Grand Theft Auto V’s Ned Luke Stars In Home Invasion Film American Gothic

The film American Gothic, which was filmed entirely in director Stuart Connelly’s house, will arrive on VOD services on October 24. It stars Ned Luke, who played Michael De Santa in Grand Theft Auto V, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Slate Holmgren.

From the Press Release:
Author Stuart Connelly had an idea: what if he shot a home invasion feature film entirely in his house? The scenes would be absolutely unique because as the homeowner, he knows every inch of the house and how he could use its eccentricities to get an advantage during a break-in.

“Instead of just imagining a generic house and thinking ‘This happens, then this happens,’ I walked through a story room by room,” Connelly says. “My house helped write the picture.”

The resulting film, American Gothic – exclusively presented by ITN Distribution and directed by Connelly – will become available on all major American cable systems’ video-on-demand platforms starting on October 24… just in time for Halloween scares.

“Hair & Makeup, Wardrobe, and Special Effects were all in the guest cottage,“ says Rochelle Boström, a New York-based actress who plays one of the farm’s owners. “The horse paddock was crew parking! No part of the property was left unused.”

Connelly calls it a “narrative experiment, a dare,” but the final product is a straight-up classic thrill ride.

Down for the experiment were Ned Luke, best known as the voice of Michael in the mega-selling video game Grand Theft Auto and Slate Holmgren, just coming off a role on Broadway starring alongside Daniel Craig. “Usually on set there’s so much waiting, driving from one location to the other,” Luke says. “On American Gothic it was one scene to the next, no downtime.”

“I wanted to write a story that used every aspect of our house, which sits on twelve acres of farmland,” adds Connelly. “But that didn’t mean it just takes place on a farm. In my mind, Hollywood films are all about magic, and the magic here was to create a highway, a forest, a house, a dungeon… all aspects of the script.” In fact, Connelly reports the film’s plot was planned out based on the layout of the 300-year-old home.

“Their powder room was built over an old basement stairwell,” Holmgren says, “and that blocked off door behind the toilet became a plot point. When I read the script I thought it was clever, but I had no idea it was a real part of Stuart’s house.”

The attention to unique detail turned into efficiency, according to producer Mary Jo Barthmaier. “If Stuart had to write that scene and find a location or build it, that would kill the budget,” she says. “Instead, it was right there, and the scene becomes something we’ve never seen in another home invasion film.”

Shooting in the indie “guerrilla style” but having access and a plan meant that American Gothic, which was made very efficiently, could seem like a much more expensive film, Barthmaier says.

According to MovieMaker Magazine, American Gothic can “hold its own against indie horror films costing 10, 20 times the money.”

And the additional time freed up by this homespun strategy allowed the production to really focus on character, a rarity with lower-budget genre fare. “It has some of the best, most complicated characters I’ve seen in movies for a long time,” says Mark Barthmaier, who heads up the cast as an escaped convict desperately looking for a hideout. “Horror or otherwise.”

The film, which won the Best Horror Feature award at the 2016 Atlantic City Film Festival, has enough twists and turns to satisfy fans of thrillers and enough scares to give the most die-hard horror freaks something to sink their teeth into.

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Disney Tries Outdoing “Pokemon Go” for New “Star Wars” Film — The Motley Fool

Is General Leia Organa this year’s Pikachu? In the lead-up to the December release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) plans to unleash a torrent of marketing and sales on a galactic scale by deploying an augmented reality (AR) event so massive it could rival the Pokemon Go craze of last summer.

Feel the Force

Disney will be reprising its “Force Friday” event from two years ago when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, but this time it will borrow a bit of magic from Pokemon Go. Like the treasure hunt for those animated characters, Disney has developed a special Star Wars app that contains a “Find the Force” feature. Users can then visit any of the 20,000 participating stores, and using the app can scan special Find the Force graphics that will reveal the AR character in the room with you.

A hand holding a smartphone displaying Disney's Star Wars augmented reality app

Image source: Disney.

