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11 amazing movies that were rejected by the Oscars this year


thewitchThe nominations for the 89th Academy Awards have been announced, and they include predicted powerhouses like “La La Land” and “Moonlight.” But what about the little guys?

Every year, the Academy has the chance to shine a light on smaller films that made a big impact, and yet they rarely do. We’re not saying the following films deserve major nominations like Best Picture, but smaller, more techinical nods should have certainly been in the cards (especailly if “Passnegers” is a two-time nominee). Here are 11 amazing films rejected by the Oscars this year.

SEE ALSO: Nearly 40 years after the film's release, a small crew of people are trying to make 'Apocalypse Now' into a video game

"Swiss Army Man"

It was always going to be a stretch for Daniel Radcliffe to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (even though his life-affirming performance certainly deserved one), but “Swiss Army Man” should have received its Oscar love in the Best Original Song race for the ridiculously catchy “Montage.” Anyone who saw the film came walking out of the theater with this melody buzzing in their heads. Do we really need two “La La Land” songs up for the Oscar?

"Sing Street"

John Carney has been infusing music and moviemaking ever since "Once" became an Oscar winner a decade ago, but he reached crowd-pleasing new heights with the infectious "Sing Street." The story of a high school kid who forms a band to impress an older girl plays entirely by the rules, but it does so with heartfelt spirit and insanely catchy tunes. We're not saying "Sing Street" deserved major nominations, but any one of its amazing original songs should have been a contender (here’s looking at you, “Drive It Like You Stole It”).


“Krisha” may be too polarizing and too challenging to appeal to Academy voters, but it’s hard not be wowed by Trey Edward Shults’ fluid and hallucinatory direction, bolstered by Drew Daniels’ freewheeling cinematography. Together, these collaborators capture the manic psyche of their protagonist in every disorienting camera movement. It’s a symphony of chaos like no other.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Liam Neeson opens up about working with Martin Scorsese on 'Silence,' which took 26 years to make


liam neeson

Liam Neeson admits he wasn't impressed with Shūsaku Endō's novel "Silence" when Martin Scorsese offered him a role in the movie adaptation two years ago.

"It was very dull," the Oscar-nominated actor recently told Business Insider over the phone.

But after reading the movie's script, he said, "the issues in the book really came alive for me." And so Scorsese had the final piece in his latest attempt in 26 years to make the movie.

Neeson gives an incredible performance as Father Ferreira, a Jesuit priest who in attempting to spread Christianity in 17th-century Japan is captured by samurai who are keeping the religion out of the country and put Ferreira through numerous types of torture until he renounces his faith.

Neeson talked to Business Insider about the role, preparing for a grueling torture scene, how the experience was different from working with Scorsese on "Gangs of New York," that time he almost played Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," and why we will probably never see his Qui-Gon Jinn in any upcoming "Star Wars" movies.

silence paramount finalJason Guerrasio: A major scene for Father Ferreira is the torture scene. What were the discussions you and Scorsese had about tackling it?

Liam Neeson: It was an actual torture — many martyrs lost their lives that way and were punished that way in Japan. We knew exactly what happened and what the pit was filled with, which was human excrement, and they were hung upside down. Then these boards were put around them so after some time you didn't have a sense of where you were in space or time and you were constantly suffering. You didn't die, but there was an agony, and you couldn't move your body because you're harnessed in like a straightjacket.

Guerrasio: Did you experience it yourself outside of the shots we see of your doing it?

Neeson: Beforehand, to get some type of feel for it, I hung upside down on that machine that you'll find at the gym, inversion table, and you can hang upside down. So I did that in preparation.

Guerrasio: Did you use any of your experience making "The Mission" in helping to prepare for "Silence"?

Neeson: Very much. I think we made it in 1985, I believe. Our technical adviser was Father Daniel Berrigan, who just passed away last year. I was pals with Father Dan; he was a famous Jesuit in his time. Myself, Bob De Niro, Jeremy Irons, we talked with Father Dan about the gospel and how it relates to today's world, then being the '80s. It was really, really enlightening. We did preparation in Jesuit training, which they still do to this day — namely the spiritual exercises. So my research on "The Mission" played very heavily in this film.

The Mission Warner BrosGuerrasio: Was it a different experience working with Scorsese this time around?

Neeson: I knew how important "Silence" was for Martin. He spent 26 years putting the film together. The sets on "Silence" were incredibly quiet. He did demand from all the crew, especially when he was talking to his actors before we do a scene, he did demand absolute silence, and he got it. He did create this space for you to do your best work, to really focus.

Guerrasio: That was different from "Gangs of New York"?

Neeson: I'm not saying on "Gangs of New York" he was walking around telling jokes — it was a different subject matter. There were always crowds of actors. It was a different energy.

Guerrasio: Did you have to wait around for a call from Scorsese that it was time to finally shoot "Silence"?

Neeson: No. I met with Martin around 2015, and this is when he was very close to shooting. It wasn't like I was waiting around for years and years.

Guerrasio: You have such an incredible filmography, but I want to bring up a project you didn't take on: Any regrets not doing "Lincoln" with Steven Spielberg?

Neeson: I have absolutely no regrets about that at all. The script I was involved with Steven on was totally different than what he shot. I thought I was past my sell-by date with this. This just isn't me anymore. And I'm glad it happened. When I saw the film and what Steven had done and certainly what Daniel [Day-Lewis as Lincoln] had done was f---ing extraordinary. I thought it was beautiful. I was so pleased I made that decision. Dan was superb.

Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn in Star WarsGuerrasio: Deep down, do you want to go back and play Qui-Gon Jinn again?

Neeson: No. No. That was 20 years ago. No, and nor have I been approached. And with all these spin-offs they are doing who knows what's going to happen.

Guerrasio: That's why I bring it up — the character may have a reason to get back in the mix.

Neeson: I would certainly take their call, let's put it that way, but I think that ship has sailed.

"Silence" is currently playing in theaters.

