinder can’t hold a job and his only source of income is payment for attacking Scientology. Gibney knew all this but relevant facts would have popped the phony bubble of legitimacy Gibney created around his 'star.'

And, at a time when religious hatred is spreading through the world and inciting violence, it is also irresponsible to release any film about religion with someone so obsessed with inciting hatred as Mike Rinder, an admitted liar and suborner of perjury, a paid anti-religionist and a domestic abuser.  http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/mike-rinder.html

Mr. Miscavige has been successfully leading the Scientology religion for more than a quarter of a century during which the Scientology religion has expanded faster in the last 10 years than in its previous 50 years combined. Scientology parishioners worldwide hold him in the highest esteem for what he is doing for the religion."


This is not Gibney’s first time examining the alleged abuse of power. He was nominated for an Oscar exposing the corrupt acts by the heads of Enron (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”), won one looking at US torture tactics ("Taxi to the Dark Side"), and has done films on the illegal methods done by “Casino Jack” Abramoff (“Casino Jack and the United States of Money”), the untruthful statements made by Lance Armstrong (“The Armstrong Lie”) and the questionable motives of Julian Assange (“We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks”), not to mention the illegal sexual conduct by the Catholic Church (“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God”).

With his history of examining infamous characters, how does Gibney see Miscavige?

“He’s a true believer who is doing everything he can to protect his religion,” Gibney told BI. “And in that way it may be even more terrifying because at some point you can sit someone down who is not a true believer and say ‘let’s do a risk/reward analysis.’ That’s not something he’d be willing to engage in.”

"Going Clear" opens theatrically in limited release today and airs on HBO March 29.

SEE ALSO: How a filmmaker finally infiltrated Scientology for HBO's explosive documentary

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We went inside the top-secret tunnel under Grand Central that only presidents use

The 15 best robot movies of all time

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Chappie movie still Sony Columbia Pictures robot action

So, Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie opened in theaters, and by the look of it, it appears to be a mix and match of Short Circuit, RoboCop, E.T., A.I., District 9, and a Die Antwoord music video.

But one thing seems sure: It will be yet another demonstration of the movies’ fascination with robots.

Click here to see the best robots in film >

Ever since the early years of cinema — even before the term “robot” was coined, in fact — the movies have been obsessed with them. They symbolize so many of our neuroses — our queasiness about technology and the unknown, our wonder at what it means to be human, our fear that, ultimately, we might be replaceable.

So, we thought it might be fun, in honor of Chappie (or as a corrective to it . . . you decide), to rank the best robot movies in film history. However, a note: We specifically focused on movies that are essentially about robots — not, in other words, movies that happen to have robots in them, like Alien(s) or Interstellar or Forbidden Planet. We also avoided films that were specifically solely about computers — so, no 2001: A Space Odyssey. (But The Matrix makes it in, because it’s actually full of robot creatures.) And, as always, only one film per franchise.

15. "Robots" (2005)

This star-studded animated flick (Ewan McGregor! Robin Williams! Mel Brooks!) wasn’t particularly well-liked when it first came out, but it’s enchanting and beautiful.

Set in a world populated entirely by robots (like Cars, but with robots), it’s filled with elaborate contraptions and eye-popping visuals, with an aesthetic that seems to have been borrowed from every era of futuristic design imaginable. You could lose yourself in it for hours.



14. "Transformers" (2007)

Okay, forget how much you hated the sequels for a second. Michael Bay’s first Transformers movie was actually pretty fun — a peculiar mix of broad humor, badass fighting-robot heroics, apocalyptic CGI, and the director’s patented military fetishism.

Let’s also not forget that the idea of a big budget Hollywood movie based on a 1980s toy franchise — especially one as ridiculous as this one, which posits an alien race of robots that have come to Earth and assumed the ability to turn into everyday vehicles and other machines — was by no means a surefire hit. And yet, Bay pulled it off. Bloat and self-importance would eventually consume the franchise, but this first one still holds up. 



13. "Big Hero 6" (2014)

Disney’s blockbuster animated film from last year was surprisingly dark; it was, ultimately, a movie about how different people cope with loss. And at the heart of it was a sensitive relationship between its young orphan hero and Baymax, the cuddly, puffy medical droid created by his late brother. As the boy tried to teach the gentle Baymax to fight, we got a heartfelt exploration of the limits of grief and the value of helping those in need.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A former 'Star Wars' writer came up with the name for the spinoff film

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x-wings flying over the water star wars episode vii trailer

Disney announced the title of the first "Star Wars" spinoff will be called "Rogue One" Thursday during its annual shareholder meetings.

The name evokes images of the Rogues, a rebel alliance squad founded in part by Luke Skywalker.

However, what's most interesting is the origin of the spinoff's name. 

Screenwriter Gary Whitta ("The Book of Eli") took to Twitter to reveal he came up with the name "Rogue One."

Whitta was originally hired to write a screenplay for the film along with director Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla"). The announcement was made on the official Star Wars site May 2014. He left the project in January after completing a first draft of the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In Thursday's "Rogue One" announcement, Whitta's name was nowhere to be seen, prompting some fans to take notice. 

Chris Weitz ("Cinderella,""About a Boy") has taken over script duties while chief creative officer of Industrial Light & Magic, John Knoll, is credited for the "Rogue One" story idea.

On his website, Whitta lists serving as co-writer of "Star Wars Rogue One" under his body of work. According to Whitta, he helped come up with the story and an early version of the film's screenplay.

Business Insider has reached out to Whitta for comment.

We'll update this post if we hear back from him.

SEE ALSO: Disney showed off concept art for the "Star Wars" spinoff to its shareholders

AND: 2 theories on what the "Star Wars" spinoff may be about

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The First 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Trailer Is Here!

The Church of Scientology responds to HBO's explosive new documentary with a scathing 5-page letter

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scientology going clear

As Alex Gibney's documentary Going Clear opens around the country, the Church of Scientology is making its final stand against the film in the form of a five-page letter to The Hollywood Reporter.

The letter opens, "In two hours this film racks up more falsehoods, errors, embellished tales and blatant omissions than were committed by Rolling StoneBrian Williams and Bill O'Reilly combined. By our calculation, the film on average includes at least one major error every two minutes."

Alex Gibney

The letter, which can be read here, attempts to rip apart Gibney's sources in the film with ad hominem attacks, describing one as a wife beater, one as a violent psychopath and yet another as a home wrecker, but fails to tackle any major revelation in the film. 

THR initially reached out to the Church to request a viewing of the documentary with top Church officials, but Church spokeswoman Karin Pouw declined this offer. Instead, she asked for a list of questions about the film, which she would "be happy" to answer, so that's what THR sent: a list of twenty questions regarding specific allegations in Gibney's work, such as the claim that L. Ron Hubbard once said starting a religion is the easiest way to make money.


