MonsterVerse kicks into gear as ‘Godzilla 2’ gets underway

Following the global success of 2014’s “Godzilla” and this year’s “Kong: Skull Island,” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse: an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history.

The film, which begins principal photography today, is being directed by Michael Dougherty (“Krampus”), and stars Oscar nominees Vera Farmiga (“The Conjuring” films), and Ken Watanabe (“Inception”) and Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), both reprising their “Godzilla” roles; Kyle Chandler (“The Wolf of Wall Street”); Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”) in her feature film debut; Bradley Whitford (“Get Out”); Thomas Middleditch (HBO’s “Silicon Valley”); Charles Dance (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”); O’Shea Jackson Jr. (“Straight Outta Compton”); Aisha Hinds (“Star Trek Into Darkness”); and Golden Globe nominee Zhang Ziyi (“Memoirs of a Geisha”).

The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

Dougherty directs from a script he wrote with Zach Shields. The film is being produced by Mary Parent, Alex Garcia, Brian Rogers and Thomas Tull, with Barry H. Waldman, Zach Shields, Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira serving as executive producers and Alexandra Mendes co-producing for Legendary.

Behind the scenes, Dougherty’s creative team includes director of photography Lawrence Sher, whose past credits include “War Dogs” and “Godzilla,” for which he handled additional photography; production designer Scott Chambliss (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”); editor Roger Barton (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the “Transformers” films); costume designer Louise Migenbach (the “X-Men” and “Hangover” films); and Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Guillaume Rocheron (“Godzilla,” “Ghost in the Shell,” and part of the Oscar-winning team behind “Life of Pi”).

Filming is taking place mainly in Atlanta, Georgia.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, the film is currently scheduled for release in March 2019, and will be distributed in 3D and 2D and in select IMAX theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, except in Japan, where it will be distributed by Toho Co., Ltd.

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Motion capture technology used in epic action ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’

Humanity’s last stand is at stake in the upcoming epic action “War for the Planet of the Apes” where peace is shattered in a winner-takes-all war for the planet. Here we see the incredible transformation of the actors in mo-cap (motion capture) technology as they bring their characters to life on the big screen.

As the war rages on in “War for the Planet of the Apes,” the third and climactic chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster trilogy, director Matt Reeves and an all-star cast unleash the rapidly evolving simians into a world boiling over with anger and revenge. In a flurry of mythic filmmaking, audiences will witness the pivotal moment that determines the fate of human civilization forever –and be immersed in the ape leader Caesar’s emotional quest to lead his young society to a new home, even as a war between his belief in family and honor versus the lure of a vengeful reckoning churns within his soul.

Big ideas and potent storytelling combine as “War For the Planet of the Apes” pushes the series into new realms of legend-building as it explores the values that forge a civilization. It all comes to life driven by the most complex and intense performance by Andy Serkis yet as the majestic Caesar, and groundbreaking visual effects from Weta Digital. Also returning to the series is Karin Konoval as Caesar’s trusted advisor, Maurice, Terry Notary as Caesar’s right-hand man, Rocket, as well as Judy Greer as Caesar’s wife Cornelia and Toby Kebbell as Koba.

The development of leading-edge performance capture technology – technology that can record even the tiniest nuances of movement, gesture and emotion to animated characters via human actors — has led to the creation of some of motion pictures’ most memorable personalities, including the apes seen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The filmmakers once again turned to the visual effects artists at the New Zealand-based visual effects house Weta Digital. “Working with Dan Lemmon and the artists at Weta is so inspiring,” says Reeves. “They are constantly raising the bar of what is possible, and the results in this film are absolutely a high water mark in visual effects to date.”

Weta Digital has continued to evolve their capture technology over the three films to ensure no matter where the story goes, the performance of the actors onset is always recorded so the animators can see the dynamics at play. “When we shot Rise, performance capture had never before been attempted in an open environment outside a soundstage, and we were the first to shoot in the woods,” Peter Chernin recalls. “Now we’re going to mountaintops and into the snow. People don’t know how extraordinary complex it is.”

Giving Weta another new challenge, War features a dozen key ape characters, more than in the previous films, and they also are speaking with more sophistication. War marks another first for performance capture – the first time it has been used in extreme weather, including falling snow. Lemmon explains the daunting task: “We had to take a process already considered very sensitive and carefully calibrate it into areas with sub-freezing temperatures and snow flurries. It’s exciting, because we’ve opened up the possibility that you can use performance capture anywhere, interacting with any environment and still have full confidence that you’ve captured every nuance an actor is bringing.”

