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Here's How You Can Get A Sneak Peek Of The Next 'Hobbit' Film

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the hobbit desolation of smaug

The next installment of "The Hobbit" isn't out until December; however, you can get a sneak peek of the film this weekend.

Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m. ET, Peter Jackson will be hosting a first look at "The Desolation of Smaug" at hobbit.com/sneak.  

The live event will also include a live Q&A with Jackson and fans. 

However, the only way you can gain access to the event is through a 12-digit code that comes inside the purchase of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" Blu-ray pack out today. 

You can learn more about the event and how to send Jackson questions here

We took a look at the bonus content on the Blu-ray and for a nearly three-hour long film, there aren't any deleted or extended scenes.  

Other than the ability to get a sneak peek at the next film in the trilogy, it's a pretty barebones special features disc.  

Here's what's inside:  

New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth

A 6:35 minute walk through the New Zealand locations used to depict Middle-Earth. 

10 Video Journals

Director Peter Jackson's 10 blog posts from the start of filming up until the world premiere December 14, 2012 that show location scouting, inside shoots on set, and post production in the editing rooms.  

This is the most interesting part of the featured content, but if you want to watch it, it's all available to view on Jackson's Facebook page. 

6 Movie Trailers

3 Game Trailers

The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth
Guardians of Middle-Earth
LEGO The Lord of the Rings

SEE ALSO: "The Hobbit" dwarves without their makeup >

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Films Have A New Way To Raise Money, Thanks To 'Veronica Mars'

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kristen bell veronica mars

"Veronica Mars" was able to do something no other cancelled show has ever done. 

The quirky Kristen Bell CW network cult favorite was able to raise $2 million on crowdsource site Kickstarter in ten short hours to bring a film to the big screen.

The project, which has now raised more than $3.6 million and still has 24 days to earn funds, was a last ditch effort by creator Rob Thomas to bring the show to the big screen. 

As a result of the film rocketing off, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution will manage the limited 2014 release of the film and pay for marketing, promotion, and distribution.  

The success of "Veronica Mars" on Kickstarter showed two things: there can be life for cancelled shows outside of getting revived. It also showed that with the right following, a film could become fully funded without a studio. 

And, now, other axed series, from ABC's "Pushing Daisies" to FX's "Terriers," have since been rumored to be next in line for a Kickstarter campaign. 

Business Insider spoke with Starlight Runner Entertainment CEO Jeff Gomez, who won't be surprised if we start to see similar projects.

"This is a significant milestone, particularly in the annals of what we call participative storytelling," says Gomez. "That community was empowered to express its love for the show in an incredibly tangible way. They became participants in the telling of the story. So the question isn't, can these events be replicated, so much as can they be replicated well? The answer is absolutely yes, but certain criteria have to be met."

According to Gomez, anyone hoping to follow suit should keep the following in mind:

1. The fan base needs to be there.

"They have to either be already self-organized or assembled by key creative stakeholders with great delicacy." says Gomez. 

2. Studios will have to participate respectfully, and with transparency. 

"They won't be able to change the rules along the way, or there'll be a scorched earth response and the property will suffer damage," says Gomez. "Love will have to be shown all the way down the line, or cynicism will creep in, and that's the great spoiler."

3. You can't pick any old series to resurrect.

"The target audience for "Veronica Mars" during its run are now twenty- and thirty-something. It was a smart show and these are reasonably successful people, as evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of the 55,000 contributors (so far!) pledged more than $35 per person," says Gomez. "So if the show was for little kids and cancelled a couple of years ago, you're not going to see the same results. Same on the flip side for a show from the early 1960s."

"Veronica Mars" isn't the first film to get funded through Kickstarter; however, it is the fastest film to reach $1 million on the site.

pushing daisiesPreviously, the only other video project to ever gain anywhere near as much traction was the second season of web series "Video Game High School." The YouTube video earned $808,000. 

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" screenwriter Charlie Kaufman also raised more than $406,000 in 60 days on the site for his next project.

Don't expect a bunch of films to crop up for crowdsourcing on Kickstarter though.

Variety's Marc Graser pointed out that "Veronica Mars" was a huge missed opportunity for marketers, and that brand reps should now be in "panic mode to be ready for the next big opportunity to come along." 

Gomez also views brands as the way to go for future prospects hoping to follow suit.  