Pouw's letter is the Church's blanket response to each of the film's claims, which include the following:

Hubbard was involved with the occult; Hubbard once kidnapped his own daughter; Hubbard founded Scientology as a way to bolster his declining book sales; Scientology's secretive Sea Org was founded by Hubbard as a ploy to remain beyond the reach of the IRS, which was investigating him for tax evasion; Hubbard wrote a letter in 1947 to the Veterans Administration (now the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) in the wake of his World War II service, seeking out psychiatric help; the Church pays its members between $.06-$.40 an hour for labor services; the Church buys up expensive real estate property simply to maintain its tax exempt status, which requires a large portion of its earnings to be spent for the benefit its congregation; the Church blackmailed John Travolta with private information to keep him from leaving the Church; the Church enacts a Draconian "Disconnection" policy, which mandates that Church members completely cut off anyone who leaves Scientology, including friends and family.  

Pouw's response letter, however, dismisses the questions: "The false allegations in Gibney's film are reflected in each of the questions you ask," Pouw writes. "Those questions bear no relationship to L. Ron Hubbard or to the Scientology religion. Rather than provide a response to each of these questions, which are part of Gibney's propaganda, I am going to take up the sources of these allegations so you understand their motivations to spread hatred, religious bigotry and lies. We are not trying to discredit these people. It is simply that Mr. Gibney ismiscrediting them."

In her letter, Kouw then refers THR to a series of videos the Church published about Alex Gibneyand the former Scientology members who appear in his film, including Spanky TaylorSara GoldbergHana WhitfieldMarty Rathbun, Mike Rinder and Marc Headley. The videos are titled as follows: "Mike Rinder: The Wife Beater,""Marty Rathbun: A Violent Psychopath,""Marc Headley: The Soulless Sellout,""Hana Whitfield: Can You Spare a Billion?""Sara Goldberg: The Home Wrecker" and "'Spanky' Taylor: The Drama Queen."


Kouw writes, "The inclusion of any of these liars is enough to irrevocably taint the film as biased propaganda. Including all of them is inexcusable." Kouw then rehashes the Church's previously-published allegations against each person, outing Goldberg's son for his alleged drug abuse, mocking Whitfield for an unsuccessful lawsuit against the Church and labeling Rathbun a cultist in his own right.

alex gibney lawrence wrightThe letter concludes with an attack on Lawrence Wright, the author of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, from which the documentary was adapted. "Lawrence Wright is obviously suffering from an acute case of jealousy of Mr. Hubbard," Pouw writes, "and thus has tried to slander him out of spite."

"Mr. Hubbard was a writer," Pouw continues, "one of the giants of the Golden Age of pulp fiction, during the Great Depression. He was also the author of 13 New York Times bestsellers in the 1980s. Indeed, his works are published to this day in 50 languages and have sold hundreds of millions of copies, something Wright could only wish to accomplish."

"Your readers should have the benefit of the information I have provided you."

Pouw also asked THR to include Scientology's previous statement about the HBO documentary, which can be found here. The statement says Gibney "refused to answer over a dozen letters from the Churchasking for an opportunity to address any allegations; he never even sent one fact to check and he shunned 25 people who traveled to New York to meet with him with relevant answers to every single allegation that is in the film."

In response, Gibney has said that he reached out for  interviews with key Church members, such as Church leader David Miscavige and Tom Cruise, but he was rebuffed.

The full letter to THR has been reproduced below:

CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL

Emmet McDermott

The Hollywood Reporter

emmet.mcdermott@thr.com

Dear Mr. McDermott:

March 12, 2015

Thank you for your questions. You at least did more to find out about Scientology than Mr. Gibney did in the two years he spent putting together his bigoted propaganda piece.

We agree with a reviewer of the documentary who has described Mr.Gibney’s film as “pointless scaremongering.” All of Mr. Gibney’s sources serve that purpose. They spew false, embellished and hyperbolic tales to create sensationalistic hatred toward the Church with a portrait none of its parishioners, staff or clergy recognize.

In two hours this film racks up more falsehoods, errors, embellished tales and blatant omissions than were committed by Rolling Stone, Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly combined. By our calculation, the film on average includes at least one major error every two minutes.

Separately, THR’s attorneys received a letter from Church counsel on Marty Rathbun’s false wiretapping allegation. That one goes beyond mere bigoted hate speech and falsely accuses the Church of criminal conduct. I ask that you do not reprint this lie.

That being said, the false allegations in Gibney’s film are reflected in each of the questions you ask. Those questions bear no relationship to L. Ron Hubbard or to the Scientology religion. Rather than provide a response to each of these questions, which are part of Gibney’s propaganda, I am going to take up the sources of these allegations so you understand their motivations to spread hatred, religious bigotry and lies. We are not trying to discredit these people. It is simply that Mr. Gibney is miscrediting them.

The Hollywood Reporter 2 March 12, 2015

Our position regarding the film and each of its sources is clearly stated in the vignettes and documents we spoke of earlier this week and which I ask that you reference in your article.

The inclusion of any one of these liars is enough to irrevocably taint the film as biased propaganda. Including all of them is inexcusable. For example:

·       Spanky Taylor: Her entire story is a lie. Besides the fact that she has been gone for 30 years—an eternity of time in a new religion as we are—she never “escaped” from the Church as she and Mr. Gibney claim. That’s because she remained an active Scientologist for six more years after leaving her staff position. Her husband exposed this lie about her “escape” and confirmed that she remained in the Church. Now, Lawrence Wright is shifting his story to admit, as he did on public radio this week, that she continued in the Church after this supposed “escape.” http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/spanky- taylor.html

·       Sara Goldberg: Mr. Gibney painted a sob story of a grandmother struggling to keep her family together, but didn’t want to speak with her ex-husband, her daughter or anyone else in the family even when they were just a few minutes away from his offices in New York and willing to see him at his convenience. Now you see them on camera, exposing how Sara Goldberg broke up her own family because of her drug-abusing son. There is even video footage of her son being arrestedalong with statements from the rest of the family about what factually occurred. And that’s relevant information, as the Church does not and did not tear any family apart. Withholding all of this relevant information makes the film inaccurate and deceitful. http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/sara-goldberg.html

·       Hana Whitfield also has motives to lie about the Church, not the least of which is she left more than 30 years ago. (Like Spanky Taylor, she has been gone for half of the time the entire religion has existed.) Whitfield filed a $1 billion class action lawsuit that was thrown out by the judge six times and labelled “incomprehensible.” Not getting her payday, she became a “deprogrammer” for which Alex Gibney has become an apologist—a practice recognized as the equivalent of kidnapping, coercion and denial of human rights. Mr.Gibney’s film also doesn’t mention that Hana Whitfield’s “mental state” could be related

The Hollywood Reporter 3 March 12, 2015 to her having conspired to murder her father.

