‘Avengers: Infinity War’ starts production, Phase 3 details teased

Marvel Studios has officially announced the production start of Avengers: Infinity War via a featurette that shows Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man) and Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord).

Watch the featurette below.

Prior to the release of the first featurette, Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man) hosted a Facebook Live, to answer fan questions. Here’s everything we learned from the live chat (and the first Avengers: Infinity War featurette) so far:

  • Tom Holland will be reprising his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
  • Chris Pratt‘s Peter Quill/Star-Lord will also be joining the fray.
  • Robert Downey Jr. still fondly remembers the Mark 42 from “Iron Man 3”
  • “Avengers: Infinity War” kicks off with tension as Captain America is still on Iron Man’s “S-List”
  • Reflecting on his appearance in the first “Iron Man” to “Avengers: Infinity War,” Downey says “[Tony Stark] has matured a bit. What has changed is the universe around him.”
  • Stark’s universe now involves Peter Parker, the Guardians and Doctor Strange.
  • Joe and Anthony Russo have never fought on set
  • The three Avengers the Russo brothers would go on a family vacation with: Tony Stark, Peter Park, and Vision.
  • Start of production officially began last month in Pinewood Atlanta.
  • Thanos will be “the most frightening villain the Avengers have ever faced;” he’ll show us all why he’s “the biggest, the best, the baddest villain that we’ve ever had.”
  • The Avengers are completely unprepared to face Thanos as a result of the events of “Captain America: Civil War” leaving the Avengers a team name with no team members.
  • Get ready for the Guardians of the Galaxy / Avengers team-up as we see Thor fighting alongside Rocket Raccoon
  • The Russo brothers confirm two films will be deeply connected – “these next two Avengers films will be an event like no one has ever seen on film before”
  • Downey drives that point home as we’ve come to learn the next two Avengers will be filmed back-to-back for a “year of fun-filled lensing”

Continuing a cinematic universe that launched in 2008 with Iron Man, Infinity War promises an epic story that will bring in characters from a decade of films. The cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Pom Klementieff, Tom Holland, Peter Dinklage and Josh Brolin as Thanos. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who return after Captain America: Civil War, are directing both Avengers: Infinity War and the untitled second half, which will close Marvel Phase 3.

Avengers: Infinity War will hit US theaters May 4, 2018, with the second part following on May 3, 2019. Release dates in the Philippines to follow.

Advertisements

Dakota Johnson dons Monique Lhuillier gown, capelet in ‘Fifty Shades Darker’

Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele dons a custom gown and capelet by Monique Lhuillier, renowned bridal, ready-to-wear and accessories designer, in the new film Fifty Shades Darker, the second chapter based on the worldwide bestselling “Fifty Shades” phenomenon, it was announced today. The film arrives in Philippine cinemas today.

Known for her glamour and modern elegance, Monique Lhuillier brilliantly captures Ana’s alluring beauty and vulnerability with this modern design. The liquid satin sheath gown with draped neckline and cross back in a silver hue exudes femininity and sophistication, while the handmade ostrich feather capelet adds exquisite glamour for Ana’s grand entrance in the film’s exclusive masquerade ball.

In keeping with the essence of her brand, Monique’s design evokes an enchanting, yet sophisticated, vision by weaving together sensuous and modern elements for the character of Ana. The fluid silhouette of the dress, which is topped with the elegantly embellished capelet, is distinctly Monique Lhuillier.

“I am so delighted to partner with Universal Pictures’ Fifty Shades Darker to design for the character of Anastasia Steele,” said Lhuillier. “Like the Monique Lhuillier woman, Ana radiates confidence and femininity, and so the gown I imagined for this iconic scene encapsulates that modern sophistication.”

