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Guy Gets Almost 3 Years In Prison For Pirating 'Fast And Furious'


fast & furious 6

A man who recorded the movie Fast and Furious 6 in a Walsall cinema, whose illegal copy was downloaded from torrent sites over 700,000 times, has been jailed for 33 months.

The Wolverhampton-based judge asserted that “bold, arrogant and cocksure” Philip Danks, 25, should serve the period for damages made to the film company.

The Federation Against the Act of Copyright Theft claimed that the 700,000 downloads harmed producer, Universal Studio’s, movie income to the tune of millions.fast and furious 6

Additionally, Danks also sold physical copies of the movie from his Facebook page, from which he posted, refering to the trial: “Not loking [sic] good.” Accomplice, Michael Bell, who had a part in uploading the file, was also issued a community order of 120 hours unpaid work.

Det Sgt Rod Rose, of West Midlands Police, said: "We assisted the Federation Against Copyright Theft throughout this case with search warrants, forcing entry to addresses and making arrests.

"We also supported with evidence recovery and interviewing suspects.

fast and furious 7 set

"Fraud comes in many guises and ultimately affects all of us."

Police tracked the uploader of the content from his torrent site sign-in’ TheCod3r’ as it was also the same username he used on dating website ‘Plenty of Fish’.

This comes after the co-founder of the Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, was arrested in June, after being on the run for nearly two years.

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The 10 Highest-Grossing Summer Movies Of 2014


guardians of the galaxy gamora star lord

The summer 2014 box office may be down nearly 20%; however, it still managed to bring one billion dollar movie and two of the highest box-office openings August has ever seen ("Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles").

As the summer winds down, we've compiled the biggest movies of the season, breaking each film down by both its international and domestic revenues. Unsurprisingly, all but two films on the list have made more money overseas. 

A few take aways:

  • Comedies were bigger at home than overseas.
  • Fox dominated the summer with three very different sequels: superhero film "X-Men: Days of Future Past,""Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," and comedy "22 Jump Street."
  • Paramount was the only studio to have a movie hit $1 billion this year.
  • Universal Pictures doesn't break the top 10. It's highest-grossing movie of the year so far has been comedy "Neighbors" ($264.7 million worldwide).

highest grossing movies 2014

SEE ALSO: Photos of Lee Pace's awesome transformation into the "Guardians of the Galaxy" villain

AND: You can now watch the best scene from "Guardians of the Galaxy" online

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A Major 'Star Wars' Villain May Return In 'Episode VII'


star wars death starMajor Spoilers to follow...

We've heard this rumor before. That Ian McDiarmid will be reprising his role as Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) in Star Wars: Episode VII. But now Latino Review is confirming from two different sources that the character will indeed return, though he may not be played by Ian McDiarmid, who took over the role in 1983's Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi and returned to play him in all three prequels, beginning with Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in 1999, and continuing in 2002's Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones and 2005's Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

While The Sith Inquisitors are said to be the primary villains in Star Wars: Episode VII, Darth Sidious will be revealed as the puppet master behind the scenes. And throughout Star Wars: Episode VIII and Star Wars: Episode IX, he will come to the foreground as this new trilogy's main protagonist.

It is reported that the Ewok party seen at the end of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is coming from a forced perspective, and that something much more sinister is at play. While Lando blew up the second Death Star with the Millennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker did have time to drag Darth Vader to an Imperial Shuttle and unmask him as his father, Anakin Skywalker. Which means Palpatine would have had time to escape somehow. As we know from Luke's fall at the end of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, just because a person is thrown down the tube of a space station doesn't mean they are going to die.

emperor palpatine

Latino Review sources, said to be working deep inside Lucasfilm, confirm 100% that The Emperor will appear on screen in Star Wars: Episode VII and return with a more substantial role in Star Wars: Episode VIII. They also confirm that he is not being played by Ian McDiarmid. Finally, they go onto hint that he may also not be the old man he once was in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. Has Darth Sidious found the fountain of youth? Or is this Star Wars rumor just another piece of bait to get fans excited?

Star Wars: Episode VII comes to theaters December 18th, 2015 and stars John BoyegaDaisy RidleyCarrie FisherHarrison FordMark HamillAdam Driver,Domhnall GleesonLupita Nyong'o. The film is directed by J.J. Abrams.

SEE ALSO: Why The New 'Star Wars' Movies Will Be Better With Less CGI

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'Guardians Of The Galaxy' Concept Art Shows How Zoe Saldana's Character Almost Looked


guardians of the galaxy zoe saldanaI’m strongly considering picking up the Guardians of the Galaxy concept art book because it has to be filled with interesting designs.  I’m happy with almost everything in the finished feature, but I’m always curious about what could have been, and concept art always shows roads not taken.  Artist Andy Park has posted some of his unused designs for Thanos’ daughters Gamora and Nebula, and I think what he came up with was in some ways superior to what we saw in the finished feature.

Park’s been releasing various designs over the past few weeks.  Here’s what he’s released for Gamora [via /Film]: 

You can see that Gamora’s skin was more intricate and at one point she didn’t even have to be green.  On the one hand, I think this makes her more visually interesting, but overall, restraint was probably the best way to go when you consider that the team already had one heavily-tattooed humanoid.

As for Nebula, I like that Park’s designs make her look more powerful.  She still has the bald head and cybernetic eye-piece, but the piece is more pronounced in Park’s drawings than in the finished feature.  Compared to the character’s final look, you can see how much Nebula was scaled back.  I assume director James Gunn‘s thinking was that instead of making Nebula look like an unstoppable warrior, she should come off as the unimpressive sibling.  If she looks like too much of a badass, then Gamora would have to look even tougher.