http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/hana-whitfield.html

·       Mr. Gibney doesn’t disclose that his primary sources are self-admitted liars and were involved—according to Marty Rathbun—in suborning perjury and obstructing justice. The same Marty Rathbun who was the leader of his now- defunct small Texas cult, a tiny group of anti-religious haters who have been joined at the hip for six years in a campaign to make up stories about their former religion. The same Rathbun who has now descended to being a “deprogrammer” for his personal profit. The same Rathbun Mr.Gibney puts on a pedestal while making a false and defamatory allegation about the Church and its leadership being involved in a “wiretap” that never happened. When Rathbun was questioned further, he not only conveniently could not provide any specifics of who did what or offer any corroboration, he also could not explain how he suddenly “remembered” this alleged incident six years into his venomous campaign against the Church that has included dozens of media interviews, thousands of online rants and, most important, countless hours of interviews with Lawrence Wright, whose book the film is purportedly based upon. It completely defies logic thatRathbun “forgot” to mention such an event or somehow just “remembered” it. Even Mr. Gibney’s other primary source— MikeRinder—denies having any firsthand knowledge—because it didn’t happen. http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/marty-rathbun.html

·       And you have Mike Rinder, who admitted in a January deposition to the exact opposite of what he says to Mr. Gibney in the film. He’s also a tainted source because he is paid by law firms seeking to score a payday suing the Church. His domestic abuse is documented by his ex-wife, brother, daughter and his ex- wife’s surgeon, and all of this would have been relevant to the film since Gibney shamelessly has Rinder lie about his ex-wife yet he didn’t ask her for comment or to sit for an interview, even when she was in New York to see him. Alex Gibney and HBO cynically repackaged MikeRinder into the poster boy for their new propaganda film. They flew Rinder around the country in five-star luxury to shill for their religious hatred, never mentioning that Rinder was expelled from his former religion for gross malfeasance. They hid that MikeRinder can’t hold a job and his only source of income is payment for attacking Scientology. Gibney knew all this but relevant facts would have popped the phony bubble of legitimacy Gibney created around his “star.”

The Hollywood Reporter 4 March 12, 2015

And, at a time when religious hatred is spreading through the world and inciting violence, it is also irresponsible to release any film about religion with someone so obsessed with inciting hatred as Mike Rinder, a paid anti-religionist and a domestic abuser. http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/mike-rinder.html

·       You have seen the film, so you have seen the blatantly absurd “ant” story is pure propaganda and is an intentional misrepresentation of the Church production studio facility that, among other amenities, includes a pool, tennis courts, golf course, housekeeping services for staff and facilities so attractive, local outside community groups regularly use them for events. The person telling Mr. Gibney this lie about ants on camera, Tom DeVocht, had such a propensity to lie that he once confessed that he believed his only sin was “gettingcaught.” HBO ignored all efforts by his ex-wife to provide information showing he is a pathological liar and stole from her. She also would have told them how DeVocht’s motives stem from his being expelled after he wasted millions of construction dollars due to his incompetence and deceit. Mr. Gibney has no firsthand knowledge of these allegations and never visited the property. He never even asked to visit, or to film there. Instead Mr. Gibney uses stale, made- up stories and portrays them as the truth. http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/exterminating-gibneys-propaganda.html

·       Yet another source for the film, Marc Headleyis a professional liar who was outed during litigation as a paid tabloid source for, among other publications, the scandal-ridden News of the World that folded in disgrace over the British hacking scandal. Headley’s failed lawsuit spawned the film’s core myth—that the Church is involved in “abuses” which are entirely the invention of this same small, failed Texas cult. A federal judge tossed out these same allegations in 2010—an Appeals Court unanimously upheld that decision in 2012—and Headley was ordered to pay the Church $42,000 in court costs. Mr. Gibney even thanked Headley at the premiere. Yet all of the allegations Headley made in Wright’s book were dismissed as meritless by a lower court and upheld by the Appellate Court prior to the book ever being published. Given these phony claims are at the heart of Mr. Gibney’s film, their unravelling is reason enough to pull the film. http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/marc-headley.html

Lastly, Lawrence Wright is obviously suffering from an acute case of jealousy of Mr. Hubbard and thus has tried to slander him out of spite.

The Hollywood Reporter 5 March 12, 2015

Mr. Hubbard was a writer—one of the giants of the Golden Age of pulp fiction, during the Great Depression. He was also the author of 13 New York Times bestsellers in the 1980s. Indeed, his works are published to this day in 50 languages and have sold hundreds of millions of copies, something Wright could only wish to accomplish

Mr. Hubbard was also a man who travelled the world and into the Far East, in the 1920s, studying and learning Eastern religions. And this at a time when most young men had never ventured beyond the boundaries of their own town. He was also a member of the famed Explorers Club and was awarded three expedition flags. He was also the youngest Eagle Scout in America at the age of 13, a licensed pilot at the advent of aviation, and a master mariner, licensed to captain any vessel on any ocean. In addition to all this, his greatest contributions to Mankind are his discoveries on the mind and spirit that form the Scientology religion. Millions of people around the world consider him their greatest friend for the help he has provided.

He was recently named one of the most influential Americans of all times in the Smithsonian Spring 2015 edition.

Your readers should have the benefit of the information I have provided you. Please also include our full statement which is enclosed.

Thank you very much.

Regards,

Karin Pouw

SEE ALSO: How a filmmaker finally infiltrated Scientology for HBO's explosive documentary

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5 reasons you should be excited about the 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' director

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rian johnson

Thursday, brought a lot of news for "Star Wars" fans.

The title of the first spinoff, "Rogue One," was announced along with the release date for "Star Wars: Episode VIII" (May 26, 2017).

The news brought the likely excitement from the franchise’s loyal fanbase, but let's take a second to delve into who Rian Johnson is, the director who will be taking the reigns of the original franchise after J.J. Abrams’ “Episode VII: The Force Awakens" is released in December.

If you don’t live and breath all things The Force, you probably didn't know that just under nine months ago news broke that Johnson would not only write and direct “Episode VIII” but“Episode IX” as well.

While Johnson has been quiet about the whole thing, yesterday’s announcement proved that at least half of that news was correct.

And Johnson had some fun with it on Twitter:

Soon after though, he finally fessed up:

Most fans were excited when J.J. Abrams announced he'd be directing “Episode VII,” as it confirmed that Disney was serious about bringing new voices into the "Star Wars" universe, once completely controlled by its creator George Lucas.

But the news of Johnson jumping in following Abrams brought universal acceptance.

Here's five reasons why you should be too. 

1. His debut feature was incredible

Johnson, 41, was born in Maryland but grew up in San Clemente, California and it would be that area and his love of Dashiell Hammett detective stories that would bring to life his feature length debut, “Brick.”

brickMade for only $500,000 and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Johnson combined film noir, drugs, and the drama of high school life to create a fantastically fresh genre movie within the modern-day teen world. Gordon-Levitt gets all gumshoe and shakes things up through the different cliques of a San Clemente high school as he tries to uncover the death of his ex-girlfriend.

2. The visuals in his films are striking

Though immediately grabbing is the dialogue is completely 1930s hardboiled detective slang, the film also showed that Johnson has a unique visual eye as "Brick" is full of beautiful imagery.

brick_water2

brick_jgl2

brick_car2The film would garner Johnson instant acclaim and a “Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision” at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. 