"This is a fantastic opportunity for brands and other sponsors to become involved. Carrying off a revival all by themselves is not necessarily a great idea, because there's a danger of it being perceived cynically, but I think there's a way to cross the streams, so to speak," says Gomez. "For studios and consumer brands to be an intrinsic part of this model can generate enormous good will, and in this day and age, good will has the potential to become extraordinarily profitable."

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The First Image Of Tina Fey On The Set Of The New 'Muppets' Movie

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muppets

An image of Tina Fey on the set of the new muppets movie has made its way online

Fey will play a Russian prison guard in "The Muppets ... Again!" and the image shows her in full character.

UPDATE:Disney has since asked us to remove the image. You can still view it here

The image shows Fey with who appears to be Kermit. 

However, the plot would suggest it is instead the famous frog's lookalike Constantine, who will be a main adversary in the film. 

The sequel to the 2011 hit sees Kermit and the gang heading out on a global tour throughout Europe and will star Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell.

The new film hits theaters March 21, 2014.

(h/t to Stitch Kingdom who spotted the image)

SEE ALSO: Here's how to get a sneak peek of the next "Hobbit" film >

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FilmDistrict Hopes Vine Will Make Gerard Butler's Next Film More Popular

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olympus has fallen

FilmDistrict is turning to audiences for help marketing its new film, the Gerard Butler action thriller “Olympus Has Fallen.” The independent distributor will release brief videos of reactions to early screenings of the film using Vine, Twitter’s video sharing app.

FilmDistrict has taken footage from its screenings at cities nationwide between March 7 and 21 and hopes the videos will generate buzz on social media for the film, which opens March 22.

The film stars Butler as a former special forces operative turned Secret Service agent who gets demoted after an accident. When a terrorist captures the White House, holding the President (Aaron Eckhart) hostage, he must help reclaim the White House.

Butler could use a boost at the box office. He hasn't starred in a hit since 2010, when he joined Jennifer Aniston in "The Bounty Hunter."

Since then? A Shakespeare adaptation, "Machine Gun Preacher," surfing flop "Chasing Mavericks,""Playing for Keeps" and comedy mishmash "Movie 43." 

This is the second time in the past month that a small film distributor has experimented with Vine. Oscilloscope Laboratories, the company co-founded by late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, decided to release “It’s a Disaster” on Vine in advance of its VOD release.

Though even those at Oscilloscope had a sense of humor about the effort, which was announced with a tongue-in-cheek press release, the company did want to explore how a studio could use this new service to build awareness.

So guys, what’s next? 

SEE ALSO: The most popular movie at SXSW was never supposed to get made >

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Lucasfilm Made An Awesome 'Star Wars' March Madness Bracket

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If you're not into basketball, Lucasfilm has made an awesome interactive "Star Wars" March Madness bracket.

The bracket pits the light side against the dark side of the force. Unsurprisingly, Jar Jar Binks is no where to be found, and, somehow, Luke Skywalker isn't a number one seed.

Users can vote at StarWars.com daily to decide who moves forward.

Check it out below: 

star wars march madness

Lucasfilm also released a video promoting the "Star Wars" character tournament:

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Harrison Ford Basically Confirmed He's Returning For The Next 'Star Wars'

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Han Solo

Gear up the Millennium Falcon.

Word is coming from Harrison Ford himself that he may really be appearing in the next "Star Wars" film.

Ever since we learned we'd be getting a new "Star Wars" trilogy from Disney, reports of the original cast reunitingfor episode VII have been abundant.

The 70-year-old actor told a reporter for Chicago's WGN-TV while at a Michigan Avenue magazine cover party he's almost certainly reuniting with the original cast for the new movie.

"I think it's almost true," said Ford. "[It's] not in the bag yet, but I think it's happening."

Though Disney and Lucasfilm are staying mum about casting, even George Lucas himself has dropped hints the three will return for the new film. 

Earlier this month, Lucas revealed in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview that he was close to signing Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Ford when he was working on episode VII before signing the franchise over to Disney.

Watch the interview below: 

SEE ALSO: George Lucas Was Working On A New 'Star Wars' Trilogy Before Disney Purchased Lucasfilm >

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DreamWorks Animation Needs Its Next Film To Do Extremely Well At Theaters

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the croods

DreamWorks Animation has a lot to prove when its next movie comes out this weekend.  

"The Croods," starring Nicholas Cage and Emma Stone as members of a Caveman family, will be the first feature released since the studio's domestic box-office bomb, "The Rise of the Guardians" last November. 

Centered around holiday characters, "Guardians" opened to the studio's weakest performance since 2006 

Analysts anticipated the film would earn in the neighborhood of $60 million. Rather, it grossed nearly three times less with $23.8 million. 

