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Bill Murray is playing a dog in Wes Anderson's next movie — why it's probably going to be great

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Bill Murray Wes Anderson Andrew H. Walker Getty

In case you had any doubt, Bill Murray will be in Wes Anderson's next movie, which we don't know much about outside of the fact that it will be stop-motion and involve dogs. 

Murray confirmed to The Playlist that he's in the currently untitled movie, which will mark the eighth feature film in which Anderson has cast Murray.

"I'm playing a dog. He's doing another, like a stop-motion animated kind of comedy sort of like 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,'" Murray said. "And it's a Japanese story and I'm playing a dog. I'm very excited."

Other Anderson regulars who will lend their voices include Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, and Bob Balaban. Bryan Cranston is also attached to the film.

Though "Fantastic Mr. Fox" didn't make any huge noise at the box office, making over $46 million worldwide, for a movie that was entirely in stop-motion it's still an impressive take. And it didn't hurt that the movie was a hit with critics.

As we wait for more news on his latest collaboration with Anderson, be sure to enjoy Murray's latest venture, his holiday special on Netflix, "A Very Murray Christmas."

SEE ALSO: 7 movies Bill Murray turned down

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NOW WATCH: This early audition proves that Daniel Radcliffe was born to play Harry Potter

It looks like 'Star Wars' might get its first female director

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A First Order Stormtrooper in The Force Awakens

Following reports that some of the biggest decision-makers in Hollywood got together in a secret meeting to come up with ways to address gender bias in the industry, the L.A. Times now reports that the "Star Wars" franchise is actively looking to hire females for the creative side of its upcoming projects.

WME agent Adriana Alberghetti, who was at the secret gathering, told the paper that since then, she's set up meetings with four female directors and three female writers for upcoming "Star Wars" films. 

Those "Star Wars" projects could be for the episodes in the saga following "Episode VII: The Force Awakens," which opens on December 18, or the franchise's anthology films. Remember, a director slot is still open for the the spin-off project that "Fantastic Four" director Josh Trank left (if you believe the rumors, it's supposed to focus on Boba Fett).

This makes sense, given Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy's comment earlier this year that "There’s nothing we’d like more than to find a female director for 'Star Wars.'"

Lucasfilm appears driven to have diverse voices lead the saga going forward. That is evident with the casting of John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, a black man and a woman, as the main leads in "The Force Awakens."

And according to another L.A. Times story, Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that the female villain in "Awakens," Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), will be in "Episode VIII."

"She's an important character," Kennedy told the paper, "a baddie in the best sense of the word." 

SEE ALSO: The ingenious path George Lucas took to making billions off of "Star Wars"

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NOW WATCH: Texting tricks you didn't know you could do on your iPhone

George Lucas has seen 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'really liked it'

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george lucas Getty Images final

The Force is still with George Lucas — or at least he's apparently on board with "The Force Awakens."

According to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Lucas, who sold his company to Disney in 2012 and was not involved in the new Star Wars film, will attend the premieres this month in Los Angeles and London. Lucas has seen the film, Kennedy tells The Hollywood Reporter, and "he really liked it."

Lucas has expressed some ambivalence about the direction of the new films. In an interview with CBS in November, he said he submitted ideas for the new films but "ultimately, they looked at the stories and they said, 'We want to make something for the fans,'" Lucas said. "People don't actually realize it's actually a soap opera and it's all about family problems — it's not about spaceships. So they decided they didn't want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing so I decided, 'fine. ... I'll go my way and I let them go their way.'"

Kennedy says it's been tough for Lucas, who was intimately involved in the first six "Star Wars" films, "watching this go on without his direct involvement. At the same time, he really wanted to step away."

She adds: "If there's one thing I've learned about George is it's that he's never, ever held back. Having him 100 percent on board is up to him and he can't do that unless he's running everything."

Because he wasn't involved in the film's creation, there has been speculation in the Star Wars fan community about whether Lucas would publicly endorse "Force Awakens," the first in a planned once-a-year series of "Star Wars" sequels and spinoffs from Disney and Lucasfilm.

Rey and BB-8 in The Force AwakensHe told the Washington Post earlier this week that he hadn't seen the film and was better off having not been involved.  “There is no such thing as working over someone’s shoulder,” he said. “You’re either the dictator or you’re not. And to do that would never work, so I said ‘I’m going to get divorced.’ . . . I knew that I couldn’t be involved. All I’d do is make them miserable. I’d make myself miserable. It would probably ruin a vision — J.J. [Abrams] has a vision, and it’s his vision.”

On watching The Force Awakens, he told the Post, “I gotta go to the wedding. My ex will be there, my new wife will be there, but I’m going to have to take a very deep breath and be a good person and sit through it and just enjoy the moment, because it is what it is and it’s a conscious decision that I made."