You can then take photos, record videos, and otherwise share the experience on social media. There are a total of 15 characters that can be revealed across the three-day event from Sept. 1-3, and digital rewards will be unlocked as you collect more characters. But instead of Charizard, Gyarados, or a Snorlax, you’ll likely collect Rey, Poe Dameron, Finn, and Kylo Ren. Anyone who posts their character interactions on Twitter or Instagram by Sept. 3 is entered in a sweepstakes with the grand prize being a trip to the Last Jedi world premiere and a tour of Lucasfilm.

Ahead of the official launch, Disney is also using certain iconic landmarks — Central Park in New York, the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge — to reveal special AR scenes. Pointing the app at the sky near these landmarks will reportedly reveal Tie fighters and star destroyers.

Jumping on the bandwagon

The effort by Disney is truly massive in its global scale. Hundreds of retailers in more than 30 countries are participating in the promotion and will have the Find the Force logo. While the game is free of charge for players, retailers are obviously hoping there will be a huge influx of customers in their stores who will end up purchasing gear. Retailers including Wal-Mart, LEGO, Toys R Us, J.C. Penney, and Kohl’s are all participating and hoping some of that Disney magic rubs off on them.

With good reason: Retail is suffering from a slowdown in customer traffic and this Star Wars promotion has the potential to drum up foot traffic. Stores such as Target, Toys R Us, and Wal-Mart will be opening their doors at midnight ahead of the event just like they do for Black Friday sales, and will have on hand exclusive and limited-edition toys.

A person using the Disney Find the Force app on their smartphone in front of a laptop

Image source: Disney.

Earlier this year, my Foolish colleague Danny Vena noted that it’s been estimated that the first Force Friday event saw consumers spend $760 million on Star Wars toys in 2016, and that $1 out of every $11 spent over the three-day event was on Star Wars gear. For the month of September alone, Force Friday reportedly sparked a sevenfold increase in online sales of Star Wars toys.

The force of toy sales

There were an estimated $26 billion in U.S. toy sales in 2016 and the market researchers at NPD Group say toy sales were up another 3% over the first six months of the current year. While that’s slower than the previous two years, NPD Group expects the September movie kickoff to catapult toy sales forward, and says, “2017 may go down in history as the year of movie licensed toys.”

Depending upon how successful this Disney promotion is (no one seems to think it won’t succeed), we may very well see other franchises use similar AR technology to help drive sales. Certainly the retail industry will readily hop aboard, but there are only so many Star Wars or Pokemon Go sensations to capture the public’s imagination — and only Rey or Leia have the qualities to topple a Pikachu.

Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Twitter and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Dystopian What Happened To Monday? may hint at Netflix’s film priorities

The trailer for What Happened to Monday?

Warning: This piece contains mild spoilers for Netflix’s What Happened to Monday?

Halfway through its major 2017 original film push, Netflix seems to have more hits than misses. That’s not to say the company has had its Stranger Things equivalent; none of Netflix’s films has captured popular conversation as sweepingly as traditional offerings like Get Out or Baby Driver. Maybe the Brad Pitt-driven War Machine fizzled, but Okja and The Discovery became favorites around the Ars Slack water cooler, while smaller projects like Joe Swanberg’s Win It All keep hope alive that future Netflix films like the high-profile Bright (Will Smith and elf cops?) and the smaller Death Note (supernatural manga adaptation just released) can still deliver this year.

Critical wins and losses for these projects may be the headline grabber, but Netflix continues to grow as a film company in a less flashy, more traditional manner: as a distributor. “Netflix original” these days seems to encompass both films produced for Netflix with invested streaming money (see War MachineBright) and a bevy of films the company picks up after they’re previewed on the festival circuit.

Every major film festival these days is followed by a round of announcements where Amazon and Netflix engage in an arms war to snag the best and most unique content. Almost precisely one year ago, the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival proved no different. IndieWire proclaimed Netflix’s spending there “left few acquisition targets for traditional distributors,” as the company snagged things like a biopic about a young President Obama called Barry.