SEE ALSO: Here are the must-see movies that are going to win Oscars in 2017

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How Natalie Portman nailed her Oscar-nominated performance as Jackie Kennedy


NataliePortman Jackie TIFF

The hype for Natalie Portman's Oscar-nominated performance in "Jackie" came early.


Her stirring performance as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy during the aftermath of the assassination of her husband JFK was the talk of the Toronto International Film Festival all the way back in September 2016, when many believe she would clinch the Oscar nod, which of course she did. She's now a frontrunner in the category.

Portman, who previously won an Oscar for her starring role in 2010's "Black Swan," has the look and unique voice of Kennedy down perfectly, which took a lot of preparation leading up to filming.

"I read every biography I could get my hands on," she told Business Insider. "And we recreated a lot of the White House tour for the film, so that was helpful to see how she walks and how she moves and her facial expressions."

The movie follows Kennedy as she recounts to a reporter the assassination and planning of her husband's funeral. But the movie also shows the different personas Kennedy had in front of different people — a debutante in public but feisty and no-nonsense behind closed doors.

Portman picked up on that in her research, which included listening to recorded interviews Kennedy did with biographer Arthur Schlesinger.

"When she was doing interviews, [her voice] was a lot more girly and soft, and then when you hear her talking to Schlesinger at home, you hear the ice in the glass clinking and the voice is a little deeper and her wit comes out more," Portman said. "So you get this real sense of the two sides."

SEE ALSO: Natalie Portman talks directing her first movie and why you'll never see her on social media

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How you can stream the 2017 Oscar nominees


Arrival Jan Thijs Paramount final

The Academy Award nominations have been announced, meaning it’s officially time to play catch-up. Here’s where to stream the contenders that aren’t still in theaters.


SEE ALSO: Inside the shooting of Matthew McConaughey's new movie that became plagued with disaster


Nominated for Best Documentary Feature

“Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13TH” has the precision of a foolproof argument underscored by decades of frustration.” —Eric Kohn



Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

“’Arrival’ is no two-hander; it is Adams’ film through and through. The actress makes a very strong lead, embodying the kind of swashbuckling language pedant whose eyes light with adventure when offered a particularly challenging conjugation.” —Ben Croll

(iTunes as of January 31)

"Captain Fantastic"

Nominated for Best Actor

“Despite a premise that could easily turn hokey or farcical — radical parent raises kids in the woods, then suddenly must face reality when he takes them back to civilization — ‘Captain Fantastic’ manages to inhabit the utopian highs of Ben’s unorthodox world even as it falls apart.” —EK


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Split' scares up big business at the box office for a second straight weekend


Split Universal

It's safe to say that M. Night Shyamalan is officially back as one of the top genre filmmakers working today.

For a second consecutive weekend his latest thriller, "Split," starring James McAvoy as a man with multiple personalities who has kidnapped three girls, tops the weekend box office.

Taking in an estimated $26.3 million, according to Variety, that puts the movie's domestic total at around $78 million (the film was only made for $9 million).

This follows Shyamalan's successful 2015 faux documentary horror "The Visit," which took in $98.4 million worldwide (on a $5 million budget). 

Both "Split" and "The Visit" were produced by horror titan Jason Blum (the "Paranormal Activity" and "Insidious" franchises) and it seems Shyamalan (who was also a producer on both films) has found the perfect collaborator following a string of bigger budget flops ending with 2013's "After Earth."

a dogs purpose dennis quaidNew release "A Dog's Purpose" came in second place this weekend, taking in $18.4 million. The movie has been dealing with weeks of bad press after video surfaced of dogs in the movie allegedly being abused on set.

It's debatable if the movie would have had a better opening weekend if it wasn't for this controversy. A better indication will be in the coming weeks, as past canine movies like "Eight Below" and "Hotel for Dogs" have turned out to be strong performers through its time in theaters (both earning over $100 million worldwide).

SEE ALSO: Ben Affleck's new gangster movie is a mega-flop that's set to lose $75 million for Warner Bros.

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100 movies on Netflix that everyone needs to watch in their lifetime



Netflix has no shortage of content. Going through its growing original material along with other shows and movies, you could binge endlessly and never crack the surface.

It's become harder on the movie front, as Netflix boosts its TV side, but you can put a good dent in some classic films if you have the right guide.

That's why we're here.

We have searched through all of the latest titles on the streaming giant so you don’t have to, and we've put together the 100 movies streaming on Netflix right now that you have to watch in your lifetime.

Note: Numerous Netflix titles drop off the streaming service monthly so the availability of titles below may change.

SEE ALSO: 20 modern classic TV shows everyone needs to watch in their lifetime

1. "10 Things I Hate About You" (1999)

Heath Ledger and Julia Styles have an incredible love/hate vibe that fuels the movie. And a baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking for love is great, too.

2. "13th" (2016)

This Netflix original documentary from director Ava DuVernay ("Selma") explores the history of racial inequality in the US, particularly the key moments that have led to a disproportionate prison population in the country (one out of four people in prison around the world, and many of them African-American).

3. "Adventureland" (2009)

Director Greg Mottola takes us back to that feeling of our first summer job. Where the experience prepares you for the real world. But really all that happens is hitting on your coworkers.  

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

We finally have the first official photo for 'Ocean's 8' — meet the women who will star in the spin-off


oceans 8

Next summer we'll be getting a spin-off to the "Ocean's" heist trilogy. This time around, it won't be starring George Clooney as Danny Ocean and his ragtag crew.

Instead, "Ocean's 8" will star Sandra Bullock and a group of women she assembles as they attempt to pull off a heist at New York City's annual Met Gala. 

Warner Bros.' released the first official photo for the movie Monday. Keep reading to meet the ladies of "Ocean's 8."

SEE ALSO: How Natalie Portman nailed her Oscar-nominated performance as Jackie Kennedy

Bullock will star as Debbie Ocean, presumably Danny's sister. She'll be the one assembling the crew for the Met Gala heist.

Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine") will star as Lou.

