Skydance interview

You probably don’t know Skydance Productions yet, but you probably should. The company is making a major play to become the next Legendary Pictures or Marvel Entertainment, and they already are making the next installments of a number of major franchises on both the big and small screens. Their portfoilo of brands include Terminator, Star Trek, Mission Impossible, World War Z, Jack Reacher, Top Gun, GI Joe and much more.

When I was in Berlin Germany this past week to cover the Terminator Genisys premiere, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Skydance Productions CEO David Ellison and Chief Creative Officer Dana Goldberg to talk about their company and what they are planning for the future. This extensive roundtable interview was conducted over the course of an hour alongside three of my colleagues. Over the course of the interview we talked about a number of topics, including:

  • How Skydance Productions came about
  • Why they decided to plan a trilogy of new Terminator films before the release of Terminator Genisys
  • How will the planned new Terminator tv series connect with the new films, will it be cable or network show?
  • Terminator Genisys: Did they ever consider brining back Edward Furlong as John Connor? How did they recreate young Arnold Schwarzenegger? CG vs. Practicle effects in the new film
  • What kind of television series are they developing?
  • What will the Three Days of the Condor tv series be about?
  • Steve Jobs was Ellison’s personal mentor since childhood, find out how Jobs and Pixar influenced the creation of Skydance.
  • Star Trek 3: Is the movie going to be titled Star Trek Beyond? When does shooting start and where are they filming? What is director Justin Lin and screenwriter Simon Pegg bringing to the sequel?
  • Will they be producing a new Star Trek tv series? What is preventing a new show from happening?
  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: The film test screened even higher than Ghost Protocol. How do get insurance for Tom Cruise‘s crazy stunts? How did changing the release date impact getting that movie to the screen? Did Star Wars: Rogue One cause any title drama? Was any of the movie filmed in IMAX?
  • Top Gun 2: David Ellison’s history flying aerobatics, What is the sequel about? Will Tom Cruise be in the new film? How will modern technology and 3D change the dogfights?
  • Rebecca Ferguson will be a breakout star in MI5 and Skydance is already considering her for another one of their films
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back: What will the sequel be about?
  • How did James Cameron see Terminator Genisys? Was he paid for his endorsement in any way?
  • And some brief words on World War Z 2.

All this and more, after the jump.

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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 »

Kyle MacLachlan Interview

It says a great deal about Kyle MacLachlan‘s work in Pixar’s Inside Out that I didn’t even recognize him at first as the voice of Riley’s father. I just accepted the character as exactly who the film presents him to be, without thinking of the actor behind the role. Some of that comes from the fact that MacLachlan isn’t part of the group of actors who regularly do voice roles, so I don’t expect him in animation. But he’s no stranger to animation (he was Superman!), and the strange rhythms of voice work clearly agree with him.

“Strange rhythms” could be a description for the actor’s career overall. After the David Lynch films Dune and Blue Velvet, MacLachlan created the unforgettable Special Agent Dale Cooper for Twin Peaks, and has gone on to build other memorable roles, from The Hidden to Portlandia, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and even Showgirls. “Predictable” is not a word anyone could apply to MacLachlan’s choices.

In person, MacLachlan is exactly the thoughtful and attentive, quirky guy one might hope he’d be. Our conversation, prompted by his work in Inside Out, revolved around his personal quirks and rhythms, and touches upon a diverse set of career milestones, from his Pixar work to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, of course, Twin Peaks. Read More »

Inside Out Premiere crop

Pete Docter has been making movies for almost thirty years. In that time, he’s directed three features. Two of those have been produced by Jonas Rivera. One of those films won the Oscar for Best Animated Film. The latest one might do the same.

That latest film is Inside Out, Pixar’s 15th creation, which is now in theaters. Co-written and directed by Doctor and produced by Rivera, it follows five emotions inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl. As a follow up to both Monsters Inc., Docter’s first film, and Up, Rivera and Docter’s first team-up, Inside Out already has a ton to live up to. Then there’s the fact it’s the first Pixar movie since 2013, and the first original property since 2012. That’s a ton of expectations on top of the already-high bar Pixar has set in the past 20 years.