3. He knows how to work with big-name talent.

Three years later, Johnson worked on a large-budgeted con movie titled “The Brothers Bloom.” The film starred Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody as brothers who specialize in running scams on millionaires. Up for one final job, Rachel Weisz plays the mark, but the brothers soon realize she’s got her own agenda.

brothers bloomWhile it received mixed reviews by critics, the film did prove that Johnson could work with name actors, take on multiple lush locations, and pull off action sequences.

brother_bloom

4. He's directed two of the most memorable "Breaking Bad" episodes

In 2010, Johnson once more elevated his notoriety in the industry when he began directing episodes of “Breaking Bad.” He directed three total including the polarizing “Fly” episode and the third-to-last episode of the show, “Ozymandias,” which some consider the best episode of the whole series, including series creator Vice Gilligan.

breakingbad3Once more his visual techniques shined, especially in “Fly,” which takes place mostly in Walter and Jesse’s underground meth lab in season three and includes the POV of a fly trapped in the lab.

breaking bad fly

5. The fanboys already love him

In 2012, Johnson’s cred in the sci-fi world shot through the roof with the release of “Looper.”

Messing with our heads thanks to an elaborate time travel story, we follow Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an assassin known as a looper, who offs people at the whim of his mob bosses from the future. But when he realizes they have sent back his future self (Bruce Willis) to kill, things get complicated.

looper2With “Looper,” Johnson elevated to world building, creating a "Blade Runner"-like future.

looper_finalThe visuals, as we’ve become accustomed to in his films, are beautiful and he uses more CGI than in the past.

looperHere, he also began working with make-up, specifically getting Gordon-Levitt to look more like a young Willis. 

willis_finaljgl_finalHe likely didn't think this at the time, but the film has elements that proves he's capable of taking on "Star Wars."

With this body of work, we are pretty excited with what he’ll be bringing to “Star Wars.” We don’t know what “Episode VIII” is about yet, but we’ll keep you posted once production begins.

The film will be released May 26, 2017.

SEE ALSO: Meet Felicity Jones: The indie actress just cast in the 'Star Wars' spinoff

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Why Tom Cruise and John Travolta can't leave Scientology, according to the HBO documentary 'Going Clear'

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Scientology Church

When L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in February 1954 in Los Angeles, one of his main pillars in building its membership was courting celebrities.

A year after the church was founded, it created a long list of celebrities to recruit, according to Lawrence Wright's best-selling book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison of Belief."The list reportedly included Hollywood royalty like Marlene Dietrich, Walt Disney, Jackie Gleason, John Ford, Bob Hope, and Howard Hughes. It's hard to find evidence of these legends ever entertaining the idea of joining the church, but it appears that Hubbard saw movie stars as a way of legitimizing Scientology.

Six decades later, Hubbard's premonition proved to be correct. Scientology, which today has only about 50,000 members, is worth over $1.2 billion, and much of its financial success is in part thanks to famous people who have fundraised, recruited, and given the church access to the upper echelon of society.
tom cruise

For years, two of the church's most prized endorsers have been John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

But director Alex Gibney suggests in his latest documentary for HBO, an adaptation of Wright's book called "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," that it is time for Travolta and Cruise to reassess their involvement with the church, in part because of the abuse their fellow members have allegedly endured.

The film highlights numerous instances in which church members have allegedly been abused. Members have allegedly been segregated from their families and the rest of the church to do physical labor like cleaning toilets with only a toothbrush.

In the documentary, Gibney speaks with one of Travolta's closest confidants at the church, Spanky Taylor, who says she was part of a group that was punished by the church.

Taylor says she was forced to work 30-hour shifts with little food and slept on the roof of the church's Los Angeles building. She says she was pregnant at the time and away from her infant daughter, who was placed in the church's nursery in a urine-soaked crib surrounded by fruit flies. In the movie, Taylor says she reached out to Travolta for help but never heard from him.

According to the film, Cruise has also turned a blind eye to the harassment suffered by Sea Organization members, the clergy of Scientology who reportedly show their loyalty by signing billion-year contracts but get paid only about 40 cents an hour for their services. The film alleges that the presents Cruise receives on behalf of the church — like a beautiful airplane hangar or luxury limousine — are delivered on the sweat of Sea Org members.

So why are Cruise and Travolta still in Scientology?

John Travolta Kelly preston OscarsThe film alleges that the church would disclose the celebrities' deepest, darkest confessions to the tabloids if they ever tried to leave the church.

That's because the pair have reportedly spent hours and hours of their lives submitting to Scientology audits, the church's form of spiritual counseling.

When Business Insider talked to Gibney last week at HBO's New York offices, the director said he felt it was the duty of Cruise and Travolta to speak out, and he hoped the attention of "Going Clear" would make it easier for them to do so.

"I think one of the reasons we're trying to turn the spotlight on them is not to victimize them but to say you really have a responsibility," Gibney told us. "You're given an enormous amount of wealth as a movie star and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility, particularly when people are joining an organization because of you. If the popular opinion begins to swing that way, I think you can see a sea change with them."

For Cruise it may be harder to get out. The film reveals just how important he is to the church, suggesting Scientology went as far as breaking up Cruise and Nicole Kidman's marriage to bring him closer to the church after he began distancing himself around the time he and Kidman filmed Stanley Kubrick's final film, "Eye's Wide Shut," in 1998.

tom cruise nicole kidmanOrchestrated by Scientology's leader, David Miscavige, the church turned the two adoptive children of Cruise and Kidman's against Kidman, according to former Scientology executives who speak in the film.

The church allegedly told the children that Kidman was a "Suppressive Person," Scientology talk for someone who's not a believer of the church, and persuaded them to completely disconnect themselves from her.

The church also allegedly tapped Kidman's phones in an effort to convince Cruise that he needed to end the relationship.

Gibney and Wright, along with former Scientology members Mike Rinder and Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis, talked more about these issues in the film recently at a New York Times "Times Talk."

A representative for Scientology told People.com these assertions made were "utterly ludicrous" and "insulting" to Miscavige. 

Reps for Cruise and Travolta didn't respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

"Going Clear" opens theatrically in limited release March 13 and on HBO on March 29.

SEE ALSO: How a filmmaker finally infiltrated Scientology for HBO's explosive documentary

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'Cinderella' has a huge $70 million opening weekend

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cinderella prince

Disney's live-action adaptations of its fairy tales continue to be box-office gold.

"Cinderella" debuted to a huge $70.1 million at theaters opening weekend.

It wasn't the highest-grossing opening for a Disney movie in March. (That title belongs to "Alice in Wonderland" and "Oz the Great and Powerful.")

Still, the opening for "Cinderella" is the sixth-best March opening weekend.

The film is playing immensely well overseas, too. 

"Cinderella" has already made over $132 million worldwide.

However, it's not clear how much of the weekend's gross should be attributed to kid's eagerness to see one of Disney's most-beloved princesses on the big screen.