Now that Lucas has seen The Force Awakens, he has joined an exclusive circle that includes star Harrison Ford, friend and collaborator Steven Spielberg and top Disney executives. (Even "Star Wars" spinoff directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow have said they haven't seen the film, and "Episode VIII" filmmaker Rian Johnson and "Star Wars: Rogue One"'s Gareth Edwards only have viewed a rough version).

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens," directed by Abrams from his and Lawrence Kasdan's script and starring original franchise stars Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, opens Dec. 18.

SEE ALSO: J.J. Abrams has an answer on if there will be a post-credits scene in the new "Star Wars"

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How this 23-year-old went from British theater actor to starring in the next 'Star Wars'

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john boyega

John Boyega is a "Star Wars" fanboy. 

And now, the 23-year-old from London is living out his dream as Finn, one of the lead characters in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Before Boyega was cast as the runaway Stormtrooper in the newest addition to the "Star Wars" galaxy, he was building his name with indie projects. He made his feature-film debut when he was 19 in "Attack the Block," a British sci-fi comedy written and directed by Joe Cornish. He earned praise for the role, which landed him on director J.J. Abrams' radar. 

With the December 18 release of "The Force Awakens," Boyega is primed for his shot up the Hollywood ladder.

Get to know the new member of the "Star Wars" universe below:

SEE ALSO: Meet Daisy Ridley, the 23-year-old who snagged a lead role in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' — her Hollywood career is about to blow up

John Boyega was born March 17, 1992 in Peckham, London to Nigerian immigrants. His father was a preacher and his mother worked with the disabled. After playing a leopard in elementary school, Boyega knew he wanted to act.

Source: New York Times and Interview 



He was invited to join Theatre Peckham when he was nine, a special theater school for aspiring actors. He later studied performing arts at South Thames College and trained at the Identity School of Acting.

Source: CNN



His earliest roles included a character on the British web drama series "Becoming Human" and a guest appearance on "Law & Order: UK."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

C-3PO almost had a totally different voice — here's the inside story of the 'Star Wars' droid

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anthony daniels c3po April 9, 2008 St Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburg

C-3PO almost wasn't a British droid. 

In a new interview for New York magazine, Anthony Daniels, the actor inside the C-3PO suit, revealed that director George Lucas had imagined the robot sounding like he was from the Bronx, not the UK. 

Daniels first traveled to the US to re-record the lines for "Star Wars" ("Episode IV: A New Hope") in 1976 because the costume muffled anything he said, and that's where he learned about Lucas' displeasure with his voice.

“I walked into the sound producer’s stage on Highland and the engineer said, ‘Huh, interesting. We spent a couple of months trying to find a voice for your part because George really hates it,'" Daniels said. "But he had the generosity of spirit to change his mind. Had it not been for that, I wouldn’t have been in 'Episode V.'”

Lucas didn't change his mind about replacing Darth Vader's voice, however. James Earl Jones' voice substituted that of David Prowse, the actor who initially portrayed Darth Vader. 

In the interview, Daniels also admitted that he originally wasn't interested in auditioning, but his agent told him, "Don't be stupid."

After showing up for the five-minute audition, Daniels ended up staying for an hour and liked a painting of C-3PO by conceptual illustrator Ralph McQuarrie. "He [C-3PO] seemed a bit lost. He had a vulnerability that attracted me," Daniels said. 

SEE ALSO: Meet John Boyega, the 23-year-old 'Star Wars' star who's having his Hollywood breakthrough

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NOW WATCH: Hugh Hefner's son has a surprising and inspiring attitude toward women

This favorite female villain from the new 'Star Wars' was originally a man

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gwendoline christieThe creative minds behind "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" are so secretive that not even cast members know everything about their characters.

Vulture's Kyle Buchanan was the first to let Gwendoline Christie know that Captain Phasma, the first female villain in the franchise, was originally concevied of as a man, a secret he managed to learn from "The Force Awakens" co-writer Lawrence Kasdan. 

Christie was shocked. 

"It’s so interesting, because I’m really uncovering more about this film from people like you than I knew before! Please just tell me everything he said!” she said.

Kasdan told Buchanan that the script was constantly changing, even as costumes were being planned and casting was happening.

After a photo was released from the first table read, the Internet noticed that only one new female was pictured. 

Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams were still trying to cast Captain Phasma as the Internet reacted, and that's what gave them the idea. 

“Everything was happening simultaneously,” Kasdan said. “When the idea came up to make Phasma female, it was instantaneous: Everyone just said, ‘Yes. That’s great.’”

Christie was pleased with their reaction.

“I think that’s great of them, don’t you?” she asked. “That there was a discussion about that, and an evolution?”

Captain Phasma's chrome stormtrooper armor serves its function rather than sexualize the character, something Christie is also proud of.

