On June 20th, I flew to San Francisco to visit Barsoom Studios, in an office building minutes sown the road from Pixar Animation Studios, to see the first footage from John Carter, a big screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic sci-fi novel  A Princess of Mars.

In a screening room, Finding Nemo/Wall-E director Andrew Stanton gave us a powerpoint presentation explaining why and how he became involved in the project, and the unique methods they used to “shoot” the film (you can read a transcript of Andrew’s complete presentation and Q&A elsewhere on /Film). We screened a couple scenes from the movie, and the teaser trailer which will be attached to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (expect to see it online on Thursday, July 14th).

After the jump you can read my brief thoughts, followed by  a video blog I recorded with Frosty from Collider (who admits he knows nothing about the source material) and Eric Vespe (better known as Quint from Ain’t It Cool, who knows way way way more than I will ever know about the source material). So we have a good spread of opinions based on a wide range of expectations and knowledge of the source material.

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I’m a huge fan of director Cameron Crowe, and Almost Famous is one of my favorite films of all time. Before I started /Film, one of the websites I use to check on a regular basis was a Cameron Crowe fansite called The Uncool (which, yes, is a brilliant reference from Almost Famous). The guy who owned the blog, Greg Mariotti, you might know from another film blog called PixarTalk (he’s appeared on the /filmcast as well), sold the site years ago to Crowe himself.

Cameron brought Greg on to help with his official site, which was a cool looking flash-designed dysfunctional mess, and the blog folded. Updates became few and far between. Recently Mariotti relaunched The Uncool as a stand-alone official blog, which is allowing him to post all sorts of cool Cameron Crowe-related material. I’ve been looking for an excuse to write about the blog for the past month, and now I have one.

Today Greg posted an article titled “5 Things I Learned About We Bought a Zoo”, which includes photos and observations from visiting the California-based se of his new film, a big screen adaptation of We Bought a Zoo which stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, John Michael Higgins, Angus MacFadyen, Patrick Fugit, and more. I’ve never been to the set of a Cameron Crowe film, so I’ll have to live vicariously through Greg’s reports… but maybe someday? Head over to TheUncool to learn about the changes that Cameron has taken from Benjamin Mee‘s book, technical details (yes, the movie is being shot on film), details on Cameron’s new partnership with Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto and more. I’m sure he has more, which will likely be posted in future updates.


One of the pictures with the most potential right now is William Friedkin‘s pitch-black comedy Killer Joe, written by Tracy Letts from his own play of the same title, which won Pulitzer and Tony prizes in 2008. The story is about “a brother (Emile Hirsch) and sister combo who plot the death of their mother for the insurance money and hire “Killer Joe” Cooper, a cop and contract killer (Matthew McConaughey) to do the deed.”

Now Thomas Haden Church is part of the cast, playing the father of Hirsch’s character. Church has also just joined Cameron Crowe’s new film We Bought a Zoo. Church will shoot this film first, then Crowe’s movie. [Variety]

After the break, new work for Melanie Griffith, and talent for Richard Linklater’s new film Bernie. Read More »

Thomas Haden Church (Spider-Man 3, Sideways) has joined the cast of director Cameron Crowe‘s (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) adaptation of Benjamin Mee‘s bestselling memoir We Bought a Zoo.

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Why should Robert De Niro be this lucky? He’s signed on to be in Manual of Love 3, the third chapter in an Italian romantic drama/comedy series. That’s odd enough, but he’ll be playing an American professor who is the love interest of Monica Bellucci. If there’s a stranger pairing I’m not sure I can think of it right now. I doubt De Niro is complaining.  [Variety]

After the break, Barry Levinson’s son hires Thomas Haden Church and Martin Landau, and Charisma Carpenter books an indie thriller. Read More »


Because I know that casting news on the delayed remake of Footloose is what you’re all more hungry for than anything else, here’s the only casting note that matters this week: Thomas Dekker (Heroes, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, Kaboom, A Nightmare on Elm Street) is apparently the latest top candidate to play ‘Two Degrees of Kevin Bacon,’ as, if cast, he’d step into the shoes of Bacon’s classic character from the original film.

Zac Efron and Chace Crawford have both been linked to the film, but in the last few months they’ve passed, and the directorial baton has been handed from Kenny Ortega to Craig Brewer. This isn’t hard and fast casting, though, so there’s still a chance  (There’s also an open casting call for guys 18 and up to play high schoolers.) [LAT]

After the break, better news, because it doesn’t involve the Footloose remake. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Easy A Movie Trailer

Easy A

Screen Gems has finally released a trailer for their teen comedy Easy A starring Emma Stone (Superbad, Zombieland).

After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean cut high school girl (Stone) sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne’s in “The Scarlet Letter,” which she is currently studying in school – until she decides to use the rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.

Directed by Grosse Point/The Loop/Andy Richter Controls the Universe writer/producer Will Gluck and written by shooting-star playwright Bert V. Royal. The film costars Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm MacDowell, Aly Michalka, and Stanley Tucci. Watch the two and a half minue trailer embedded after the jump.

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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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Before his career-changing turn in Sideways, most people knew Thomas Haden Church as a television actor on Wings, and Ned and Stacy. He’s not returning to television quite yet, but he is working on something in a series format.  Haden Church is starring in a new FearNet web/on-demand series, Zombie Roadkill. He’ll play “a park ranger who partners with a teen (David Dorfman) to escape a portion of highway where roadkill is resurrected as flesh-eating zombie animals.” Don’t get too excited though — the series will only last six episodes, each of which will be four to five minutes each.

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