“I often thought of Dakota in Monique’s stunning gown as a ‘beautiful siren of simplicity,’” lauded Cunliffe. “We sent Monique ideas and images that evoke old Hollywood, and she and her team took the inspiration from there—crafting this stunning confection. Ana’s cape itself was a challenge—each feather was sewn by hand—but I felt it would magnify Ana’s showstopping entrance at the ball, hearkening back to the 1930s screen sirens. Monique also beautifully resolved our need to create a gown which can effortlessly slip to the ground…another feat of engineering.”

ABOUT FIFTY SHADES DARKER

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Darker, the second chapter based on the worldwide bestselling “Fifty Shades” phenomenon. Expanding upon events set in motion in 2015’s blockbuster film that grossed more than $560 million globally, the new installment arrives for Valentine’s Day and invites you to slip into something a shade darker.

When a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.

Also returning from Fifty Shades of Grey are Academy Award® winner Marcia Gay Harden, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford and Max Martini, who are joined for the first time by Oscar® winner Kim Basinger, Bella Heathcote and Eric Johnson.

Fifty Shades Darker is directed by James Foley (Fear, House of Cards) and once again produced by Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Marcus Viscidi, alongside E L James, the creator of the culture-spanning blockbuster series. The screenplay is by Niall Leonard, based on the novel by James. www.fiftyshadesmovie.com

ABOUT MONIQUE LHUILLIER

Monique Lhuillier is internationally recognized as one of America’s foremost designers. Established in 1996 by Monique Lhuillier and her husband, Tom Bugbee, the company is considered one of the leading fashion houses in design, quality and creativity. With a passion for creating collections that are both feminine and modern, Monique Lhuillier continues to design ready-to-wear, accessories and bridal collections that are luxurious, chic and true to her aesthetic. Fans include Emma Stone, Blake Lively, Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, Kristen Bell, Anna Kendrick and the First Lady Michelle Obama among others. Monique’s signature design sensibility has led to the launch of licensed products including fur, fine jewelry and tabletop, transforming the company into a luxury lifestyle brand. Monique Lhuillier products are distributed through Monique Lhuillier stores, premium department stores and specialty stores throughout the world.

Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson take you inside ‘Fifty Shades Darker’

Universal Pictures brings back Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades Darker, the second chapter based on the worldwide bestselling “Fifty Shades” phenomenon. The hotly anticipated sequel expands upon events set in motion in 2015’s blockbuster film that grossed more than $560 million globally.

(Watch the “A Look Inside Fifty Shades Darker” featurette below.)

Their story continues as a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Anastasia Steele back into his life…and she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle them, determined to destroy any hopes for a future together.

fifty-shades-darker-movie

With the whirlwind of launching Fifty Shades of Grey behind them, Dornan and Johnson set to work on the Darker set, ready for the unique set of challenges that lie ahead.

For Johnson, the chance to not only return to a character that she’s worked on provided cause for both excitement and trepidation. She says: “I’ve never been on a project this long, and I’ve never been such a large part of a project. I feel this great honor to be able to tell this young woman’s story. It’s all been quite an experience—at times, it’s been insightful, emotional, heavy, dark and difficult. But it’s also been so joyous, and filled with laughter and love. It’s been all-encompassing. It’s made me grow as a person so much that no matter how difficult shooting these films may have been, I would never take it back and I would never change anything about the experience.”

Johnson gives additional credit at being able to cover such rough terrain to the only other person on Earth who could know what she’s gone through. “I literally trust Jamie with my life,” she reflects. “He’s such an honorable, wonderful, hilarious and talented human. We’ve built our friendship around trusting each other. We got to know each other based around the fact that I needed him to be protective of me. I needed him to be able to tell when I was uncomfortable and would need to step in. Or when things were too heightened, too emotional and I couldn’t deal anymore, I needed him to be able to see that in my face and protect me in that way. We learned so much about each other, and I do trust him implicitly.”

fifty-shades-darker-movie

Dornan returns the compliment, explaining that they are bonded for life: “We have a very natural, easy way with each other now, having been through the first movie and all the pressures and expectations associated with it. A great thing about Dakota is only she knows what I’m going through, and only I know what she’s going through. We both really needed each other through this process. There are days when it wasn’t easy, when a lot has been asked of us— particularly a lot has been asked of her, in terms of the physical stuff, and she was usually wearing less than I was. You need to have that person who understands and has been with it since day one with you.”

