‘Beauty and the Beast’ makes P541.67-M in 11 days, now PH’s 6th highest-grossing film

MANILA, March 27, 2017 – Disney’s live-action fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” dazzled again at No.1 on its second weekend at the box-office, grossing with a massive P541.67-M in just 11 days. This figure puts it at sixth place in the rankings of all-time highest-grossing movies in the Philippine industry. This was announced today by a spokesman of Walt Disney Studios Philippines.

With interest and theater attendance for the film still at a high point, “Beauty and the Beast” is poised to surpass more records in the days to come.

“Beauty and the Beast” is now playing in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D cinemas across the Philippines.

About Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within.

The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

A whole new world awaits in ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’

Columbia Pictures Animation’s Smurfs: The Lost Village, the fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!

Featuring the voices of Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, with Mandy Patinkin and Julia Roberts. Directed by Kelly Asbury. Produced by Jordan Kerner and Mary Ellen Bauder Andrews. Written by Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon. Based on the characters and works of Peyo. Executive producers are Raja Gosnell and Ben Waisbren. Music by Christopher Lennertz. Imagery and Animation by Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. Featuring “I’m a Lady” performed by Meghan Trainor.

For Smurfs: The Lost Village, the filmmakers went back to the drawing board to rediscover the classic, magical look of the Smurfs. “We went through the early comic books and studied the work of Peyo to try to find a visual look for the movie that honored the origins of the Smurfs and how they really look,” says Kelly Asbury, the film’s director. Asbury previously directed the hits Shrek 2 and Gnomeo and Juliet. “That was important to how we conceived each location, the look, the design of the Smurfs themselves, their mushroom houses, the colors.”

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 film is loaded with fun as the filmmakers take the Smurfs into the vibrant, exciting, and dangerous world of the Forbidden Forest. “It’s a land they’ve never experienced before – it’s beautiful but full of surprises, dangers, and fun,” says Asbury. “Dragonflies – real fire-breathing dragons that are fun and happy until you make them mad. Flowers that look and smell beautiful but will eat you if you’re not careful. Kissing plants that assault you with kisses.”

Asbury says that the familiar world of Smurf Village and the new worlds created for the film all have the same original inspiration: Peyo – the Belgian artist Pierre Culliford who created the Smurfs back in 1958.. “Peyo’s work has a buoyance and a lightness of being. There was an effortlessness to the way he drew,” Asbury explains. “For the Forbidden Forest and the Lost Village, we wanted it to feel like something that the audience was experiencing with the Smurfs for the first time, but it had to feel like a part of the Smurfs’ world. Darker colors, deeper colors, rich shadows, lots of lush, unusual colored foliage, glow-in-the-dark plants, animals, bugs – all these things were different – but it had the Peyo shapes and language in common.”

Brainy (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Smurfette (Demi Lovato) and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) embark on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest in Sony Pictures Animation’s fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs.

The filmmakers also rethought the humor for the film. “We wanted adults and kids to laugh together at the humor, the way they do at the Peyo comics, rather than to have different kinds of jokes – double-entendre humor for the adults and something else for the kids,” says Asbury. “Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges – everybody laughs at these types of gags and that kind of humor, and that’s what we tried to imbue into the movie –timeless with a new twist on it.”

Of course, as funny as the movie is, the Smurfs have always stood for the timeless ideas of harmony and peace, and that was not lost on the director. “The message of the movie is really one of teamwork,” says Asbury. “It takes a Smurf Village, if you will, individually and together, to bring everyone together to act as one. It’s about accepting each other’s differences and complementing each other for the greater good. I think that’s a universal message and one that is pertinent today.”

Opening across the Philippines on Friday, March 31, Smurfs: The Lost Village is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Marvel Studios founder Avi Arad produces ‘Ghost in the Shell’

As the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and founder of Marvel Studios, Avi Arad has been a driving force behind bringing many of Marvel’s most famous comic book characters to the screen, with a track record that has been nothing short of spectacular, including a string of No. 1 box office openings.

As a producer or executive producer, his credits include Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man (Columbia Pictures); X-Men, X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand (Twentieth Century Fox) and Iron Man (Paramount Pictures).

Now, Arad produces the much anticipated big-screen adaptation of the popular manga, Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson.

In the near future, Major (Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others.