"I remember when I first saw it, I said, ‘Wow’ — not just because it looks incredible, although come on — but because I thought, 'This is new.' I mean, in my own small bubble, this represents the way I think and the way I see things, but it’s not always the way of the world," she said. "So for that evolved thinking to be in a 'Star Wars' movie, I think people love that! People have responded so well to that.”

She said she views Captain Phasma as "progressive" and is proud of films and TV shows that represent men and women in more diverse ways, citing "The Hunger Games" and "Game of Thrones" (in which she plays Brienne of Tarth) as examples.  

She added, “It should be everyday, because it is everyday.”

SEE ALSO: How this 23-year-old went from British theater actor to starring in the next 'Star Wars'

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Here's why 2,500 actors are desperate to play Han Solo

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Of the many new "Star Wars" films in the pipeline, one of the most highly anticipated is a prequel centered around Han Solo. He is the first character in the "Star Wars" universe to get his own movie.

Nobody knows who will be cast as young Han Solo. Rising stars such as Dave Franco ("Neighbors"), Rami Malek ("Mr. Robot"), and Miles Teller ("Whiplash") were among the 2,500 actors who reportedly came out to audition for the part

The reason the number is so high is because this is one of the most coveted roles in Hollywood. This is the role that made Harrison Ford an icon. He'll reprise his role as Solo in the upcoming "The Force Awakens."

The still untitled Han Solo movie will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ("The Lego Movie"). It will be out in theaters on May 25, 2018.

Story by Ian Phillips and editing by Ben Nigh

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SEE ALSO: This early audition proves that Daniel Radcliffe was born to play Harry Potter

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The cast of 'The Hateful Eight' tries to figure out who leaked the script on Jimmy Kimmel

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Jimmy Kimmel1 final

Some of the cast of "The Hateful Eight" and its writer-director Quentin Tarantino went on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Monday night, and Kimmel couldn't help but bring up the thing that almost derailed the entire movie from happening.

While Tarantino was writing the script, he passed a draft to some close friends, and somehow it got leaked online. Gawker put up the complete draft and Tarantino sued the site, also vowing not to make the movie.

Thankfully, the eighth movie by the Oscar winner was made. But Kimmel wanted answers.

When some of the cast came out to join Tarantino, Kimmel asked the three people who were reported to have had the script at the time:

Michael Madsen, who told a story of how he found out about the leak while riding an elevator and being mad at Tarantino because he was quoted as saying, "Well, I know Tim [Roth] would never leak it."

JimmyKimmel4 finalLegendary actor Bruce Dern, who said he was hard of hearing and couldn't catch Kimmel's question.

JimmyKimmel3_final dernAnd Roth, who (jokingly) took blame for the whole thing. 

Jimmy Kimmel2 finalWe likely won't ever know who really did it. But it's nice to know the internet didn't ruin a Tarantino film from getting made.

Watch the full interrogation by Kimmel:

SEE ALSO: Here's how this 23-year-old went from British theater actor to starring in the next "Star Wars"

Join the conversation about this story »

Here’s the weirdest time paradox from 'Back To the Future’

Pixar finally has its first box-office bomb

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the good dinosaur

The 2015 box office has had some fascinating headlines this year, from the summer dominance by Universal ("Jurassic World,""Minions") to the fall disappointments in movies like “Pan” and “Jem and the Holograms.” But what no one saw coming was that the latest Pixar movie would be a dud.

After 16 movies, it looks like “The Good Dinosaur” is the company’s first real box-office failure.

The film opened with a soft $39.1 million following less-than-stellar reviews (even a critically mixed Pixar movie like “Brave” opened with $66 million) and then in its second weekend only made $15.5 million, a 60% drop in sales, which is unheard of from a Pixar movie.

Things won’t get any better for the movie, which looks at an Apatosaurus dinosaur on a journey to reunite with his family, as competition for eyeballs will only increase. And not just from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” coming in two weeks, but for kids there’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip,” and “The Peanuts Movie” is still going strong.

According to Variety, the film’s production budget was $200 million, and roughly $150 million was pumped into marketing. Adding in other costs, that means Disney, which releases Pixar movies, would have to make back $500 million to break even. This could happen with the help of foreign sales and home entertainment, though analysts are projecting that the movie will earn under $400 million worldwide.

Just earlier this year, Pixar had a major success with “Inside Out,” which earned over $850 million worldwide. This could have led to the audience being a little burnt out from emotionally-charged Pixar movies for the rest of the year.

If “The Good Dinosaur” doesn’t pick up the pace, it will be Pixar’s lowest-grossing film since 1998’s “A Bug’s Life,” which made $363.4 million worldwide. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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'Hunger Games' movies will 'live on and on and on' with prequels, according to Lionsgate executive

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Hunger Games Mockingjay

Lionsgate entertainment vice chairman Michael Burns compares "Hunger Games" to "Harry Potter" and says it will "live on and on and on."

