WATCH: Announcement trailer for ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’

The “announcement” trailer and one-sheet art for Warner Bros. Pictures’ new animated comedy “The LEGO Batman Movie” have been released by the studio. The trailer may be viewed below.

In the irreverent spirit of fun that made “The LEGO® Movie” a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.

Will Arnett returns to voice the Gotham vigilante in the satirical spin on the classic comic book character for director Chris McKay. The screenplay is written by Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer”).

The film also stars Michael Cera as Batman’s sidekick Robin, Rosario Dawson as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, and Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth and Mariah Carey as the Mayor of Gotham.

Opening across the Philippines on February 9, 2017, “The Lego Batman Movie” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Father and son on the run in supernatural thriller ‘Midnight Special’

A father and his son who may have otherworldly powers are on the run from the government in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Midnight Special,” at once a supernatural thriller and an enigmatic and thought-provoking journey into the unknown…and the unknowable.

In “Midnight Special,” a father (Michael Shannon), goes on the run to protect his young son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), and uncover the truth behind the boy’s special powers. What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Ultimately his father risks everything to protect Alton and help fulfill a destiny that could change the world forever, in this genre–defying film as supernatural as it is intimately human.

“I wanted to make a chase movie, a movie about guys moving on back roads through the American South in a fast car, driving at night with their lights off,” says writer/director Jeff Nichols, setting the stage for characters embarking on a collision course with something bigger than they imagine. “They’re on the run, they’re being hunted and, at the same time, they’re racing towards something important, though we don’t immediately know what it is.”

But what appears on its face as an urgent but straightforward pursuit soon reveals layers of depth and a mystifying, otherworldly tenor. As the relationships between the fugitives and their pursuers come into sharper focus, the audience is taken along on an adventure the nature and magnitude of which they can only guess. Says Nichols, “I often compare this film to the reverse of one of those Russian nesting dolls, which start out large and open up multiple times to produce smaller and smaller versions until you get down to the core. This starts with a kind of indie feel, where you’re on the road with these guys, and then it gets progressively bigger and bigger until it falls off the edges of the frame.”

Traveling with Alton are his father, Roy, played by Michael Shannon, and Roy’s childhood friend Lucas, played by Joel Edgerton. Along the way they enlist the support of Alton’s mother, Sarah, played by Kirsten Dunst. Committed to help Alton fulfill his destiny, they will leave behind the lives they knew and do things they never thought possible in a race towards a destination and an appointment that calls only to him. Barely a step behind are the police and the FBI, as well as the NSA, in the form of agent Sevier, played by Adam Driver, and the single-minded devotees of the Third Heaven Ranch, led by Sam Shepard as the charismatic and cagey Calvin.

Nichols, who cites the mood and style of such 1980s sci-fi classics as “Starman” among his artistic influences and inspirations, says, “There’s the suggestion that Alton is meant for something or somewhere else, that his powers are symptoms of what he’s meant to do. As he starts to understand what his abilities are and take control of them, he starts to get healthier and better, whereas when his father tries to control them, for Alton’s own sake, it actually makes him sicker. Roy and Lucas don’t understand his capabilities. And we as the audience aren’t supposed to understand them, either. In one way that’s a metaphor for the fact that our kids are going to be who they are and we just have to have faith in that and let them go.”

In a larger sense, “This is about belief in something you don’t understand,” Nichols continues, insofar as the story explores the nature of faith in its many forms, and the lengths to which people will go for what that means to them. “What would you do if you knew your child was bound for somewhere you couldn’t go?”

“Midnight Special” will be shown exclusively at Century City Cinemas, Commercenter Cinemas, Eastwood Cinemas, Festival Mall and Shang Cineplex starting April 20, 2016. The film is distributed in the Philipines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Scarlett Johansson tempts as Python, Kaa in ‘The Jungle Book’

With only her voice, Scarlett Johansson made people madly fall in love with their computer’s operating system in the futuristic drama “Her.” Now, Johansson once again uses her voice to capture hearts in Disney’s new family adventure “The Jungle Book,” based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film.