It was quite enjoyable for the two performers to expand the reach of what others believed the series was about. Discussing the advancing storylines in Darker, Dornan says, “a lot of people are basing an idea—that these books are purely about sex—on not really knowing the books, or just taking the buzz around the first book and going with it. Even acknowledging that sex is a major part of it, Darker takes on a whole different track—and that’s pleasing, as an actor. It’s nice knowing we’ve got two more films to develop the other aspects of the story and bring in what we didn’t have time to accomplish in the first. A lot more is asked of us, to be sure, but that’s been a fun aspect of it.”

Fifty Shades Darker

As Christian opens up to Ana, we see he is carrying the traumas of his early childhood, which lends itself to why he struggles to relate to many people. He isn’t the most approachable of men, and he doesn’t know how to have a “normal” relationship, as much as he wants to. Still, he agrees to change for Ana’s sake. He wants to be the man she knows him to be, which is incredibly difficult for him, because of the horrors he endured in his childhood. As E L James reveals with the introduction of the dark Elena, all is not as it seems.

Christian’s biggest secret, with regard to his need to dominate and control his romantic partners, is that it stems from psychological scars that left him with a stigmatizing label: “It was suggested early on that he’s maybe a sadist,” explains Dornan. “There’s a scene in the Red Room where he says he isn’t—perhaps it was him being in total denial. But by this stage, I think he’s admitting there’s something wrong with him and that it’s beyond the boundaries. Being a dominant is one thing, but being a sadist is something that Ana is not okay with. Now, he needs to find that out about himself in order for him to change.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 8, 2017, “Fifty Shades Darker” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Marvel Studios begins production on ‘Black Panther’

Marvel Studios announced today that production has begun on “Black Panther,” starring Chadwick Boseman (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Get on Up”), Michael B. Jordan (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “12 Years a Slave”), Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead,” upcoming “All Eyez on Me”), Martin Freeman (“Hobbit” trilogy, “Sherlock”), Daniel Kaluuya (upcoming “Get Out,” “Sicario”), with Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett (“American Horror Story,” “London Has Fallen”), with Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”), and Andy Serkis (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”).

Additional cast members include Letitia Wright (“Urban Hymn,” “Glasgow Girls”), Winston Duke (“Person of Interest, “Modern Family”), Florence Kasumba (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Emerald City”), Sterling K. Brown (“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) and John Kani (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Coriolanus”).

Ryan Coogler (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”) directs Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” from a screenplay he co-wrote with Joe Robert Cole (“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”). The film, which opens in Philippine theaters on February 2018, will be shot in Atlanta and South Korea.

“Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.

Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” is produced by Kevin Feige with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov and Stan Lee serving as executive producers.

Coogler’s creative brain trust includes his frequent collaborators: director of photography Rachel Morrison, A.S.C. (“Dope,” “Fruitvale Station”), production designer Hannah Beachler (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), editors Claudia Castello (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”) and Michael P. Shawver (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”); along with costume designer Ruth E. Carter (“Selma,” Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”), visuals effects supervisor Geoffrey Baumann (“Doctor Strange,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron”), Academy Award®- winning makeup designer Joel Harlow (“Star Trek Beyond,” “Black Mass”) and seven-time Academy Award® nominee, special effects supervisor Dan Sudick (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”).

Based on the Marvel comic character that first appeared in “Fantastic Four Vol. 1” Issue 52, published in 1966, “Black Panther” joins Marvel Studios’ slate of releases in its Phase 3 commitment to introduce film audiences to new heroes and continue the adventures of fan favorites over the course of four years and nine films.