Rihanna's in this movie, too! She'll play a character called Nine Ball.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Sony's movie division is taking a $1 billion loss after recent box-office failures


ghostbusters 3 hopper stone sony

Sony Corp. has revealed that its Pictures Division will take an “impairment loss” of $962 million (JPY112.1 billion) in the three months to December, the third quarter of its financial year. But the Japanese giant insisted that its movie business is not for sale.

“Make no mistake. Sony Corp.’s commitment to SPE remains unchanged. The value of high-quality content continues to rise. As we have stated on many occasions, including at SPE’s All Hands meeting at the end of last year, Sony Corp. sees SPE as a very important part of Sony group, and will continue to invest to achieve long-term growth and increased profits in this space,” Sony group chief Kazuo Hirai and Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s departing CEO, said in a joint statement accompanying the financial announcement.

The company described the write-down as a “non-cash loss.” It said the loss was due to a number of factors past and present, including the purchase of the studio almost 30 years ago and the “dramatic shifts in the home entertainment space.”

The write-down will be recorded as an operating loss in the company’s quarterly and current-year financial figures. Sony is to release its third-quarter figures Thursday – which also happens to be Lynton’s final day in the CEO’s office at SPE. He announced earlier this month that he would be leaving SPE to concentrate on his duties as chairman of Snap, owner of social-media platform Snapchat.

Sony’s disclosure Monday of the nearly $1-billion write-down comes three years after Hirai made clear that improving SPE’s results was an urgent priority. But the studio has continued to struggle with management woes and flops at the box office, prompting speculation that a major reorganization could be on the cards.

Regarding the write-down, Sony Corp. said in a filing that “a majority of the goodwill that was impaired was originally recorded at the time of the acquisition of Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. in 1989. The impairment charge resulted from a downward revision in the future profitability projection for the Motion Pictures business within the Pictures segment.

“The downward revision was primarily due to a lowering of previous expectations regarding the home entertainment business, mainly driven by an acceleration of market decline. Underlying profitability projections of film performance were also reduced, but the adverse impact of that reduction is expected to be largely mitigated by measures that have been identified to improve the profitability of the Motion Pictures business.”

Sony said that profit in the Pictures segment overall is expected to grow because of measures currently underway to improve the profitability of the Motion Pictures business and further expansion of the Television Productions and Media Networks businesses. Over the past five years, TV has risen in relation to movies as a share of Sony’s revenues. Its recent hits include “The Crown,” airing on Netflix.

In their statement, Hirai and Lynton talked up the prospects for SPE and the movie business, despite recent box-office disappointments such as the “Ghostbusters” reboot and “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” Ang Lee’s most recent film.

bill lynns long halftime walk sony“As we announced recently, we will be spending more time on the studio lot over the next several weeks, focused on two main priorities: (1) naming and transitioning to a new CEO of Sony Pictures, and (2) building on the turnaround efforts currently underway at the studio, particularly in motion pictures,” Hirai and Lynton’s statement said.

“Those efforts to date – including expanding the studio’s global reach, growing and leveraging SPE’s existing IP and realizing a culture of financial responsibility – have laid the groundwork for real reform, and we are confident they will lead to an increase the profitability of our motion pictures business moving forward.”

They also attempted to put the film studio’s current state of flux into context within the Japanese electronics group. Even after exiting from several business sectors which has interests that still stretch from making TV sets through to games.

“One of Sony’s great strengths is the diversity of its business portfolio and unifying power of the ‘Sony’ brand. Each business must be autonomous, self-sustaining, but at the same time they work cooperatively under the common identity of ‘Sony,’ aiming to enhance the total corporate value of Sony group. It is important to keep in mind that there was a time when some businesses were facing tough challenges; other businesses helped us to improve and sustain the profitability of the entire Sony Group,” the pair wrote.

“Fiscal year 2017, which begins in April, is the final year under our second mid-range plan. We look forward to working together to achieve our consolidated financial targets of more than 10% in return on equity and JPY500 billion in operating income, and to make a Sony that always brings inspiration and emotional engagement (Kando) to our customers.”

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'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' is inspired by these three movies, according to the director


The Force Awakens LukeAlthough we now have less than a year left until the next installment in the Star Wars franchise hits theaters, we still know very little about it. Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi has not released a single frame of footage (and it hopefully won't), so the tone and overall visual style of the upcoming sequel remains incredibly mysterious. That said, the director recently opened up and explained that the next Star Wars movie has drawn inspiration from three very specific films: Twelve O'Clock HighThree Outlaw Samurai, and To Catch A Thief. Johnson explained:

Twelve O'Clock High was a big touchstone, for the feel and look of the aerial combat as well as the dynamic between the pilots. Three Outlaw Samurai for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to rewatch, for the romantic scale and grandeur.

Rian Johnson's recent comments to Empire regarding his inspiration for The Last Jedi paint a picture of an eclectic and tonally diverse movie. The reference to the World War II drama Twelve O'Clock High leads us to believe that we will get to see quite a bit more of Poe Dameron's (Oscar Isaac) badass fighter pilot skills on full display. On the other hand, the influence of Three Outlaw Samurai seems like a reliable indication that the film will continue The Force Awakens' newly established tradition of practical swordsmanship -- a far cry from the highly choreographed and hurried swordfights of the prequel trilogy. However, arguably the most exciting and intriguing prospect of all is the idea that The Last Jedi will have that "old Hollywood" feeling of romanticism inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief. This movie is going to defy all labels, isn't it?

It's hardly surprising to learn that The Last Jedi has looked to classic movies such as these for inspiration. After all, the entire Star Wars franchise is an amalgamation of classic movie tropes, concepts, and ideas thrown together in order to create something original. A New Hope alone is a clear mash-up of Flash Gordon and classic Akira Kurosawa samurai movies like Seven Samurai. That's what makes these movies feel so simultaneously exotic and familiar.