Burns spoke at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York as Lionsgate's latest edition of "Hunger Games" continues to lead the box office with about $525 million earned worldwide. The film opened just over $100 million in its opening weekend, behind earlier segments. Burns said he was disappointed, but that it was a "high-class problem" to have.
 
Fans of the Katniss Everdeen franchise should definitely expect to see prequels.

"The one thing that kids say they missed (from the early "Hunger Games" films) was there was no arenas," he said, referencing the stadiums where children killed each other and noting the prior films only covered the 74th and 75th competitions. "If we went backwards there obviously would be arenas."

Burns also spoke how the studio aims to get more out from its other big franchises — including "Twilight,""The Expendables" and "Saw," nodding towards reboots, prequels or sequels for each of them. 

He also spoke more generally about the company's strategy and position in the marketplace.

In recent months, Lionsgate has been subject to much merger speculation, especially since February when billionaire media mogul John Malone swapped a portion of his stake in Starz for 3.4 percent in Lionsgate, taking a board seat in the entertainment studio. Then last month, Discovery Communications and Liberty Global — Malone owns more than a 25 percent in each — purchased its own 3.4 percent stake in Lionsgate. Analysts were quick to note synergies between the companies and Lionsgate's stock price has subsequently been on a rollercoaster, reaching a high of $41 on Nov. 10 before crashing down to $33 territory at the end of Monday's market.

twilight new book life and deathTalking about Discovery and Liberty, Burns said, "If i was a betting man, I would expect to see more collaboration between the three companies."

Asked about a possible merger with Starz, Burns commended Starz CEO Chris Albrecht as "executing the right strategy, emphasizing hit shows," and praising their distribution deals. Burns added that as a Starz shareholder, Lionsgate is pleased. "We think it's valuable," Burns said about the Starz stake.

From the audience of investors, Albrecht shouted out, "Very valuable!"

Burns retorted, "He said we're kissing cousins. Eventually, he'll pay up for one of our shows."

At the conference, Burns also called the company's recent $200 million investment in unscripted producer Pilgrim studios ("Ghost Hunters,""Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,""Fast N’ Loud") an "overlooked asset" and touted the goals of having a third of Lionsgate production tied to television as well as its aim to "become a more global company."

He also spoke about Lionsgate's "secret sauce," identifying it as the ability to really develop the projects it buys.

"I think the town has woken up to the fact when they sell property to our major competition, a higher price will be paid but it will never be made," said Burns, noting turnover at the bigger studios.

Burns also considers Lionsgate to be "technology-agnostic," not taking a position on skinny bundles vs. fat bundles, only to say that the studio represents "content mercenaries, really arm dealers," able to sell whatever which way.

SEE ALSO: Netflix claims it has a show more popular than HBO's "Game of Thrones"

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Why 2 movies are making the bold decision to open the same day as 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

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Sisters 2 K.C. Bailey final

It can feel like just about everyone in the country has marked down December 18 as the day "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" comes out. Yet there are two studios that are brave enough to take it on.

Universal has the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy “Sisters,” and 20th Century Fox has “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip,” both coming out the same weekend as "Star Wars."

You can’t get more counter-programming than that.

It’s safe to say both studios are looking more at the long game with these titles rather than any impressive box office their opening weekend. (Neither would comment for this story.)

But looking at history, there are some interesting motivations for why both of these companies are poking a stick at the giant.

Fox is the old distribution home of the “Star Wars” franchise, before George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 for over $4 billion. Fox might be thinking that, coming out a week before Christmas, "Alvin" can be the option for the kids market in that week going into the holiday (by then many schools are closed for the holiday).

alvin and the chipmunks the road chip finalUniversal has a little more teeth in the game. The latest movie to star the extremely popular duo of Poehler and Fey, “Sisters” is the ultimate girls-night-out movie, as opposed to the fanboy-crazed “Force Awakens.” Universal might also be confident from the last time they went up against a testosterone-heavy actioner.

In mid-May, Universal's “Pitch Perfect 2” went up against Warner Brothers' “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the Bellas took the opening-weekend box office with $69.2 million.

Now, no one at Universal thinks they will prevail over "Star Wars," but there is confidence from people within the studio who talked to BI off the record that "Sisters" can do well after opening weekend.

Also going for "Sisters" is the fact that it's R-rated, which gives it a core audience that's older and historically skips over a film’s opening weekend.

“I could see ‘Sisters’ opening in the mid-teens against ‘The Force Awakens,' same for ‘Alvin,’” Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst at Exhibitor Relations, told Business Insider. “But it baffles my mind why any studio would attempt to cross paths with ‘The Force Awakens.’”

SEE ALSO: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" earns more than 50 million in advance ticket sales, breaking records

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'The Hateful Eight' police protest never happened, and Quentin Tarantino is very happy

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quentin tarantino and courtney hoffmanA couple of weeks ago it looked like Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film, "The Hateful Eight," was going to be overrun with controversy following the director’s divisive remarks regarding police brutality. Last night’s Los Angeles premiere was set to be a big indicator of just how venomous the protests against the film would be. The thing is, though, nothing actually happened and the screening for the western went off without interruption.