As an immediate result, the company's stock dropped nearly five percent the following Monday. In the long-run, though the film picked up some steam overseas, the film's poor performance domestically resulted in an $87 million write-down.  

Then in February, the animation studio altered its release schedule heavily 

Originally scheduled November film "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" has been pushed back until next March and another animation, "Me & My Shadow," has been put back into developmental stages.  

Rise of the GuardiansWhen the company's fourth quarter earnings were released, DreamWorks Animation reported a loss of $83 million and announced 350 layoffs. 

That leaves all eyes on "The Croods" this weekend.  

Analysts have the film projected to open between $38 million and $45 million 

Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil predicts the film could earn $150 million domestically and another $300 million overseas

Those numbers are 20 percent below the $60.3 million opening of last summer's "Madagascar 3." Current tracking for "The Croods" is more in line with the "Shrek" spinoff "Puss in Boots." 

If the film performs well, then it will prove the "Guardians" debut was simply an anomaly.  

However, if it fails to meet analyst's estimates, and teeters close to DreamWorks Animation's Thanksgiving debut, the studio could have a larger problem on its hands with only one other film — about a racing snail— out later this year.  

Right now, there are two major problems DreamWorks Animation has to overcome: it's over-inflated film budgets and its heavy reliance on animated features to produce most of the company's revenue. 

The studio's immense budgets puts an insane amount of pressure on DreamWorks Animation to make sure every one of its features are box-office gold. 

"They spend as if every movie they produce is a new 'Shrek,' but it's unreasonable to spend as if you are making big, big tentpoles when you really aren't," Vasily Karasyov, an analyst for Susquehanna Financial Group, told The Wrap

Here are the previous estimated budgets and openings for its last five films:
 

TitleOpening Weekend    Estimated Budget
"Rise of the Guardians" $23.8 million $145 million
 "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted $60.3 million$145 million 
 "Puss in Boots" $34 million$130 million 
 "Mega Mind" $46 million$130 million
 "Shrek Forever After" $70.8 million$165 million

Even the studio knows its films are gambles.  

From DreamWorks Animation's latest 10K SEC filing 

"Our success is primarily dependent on audience acceptance of our films, which is extremely difficult to predict and, therefore, inherently risky … Our business is currently substantially dependent upon the success of a limited number of film releases each year and the unexpected delay or commercial failure of any one of them could have a material adverse effect on our financial results and cash flows." 

The company reported it relies on the performances of its features to earn most of its revenue: 

"We currently derive a significant percentage of our revenue from a single source, the production of animated family entertainment, and our lack of a diversified business could adversely affect us."

Translation: any film DreamWorks Animation puts out can be a huge success story or a potential disaster for the company. 

the croods dreamworksThis weekend, "The Croods" has a lot in its favor to perform well at theaters.

It will be the only animated kids' film out
The Weinstein Company's kid flick "Escape From Planet Earth" will be heading out of the box-office top ten this week during its sixth week in theaters.

Disney's "Oz," meanwhile, will be in its third week at the box office. After grossing $41.3 million last weekend, if it continues to follow the trend of similar film "Alice in Wonderland," it should take in somewhere around the range of $25-$30 million this weekend.

The other two big releases this weekend are the Tina Fey and Paul Rudd rom-com, "Admission," and a Gerard Butler action thriller, "Olympus Has Fallen," as competition.

Positive ticket sales
As of Wednesday, "The Croods" was Fandango's number one selling movie representing 31 percent of daily ticket sales. 

The film is currently outpacing ticket sales 2009's "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." That film went on to earn $30.3 million opening weekend.

The only thing that could prevent the DreamWorks' cavemen family from a good weekend is the poor box-office performance of the year so far. 

SEE ALSO: Why Hollywood is having a terrible year >

SEE ALSO: Here's how poorly Steve Carell's latest film performed opening weekend >

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Nobody Is Safe In A New 'Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer'

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The latest trailer for "Star Trek Into Darkness" is pretty dark, but finally puts more of the film's plot into context. 

We learn a lot more about the new villain, Benedict Cumberbatch, and why he's out for revenge against the Starfleet. 

"Star Trek Into Darkness" is out May 17 in theaters.

Watch the trailer below: 

*Note: The trailer is international and says the film comes out May 16. 