Over the past three decades the popularity of Ghost in the Shell has continued to grow as its central themes have become more pertinent. “It’s a cautionary tale about technology,” says producer Avi Arad. “Ghost in the Shell raises interesting philosophical questions in a futuristic setting, but it also happens to be relevant to issues we face right now. It’s about what defines us as individuals — our history versus our actions. And it does all that in the context of a big, exciting action film.”

The film began its long journey to the screen, when Avi Arad pitched the project to Steven Spielberg — with help from an unexpected source. “I ran into Steven and his young daughter on the beach in Malibu,” he recounts. “She knew everything you can imagine about Ghost in the Shell. She did the pitch for me. That started the ball rolling.”

In 2008, Spielberg and DreamWorks acquired the rights to make the first live-action version of Ghost in the Shell, with Avi Arad, Ari Arad, Steven Paul and Michael Costigan as producers, and Tetsu Fujimura, Yoshinobu Noma, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Jeffrey Silver as executive producers. Almost eight years of painstaking efforts to get the right script, director and star would follow.

To helm the ambitious project, the producers selected British director Rupert Sanders, best known for his dark action epic, Snow White and the Huntsman. “Rupert Sanders is a visionary,” says Avi Arad. “He always loved the project and he knew how important it could be. Rupert’s love for art and storytelling made him the perfect director for this.”

Arad also notes that of all the film’s characters, Major is the one whose life has been transformed the most by technology. “She revels in being the most extraordinary person in the world, but at the same time you get a real sense of the weight that she carries. Scarlett [Johansson] perfectly captures Major’s emotion, humor and intensity.”

Ultimately, Ghost in the Shell is a story about how people may have to change to survive in the future, according to Arad. “Technology is already penetrating our lives in different ways. Here we are literally mixing man and machine together. But however little of Major’s original physical self is left, she is still profoundly human. Rather than a story about fearing the future, it is a film about finding a way through a complicated future.”

Opening across the Philippines on March 29, Ghost in the Shell is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

‘Ghost in the Shell’ film villain Kuze, a composite of manga characters

American actor Michael Carmen Pitt (HBO’s Boadwalk Empire, TV’s Hannibal) oozes not just menace and rage, but also vulnerability, in Paramount Pictures’ Ghost in the Shell, the live-action adaptation of the internally acclaimed Japanese manga.

In the film, Kuze is the mastermind behind a bold attack on a high-ranking Hanka Corporation executive. A brilliant hacker out for revenge against the people he believes have wronged him, Kuze is willing to sacrifice anyone who gets in his way.

“Michael Carmen Pitt is a true artist,” says director Rupert Sanders. “I’ve known him for many years as a friend. He’s very independent minded and exists solely in that artist’s world.”

Pitt says he appreciated the ambitious nature of the project and the enduring relevance of the source material. “The manga has been extremely influential in Hollywood movies, graphic art, tattooing and industrial music,” says Pitt. “I saw the first animated film on VHS when I was maybe 14 or 15 years old. I had never seen anything like it. While I was preparing, I re-watched the original film and was really surprised by how current it still is. The world is complicated, scary, extremely exciting and full of evil and full of good — like the world we live in.”

Kuze is a composite character drawn from several elements of the Ghost in the Shell universe that served as a jumping off point for an intriguing, challenging antagonist for Major. “Is he truly a villain?” asks Pitt. “I don’t know. That’s one of the unique and interesting things about the script. I worked a lot on how he would speak and made some rules for myself about the way he could move. I wrote pages and pages and pages of backstory. He is such a strange character that I just didn’t know any other way to do it.”

Pitt arrived on set fully immersed in the physicality and violence of the character, according to Sanders. “By the time he started filming, he’d been eating raw food for months. He was doing boxing and Pilates every day. Not only was he whippet thin and ripped, he had developed a very in-depth character. He built himself a little house in a shipping container on the back lot, where he had a punching bag and an ashtray. He filled notebooks with painting after painting after painting about Kuze. It’s a master class watching him.”

Audiences may be startled by Pitt’s transformation, warns producer Jeffrey Silver. “Michael brings a phenomenal depth to Kuze. You’re not quite sure what he is. He alters the pitch of his voice, his eyes, his hair – everything about him is on the edge.”

Pitt’s hope for the film is that it will be an entertaining and exciting movie that also touches the audience. “It has the potential to move people because it’s about someone who is figuring out who she is, what it means to be human, and then ultimately deciding to fight for that humanity.”

Opening today across the Philippines, Ghost in the Shell is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.