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After four straight Harry Potter movies, you’d think David Yates would be done with sequels. With The Legend of Tarzan, he gets the best of both worlds. The latest film about everyone’s favorite vine-swinging, loincloth-wearing jungle man is being presented as the start of a new franchise. However, the story itself is also something of a sequel to nearly ever other Tarzan movie ever. Basically, it’s an homage to the character’s entire history without copying any one story in particular.

The film opens with Tarzan (played by True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård) living in period London. He’s a lord with a huge house, married to his lovely jungle princess Jane (The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie). And while things may seem good on the surface, both halves of the couple yearns to go back to their roots, where they met, in the jungles of the Congo. And they do. But when an evil tyrant named Captain Rom (Christoph Waltz) teams up with an evil tribe (led by Djimon Hounsou) to kidnap Jane in order to enact revenge on Tarzan, it begins a massive adventure on a summer blockbuster scale.

Way back in September 2014, we flew to London where we visited Leavesden Studios to visit the set of The Legend of Tarzan. There we walked through incredibly massive sets, watched some brutal fighting and learned how this film would ideally satisfy fans who know and love the iconic character, as well as bring in new ones.

It’s day 56 of 70 on the set of The Legend of Tarzan and you can read all about it below.

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“No motherfucker makes me laugh like this motherfucker,” says Russell Crowe about Ryan Gosling. Usually, these two guys are some of the best dramatic actors in the world but on a brisk February Los Angeles night, they’re hamming up a storm: acting drunk, fake vomiting and screaming profanities as they discover a dead corpse in the woods of Griffith Park.

We’re on the set of The Nice Guys, writer/director Shane Black’s first film after directing the mega-hit Iron Man 3, and latest collaboration with Joel Silver, whom Black worked with on the Lethal Weapon franchise, which made him a star. The Nice Guys is classic Black and Silver – a big, action comedy with brains and wit. Set in 1978 Los Angeles, it’s about a goofy detective named March (Gosling) who teams up with a gentle bonebreaker named Healy (Crowe) to figure out a mystery about smog and pornography. It’s kind of Chinatown meets Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with the action of Lethal Weapon. Or at least that’s whatever everyone hopes on February 6, 2015, the final night of shooting The Nice Guys.

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The only thing weirder than the big mansion in the middle of downtown Albuquerque is the post-apocalyptic party going on inside. It’s December 16, 2014, and the Gertrude and Zachary Mansion at 2nd and Lead has been transformed to a very important location in The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Wes Ball’s follow-up to the 2014 hit The Maze Runner.

From top to bottom, the interior of the mansion has been transformed to the spot where Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is separated from his fellow Gladers on their epic quest across the scorched Earth they discovered at the end of the last film. Here he’ll be drugged, endure (or enjoy) hallucinations, kiss a girl, and eventually be reunited with the group before meeting some incredibly important new characters.

On this day, number 36 of 55 shooting days, the temperature on The Scorch Trials set is near-freezing even as the location doubles for a super-hot environment in the film. Despite that, the camaraderie of all the cast members is particularly noticeable. Each seems incredibly excited to be continuing the story of James Dashner’s novels, and especially to be doing it together.

Below, read our full Maze Runner: Scorch Trials set visit report. Read More »

Maze Runner Scorch Trials Dylan O Brien 700

Part of the appeal of The Maze Runner franchise is the ensemble cast. The chemistry and relationships between all of the characters are what make a movie like The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials so exciting. That said, if we’re being honest, Dylan O’Brien is the star.

O’Brien is Thomas, the mysterious young man who showed up in the middle of the Maze in the first movie, lead the rest of the group out of it, and now will lead them into the Scorch come September 18. So what exactly does that mean? We asked the actor last December on the Albuquerque set of The Scorch Trials.