“War for the Planet of the Apes” opens July 12, 2017 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Horror fan-favorite James Wan to produce ‘The Conjuring’ spin-off ‘The Nun’

Filmmaker James Wan, director of the record-setting horror hits “The Conjuring” and “The Conjuring 2,” explores another dark corner of that universe with New Line Cinema’s “The Nun.”

Helmed by award-winning director Corin Hardy (“The Hallow”), the new fright-fest has begun production on location in Romania. It will be produced by Wan through his Atomic Monster production company, along with Peter Safran, who has produced all of the films in “The Conjuring” franchise. “The Nun” is set for release on July 13, 2018.

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

“The Nun” stars Oscar nominated Demian Bichir (“A Better Life”) as Father Burke, Taissa Farmiga (TV’s “American Horror Story”) as Sister Irene, Jonas Bloquet (“Elle”) as local villager Frenchie, Charlotte Hope (TV’s “Game of Thrones”) as the abbey’s Sister Victoria, Ingrid Bisu (“Toni Erdmann”) as Sister Oana, and Bonnie Aarons, reprising her “Conjuring 2” role as the title character.

Wan’s Atomic Monster slate includes “Annabelle” and “Lights Out,” as well as the upcoming “Annabelle: Creation,” with Wan serving as producer on all. Co-creator of the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises, Wan directed the worldwide hit “Furious 7,” and is next set to helm the highly anticipated feature “Aquaman.”

Safran also produced the sequel “Annabelle: Creation,” opening August 10th and is producing “Aquaman.”

Hardy will direct “The Nun” from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman (upcoming “It”), story by Dauberman & James Wan.

Serving as executive producers are Gary Dauberman and Todd Williams, with Michael Clear as co-producer.

Joining Hardy behind the scenes are director of photography Maxime Alexandre (“The Voices,” upcoming “Annabelle: Creation”), production designer Jennifer Spence (“Lights Out,” the “Insidious” films), editor Michel Aller (“Lights Out,” “Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension”), and costume designer Sharon Gilham (TV’s “Black Mirror”).

“The Nun” is a New Line Cinema presentation, an Atomic Monster / Safran Company production, and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Tom Cruise-starrer ‘The Mummy’ boasts of weightless stunts in Zero G

All hell breaks loose when Egyptian princess Ahmanet’s sarcophagus is being flown from Iraq to London and ravens begin to crash thru the cockpit window, in Universal Pictures’ The Mummy (in Philippine cinemas on June 7, 2017). As one might imagine, things go downhill from there…and the plane begins to dive.

Director Alex Kurtzman and lead actor Tom Cruise were vocal from the jump with special effects department head Dominic Tuohy that they wanted everything to happen for real; this Zero G stunt was no exception.

For The Mummy’s pivotal plane-crash sequence, the cockpit action was shot on a stage at Shepperton Studios, while the VFX ravens were added digitally during post production. However, as soon as the sequence called for shooting the interior of the body of the plane during the crash, all movement was done practically, safely on stage.

“There is meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail on our sets for this film,” raves Kurtzman. “Every set tells a story and reveals something about the character- these sets are a gift for any filmmaker. I constantly walk on these sets and my jaw just hits the floor. This cargo plane set build is a huge artistic and engineering feat.”

On stage S at Shepperton Studios, this huge 20-ton steel frame cargo plane set was constructed and mounted onto a hydraulic base…proving to be the most complex build for the production. This gimbal allowed for continuous rotation with the actors inside. Simultaneously, it provided a 15-degree tilt—front and back—to simulate take off and start of the crash.

This cargo plane set was built from the ground up by Tuohy and his team of 30. SFX began working on the plane build for 16 weeks, then began working with the stunts department. To accomplish this stunning feat of movie magic, there were skilled technicians drawing the rigs—as well as model makers, engineers, power technicians and senior technicians…many who have worked on Dominic’s team for more than 30 years.

Tuohy underscores the pride the crew took in their work: “We didn’t want this stunt to look contrived. We wanted it to use physics and real time. As far as I am aware, this is the first time this has been done for a film, and we embraced that.”

Never been done before for a film, the production then introduced a real plane at Novespace headquarters, housed in Bordeaux, France, into the mix to complete and film this Zero G sequence.

At Novespace a real Airbus A310 aircraft was flown, with 40 cast and crew members inside to experience the Zero G effect. The cast crew did 16 parabolic flights within a two-hour period, twice a day over two days. For the stunt, the pilots enacted a total of 64 parabolas (repeated weightlessness sessions). Each parabola allowed for the filming of a key sequence in the scene.

