Warner Bros. has taken a bit of time to shift around its release schedule, and there’s both good news and bad news for film fans. On the plus side, the studio has set Andy and Lana Wachowski‘s Jupiter Ascending for a coveted summer 2014 release date, which reads as a vote of confidence in the film.

Not looking so hot, however, is the Sylvester Stallone-Robert De Niro team-up Grudge Match, which has been pushed from a respectable fall 2013 slot to a less auspicious January 2014 one. Hit the jump to read more.

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Now that a director’s been locked in for Episode VII, the big question is who’ll get to star in it. And that’s what today’s Star Wars Bits is all about. After the jump:

  • Disney CEO confirms the original trio is in talks to return
  • Billy Dee Williams has also been asked to come back
  • Warwick Davis is “definitely” looking to do more Star Wars
  • New details revealed for Star Wars: First Assault game
  • Eli Roth, JGL, Mila KunisStanley Tucci and more weigh in

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Who exactly is G.I. Joe: Retaliation‘s Cobra Commander? Find out after the jump. Also:

  • Expect the cast to return for Oz The Great and Powerful 2
  • Josh Duhamel will make a cameo in Transformers 4
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
  • Don’t hold your breath for a Simpsons Movie sequel
  • A Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance stuntman is suing Sony
  • V/H/S 2 gets a release date and some new images
  • See images and video from the Star Trek scoring studio
  • Just what is in that new Star Trek Into Darkness teaser?

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Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful opens Friday and, so far, buzz has been generally good. The industry tracking has been even better, with some outlets projecting a near $100 million opening weekend. So it should come as no surprise that Disney has just signed Mitchell Kapner, who co-wrote the first film with David Lindsay-Abaire, to get to work on a sequel.  Read More »

Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi‘s first Disney film, is oddly two-faced. Here we have a director who made his name with low budget horror, who became a household name when he infused the superhero genre with his do-it-yourself, energetic visual style. And then there’s Oz, a massive film that gives Raimi the most toys he’s ever had to play with, but also the commitment to make a movie that’s fun for all ages. The result is a Sam Raimi movie wrapped up tightly in a Disney package. And the Raimi elements are willing themselves out.

There’s not a frame of Oz The Great and Powerful that doesn’t bear Raimi’s mark. The production design, the camera moves, the pulpy performances, everything screams his name. I mean, the movie is basically Army of Darkness, right? (Normal guy lands in magical land, is forced to go on quest to save that land.) But just when you see that kinetic, signature style starting to unleash, the story forces the film back into its Disney shell to play to the masses. We’re left with a film that’s entertaining, a little scarier than you’d expect, but extremely inconsistent. Read More »

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Super Bowl Spot

Disney isn’t showing off as much new stuff in the Super Bowl commercial for Oz the Great and Powerful as it did for The Lone Ranger , but here’s a quick look at the March release.  We know pretty much what to expect from Sam Raimi‘s Oz prequel, but if you need a refresher check out the spot below.

Watch other 2013 Super Bowl spots at these links: Iron Man 3World War ZStar Trek Into DarknessThe Lone Ranger, Fast & Furious 6.
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In October 2011, I got to visit the wonderful world of Oz and watch director Sam Raimi direct his preboot (prequel/reboot) of the classic L. Frank Baum book series. I learned much on the set of Oz: The Great and Powerful. Most fascinating to me was some of the things Disney had to do satisfy legal concerns over possibly violating copyrighted imagery from the classic 1939 film adaptation, owned by Warner Bros.

And while trailers for the film focus on wholly computer-generated worlds and characters, you might be shocked to learn the lengths that Sam Raimi went through to shoot a lot of the film practically. For example, it was interesting to see Raimi inventing new practical solutions to help the supporting actors create and react to live performances for characters who would eventually be created in CG — and I’m not talking about performance capture.

After the jump you can watch a video blog we recorded talking about the visit, followed by many more things I learned while on the set.

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A few weeks ago, Disney dropped a striking poster featuring the Wicked Witch of the West, adding fuel to the ongoing debate about whether it’s Evanora (Rachel Weisz) or Theodora (Mila Kunis) who goes green in Oz: The Great and Powerful. A new batch of posters doesn’t answer that question, but it does give us a closer look at who the individual players in the movie are. Hit the jump to see individual characters for Evanora, Theodora, Glinda (Michelle Williams), and of course, the Wizard himself (James Franco).

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