We talked about the pressures of a sequel, how The Maze Runner franchise compares to Divergent and The Hunger Games, the character’s interactions, what he’s proud of both in this movie and in the franchise, Mario Kart, the Legend of Zelda…and more kissing. Below, read our Dylan O’Brien Maze Runner Scorch Trials interview. Read More »

Wes Ball Maze Runner

Getting time with a director when you visit a set is a privilege. The director is busiest person on set. Their attention is constantly fragmented by a million questions, prepping for the next shot, thinking about the next day, and trying to make the current shot as good as it can be. If you talk to a director on set, you’d better jump right in.

Which is what happened on December 16, 2014 on the Alberqueque, New Mexico set of The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. After a long day on set, observing filming and talking to the stars, director Wes Ball finally had a few minutes to chat. Ball directed the first film, which was a surprise hit and spawned the sequel, based on the books by James Dashner. This time, the Gladers have escaped the maze, only to be posed with a new challenge: the outside world, which includes the evil desert referred to as The Scorch.

We’ll have our full report from set soon, but for now, check out our Wes Ball Scorch Trials interview. We discuss the scene we saw shot, the look of the film, pressures of coming back, teases toward part three, blending the final two books, location scouting, the compressed timeline, the new character Brenda, the main love triangle and more.  Read More »

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UPDATE: We can now confirm Simon Pegg will indeed be in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — but as we speculated earlier, his face won’t be. A behind-the-scenes reel shown at Comic-Con 2015 showed Pegg on set, and wearing an alien costume without the head. So we’ll definitely see him in the movie, but we likely won’t be able to recognize him. It’s not even clear if we’ll hear his voice.  Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Eisenberg Stewart American Ultra

Last summer, on the New Orleans set of American Ultra, a bunch of other journalists and I played a game. Lionsgate allowed us to tweet about being on the set of the film – which is a rarity on a set visit – and the results were astounding. You see, American Ultra stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. And Stewart has a massive and rabid online following. With every tweet about being on set, we’d see who get get the most interaction, the most retweets and favorites. It was fun and I believe the winner was someone who got numbers well into the three hundreds.

You can read our full report from the set of American Ultra here but, below, you can read a transcription of the group’s interview with Eisenberg and Stewart. You get to read their playful interactions, fascinating insights and most importantly – thoughts on the film, which opens August 21. Check it out below. Read More »

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American Ultra isn’t an easy movie to summarize. From its tone to its genre, the film lives and breathes because it rides a fine line between action, comedy, and romance. In fact, it seems the only truth on the set of American Ultra is that Wal-Mart is a great place to find deadly weapons.

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh and written by Max Landis, American Ultra stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mike, a West Virginia stoner who just wants to marry the love of his life. That’s Phoebe, played by Kristen Stewart. Things are moving towards this end until Mike is revealed as a deep-cover, highly-trained CIA agent. Suddenly, everyone is out to kill him.

Bourne with a bong this is not, however. Landis, Eisenberg, Stewart and everyone down to the prop-master and make-up effects team stand by the fact American Ultra is really a sweet, interesting, realistic romance. It just so happens to have insane action centered on an unassuming Oscar-nominee.

American Ultra opens August 21. Below read about our May 2014 American Ultra set visit, featuring Eisenberg kicking ass in a mega mart, and see two brand new posters. Read More »

Ant-Man set visit

On October 9 2014 I visited my first Marvel set. The film was Ant-Man, Marvel Studios’ latest gamble and the final film in Phase Two of the company’s influential and uber-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. I mention it was my first Marvel set visit because, like me, Ant-Man represents many firsts for Marvel. It’s the first time they’ve hired a director, Peyton Reed, just weeks before shooting. It’s the first time their central hero, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), has a family. It’s the first time we’ll see a man shrink down to ride on ant. Those are just the tip of the iceberg.

Below, read 65 things we learned over two days — days 37 and 38 of the 74-day shoot — on the Atlanta set of Ant-Man. There’s also info from a day spent at ILM on June 15, 2015. Read More »