Released this week, Netflix’s What Happened To Monday? represents another TIFF 2016 acquisition finally reaching home audiences. The film may also nicely demonstrate the type of general acquisitions Netflix makes these days. It’s from a relatively young director (Tommy Wirkola, of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters fame). It has a niche premise and audience (dystopian sci-fi). It doesn’t have to meet any particular set of expectations that come with more traditional distributors.

Honestly, this could be the first you’re even hearing of What Happened To Monday? despite some big names in the cast. That’s a shame, because the film offers enough interesting material to merit a two-hour Netflix distraction.

What is this again?

What Happened To Monday? opens with the oldest trick in the dystopian film playbook: an explanatory sequence done via a bad news media clip collage. Over the last 50 years, Earth’s population has doubled while food and water usage tripled and fossil fuel usage quadrupled. President Obama’s famed “I believe in climate change” UN speech leads into the introduction of our main character, Karen Settman (Noomi Rapace), as she orders a to-go meal with some percentage of supplemental rat meat blended in.

Technically, we only meet this Karen Settman at first. Given the dire situation for humanity and the planet, a government agency called the Child Allocation Board has been established to ban siblings. Led by a catchy slogan (“One Child. One Earth.”), politician Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close) pushes the legislation as a means of preserving natural resources and improving quality of life for those currently living. Families may each have a single child, but any additional kids born will be placed in Cryofreeze, a temperature induced-stasis to keep someone free from hunger, safe from harm, and ready to “awake to a better world,” as Cayman puts it.

Flash back 30 years, and we see Karen Settman began life as one of seven in the early days of the CAB. Papa (Willem Dafoe) lost a daughter during a complicated childbirth, so he can’t bear to turn his new granddaughters in to this new government initiative. Instead, he builds hidden rooms in their apartment, hacks the government-issued tracking bracelet he received for a single child, and trains the girls from birth to function as a unit. Each will get to go into the outside world—where merchants, door people, and cops scan bracelets as you enter and exit zones for residence, school, work, etc.—just one day a week, and they’ll be responsible to share everything with their sisters before bed to perpetuate Karen Settman. As such, Papa names the girls after the days of the week.

The plan, remarkably, works for those 30 years with only a few minor (albeit horrific) incidents. But now as full adults with distinct personalities, the would-be Settman sisters harbor a little dissent during their evening meals and meetings.

“it’s just a mask—one day a week we get to go into the real world and we can’t even be ourselves,” Thursday laments during the film’s opening rat dinner. As a child, she once escaped to skateboard on the streets for a few hours and nearly severed her finger, which lead to, well, Papa needing to create identical little girl fingers. As an adult, she maintains this adventurous desire for independence, and she dreams of relationships or of wearing the clothes and hair she (and not Karen Settman) chooses. “This isn’t a life,” she declares. “It’s a sad, agonizing, soul-sucking death.”

But given the tight surveillance and data collection done by the government, such complaints stay within the Settman apartment for now. Dinner arguments fade, and the sisters hold their evening meeting to prep for a promotion presentation at work. Luckily Monday—calm and collected, seen as a leader among the group—will be the one doing Karen duty for that one. But they never hear how the meeting went. Monday, as the film’s title suggests, appears to have gone missing.

The Settman sisters enjoying a delightful, rat-infused dinner.
Enlarge / The Settman sisters enjoying a delightful, rat-infused dinner.


Quietly worth a stream

What Happened To Monday? probably hasn’t gotten the big marketing push of some of its Netflix brethren because a sense of familiarity hangs over this film. Orphan Black already did the one-actor-several-roles thing. Dystopian futures with varying degrees of population control have been all over the mainstream (Hunger Games) and independent scene (Domain). Close, Defoe, and Rapace all have cache normally worth trumpeting (especially Rapace, given she’ll be co-starring in Bright with Smith), but you’d be hard-pressed to know this film hit the streaming service this week just by logging on. We didn’t even receive a press release, and Netflix has previously sent us notes for things like Last Chance U, something called Haters Back Off, and a Tony Robbins documentary (admittedly that last one sounded interesting).