SEE ALSO: DreamWorks Animation's next film needs to do extremely well at theaters this weekend >

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There's A Cleverly Hidden URL In The New 'Star Trek' Trailer

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While watching the new "Star Trek Into Darkness" trailer, we couldn't help but notice there was one moment that looked glaringly out of place. 

The moment features actress Alice Eve scantily clad in a trailer heavily centered around the villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. 

Turns out the scene depicts a hidden URL featuring a new poster for the film. 

If you've viewed the trailer for the film, the moment oddly pops up near the end of the trailer. 

Earlier: 

Like teasers before the latest one, the video begins with Cumberbatch telling an unseen audience that the world isn't safe and to "enjoy these final moments of peace."

There are explosions …

star trek into darkness trailer

... and people panicking and running away. 

star trek into darkness people panick

star trek into darkness people running

The ensuing minute and a half show more of Cumberbatch unleashing his character's vengeance on the Starfleet.

benedict cumberbatch star trek 

star trek benedict cumberbatch

… and then Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) chasing after him …

captain kirk star trek into darkness

We see a showdown between Kirk and Cumberbatch's character … 

chris pine benedict cumberbatch star trek into darkness … which doesn't appear to go over so well for Kirk. 

captain kirk knocked out star trek into darkness We even see Spock and Cumberbatch fight … 

spock fights cumberbatch star trek into darkness

And, then, out of nowhere, there's this:

alice eve star trek into darkness

There's no witty one-liner or any mention of dialogue whatsoever from either character. There's just one second of Captain Kirk and Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) without her uniform.  

alice eve dr. carol marcus

For those who follow the "Star Trek" universe you know Marcus is a love interest for Kirk; however, it seems an odd placement in this trailer, which obviously revolves so much around the villain and is plot-intensive, to hint at any sort of love scene.

The random glimpse of Eve detracts from the fluidity of the action of the entire trailer, but we imagine that was the point. 

No sooner than that clip passes is the trailer back to explosions …

star trek into darkness explosion

Kirk shooting a gun … 

star trek into darkness kirk with gun

… and, Cumberbatch bragging about how much better he is than everyone else at everything. 

star trek into darkness benedict cumberbatch

UPDATE:Trekmovie.com points out there's a hidden URL in the scene with Eve's character which leads to a new "Star Trek Into Darkness" poster.

alice eve star trek into darkness

Talk about some hidden viral marketing.

The URL reads bit.ly/WyJV4F and pops up in different forms across trailers in other languages. Check them all out here

star trek into darkness poster

SEE ALSO: Now watch the full trailer for "Star Trek Into Darkness">

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'The Croods' Overpower 'Olympus' — Here's Your Box-Office Roundup

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the croods emma stone

DreamWorks Animation can breathe a huge sigh of relief. 

After a dismal end to 2012, the animation studio had nothing to worry about with "The Croods" out this weekend.  

The film, about the first caveman family, performed better than the release of "How to Train Your Dragon" back in March 2010. 

Meanwhile, Gerard Butler's cold streak has come to and end at the box office. After a slew of romance flops at in 2012, "Olympus Has Fallen" soared at theaters opening weekend. 

The only new release that didn't catch on this weekend was Tina Fey's rom-com, "Admission," which suffered from underwhelming reviews

"Silver Linings Playbook" finally bows out of the top ten in its 19-week at theaters. The Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence comedy has now earned $216 million worldwide. 

Also out of the top ten this week are Nicholas Sparks' "Safe Haven" and teen film "21 and Over." 

Here are this week's winners and losers in Hollywood:  

10. After dipping four spots, The Rock's "Snitch" just makes it into the top ten this week earning $1.9 million. The Lionsgate film has now earned $40.3 million after five weekends.  

9. "Identity Thief" featuring Melissa McCarthy also fell four spots with $2.5 million in its seventh weekend. Universal's comedy has managed to bring in $135.9 million worldwide earning the majority of its money at the domestic box office. 

8. "Jack the Giant Slayer" took a tumble with three new films out earning just under $3 million. Now out for a month, the fairytale-inspired movie featuring Ewan McGregor has earned $119.6 million worldwide. The film is estimated to have cost Warner Bros. $195 million to produce. 

7. Steve Carell's "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" drops 58 percent in week two earning $4.3 million. The film, which cost an estimated $30 million to produce, has earned $17.4 million since its debut. 

6. After debuting successfully in three theaters last weekend, "Spring Breakers" opens in more than 1,110 theaters bringing in $5 million The indie film with James Franco and Selena Gomez had a low budget estimated at $2 million. 