Finally, here’s a team piece Park did at the start of the project:

SEE ALSO: It took three hours to do Zoe Saldana's makeup every day for "Guardians of the Galaxy"

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Why 'Batman V Superman' Never Would Have Gone Up Against 'Captain America 3' In Theaters


captain america vs batmanIt was a title fight worthy of a weekend card in a Las Vegas casino. In one corner, Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America 3, the follow up to their massively successful Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Across the ring, Zack Snyder promised to pair Batman v. Superman in Dawn of Justice. For a short amount of time, both blockbusters circled the same release date. Then, Warner Bros. blinked and shifted Batman v. Superman to March 2016. 

In an exclusive interview with the Russos today, they told me the shift was inevitable… and ultimately great for fans. "We knew when they announced that it was somewhat of a placeholder, that it was a game of chicken to see if Marvel really had a film that was going to land on that date or not," Joe Russo explained. 

Which is understandable. Both Marvel and DC, in a race to corner as many available weekends as possible, have leaked possible future release schedules that take each studio through the next few years of programming. But outside of a handful of titles (mostly on the Marvel side of the battle), those dates do not have official titles plugged in to them. When Marvel responded by placing the much-anticipated Captain America 3 in that prime slot, the studio called DC and Warner’s bluff. And it worked to Cap’s favor. 

"We knew it was never going to happen," Joe Russo said. "We knew those two films would never stay on that date. So we knew somebody was going to move." 

But as Joe Russo explained, this glut of superhero blockbusters all vying for greener release-date pastures is the best possible problem to have if you are a fan of superhero cinema. He tells us that the market nowadays is so healthy, that a superhero blockbuster can open any time between January and September and still do well. Heck, November has even become a stable launching point for Marvel film’s like Thor: The Dark World. Russo said to us: 

"We’re filmmakers. But we’re also comic-book geeks and movie fans. I want to go to the theater and be excited and see shit that inspires me, and gets me excited as a filmmaker. And so we wish success on everybody! Now that we’re in the sort of heyday of comic-book films, you don’t want anybody sort of spoiling the party. This summer was actually great because boy did we get treated to some pretty great movies this summer. So you keep hoping that’s the case moving forward.

And it seems like studios – and I think a lot of this has to do with social media. Social media is so quick to identify when something isn’t working. You know, on Friday night by like 6 p.m., whether a movie is in trouble. And I think you can’t hide anymore. You have got to show up with a great movie, or you are screwed. I think you are finding that it’s happening less and less, that something that is not that good is doing very well. It’s forcing everyone’s hand, and really pushing people to do very good work."

Obviously, Joe and Anthony Russo did outstanding work with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It remains the highest-grossing movie of 2014 (for now, at least), and charmed the shield off of audiences and critics. They have their work cut out for them on Captain America 3, and we will bring you plenty of more information on that sequel from our interview with the siblings. But for now, you can rent Captain America: The Winter Soldier on various online outlets today, or pre-order a Blu-ray and DVD to own when it reaches shelves on Sept. 9.

SEE ALSO: Ben Affleck: I wouldn't have accepted 'Batman V Superman' role if I didn't think I could do it

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Robert Downey Jr. Says ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ May Be The 'Best Marvel Movie Ever'


robert downey jr roses sdcc

At the time of this writing, Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier is at the top of the domestic box office charts with $259.7 million, but it won’t be there for long. Another Marvel film - Guardians of the Galaxy – is poised to reach the number one spot by the end of the week, having earned $255.2 million through four weeks of release. Not bad for a film that entered 2014 as a serious commercial risk.

As Star-Lord, Rocket, and friends continue to captivate audiences, moviegoers up for a fun cosmic adventure aren’t the only ones taking notice. Robert Downey Jr., the longtime poster boy for the studio, offered a fair share of heavy praise for what James Gunn and company have achieved.

Many feel that Guardians marks one of Marvel’s best offerings, and Downey is one to agree. In an interview with The Toronto Sun, the once and future Tony Stark said that the movie is, in fact, their “best ever.”

“‘Galaxy’ in some ways is the best Marvel movie ever. And it’s odd for someone with — on occasion — an ego the size of mine to actually say that!"

Downey has starred in arguably two of the best installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (at this time), in 2008′s Iron Man and 2012′s The Avengers, which were both extremely successful with critics and paying customers. Guardians is seeing similar results, having already surpassed the domestic totals for both Thor films and (soon) the two Captain America solo outings. Not only that, the critical reception ranks among the studios’ finest. It’s no surprise that Iron Man sees Star-Lord as his equal. 

Since everyone got hooked on a feeling this month, the sky is the limit for what Marvel will do next. With Guardians of the Galaxy becoming one of the biggest films of the year, the Marvel brand is the clear winner and moviegoers have shown they’re willing to flock to comic book films that don’t feature Batman or Spider-Man. This is great news as the studio looks to take other obscure properties and turn them into blockbuster sensations.

guardians of the galaxy gamora star lordThis fact wasn’t lost on Downey, who acknowledged that the door is now open for any hero to become a movie star:

"We’re talking about how the Iron Mans and the Thors and the Captain Americas and the Avengers movies have afforded Marvel the opportunity to essentially take what was a third-tier, minor, kind of upstart bit of potential from one of their comic books series and say: ‘Look!’"

Save for the forthcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America 3, most of the projects Marvel has in development do cover the so-called “third-tier” characters that Downey is referring to. Ant-Man is hitting theaters in July 2015, Doctor Strange has a director attached, and Inhumans is gaining traction behind-the-scenes.

