Since leaving Warner Brothers as President of Worldwide Production, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventure has launched several franchises. The longest running has been the Transformers movies, but he’s also been responsible for G.I. Joe, Red and the upcoming Die Hard prequel, McClane.

Bumblebee is the sixth film in the Transformers series, but it’s the first not directed by Michael Bay and it’s a spinoff that takes place in 1987. When Bumblebee first comes to Earth after the Cybertron wars, he meets 18-year-old Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) and becomes her first car. Kubo and the Two Strings director Travis Knight is behind the camera this time..

Di Bonaventura spoke with /Film about Bumblebee, the state of the Transformers franchise, and his upcoming projects. Bumblebee is in theaters this Friday.

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die hard story

/Film has been following the development of McClane, formerly titled Die Hard: Year One closely. Originally, rumor had it that Bruce Willis would only appear in the beginning and end, to pass the torch to the younger McClane in flashbacks. In 2016, weeks after posting the title Die Hard: Year One on social media, director Len Wiseman told /Film that Willis would be in the whole movie. This year, Wiseman told us that a younger Holly McClane is in the script, with a present day reunion between the older characters possibly in the cards.

Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura was especially surprised Wiseman had talked about Holly when we spoke with him about the Transformers spin-off Bumblebee. Di Bonaventura wanted to keep the Holly details close to the vest. However, he would discuss another aspect that has been a sticking point for Die Hard fans.

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bumblebee early screenings

Rumors of a Transformers reboot earlier this year confused fans. While a spin-off like this month’s Bumblebee makes sense within the world of the five live-action films, a total reboot would leave a lot of threads hanging. Transformers: The Last Knight was originally planned to launch an extended Transformers universe. Even if that scaled back, it suggested that the villainous Unicron is still looming, and a post-credits scene even suggested that Quintessa was still alive, in human form.

Speaking with /Film about Bumblebee, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura gave us the lowdown on the future of the Transformers franchise.

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G.I. Joe Snake Eyes Spin-Off

Over the weekend, producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura spoke to /Film about the Transformers spin-off Bumblebee. Since DiBonaventura is also the producer of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe franchise, we asked him about the upcoming Snake Eyes spin-off film.

Announced in May, the Snake Eyes movie found its director in Robert Schwentke just last week. Still in question was whether Ray Park, who portrayed Snake Eyes in both live-action G.I. Joe films, would reprise the role.

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mowgli trailer

When Disney’s live-action Jungle Book came out, it had already been announced that Andy Serkis was directing another adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic. The film, which is now called Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, was going to be a darker take on Kipling, using the performance capture technology Serkis pioneered with Gollum, King Kong and the Planet of the Apes films. After theatrical standees and trailers were in theaters, Netflix decided to buy Mowgli from Warner Brothers.

Rohan Chand plays Mowgli, the boy raised by animals in the jungle. The cast of animal characters includes Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Naomie Harris, Serkis himself, and more. Legend of the Jungle puts more emphasis on Mowgli being torn between the worlds of animal and man, at one point even contemplating leaving the jungle behind.

Serkis spoke with /Film in Los Angeles last week after returning from Mumbai for the premiere of Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Mowgli is now in select theaters and premieres on Netflix on Friday, December 7.

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jonah ray interview

Over Thanksgiving, we had new Mystery Science Theater 3000 for which to be thankful. Netflix dropped a new season of six episodes, titled The Gauntlet. Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) and the robots were forced to watch six movies back to back and riff on them, although Netflix allowed people to watch them movie by movie.

Those movies included Mac and Me, the infamous McDonald’s and Coca-Cola produced E.T. ripoff, Asylum’s knockoff Atlantic Rim, the Roger Corman Abyss knockoff Lords of the Deep, The Day Time Ended, Killer Fish and Ator, the Fighting Eagle. All had plenty of opportunities to drop running gags like “Look out for snakes,” “Pretty nice” and sing some song parodies.

Now that we’re all back at work, Ray spoke with /Film by phone about some of the specific jokes in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet, plans for next season, and what kind of movies he’d never do on MST3K.

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sequel bits creed ii

If you’ve seen Creed II, there’s one surprise you’ll definitely want to hear more about. But if you have not seen the latest installment in the Rocky/Creed saga yet, you’ll definitely want to be as surprised by that as any first time viewer. This story is just for people who have already seen Creed II, so here’s your spoiler warning.

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creed 2 drago

By Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone had to go bigger and bigger to find worthy opponents for Rocky Balboa. After defeating Apollo Creed in a rematch in Rocky II, he discovered Mr. T to play the street tough Clubber Lang in Rocky III. For Rocky IV, Stallone cast Dolph Lundgren as the Russian contender Ivan Drago to tower over both himself and Apollo Creed.

33 years later, the Dragos return in Creed II. Now Ivan has a son, Viktor, a boxer who wants to challenge Adonis Creed for the title. The Dragos come to Philadelphia and Ivan even confronts Rocky decades after their Russia bout.

Lundgren spoke with /Film by phone last week to discuss the return of Ivan Drago in Creed II. The film shows a father/son story paralleled with Adonis and Rocky, but it turns out there was even more to the Drago story that didn’t even make the final cut. 

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Creed II featurette

Sylvester Stallone may have really thought he was saying goodbye to Rocky when he wrote, directed and starred in Rocky Balboa. Then Ryan Coogler came along with the idea for Creed. It seemed to energize Stallone again and as soon as Creed came out, he started teasing ideas for a sequel that would bring back Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.

At one point, Stallone was going to direct Creed II, but he ultimately turned directing duties over to Steven Caple Jr. Caple had one feature film to his credit. The Land was a Sundance hit that explored Cleveland with a new voice and vision. Stallone agreed Caple was the right choice to take Creed and Rocky further.

In the sequel, Adonis Creed is the new heavyweight champion of the world. Meanwhile, Ivan Drago’s son Viktor has been training in the Ukraine for just the right opportunity to challenge the son of the man his father killed in the ring. Naturally, Rocky has some issues with this.

Caple spoke with /Film by phone while on the road with Creed II, including a stop in Philadelphia for a press junket. We spoke about making a sequel both to Rocky IV and to Creed and how you please fans of both. Creed II opens Wednesday, November 21.

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Escape at Dannemora Writer Michael Tolkin Interview

In 2015, Richard Matt and David Sweat broke out of Clinton Correctional prison in the town of Dannemora, with the help of Tilly Mitchell. Matt was having an affair with workplace supervisor Mitchell and convinced her to help them escape. They probably never imagined how the breakout would bring them down, let alone become a Showtime miniseries starring Benicio del Toro as Matt, Paul Dano as Sweat and Patricia Arquette as Mitchell.

Ben Stiller directed the eight hour series Escape at Dannemora, written by Michael Tolkin and Brett Johnson (Jerry Stahl is also credited on two episodes). Johnson came from reality TV and worked on Castle, Mad Men and Ray Donovan. Meanwhile, Tolkin was a Hollywood screenwriter in demand in the ‘90s, and penned the definitive Hollywood fiction The Player, which became a landmark Robert Altman movie.

Tolkin spoke with /Film before Showtime’s Television Critics Association panel for Escape at Dannemora. In addition to the Showtime series, we discussed his transition from film to television, and some of his early industry work like the Christian Slater skateboard vehicle Gleaming the Cube and the short-lived Animal House TV series Delta House.

Escape at Dannemora premieres Sunday, November 18 at 10pm on Showtime. Read More »