Johansson provides the voice of Kaa sets her sights on Mowgli when she discovers him all alone in the jungle. The massive python uses her seductive voice and hypnotic gaze to entrance the man-cub, and Mowgli finds himself unable to resist her captivating embrace.

Says director Jon Favreau, “Mowgli is exploring different regions of the jungle—mistier, darker, more mysterious parts of the jungle. That’s where Kaa lives. That’s where she gets ahold of him—till Baloo rescues him and brings him back to his cave.”

The director says one of his most prominent memories of the 1967 animated movie was the snake. “I always remembered Kaa’s hypnotic eyes with the spinning pinwheels,” he says.

Though Favreau wanted to maintain the spirit of the character, he decided to change its gender. “All the roles were male in the 1967 version, so I thought that there was an opportunity with Kaa to mix things up a little bit,” says Favreau, who called on Johansson to help bring the seductive snake to life.

“The Jungle Book” marks Johansson’s third collaboration with Favreau. She originated the role of Black Widow in “Iron Man 2,” and co-starred in Favreau’s indie hit “Chef.” “I remember seeing the movie ‘Her,’ and what an impact Scarlett made by just using her voice,” says the director. “She has such a presence to her voice.”

Says Johansson, “Ever since I was really young, I’ve loved doing voice work. Actors have different tools—our physical selves, our voices. When you take one of those away you become hyperaware of all kinds of tendencies. It’s an interesting process and sometimes you get these happy accidents and ornaments that decorate the performance. It’s an exciting way to work and dig deeper.

“For me,” continues Johansson, “the opportunity to play Kaa as envisioned by Jon [Favreau] was so exciting. The snake from the animated film is a boy. He’s a friendlier, goofier version of the character. In this film, Kaa seduces and entraps Mowgli with her storytelling—her voice. She’s the mirror into Mowgli’s past. It was thrilling to reinvent this character in this rendering of the story.”

The character is designed to be intimidating, yet believable. “I saw a bit of Kaa early on during the production,” says Johansson. “It was important for me to see how she looks in proportion to Mowgli to help inform the presence and intensity of my voice. I had one tool—my voice—so it would’ve been very difficult without some sort of pre-visual reference.

“Kaa is magnificent,” continues Johansson. “The way that she moves is very alluring, almost coquettish. The audience will see this creature through the innocent eyes of this small boy Mowgli—they’ll become part of his world.”

Johansson has vivid memories of the 1967 version of “The Jungle Book.” “I remember that soundtrack well—it was so popular when I was a kid. ‘Bare Necessities’ was on constant repeat for every kid my age. And the idea of this jungle kid being raised by animals was just fantastic.

“I think little kids can relate to the theme of finding your family—of discovering what it means to be a family,” continues the actress. “The definition of family is such a personal one and families come in all shapes and sizes. But ultimately, family is made up of the people around you who love you unconditionally.”

“The Jungle Book” is an all-new, live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on Thursday, April 7, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures 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 #JungleBookPH.

’10 Cloverfield Lane’ reveals international poster

Paramount Pictures has just revealed the stunning, international payoff poster of producer J.J. Abrams’ “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

Described as a “blood relative” to the 2007 smash hit “Cloverfield,” the new film stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. The official synopsis only reads, “Monsters come in many forms.”

Dan Trachtenberg directs “10 Cloverfield Lane” from a screenplay by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken. Describing the film to Empire Magazine, Trachtenberg says, “It’s a mystery/suspense thriller. If we were in the time of Alfred Hitchcock, he would be calling this ‘a suspense picture’. It very much harkens back to that kind of movie. For me it’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s visceral and exciting and thrilling. It’s all of those things.”

Opening across the Philippines on April 6, 2016, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.