There’s no guarantee that they’ll all see similar numbers to Guardians, but the fact that Rocket Raccoon and Groot are household names will make Kevin Feige all the more confident that the same thing can happen to Black Bolt (King of the Inhumans) and his family. If audiences will accept a sentient tree, there’s no telling how far they’ll go. We have no reason to believe Marvel is in danger of losing its standing as one of the top brands in the industry.

Regardless of if you agree with Downey’s words or not, it’s justifiable to say that Guardians of the Galaxy is the most important development for Marvel Studios since Nick Fury wanted to talk about the Avengers Initiative. Its success may even go beyond the Marvel banner and impact the genre at large.

It’s no coincidence that a week after Guardians made $94.3 million, Warner Bros. announced several DC adaptations were in the works, potentially turning their “second-tier” characters like Flash and Aquaman into global superstars. We’re not even close to peak superhero yet.

SEE ALSO: Robert Downey Jr. Took Home An Astounding Paycheck For 'The Avengers'

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Actors Head To Venice As World's Oldest Film Festival Begins


Actresses Amy Ryan (L) and Emma Stone arrive for the photocall of the movie

Venice (AFP) - The Venice film festival kicked off Wednesday with the arrival of international stars for a fortnight dominated by art house tales of war, poetry and the mafia.

Tim Roth of "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" fame could be seen relaxing ahead of the opening night's red carpet, where he is expected to dazzle alongside Emma Stone ("Easy A!") and a boyish looking Edward Norton ("American History X").

The first flick to take the stage at the world's oldest film festival will be Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance", starring Michael Keaton, who starred in "Beetlejuice" and two "Batman" films. 

michael keaton birdman venice film festival

Other hotly-awaited world premieres include "Good Kill" by New Zealand's Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke as a drone operator in Afghanistan, and David Gordon Green's "Manglehorn" with Al Pacino as an ex-con turned locksmith with a broken heart.

French film composer Alexandre Desplat -- whose dozens of works include the scores for "The King's Speech" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- is heading up the main jury at the festival, which runs until September 6. 

Desplat denied suggestions that being the first non-actor or director to head up the jury would be a hinderance, saying he had worked with some of the best directors today.Alexandre desplaton

"We are not here to be daring or audacious but discover new worlds, films, subject, faces -- and hopefully have fun, too," he said.

Desplat was among the cinema luminaries quaffing prosecco at the festival's opening party on a roof terrace near Saint Mark's Square in the floating city Tuesday, inaugurating two weeks of glamorous beach galas and red-carpet ceremonies.

Festival director Alberto Barbera brushed off criticisms that this year's edition was light on Hollywood stars, saying the aim of the organisers had been to create space for high-quality, innovative flicks which risk falling through the cracks.

"I have nothing against glamour, but it cannot be the only component in a festival. The idea is to explore cinema today in all its complexities," he said.

He said two directors who had been expected at the festival were unable to make it because they had been imprisoned -- Iran's Mohammadi Mahnaz and Ukraine's Oleh Sentsov, charged respectively for propaganda against the regime and a "terrorist" plot -- and called for their swift release. 

edward norton venice film festival

The festival is bringing a new generation of artists to the Lido this year with its first edition of a gap-financing market -- which matches young producers in need of funds with investors and distributors -- as well as Final Cut, which showcases finished films from Africa and the Middle East to buyers.

There is buzz from critics already over the only first feature competing for the Lion, "Sivas" by Turkey's Kaan Mujdeci, about a young boy who befriends a dog he saves in a bid to protect himself from a violent society.

American Ramin Bahrani looks at the fallout of the economic crisis with his drama "99 Homes" about a father trying to recover his house after an eviction, while Russia's Andrei Konchalovsky dwells on loneliness in "The Postman's White Nights".

The only documentary in competition is "The Look of Silence," Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to his acclaimed 2012 "The Act of Killing", which this time sees Indonesian genocide survivors confront the killers of their brother.

Out-of-competition slots have gone to US director Peter Bogdanovich's "She's Funny That Way", a comedy starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, as well as American Lisa Cholodenko's four-part HBO series "Olive Kitteridge", starring Bill Murray, and pulp master Joe Dante's horror comedy "Burying the Ex."

SEE ALSO: Why "Batman V Superman" never would have gone up against "Captain America 3" in theaters

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Why You Won’t Be Able To See Jennifer Lawrence And Bradley Cooper’s Next Movie In The US


serena jennifer lawrence bradley cooperFresh off their turns in the Oscar-nominated American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper will reteam for the period drama Serena, which shared a new photo of Lawrence in character. When will you be able to see the film? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother issue entirely. 

Susanne Bier directs Serena, the story of a New England couple who move to North Carolina to launch a timber industry in 1929. Don’t expect smooth sailing, however. As the plot synopsis lays out: 

"Serena soon shows herself to be the equal of any man: overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving a man’s life in the wilderness. Together, this king and queen rule their dominion, killing or vanquishing all who stand in the way of their ambitions. But when Serena learns that she can never bear a child, she sets out to murder the woman who bore George a son before his marriage."

Does she use a bow and arrow to do so? Please tell me Jennifer Lawrence is going to go all Katniss on this poor, child-bearing frontier woman. 

We’d like to tell you when you can expect to see Serena, but if you live in the States, you might be out of luck. ScreenRant (which shared the top image) reports that Serena doesn’t yet have a U.S. release date, nor proper U.S. distribution. The film’s IMDB page notes that StudioCanal plans to release Serena in the UK later this year (on Oct. 24, to be specific), and in France next year. Yahoo Movies, meanwhile, reports that Bier took 18 months to finish the film, and the lengthy post-production process has led to delays. 

But now that the film has release dates in certain territories, why won’t a U.S. distributor pick it up… or dare to put it in the annual Oscar race? 