5. Tina Fey and Paul Rudd's "Admission" didn't get a warm welcome in theaters. The film, with an estimated budget of $13 million earned $6.4 million.  

4. Halle Berry's "The Call" drops two spots earning $8.7 million in week two. The TriStar film has now grossed $30.9 million.  

3. "Oz the Great and Powerful" moves down two spots in week three with $22 million. Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" performed similarly in week four at theaters back in 2010. "Oz" is performing just as well overseas as it is at home, earning $356.4 million worldwide.  

2. "Olympus Has Fallen" has secured director Anton Fuqua's largest opening yet with $30.5 million. Fuqua previously made "Training Day" which debuted at $22.6 million. After two romance flops in 2012, the Gerard Butler White House action thriller solidifies the actor's genre in theaters. 

1. DreamWorks Animation's "The Croods" managed to bring in $44.7 million to take the box office this weekend. The film's performance all but proved that the studio's last film, "The Rise of the Guardians" low gross was an anomaly. "The Croods" earnings came in slightly higher than 2010's March hit "How to Train Your Dragon" ($46 million) and just under "Megamind" ($46 million). 

SEE ALSO: Tilda Swinton Slept In A Glass Box At The MoMa >

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Brad Pitt Takes On Zombies In A New 'World War Z' Trailer

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The Zombie apocalypse is among us. The East coast is wiped out, the White House is under attack, and Brad Pitt's cooking breakfast at home with his family.  

Paramount released the second trailer for "World War Z" today. The adaptation of Max Brooks' best-selling Zombie war novel follows Pitt as United Nations employee, Gerry Lane.  

Cue people running and a helicopter swooping in to save Lane and his family from a breakout of rampant zombies. 

Also starring Matthew Fox ("Lost"), David Morse ("The Hurt Locker"), and Mireille Enos ("The Killing"), "World War Z" hits theaters June 21. 

SEE ALSO: 'Olympus' falls to 'The Croods'—Here's Your Box-Office Roundup >

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J.J. Abrams Says He Has No Idea What He's Doing With 'Star Wars'

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Kathleen Kennedy JJ Abrams

With three new "Star Wars" in the works, we've heard plenty of casting rumors — from Carrie Fisher's jokes to the return of Harrison Ford, but we haven't heard nearly as much about the plot of the film.  

That's probably because director J.J. Abrams isn't sure what direction the new trilogy is taking just yet.  

In an interview with Empire magazine, Abrams admitted he's not sure how he's approaching the film, comparing his work on the next "Star Wars" to his "Star Trek" series.  

“I don’t know because we’re just getting started," said Abrams. "So it’s a great question that I hope I’ll have a good answer to when I know what the answer is. There are infinitely more questions than answers right now, but to me, they’re ["Star Wars"/"Star Trek"] not that dissimilar."

But in George Lucas' recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he revealed he was already working on treatments for episodes VII, VIII, and IX which he then handed over to Disney as part of its $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm. So, we doubt Abrams has no idea as to where episode VII is heading. 

Sounds like Abrams is just doing what he does best — staying secretiveabout his projects.

SEE ALSO: George Lucas was working on a new "Star Wars" trilogy before Disney's Lucasfilm purchase >

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The Latest International 'Iron Man 3' Trailer Reveals A Huge Spoiler

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There's a new international trailer out for "Iron Man 3" giving away a big plot point for the film. 

If you don't want the movie to be spoiled, don't watch the clip. 

The video has since been pulled. If you want to see the image we were talking about in the trailer, scroll down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finally know who's hovering over Tony Stark from one of the first "Iron Man 3" trailers ...

iron man 3 suit

It's Pepper Potts!

pepper potts iron man 3

There are already some Lego toy sets for the film suggesting at the plot twist.

SEE ALSO: Brad Pitt take on zombies in a new "World War Z" trailer >

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Will Smith Turned Down 'Django Unchained' Because He Wouldn't Be The Lead

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Will Smith Wild Wild West

There's a really good reason Will Smith turned down the role that eventually went to Jamie Foxx in "Django Unchained."  

Smith told Entertainment Weekly he didn't return to the West in The Weinstein Company's film because he didn't want to play second fiddle to Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. 

“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead," said Smith. "The other character was the lead!"

Earlier, the actor told Empire magazine he had a scheduling conflict with "Men in Black III" that would refrain from taking the role.

Smith was director Quentin Tarantino's first choice for Django.

