James Gunn Interview Guardians of the Galaxy

In September 2013, I visited the London-based set of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy (you can find out more about what we learned and watch a video blog reaction here). While on set, we are able to talk with many of the key cast and crew and will be posting transcripts from those roundtable interviews all this week. First up is director James Gunn, who found a few moments in between filming to talk with us about how he became involved in the movie, his philosophies behind the choices in this film, casting choice, the pressure of filming a big budget tentpole superhero movie, and much much more. Read the full James Gunn interview after the jump.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Set Visit

In September 2013, I traveled to London to visit the set of Marvel Studios’ upcoming comic book adaptation Guardians of the Galaxy. On set, I was transported to new worlds with many different alien races, boarded a 3-mile long spacecraft, and talked with the cast and crew who were creating the magic you will see on screen this August.

I learned a ton of interesting bits about the making of the film, too many to count. (For example, it took a team of five make-up artists three and a half hours to apply Dave Batista’s body make-up each day, so in the 49 days of the shoot Batista spent over seven complete days worth of minutes in the makeup chair.)

After the jump you can read many other facts about the production of the film from development to casting, to special effects. I also recorded a video blog after the visit to give you a more opinionated reaction to what we had seen. And be on the lookout for interview transcripts with a bunch of the key cast and crew which will be posted on the site all this week. For now, read my full Guardians of the Galaxy set visit report after the jump.
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes photo

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a big success, and 20th Century Fox wanted a sequel in theaters for May 2014. Rise director Rupert Wyatt didn’t feel that would give him enough time to make the film properly and dropped out late in the development process, only a couple months before shooting was scheduled to begin. Cloverfield/Let Me In director Matt Reeves was quickly hired to replace Wyatt. But before Reeves signed on, Fox was looking to make a much different film.

“When I first arrived, [Fox] pitched me the story they were gonna do and I thought I wasn’t gonna do the film,” Reeves told me in an exclusive interview. “I wasn’t gonna do the film because it was a story that I didn’t quite connect to.”

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was originally developed to be a very different movie, and production was set to begin in a matter of only a handful of weeks. Find out the story of how Matt Reeves completely reworked the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes story from the ground up, forming one of the greatest opening sequences you’ll see this year.

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affleck-gone-girl-1

The first full Gone Girl trailer is now online. Directed by David Fincher, the film stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in the story of a perfect couple who find themselves on opposite sides of a massive mystery. When Amy (Pike) goes missing, Nick (Affleck) is accused of killing her. Nick, however, swears he’s innocent. As the story gets bigger and bigger, more clues reveal that all is not what it seems.

Co-starring Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Emily Ratajkowski, Casey Wilson, Boyd Holbrook and Scoot McNairy, it opens October 3. Check out the second Gone Girl trailer below. Read More »

Steve James Life Itself

NOTE: Life Itself is now in theaters and on demand. To mark the occasion, we’re republishing our interview with director Steve James that took place following the film’s premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Steve James credits Roger Ebert with launching his career. It was Ebert’s championing of James’ first film Hoop Dreams, at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, which put that film on people’s radars. James scored an Oscar nomination and the film enjoyed a successful box office run. Afterwards, the two remained friends and James was eventually tasked with directing Life Itself, a documentary based on Ebert’s memoir.

Soon after filming began, Ebert tragically passed away. James endured and finished the film in time for the 20th anniversary of the beginning of his relationship with Ebert, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking look at the career of the man many consider to be the most influential film critic in history.

During Sundance I was lucky enough to talk to James about the film. We discussed his approach to the story, balancing the tragedy with humor, the relationship between critic and filmmaker, and the choice to include Gene Siskel’s story. Check it out below. Read More »

Andy Serkis

During my marathon interview with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves, I asked if he had exchanged advice with his childhood friend JJ Abrams on Star Wars, or taken any advice from him for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Reeves admitted that he might be part of the reason Andy Serkis was cast in Star Wars Episode VII.

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Transformers 4

There’s a very short list of Hollywood producers who are names unto themselves. On that list is Lorenzo di Bonaventura, of both the G.I. Joe and Transformers franchises. He’s also the producer of Salt, Red, Side Effects, Jack Ryan, Beverly Hills Cop 4 and more. The guy is a proven hit-maker with a great handle on the pulse of mainstream audiences.

His latest film, Transformers: Age of Extinction, is more of the same. Despite being savaged by critics, audiences are once again turning out for the franchise. On the occasion of that release, we had the pleasure of speaking with di Bonaventura about a few things. We talked about producing for Michael Bay, and the choice of using Dinobots not only in the film, but in the marketing as well. I asked about the length of the film, the inevitability of Bay leaving the franchise, and what the ending of this film means for Transformers 5, currently slotted for 2016. Finally, I just had to ask about my favorite Transformer, Hot Rod. Read all his answers below in our full interview with Transformers: Age of Extinction producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura Read More »

Slug & Jiggers Apothecary

This is the fourth and final in our series of posts giving you a tour of Universal Orlando’s new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley expansion. Part one took a look at the London Waterfront, Diagon Alley Entrance and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Part two went into The Leaky Cauldron, Knockturn Alley and Borgin and Burkes.  Part 3 took a look at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, Ollivanders Wand Shop, Magical Menagerie and Gringotts Bank.

Today we circle back to the entrance to Diagon Alley and visit Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment, Scribbulus, Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment, The Performance Stage, Gringotts Bank Notes, The Hopping Pot, Wands by Gregorovitch, Quality Quidditch, Bowman E Wright Blacksmith, Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio, Quality Quidditch Supplies and other storefronts.

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