Rebecca Ford, who writes for The Hollywood Reporter, attended the event, and informed her Twitter followers that Quentin Tarantino’s mood was immediately buoyed by the serene nature of the premiere. She even revealed that QT warmed up the crowd with what I now hope becomes his usual greeting when entering Hollywood soirees.

Quentin Tarantino’s good mood didn’t stop there. From all accounts, he was the one who enjoyed "The Hateful Eightthe most out of everyone in attendance, as his laughter was said to be booming over every other member of the audience’s chortling.

To be fair to Quentin Tarantino, it’s completely understandable why he was so relieved at the lack of problems at "The Hateful Eightpremiere. While attending a rally against police brutality back in October, the "Pulp Fiction" filmmaker referred to some officers "murderers." The Fraternal Order of Police, which is based in Washington D.C. and has over 330,000 full-time police officers as members, reacted furiously to these remarks, which Tarantino later clarified. 

Last month, the FOP’s executive director, Jim Pasco, teased that in response to his remarks they were working on a "surprise" for Tarantino that would take place between early November and the film's LA premiere. This period has now come to an end, and nothing untoward has occurred to Tarantino. Yet. 

But with "The Hateful Eight" due out on Christmas Day there’s every chance that Pasco and his band of police officers could be waiting until we're closer to the actual release date to pounce. Which is kind of perplexing to me. Because, despite the hasty nature of Tarantino’s comments, shouldn’t calculated revenge be the sort of thing that police officers are above? 

SEE ALSO: Quentin Tarantino already has an idea for a 'Kill Bill: Volume 3'

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What George Lucas really thought of the new 'Star Wars' isn't so nice

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george lucasWe learned a few days ago that George Lucas has already seen "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." The word coming off that screening was that Lucas liked the movie.

However, that word came from Kathleen Kennedy, the current head of Lucasfilm who has, to be honest, a personal interest in the film getting the best press possible. Now Lucas has spoken publicly about the film himself.

What’s the word from the horse’s mouth? Well, he didn’t really say whether he liked it. But he did say that you will.

At the Kennedy Center Honors over the weekend, where Lucas was being honored, he was asked point-blank what he thought of the movie. According to Vulture, he thinks fans will love it, but he stopped short of saying he did.

"I think the fans are going to love it. It's very much the kind of movie they've been looking for."

This is what's known as a backhanded compliment. George Lucas' public comments regarding the "Star Wars" franchise of late have seemed a bit bitter, to be honest. He's spoken about how Disney wasn't interested in his original story for what the new trilogy would be about. He said they were looking to make a movie for the fans. The statement, of course, implies that whatever he was planning on making wasn't interested in the fans at all.

So the good news, at least potentially, to pull from this, is that Disney has successfully made exactly the movie they were trying to make. Their goal was to make a movie for the fans and Lucas himself says they have succeeded in doing just that. One can infer that Lucas himself actually may not have liked the movie that much, though, from a certain point of view, that can also be a good thing. If you haven’t liked Lucas' recent work with "Star Wars," like the prequels or the Special Edition changes, maybe a movie he didn't like is exactly the movie for you.

George Lucas has not been silent regarding his frustration with movie fans in general. Many of them were far from silent regarding dissatisfaction with the prequel trilogy, and this has led to some pretty major irritation for him.

The filmmaker previously described going to see the new movie in terms of going to a wedding where he knew he was going to run into his ex. It’s obvious he wasn’t particularly excited about seeing the franchise, which used to be his, going on without him.

How important is George Lucas' opinion of "The Force Awakens" to you? He is the godfather of the franchise, after all. Would a glowing endorsement fill you with confidence, or does his opinion not really matter anymore?

SEE ALSO: Why 2 movies are making the insane decision to open the same day as 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

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NASA scientist isn't impressed with the new 'Star Wars' droid BB-8

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BB-8 may look cool, but R2-D2 and C-3PO are the most plausible of the "Star Wars" drones, says Brett Kennedy, a roboticist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

In a video for Wired, Kennedy compares the three droids to NASA's robotics. 

Kennedy says the physics behind BB-8 make it a flawed robot. While it's easier for it to travel on flat land, it would be "extremely difficult" for it to roll up and over something, inhibiting its movement. 

As for R2-D2, Kennedy says it's something scientists can build today. 

"A lot of what it does is perfectly possible with what we have," he said. 

The same goes for C-3PO. 

c3po robot droid nasa

"If you married the capabilities of our humanoid systems with what you can get out of your phone today, marrying the two together shouldn't be particularly difficult," he said. "There are even some humanoid systems that we have today that can out-perform a C-3PO system. 