SEE ALSO: Brad Pitt takes on zombies in a new "World War Z" trailer >

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There Is A 'Despicable Me 2' Blimp Touring The Country

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despicable me 2 blimp

"Despicable Me 2" isn't coming out until July, but Universal is already pushing the sequel to its 2010 hit.  

After releasing the first plot-revealing full-length trailer for the film last week, the movie launched a blimp that will be touring the country now through the end of June.  

Featuring one of the film's ubiquitous yellow minions, the "Despicablimp" has scheduled stops at Telemundo's Billboard Latin Music Awards in Florida next month and possibly the "Today Show" come the end of May. 

You can track the blimp's current location here and see if (and when) it's flying over your hometown.  

Watch the making of the blimp below along with the second trailer for the film. The movie, starring Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig comes out July 3. 

SEE ALSO: There's a HUGE spoiler in a new 'Iron Man 3' teaser trailer >

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Stanley Kubrick Wanted To Make A Movie About Jazz, Nazis, And World War II

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swing under the nazis stanley kubrick mike zwerin

In 1985, Stanley Kubrick was handed a book on the survival of jazz in Nazi-occupied Europe. A snapshot of a Luftwaffe officer casually posing among black, Gypsy, and Jewish musicians outside a Paris nightclub caught his eye.

It looked like something out of Dr. Strangelove, he said. He'd long wanted to bring World War II to the screen, and perhaps this photograph offered a way in.

"Stanley's famous saying was that it was easier to fall in love than find a good story," says Tony Frewin, Kubrick's longtime assistant (and, for the purpose of disclosure, an editor-at-large at my former magazine,Stop Smiling). "He was limitlessly interested in anything to do with Nazis and desperately wanted to make a film on the subject."

Kubrick has long been associated with creating arresting visions of warfare. When it was announced this month that Steven Spielberg will produce Kubrick's screenplay Napoleon as a television miniseries, the initial speculation was largely about how the ambitious battle scenes, originally conceived to maximize tens of thousands of extras, will be achieved.

However, it's Kubrick's interest in jazz-loving Nazis that represents his most fascinating unrealized war film. The book that Kubrick was handed, and one he considered adapting soon after wrapping Full Metal Jacket, was Swing Under the Nazis, published in 1985 and written by Mike Zwerin, a trombonist from Queens who had performed with Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy before turning to journalism. The officer in that Strangelovian snapshot was Dietrich Schulz-Koehn, a fanatic for "hot swing" and other variations of jazz outlawed as "jungle music" by his superiors. Schulz-Koehn published an illegal underground newsletter, euphemistically referred to as "travel letters," which flaunted his unique ability to jaunt across Western Europe and report back on the jazz scenes in cities conquered by the Fatherland. Kubrick's title for the project was derived from the pen name Schulz-Koehn published under: Dr. Jazz.

"Stanley was fond of titles in search of screenplays," Frewin says. "And Dr. Jazz was such a rich subject—the contrast of what was going on in the camps, on the Eastern front, and yet here was a German officer who was having a good time listening to jazz. Stanley was also drawn to what this said about music and its ability to unify people and transcend even rigid political differences."

While a script for Dr. Jazz never materialized—and the project was later shelved, in part due to Aryan Papers, a film set in occupied Poland that Kubrick abandoned in the mid-'90s despite an intensive preproduction—Zwerin's research remains engrossing today.

stanley kubrick at an unidentified film set March 1999Though stationed in Paris for more than 20 years as the jazz critic for the International Herald Tribune, Zwerin never acclimated. "I consider myself on loan, like a Picasso," he writes in Swing. "One year led to another and now I find myself without a place to hang." Parisian loneliness had become "literally breathtaking, a gasp not a gas." Seeking refuge, Zwerin traveled the continent collecting interviews with the jazz preservationists who gathered in basements and backrooms during occupation, and filed their reminiscences in the IHT, among other publications. (Swing is a collection of his columns that reads like a collage, with digressions upon digressions.)

Zwerin is at his best when conversing with musicians—at one point he even brandishes his horn for a post-interview blowing session—but the more surreal findings come from encounters with the occasional toe-tapping retired Nazi officer. In the skies over London, we learn that a Luftwaffe ace tuned into the BBC while crossing the Channel, hoping to catch a few bars of Glenn Miller before bombing the radio antenna. On the ground, when the Royal Air Force rained bombs on Vienna, a trombonist in a Nazi swing band "would stick his trombone out the window and play 'St. Louis Blues' instead of hiding in the cellar." (In order for that particular jazz standard to pass muster in Vienna, the title was first changed to "Sauerkraut.")