Despite the lack of pre-release energy, What Happened To Monday? has plenty to enjoy, starting with its lead. Rapace never lets you consciously think about the CGI happening all around her. Despite the script relying on quick stereotypes (smart one, sporty one, rebel, etc.) to establish differences, Rapace plays all the sisters confidently. She inhabits the unique personalities for each in an understated way and avoids crossing the line into caricature. The film doesn’t place the actor in many logistically compromising situations, either, as the initial dinner scene feels like the only instance of seven. But even as the story progresses and the interactions between sisters grow more tense, the emotions and confrontations continue to feel real.

Rapace has plenty of opportunity to flex those old Girl With The Dragon Tattoo muscles, as well, because What Happened To Monday? delivers more unflinching action and gore than expected (the film would easily earn an R rating with a traditional release). Despite the near-future tech flourishes—the holo-interfaces, prevalent surveillance, perfected cryo-tech, etc.—the overall world is gray and run-down. Combined with some brutal violence and high-tension sequences, it places a layer of grim anxiety over much of the film. You may end up watching multiple passages through your fingers, usually in that “but I can’t look away, either” manner.

As her opposite, Close stays chillingly evil as Cayman, and she serves as another instance of what’s quickly becoming a new villain trope: the Silicon Valley-style prophet promising to fix the world through technology (see also Tilda Swinton in Okja or maybe Andrew Scott in Spectre).

“I think the most interesting villains in film are the villains who are kind of right. Their means are wrong and the way they’re doing it is wrong, but their worldview is kind of right,” Wirkola told The Verge. “Humans are very bad at making hard decisions and planning for the future, so in many ways Glenn Close’s character is right. But of course, what she’s doing is very wrong.”

Ostensibly, the film nods to worries about climate change and diminishing resources—or maybe it encourages embracing individuality. But What Happened to Monday? reveals itself to actually be more about the dangers of blind faith in tech, propaganda, or the will of deceitful and oppressive regimes to do anything to preserve perception and message. While made well in advance of our current geopolitical climate (the script, originally focused on brothers, made rounds all the way back in 2010), such underlying topics could have certainly merited some promotion and warranted fan interest on their own.

But, again, creating a good (aka critically beloved) movie seems to be more of a priority for Netflix when it invests in a project from the start. As a pure distributor, things like building its library in specific ways (more dystopian sci-fi, check), connecting with young directors and stars that may become future collaborators (Rapace, Wirkola, check), and establishing itself as a major player during events like TIFF instead appear to reign supreme. You could say the formula applied to recent acquisition hits like The Incredible Jessica James (a rom-com, with former Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams, purchased at Sundance), too.

So we’ll tell you about What Happened To Monday? because it’s fun enough for genre fans despite some imperfections and familiarity. But we’ll also continue keep an eagle eye on Netflix’s quiet-yet-obvious quest for critics’-darling status in the streaming world.

Listing image by Netflix

The next Pokémon Go? Star Wars unveils huge augmented-reality game based on ‘Last Jedi’ film

If it can work for Pokémon, then why not for the world of Obi-Wan?

An augmented-reality experience as real-world physical hunt is being rolled out next month by another global entertainment franchise, with the next Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, on the near horizon.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ to feature new Asian female character

Last summer, as the AR scavenger hunt from Pikachu’s universe exploded – spurring a US$7.5 billion market-value surge for maker Nintendo – what’s to keep the Comcasts and Apples and Amazons and Disneys of the world from making our naturally 3D world the exciting new area of augmented exploration on a scale as massive as Pokémon Go?

The short answer from Disney is apparently nothing. It is unveiling its promotional stunt of a free “treasure hunt” on a rather massive scale, the company announced last week.

As the first wave of Last Jedi merchandise lands on September 1 (aka “Force Friday II”), the Find the Force AR game – involving about 20,000 stores in 30 countries – will let participants hunt down 15 Star Wars characters, two are which are new.

Beijing’s ban puts stop to Pokemon Go in China

To play, fans need to download the Star Wars smartphone app, head to one of a fleet of participating stores and uncover potentially talking virtual characters by pointing the phone at the Find the Force placard.

The app encourages social-media sharing of your character experiences, with the big carrot urging that you share being a sweepstakes contest that closes September 3.