Let’s state the obvious: Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are huge movie stars, and their pairing should be able to carry any art-house drama. The two earned Academy attention for both Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Later this year, Lawrence is expected to shatter box office records in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, while Cooper will be part of Clint Eastwood’s next feature, American Sniper

Jennifer Lawrence Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook

The easy answer might be that Serena is bad. We have been hearing about it for years now, and the stars filmed it a while back. Susanne Bier has been tinkering with it. If it were a possible awards contender, it likely would be teasing itself to crowds in Venice, Telluride or Toronto. The silence on Serena, so far, speaks volumes. 

Danish director Susanne Bier has a strong following overseas for her outstanding features After the WeddingBrothers (which was remade in the States) and In a Better World. She might not have the name recognition to open a film, but her two leads do. Now that we are seeing a new photo for Serena, does this mean a trailer will follow? Or a release date? Or the possible hint of an awards campaign? Because right now, the film is a high-profile mystery, and we’d love to have it solved.

SEE ALSO: 25 Things You Didn't Know About Jennifer Lawrence

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Ridley Scott Explains Why He Cast White Actors To Play Egyptians In New Movie 'Exodus'


exodus movieDespite the fact that Ridley Scott's new movie Exodus: Gods and Kings in largely set in ancient Egypt, you'll notice that the cast of lead actors is basically completely dominated by white dudes. Bringing the titular biblical story to life will be the likes of Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses. Over the past few months, the movie has been dealing with a bit of controversy due to this aspect - some moviegoers claiming "whitewashing" - and as a result representatives for the movie, like Edgerton, have had to explain why the casting was handled the way it was. Now the film's director is finally weighing in with his point of view on the matter, and one of the ways he's doing so is by pointing at some interesting information about the real-life demographics of the story's setting. 

Ridley Scott's comments come to us from Yahoo! Australia, where a Q&A with the filmmaker reveals why he felt the need to put together what is referred to as a "international cast." In his explanation, the Oscar-nominated director made note that that the country of Egypt at the time had diverse populace due to the fact that it was smack dab right in the middle of the growing world, between Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Said Scott, 

"We cast major actors from different ethnicities to reflect this diversity of culture, from Iranians to Spaniards to Arabs. There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people, and we had a lot of discussions about how to best represent the culture."

exodus christian baleThat said, looking at other parts of the interview suggest that the idea of ethnicity perhaps didn't play that big of a role in Scott's mind when casting Christian Bale as Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings. Instead, the filmmaker said that he met the Welsh actor "four or five years ago" and that at that point they immediately knew that they wanted to work together. Scott thought of Bale for Moses when he began thinking about the character as being a larger than life figure who needed to be played as a "real person." Likewise, he says that he first saw Joel Edgerton work during tryouts for Kingdom of Heaven

Had Ridley Scott been directly asked about not casting Middle Eastern actors to play Moses and Ramses his answers to questions about Bale and Edgerton may have been different, but what I gather from this interview is that the director wasn't really looking at race when he was finding his leads - he was just looking at talent. He likens putting the cast together as being similar to putting together a talented soccer team, saying that he requires strong partnerships. But is that enough of an explanation? 

SEE ALSO: Christian Bale Has Some Strange 'Batman' Advice For Ben Affleck

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Jon Stewart's Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Already Looks Like An Oscar Contender


rosewater movie

Last year, Jon Stewart took three months off from his late-night series “The Daily Show” to work on his directorial debut. 

Now, the first trailer for his film, “Rosewater,” is out and it already looks like a potential Oscar contender. 

Based on the 2011 book “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival” by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy, Stewart wrote the screenplay about Bahari, a journalist who was captured, imprisoned, and tortured while on a trip to cover Iran's presidential elections. The only way in which he can identify his captor is by the scent of rosewater. 

Early reviews for the film are mostly positive. According to the New York Times, "Rosewater" is estimated to cost between $30-$40 million to make. 

The film, from distributor Open Road Films, will have a limited release in theaters November 7.

SEE ALSO: Jon Stewart makes up to $30 million as "The Daily Show" host

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Here Are The New Superheroes We May See In 'The Avengers' Sequel


avengers age of ultron quicksilver scarlet witchWith Vision, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch all being introduced to Earth’s finest superhero team in Marvel Studios’ upcoming movie The Avengers: Age of Ultron, writer and director Joss Whedon has quite a challenge on his hands when it comes to careful management of all the characters’ screen time and story arcs. Everyone wants their favorite comic book character to join the Avengers, but too many new additions could end up weighing down the Quinjet.

There are also, of course, plenty of demands from comic book fans who want to see their favorite superhero get their own standalone movie – whether it’s Captain Marvel, Black Panther or even Squirrel Girl. Messages from Marvel on how likely these characters are to appear have been very mixed, with studio president Kevin Feige promising that Marvel is paying attention to the “groundswell” of fan enthusiasm, but also that current franchise commitments make it difficult to find room for new introductions.

Now an intriguing new report has emerged, suggesting that Marvel might actually have been secretly planning to introduce Captain Marvel – along with other characters – in The Avengers: Age of UltronBadass Digest claims that previous drafts of the script featured an ending (or possibly a post-credits scene) in which Captain America assembles a new team of Avengers, with a mix of old and new faces. The report states that, despite the final make-up of the team varying between drafts, one character that has always been featured is Carol Danvers – named as Ms. Marvel in the script.

