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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Toy Story

Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull recently published a book called Creativity Inc.,  bout how creativity and business can work hand in hand. The book is filled with stories from Catmull’s journey at Pixar, some details of which have never been told publicly before. One of the stories is about how a business deal came within seven days from changing history as we know it. Not only would Toy Story never have been made, it is very likely the computer animation revolution would have happened entirely differently or maybe not even at all.

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boyhood budget

One of my favorite movie of the year is Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood, which tells the story of a young boy’s childhood from age 5 to age 18. You’ve probably also heard that the movie was  filmed over the course of 12 years using the same actors. Its not a gimmick, but a remarkable cinematic achievement. But one wonders, how was such a film produced and how much did it cost? Learn the Boyhood budget after the jump.

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Gremlins poster easter egg

The poster for Joe Dante‘s Gremlins is classic. I use to even have a gigantic french version of the one-sheet on my wall in my old /Film office. Despite that, I never noticed this fun little easter egg on the poster painted by legendary poster artist John Alvin. /Film reader Paul Bullock alerted me to this hidden tribute to producer Steven Spielberg. Can you see it? Uncover the Gremlins poster easter egg now, after the jump.

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John Carter sequels

Any way you slice it, John Carter was a big fat flop. Which means our chances of ever getting a sequel are essentially zero. But there was a time when Disney was hoping the film would launch a full-fledged franchise. And now, thanks to director Andrew Stanton, we have some idea of where it might have gone. Hit the jump to see what he’s revealed.

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Star Wars 7 alien creature

Yesterday morning we ran a piece on how Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is not involved in Star Wars: Episode VII. Rumors of possible Henson involvement began when JJ Abrams posted a video from the Abu Dhabi set featuring an awesome-looking practical, puppeteered alien creature. We used the opportunity to take a trip through history and explore Jim Henson’s involvement (or non-involvement) in the Star Wars films. When I was writing that piece, another question came up: Who or what is that Star Wars 7 alien creature we see in that video?

As Star Wars nerds, we must explore this question in much further detail than a reasonable person would expect. Join me on my journey to try to figure out the origins of this alien species in a galaxy far far away.

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Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Yoda Star Wars 7 and Jim Henson

Yesterday morning when JJ Abrams posted a video from the Abu Dhabi set of Star Wars: Episode VII, everyone got excited about the appearance of an alien creature which walks by the filmmaker as he makes his charity pitch. Of course, Star Wars is synonymous with alien creatures, but the reason for the excitement was the practical, puppeteered nature of the new alien.

He’s not a computer animated thing, akin to the aliens we saw in the Star Wars prequels. The creature’s inclusion in this early video is deliberate — a message that we’re doing something more like the original trilogy than the prequels. It recalls the statement last summer by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy that ”We’re going to use every tool in the toolbox.” Many of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s were taken back to the days of Jim Henson and practical movie magic. I mean, how cool was that creature?

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Almost Famous

It’s no secret Cameron Crowe had problems giving his 2000 semi-autobiographical film a title. At one point it was actually called Untitled, a clever nod to the musical story held within, as well as an admission of defeat. The studio wouldn’t let that fly, so Crowe went through many different titles before settling on Almost Famous. And it’s a perfect title.

For a contribution to the 300th issue of Empire Magazine, Crowe dug up the original notebook pages where he brainstormed all kinds of different titles for the movie, much like William Miller does during the credits of the film. Check out Cameron Crowe’s alternate Almost Famous titles below. Read More »

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