Sony Pictures announces additional cast for ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’

Culver City, CA, February 11, 2016 – Sony Pictures Animation today announced the addition of three new cast for the lineup of talent in the next Smurf adventure “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” hitting theaters March 31, 2017 (including the Philippines).

Joining the already announced Demi Lovato as Smurfette, Rainn Wilson as Gargamel and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf will be: triple Emmy nominee Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock,” “Wreck-It Ralph”) as the sweet, awkward and honest-to-a-fault Clumsy, who’s forever trying his best and missing the mark; Danny Pudi (“Community”) as book smart and geek proud Brainy, who’s long on knowledge, but short on inter-Smurf-onal skills; and Joe Manganiello (“True Blood,” “Magic Mike”) as the strong and super-positive Hefty, a loyal dynamo struggling with his hero complex.

Clumsy (voiced by Jack McBrayer), Hefty (Joe Manganiello, center) and Brainy (Danny Pudi, with glasses) in “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” which arrives in theaters in March 2017. (Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures)
Clumsy (voiced by Jack McBrayer), Hefty (Joe Manganiello, center) and Brainy (Danny Pudi, with glasses) in “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” which arrives in theaters in March 2017. (Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures)

The newest entry in the Columbia Pictures movie franchise that has grossed more than $900 million globally, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is set for a worldwide release on March 31, 2017. The fully-animated return to the tone and style of the beloved comic book creations of Peyo is directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2,” “Gnomeo & Juliet”), produced by Jordan Kerner (“Charlotte’s Web,” “The Smurfs”) and co-produced by Mary Ellen Bauder (“Hotel Transylvania”), and executive produced by Raja Gosnell and Ben Waisbren.

It seems to Smurfette that everyone else in the Village has a purpose — Papa Smurf (leading), Baker Smurf (baking), even Grouchy Smurf (grouching) — except for her. So what’s the only girl in the village to do? Go in search of hers, of course! When she accidentally crosses paths with a mysterious creature that takes off into the Enchanted Forest, she follows, and sets off into the uncharted and strictly forbidden woods.

Joined by her brothers Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy — and with the evil wizard Gargamel shadowing their every step — Team Smurf undertakes a wild journey full of action, danger and discovery, setting them on a course that leads to the biggest mystery in Smurf history!

Opening across the Philippines on March 2017, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” will be distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

‘Game of Thrones’ star Natalie Dormer bound to ‘The Forest’

British actress Natalie Dormer has parlayed her huge popularity for playing the devious seductress, Margaery Tyrell, on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” into a blossoming career in the big screen. Following her stint in “The Hunger Games” franchise, she now takes the lead in Columbia Pictures’ new terrifying horror-thriller, “The Forest.”

In the film, a young American woman, Sara (Dormer), journeys to Japan’s Aokigahara Forest in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. In the company of expatriate Aiden (Taylor Kinney), Sara enters the forest having been well warned to “stay on the path.” Determined to discover the truth about her sister’s fate, Sara will have to face the angry and tormented souls of the dead that prey on anyone who dares come near them. These malevolent spirits lying in wait for Sara at every turn will plunge her into a frightening darkness from which she must fight to save herself.

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Dormer is no stranger to playing elusive characters, vacillating between angel and demon with her other roles like Margaery, Anne Boleyn in “The Tudors” and recently with Cressida in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.” Sara and her twin sister possess no shortage of complexities, and the film manifests them in terrifying and shocking ways. As Dormer puts it, “It’s a smart-thinking person’s horror movie.”

In the following interview, Dormer opens up about why she’s drawn to characters with demons, embodying women who are warriors and the physical and psychological impact of taking on a horror film.

Q: You’ve played characters that are somehow both good and evil. And we see this once again with your characters in “The Forest.” Was that something that drew you to the script?

Natalie Dormer: I love the idea that the central relationship in the movie was the love of two sisters—especially in a genre movie. They’re just textbook examples of how a human being, when they’ve suffered trauma as a child, can go in polar opposite directions. There’s [Jess], the wild child, who goes crazy and then [Sara], the girl who becomes the over-achiever, the suppressor, the control freak. I found that so fascinating—exploring that idea. And the great concept that drew me in the script—that a forest would hold your own demons up to yourself—that you actually, as a character in the piece says, do it to yourself. [Sara] hasn’t processed everything that she’s carrying and repressing. We could all see ourselves traveling half way across the world for someone we love. We all have baggage and history that we’re not proud of. Imagine going into a place where that gets thrown back into your face. Then, hopefully, you’ve got a horror movie that people who don’t normally like horror movies will want to go and watch. Then you’ve got the bang and the scares for the die-hards who love the genre as well.