The 20 seconds of weightlessness audiences will see on film leads the crash sequence, with Nick trying desperately to grab parachutes from the plane wall and pass one to Jenny. Each take filmed was unpredictable as the cast and crew floated weightless around the plane cabin…at the mercy of physics.

Again the interior of the set was all rubber, this time with obvious weight and safety restrictions for the in-flight journey. This real plane set was 10% less wide and 40% lower in height than the cargo plane set rig that was built on the studio stage.

Tuohy concludes that the interplay between the Zero G flight and the cargo set had to be perfect. He ends: “We wanted to keep everything as real as possible, so the trick is for us to try and do that seamlessly between the real Zero G flight and the physical SFX done on stage.”

The Mummy is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

 

Universal Pictures unveils ‘Dark Universe’ for its classic monster film series

Universal Pictures announced May 23 that its series of films reviving the studio’s classic monster characters for a new generation will be known as “Dark Universe.”

The motion logo for the new initiative features a musical theme composed by Danny Elfman and will debut in theaters preceding The Mummy, which will be released in Philippine cinemas June 7.

(Watch the Dark Universe clip below.)

The announcement includes details of the enterprise relaunching Universal’s iconic characters into modern cinema, as well as confirmations of superstar cast and that Academy Award® winner Bill Condon will direct Bride of Frankenstein.
Dark Universe was begun by core creatives Alex Kurtzman, who also serves as director and producer of The Mummy, the inaugural film in the new classic monster series, and The Mummy producer Chris Morgan, who recently saw The Fate of the Furious, the sixth film he wrote for the Fast & Furious franchise, claim the biggest opening in history at the global box office when it opened April. Also joining the enterprise to inspire and entertain a new generation are such visionary talents as Oscar winner® Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible series, The Usual Suspects) and David Koepp (War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park).

“We take enormous pride in the creativity and passion that has inspired the reimagining of Universal’s iconic monsters and promise audiences we will expand this series strategically,” said Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures. “The enterprise masterfully developed by Chris and Alex will allow each subsequent chapter the right time to find the perfect cast, filmmakers and vision to fulfill it. As we launch Dark Universe with Danny’s provocative theme beforeThe Mummy and collaborate with a brilliant filmmaker like Bill to weave the story of a very modern woman in a very classic tale, we feel confident we’re off to a tremendous start.”

“When Universal approached us with the idea of reimagining these classic characters, we recognized the responsibility of respecting their legacy while bringing them into new and modern adventures,” said Kurtzman and Morgan. “The studio and our fellow creative collaborators have championed and challenged us as we’ve begun to spin the web of Dark Universe. It’s our hope these movies will engross longtime fans and spark the imaginations of brand-new ones.”

From his first score on Tim Burton’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and his iconic theme for The Simpsons—not to mention his collaborations with filmmakers including Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Sam Raimi, Rob Marshall, Guillermo del Toro, Joss Whedon and Peter Jackson—four-time Academy Award® nominee Danny Elfman’s inimitable compositions have vaulted him into one of the most versatile and accomplished composers in history.

“I grew up on monsters,” said Elfman. “Monsters were my life, and these iconic Universal monsters were almost like my family. I simply wouldn’t be the same without them. When I got the opportunity to compose a theme for the Dark Universe logo, of course I jumped at it. What could be more fun than connecting to this world that has always been so deeply imbedded in my psyche? I tried to find something that was new but still had some connections with the past—the origins—at least in a subtle way. Something that was looking forward to a creative, fertile, imaginative future that Dark Universe will enter, and at the same time saluting the heritage of the tragic heroes (or anti-heroes) of my childhood. To the Monsters!!!!”

In another exciting development, Oscar® winner Bill Condon will follow his worldwide smash Beauty and the Beast, one of this year’s biggest hits—which crossed $1 billion at the global box office and became the most successful musical of all time—by directing Bride of Frankenstein, from a screenplay by Koepp. The next film from Dark Universe, Bride of Frankenstein will be released on Thursday, February 14, 2019.

In a related move, Universal announced that it will not release a Dark Universe film as previously planned for April 13, 2018, and that Bride will instead be the next chapter in the unspooling series of movies following this year’s The Mummy. The actress chosen to play the lead role in Condon’s version of this timeless story will be announced soon.

“I’m very excited to bring a new Bride of Frankenstein to life on screen, particularly since James Whale’s original creation is still so potent,” stated Condon. “The Bride of Frankenstein remains the most iconic female monster in film history, and that’s a testament to Whale’s masterpiece—which endures as one of the greatest movies ever made.”