Throughout the book's mere 200 pages, Zwerin unearths lost notes from the underground. A Django Reinhardt record was worth two kilos of butter on the black market. A German objector fondly recalls scoring the plum assignment of tracking down the cream Louis Armstrong preferred for his chapped lips; the brand was available only at pharmacies in Berlin. Upon receiving the shipment of lip salve, which was smuggled Stateside through a Paris club owner, Louis mailed his unknown German aid a personal letter of thanks.

Zwerin unearths lost notes from the underground; for instance, a Django Reinhardt record was worth two kilos of butter on the black market.

Not all accounts are as lighthearted. Zwerin mourns the Jewish musicians who clung to life by entertaining guards in concentration camps, and those on the run, like Eric Vogel, a Czech jazz trumpeter who soaked his valves in sulfuric acid when Nazis invaders began confiscating instruments. The acid served "to keep anyone from playing military marches on a jazz trumpet." In a 1961 article for Down Beat, Vogel claims his life was spared during a ghetto roundup when an SS officer who had eavesdropped on one of his jam sessions recognized him at headquarters and escorted him home, borrowing some of his jazz records and books as compensation. In Frankfurt, musicians wandered the streets whistling "Harlem"—if a fellow musician recognized the tune, he whistled back.

These clandestine cues and back-alley trysts were a draw for Kubrick. "Stanley thought there was a kind of noir side to this material," says Frewin. "Perhaps an approach like Dr. Mabuse would have suited the story. Stanley said, 'If only he were alive, we could have found a role for Peter Lorre.'"

One intriguing character to cast would have been the German musician Ernst Hollerhagen, who one of Zwerin's interview subjects claims "played the clarinet as good as Benny Goodman, but he had not been born black or Jewish or American." (Goodman records could be purchased in Germany until 1938, Zwerin writes, "then somebody must have realized he was Jewish. After that you could buy Artie Shaw records because they did not know his real name was Arshawsky.") As an act of defiance one night after a show in Frankfurt in 1942, Hollerhagen walked up to a table of musicians at the club, "clicked his heels, raised his right arm, and said in a loud voice so everyone could hear: 'Heil Benny!'"

"Stanley was a great swing-era jazz fan," Frewin says, citing Goodman as one of his favorites. "He had some reservations about modern jazz. I think if he had to disappear to a desert island, it'd be a lot of swing records he'd take, the music of his childhood: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Harry James." Kubrick had long wanted to use a particular Harry James track in a film, and felt Dr. Jazz afforded the perfect opportunity. When it appeared in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, according to Frewin, "it really miffed Stanley that Woody beat him to it." The title, ironically, was "I've Heard That Song Before."

When Mike Zwerin died in 2010, Swing Under the Nazis remained underreported in tributes and appreciations, which is perhaps fitting, given Zwerin's allegiance with artists whose best takes didn't always make it to tape. "I started out to explore a neglected corner of history but it ended up exploring me," he writes in the book's introduction. That his exploration never reached a wider audience is hardly a fault. He whistled a tune down an empty street and Stanley Kubrick whistled back.

SEE ALSO: "Spring Breakers" is already a huge hit >

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Why The Oscars Will Air Later Than Usual Next Year

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jennifer lawrence oscars

The Oscars are getting out of the way of next year’s Winter Olympics and moving into March, 2014, but the show then plans to return to late February for the 2015 awards.

The move to March allows the Academy to slightly adjust the timetable that forced voters to cast their nominating ballots earlier than ever this year, although it still requires ballots to be returned in early January.

The dates for the 86th and 87th Oscars were announced on Monday morning by the Academy, which said that next year's Academy Awards will take place on March 2 and 2015's awards will happen on Feb. 22. 

Although the organization has been under pressure to consider a move to early February or even late January, the newly announced dates -- and the unusual step of revealing two years of dates instead of just one -- reinforced that the AMPAS Board of Governors and ABC are comfortable with a late February date except when it conflicts with the Olympics.

The Oscars have taken place on the last Sunday in February every year since 2003, with the exception of 2006 and 2010. Both of those years, the usual February date for the Oscars would have put the show on the air opposite the Winter Olympics' closing ceremony. The same conflict would take place in 2014, with the games scheduled to end on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Next year's timetable calls for nominations voting to open on Dec. 27, 2013 and close on Jan. 8, 2014, three days later than it closed this year. Nominations will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 16, a week later than this year's announcement.