Ms. MarvelThis would be a logical move to set up Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel as a central player in Phase Three, which will begin with the release of Ant-Man in 2015. Before Carol Danvers fans get too excited about seeing her as early as next summer, however, there’s a second part to the report. While Badass Digest‘s sources give their assurances that the character definitely is coming and may well be part of the team in The Avengers 3, the studio is also apparently getting cold feet with regards to the idea of just dropping her fully-formed into the ending of The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Is this good news or bad news? Well, if Marvel has decided against simply throwing Carol Danvers into the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it could be because the studio is instead making plans for a standalone movie, to release as one of the as-yet unannounced titles in the five Marvel release dates currently locked down for 2017 and 2018. Our current best guess for the release date of The Avengers 3 is May 2018, so there’s definitely potential for Captain Marvel to sneak in before then.

This would certainly be a smart move for Marvel to placate growing dissatisfaction over the lack of superhero movies led by anyone other than white dudes, which has indirectly led to the studio having a really disproportionate number of lead actors called Chris. It may well be the case that public pressure has pushed Captain Marvel over the edge from getting a simple cameo role to getting her own movie. We can dream, can’t we?

Unfortunately for Black Panther fans who were hoping to see him pop up in The Avengers: Age of UltronBadass Digest claims that the character will not appear in the movie despite Ultron travelling to Wakanda in order to obtain Vibranium. Perhaps Marvel is saving him for another day as well.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is set for release on May 1st, 2015.

Source: Badass Digest

SEE ALSO: Why "Modern Family" keeps winning Emmys over better shows

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California Triples Film And Tax Credits Even As Other States Say They're A Huge Waste Of Money


Death Valley, CaliforniaCalifornia is about to more than triple its TV and film tax credit program to $330 million just as other states are eliminating their own incentives. California is betting the bold move can entice filming back to the state. But is California forging ahead foolishly, or will other states regret their decisions to scale back?

States like Arizona, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin have abandoned their incentive programs after lawmakers decreed that they failed to bring the economic boon the states were looking for.

Also read: California Super-Sizes Its Film, TV Tax Credit Program

North Carolina is the most recent to slash the funding in its $60 million incentive program after some politicians felt the state wasn't getting enough bang for its buck from shows like “Homeland” and “Eastbound and Down” and several other major features including “The Hunger Games,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Tammy.” The new state budget signed this week by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory only allots a $10 million grant to filmmakers.

“If you look at other states that have switched from a program like we had to a grant, you've seen productions high-tail it out of state faster than you can say Georgia,” Katy Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Production Alliance, told the Los Angeles Times. “We're devastated by the upheaval and destruction of a thriving industry here.”

“This isn't a business that fits every state equally,” Eric Witt, a film incentives and finance consultant, told TheWrap. Witt used to serve as chief of staff of former Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

New Mexico has significantly scaled back its own once robust program, an action Witt hopes to see reversed in the upcoming months.

transcendence johnny depp“New Mexico took a hit with the administration that came in in 2011,” said Witt. “But the current administration is in support of the industry, it was a big economic draw. We lost hundreds of millions in production. You don't know what you have until it's gone.”

Also read: ‘Scarface,’ ‘Beach Boys Musical’ Among 26 Projects Qualified for California Tax Credits

Witt noted that the major mistake that many states are making is expanding and contracting incentives, making it difficult for producers to plan future projects which are often planned years ahead of time.

“That's the worst thing you can have is uncertainty,” said Witt.

It would be unwise, however, to see decisions made by North Carolina or other smaller states as indicative of a larger trend. For California, film and television production is a major economic contributor, not a cottage industry. Competition is still fierce. Tax credits, rebates or grants are still offered by 39 states and California's biggest competitors aren't downsizing their incentives.

“You have to view each state differently because they all have different goals in terms of what they're trying to achieve,” Steve Weizenecker told TheWrap. Weizenecker is an Atlanta-based attorney who specializes in TV and film tax credits and has represented both states that offer them and TV and film producers.

“And it's worth noting that New York and Georgia, two states that have taken a lot of business from California, aren't cutting back,” said Weizenecker.

Major players like New York and Georgia maintain incentives that are enticing enough productions to put a major dent in the Hollywood film economy and would continue to do so if the California legislature did not take action. Runaway production has cost California more than 47,000 jobs and $9.6 billion in economic output to rivals, according to a study done by the state's local governments. Of this summer's top ten movies at the box office, only the Universal Pictures comedy “Neighbors”was filmed in state.

Also read: 84 Percent of Projects Denied California Tax Credits Film Elsewhere

New York, which hands out $420 million annually, is home to nearly 30 television series and is a backdrop for more than 200 films annually. The industry is worth $7.1 billion a year to New York, which motivated the state to extend its tax credits through 2019.

Walking DeadGeorgia's program is currently uncapped and covers up to 30 percent of a project's cost. Series like “The Walking Dead” and “The Vampire Diaries,” along with upcoming features like “Ride Along 2” and the “Vacation” reboot will film in the state. The southern location is also aiming to broaden the scope of its incentives so more low-budget features can qualify.

And that says nothing of the international competition offered up by countries like the U.K. and Australia that have lured major upcoming releases like “Star Wars” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

But California will be able to throw down against its competitors with its $330 million in addition to its other advantages; local crew, production, and post-production infrastructure, and, really, who can beat the weather?

“It once again makes California a viable place to film big budget movies and TV shows that generate thousands of jobs and millions in revenue and spending at businesses all across the state,” said Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and chief executive of the MPAA. “It stands to bring billions of dollars into the California economy.”

SEE ALSO: LA Has Been Dethroned As The Top Place To Film TV Shows

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What's New On Netflix Streaming In September


school of rock cello

Hello folks, and welcome to another edition of the latest and greatest from the world of Netflix streaming. Every month, a bunch of new movies and television shows are added, and we've got the full listing of what's in store.

