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: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?
This week, we pray on things, get preyed on, ride the rail, indulge in a guilty pleasure, and figure out what to do when our friends have it out for us.
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Joel McHale (Community) and Kerry Bishé (Argo) star in Happily, the feature directorial debut of writer/director BenDavid Grabinski, the guy behind Nickelodeon’s recent reboot of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. The first trailer has been released, and it sets up an intriguing mystery in which a group of friends gather in a house for a party and discover that they’re locked in.
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A rebooted version of the fondly-remembered 1990s kids horror series Are You Afraid of the Dark? premieres on Nickelodeon this week, but the first episode has dropped online a couple of days early. Join the new iteration of the Midnight Society and check it out below. Read More »
Before Marvel Studios was part of Disney, Marvel established a method of developing and packaging its own films in order to retain some control over the characters. Now Valiant Entertainment seems to be trying to do the same thing, by scoring a huge amount of investment capital from DMG Entertainment to develop a Valiant comics movie universe.
DMG has put eight figures worth of funding into Valiant “to further its efforts in international publishing, film, television, licensing and beyond.” But that’s not all. The press release announcing the deal also trumpets an additional nine-figure investment towards development of film and TV projects featuring Valiant characters such as Bloodshot, Shadowman, and Archer & Armstrong. The goal of the partnership between Valiant and DMG is significant, and they’re not hiding it, as the announcement proclaims the creation of the “largest independent superhero universe.”
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A highlight of the early ’90s comics scene is moving towards the big screen, and surprisingly it isn’t a Marvel or DC title. There was a time when former Marvel and DC employees created a few new comics companies, such as Image and Valiant. It’s a Valiant title that is getting a film now, as an Archer & Armstrong movie is being developed by the current incarnation of Valiant Entertainment.
While Valiant published some series that revived old Gold Key Comics characters, Archer & Armstrong was an original title, a buddy action/comedy created by Jim Shooter, Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Layton.
The series debuted in 1992, and was relaunched in 2012. One of the two heroes of the book is Archer, a monk with expert archery skills and a horrific family history. The other is Armstrong, an immortal who, after thousands of years on Earth, is pretty much over the whole experience, and is content to hang out as a drunk partier. Together, they tackle an ages-old conspiracy. Read More »
Jackie Chan isn’t yet ready to become Expendable, because he’s busy making his own big action films. One project he’s been developing is called Skiptrace, and features Jackie and Seann William Scott in a globe-trotting action buddy comedy. Now Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight) will direct the film, with a shoot planned for later this summer. Fan Bingbing (Iron Man 3, X-Men: Days of Future Past) will also appear.
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It’s a good time for fans of giant monsters. There are the big guys on movie screens, in Pacific Rim and the upcoming Godzilla. But there are more monsters stalking the internet. The Enormous pilot, based on the graphic novel by Tim Daniel and Mehdi Cheggour, finds a small group of altruistic human survivors in the streets of Phoenix a year after the one-two punch of giant monster attacks and a viral outbreak decimated society. As the group looks for other survivors, they have to deal with less friendly humans, and the appearance of a monster that dwarfs them all.
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Remember, if you will, the days of Fantastic Fest 2011. One of the most buzzed about films at the Austin, TX festival wasn’t a feature from an established director. It was Cost of Living, a short written and directed by first-time filmmaker BenDavid Grabinski.
The short stars Bret Harrison (Reaper, Breaking In) and Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) as employees of a company that makes, or engineers… something. Or ‘somethings.’ Actually, let’s say very violent, very dangerous somethings.
Cost of Living throws a couple of more or less regular guys into a really crappy situation and then watches them fight their way out. It is a tasty blend of splattery, tense action with just enough self-awareness and humor to balance the danger. Oh, and it is beautifully shot by Morgan Susser, and features a special guest as the voice of the company computer. The full film is now online; check it out below. Read More »
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Last year it was announced that Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Get Shorty, Pushing Daisies) had signed on to direct The How-To Guide for Saving the World, a much buzzed about sci-fi action comedy screenplay which appeared on the 2008 Black List. I’m not sure the status of the project, but Sonnenfeld has again teamed up with Saving the World scribe BenDavid Grabinski to develop Swift, a big screen reimagining of the Tom Swift adventure novels.
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Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Get Shorty, Pushing Daisies) has signed on to direct The How-To Guide for Saving the World for MGM. BenDavid Grabinski‘s action comedy screenplay appeared on the 2008 Black List, a list which ranks the hottest screenplays making the rounds in Hollywoodland, compiled by a poll of 250 development executives and high-level assistants.
The story follows a 30-year-old loser named Sylvester, who discovers a mysterious red unmarked book with the instructions on how to stop an alien invasion. And of course, the unlikely hero is thrust into action, along with a woman who hates him, to stop a real alien invasion.
I have only read the first 30 pages of BenDavid’s screenplay, but everything I have read so far is uniquely original, overly absurd and laugh out loud funny. For example, the book left by a secret organization that had been protecting earth is setup like a choose your own adventure novel.
Lets forget for a second that Sonnenfeld directed Addams Family Values, Wild Wild West and Men in Black II, and focus on Pushing Daisies, Get Shorty and Men in Black. Bottom line is that Sonnenfeld can produce magic, but he usually just needs the right material. And while I’m impressed by what I’ve seen of BenDavid’s script thus far, I am convinced that this film could live or die based on the tone and direction. Sonnenfeld better bring his A game.