James Wan expands ‘The Conjuring’ universe with ‘Annabelle: Creation’

Regarded as one of the most creative filmmakers working today, James Wan expands “The Conjuring” Universe with the second chapter in the Annabelle series – New Line Cinema’s “Annabelle: Creation” (in Philippine theaters August 23, 2017).

(Watch the newly released “Toy Gun” Clip from “Annabelle: Creation” below.)

Produced by Wan and directed by David F. Sandberg (“Lights Out”), “Annabelle: Creation” is the follow up to 2014’s hugely successful “Annabelle.” In the new film, several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll maker and his wife welcome a nun and six girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home. They soon become the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

“When I was directing the first ‘Conjuring’ and we were designing the Warrens’ haunted artifact room, I remember between myself, the studio and the producers, we all kind of looked at each other and said, ‘You know, it would be incredible if we could tell the stories of each of these objects,’” Wan recalls, referring to the collection the couple had confiscated over their years of paranormal investigation.

“Even then, we felt that giving Annabelle that prologue opening was cool, but we sensed she had a lot more stories to tell,” Wan continues. “Every time that doll appeared on screen for just those few minutes, people shifted in their seats. Audiences react to her.”

Wan was thrilled with the manner in which Sandberg embraced and enhanced the horror-verse he began. “David has given this film a very classic period look that takes it outside of the traditional horror films we’re familiar with in contemporary cinema,” Wan says, “and I think that’s been the key to keeping this universe feeling fresh and unique. Each of these standalone movies has a very different flavor, yet they’re all connected.”

Producer Peter Safran agrees. “What James has built and David has continued with ‘Annabelle: Creation’ are films that tap into the fears we hold in our very makeup, our DNA. We’re all drawn to the idea of this doll, this inanimate object that can somehow wreak such devastation.”

“These films are a great example of why we love to go to the movies,” Sandberg concludes. “It’s a safe, shared environment where we can experience such a great range of emotions, from fear to excitement and more. And in this case, we get to find out how another piece of this ‘Conjuring’ and ‘Annabelle’ world is tied together…and maybe even get a hint at what’s to come.”

James Wan is currently in production directing “Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe, and Patrick Wilson. The DC Super Hero film is scheduled to be released December 21, 2018.

Wan’s production company, Atomic Monster, launched its slate with the highly successful “Annabelle,” released on October 3, 2015. The film was produced by Wan and Peter Safran and grossed over $252 million worldwide. The second release for Atomic Monster was “Lights Out,” directed by David F. Sandberg and produced by Wan (along with Lawrence Grey and Eric Heisserer). The film was released by in July 2016 and earned over $148 million. Next up for Atomic Monster is the latest title in “The Conjuring” universe, “The Nun.” Currently in production, the film is being directed by Corin Hardy and produced by Wan and Safran, and is set for release on July 13, 2018.

“Annabelle: Creation” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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‘Wonder Woman’ director Patty Jenkins on making the superhero film

Best known for her Oscar-winning debut feature “Monster,” director Patty Jenkins now brings to the screen one of the greatest Super Heroes of all time, known the world over as “Wonder Woman.”

A revered and enduring DC archetype and a global symbol of strength and equality for more than 75 years—how and when did she come to be, and why did mankind’s welfare become so important to her?

Jenkins’ larger-than-life hero’s journey, “Wonder Woman” tells the long-awaited origin story of Diana (Gal Gadot), the only child of Themyscira, a secret island gifted to her people from the king of the gods himself, Zeus. Hailing from the world of Amazons, Diana has been preparing for combat her whole life. But to become a true warrior, she will need to carry the courage of her convictions—and an arsenal like no other—onto the most harrowing battlefield the world has ever known.

“The time is absolutely right to bring Wonder Woman to movie audiences,” says Jenkins. “Fans have been waiting a long time for this, but I believe people outside the fandom are ready for a Wonder Woman movie, too. Superheroes have played a role in many people’s lives; it’s that fantasy of ‘What would it be like if I was that powerful and that great, and I could go on that exciting journey and do heroic things?’ I’m no different. I was seven years old when I first read Superman, and it rocked my world because I felt like Superman. The character captured exactly what I believed in then and still do: that there is a part of every human being that wishes they could change the world for the better.”