In 2016, Marvel Studios continued its unprecedented success with the release of “Captain America: Civil War,” which opened on May 6 with the fifth largest opening weekend of all time and has since garnered box office receipts of over $1.1 billion worldwide.

The juggernaut studio ended the year with its newest Super Hero “Doctor Strange,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams. The film opened #1 at the box office on November 4 and went on to gross more than $659 million worldwide to date. The two films propelled Marvel Studios’ #1 domestic box-office opening streak to a record-breaking 14 consecutive films.

Marvel Studios’ other epic big-screen adventures include Marvel’s “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ant-Man,” and the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (May 5, 2017), “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (July 7, 2017), “Thor: Ragnarok” (November 3, 2017) and “Avengers: Infinity War” (May 4, 2018).

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is the official title of Episode VIII

Lucasfilm has announced the official title of the film previously known as Star Wars: Episode VIII.

The studio says, “We have the greatest fans in this or any other galaxy. In appreciation of the fans, we wanted them to be the first to know the title of the next chapter in the Skywalker saga: Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.

Celine Dion to perform original song for Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Five-time GRAMMY® winning and best-selling recording artist Celine Dion will perform an all-new original song, “How Does A Moment Last Forever,” for Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast.” The song will also be included on the film’s soundtrack.

Written by eight-time Oscar®-winning composer Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin”) and veteran lyricist and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (“The Lion King,” “Evita”), “How Does A Moment Last Forever” is an emotional ballad about holding onto life’s precious moments. Portions of the song are performed throughout the film and interpolated into the underscore before Dion’s full-length version debuts in the film’s custom main-on-end title design.

Says Dion, “Being a part of the original ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was such a magical experience in my life, and I’m truly honored to be a part of this film again.”
President of Music for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Production, Mitchell Leib, approached the artist on behalf of the project with the idea of recording one of the three new songs written for the film. “Celine was the unanimous choice of the filmmakers and studio to perform this song,” says Leib, “And everyone involved with the film is thrilled she agreed to be part of this new live-action adaptation.”

Dion originally performed the duet “Beauty and the Beast” – featuring Menken’s haunting melody and two-time Oscar-winner Howard Ashman’s unforgettable lyrics – with Peabo Bryson for the animated film. The song became an instant classic and went on to receive an Academy Award®, Golden Globe® and three GRAMMY Awards.
Menken also provides the film score along with new recordings of the classic songs from the animated film written by himself and Ashman. The original motion picture soundtrack will be released by Walt Disney Records on March 10, 2017.

Belle (Emma Watson) comes to realize that underneath the hideous exterior of the Beast (Dan Stevens) there is the kind heart of a Prince in Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a live-action adaptation of the studio's animated classic directed by Bill Condon.
Belle (Emma Watson) comes to realize that underneath the hideous exterior of the Beast (Dan Stevens) there is the kind heart of a Prince in Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic directed by Bill Condon.

 

About the Film

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.

Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers.

“Beauty and the Beast” will be released in Philippine cinemas on March 16, 2017.

Hitmaker Jason Blum produces new suspense thriller ‘Split’

Following last year’s breakout hit The Visit, producer Jason Blum (The Purge and Insidious series) reunites with filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan for the critically acclaimed suspense thriller Split from Universal Pictures.

Starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Split is an original film that delves into the mysterious recesses of one man’s fractured, gifted mind.

In Split, though Kevin (McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities—each with unique physical attributes—to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Taylor-Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Blum, known for his industry innovation in helping to shepherd small-budget films into worldwide blockbusters, discusses the partnership with Shyamalan: “Night can tell these extraordinarily character-driven stories against a backdrop of a larger subject matter. Split isn’t a typical small-budget film; it’s a large vision on a limited budget. It is not CGI or hundreds of millions of dollars that makes Split feel so epic—it’s Night’s incredibly provocative story.”