Other than Helena Bonham-Carter and Cate Blanchett, there were no big name draws.

Cinderella is played by Lily James, best known for "Wrath of the Titans" and "Downton Abbey," two roles most young children would not be familiar with. Richard Madden, from HBO's "Game of Thrones," plays the prince.

Instead, an exclusive "Frozen" short only playing ahead of "Cinderella" showings may very well be one factor that helped draw in the crowds. 

SEE ALSO: 2017 is going to be an absolutely huge year for Disney

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Fans are freaking out over a surprise screening of ‘Furious 7’ at SXSW

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The next installment of the "Fast and the Furious" franchise, "Furious 7," isn't in theaters until April, but if you were in Austin, Texas this weekend you may have had the chance to see it.

Universal Pictures held a private screening to premiere the film late Sunday evening at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW, the music, film, and interactive festival.

Tyrese was in attendance to premiere the film for fans.

tyrese furious 7 sxswThe seventh film in the long-running franchise is an emotional one. Originally set for release summer 2014, the film was put on hold after the death of lead actor Paul Walker in November 2013.

The screening went from midnight to nearly 3 a.m. furious 7 screening

The verdict? 

Fans loved it.

Fans say the film is a great send-off for Walker's character. 

Some say it's so good that it may be the best in the franchise yet.

Don't plan on seeing many spoilers for the film. Producer Neal Moritz, who was also in attendance, asked fans to not share the fate of Walker's character on screen, according to MTV.

“We obviously lost a dear friend, brother, comrade when we were making this movie,” said Moritz speaking of Walker. “He was really the best guy I ever met in my world — in my life. When we decided we were going to continue this movie, we were determined to honor his legacy and our love for him forever. I just want to ask one big favor of everybody. You guys are going to get to see the movie tonight without knowing what happens to Paul’s storyline. Whatever you want to say after the movie is cool, but please let future audiences see it the way you’re going to see it tonight.”

“I’m so proud of what we’ve done," Moritz added. "And I know Paul Walker would be smiling down on all of us.”

"Furious 7" is in theaters April 3, 2015.

Check out a trailer for the film below.

 

SEE ALSO: Here's the hypercar featured in 'Furious 7'

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The new Steve Jobs documentary is a 'blistering takedown' that is 'deeply unflattering'

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Steve Jobs laptop

Alex Gibney, the documentary filmmaker who just tackled Scientology in HBO's explosive "Going Clear," is already making news again for his next project, a new documentary about Steve Jobs.

In "Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine," Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side,""Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room") takes a critical look at the personal and private life of the late Apple CEO, tackling topics like his repeated denial of being the father of his daughter Lisa, and the harsh way in which he treated many Apple employees.

Alex Gibney SXSW

After the film's premiere at SXSW on Saturday, The Daily Beast called it "a blistering takedown" and "an all-out character assassination," while Variety wrote the film is a "coolly absorbing, deeply unflattering portrait" of Jobs.

Just one day after the premiere, Magnolia Pictures acquired North American theatrical, VOD, and home entertainment rights to Gibney's latest documentary, which was backed by CNN Films. While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Variety notes, "There’s a comfort level between filmmaker and distributor. This is the seventh film directed by Gibney to be distributed by Magnolia."

While the two other Steve Jobs films — 2013's "Jobs" starring Ashton Kutcher and the upcoming "Steve Jobs" biopic based on Walter Isaacson's biography  paint a mainly positive picture of the Apple CEO, Gibney's is the first to be critical of him.

"Behind the scenes, Jobs could be ruthless, deceitful, and cruel," Gibney says via voiceover early in the film. And apparently the sentiment doesn't stop there.

Here's what five reviewers of the film have to say about "Steve Jobs: Man in the Machine":

Mashable's Chris Taylor:

"The focus (of Steve Jobs: The Man Inside the Machine) is on the shadows created by the light and the dark of Jobs' personality, as told by the people who knew him. Early on, we meet a Macintosh engineer who breaks down in tears remembering the agony and ecstasy working with Jobs, who drove his staff so hard, worked them so late, to the point where the engineer lost his wife and kids. And yet, the result was genius."

The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern:

"The entire final hour of Gibney’s 127-minute film is an all-out character assassination. It questions the inherent value of Apple products—and by extension, Jobs’s legacy. It smears him for not informing his company of his illness earlier, saying he was “obligated” to shareholders, and criticizes him for pursuing avenues of alternative medicine instead of immediately having surgery on his pancreatic cancer. It even chastises him for driving a silver Mercedes convertible with no plates and parking in handicapped spots."

LA Times' Amy Kaufman:

Certainly Gibney's portrayal of Jobs is far less flattering than Isaacson's. As the film makes its way through Jobs' story chronologically, Gibney highlights moments in which Jobs was unkind. The documentary says that when he and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak worked at Atari, Jobs once gave Wozniak only $350 of a $7,000 check meant to be split between them.

The film suggests he may have been downright greedy. The Chinese workers who were putting together iPhone 4s were making $12 per unit, while the company was profiting $300 per phone.

Variety's Justin Chang:

Gibney duly acknowledges Jobs’s artistry, innovation and technological showmanship while making plain just how “ruthless, deceitful and cruel” the man could be...

On a certain level, "The Man in the Machine" functions as a corrective and a tribute to the many brilliant men and women Jobs surrounded himself with but didn’t necessarily give their due; many here attest to his sharp way with a jab and his monomaniacal need for control, particularly with regard to staff retention...

Considerable screen time is devoted to an older episode in which the young Jobs disputed the paternity of his daughter Lisa (with his high-school girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan) and balked at paying child support — callous and ironic behavior, coming from someone who was always painfully aware of having been given up for adoption. As a still-wounded Brennan understandably concludes: “He didn’t know what real connection was.” 

9to5mac highlighted a few interesting points featured in the film:

On the paternity debacle: "Jobs’ cruelty regarding Chrisann and Lisa is highlighted in the film. You learn that he had lied in a sworn testimony, falsely claiming Brennan had multiple sex partners and that he was sterile and could therefore not be Lisa’s father. Only after a paternity test proved that he was did he finally accept responsibility. And though Apple went public in 1980, increasing Jobs’ net worth from $20 million to $200 million, he agreed to pay Brennan just $500 per month in child support."

Gizmodo and the iPhone 4: The film spends a significant amount of time revisiting the time when Jobs went to war with Gizmodo, after the tech website had gotten its hands on a prototype of an iPhone 4 that an Apple employee had carelessly left at a bar. All the key figures are interviewed, including editor Jason Chen, whose home was forcibly entered and computers seized by Silicon Valley police, and Nick Denton, who approved a payment of $5,000 for the phone. Jobs, who pledged not to stop until Gizmodo’s editors were in jail, died one year later.

In every review we've read of the film, the following clip is seen as the most emotional moment. Former Apple engineer Bob Belleville breaks down reading a note he wrote after Jobs' death.