While this year's Oscar nominations were originally scheduled to take place two days after the Golden Globes, the Board of Governors moved it to three days before the Globes. But the Jan. 16 announcement will probably put next year's nominations after the Globes, which will likely take place on Jan. 12.

The AMPAS press release:

BEVERLY HILLS, CA– The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network today announced the dates for the 86th and 87th Oscar® presentations. The 86th and 87th Academy Awards® will air live on ABC on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, and February 22, 2015, respectively.

Key dates for the Awards season are:

Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013: The Governors Awards
Monday, Dec. 2: Official Screen Credits Due
Friday, Dec. 27: Nominations voting begins
Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014: Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Thursday, Jan. 16: Oscar nominations announced
Monday, Feb. 10: Nominees Luncheon
Friday, Feb. 14: Final voting begins
Saturday, Feb. 15: Scientific and Technical Awards
Tuesday, Feb. 25: Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 2: 86th Academy Awards

Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015: 87th Academy Awards

The 86th and 87th Academy Awards ceremonies will be held at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.

SEE ALSO: How Comcast's $4.4B Investment In The Olympics Will Pay Off Big-Time

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15 Images From The Next 'Hobbit' Film

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evangeline lilly the desolation of smaug

On Sunday, Peter Jackson held a live sneak peek of the next "Hobbit" film online.

Anyone who purchased a Blu-ray copy of the "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" could have tuned in to watch the preview and Q&A session for the new film using a promo code found inside the box. 

If you didn't get to see the live interview, Jackson previewed some new footage of Gandalf and Radagast, and gave a look behind-the-scenes of the next film in the series, "The Desolation of Smaug."

Viewers received a few glimpses at some new and old characters in the film, what locations will be featured, and learned what Smaug, the big bad dragon from the next installment, won't look like.

Though Jackson didn't reveal a teaser for the next film, he did share that the first trailer will debut this summer in front of a "big film release," which we anticipate to be "Man of Steel."

We were able to view the footage Sunday, check out some of the images we saw from the new film.

"The Desolation of Smaug" hits theaters December 13.

Gandalf's hunting down the Necromancer ...



... with Radagast in tow.



The two search through a dark tomb.*

*Those familiar with the story will know this is Angmar's tomb where the Witch-King from "The Lord of the Rings."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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'Wolverine' Is Out For Revenge In The First Teaser Trailer

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MTV debuted the teaser for the action-packed Hugh Jackman "Wolverine" movie out this July. 

The movie is set to take place after "X-Men: The Last Stand" and follow the 1982 series "Wolverine" by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller.  

The full trailer will be out tomorrow. 

For now, enjoy 20 seconds of Jackman angry, vengeful, and clawing away.
 

SEE ALSO: 15 images behind-the-scenes of the new "Hobbit" film >

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Upcoming Movies Have Found The Most Effective Use For Vine

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We've seen a multitude of uses for Twitter's video app Vine.

In the three months since its launch, the app, which allows users to share six-second looping videos, has become a lucrative location for food porn and recipes, sports clips, and journalists to cover news events

However, it looks like Hollywood may have found the best use for Vine yet. 

Marketing. 

Monday, "The Wolverine" director James Mangold tweeted the first footage for the new movie through Vine.

Dubbed a "tweaser" by Mangold, the director debuted a teaser for a teaser out today

In six seconds, the clip shows roughly 16 different clips set to an overture and, who we presume to be, Hugh Jackman yelling. 

The first full trailer for the film won't be out until today. 

Though there's no way of knowing how many times the Vine has been viewed, the "tweaser" has been retweeted directly from Mangold more than 1,000 times. 

We doubt it will be the last we see of this.

olympus has fallen gerard butler

This is the second time in a week that a film has put out marketing content on Vine.

FilmDistrict released video reactions last week to early screenings of its new Gerard Butler film, "Olympus Has Fallen" in hopes the videos would help draw buzz for the movie. 

It certainly didn't hurt.

The movie's opening weekend of $30.4 million was the largest debut ever for a FilmDistrict movie—more than double the opening of last year's "Red Dawn" ($14.3 million). 

Deadline speculated Vine may be the next big viral movie marketing tool after FilmDistrict first announced promotion of its film through the app earlier this month.

And, they're not the first movies to experiment with the video app. 

Indie film distributor Oscilloscope took a different approach to Vine.

Last month, they released an entire movie, "It's A Disaster" in six-second clips on the video app. 

SEE ALSO: How media outlets are using Vine to deliver the news >

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