Then came Wonder Woman. “I watched the TV show, and she was everything a girl could aspire to be: strong and kind, exciting and stylish, powerful and effective, and just as fierce as the boys. She’s a badass, and at the same time she stands for love, forgiveness and benevolence in a complicated world. I feel so honored to be making a movie about a Super Hero who stands for such important values.”

The film’s screenwriter, Allan Heinberg, wrote the Wonder Woman comic for DC in 2006 and 2007 and was thrilled to be part of the film. He states, “Wonder Woman has been my all-time favorite Super Hero since I was a first-grader watching ‘Super Friends’ on Saturday mornings in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To have had any part at all in bringing her story to the screen—and to have done so alongside a creative team that includes Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns—is a lifelong dream come true.”

“Every superhero has his or her strong points,” Jenkins contends, “but I think the greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good and kind and loving she is. Yet none of that negates her power; it enhances it!”

Gal Gadot returns as the title character in the epic action adventure from director Patty Jenkins (“Monster,” AMC’s “The Killing”).

Joining Gadot in the international cast are Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Eugene Brave Rock and Saïd Taghmaoui.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, raised on a sheltered island paradise and trained to be an unconquerable warrior. When an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.

Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, June 1, 2017, “Wonder Woman” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Director Guy Ritchie gives gritty, modern edge to ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’

Everyone knows the fabled Arthurian legend…or at least thinks they do. But in the hands of director Guy Ritchie, the tale takes on a decidedly gritty, modern edge in Warner Bros. Pictures’ King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, in Philippine cinemas May 17, 2017.

In the film, Arthur is not yet king, but is instead a ruffian – a thoroughly reluctant hero compelled to discover his true destiny even as he fights against the very monarchy he is meant to rule.

“I think the best narratives take a man on a journey that transcends his limitations and allows him to evolve from his most basic nature into someone worthy of a bigger life,” says Ritchie, who also co-wrote and produced the film. “In our version of the story, Arthur’s life starts small: an urchin in a brothel, running the streets, learning to fight and dodging the law with his mates. Then the actions of others—some with good, some with not-so-good intentions—force him to expand his vision of who he could be.”
Charlie Hunnam, who stars in the titular role, says, “Guy has taken the classic hero’s journey and created an origin story with a very accessible Arthur for a new generation. Our Arthur has grown up fending for himself, rough and ready, carving out a little world where he’s a prince among thieves. But he’s no noble soul looking for a cause.”

Nevertheless, it’s looking for him, and as soon as Arthur comes into contact with Excalibur, that extraordinary piece of iron firmly embedded in granite, his life will change forever…like it or not.

While the presence of the famed Camelot was a must, it was producer/co-writer Lionel Wigram who suggested setting the bulk of this big actioner away from the castle, in a more urban environment, and both Ritchie and Wigram were drawn to an ancient version of England’s capital: Roman London, which at the time was called Londinium.

Wigram states, “There have been many separate and differing versions of the King Arthur story, in which he has been everything from a Celtic warrior to a Roman centurion. The myth has endured and has been adapted to fit the requirements of each different time period in which it has been told. Given this rich tradition of interpretation, we felt that as long as we retained its essential thematic elements, we had license to come up with our own iteration of the story, to have some fun with the details in a way we hope will speak to today’s audiences.”

“This is an Arthur who doesn’t aspire to greatness—fate throws it at him,” Ritchie says, “and he fights it, and pretty much everyone around him, every step of the way.”

And fight he does, in visceral action sequences that include spectacular displays of bows and arrows, battles of hack-and-slash swordplay, mad dashes through the grimy back alleys of the city, and a mix of martial arts and bare-knuckle fighting. It was all captured in stunning UK locations throughout Wales and Scotland and on the cavernous Warner Bros. Leavesden soundstages, and set to a pulsating score.

It all adds up to Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, in which Excalibur reveals itself, and a man’s true calling along with it.

Opening across the Philippines on May 17, 2017, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Ewan McGregor makes directorial debut via ‘American Pastoral’

Two-time Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor stars and debuts as a director in the deeply affecting father-daughter story “American Pastoral” based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Philip Roth that chronicles the profound changes in the last half-century of American life. The adaptation focuses in on the Swede’s search for his daughter and the resonant themes of uncertainty, shifting fates, family and loss, that took the filmmakers nearly thirteen years to bring to the screen.