The one thing C-3PO has that real robots have trouble emulating is spine flexibility, he added.  

Watch the video below:

SEE ALSO: C-3PO almost had a totally different voice — here's the inside story of the 'Star Wars' droid

Join the conversation about this story »

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'Zoolander 2' screenwriter responds to protest over Benedict Cumberbatch character

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zoolander 2After the trailer for "Zoolander 2" dropped, a protest had sparked against one of the film's particularly controversial gags. The joke, involving an androgynous model named All, has been labeled as a mockery of LGBT concerns in a petition that's over 20,000 signatures strong. Naturally, the writer of "Zoolander 2," Justin Theroux, has commented on the controversy himself, and above all else he feels a bit hurt. 

While doing press for "The Leftovers," the hot button issue found its way into a conversation between Theroux and a journalist representing The Wrap. Theroux, who also co-wrote the Ben Stiller vehicle "Tropic Thunder," responded to the outrage with the following remarks:

"I don’t even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way. I take great care in the jokes I write, and the umbrage being taken is out of the context of the scene. I wish people would see the movie first. Satire is a thing that points out the idiots...I’m all for letting words be ugly when the target is correct...our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone." 

Unfortunately for Justin Theroux, and those involved with the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch in the controversial role, the petition also draws attention to the fact that a traditionally gender identified actor has been cast in a role that depicts, "a non [gender] binary individual in a clearly negative way." With only two months to go until "Zoolander 2"'s release, the issue of depicting a non-traditionally gendered character is most assuredly not going away, but considering how "Tropic Thunder" came under similar fire during its own theatrical release, the issue wasn't really that new to begin with.

It wasn't too long ago that mental disability groups tried to lobby Paramount to delete the now famous "full retard" scene from "Tropic Thunder," only to see the scene eventually included in the finished product. That's not to say that the concerns of special interest groups are invalid, it's just that in the case of both films penned by Justin Theroux, context is key. The exact conditions that set up these scenes are extremely important to their interpretation, and ultimate message. For all we know, the scene sets up a killer joke at the expense of our two favorite male models, courtesy of their competition. 

In order to gain a little more context as to how this joke possibly fits in with the rest of "Zoolander 2," we'd suggest watching trailer again below. Be sure to keep an eye on the 00:36 mark that begins the scene in question.

There are a couple of questions that should be answered before any sort of controversy is raised: the first being, how is the character portrayed / described. In the case of All, the words "biggest supermodel in the whole world" don't seem to create a negative connotation, at least not with the world at large. Which raises the second concern when it comes to the joke: if the world isn't reacting negatively to the character of All, then who is? The answer, of course, is Derek and Hansel: two characters who've never been gifted with smarts or social graces. 

Ultimately, the fuss does seem a bit overboard for the folks that haven't seen the entirety of "Zoolander 2" just yet. Considering that this scene is more than likely a quick cameo by Cumberbatch, it's not as if All's identity is going to be a sticking point with the film's overarching plot. Still, the possibility for further controversy exists just as abundantly, as the trailer obviously shows a truncated version of the final moment. We'll see soon enough when the film opens on February 12, 2016 – the same day that the infinitely more controversial "Deadpool" opens. 

SEE ALSO: Zoolander 2 has been accused of transphobia over Benedict Cumberbatch's 'cartoonish' character

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The big problem with 'Star Wars,' according to Francis Ford Coppola

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the force awakens disney

Even though he had nothing to do with the actual production of the movie, as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" draws ever closer, George Lucas has been at the forefront of the minds of many people. We want to know if he’s seen the film, we want to know what he thought, we want to know if he’ll come to our holiday party.

But it’s not just fans who are thinking about Lucas, contemporaries like Francis Ford Coppola are also reflecting on their peer, and "The Godfather" director has one big issue with the "Star Wars" universe, namely it’s impact on Lucas as an artist.

Francis Ford Coppola Jemal Countess Getty final

In a revealing talk with Screen Daily, the "Apocalypse Now" director talked about the future of filmmaking and how the next leaps and bounds can’t be made without experimentation, taking chances, and daring to fail. He then lamented that Lucas, once a boundary pusher, got caught up in the machine, saying:

"George Lucas was a very experimental crazy guy and he got lost in this big production and never got out of it. I still hope that he made so much money out of it that he will just make some little movies. He promises me that he will."

After graduating from the University of Southern California, Lucas and Coppola founded American Zoetrope together (before he eventually started Lucasfilm) with the idea of working outside of the Hollywood system they viewed as oppressive. During the early stages of his career, Lucas was definitely more into making abstract, daring films, experimenting with cinema verite, visual tone poems, and other artistic endeavors.