Dark Universe films will be distinguished by performances from some of the most talented and popular global superstars stepping into iconic roles, as well as electric new talents whose careers are starting to break through. While previously announced, the stars of both imminent and future Dark Universe projects are gathered for the first time in the attached photo: The Invisible Man and Frankenstein’s Monster will be played by, respectively, blockbuster icon Johnny Depp and Academy Award® winner Javier Bardem, who appear together later this summer in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Those actors join superstar Tom Cruise as soldier of fortune Nick Morton and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll, who lead the all-star cast of The Mummy, along with Sofia Boutella, the actress who embodies the title role in that film.

At its organizing principle, Dark Universe films are connected by a mysterious multi-national organization known as Prodigium. Led by the enigmatic and brilliant Dr. Henry Jekyll, Prodigium’s mission is to track, study and—when necessary—destroy evil embodied in the form of monsters in our world. Working outside the aegis of any government, and with practices concealed by millennia of secrecy, Prodigium protects the public from knowledge of the evil that exists just beyond the thin membrane of civilized society…and will go to any length to contain it. To learn more about Dark Universe and Prodigium, visit www.DarkUniverse.com and www.WelcometoProdigium.com.

Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters. Welcome to Dark Universe.

Film adaptation of 2016 Palanca-winning ‘Deadma Walking’ now in production

Filming has begun on “Deadma Walking” which won the 2nd Prize in the Screenplay division of the 2016 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the most prestigious literary prize in the Philippines. Past winners in the same category include the blockbuster romance-comedy “That Thing Called Tadhana.”

The story revolves around gay BFFs (best friends for life) John and Mark whose friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish. The result is a comedy of “deadly” proportions.

Palanca juror Soxie Topacio, an actor and director, says it’s “comedy after comedy with a surprise ending.” Fellow juror Ed Lejano, a film writer and director, raves, “In this age of fake news, ‘Deadma Walking’ promises to be this year’s ‘Die Beautiful’ in a rollicking comedy about a fabulous, fake death.”

At least two other industry stalwarts are fans of the award-winning screenplay. “It’s beautiful!” director/writer Mark Meily cheers. “I was looking for pitfalls to happen especially since it is about a man faking his death, pero wala. Very human yung mga events that they go through. Galing!”

Film and advertising executive Madonna Tarrayo was hooked right away when she read the title. She adds, “And when I finally read the script, I found it witty and engaging. Tamang-tama ang timpla.”

For his part, ‘Deadma Walking’ screenwriter Eric Cabahug describes the film as “a celebration of the creativity, chutzpah, and can-do spirit of the Filipino in the face of trials and adversity.”

Starring in the laugh-out-loud film are Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman, both fine actors with several awards under their belt.

Joross was named Best New Male TV Personality at the 19th Star Awards for TV, Best TV Actor at the 23rd Star Awards for TV, and Best Supporting Actor for the film “Intoy Syokoy sa Kalye Marino” at the 8th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Edgar Allan, meanwhile, won Best Actor for “Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me” at the 7th Cinemalaya filmfest, the German Moreno Youth Award at the 2012 FAMAS, and Best Actor in a Comedy at the 2012 Golden Screen Awards. He also won the Gawad Buhay Best Actor and Aliw Awards Best Actor for his performance in the stage adaptation of the movie classic “Bona.”

“Deadma Walking” presents Joross and Edgar Allan with one of the biggest acting challenges in their careers and promises to fully showcase their range and depth.

Directing the movie is industry veteran Julius Alfonso (“Felix Manalo”), a longtime assistant director for award-winning directors Joel Lamangan and Chris Martinez. The stellar production team also includes award-winning cinematographer Lee Briones (“Baler,” “Tanging Yaman”), production designer Angel Diesta (“Die Beautiful”), and editor Vanessa de Leon (“Kimmy Dora,” “The Gifted”).

The movie is produced by T-Rex Productions, producer of the historical “Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli,” and the comedy “Patay Na Si Hesus” which won the Audience Award at last year’s QCinema Film Festival.

Fun, fierce, and fabulous, “Deadma Walking” will grace the big screens towards the end of 2017.

Production underway on Warner Bros.’ superhero action adventure ‘Aquaman’

BURBANK, CA, May 3, 2017 – Principal photography has begun on Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “Aquaman,” helmed by James Wan (“The Conjuring” films, “Furious 7”). Jason Momoa stars in the title role, returning to the character he plays in this November’s “Justice League.”