Jason Blum is an Academy Award®-nominated and two-time Primetime Emmy Award- and Peabody Award-winning producer. His multi-media company, Blumhouse Productions, pioneered a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality, micro-budget films.

Blumhouse, which is in the midst of a 10-year first-look deal with Universal Pictures, has produced the highly profitable The Purge, Insidious, Ouija and Paranormal Activity franchises, which have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. Blumhouse’s model began with the original Paranormal Activity, which was made for $15,000 and was released by Paramount Pictures, grossing approximately $200 million worldwide, making it the most profitable film in the history of Hollywood.

Blum, who was nominated for an Academy Award® for producing Whiplash, was added to Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment List 2015” and received the Producer of the Year Award at 2016’s CinemaCon.

Now playing across the Philippines, Split is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

‘Passengers’ marks first visually-stunning film of the year

“It’s always good when you can create your own world,” says director Morten Tyldum, who creates a new vision of space travel in Passengers, touted to be the first visually stunning film of 2017. “I’m a huge sci-fi fan, and I also have such respect for the genre, so I wanted to try to do something that had never been done before.”

In the film, Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and Jim (Chris Pratt) are two strangers who are on a 120-year journey to another planet when their hibernation pods wake them 90 years too early. Jim and Aurora are forced to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction as the ship teeters on the brink of collapse, jeopardizing the lives of the passengers on the greatest mass migration in human history.

To achieve the film’s extraordinary look, the filmmakers – in Tyldum’s words – had “to both look forwards and backwards.” Looking to the future, they created a spaceship with an intricate design that uses the centrifugal force from spinning blades to create gravity, and contains the robots, holograms, and other technology that the future has in store. To that, Tyldum marries what he calls a “nostalgic design,” inspired by Art Deco, classic Hollywood, and World War II uniforms. “The past is with us – the past inspires us – and I wanted to have the past to be very present in the film. At the same time, it has robots, it’s a smart ship, it has screens, it has AI. By combining this, on a pure aesthetic level, a visual level, I think it’s unique. It feels very sci-fi, but also very grounded, very belonging to our world.”

To make this vision a reality, Tyldum turned to Guy Hendrix Dyas, an Oscar® nominee and BAFTA winner for his work with Christopher Nolan on Inception, and the designer of such varied films as Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Steve Jobs, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Dyas feels he was born to design Passengers; in fact, he was the only designer that Tyldum interviewed for the job.

Since childhood, Dyas had dreamed of building a spaceship inside and out, and Passengers made that dream a reality. The result was a series of enormous, hugely memorable sets that brought the spaceship Avalon to life.

“We wanted to build as much as possible, because this is a character-driven movie, not a movie that is driven by special effects,” says Tyldum. “We have a lot of big spectacle scenes, some mind-blowing effects, but the driving force is the characters and the performances. To get those performances, I didn’t want Jen and Chris to act against green screens – I wanted to build as much as possible so they can actually feel and understand the space they’re in. I think it pays off because it feels more real.”

Producer Ori Marmur recalls, “No one involved in this movie has ever seen anything like these sets. One person walked on and said, ‘People are going to think your set is CG; they’re not going to believe you guys actually built this.’”

Now playing across the Philippines, Passengers is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Use the hashtag #Passengers

Fantasy adventure ‘The Great Wall’ imagines what lies beneath

Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures, along with China Film Co., Ltd. and Le Vision Pictures, present The Great Wall, an epic action-adventure depicting a monstrous threat hidden for centuries behind one of the greatest manmade wonders of the world.

Directed by Zhang Yimou, The Great Wall stars Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau.

Set in an alternate vision of ancient China (circa 1100 A.D., during the Song Dynasty), the story imagines that The Wall was built to defend against a mythical Chinese creature called the Tao Tei (historical spelling, “Taotie”), a malignant species and gargoyle-like figure from Chinese mythology that rises every 60 years from the heart of the Jade Mountain to attack in vast, swarming armies and feed on humankind.