Despite being in the midst of heavy promotion for his Scientology documentary "Going Clear," Gibney flew to Austin, Texas, this weekend for the movie's world premiere at SXSW. 

During a Q&A after the screening, Gibney defended his film and portrayal of Jobs.

"Zen was superficial  a formal elegance," Gibney said of trying to understand Jobs' spiritual values. "He believed in making the world a better place by making better products, and that's it."

Gibney also defended his film to Variety, saying, "There are critical elements that people haven’t seen about Jobs or understood."

"I would say I’m no longer madly in love with my iPhone," added the director. "It’s no longer blind faith."

Watch Gibney's full Q&A at SXSW below.

SEE ALSO: How filmmaker Alex Gibney finally infiltrated Scientology for HBO's explosive new documentary

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NOW WATCH: Steve Jobs' biographer reveals the childhood moment that defined the Apple founder

Scientology calls HBO's documentary 'false propaganda' and slams former member featured in film

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scientology going clear

Director Alex Gibney's explosive new documentary on Scientology, which opened theatrically in limited release on Friday and airs on HBO March 29, alleges many things the church is not happy about.

One of the allegations in "Going Clear" comes from former member, Mike Rinder, who, in an on-camera interview along with other former church members, discusses an area at one of the Scientology compounds supposedly called "The Hole," where disobedient members are allegedly sent as punishment.

In an email to Business Insider, the church denies such a place even exists:

"This is another tired, false and offensive allegation. The only 'hole' at the Church property being referred to is on the golf course. This again sources to the same small group of liars. This false propaganda was exposed as a lie in our video at freedommag.org/hbo/videos/exterminating-gibneys-propaganda.html."

goingclear05Rinder, who is prominently featured in Gibney's film, even goes so far as to call Scientology's leader, David Miscavige, a "sociopath." 

The church didn't like that one, either, and in response slammed Rinder's character, calling him a "tainted source."

Rinder has since responded to BI to address the below comments from Scientology:

Scientology: "The source for these allegations, and Gibney’s primary subject, Mike Rinder, is talking about himself. Mr. Gibney and now yourself, due to prejudice and bias, have obliged in revising history for self-admitted suborners of perjury, perjurers and obstructers of justice."
Rinder: "I am no 'self-admitted suborner of perjury, perjuries and obstructer of justice' and I challenge them to produce whatever documents they say they have. This is a typical scientology sleaze. They claim [fellow former Scientology executive] Marty Rathbun admitted to doing this WHILE HE WAS EMPLOYED BY THE CHURCH and then ascribe it to me."
Scientology: "Mike Rinder admitted in a January deposition to the exact opposite of what he says to Mr. Gibney in the film and now to you."
Rinder: "No idea what they are referring to. And they don't cite the deposition or any specific statements that are 'the exact opposite.' Why not? They published portions of the deposition on their Freedom website? The entire transcript is available on Tony Ortega's site." 
Scientology: "He’s also a tainted source because he’s admitted to being paid by law firms seeking to score a payday suing the Church. You should know that just today the Church won a decisive victory in the case Rinder and his attorney clients had been hoping to hit the jackpot on."
Rinder: "Yes, I was hired as a consultant by several lawfirms. I testified in this deposition they refer to that it composed 10% of my income last year."
Scientology: "Rinder’s domestic abuse is documented by his ex-wife, brother, daughter and his ex-wife’s surgeon, and all of this would have been relevant to the film since Gibney shamelessly has Rinder lie about his ex-wife yet he didn’t ask her for comment or to sit for an interview, even when she was in New York to see him."
Rinder: "The alleged abuse is also documented by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and on BBC TV. It's covered in my blog. I didn't lie about my ex-wife. I didn't even MENTION that she came to Florida with 6 other people, followed me and assaulted me in the parking lot of a doctor's office. And the Sheriff's Office did NOT find any 'domestic abuse.'"
Scientology: "Alex Gibney and HBO cynically repackaged Mike Rinder into the poster boy for their new propaganda film. They flew Rinder around the country in five-star luxury to shill for their religious hatred, never mentioning that Rinder was expelled from his former religion for gross malfeasance. They hid that Mike Rinder can’t hold a job and his only source of income is payment for attacking Scientology. Gibney knew all this but relevant facts would have popped the phony bubble of legitimacy Gibney created around his 'star.'"
Rinder: "Funny, the same deposition they refer to, I told them EXACTYLY what I did for a living. And that only 10% of my income came from consulting law firms on scientology cases. Somehow that becomes 'can't hold a job' and 'my only source of income is payment for attacking scientology.' These people lie even when they don't need to. This isn't even relevant to any specific claim in the film, but they just have to go out of their way to somehow proclaim me as being 'unable to hold a job'? My current activities in life have no bearing on what I have to say about my experiences inside scientology."
Scientology: "And, at a time when religious hatred is spreading through the world and inciting violence, it is also irresponsible to release any film about religion with someone so obsessed with inciting hatred as Mike Rinder, an admitted liar and suborner of perjury, a paid anti-religionist and a domestic abuser.  http://www.freedommag.org/hbo/videos/mike-rinder.html"
Rinder: "Finally, why don't they address ANY of the statements I make in the film? Not one of them. Instead, they respond with ad hominem attacks. I will tell you why that is -- they CANNOT refute the truth. And they are bound by their own policy to 'always attack, never defend.'"
Scientology: "Mr. Miscavige has been successfully leading the Scientology religion for more than a quarter of a century during which the Scientology religion has expanded faster in the last 10 years than in its previous 50 years combined. Scientology parishioners worldwide hold him in the highest esteem for what he is doing for the religion."

Rinder has also included a post on his blog addressing the allegations Scientology has made against he and "Going Clear." 

The one frequent Scientology rumor the film does not address is the alleged disappearance of Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige, over nine years ago.

alex gibney lawrence wrightGibney previously told us there just wasn't enough time in the film to cover the story.

"At the end of the day, rather than doing stone skipping and covering as much as possible in a superficial way we chose to dig in on certain things," explained the director. 

But the Church of Scientology is adamant that Shelly Miscavige's whereabouts are part of a "conspiracy theory" and that she is not, in fact, missing.

"The false allegation about Mrs. Miscavige was debunked by the Los Angeles Police Department in a statement two years ago. The police declared the rumor “unfounded” and she continues in the Church as she always has. The notion that Mrs. Miscavige is missing is a conspiracy theory among Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright's unsavory sources. The rumor has resulted in the disgraceful harassment of Mr. and Mrs. Miscavige. It is disgusting. The Church has made information available about Mr. Gibney’s film at www.freedommag.org/hbo."

HBO did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment. 

SEE ALSO: Why Tom Cruise and John Travolta can't leave Scientology, according to the HBO documentary 'Going Clear'

MORE: The wife of Scientology's leader has allegedly been missing for 9 years, but HBO’s new documentary doesn't address it

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This incredible ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ fan remake took 33 years to make

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In 1982 three Mississippi teens — Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb — had the insane idea to remake, shot-for-shot, Steven Spielberg’s classic "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Seven summers later they finally completed it, with the exception of one iconic scene.