“We are excited that augmented reality will allow fans to experience the universe in a whole new way,” says Kathleen Kennedy, president of Disney-owned Lucasfilm.

Pokemon master arrives in Hong Kong on worldwide quest to complete his collection

The original Star Wars, of course, birthed the entire modern era of film tie-in merchandise four decades ago, so it’s only apt that this franchise is aiming to push the AR promotional game to a new level.

Plus, after the Force Awakens merchandising success of adorable new droid BB-8, Disney/Lucasfilm is now poised to capitalise on the introduction of furry new Last Jedi characters the Porgs – wet-eyed space puffins from Planet Ahch-To that appear to be ideal stocking stuffers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in the US on December 15, and some stores will participate in the game till then.

‘The Wizard of Oz’ Outdoors, an Addictive New Podcast, and the Return of Pokemon Go – /Film

The Wizard of Oz

Welcome to The Water Cooler, a weekly feature where the /Film staff is free to go off-topic and talk about everything except the movies and TV shows they normally write about. In this edition: Ben watches a cinematic classic outside, Brad picks up Pokemon Go again, Jacob falls in love with a podcast, Jack checks out Friends From College, Hoai-Tran indulges her K-pop obsession again, and Chris watches Ozark.

Ben Pearson Attended an Outdoor Screening of The Wizard of Oz

This past weekend, my wife and I went to an outdoor secret screening that a friend hosted in the backyard of her house. She set up a bunch of clues beforehand and had food that was themed appropriately for the movie so we could try to guess what we’d be watching, and after dinner, our friend revealed that the movie she was screening was The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 classic is my dad’s favorite movie (and one of the surviving Munchkins lived fairly close to us when I was a kid), so I watched it a lot when I was growing up. But it had probably been 15 years since I’d seen it, and after talking about it with my wife, we decided it might be the perfect choice for an outdoor summer night screening like this.

The Wizard of Oz is one of those movies that everyone should see, but it’s probably not in very many people’s regular rotation of things they just throw on to watch; I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t seen it in years. There were some kids there who I’m guessing hadn’t seen it at all, so even if it were just for them, that’d be a good enough reason to choose it. But it’s also a classic movie that holds up wonderfully, it’s lighthearted and uplifting in a time when we needed a release from our current political hellscape, and it’s easy to get lost in its vibrant, rich colors and swept away in its memorable songs.

Plus, who’s going to be pissed off at the idea of watching The Wizard of Oz? It’s an excellent choice, and it inspired me to refresh my memory about the movie’s fascinating production history – including the time the actress playing the Wicked Witch was horrifically burned during a stunt gone wrong. If you haven’t heard some of the stories about the making of this film, you should definitely check them out.

Pokemon Go

Ethan Anderton Has Been Completing Raids in Pokemon GO

All the rage surrounding Pokemon GO died down relatively quickly after the game became a huge hit last summer. Game developer Niantic didn’t keep the game interesting enough for an extended period of time and the gameplay got boring. Thankfully, ever since the disastrous Pokemon GO Fest in Chicago (which happened the same weekend as San Diego Comic-Con), the introduction of legendary Pokemon available in raid battles at the overhauled Pokemon gyms has reinvigorated the game and gotten players back outside to catch some powerful Pokemon.

In the weeks following Pokemon GO Fest, new legendary Pokemon have been released to the game. So far they’ve included Articuno, Moltres and Zapdos as companions to the Mystic, Valor and Instinct teams respectively within the game. Plus, the Pokemon bird Lugia has been part of the raid battles as well, introducing a new way for players to unite and cooperate to catch some powerful Pokemon. It’s made for a fun addition to the game that has gotten me to start playing way more often, and so far I’ve caught all the legendary birds (and I’ve picked up a Tyrannitar too, which is pretty great).

Plus, Pokemon GO shows no signs of slowing down their continued updates with raid battles, because the latest Pokemon GO event in Japan announced that Mewtwo will be coming to the game as part of an exclusive raid battle that players will have available to them sometime soon. In the meantime, all the legendary birds are available in the game until the end of August, so round up some friends and see if you can defeat and catch them.