Among our favorites: "Cool Runnings," a fictionalized but still enjoyable account of the Jamaican bobsled team with John Candy as their coach. There are some other notable comedies like "School of Rock," a hilarious film starring Jack Black as a substitute teacher passing on his musical knowledge to kids, and the wonderful film "Good Morning, Vietnam" which stars an absolutely hilarious Robin Williams as the famous Saigon-based Air Force DJ Adrian Cronauer.

Here's the full list:

Available on Sep. 1:

  • A Simple Plan (1998)
  • Californication: Seasons 1-7
  • Chasing UFOs: Season 1
  • Cool Runnings (1993)
  • Crocodile Dundee (1986)
  • Detention (2011)
  • Doomsday Preppers: Seasons 1-3
  • Flubber (1997)
  • Girl Rising (2013)
  • Girlfight (2000)
  • Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
  • Guess Who (2005)
  • Hinterland: Season 1
  • Hoodwinked (2005)
  • Jay and Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie (2013)
  • Lords of Dogtown (2005)
  • Mirage Men (2012)
  • School of Rock (2003)
  • Small Apartments (2012)
  • Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
  • The Believers (1987)
  • The Blue Lagoon (1980)
  • The Unbelievers (2013)
  • Unsealed: Alien Files: Season 1
  • Zero Hour: Seasons 1-3

Available on Sep. 2:

  • The League: Season 5

Available on Sep. 5:

  • All is Lost (2013)
  • Trailer Park Boys: Season 8

Available on Sep. 6:

  • Kid Cannabis (2014)
  • Le Week-End (2014)
  • Refuge (2012)
  • Your Sister’s Sister (2011)

Available on Sep. 7:

  • The Blacklist: Season 1 (2013)

Available on Sep. 9:

  • Who Is Dayani Cristal? (2013)

Available on Sep. 10:

  • Crash & Bernstein: Season 2
  • Deadly Code (2013)

Available on Sep. 11:

  • A Single Man (2009)
  • Dennis Miller: America 180 (2014)
  • Filth (2014)
  • The Moment (2013)

Available on Sep. 12:

  • Grace Unplugged (2013)

Available on Sep. 13:

  • Justin and the Knights of Valor (2013)

Available on Sep. 14:

  • About a Boy: Season 1
  • Arrow: Season 2

Available on Sep. 16:

  • Beginners (2011)
  • Bones: Season 9
  • New Girl: Season 3
  • One Day (2011)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Available on Sep. 17:

  • 3 Days to Kill (2014)
  • The Fosters: Season 2

Available on Sep. 22:

  • Revolution: Season 2

Available on Sep. 26:

  • How I Met Your Mother: Season 9

Available on Sep. 25:

  • The Double (2013)

Available on Sep. 26:

  • Parks and Recreation: Season 6

Available on Sep. 27:

  • Bad Grandpa (2013)

Available on Sep. 28:

  • Comic Book Men: Season 3
  • The Walking Dead: Season 4

Available on Sep. 29:

  • Lullaby (2014)

Available on Sep. 30:

  • Killing Them Softly (2012)

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One Of The Best Songs In ‘Frozen’ Almost Didn’t Make It Into The Movie


do you want to build a snowman

If you’ve seen Disney’s animated movie “Frozen” — and even if you haven’t — you know two songs from the film: Oscar-winning“Let It Go” and the song any child who has seen the film knows by heart, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” 

According to a new special airing on ABC Tuesday, September 2 called “The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic,” everyone’s favorite snowman song nearly didn’t make it into the film’s final cut. 

“Frozen” producer Peter Del Vecho reveals there was a screening of the film in February 2013 and “although the individual parts were strong and working, it just didn’t add up.”  

Del Vecho says the “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” segment was taken out at one point and was in and out of the film a few times.

frozen snowmando you want to build a snowman frozen

Songwriter Robert Lopez recalls emails coming down the Disney chain of command asking why the song was missing from the film. 

“It was not put back in the film until the witching hour before we released it,” says Kristen Bell, who voices Anna in the animated picture. 

“Thankfully, at the very last moment, someone made the call of putting it back in,” she added. “I think it’s one of the best songs in the movie.” 

"Frozen" went on to make more than $1.2 billion at theaters after it opened in theaters November 2013. The making of “Frozen” special will air on ABC Tuesday at 8 p.m. 

Watch the segment below and listen to the song below:

SEE ALSO: Photos of wrestler Dave Bautista's 5-hour "Guardians of the Galaxy" makeup process

AND: Photos of Lee Pace transforming into the "Guardians of the Galaxy" villain

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Stan Lee’s Original Cameo Was Cut From ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Because It Was Too Edgy


Stan Lee SmileJames Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy is Marvel's weirdest, most outrageous film yet. It is also the first film of their's that has really pushed the edges of what can and cannot be gotten away with in terms of a Marvel/Disney films' sense of humor. Take the now infamous "Jackson Pollack"/Blacklight line that Chris Pratt has on board his ship, The Milano. Not even James Gunn could believe he got away with including those lines in the finished film. It is, indeed, a line that one wouldn't expect a Disney movie to contain, which makes the moment all the more funnier. However, there were still moments that had to be cut by the studio's mandate. 

Collider grabbed a moment with both James and his brother Sean Gunn at Dragon Con this weekend, and one of the moments that they had to alter was the appearance of intergalactic ladies man and generalissimo supreme, Stan Lee himself. Reports the site, 

"One of the losing battles regarded Stan Lee’s original cameo in the film.  Originally, Gunn had planned to have Lee in one of the Collector’s exhibits.  Groot would then look at the exhibit aghast, to which Lee would flick off the large tree creature."