“American Pastoral” follows a family’s idyllic existence that was shattered by social and political turmoil that will change the fabric of American culture forever. Ewan McGregor makes his directorial debut and stars as Seymour “Swede” Levov, a once legendary high school athlete who is now a successful businessman married to Dawn (Jennifer Connelly), a former beauty queen. But turmoil brews beneath the polished veneer of Swede’s life. When his beloved daughter, Merry (Dakota Fanning), disappears after being accused of committing a violent act, Swede dedicates himself to finding her and reuniting his family. What he discovers shakes him to the core, forcing him to look beneath the surface and confront the chaos that is shaping the modern world around him.

Lakeshore Entertainment producer Gary Lucchesi reflects on what drove him to stay on course throughout the long but steadfast creative process: “I have always wanted to make a father daughter story. I read the script, I cried, and I knew I had to make the movie one way or another,” he recalls. “I saw in it the story of a man who has an uncompromising love for his daughter through thick and thin. I love dramas about human beings that you can relate to and experiences that you can imagine. That’s what really turns me on as a filmmaker. Every now and then, you get a chance to do something like this that you covet—so you give it everything you have.”

Ewan McGregor, known for his wide-ranging roles in films spanning from the innovative and edgy “Trainspotting 1 & 2”, “Velvet Goldmine” and “Moulin Rouge” to the acclaimed dramas “Ghost Writer” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” — was attached to play the central character of the Swede in American Pastoral long before signing on to direct the film.

McGregor knew this was a rare opportunity. Ultimately, it was his love of the material that led to his decision to take a leap into his feature film directorial debut. “I was very moved by the script and I was completely taken by the Swede and the study of father daughter relationships,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to direct, but I didn’t want to just direct for the sake of it. I wanted to have a story that I was compelled to tell,” McGregor explains.

An Ayala Malls Cinemas’ exclusive presentation, “American Pastoral” opens on April 5, 2017 at Glorietta 4 and Trinoma cinemas.

Matt Reeves to direct, produce ‘The Batman’

Burbank, CA – February 23, 2017 – Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Matt Reeves (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Cloverfield”) has been set to direct “The Batman.” Reeves will also serve as a producer on the new standalone action adventure centering on one of DC’s most enduringly popular Super Heroes. The announcement was made by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Emmerich stated, “We are thrilled to have Matt Reeves taking the helm of Batman, the crown jewel of our DC slate. Matt’s deep roots in genre films and his evolution into an emotional world-building director make him the perfect filmmaker to guide the Dark Knight through this next journey.”

Matt Reeves noted, “I have loved the Batman story since I was a child. He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply. I am incredibly honored and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen.”

Batman was created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.

“The Batman” will be distributed worldwide by WPLarner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Mel Gibson guns for Oscar Best Director prize with ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

With films that span from the classic, Oscar Best Picture-winning Braveheart to The Patriot, We Were Soldiers, The Passion of the Christ and his most recently directed film, the Mayan civilization epic Apocalypto, Mel Gibson has become known for meshing big themes with atmospheric style that takes audiences into revealing worlds.

Now, Mel Gibson’s re-creates with a mesmerizing realism the epic combat that saw the true-to-life heroism of Desmond Doss in the World War II action-thriller, Hacksaw Ridge.

Nominated for eight Oscar Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, Hacksaw Ridge centers on the story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), a Seventh-day Adventist who became an army medic while adhering to his religious convictions of not carrying a weapon. He saved 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II.

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For producer Bill Mechanic, Gibson was always the ultimate choice to direct Hacksaw Ridge. “The script felt to me almost like a companion piece to Braveheart,” comments the producer. “It pulls together the same themes of faith, violence and war, though it’s a very different story about a man from a very different time and background. To me, what also sets Mel apart as a contemporary filmmaker is how experiential his filmmaking is, how visceral the storytelling is in his films. He’s become a consummate director. He’s equally great with characters, with actors, with the camera and the editing process and with giving audiences a new experience.”