Friends from College Trailer

Jack Giroux is Watching Friends From College

Friends from College is a very watchable show about mostly unlikable people. In spite of some problems, and almost in spite of itself, it works. After watching the first few episodes for the cast – somehow I missed the fact Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) co-created the series with Francesca Delbanco – I checked out the reviews. I was surprised and unsurprised by the overwhelming negative response to the new Netflix comedy, which is four hours of characters who are bound to turn a lot of people off. They are sometimes difficult to empathize with. I think going back and forth over the ensemble and their choices created a sense of engagement and a bit of honesty, which is sometimes overshadowed by a few plot turns and conflicts too broad for an otherwise grounded series.

The show isn’t without its laughs. It’s directed by the filmmaker behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets, so no real surprise there. Some of the humor, again, is a bit too broad, but with a cast like Cobbie Smoulders, Keegan-Michael Key, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage, Jae Suh Park, and Annie Parisse, many of the jokes hit their mark. The biggest laughs come from Greg Germann and Ike Barinholtz. Barinholtz makes one joke and facial expression that made me rewind more than once to watch it again (his clown laugh in Neighbors II: Sorority Rising made me do the same). He plays completely convincing and authentic jerks.

Friends from College can sometimes feel patted and long-winded, but there’s a lot to like in the unlikability of these characters. Their flaws are at the front and center of the show. Even when they’re at their worst, they can still earn empathy, especially Annie Parisse as Marianne. She’s fantastic.

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

New Mazinger Z film trailer debuts

Grandpa’s back. Tell a friend.

A new trailer for the upcoming Mazinger Z anime film was recently added to the official website for the movie. The new trailer contained footage that was shown off at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. A new key visual was also shown off as well.

The website has also been updated with a brief summary of the films story, which appears to be taking a different approach from most Mazinger Z reboots and spinoffs by skipping the events with Dr. Hell, effectively moving past origin story territory.

Humanity was once in danger of its downfall at the hands of the Underground Empire, which was led by the evil scientist Dr. Hell. Koji Kabuto piloted the super robot Mazinger Z, and with help from his friends at the Photon Power Laboratory, he thwarted Dr. Hell’s evil ambitions and returned peace to the world.
It’s been ten years since then… No longer a pilot, Koji Kabuto has taken after his father and grandfather by starting down the path of the scientist. He encounters a gigantic structure buried deep beneath Mt. Fuji, along with a mysterious indication of life…
New encounters, new threats, and a new fate await mankind. The former hero Koji Kabuto has a decision to make about the future: whether to be a god or a demon…
This grand action film depicts the fierce battle fought by the people and Mazinger Z–once again entrusted with the future of mankind!

The hero of the movie, Koji Kabuto, will be played by Showtaro Morikubo, who is the Japanese voice actor for Yosuke from Persona 4, Jak from Jak and Daxter, and Megaman X in Megaman X5 to X8. The heroine, Sayaka Yumi, will be played by Ai Kayano, who is the voice actress for Ayaha Oribi in Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Y’shtola in Final Fantasy XIV. The movie will be directed by Junji Shimizu, know for his work on numerous One Piece episodes and movies. The mechanic designs are being handled by Takayuki Yanase, whose was the mecha designer for Metal Gear Solid 4, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Ichiro Mizuki, who sung the theme song for the original show, will be returning to the franchise for the film’s opening theme song. The film’s music will be composed by Toshiyuki Watanabe, who worked on the music for Shenmue II and Sailor Moon R.

Mazinger Z: The Movie is being created in order to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the original manga and anime. Since it’s debut, the series, which introduced and popularized the concept of putting the pilot in the mech, has gone on to become a massive influence in anime and the mecha genre as a whole, where it’s influence is still felt to this day in works such as Pacific Rim. The series also has a constant spot in the roster of Bandai Namco’s Super Robot Wars franchise, where it’s Shin and Zero incarnations appeared this year in Super Robot Wars V. 

The film will have a worldwide premiere outside of Japan, before it premieres in Japan. The date and location of the premiere will be announced at a later date.