It also makes plenty of sense for Rian Johnson to look to classic aviation movies to inform The Last Jedi's dogfight sequences. Once again, that idea ultimately ties into the history of the overall franchise. In fact, when creating some of the most iconic Star Wars battle sequences, George Lucas cribbed many full scenes from movies like Michael Anderson's The Dam Busters.

Check out the comparison below to see for yourself:

The entire Star Wars franchise has developed a long tradition of taking inspiration from other Hollywood movies and making something new out of them. With The Last Jedi, it's already clear that Rian Johnson wants to honor that longstanding custom.

The next Star Wars movie will blast its way into theaters later this year on December 15, 2017. Stay tuned for more details!

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The final 'Beauty and the Beast' trailer is here and it makes some changes from the animated movie


Belle and the Beast final trailer Beauty and the Beast

"Beauty and the Beast"— Disney's latest movie in a string of live-action remakes — hits theaters on March 17. With just over a month to go, Disney has released a new full-length trailer for the film. 

The new (and final) trailer shows off more of Emma Watson as Belle, and Dan Stevens in his Beastly form. 

So far the trailers were giving die hard Disney fans hope that the live-action reboot will stay very loyal to the original source material, but the latest footage looks like the film may make some departures. Notably, it looks like Belle will be less of a damsel and more in control of her fate when it comes to being imprisoned by the Beast. 

Aside from Watson and Stevens starring as Belle and the Beast, the remake will feature Luke Evans as Gaston, Josh Gad as LeFou, and Ewan McGregor as Lumiere. For a look at all the characters up close, check out the 12 posters Disney released earlier in the month.

Watch the full new trailer below: 

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Ben Affleck will not direct the next 'Batman' movie: 'I cannot do both jobs'


batman v superman

Ben Affleck has announced that he will not be directing the upcoming standalone Batman movie, "The Batman," according to Variety.

This ends months of speculation that the current Dark Knight would not just be writing the script but helming the next major Warner Bros. release centered on the beloved DC Comics character.

“There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions,” Affleck said in a statement to Variety. “Performing this role demands focus, passion, and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.” 

According to sources in the Variety story, Warner Bros. is in full support of Affleck's decision and it was not based on the recent box-office failure of his latest directing/starring effort, "Live by Night" (also released by Warner Bros.).

The search is now on for a new director, with reports having "War of the Planet of the Apes" director Matt Reeves at the top of the list.

The Hollywood Reporter story on the Affleck news states that Affleck and Warner Bros. executives have been unhappy with the script for weeks. There is currently no release date yet for "The Batman."

Affleck played Batman in last year's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad."

He will next put on the cape and mask for "Justice League," which opens in November.

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The 15 best new TV and movie additions to Netflix in February, ranked


Santa Clarita DietThe INSIDER Summary

•February is going to be a big month for Netflix releases from new original series to our favorite movies of all time.
•New additions to watch this February include American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson, Superbad, 
Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special, Finding Dory, and Santa Clarita Diet.


Look, there’s a lot of things that we at Screen Rant love about life. A nice walk through fresh snow, a cozy dinner with friends or family, curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book. But – let’s be honest – there’s no better moment in a day than sitting in front of your television or laptop and finally seeing that red and black Netflix logo pop up. Anything bad about our day fades away and all we’re left with is the excitement of endless streaming entertainment.

Last month – despite January generally being a horribly depressing month – was full of exciting new Netflix content that literally filled our lives with joy. And we say literally because we’ve been watching a lot of A Series of Unfortunate Events lately and the dialogue has both literally and figuratively caused us to change the way we speak. But since those eight episodes went by too quickly, and we’ve already binged our way through every movie and special that Netflix has released, we can’t wait to get streaming on everything that Netflix has to offer this February.

February is going to be a huge month for Netflix. With new movies and some very flashy series debuting this month, we can’t wait to blow off all of our responsibilities and watch everything we can as soon as it’s all available. As we do every month, we are sorting through the best things coming to Netflix this month and telling you what you need to watch.

15. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Feb 1

Somewhere in the world at any given time an eternal debate rages regarding The Nightmare Before Christmas. Is it a Halloween film? Is it a Christmas film? If this is truly a Tim Burton film, then where in the hell is Johnny Depp? Regardless of your answers to any of the above answers, the fact remains that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a great film that you can never see too many times.

Sure, the film may be best viewed around the holidays (Halloween, Christmas, whatever), but watching it in February doesn’t diminish it in any way. The songs are still as magical as ever, and the animation is pure nostalgic goodness. To throw this film up on Netflix is to get a good dose of childhood cheer, and you could do much worse than starting off the month by watching something that feels like hot chicken soup thawing your winter-ravaged veins.

14. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – Feb 1

Something about the cold, desolate months of January and February are perfect for horror – a fact that movie studios have caught onto in recent years with the release of horror classics often coming in the winter. So there’s perhaps no better way to spend a dreary February day then holed up inside with one of the best horror movies of the last two decades. Wrap a blanket around you, hide from any type of forest that may be near you, and start streaming The Blair Witch Project.

Although found footage horror has exploded since Paranormal Activity, it was really The Blair Witch Project that proved the merits of the horror subgenre. Famously, many viewers had no idea if what they were watching was real when it debuted in theaters, and the film still holds up today as being shockingly realistic. While we now know that this is simply a scripted micro-budget film, seeing the shaky-camera and hearing the behind-the-scene screaming of the main characters still sends chills down our spine that no horror movie has been able to match since.

13. Babe (1995) – Feb 1

Out of context, Babe is a headscratcher of a movie and an even more confusing footnote in history. It’s a kid’s film about a talking pig that grossed $254 million at the box office against a $30 million budget. It was also nominated for seven Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. And, this bears repeating once again, it’s a kid’s film about a talking pig.

But, look, Babe is a f***ing delight! Everything about this film is handcrafted to be one of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll ever have with a family film. Regardless of your age or your experience with talking pigs, there’s nothing but joy to be had within the confines of Babe’s running-time. The perfect film to click play on no matter who’s in the room watching with you, Babe is everything you remember it being and more. They just don’t make movies like this anymore.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How Amazon is trying to lure in indie filmmakers with a $100,000 bonus



With the Sundance Film Festival just finished, filmmakers whose films didn't get sold during the festival are now trying come up with a strategy to stay relevant in the eyes of buyers.