Speaking with Docter and Rivera, we talked about those expectations. We also talked about how large the movie got before focusing it down, developing the story, animation challenges, Saturday Night Live, Michael Giacchino and theme parks. It’s a wide spreading conversation, which you can now read below. Read More »

bill hader Inside Out Fear

Bill Hader has yet to make a bad move. After crushing Saturday Night Live for years, he started with small parts in memorable movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad, Tropic Thunder and Men in Black 3. He graduated to lead voice work with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, then went against type in the dramatic The Skeleton Twins. Later this summer, gets his first romantic lead in Trainwreck. He’s also both a credited writer and voice in Pixar’s Inside Out, his second film with the studio and will follow that up with some more voice work and a role in Steven Spielberg’s The BFG. Not a bad run.

In Inside Out, Hader plays Fear, one of Riley’s five emotions that helps her get through the day. Earlier versions of the film had Fear as one of the two leads, but that didn’t end up happening. We asked Hader about that change, how he picks projects, working with Spielberg as well as the place he thinks Pixar holds in film history. Read our full Bill Hader Inside Out interview below. Read More »

Jurassic World Frank Marshall interview

The week before Jurassic World hit theaters, I was able to get mega-producer Frank Marshall on the phone to talk not only about the new Jurassic Park sequel/reboot, but about a variety of other topics as well.

During the conversation we discussed the idea of weaponized dinosaurs, how he came to produce this movie (which has something to do with Star Wars), the cynical online fanboy reaction throughout the development, the Amblin feel of the movie, how the project evolved from earlier drafts, why the previous screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are still credited on the film after Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connelly did a page one rewrite, the battle of practical vs. cg effects, planning for further sequels, Spielberg’s idea for trained raptors, how Jimmy Buffet ended up in the movie, if Universal Studios will be making a Jurassic World ride for their parks.

I ask him about some of the projects he has on his plate, which include new Bourne movies, a big-screen adaptation of Assassin’s Creed, and Indiana Jones 5. I also ask about the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, a film for which Marshall acted as producer and second unit director. (I got some details on that latter gig.) All this and more is in my Frank Marshall interview, which you can read after the jump.

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Rich Famuyiwa Dope header

You can’t make a movie like Dope without a ton of passion. Every frame, every character, every decision comes from a love not just of cinema, but for pop culture as a whole. The film’s writer and director Rick Famuyiwa is a massive film fan and geek who cites Spielberg, Lucas, and calls Back to the Future his favorite movie of all time.

However, looking as Famuyiwa’s resume, odds are you didn’t know any of that. Before making Dope, he directed The Wood, Brown Sugar and Our Family Wedding. Three financially successful films, yes, but none of which are known for Dope‘s sense of youthful exuberance. It feels like, after that formidable foray into filmmaking, Famuyiwa is finally hitting his stride. Dope is a confident film, a fun film, and a great film to discuss.

Which is exactly what we did. We spoke with Famyuiwa on the occasion of Dope, which opens Friday June 19, and talked about the film’s complex tone. Its use of pop culture references, issues with music, how it changed from its Sundance premiere to now, as well as the meaning of “geek” in the film. We broke down two of the best sequences in the movie and found out whether or not the director has been approached to make any major studio blockbusters. Below, read our Rick Famuyiwa Dope interview. Read More »

Ty Simpkins Jurassic World Interview

The following interview was conducted by Courtney Howard:

Not only is child-actor Ty Simpkins an absolute pro, he’s managed to maintain his down-to-Earth persona picture perfectly – a tricky thing to do in show business. His projects have ranged from horror (Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2), to superhero action (Iron Man 3), to sci-fi (War of the Worlds), to independent darling (Little Children). With director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, the affable actor blends elements from all of these roles in a popcorn flick of epic proportions. He plays Grey, a super smart pre-teen going through a tumultuous time – including, of course, facing off against dinosaurs.

At the film’s recent press day in Los Angeles, we spoke to Ty about everything from Jurassic Worlds top secret nature, to being immortalized in Lego, to his next dream project – director Paul Haggis’ adaptation of The Ranger’s Apprentice.

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B.D. Wong jurassic park

The following interview comes from Courtney Howard:

Actor B.D. Wong has played an assistant to a flamboyant wedding planner (Father of The Bride), a mobster (Mystery Date), and, for eleven years, a psychologist (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). He also won many awards, including a Tony, for his breakout role in the play M. Butterfly. Now, with director Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, he’s slipping back into the lab coat of a character he originated twenty-two years ago in director Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Dr. Henry Wu has returned – and he’s created bigger, badder, bolder dinosaurs this time around.

At the film’s recent press tour, we spoke with Wong over the phone about everything from being the only character in the franchise to return, to the level of secrecy around the film, to how to nail tongue-twisting dialogue perfectly. Read the BD Wong Jurassic World interview after the jump.
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