New Mazinger Z Film’s Trailer Previews Animation [AnimeNewsNetwork]

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Star Wars Han Solo film directors leave, citing “creative differences”


The directors of the upcoming Star Wars Han Solo spin-off have abandoned the project halfway through production. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller—whose directorial credits include The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street—have cited “creative differences” for leaving the production, which stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young version of Han Solo.

“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project,” Lord and Miller said in a statement. “We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”

“Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented film-makers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “But it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways.”

Lord and Miller signed up to direct the Han Solo spin-off in 2015. Filming of the as-yet-untitled (but codenamed “Red Cup“) movie began at London’s Pinewood Studios in February. While no replacement director has been named, the film is reportedly still on track for its May 25, 2018 release.

Lord and Miller’s tongue-in-cheek sensibility was largely the reason they were hired for the project, according to a report by Variety. However, the pair faced conflicts with Producer Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer and Executive Producer Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the scripts for Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens. The directors did not leave voluntarily but were fired by Lucasfilm, the report claims.

“Miller and Lord were stunned to find that they were not being granted freedom to run the production in the manner that they were accustomed to. They balked at Kennedy’s tight control on the set,” reads the Variety report. “Kennedy did not approve of their shooting style and process of interacting with actors and crew. They weren’t given the leeway to do what they had to do.”

A report by Deadline claims Ron Howard has emerged as a front-runner to replace Lord and Miller.

This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Warner Brothers, “Band Aid” Co-Producer Joins Grand Theft Auto V Actress to Produce Film “Born That Way”

Warner Brothers, “Band Aid” Co-Producer Joins Grand Theft Auto V Actress to Produce Film “Born That Way”

Grand Theft Auto V actress Michal Sinnott has attached Warner Brothers producer and initial round of funding for her feature film in development, Born That Way.

New York, NY, June 08, 2017 –(– Grand Theft Auto V actress Michal Sinnott has attached Warner Brothers producer Kristen Murtha for her feature film in development, “Born That Way.”

Kristen Murtha joins film “Born That Way” with experience producing for Warner Brothers, working for DreamWorks, and most recently as associate producer for the 2017 Lego movie and co-producer for Sundance-acclaimed Zoe Lister-Jones film “Band Aid.”

“The ‘Born That Way’ script was unlike anything I’d read before. It’s unique and beautiful, and presents some interesting challenges as a producer. Simultaneously, it presents opportunities to make something no one has ever seen,” says Kristen about “Born That Way.”

Described by Michal as a “A Magical Realist Present Day Fable For The People,” “Born That Way” explores parallel realities, human connection, and gender through a combination of live-action and animation.

“The story deals with our connectedness to each other, to the earth and to animals – we tackle a lot of heavy stuff, but the animation gives that heaviness levity,” says Michal.

Acting for the screen and stage since age 7, Michal is known for her role as Tracey De Santa in Grand Theft Auto V. A passionate world traveler, Michal co-wrote “Born That Way” with best friend Mary M. Parr on a 6 day USA cross country road trip.

With initial investment from private investors Dina and Fred Clements and Dyna Drones, Michal is meeting with directors and actors to round out the “Born That Way team.”

Filming for “Born That Way” will begin in 2017 in Tanzania, Africa, and will continue on location in New York City in 2018.

Kristen’s producing experience with “Band Aid” will bring unique opportunities for a diverse production crew for “Born That Way.”

“Working on ‘Band Aid’ has been the highlight of my career to date. Being surrounded by strong, capable women under the leadership of the powerhouse that is Zoe Lister-Jones was an incredibly empowering experience,” says Kristen.

Also joining the “Born That Way” team as Co-Executive Producer is Emmy and Gemini Award winning creator, writer, and story consultant Rob Travalino. Rob brings 2 decades of experience producing for DreamWorks, Disney, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, and Sega of America.

“‘Born That Way’ is an incredibly timely story with a fascinating approach to its telling. And Michal is full of passion and is surrounded by people who believe in her,” says Kristen.

Please reach out to Alana Maiello at for press inquiries.