Normally this would seem like a typical Disney move, but this is the same movie that saw Chris Pratt get away with flipping off the Nova Corps in a line up of hardened criminals. So what makes his hand gesture different than that of Stan Lee's? Quite simply, it's the fact that Stan Lee is an actual person and not a fictional character. In fact, you could say that Stan Lee is the face of Marvel, as he's cameo-ed in almost every Marvel picture since X-Men

chris pratt guardians of the galaxy

Star-Lord flipping off the camera is understandable, because at that point in the film he's an outlaw we're not completely siding with. Stan Lee, on the other hand, is a real life figure that transcends the roles he's given, and if kids see Stan Lee flip the bird after starring in high profile/mostly funny cameos, they might expect that behavior to carry over into future cameos. Also, kids might be more susceptible to learning the ways of the middle digit if they see it elicit laughs twice in the same "family friendly" picture. 

While Disney has indeed gotten a little more progressive with what they let into a Marvel movie, they're naturally going to draw the line somewhere. If drawing the line involves including rude gestures in more fitting contexts and without positively reinforced repetition, then frankly that's still a win. Never fear, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 will probably find ways to push the envelope in more fun and raunchy ways that Guardians Of The Galaxy didn't even think of. 

Guardians Of The Galaxy is currently in theaters (and still the reigning champ,) with Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 penciled in for a July 28, 2017 release date. 

SEE ALSO: Here's A Guide To All The Hidden References In 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'

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You Can Now Visit The Prison Featured In 'Shawshank Redemption'


Shawshank Redemption, rainThe Shawkshank Redemption was a disappointment at the box office in 1995, pulling in just $3 million more than its budget. But as years passed, it became a movie beloved by many, possibly in part to its high re-run count on cable television. Whatever the reason, the public became entranced by the tragedy of innocent convict Andy Dufresne. And now, fans of this seven-time Oscar nominee can plan a pilgrimage to its key location. 

The Pittsburgh Gazette reports that the Ohio State Reformatory that served as the main location for The Shawkshank Redemption's prison is now being opened for tours. Book your ticket to Mansfield, Ohio, to enjoy a closer look at the incredible building that played home to the Frank Darabont drama. 

The reformatory is a high point in a 13-stop Shawshank Redemption bus tour that includes visits to filming locations like the Bissman building where Brooks hung himself (Red decided to get busy living instead of get busy dying), the bench where Brooks fed the birds, Malabar Farm State Park where Andy followed his cheating and doomed wife, and what remains of the old oak and stone wall where Andy led Red. Unfortunately, overeager souvenir hunters have mostly torn the wall to pieces. And high winds downed the tree, which not lies on its side near a pond. 

This past weekend, the Ohio State Reformatory celebrated The Shawshank Redemption's 20th anniversary with a special celebration that included re-enactments, appearances from local extras, and a 1940s-themed cocktail party staged in the renovated guard room. 

shawshank prisonDescribed as a "massive stone structure," the building boasts walls that are 6 feet thick at their base, 25 feet tall and 250 yards long. So once the former boys reformatory turned maximum security prison was closed in 1990 after 94 years of service, it was a dizzying matter to tear it down. Instead, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society purchased the building for $1 with the agreement they'd maintain and improve the structure by opening it up to tourism. Its eerie interiors lent themselves to hosting ghost hunts, Halloween festivities, and murder mystery dinners. But the Shawshank Redemption tours have brought in an estimated $10 million dollars to Mansfield, just last year.

The town is looking to amp up the attraction with new renovations, repairing old cathedral windows, reconnecting heat to forgotten wings, making the facility weather-tight to allow for year-long access by tourists, and much, much more. 

You can plan your own trip here. But be warned, you don't want to close the cell doors behind you, or else things might get too real. "To be honest, we don’t have keys for some of these," says tour guide Pastor Ron Puff. "We have ’get out of jail free’ cards that we hand out, but they know if they get stuck and we have to call someone in here to free them, they’re paying for it. And if it’s on a weekend, they might be there until the next day." 

SEE ALSO: Stan Lee's original "Guardians of the Galaxy" cameo was cut because it was too edgy

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The 10 Highest-Grossing Summer Movies Of 2014


guardians of the galaxy

"Guardians of the Galaxy" is now officially the highest-grossing movie at the domestic box office for the year, and until the next "Hunger Games" sequel is out in November, it will most likely stay in that position.

The quirky action comedy, the latest in a string of hits from Marvel Studios and Disney, has now made more than $550 million worldwide after topping the box office for several weekends in a row. It still has yet to open in China.

While "Guardians" was certainly huge, it wasn't the biggest film of the summer. Now that the season is unofficially over, here are the biggest movies of the season. We've broken each film down by both its international and domestic revenues. Unsurprisingly, all but two films on the list have made more money overseas. 

A few take aways:

  • Comedies were bigger at home than overseas.
  • The overall summer box office was down 15% due to a lack of notable big hits.
  • Fox dominated the summer with three very different sequels: superhero film "X-Men: Days of Future Past,""Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," and comedy "22 Jump Street."
  • Paramount was the only studio to have a movie hit $1 billion this year.
  • Though "Guardians" was huge at home, "22 Jump Street" had the best domestic revenue share stateside.
  • Universal Pictures doesn't break the top ten. It's highest-grossing movie of the year so far has been sci-fi flick "Lucy" starring Scarlett Johansson as a superhero ($270.2 million worldwide).

highest grossing movies 2014 updated

SEE ALSO: Photos of Lee Pace's awesome transformation into the "Guardians of the Galaxy" villain

AND: Here's the crazy amount Jon Stewart makes for "The Daily Show"

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One Huge Change In The 'Frozen' Story Line Helped Make It A Billion-Dollar Movie



It took Disney nearly 70 years to bring its most successful animated picture, "Frozen" to theaters.