“I remember being told when I was young that the magnificent Great Wall of China was the only manmade object one could see from space,” says producer and Legendary CEO Thomas Tull. “True or not, I never forgot that, and when I set out to create a company known for its monster movies, I wanted to make one that combined my love of the genre set against this magnificent structure.

“I always wondered what was so important and compelling to have a country build a structure that big, that incredible,” Tull continues. “At Legendary, we like monsters, so my geeky brain went to work on the idea of a country building this wall to keep monsters out.”

As Tull developed the idea with The Great Wall’s story and screenplay writers, he discussed the idea of a European soldier of fortune wandering Asia in the Middle Ages who comes upon a magnificent structure that covers the entire horizon. When the mercenary approaches, he is told that the guardians are preparing for the attack.
“During the course of developing the screenplay, Western writers actually discovered the Chinese legend of a monster called the Taotie [historical spelling],” adds producer Peter Loehr, who has spent the last 25 years of his career working in China. “The Taotie is actually quite well known in China.

“There’s a fantasy book called the ‘Shan-hai Jing,’ which dates back 2,500 years,” Loehr continues. “In the book, they set out different types of monsters, goblins and demons, and the Tao Tei (our spelling) is one of them. The Tao Tei, in the fantastical ‘Shan-hai Jing,’ as well as historical records, are portrayed as gluttonous. They eat incessantly, so much so that when there’s nothing left to eat, they eat their own bodies.”

Producer Charles Roven, who is known for his indelible print on blockbusters from The Dark Knight trilogy (alongside Legendary), Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to the much-anticipated upcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League, was brought onto the production by producers Tull and Jon Jashni. He walks us through his initial involvement in the film: “Alex Gartner and I were invited into the project by Thomas and Jon; thereafter, we were part of the original story development.”

Roven reflects on his intrigue at the premise of The Great Wall: “At the time period of our story, the Chinese were among the greatest societies…creating things the West had never seen. The gunpowder they’d invented motivates the mercenaries in our story, who are Western savages initially only out for themselves. When they come across this secret society that is trying to preserve humanity, it makes them reevaluate everything.”

Producer Jashni explains that the production team long aimed to acknowledge and honor both a bygone historical period and a long-ago era of filmmaking—one in which the sets were built to scale. “These structures were built, both then and now, to incite awe and respect,” he notes. “We knew we wanted to depict the inner workings of The Wall as practical. One might think of it as going inside a clock. It seems to do something fairly simple from the outside, but what allows it to appear so simple is rather complex. The audience might rightly assume that The Wall is merely capable of defending—by virtue of its height and its impenetrability—that which is protected behind it. We wanted to surprise them by also having The Wall be able to ‘fight back’ in clever and unexpected ways.”

Opening on January 25, 2017, The Great Wall is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Meghan Trainor writes, performs new song for ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’

“I’m a Lady,” a new song from the multi-platinum reigning Grammy Awards Best New Artist Meghan Trainor, will be featured in Sony Pictures Animation’s Smurfs: The Lost Village. The song is performed & written by Meghan Trainor and produced by Martin Rene, Monsters & Strangers and Meghan Trainor.

Fans will be able to hear the song in the new year, in advance of the film’s debut in Philippine cinemas on March 29, 2017.

Commenting on the announcement, Trainor said, “I love the Smurfs and was honored when they asked me to write a song for this new movie. I was especially excited – I wrote the whole thing in one evening!”

In this fully animated, fresh 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!

Directed by Kelly Asbury, the film is written by Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon, based on the characters and works of Peyo. Produced by Jordan Kerner and Mary Ellen Bauder Andrews, the film features the voices of Demi Lovato as Smurfette, Rainn Wilson as Gargamel, Joe Manganiello as Hefty Smurf, Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf, Danny Pudi as Brainy Smurf, with Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf.

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.