Gibson saw in Hacksaw Ridge a chance to bring into the light a forgotten hero – and he was drawn to Desmond Doss as man who determined to find a way to live by the values that meant everything to him, even when they seemed in conflict with the whole world around him.

Says Gibson: “Desmond Doss abhorred violence, it was against his principles, his religious beliefs, but he wanted to serve his country in World War II as a medic. How does somebody go into the worst place on earth without a weapon? It was all the more compelling to me, because it was a true story, and I thought I could bring my visual language to it.”

Gibson notes that Doss never called himself a conscientious objector. That was the army’s term. Instead, he called himself a “conscientious co-operator,” believing with unflagging tenacity that he had plenty to contribute without having to kill other human beings.

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“He was a co-operator in the sense that he passionately wanted to join the war effort, but he wanted to enter it as someone aiming not to take life but to save it,” says Gibson. “Still, you have to ask, what kind of madman goes into that kind of a conflagration seen on Okinawa without being armed? Doss defied what anyone could have expected from that situation. Somebody mentioned to me that the Congressional Medal of Honour is usually given to people who have a singular moment where they make a snap decision and do one heroic thing. One of the things that stood out to me about Desmond is that in Okinawa, this guy was heroic 24/7, for a whole month. He took heroism to another level not often seen.”

Mechanic notes that when it came to the battle sequences, Gibson zeroed right in on the most essential and creative details. “Mel has such an eye for war action, I feel he was the real creator of all the battle sequences, regardless of who wrote the scenes,” says the producer.

Yet even in the most frenetic action, Gibson wanted the humanity of the character to hold sway. He says of the battle sequences: “The important part was to give you the sense that this is the worst place anyone has ever seen, which it was for these men. And here’s Desmond, this guy you’ve hopefully come to know and to love, thrown into this terrible place where he will finally see how measures up to the standards he has set for himself.”

Hacksaw Ridge opens February 22, 2017 in Philippine cinemas.

Famed Asian director Zhang Yimou brings action-fantasy ‘The Great Wall’

One of the most breathtaking visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) directs the Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action-fantasy The Great Wall, marking his first English-language production and the largest film ever shot entirely in China.

In the film, when a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within The Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of our world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts, intent on devouring the world, besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront this unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.

Zhang Yimou is one of the planet’s most celebrated filmmakers. Among his two dozen feature credits, he directed the first Chinese production to earn a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award® nomination, Ju Dou (1990), with two more nominations for Raise the Red Lantern (1991) and Hero (2002).

The Great Wall

Among many career triumphs, he won global accolades for his magnificent staging of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympiad, a feat that fan and fellow filmmaker Steven Spielberg called “the grandest spectacle of the New Millennium from this creative genius.” That accomplishment landed Zhang as runner-up for Time magazine’s 2008 Person of the Year.

Producer Charles Roven raves, “The Great Wall has all the visual splendor and spectacle of an extravagant film, and it is shot amazingly by one of the most iconic filmmakers working today. His visuals are stunning, the colors that he uses are incredible, and the shots that he designs—whether they’re regular 24 frames or slow-motion—are art.”

Roven also appreciated that Zhang Yimou embraced the throughline of cultural collaboration that permeated the story. “Watching Yimou, with his cinematic vision, translate the script into a unique way of creating spectacle is an unforgettable memory. He was quite interested in blending the cinema styles of Western tent-poles with Chinese filmmaking,” notes Roven. “Here was material that was completely conducive to it, and we were thrilled that he wanted to join the production.”

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“The Great Wall is in the lyrics of our National Anthem, so it symbolizes the same thing in the heart of all Chinese, which is our people, our country and our history,” reflects Zhang Yimou. “We use it to express many things spiritual. To all of us in China, The Great Wall is a symbol of China’s national spirit. It resonates in every Chinese person, as a symbol of our traditions and our flesh-and-blood.”

The filmmaker believes that applies to this story as well. “In the movie, The Great Wall symbolizes the safeguard of peace and national spirit,” he continues. “I thought the screenplay was a special story, especially when you look at The Wall from a different angle. The Wall was built to protect our homeland from invaders. From this perspective, it makes little difference whether the enemy is people or monsters.”