In the hopes of attracting some of the movies that aren't having distributors knocking down their doors, Amazon announced before the festival began that any feature film that played at this year's Sundance can join its Amazon Video Direct platform, a service that Amazon touts as being a “self-service publishing interface, without the need for complex negotiations or contracts.”

But numerous filmmakers and producers at Sundance who talked to Business Insider expressed uncertainty about how beneficial the service would be not just to titles at the fest, but for independent films that are desperately looking for some kind of release.

Amazon launched Amazon Video Direct (AVD) last May with the intention, as AVD head Eric Orme told Business Insider, to give filmmakers “another avenue if they don’t feel they will secure distribution.”

It's free of charge to upload any film to the platform. The only requirement is that it must contain captions. You then select the options on how the movie will be viewed — rent, buy, available for free on the site with ads, or available on Amazon Prime. Then the movie is on the service for potentially millions to see.

A filmmaker can track how it’s performing by using their AVD dashboard to see how many people are viewing the content and where in the world it’s being viewed.

But because of the prestige that comes with being selected to show at Sundance, Amazon is dishing out upfront cash to entice filmmakers there.

In a program touted as “Film Festival Stars,” AVD will provide Sundance 2017 titles that join by February 28 a publishing bonus as well as enhanced royalty rates.

The non-recoupable, onetime bonus is $100,000 for titles that were in this year’s US dramatic or premieres categories at the fest. It's $75,000 for US documentaries and documentary premieres. And $25,000 for titles that were in the world dramatic, world documentaries, NEXT, Spotlight, Kids, Midnight, or New Frontier sections.

Only Film Festival Stars receive upfront money for uploading to AVD.

This year’s Sundance titles that join AVD also will get enhanced royalties — 30 cents per hour of views in the US, 12 cents per hour for international views.

The standard AVD royalties are 15 cents per hour in the US and 6 cents per hour internationally. Across the board, the cap for royalties in a month is $75,000. Filmmakers also receive 50% of all purchase/rental fees for their movie (this will also be the split Sundance films receive when going on AVD).

The Sundance titles that join AVD give up their streaming rights for 24 months, and the first 12 months will be exclusive to Amazon.

“We have structured this in such a way that really helps support them if they don't get the options they are hoping for,” Orme said of the Sundance filmmakers, adding that they consulted with filmmakers and distributors to come up with the Film Festival Stars initiative.

But filmmakers at Sundance Business Insider spoke to, along with established directors and producers who didn’t have titles at this year’s fest, voiced concerns about the offer.

Some felt $100,000 comes nowhere near a figure that will recoup the investors of their movies, while others feel the late February deadline is unfair since (outside of the headline-grabbing monster deals during the fest) Sundance titles typically don’t find distribution for six months to a year after the festival.

Black_FieldOn the latter point, Orme said he understands what AVD is offering isn’t for every Sundance film and points out that this is only for streaming rights, and that the publishing bonus money can be used to promote a filmmaker’s title while looking for theatrical distribution.

The problem with that, however, is that most distributors who would entertain a theatrical deal also want the streaming rights to the film.

“I would just want filmmakers to really exhaust all of those other distribution possibilities before giving up streaming, because once you give up streaming, that’s it,” producer Mynette Louie (“The Invitation”) told IndieWire before Sundance began. 

Another issue filmmakers have pointed out is that because of the secretive nature of how many people actually watch content on streaming services like Amazon and Netflix, it’s impossible to know if the figures AVD is offering are fair.

“Distributors withhold digital numbers from filmmakers, so there are no digital revenue comps available to run estimates to determine if this is a good deal for my film,” producer Rebecca Green (“It Follows”) told Business Insider. “For example, the deal stipulates that a film makes money per hour viewed, but what is the average length of time a film is watched on Amazon and how does that differ per genre? What statistics do I have about past films released on Amazon Direct, in the same way I can look up box-office numbers for every film released in theaters, in order for me to determine if 30 cents per hour is a good deal for my film? I can tell you that I do not have this information for even my own two films currently in the digital stage of their release. Maybe it is a good deal, but without the numbers to back it up, I really have no idea and neither does any other filmmaker selling their film.”

AVD states it will not announce the Sundance titles that have taken the Film Festival Stars deal until after the February 28 deadline (the titles will then be available on AVD this September), but two filmmakers who have found success already on the platform were at Sundance singing its praises.

Justin Doescher’s “The Break-In” and Danishka Esterhazy’s “Black Field” have been two of the standout titles since the start of AVD, as both have received the platform’s “AVD Stars” recognition — a cash bonus to filmmakers who are top performers on Prime.

Doescher joined AVD right when the service began in May as he had recently finished his movie and was figuring out where to show it other than film festivals.

Not receiving any acceptance letters to attend film festivals and not getting anyone to pay to watch his ultra-low-budget horror movie on Vimeo Pro, Doescher said he instantly found success when “The Break-In” showed up on Amazon Prime through AVD.

“For people who have Prime already it wasn’t a big deal to check out my movie as opposed to Vimeo Pro where they didn’t want to pay for something they didn’t know about,” Doescher told Business Insider.

Esterhazy is a Canadian filmmaker who had a successful festival run in her home country and a TV release, but she found no avenue to get her Gothic drama to an American audience until Amazon came along.

The Break In“I was thinking of trying to put it on iTunes or Netflix,” she said. “But my filmmaker friends who had tried that told me they spent a lot of money to get it on there and nobody watched their movies.”

Uploading “Black Field” for free to AVD was enticing and it has led to Esterhazy’s movie having hundreds of thousands of views on the platform since, according to her.

Both filmmakers were coy about how much they are making from AVD, though they said when they were named AVD Stars they made around $100,000, counting the bonus, in that particular month.