Walt Disney tried adapting Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" as early as the 1930s; however, he could never get the story quite right.

After the studio revisted the story in recent years, the resulting film was an instant hit in theaters making more than $1 billion to date.

But a new special on ABC, "“The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic,” reveals that one big change in the film could have cost the Mouse House its billion-dollar movie.

While the film revolves around two sisters, Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, early sketches show the two weren’t originally related. Anna was a peasant who asked an evil Snow Queen to freeze her broken heart.

Elsa's character looked completely different. She originally had light blue skin and short, spiky blue hair. She even had a coat made out of living weasels. elsa frozen sketches

anna elsa early sketch

"Elsa was going to be the complete antagonist," says director and screenwriter Jennifer Lee in the book "The Art of Frozen.""They kept calling her the 'villain.' But there came a point where we said, 'We can't use that word anymore.' You care about someone who's been forces to hide who they are. Elsa's not a villain, she just makes some bad choices because she's in a very difficult situation."

According to the ABC special, a big push for the character's redesign came from songwriter husband and wife duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez who were working on a song to go with the character.

"We were still writing a villain song and we started getting into the headspace of what you'd feel like if you were that isolated,"says Anderson-Lopez.

"We knew in this moment that she would go through a transformation," said Lopez. "From repressed to letting her powers out ... trying to get away from society and be who she really was."

elsa let it go frozen

From there, "Let It Go" was born and Lee knew she had to rewrite the film's script to accommodate for the change in Elsa's character.

"The issue that kept coming up is, 'What do Anna and Elsa have to do with each other? Why does it matter, and how could it matter more?'" says Lee. "Someone in the room said, "What if they were sisters?"

Women from Disney Animation collaborated together in what was called a Sister Summit where they all discussed their own relationships growing up with sisters in order to strengthen the characters.

"Elsa became more the yin to Anna's yang, as opposed to the bad guy," Lee recalls in "The Art of Frozen." 

frozen elsa annaIn the end, it was worth it. Instead of an Evil Queen, Elsa's character took on a more symbolic nature as a misunderstood individual who others could identify with.

And instead of delivering a predictable fairytale ending with the power of "true love's kiss,""Frozen" flipped Disney's traditional princess model on its head by emphasizing the importance of family over any potential romance. That theme and the bond between sisters Elsa and Anna helped make it a universal film in 2013.

SEE ALSO: One of the best songs in "Frozen" nearly didn't make it into the movie

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Netflix Is Paying A Huge Amount For Fox's 'Gotham' Even Though It Hasn't Aired Yet


gotham ben mckenzie

Netflix is making a big bet on one of this fall's new TV shows before it even airs.

The site has already made a deal to stream Fox's Batman prequel series, "Gotham," before the show has even premiered.

Deadline reports Netflix paid Warner Bros. $1.75 million per episode. The series will follow Batman's origin story with a young Bruce Wayne and younger versions of some of Batman's biggest foes including Poison Ivy, The Penguin, and Catwoman. Ben McKenzie ("Southland") will play detective James Gordon who goes on to become the Commissioner.

Under the deal, Netflix will have the exclusive streaming rights to the new series. What's more is that the streaming service will not only offer "Gotham" in the U.S. but in all of its territories including new ones set to launch. 

This could be a risky move for Netflix if the Batman show without Batman gets cancelled. However, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos called "Gotham""the most anticipated new series of the fall season" in a statement.

Netflix also recently picked up the rights to NBC's "The Blacklist" at a reported $2 million-per-episode deal.

Each season of the show will be available after its broadcast run on air. It's believed "Gotham" won't be on Netflix until next September.

"Gotham" premieres September 22 on Fox.

SEE ALSO: Fox Chairman says "Gotham" will be this fall's biggest show

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Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Has Finally Chosen Which DC Comics Character He Will Play


dwayne the rock johnson black adam

It's official! Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is finally joining the DC Universe. 

Johnson announced on Twitter that he will play antihero Black Adam in a future Warner Bros.' film.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that Johnson was up for two roles, that of superhero Shazam and his nemesis Black Adam.

Johnson has been vocal on Twitter about his involvement in a "Shazam" movie for some time. Back in March, the actor cited Black Adam as his favorite comic character, so it shouldn't be a big surprise he opted for the darker role. 

For those unfamiliar with the characters, both are pretty similar to DC's other popular superhero, Superman

Shazam is actually a young boy named Billy Batson who can turn into a grown-up superhero as fast as he can say the word, you guessed it, Shazam. Upon speaking the word, he's bestowed with the powers of six Gods. Black Adam is an ancient Egyptian prince who once had the same powers as Baston but became consumed by his want for more power. As you could guess, he and Shazam aren't on the best of terms. Adam's basically bent on destroying Shazam. 

In recent years, DC Comics' has rewritten the character as an antihero seeking to reclaim his name as opposed to a straight-out villain. 

It's a smart move for Warner Bros. since Marvel has previously found success with its antihero character, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston on screen. The "Thor" character has quickly become one of Marvel's most popular characters. An appearance by Hiddleston at last year's San Diego Comic-Con sent fans into a frenzy.

Variety reports Warner Bros. is already moving forward with a "Shazam" movie with Darren Lemke ("Jack the Giant Slayer") writing the script and Hiram Garcia ("Hercules") producing.

Warner Bros. has already registered a domain for ShazamMovie.com which redirects to a Warner Bros.' page.

It seems like a bit of a misstep for Warner Bros. who could have taken advantage of announcing the news at San Diego Comic-Con in July rather than allowing Johnson to break the news in a tweet.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Shazam and Black Adam

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