Though he started off in this realm, it didn’t take long for Lucas to fall into a more straightforward narrative realm. His first feature, "THX-1138" is a dystopian science fiction film, but his next effort, 1973’s "American Graffiti," was specifically written to appeal to more mainstream audiences—it was a challenge from Coppola. From there he never really looked back, and though Star Wars pushed what you could do with special effects, it definitely helped usher in the era of blockbuster filmmaking.

thx 1138This is kind of the nature of the industry. Hollywood is prone to finding new, exciting filmmakers working independently and bringing them into the realm of big budgets and all the cinematic bells and whistles. Hell, it may even be more pronounced today than ever. It used to be that a filmmaker would have to make at least a couple of movies before being brought up to the cinematic equivalent of the major leagues, but now studios are hasty to hire any hot young director.

Colin Trevorrow only had one indie feature under his belt, 2012’s "Safety Not Guaranteed" before being handed the reins on "Jurassic World;" and Gareth Edwards went from 2010’s "Monsters," which had a budget of under $500,000 dollars, to "Godzilla" in 2014, a movie that cost $160 million.

Sometimes the results are positive. Ryan Coogler went from indie drama "Fruitvale Station" to the studio-backed "Creed" with fantastic results. On the other hand, sometimes they aren’t, as is the case of Josh Trank, who went from the low-budget sci-fi flick "Chronicle" the mega disaster "Fantastic Four," which didn’t work out well for anyone.

Since he sold Lucasfilm for north of $4 billion, Coppola is right, George Lucas can do just about anything he damn well pleases at this point. Maybe we’ll see something totally off the wall and boundary pushing from the filmmaker again in the future.

SEE ALSO: NASA scientist isn't impressed with the new "Star Wars" droid BB-8

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Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the problem with the Death Star

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Owning a Death Star comes with some serious risk, especially when it was constructed with a serious design flaw. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a more practical reason why the 'Star Wars' Death Star didn't quite make sense.

Produced by Darren Weaver and Kamelia AngelovaAdditional production by Kevin Reilly.

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StarTalk Radio is a podcast and radio program hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, where comic co-hosts, guest celebrities, and scientists discuss astronomy, physics, and everything else about life in the universe. Follow StarTalk Radio on Twitter, and watch StarTalk Radio "Behind the Scenes" on YouTube.

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Netflix just scored a big win in the cord-cutting war with these award nominations

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Beasts of No Nation Idris Elba

The Screen Actors Guild Awards is a year-end awards show that gets a lot of attention because the acting body of the Academy (which overlaps with SAG) is the largest among the groups that choose the Oscars every year.

Celebrating the acting in television and film, the SAG Awards had a few surprises in its nominations announced today, like a nomination for Sarah Silverman's troubled-housewife role in the little-seen "I Smile Back" in the best lead actress category, and "The Hateful Eight" being shut out for best ensemble.

But the biggest story line of all involves the 10 nominations for Netflix, which could help drive it to becoming the creator of must-watch content it wants so badly to be. Along with receiving two nods for its first feature-length narrative film, "Beasts of No Nation," some of its most popular TV shows received nominations, as well as its Bill Murray Christmas special.

netflix a very murray christmas trailerHere are the 10 nominations for Netflix:

Bill Murray - "A Very Murray Christmas" - Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries

"Orange Is The New Black" - Uzo Aduba - Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

"
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" - Ellie Kemper - Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

"Orange Is The New Black" - Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

"House of Cards" - Kevin Spacey - Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

"House of Cards" - Robin Wright - Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

"House of Cards" - Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

"Beasts of No Nation" - Idris Elba - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

"Beasts of No Nation" - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Marvel's "Daredevil" - Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

In a statement released by Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, he said: "We are grateful to the Screen Actors Guild for celebrating our first film 'Beasts of No Nation' with an ensemble and acting nomination. We are also honored to have received so much love for our shows — 'House of Cards,' 'Orange Is the New Black,' 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,' 'A Very Murray Christmas' and Marvel's 'Daredevil' — and to work with these visionary storytellers and impressive performers. We couldn't be happier for their recognition this morning."

Amazon also got some recognition. Its hit show "Transparent" was nominated for best comedy series ensemble and lead actor Jeffrey Tambor for best male actor.

jeffrey tambor transparentDon't be surprised if you see similar nods for these shows and movies tomorrow morning when the Golden Globes are announced.

If anything, the nominations solidify what we've already seen, but more so: Netflix and other streaming companies are making an aggressive, and so far successful, push into the awards game. Last year, Netflix had only two nominations at the SAG Awards, both for "House of Cards."

On one hand, this will help give Netflix's original programming clout within Hollywood, which leads to working with bigger and better talent, which leads to making the kind of content users want to watch. But in the short term, it also gives people another reason to cut the cord and stick with Netflix's ostensibly high-quality options. The company couldn't have asked for better promotion this week.

The winners of the SAG Awards will be announced at a ceremony simulcast on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. EST on January 30, 2016. You can see the rest of the nominees here.