Orme says that like all Amazon initiatives, AVD will be tweaked as it evolves, but from the outside, at least at the moment, filmmakers are still skating carefully around this latest self-distribution option.

"I'm still trying to figure out what the immediate advantages are, unless you made your movie for less than the amount being offered,” said filmmaker Zach Clark, whose movies like “Little Sister” and “White Reindeer” have premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival, followed by distribution. “I just saw that they paid $2 million for a movie that premiered in competition at Sundance, so why offer only $100,000 to everyone else? Streaming rights are increasingly the only rights that matter for independent films, so I would be extremely cautious and skeptical about taking this offer, unless I had a $75,000 movie in competition. And honestly, how many $75,000 movies are in competition at Sundance this year?”

Note: Business Insider is a partner in Amazon Video Direct.

SEE ALSO: 100 movies on Netflix that everyone needs to watch in their lifetime

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5 lessons movies can learn from the success of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’


SplitJanuary isn't historically a month for big hit movies, but M. Night Shyamalan's Splithas become just that. Packed with a surprising twist ending and an amazing performance from James McAvoy, the film rode high on critical reviews and has now won two box office weekends in a row. Looking at the numbers, it's a legitimate success story, and won that studios could actually learn a lot from.

Below and on the next few pages, we'll dig into what it is about Split that is legitimately special, and what the industry could take away from it as a whole. It should be noted that we will be heavily discussing the very end of the movie, so before we dig in...

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains absolutely massive spoilers for the end of M. Night Shyamalan's Split. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't wish to know any details about the movie, please bookmark this link and return to this feature after your screening!

We Need More Outside The Box Sequels

Split didn't really need to be Unbreakable 2. Though certainly a bit dark and nihilistic in its conclusion, the movie does all come together as a complete and creepy thriller with a very strange protagonist/antagonist relationship. That being said, the pulpy sheen and genre change that the ending provides legitimately makes the film better as a whole, and it's a great choice that also spells exciting things for the future. It's also just a great example of a fresh way to create a sequel, and an approach that movie studios should be analyzing.

As M. Night Shyamalan has freely admitted, Split wasn't the easiest sell as a secret Unbreakable sequel, as it's clearly a powerful marketing angle that is just left on the table -- but Universal Pictures was willing to run with the idea, and it's clearly paid off in a big way. We're obviously not saying that every movie needs to be a clandestine follow-up to 17-year-old movies, but it certainly should be a clear example that there's many ways to approach and sell sequels in an age when they're being delivered to theaters practically every weekend.

Quality Is Far More Important Than Immediacy In Sequel Production

Over time, we have seen plenty of bad sequels that took a long time to arrive. Hell, just last year saw the unfortunate delivery of Zoolander 2, which arrived 15 years after its predecessor and very much felt like it. Because of a few bad eggs, it's easy to dismiss decade-plus-later sequels... but Split very clearly runs contrary to the norm. And it's a perfect demonstration that a follow-up can really be made at any time -- it just ultimately matters that the quality of the story being told is up to snuff.

Going back to the first point, Split is a surprisingly inventive sequel in that it takes the themes of Unbreakable and flips them on their head (with "opposites" weirdly itself being a theme of the 2000 film). It was a concept that it clearly took M. Night Shyamalan more than 15 years to develop, but that time that is totally negligible in the face of the quality of the finished product. So let Split stand as an example to the major studios that they don't really need to rush projects along in order to keep up with what they assume is a short attention span. If the idea is strong enough, audiences will come back.

Second Weekends Are Important Too

Just because of the way blockbusters flood the release calendar in modern Hollywood, an incredibly strong emphasis has been placed on the strength of a film's opening weekend performance. It's not only because it's the strongest indicator of positive buzz and anticipation amongst audiences, but because whatever is coming out the following week has a good chance of stealing away attention. That being said, studios should really be taking a look at what Split has managed to pull off in its second week of release, because it's pretty damn impressive.

While it's standard for a movie's box office totals to drop between 50 and 60 percent from its first weekend to its second, that definitely isn't the case for M. Night Shyamalan's latest -- which only went down about 36 percent. This would be impressive all by itself, but it's all the more amazing because Split also far outperformed forecasts when it debuted. This was something that the writer/director actually full-on predicted when I spoke to him in November 2016. This may have been facilitated by the fact that people viewed the movie differently after learning about the twist -- which is an amazing strategy, really. Admittedly this is something that would be innately challenging for studios to fully replicate, but it clearly shows the positives in creative approaches.

SEE ALSO: The best and worst superhero movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ranked according to critics

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The best movies and TV shows coming to iTunes, Amazon, and HBO Go in February


doctor strange disney

With the Academy Awards coming at the end of February, this is a good time to catch up on the nominated movies you missed in theaters.

On iTunes you'll be able to buy (and soon rent) titles like "Arrival,""Hacksaw Ridge,""Manchester by the Sea," and "Moonlight" (to name a few). 

And Marvel hit "Doctor Strange" (Oscar nominated for best visual effects) is also available on iTunes as well as Amazon.

Below are all the titles that will be available in February, and we've gone ahead and highlighted some in bold we think you should definitely check out:

SEE ALSO: 100 movies on Netflix that everyone needs to watch in their lifetime


Available February 1

“The Edge of Seventeen”
“Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween”
“Bleed for This”

Available February 7

“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Nocturnal Animals”
“The Eagle Huntress”

Available February 14

“Doctor Strange”
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”

Available February 21

Bad Santa 2”

Available February 24



Available February 1

“Forces of Nature”                                                                                                                     “American Teen”                                                                                                    
“Care Bears Movie”                                                                              
“Dead Heat”
“Diamonds Are Forever”                                                   
“Die Another Day”
“Drop Zone"
“The Edge of Seventeen”
“Escape from Alcatraz”
“The Firm”
“Frankie & Johnny” 
“I Went Down”
“Judgement Day”                                          
“Kiss the Bride”  
“The Living Daylights”              
“Live and Let Die”
“Man with the Golden Gun”       
“Margin Call” 
“Never Say Never Again”    
“Pretty in Pink”  
“Rob Roy”    
“The Running Man” 
“Sabrina” (1995) 
“The Spy Who Loved Me”  
“Untamed Heart”  
“Wild Bill” 
“The World is Not Enough”
“You Only Live Twice”
“Into the Wild”  
“Thelma & Louise”  
“Teen Wolf”