For Zhang Yimou, to mount this undertaking would be to celebrate enormous pride. “This is a movie about Chinese history and culture shot entirely on location in China,” he reflects. “What attracted me most was the Chinese cultural elements. Yes, it is a monster movie, but I believed I could still express myself through it. It is a fascinating story with interesting themes and emotions.”

Now playing across the Philippines, The Great Wall is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

From ‘Ice Age’ director Chris Wedge comes family adventure ‘Monster Trucks’

From the director of Ice Age, Chris Wedge, comes Paramount Pictures’ new family adventure Monster Trucks starring Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Apocalypse) and Jane Levy (Don’t Breathe).

Looking for any way to get away from the life and town he was born into, Tripp (Till), a high school senior, builds a Monster Truck from bits and pieces of scrapped cars. After an accident at a nearby oil-drilling site displaces a strange and subterranean creature with a taste and a talent for speed, Tripp may have just found the key to getting out of town and a most unlikely friend.

Melding cutting edge visual effects and state-of-the-art CGI, Monster Trucks is an action filled adventure for the whole family that will keep you on the edge of your seat and ultimately touch your heart.

Chris Wedge opens up what drew him to Monster Trucks. “What appealed to me about it was that it was just nothing but fun, big, gigantic, silly fun. The intention of the movie was always to make something gigantic and weird and fun. And it was never supposed to be anything but. Well, what the film does, I believe, is for kids just to see something fun, and for adults to remind us of the movies that we liked when we were kids.

Comparisons to iconic family films like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the live-action Disney films of the ’60s and the ’70s, weren’t lost of the director. “Yeah, I get it. I grew up watching Herbie, the Love Bug and E.T. hit me at a formative time. And all of those Amblin movies, like Gremlins. They’re all movies where there are kids at the middle that happen to know more than the adults do, and they’re doing the right thing and the adults are trying to stop them. That’s basically where the fun of this comes. And then, there’s some completely unexpected relationship between a weird creature and a truck, and the kid that wants to help it. What I kept thinking it was, as we were making it, was E.T. meets Fast and Furious with trucks.

In addition to the high fun quotient, Monster Trucks boasts of an environmental subtext that doesn’t feel like heavy-handed. “I wanted just enough to get in the dramatic tension in the story, but not to make it a gigantic message film,” explains Wedge. “I just wanted to setup enough to make the story entertaining, and I happen to think that the guys that frack are the bad guys, and that the people that are trying to stop it are the good guys. And putting a little civilization of creatures under there that we hadn’t discovered, and so, we dug that deep down into shale rock. It seems like an appropriate way to bring some attention to it.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 1, 2017, Monster Trucks is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ gets first woman director for its franchise

To bring Columbia Pictures’ epic action thriller Underworld: Blood Wars to the big screen – the latest instalment in the blockbuster franchise — the producers turned to their first-ever female director, Anna Foerster.

Besides directing several episodes of the hit TV show Outlander, Foerster has also served as the second unit director on the sci-fi films Alien: Resurrection, The Day After Tomorrow and Æon Flux among others. Underworld: Blood Wars is her feature debut.

Starring Kate Beckinsale, Theo James (the Divergent franchise), Bradley James (TV’s Merlin) and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Underworld: Blood Wars follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.

“Underworld is a really exciting series that gives you really amazing opportunities as a filmmaker, visually and creatively, to create a new world,” says Foerster. “With Underworld you have rules that are very specific for the story and for the franchise, but you can veer off from that. On purely the visual and creative side, it is extremely exciting.”

“Because we have a lot of action scenes, it was very clear to me from the beginning that every single action scene has to be different,” says Foerster. “There has to be different styles in every action sequence so it is not like just another action film.”

Foerster cut her teeth as a cinematographer and feels that she brings a strong visual concept to her Underworld film. She has at least five scenes, including one action sequence, that are all shot in one take.

“What I bring to this movie is a defined visual concept,” she says, “the way the camera moves, the type of shots, the way I introduce characters in certain scenes.”

She is especially pleased with the characterisation. The director says that her favourite vampire film outside the Underworld series is the original, Swedish version of Let the Right One In, which is a critically acclaimed, character-driven piece.