SEE ALSO: Netflix claims it has a show more popular than "Game of Thrones"

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4 genius ways Pixar uses lighting to tell its breathtaking stories

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wall-e pixar

Pixar movies dazzle audiences with their beloved characters, imaginative worlds, and gripping plots. 

But there is another hero that belongs on that list: impeccable lighting.

Danielle Feinberg is a director of photography at Pixar. She's responsible for creating the awe-inspiring shots that fill viewers with wonder and guide them to each scene's most important subjects. Without Feinberg's touch, films such as "Wall-E,""Brave," and "Monsters, Inc.," wouldn't be nearly as rich or complex.

Feinberg recently shared with Tech Insider how she and her lighting team help Pixar movies meet mega-success.

finding nemo

1. Color

Pixar movies are not dull. They burst with color, and masterfully use each hue to tell stories.

Feinberg points to "Wall-E," a movie about a lonely robot that finds love. The movie doesn't use dialogue in the first 40 minutes of the film, so Feinberg had to find a way to communicate where Wall-E lived without words.

"We realized very quickly that if we let things go too red — the clouds, the dust, the atmosphere — it began to look like Mars," she says. "We all seem to have this ingrained notion that red equals Mars. So I had to be very careful to keep the colors of that monochromatic version of Earth in the whites, yellows, and oranges but never let it get too red."

Here are a few shots, known as progression images in lighting designer lingo, that show how the various color schemes for "Wall-E" changed over time. What begins as gray and overcast, but otherwise ordinary, ends up as a smog-filled wasteland.

wall ewall e1wall e2The final result is clearly dystopian, but still suggests that Wall-E is living on Earth.

"Every department is helping to tell the story," Feinberg says, "but here just small changes in the color of the lighting could have ruined everything" by confusing the audience about something as basic as which planet the story is set on. 

2. Nature

Unlike movies that take place on land, where creating the look of air only involves some haze or wisps of wind, creating believable underwater scenes presented a unique challenge for Feinberg while working on the 2003 film "Finding Nemo." 

Feinberg had to find a way to situate audience inside Australia's Great Barrier Reef without dialing up the colors too much, in order to preserve the actual look of the ocean. One tool the team has, she says, is a light they call "murk."

"We use it to set the visibility of the water [by] decontrasting the objects as we go away from the camera, until they are the same contrast as surrounding things," Feinberg says, "so you can't make out any detail thus losing visibility and the color."

A good example of that is the scene in which Nemo and company are riding the East Australian Current (EAC) as if it were a giant underwater roller coaster.

turtle Crush finding nemo"With the turtles riding the East Australian Current, we set the visibility of the water to be much deeper than you would ever see in real life, to help tell the story, by showing the EAC and what it is the turtles are in for their roller coaster ride," Feinberg says.

"With 'Nemo,' the lighting is not only setting up the world that is critical to the story," she adds, "but also able to set the mood without impacting the believability of the world for the audience."

3. Theme

Sometimes lighting cues can add to the tone of the overall story. Happy stories aren't set in darkness. They're bright and cheery.

In the 2012 film "Brave," Feinberg had to find a way to convey Merida's uncertainty and trepidation through the film's lighting, all while making considerations for where the story takes place.

"The lighting design I came up with for the scenes in the forest had all the light cutting off outside a little area we set up around the characters and action," she says. "The Scottish mist then hung around these dark silhouettes of trees and vegetation in the distance."

Brave Pixar

Visually, this helped calm "the busyness of the forest," but also made it easier for the audience to understand the story thematically.

"It helps with the idea that there are a lot of unknowns in that forest — magic, bears, witches," says Feinberg. "It is also the place where our main character, Merida, is figuring out who she is going to be in the world, venturing out into the great unknown of the forest and adulthood."

4. Character

Lighting can be essential to bringing non-human characters — Pixar's bread and butter — to life. Feinberg had perhaps no greater challenge in that regard than when she and her team worked on the binoculars that make up Wall-E's eyes.

Since the tiny robot has no face, all his humanity comes through his emotive lenses. The Pixar team tried out a handful of different lenses in order to perfectly match the three-part anatomy of the human eye: the colorful iris, the black pupil, and the white sclera.

"There are 3 lenses inside his binoculars," Feinberg explains. "These became a mess of reflections when it got to lighting. This made him look glassy-eyed which is a pretty awful look when you are trying to convince an audience that a robot has a personality and is capable of falling in love."

wall-e pixar disneyBy cleverly choosing which lenses would reflect in which scenes, the team was able to give Wall-E a personality without seeming hokey.

Then, because they had avoided the glassy-eyed look throughout most of the movie, it retained its emotional power when it mattered most: at the end of the film when Wall-E loses his memory.

"It is the perfect thing to help tell you what is happening," Feinberg says. "Having eyes makes it easier for us to believe there is a personality, perhaps an ability to fall in love."

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