Available February 4


Available February 6

“The Detour” (Season 2)
“24: Legacy” (Season 1)                                                                 

Available February 7

“Creative Galaxy Heart Day Special” (AMAZON ORIGINAL, Season 2)           

Available February 9


Available February 10

“The Collection” (Season 1)

Available February 12

“Girls” (Season 6)  
“Last Week Tonight” (Season 4)   

Available February 14

“Doctor Strange”   

Available February 15

“The Americans” (Season 4)

Available February 16

“Author: JT Leroy Story”(AMAZON ORIGINAL)       
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (Season 1)     

Available February 19

“Billions” (Season 2)
“Big Little Lies” (Season 1)                                                                                    

Available February 21

“The Tunnel” (Season 1)       
Bates Motel (Season 5)                                                                                       
Available February 21

“Captain Fantastic”

Available February 24

“10 Cloverfield Lane”

Available February 26

“Touched with Fire”

Available February 27

“Havana Motor Club”

HBO Go/Now

Available February 1


“A Bigger Splash”

“The Breakfast Club”

“Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”

“Broadcast News”




“December Boys”

“Do The Right Thing”

“Earth Girls Are Easy”

“Hard To Kill”

“Interview With The Vampire”

“Journey to the Center of the Earth”

“Just Married”

“Men in Black II”

“Mo’ Better Blues”

“Mystic River”

“Out For Justice”

“The Princess Diaries 2 Royal Engagement”

“Raging Bull”

“Rain Man”


“Road to Perdition”


“Sixteen Candles”

“Snow Dogs”


“The World According to Garp”

Available February 4

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”

Available February 5

“Crimson Peak”

Available February 9

“Sinister 2”

Available February 11

“Central Intelligence”

Available February 13

“The Young Pope” (Season Finale)

Available February 18

“The Legend of Tarzan”

Available February 25

“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This Oscar-winning director reveals the secrets of working with De Niro and Pacino


The Comedian 3 Alison Cohen Rosa Sony Pictures Classics

Taylor Hackford is a veteran director who, over his 45-plus-year career has created some of Hollywood's most memorable works.

Finding notice in the late 1970s by winning an Oscar for his short film “Teenage Father,” he’s gone on to direct notable titles including “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Ray.” But he’s also been able to work with two of the best living actors of all time.

His latest movie, “The Comedian” (in theaters nationwide on Friday), stars Robert De Niro as an aging insult comic trying to stay relevant. This comes 19 years after he worked with Al Pacino in the steamy thriller “The Devil’s Advocate,” in which Pacino plays the devil.

Not many directors have had the distinction of working with both De Niro and Pacino in their careers.

Hackford talked to Business Insider about working with the two legends.

SEE ALSO: The best movies and TV shows coming to iTunes, Amazon, and HBO Go in February

Taking charge of a De Niro passion project.

Robert De Niro had been trying to make “The Comedian” for years. Martin Scorsese was even going to direct it at one time. But last year, after another project fell through for Hackford, he got the call to come on and shoot “The Comedian.”

He admits he wasn’t instantly sold since he knew it was a De Niro passion project, but he accepted and found out working with the actor was “a dream.”

“De Niro really respects directors,” Hackford said. “He encouraged me every step of the way to take charge. That’s a gift. He wants direction.”

Pacino gave him the greatest improv performance he’s ever seen.

Hackford notes that both De Niro and Pacino are very dedicated in their preparation before filming begins. But there’s also room for spontaneity.

Before shooting the end of "The Devil's Advocate," in which Pacino’s character reveals he’s the devil, Hackford asked Pacino and his costar Keanu Reeves to improv the scene.

“I told them to forget the text, just feel the room, and I saw Pacino walk in and do the most incredible improv I’ve ever seen in my life,” Hackford said. “Out of the middle of nowhere he stars to sing, ‘I met her in Monterey, in old Mexico,’ and that’s from an old Frank Sinatra song I hadn’t heard in 30 years. I said, ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know, I just felt like singing it.’”

Hackford put that moment in the final version of the scene, but instead of Pacino singing, he dubbed it with Sinatra singing.

“I thought, the devil could sound like Sinatra if he wants to,” he said.

De Niro is no slouch at improv, either.

In “The Comedian,” Hackford points out that De Niro had to be quick on the draw, as he was placed in situations with major comedians who never stayed on script.

“We made the film in 27 days and I didn’t do a lot of takes. I wanted spontaneity,” Hackford said. “Bob had to respond, and there’s some real moments I’m so proud of. The Friars Club scene with Cloris Leachman, she was throwing zingers that De Niro wasn’t ready for, but he responded right on the spot. Then the scene with comic Jessica Krison, the general framework was that De Niro and Leslie Mann were going to walk through the shot, but what Jessica and Bob did was all riffing, that scene is all improv.”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Mark Hamill is still angry at 'Star Wars' fans for one reason


The Phantom MenaceMark Hamill is one of the biggest supporters of Star Wars, and Star Wars fans, that's out there today. He seems to absolutely love the passion that people have for those movies. However, there is one place where he does take issue with the ardor of fandom. He's still upset with the vitriol that was thrown at the Star Wars prequels, particularly the anger that was hurled at the young Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

"I couldn't believe some of the things they wrote about the prequels, you know. I mean really, beyond 'I didn't like it'. I'm still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd. He was only ten years old, that boy, and he did exactly what George wanted him to do. Believe me, I understand clunky dialog.:

The fans general dislike of the Star Wars prequels has become a legend of its own over the last two decades. Whether it was the plot's focus on galactic politics instead of smugglers and Jedi, CGI characters with terrible dialogue and offensive accents, or meaningless statements about the coarseness of sand, there is a lot that people don't like about the prequels. But back when there was only one prequel movie to bash, the two parts that received the most negative response were clearly Jar Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd the actor playing the child Anakin Skywalker.