In the age before Internet, the fan film, titled "Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation," quickly built a cult following via VHS. After Zala gave permission to one of his friends to make a copy of his master VHS, the grassroots domino effect of "The Adaptation" began to spread throughout the country. It became so big, in fact, that by 2003 copies found its way to Hollywood, and Spielberg himself even saw it (and loved it). 

The trio did an incredible job of recreating iconic scenes from the original.

Here's Indy trying to get the golden idol in the beginning of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

indiana jones raiders of the lost ark harrison fordHere's the same scene in "The Adaptation."

adaptation idol

Indy fighting bad guys in Cairo.

indy punchAgain, here's that same scene in the remake.

adaptation punch

By 2003, the kids, at this point in their early 30s, had been trying to move on from the project that swallowed most of their youth. But the sudden surge of attention for the film pulled them back in and they found themselves motivated to do what they couldn’t pull off for those seven summers — shooting the dangerous airplane explosion scene that also includes Indy fighting a large Nazi while avoiding the plane's propellers.

With documentary filmmakers following along, Strompolos, who plays Indiana Jones in the remake, and Zala, director on the film (Lamb had a falling out with the two numerous years before), assembled a team to build a life-size replica of the plane in the scene and recreate the desert location in the Mississippi Gulf Coast (yes, complete with camels). Last year, the scene was shot in just over a week on a measly budget of around $60,000 they received from investors and a Kickstarter campaign.

airplane final

The result is chronicled in the documentary "Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made," directed by Jeremy Coon (producer of "Napoleon Dynamite") and Tim Skousen, which just had its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival over the weekend.

Along with being ringside while the pair shoot the airplane explosion scene — which had horrible weather, a novice crew and shoddy pyrotechnics that almost ruined the final shot — "Raiders!" also recounts the 33-year history of the making of "The Adaptation." 

We get first-hand accounts from Strompolos, Zala, Lamb and many others who spent most of their childhoods with the trio either starring, working behind the scenes as crew, or both explaining what it was really like to try to make a Spielberg film in their neighborhood.

indy rock

adaptation rock

For every remarkable story of how they pulled something off — like Indy being chased by a boulder or the ghosts coming out of the Ark — there are the ones where serious injuries or death wasn't far off. For example, there was a scene where an old truck with no brakes was used to shoot the famous scene where Indy slides under a moving truck carrying the Ark, and is then dragged behind it from his whip. At another point, Zala was purposefully lit on fire with gasoline to recreate the bar brawl where Indy finds Marion and the bar burns down. (Luckily a fire extinguisher was close by.)

That halted production for a while due to angry parents.

But when it came to shooting the exploding airplane scene the kids couldn't decide what to do. Lamb, who was the cinematographer and special effects whiz of the group, wanted to do it as a miniature, but that wasn't in the cards for Strompolos and Zala. Spielberg didn't use miniatures for the scene! They finally just decided it wasn't possible to pull off (and do you really think their parents would allow them to fight near spinning propellers or blow up a plane?).

The scene wasn't a cakewalk for Spielberg either.

Filming in Tunisia, by the time they shot the scene, most of the cast and crew were dealing with food poisoning. Spielberg was spared as he only ate out of canned food from England. Harrison Ford's left leg was run over by the plane, tearing his cruciate ligament during shooting as well.

indy sunset

adaptation sunset

"Raiders!" is a testament to the power of movies and how, in this case, just dressing up as Indiana Jones for Halloween wasn't enough for a group of kids from Mississippi. But it's hardly the only example of the influence movies can have on us.

We've seen it in Michel Gondry's "Be Kind Rewind," which stars Jack Black and Mos Def as video store clerks who mistakenly erase all the tapes at their video store and decide to creatively reshoot them on no budget in their Brooklyn neighborhood with one camcorder. And opening last weekend, "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" is based on the urban legend that an office worker from Tokyo traveled to Fargo, North Dakota and died in search of the money Steve Buscemi's character in the Coen brother's "Fargo" left behind in the film.

This summer, popular Sundance film "The Wolfpack" opens in theaters, a documentary that highlights six brothers who have been living in an apartment in New York's Lower East Side shut away from society and only know about the outside world through the films they watch and then reenact using homemade props and costumes.

Kumiko_Still"The Adaptation" stands alone in fan films, not only because of the dedication behind it, but the story the kids pay tribute to is one that continues to capture the imagination of audiences young and old 34 years after its release. (Sadly, the movie probably won't be released any time soon due to copyright issues.)

Unlike films today that are topped a few weeks later by something bigger and bolder, Spielberg (along with Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas, who wrote the screenplay) created a story, characters and action sequences that to this day never feels outdated. Strompolos and Zala were so obsessed with it they needed to be in that story.

If you grew up loving Indiana Jones you understand why "The Adaptation" was made and why Strompolos and Zala had to finish it. Indy is still a movie hero we can relate to. He doesn't have super powers, or powerful weapons that destroy the villains. Harrison Ford plays him as a man driven by discovery and uses sheer effort and wits to accomplish it.

How much does that ring true today? In a recent Rolling Stone reader's poll asking to vote for your favorite Ford character, it wasn't Han Solo but Indiana Jones that came out as the number one choice. 

There are some guys from Mississippi who feel the same way.

Watch the first 10 minutes of "The Adaptation" below via YouTube:

 

SEE ALSO: 12 Austin restaurants you should try during SXSW

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The 'Fast and Furious' cast surprised fans at early screenings for the next film to honor Paul Walker

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Universal Pictures debuted seven private fan screenings of the new "Fast and the Furious" movie, "Furious 7," across the country Monday evening.

Fans in four of those locations were surprised when stars from the film including Tyrese (San Francisco, California), Ludacris (Atlanta, Georgia), Jordana Brewster (Miami, Florida), and Vin Diesel himself (Los Angeles) came out to introduce the sequel.

"Furious 7" was originally set for release in summer 2014, but was put on hold after the death of costar Paul Walker in November 2013.

Full clips of the actors' speeches haven't made their way online yet, but each of them made a reference to Walker.

Here's Tyrese welcoming the crowd in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Ludacris welcomed those at the first screening in Atlanta, Georgia and gave viewers insight into what went into completing the film. 

"There's a big misunderstanding," said Ludacris. "He [Walker] was done with about 80% of his parts in this movie before his untimely death. The whole production was shut down for about four or five months. We didn't even know if we were going to finish the movie." 

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Brewster greeted fans ahead of the Miami, Florida screening.

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It was fitting that Diesel welcomed the crowd in Los Angeles where the franchise began.

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"This is a very special movie as you all know. We made this movie with our hearts," said Diesel. "It was important to me to come."

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Earlier this week, Diesel shared the following image from "Furious 7" with his Facebook followers:

furious 7

"Furious 7" is in theaters April 3.