“Let The Right One In was all about characters,” she notes. “It was so character-driven. And the character arcs in our script have evolved and developed over time. They have come a long way. To me, that is the most exciting part — to work with these exciting actors and to work on character. That sounds funny because if you think of Underworld and vampires and werewolves you don’t immediately think of character arcs.

“But maybe this is the secret of the original two Underworld films,” she adds, “that there was deep character in the backstory and in the mythology.”

“The honor I have on this movie is to be able to work with some really, really exciting actors,” concludes Foerster. “And I can create new roles, which we did for our story. There will be some surprises with different vampires that have different capabilities and different backgrounds.”

Opening across the Philippines on December 2, 2016,  “Underworld: Blood Wars” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Oscar-winner Robert Zemeckis takes the helm for ‘Allied’

From Oscar® winner Robert Zemeckis, the innovative director behind Forrest Gump, Cast Away and Flight, comes Allied, at once a mesmerizing espionage thriller, sweeping war drama and passionate romance between two assassins who may be fated soulmates or deadly enemies – or both.

In a sumptuous, visually evocative production that roams from Casablanca to London’s Blitz days to German-occupied France, Zemeckis creates the kind of grand tale that flourished in Golden Hollywood – full of mystery, thrills and romantic heat – yet told with all the richly immersive power of 21st Century cinema.

For secret World War II operatives Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard), the key to survival is never being truly known by anyone. They are experts in deception, play-acting, second-guessing and assassination. When they accidentally fall for each other in the middle of an extraordinarily risky mission, their one hope is to leave all the double-dealing behind – but instead, suspicion and danger become the core of their wartime marriage as husband-and-wife are pitted against each other in an escalating, potentially lethal test of loyalty, identity and love…with global consequences.

Zemeckis’s long and varied career has been marked by both visual innovations and cultural influence, with films ranging from the seminal Back To The Future series to the comic special-effects fantasy Death Becomes Her to the historical adventures of Forrest Gump to the recent The Walk, which recreated the extraordinary tightrope journey between New York’s former World Trade Center towers. But Zemeckis has equally been associated with films that are about the raw power of storytelling as in Cast Away, the story of one shipwrecked man reckoning with his life, or Flight, which excavated a heroic pilot’s inner battle with alcoholism.

And yet, for all the wide span of stories Zemeckis has explored, he’d yet to tackle the genre of the period romance. Nor had he brought his visual style to the evocative landscapes of WWII — and both called to him as a filmmaker. He was drawn to Allied at once as an absorbing mystery, a web of deception, a fresh look at survival in WWII and a love story of unusual depth and power that becomes about lasting honor. Above all, he saw a film full of visual potential that could match the story’s themes.

Says Zemeckis: “The screenplay had a sweeping, epic, romantic feel. The thing I most love to do as a director is to move audiences — and when you have a story as powerful as this one, and with so many emotional twists and turns, you have immense opportunities to do that. This type of story is perfect for a filmmaker like myself because I like to make audiences really feel and use all the tools as my disposal to do that.”

Zemeckis saw the story as one that asks questions we all ask of loved ones – Do I really know you? Can I trust you completely? Will you betray me? How far would you go to save what we have? — but these same questions take on a deadly, mounting ferocity within the high-wire world of WWII spies.

“Allied is absolutely a story of betrayal and that’s the universal theme of this film: how we react when we start to think someone we love isn’t who they say they are,” Zemeckis comments. “It’s something that happens in life, but in the realm of Max and Marianne, you have two people already pretending to be someone else from the get-go and the truth is elusive to them. So how do you establish trust? And how can you even talk to your loved one if you believe the enemy is listening in on you?”

“I especially loved how the screenplay really evoked the feeling of war-torn London,” Zemeckis says. “London was being bombed nightly but despite that, the people carried on with the life of the city. That was even their slogan: carry on. So that was something I wanted to capture in this: a world where the machinery of war is always there in the background – and sometimes in the foreground – yet people are living with a kind of total abandon because they realize that life could end at any moment. There was a kind of fatalistic quality both to the way people behaved and the way that London looked in that time. That really interested me – and that’s what I wanted to created both in the atmosphere of the film and its design. It’s a world where people are trying to defy death at every turn, including Max and Marianne, whose love develops in danger and cannot escape it even when they marry.”

Opening across the Philippines on November 23, 2016, Allied is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.