Mark Hamill doesn't defend the "clunky dialogue." After all, it's not like the original trilogy is completely without its own terrible lines. But, as Hamill points out to Vulture, Jake Lloyd was a kid doing what his director told him to do. The man who played Luke Skywalker was at least a teenager when he took on the starring role in Star Wars and we have to assume he was criticized by some for his own performance, but being a bit older he was able to deal with it.

Mark Hamill also takes issue with the "you ruined my childhood" crowd of prequel haters. There's nothing wrong with not liking the movies, but the actor feels that we should all be able to just leave it at that.

In the end, Mark Hamill has a point. Movies aren't made by one person. There were numerous people who made numerous decisions that combined to create the Star Wars prequels. If you didn't like them, there's plenty of blame you can spread around evenly. And it's probably best to try to avoid blaming the 10-year-old. It's clear that Jake Lloyd had to deal with a lot of crap growing up that nobody else could begin to understand. While it's too late to prevent all that, it wouldn't be awful to stop making it worse.

Besides, if you didn't like the Star Wars prequels, you probably disliked all three and the 10-year-old didn't even influence the two he wasn't in, so clearly the issue was not him.

SEE ALSO: RANKED: Every character in 'Rogue One' from best to worst

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13 thrilling movies to watch if you loved 'The OA'


Inception Leonardo DiCaprioThe INSIDER Summary: 

•If you are a sci-fi mystery fan chances are you've already binge-watched Netflix's "The OA."
•If you loved The OA, you'll probably also like watching "Inception" and "Minority Report".

As much of a mess as 2016 was (though TBH, 2017 has been considerably worse so far), there was one consistent bright spot throughout the year: Netflix.

The streaming service's original content really came into its own last year, with new shows like Stranger Things, Luke Cage, and the Gilmore Girls revival offering a quality escape when reality became too depressing. And as an extra gift, the network saved one of its best surprises for the end of the year when Netflix's The OA premiered on Dec. 16. The sci-fi mystery became an instant sensation, and now that you've no doubt already binged it, you're probably wondering what movies to see if you loved The OA.

The good news is that, unlike Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer, the team behind The OA, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, have actually already collaborated on a few films, and they are all likely to be enjoyed by anybody who dug The OA. As for the other recommendations, you'll probably want to focus on complex science fiction with a mystery element that will keep you guessing until the end. So with those parameters in mind, you should watch these 13 movies if you loved The OA. 

1. Sound Of My Voice

Starring Marling, directed by Batmanglij, and written by both of them, this mystery thriller is about a cult leader who claims to be from the future.

2. The East

Featuring the same writer/director/actor configuration as Sound of My Voice, but lacking a sci-fi element, this mystery about an anarchist group and the corporatist who infiltrates their ranks will still have you on the edge of your seat.

3. Another Earth

This brilliant picture, in which Marling starred and co-wrote, uses its sci-fi concept of the discovery of a clone of Earth as a mere backdrop to tell a compelling story of grief.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

RANKED: The 10 worst movies to win the best picture Oscar — and what should have won



Winning the best picture Oscar doesn't just signal that a movie is regarded by Hollywood as the top achievement in the medium for the year; it can help cement a movie's status, with past winners that have gone on to become classics like "The Godfather,""Lawrence of Arabia," and "On the Waterfront."

But the Academy voters don't always get it right. Tucked away in the 88 years of Oscar ceremonies are best picture winners that quickly vanished from the zeitgeist, never to be heard from again. That's often because they weren't as good as originally thought.

It's probably too early to say which of the nine best picture nominees in 2017 — including critical favorites "La La Land,""Moonlight," and "Manchester by the Sea"— will live on in our memories, but here's hoping the Academy doesn't screw this one up when the Oscars air February 26.

Here we look back on the 10 most disappointing best picture winners and choose the nominees that should have won:

SEE ALSO: RANKED: The 12 greatest movies to win the best picture Oscar

10. "Around the World in 80 Days" (1956)

Based on the Jules Verne novel, this film used all of Hollywood's resources (a $6 million budget in the 1950s was far from cheap) to create a sprawling look at the world, but the story of a super-rich English gentleman Phileas Fogg (David Niven) who attempts to win his wager to navigate the globe is silly and far from memorable. 

SHOULD HAVE WON: "The Ten Commandments"

Cecil B. DeMille's final directing effort still holds strong today. With its all-star cast, particularly the incredible performance by Charlton Heston as Moses (he didn't even get an Oscar nomination for the role), and its remarkable effects for that era, it's a movie that should have been recognized with the top prize.  

9. "Ordinary People" (1980)

The late 1970s and early 1980s were when the melodrama was at its zenith in movie theaters, and "Ordinary People" came around at the perfect time. The film didn't just win best picture — it also achieved best director for Robert Redford and best actor for Timothy Hutton. Granted, the film has explosive performances in it, but there needs to be more than great acting to win best picture.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The new 'Ghost in the Shell' Super Bowl trailer shows off the movie's explosive action


Ghost in the Shell Paramount copy

If you need to see more of Scarlett Johansson as the butt-kicking part-human, part-cyborg in "Ghost in the Shell" before its Super Bowl spot airs, Paramount has hooked you up.

The studio put its Super Bowl Sunday teaser of the highly anticipated live-action feature adapted from the popular Japanese anime online Thursday.

In the movie, Johansson plays the Major, a cyborg policewoman in a near-future Japan who is on the hunt for cyberterrorists. 

This latest teaser shows off the CGI-fueled action that we hope is only a glimpse of what we'll experience when the movie comes out March 31. 

Here's the "Ghost in the Shell" Super Bowl spot:


SEE ALSO: RANKED: The 10 worst movies to win the the best picture Oscar — and what should have won

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