Into the Woods logo

When most people think of Walt Disney films, they think of two genres: the animated musical and the live-action family film. Beauty and the Beast or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Snow White or Swiss Family Robinson. What’s slightly more rare of late is a blend of the two, the live-action musical, as we’ve seen in films like Mary Poppins, Newsies, Enchanted or The Muppets. These come out much less frequently.

Next year, however, Disney will be releasing two live-action musicals: Muppets Most Wanted and one that’s likely to be their most elaborate and star-studded live action musical to date, Into The Woods.

Directed by Rob Marshall and based on the Tony Award-winning broadway show with music by Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods just began production aimed at a Christmas 2014 release. Below, read the full press release including the list of confirmed cast members, such as Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, Christine Baranski and Tracy Ullman. Read More »

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Briefly: Test screening reports sent in by a few readers say that Paramount is rolling out a trailer for the new Jack Ryan film to test audiences, and that it bears the title Jack Ryan: Shadow One.

The film, directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the villain, is set for release this Christmas. Chris Pine stars and Kevin Costner also appears in a story that goes back to the roots of the Jack Ryan character, who first hit movie screens in The Hunt for Red October. Three actors have played the character in four previous films, but according to one report,

Pine takes the character to its beginning, where the injured Marine is recruited by CIA vet Kevin Costner to work as a high-level analyst. The two are pitted against a Russian oligarch (played by Branagh) who is pulling the strings of the financial market and delving into international terrorism with potential global catastrophic results.

Watch for the trailer soon.

Joe Carnahan

Following a solid box office performance by The Purge, Universal is getting back into business with Blumhouse Productions for another microbudget genre pic. Only this one falls a bit outside Jason Blum‘s usual horror wheelhouse.

The studio is set to distribute the Blum-produced, Joe Carnahan-directed Stretch, an action comedy starring Patrick Wilson. Ed Helms and Chris Pine have also signed on in recent weeks, and now Brooklyn Decker has come aboard as well. Get details on her character and the new release date after the jump.

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Ed Helms Cedar Rapids

UPDATE: A few minor tweaks have been made to this story since it was first published.

Preliminary details on Joe Carnahan‘s latest film, a small budget thriller produced by horror guru Jason Blum, have now been revealed. We already knew it was called Stretch and that Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Watchmen) would be the star. Now Ed Helms, whose summer scheduled freed up when Vacation was put on hold, has been cast. According to reports, Wilson plays a down on his luck chauffeur who takes a risky job driving around a mysterious billionaire to settle some debts. Helms plays a colleague, of sorts, to Wilson and Chris Pine also stars. Read More »

Star Trek Into Darkness - Spock and Kirk

It’s in theaters now, and all the secrets are out in the open. Star Trek Into Darkness, the second Trek film from J.J. Abrams, has been locked (mostly) in the producer/director’s “mystery box” for over a year. For hardcore fans, at least, the secrecy around the precise nature of the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch has been a big part of the marketing allure, but the energy Abrams and his cast brought to their first outing on the Enterprise has been enough to make a huge audience curious about their encore.

And in the end, the irony is that, while there was a type of secret to preserve with respect to the character, in the end he plays a weird role in the plot. (There’s a certain kinship to Iron Man 3 in that respect.)

Abrams has said that he wanted to make Star Trek for people who aren’t Star Trek fans, and in that respect he might have succeeded. Into Darkness has a few well-executed setpieces, and loads of the same winning cast presence that made the first Abrams Trek a success. But does it work? Does the film’s wide divergence from many well-established Trek characteristics fly, and does it even really matter who Cumberbatch is playing? Weigh in below, where full spoilers are in force. Read More »

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Sequels are a tricky thing. In the best cases, they transcend the original work by adding emotional depth and context, elevating the entire story arc. In the worst cases, they’re a carbon copy of the original with perhaps a bigger “wow” factor. Star Trek Into Darkness, like many sequels, falls into the middle ground. It expands and broadens the scope of the original while duplicating most of the elements that were already in place from the 2009 film.

To follow his first Trek revival, director J.J. Abrams has made a much more visually impressive and exciting action film, and one worthy of the Star Trek franchise. It simply lacks the inspiration that made his first film so special.

After the jump, read the rest of this review and see a video blog with some differing opinions. Read More »

Amanda Seyfried

In a post-apocalyptic world, one girl believes she’s the last human alive. Then she sees some smoke on the horizon, and a man appears. She and the man fall in love, assuming they’re all that’s left. Then another man emerges. That’s the plot of Robert C. O’Brien‘s ’70s sci-fi novel, Z For Zachariah, which is about to get the big screen treatment.

Directed by Craig Zobel (of the amazing Compliance), produced by Tobey Maguire and adapted by Nissar Modi, Amanda Seyfried will play the young girl, Chiwetel Ejiofor the man she falls in love with and Chris Pine the mysterious stranger. Filming should occur later this Summer. Read More »

Gyllenhaal Pine

Director Rob Marshall has just cast two princes for his Disney musical Into The Woods. Star Trek‘s Chris Pine and Brokeback Mountain‘s Jake Gyllenhaal are in talks to join an increasingly star-studded cast set for the fairy-tale blending musical. Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp are already attached as the film’s main witch and a sultry wolf, while Pine and Gyllenhall would be Cinderella and Rapunzel’s princes. It’ll mark the first time either has sung on screen. Read More »

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