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Q: You went to this forest. When you were there, as Natalie, were you imagining things? Was it creepy?

Dormer: For me, I felt more sad—philosophical more than anything. You see the tape, the ropes around the trees as you start driving ever closer. You realize—this is a real thing. It’s horrific to think that people are in such pain that they make that decision. I found it a really pensive, philosophical experience as opposed to anything else. It’s a sacred place to the Japanese. It has the light and the dark. It’s a very spiritual place. I found it fascinating that such a location exists.

Q: This is such a physical character. Did you do any preparation? You’re running between trees and falling in holes!

Dormer: I’m quite an active person. Thank God I run! Running in a horror movie is like doing interval training, you know? It is a bit like cross fit! Run up and down the room 10 times as you re-set for the take. My body didn’t go into shock when the cardiovascular element of it started. And yeah, because you’re playing heightened-tension, someone who’s got an awful lot of adrenaline running through them, you just make sure you do your yoga every now and then because your muscles hold that tension and you need to let it go at the end of the day. I sat in the sauna a lot! It was Serbia, the Eastern European continent, so they love their saunas and their steam rooms in that part of the world!

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Q: The film deals with this idea of demons. I look at the other roles you’ve played, Anne Boleyn, Margaery on GOT. Do you feel like they have demons, too? Why are you drawn to these people?

Dormer: Because we all do! There’s three-dimensional characterization, which is what we need in drama. The whole point of drama is that it cathartically helps us vent our own lives. Maybe people don’t realize that’s what they’re doing, when they turn on the telly or they pick up a book or they go to the movie theater. Yes, it’s escapism, but you have to identify with it on some emotional, human level—otherwise you wouldn’t be engaged with it. So, for me, it’s all of those characters, great three-dimensional fleshed-out characters who are struggling with love, loss, sacrifice, pain and often very contradictory characters. I like to play characters who are contradictory because, in real life, we’re contradictory.

Opening across the Philippines on February 17, 2016, “The Forest” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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Academy Award-nominated film ‘Room’ opens Feb 17 in PH

The highly-acclaimed tearjerker film “Room” where the audience rooted for the mother and son’s chance at freedom who were imprisoned in a sound-proof shed for seven years will now open in local cinemas on February 17.

Based on the international bestselling book written by Emma Donoghue of the same title, director Lenny Abrahamson brings the highly suspenseful and emotional story “Room” to the big screen. “Room” is a unique and unexpectedly tender exploration of the boundless love between a mother and her child under the most harrowing of circumstances.

“Room” tells the extraordinary story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay in a breakout performance), a spirited 5 year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted Ma (Brie Larson, who won Best Actess in this year’s Golden Globe Awards for here performance in the movie). Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical—they are trapped—confined to a windowless, 10-by-10-foot space, which Ma has euphemistically named “Room.” Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack’s curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma’s resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world. “Room” also stars three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award® nominee William H. Macy.

Director Lenny Abrahamson remains faithful to the novel while bringing Jack, Ma and their entirely singular world to heart-pounding and intensely cinematic life. “Room” demonstrates the triumphant power of familial love even in the darkest of circumstances, and is sure to take its place among the most emotionally affecting films to ever explore the bond between parents and children.

The New York Times hailed Donoghue’s novel as ‘one of the pure triumphs of recent fiction… palm-sweatingly harrowing’, while Time called it ‘a feat of infectious claustrophobia’; the Irish Times described it as ‘part childhood adventure story, part adult thriller… above all the most vivid, radiant and beautiful expression of maternal love’.

Abrahamson, says ‘Room’ is an extraordinary novel – deeply original, harrowing, full of moments of almost unbearable tension, but also – and this is what is so special about it – profoundly life-affirming. From the moment I read it I wanted to make it for the screen and so I am truly delighted to be working with Emma on the film adaptation.’

Emma Donoghue, who lives in Canada, began writing the screenplay as soon as Room (her seventh novel) was published. She is overjoyed to be making the film with her fellow Dubliners Abrahamson and Guiney. ‘It wasn’t just Lenny’s award-winning, impeccably honest films that won me over, but a ten-page letter he sent me, describing with passionate intelligence his vision of how to translate my novel into cinema. As an Irish company with strong international relationships, Element has a track record of combining artistic integrity and commercial appeal, which gives me confidence that “Room” is going to be something very special.’