SEE ALSO: Fans loved the first screening of "Fast and the Furious 7"

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NOW WATCH: The new 'Furious 7' trailer is packed full of cars, explosions, and ridiculous stunts

'Fast and Furious 7' is an absolutely ridiculous thrill ride and Paul Walker tribute that fans will love

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paul walker furious 7

The seventh installment of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, aptly titled "Furious 7," is probably one of the most ridiculous non-stop action rides you'll see this year. 

It's also probably one of the few action films which will also reduce you to tears by it's end. 

We attended one of seven fan screenings for the film held Monday night and reception for the film was overwhelmingly positive. 

The film, which was originally set to debut summer 2014, was put on hold after the death of lead costar Paul Walker in November 2013.  

For a while, it wasn't certain whether the cast and crew would move forward with the next installment. Fans are definitely happy they did. 

Applause opened and closed the film. 

Walker’s first appearance on screen was met with wild enthusiasm. While, yes, we were at a fan screening, this is something I expect will occur in most screenings of the film opening weekend. The "Fast and Furious" films have built up a big social presence across Twitter, Facebook, and InstagramUnlike other films, the "Furious 7" team and cast update their accounts regularly and don't quit once the movie stops airing. 

fast furious facebook

Starring a huge returning cast of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese, Ludacris, and the late Walker for one last ride, the film starts off tying the previous films in the saga together by merging the end of “Fast and Furious 3” (aka “Tokyo Drift”) with the end of “six.” That may sound confusing to outsiders of the franchise, but the film does it immensely well. 

fast and furious 7 castDon’t worry. There's no need to go back and bingewatch the older films. "Furious 7" does a nice job of catching you up to speed if you haven't been keeping up with the story.

“Furious 7” kicks off with Jason Statham joining the cast as villain Deckard Shaw.

jason statham furious 7He's trying to hunt down all of Dominic Toretto's (Diesel) crew to avenge his brother, the villain from "Fast and Furious 6," who was left for dead in the last film. Before Shaw can do that, Dom plans to take him out first with help from Brian (Walker), Ronan (Tyrese), Tej (Ludascris), and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez).

From the start, the two-hour and 20 minute movie kicks it in to overdrive and never really stops. 

Highlights include big fight sequences between Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw as well as showdowns between the latter and Dom that have been teased in marketing.

jason statham vin diesel furious 7Rodriguez also has a memorable brawl going toe to toe with MMA fighter Ronda Rousey.

furious 7
A part near the end of the film may remind fans of Johnson's next summer action flick, "San Andreas,"about earthquakes shattering Los Angeles.

Of course the cars are the big scene stealers here.

If you've seen the trailers, you already know what's in store.

Muscle cars parachute out of airplanes and a $3 million hypercar gets sent flying through buildings. 

 

That doesn't make them any less fun. They look even better on the big screen.

After binge-watching the six previous films ahead of "Furious 7," I'd dare to say "Fast Five" and "Six" are better plotwise than the latest installment.

Without getting into it too much, the main point of the film is for Diesel to get revenge and take down Shaw before he can harm his extended family. The mission gets sidetracked pretty fast when Diesel and his team get wrangled into a wacky chase around the world by the FBI (headed by another addition, Kurt Russell) for a valuable tech prototype before they can continue hunting Shaw. (Think CBS' "The Amazing Race.")

From there, the plot becomes slightly bloated with drones and hackers thrown in the mix, too.

But let's be realistic.

You don't go to a "Fast and the Furious" film for a serious plot. You head in to see the fast cars, Dom and Brian racing, and what ridiculous punchlines the Rock is going to deliver

vin diesel furious 7These films know their audience and what they're doing.

Each film tries to top the last with even more ridiculous stunts. In 2001's first film, Dom and Brian tried to outrace a train. In "2 Fast 2 Furious," Brian jumped a car onto a yachtThe last film introduced a military tank to the mix and a wild scene with Vin Diesel diving out of his vehicle and across a highway. "Furious 7" more than upped the ante. 

Those who have been fans from its start in 2001 will be rewarded. 

Not only do actors from previous films — going back to the first release in 2001 — make short cameos, but diehard fans will notice specific references and nods to earlier installments. (One to be on the lookout for is *spoiler* that infamous wrench we learned Dom used to cripple a man in the first film. That sent him to the slammer for two years. *spoiler*)

More than anything, "Furious 7" is a tribute to Walker. 

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Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody filled in tohelp complete parts of the movie that went unfilmed by Paul. In some brief moments, you may wonder if it's Paul or his siblings on screen, but you'd be hard pressed to think you're looking at anyone but Paul anywhere but in a few select scenes where the screen attention is taken off his face. For those worried that Walker may not be lacking in the film, he's in the film nearly as much as Diesel. If anything, the Rock is in the film less than Walker.

Paul Walker brothers cody caleb fast and furious
The final 15-20 minutes of "Seven" definitely pull at your heart strings more than any of the other films in the ongoing series.

There's a scene in 2011's "Fast Five" where Dom gives a toast after everyone learns his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) is pregnant. He says, "Money will come and go. We know that. But the most important thing in life will always be the people in this room. Right here. Right now. Salud mi familia."

 

Take away the flashy cars, the explosions, the scantily clad women, and the quirky asides and one-liners from Ludacris and Tyrese, and the "Fast and the Furious" series has always been about family.

That's one reason this franchise was able to rise back up in popularity after the fourth film when Diesel and the original cast returned. It modeled itself around the one thing his character Dom valued more than anything.

Behind the silliness and the action of the franchise, at the end of the day, the film's are about Dom's extended family, an incredibly diverse one full of different races and cultures. Everyone can relate to that. Everyone has family.

I won't take away the ending of "Furious 7" from you. That's something that should be experienced on the big screen, but it is a fitting tribute to the late Walker.

paul walker the fast and the furious

Bring a tissue or two, because you're most likely going to cry. There's just no way around that. 

By the time you leave, you'll want to know the name of the Wiz Khalifa track responsible for your tears. Don't click the link to the song for now if you want to be surprised come April. 

Estimates are saying the film will make $100 million opening weekend. "Fast and Furious 6" made $97 million in three days. Over Memorial Day weekend 2013, it made $120 million. Since then, Vin Diesel has become one of the most followed celebrities on Facebook with over 90 million fans. There's also a big audience who wants to bid adieu to Walker's character on screen. That was evident from the screening we attended. We wouldn't be surprised if it made plenty more than that.

"Furious 7" is in theaters April 3.

SEE ALSO: The 'Fast and Furious' cast surprised fans at early screenings for the next film

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NOW WATCH: The new 'Furious 7' trailer is packed full of cars, explosions, and ridiculous stunts

Here's the first poster for the next James Bond movie

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The next James Bond film, "Spectre," is in theaters November 6.

In February, the first image of Daniel Craig in the film was released on the official James Bond 007 site. Tuesday, the site revealed the first teaser poster for the film featuring Craig.

Two versions of the poster in different sizes were put out in both color and black and white. Craig's icy blue eyes are striking on the latter.

spectre posterspectre poster black white

SEE ALSO: The first photo of James Bond in "Spectre"

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