Get your tissues ready for a unique bonding experience when “Room” opens February 17, 2016 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.

Jason Bateman lends voice to con artist fox in ‘Zootopia’

Nick Wilde is a very charming and very sly small-time, con-artist fox with a big mouth and a lot of opinions. Golden Globe-winning actor Jason Bateman (TV’s “Arrested Development,” “Horrible Bosses”) provides the voice of Nick Wilde in Disney’s new comedy adventure “Zootopia.”

In the film, Zootopia is a place where no matter what you are—from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew—you can be anything. But when rookie officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with Nick Wilde—a fast-talking, scam-artist fox—to solve a mystery.

“He’s a complete cynic,” says director Byron Howard of Nick. “He’s the opposite of Judy. She grew up in the country—he grew up in the city. He is very much a pragmatist. He doesn’t care what the city motto is, he does not think anyone can be anything.”

Adds director Rich Moore, “Nick believes that we are what we are and that’s all we’ll ever be. He believes deep down that no one will ever trust him because he’s a fox.”

Jason Bateman was called on to give voice to the sly fox. “Nick isn’t exactly a nice guy,” says Jared Bush, co-director and one of the screenwriters. “But Jason Bateman somehow makes him likable, appealing and oddly charming. Nick is cynical and hilarious in a Jason Bateman kind of way.”

“Nick is sarcastic with a lot of dry wit,” says Bateman. “I’ve done a bit of that kind of acting before so I guess that’s why they called me.”

According to producer Clark Spencer, it was Bateman’s ability to be simultaneously sarcastic and likable that drew filmmakers to him. “He’s charming as a person and that really comes across in his voice,” says Spencer. “He can deliver the harshest line—Nick likes to put Judy in her place—but do it in a way that doesn’t alienate the character from the audience. It’s extraordinary.”

Bateman says acting in an animated film was a unique experience. “It’s a completely different process,” he says. “I just tried to give them as many options as I could dream up—different ways to say each line. The filmmakers make the cocktail later.

“It’s honestly an honor to be a part of a Disney film,” continues Bateman. “They’re the only films I get to see nowadays because I’ve got two little girls, 8 and 3, so I’ve become a big fan. I’ve enjoyed watching the evolution of animation.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 17, 2016, “Zootopia” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #ZootopiaPH.

LIST: 10 upcoming Disney movies in 2016

Coming off an undisputed blockbuster 2015 – when practically every movie it released was a box-office hit — Walt Disney Studios Philippines has just announced that will roll out ten films in 2016, led by the charming animated feature “Zootopia,” Marvel’s super hero collision “Captain America: Civil War,” Pixar’s eagerly awaited sequel, “Finding Dory” and Lucasfilm’s first anthology entry, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

Zootopia (February 17)

From the directors of “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph” comes this new comedy adventure. Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), the very first bunny on Zootopia’s police force, jumps at the opportunity to crack her first case—even if it means partnering with fast-talking, scam-artist fox Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman) to solve the mystery.

The Finest Hours (March 2)

This heroic action-thriller is the remarkable true story of the most daring rescue mission in the history of the Coast Guard. Presented in Digital 3D™, and starring Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Eric Bana, the film will transport audiences to the heart of the action, creating a fully immersive cinematic experience on an epic scale.

The Jungle Book (April 7)

Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised in the jungle by a family of wolves, who embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery when he’s forced to abandon the only home he’s ever known.

Captain America: Civil War (April 27)

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (May 26)

An all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).

Finding Dory (July 20)

This animated adventure reunites everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, Dory, with her friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale? Directed by Andrew Stanton, the film features the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton. (Opens July 20)

The BFG (August 10)

The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers – Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg – finally unite to bring Dahl’s beloved classic “The BFG” to life. Directed by Spielberg, Disney’s “The BFG” tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country.

Doctor Strange (November 4)

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” follows the story of neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions. The film will show audiences corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe never before explored, thanks to director Scott Derrickson.

Moana (November 30)

Native Hawaiian newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, 14, joins Dwayne Johnson in this big-screen adventure about a spirited and fearless teenager named Moana (voice of Cravalho) who, with help from demi-god Maui (voice of Johnson), sets out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)

The first entry in Lucasfilm’s new standalone Star Wars stories series, “Rogue One” tells the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) and produced by Kathleen Kennedy. The stellar cast is led by Oscar-nominee Felicity Jones.