The film also stars Amber Heard (“Justice League,” “Magic Mike XXL”) as Mera; Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (“Platoon,” “Spider-Man 2”) as Vulko; Temuera Morrison (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” “Green Lantern”) as Tom Curry; Dolph Lundgren (“The Expendables” films) as Nereus; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (upcoming “Baywatch,” Netflix’s “The Get Down”) as Black Manta; with Patrick Wilson (“The Conjuring” films, “Watchmen”) as Orm/Ocean Master; and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (“The Hours,” “Lion”) as Atlanna.

The film is being produced by Peter Safran, with Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Rob Cowan, Jon Berg and Geoff Johns serving as executive producers.

Wan’s team behind the scenes includes such frequent collaborators as Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (“The Conjuring 2,” “Forrest Gump”), his five-time editor Kirk M. Morri (“The Conjuring” films, “Furious 7,” the “Insidious” films) and production designer Bill Brzeski (“Furious 7”). They are joined by costume designer Kym Barrett (“The Matrix” trilogy; “The Amazing Spider-Man”), along with Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Charles Gibson (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 & 2”) and VFX supervisor Kelvin McIlwain (“The Fast and the Furious” franchise).

As is fitting for the king of the sea, the shoot will take place mainly in locations spanning the stunning Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia, with extensive filming to be accomplished at Village Roadshow Studios. The production will utilize the facility’s sprawling backlot and all nine VRS soundstages, including its newest, Stage 9, the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Filming will also take place in Newfoundland, Sicily and Tunisia.

An icon for over 75 years, Aquaman is known by fans of DC Comics as the ruler of Atlantis but committed to protecting the entire globe, both land and sea.

Currently set for a 2018 release, Aquaman is based on characters from DC.

Chris Evans plays uncle to young child math prodigy in ‘Gifted’

Chris Evans’ latest movie “Gifted” where he co-stars with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, along with a multi-talented cast that includes Jenny Slate, McKenna Grace and Lindsay Duncan is a deeply charming story of a young child math prodigy and his uncle who are unexpectedly thrown into a custody battle that neither of them approves.

“Gifted” began its journey to the big screen when producer Karen Lunder, who has produced an assortment of films including “Arrival,” remembers a conversation with producer Andy Cohen in which she asked: “‘What do you have that’s great and different? What is the thing you’re most excited about?’ He sent me Gifted that was written by Tom Flynn. When I read the script, it had this timeless quality to it.”

Tom Flynn has had a successful career in Hollywood. “He’d done really well selling big comedy scripts to the studios,” producer and Flynn’s literary manager Andy Cohen explains. Flynn left Hollywood for Florida where he started selling real estate and semi-retired. At the urging of his wife, he finally began to write the movie he really wanted to write. His inspiration for Gifted was actually his sister, whom he describes as “the most unassuming ridiculously smart person you’ve ever met. The script eventually landed on Hollywood’s Black List, a survey of film executives’ favorite screenplays yet to be produced.

Evans worked with director Marc Webb to create who they wanted Frank Adler to be. “Frank’s a tricky guy,” Evans says. “He has a lot of guilt, which is tough to play because it’s beneath the surface. You can’t exactly show your cards and he’s kind of a closed-off emotional guy anyway. He’s tough to read. I think he’s exceptional but in a different way than his sister. There’s a lot of complexity in his past and he’s someone who didn’t cope as well with it as he does now.”

The filmmakers also spoke to a lot of mathematicians and prodigies in advance of filming Gifted as it was important to get the math and Mary’s giftedness right. They met with Terrence Tao, a UCLA Mathematics Professor and Fields Medal winner who is an expert on Navier Stokes and deemed the only person to have come close to solving it. It was a colleague of Terry’s at UCLA that turned her on to Jordan Ellenberg. When Karen Lunder picked up Jordan Ellenberg’s book, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, she knew his was a brain they wanted to pick to help them with their research for GIFTED. “We talked about Mary’s story in the movie, and how she reflected my own,” Ellenberg says. “I grew up in a mathematical household – both my parents were statisticians, and I was really interested in math from a very early age. As far back as I can remember, certainly by the age of two or three, I used to sit under the kitchen table and multiply numbers together.” Ellenberg recognizes what he calls “the push-pull” in the film as “one that a lot of kids and parents feel, because on one hand, if a child has the passion and the skill and the ability and a love for something, you want to allow that to flower, right? But at the same time, you’ve got to remember that a kid is a kid. They are not their gift. They’re a person first.”

When Evans first read the script, he was drawn to the dialogue – “the music of the words, the exchange, the repartee” — and the story. “I love character pieces that involve family drama, they’re very relatable.” That, and the attraction of very intelligent people exchanging clever banter, he says, “is just very juicy for an actor.”

“Gifted” opens May 3, 2017 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Shooting begins on action comedy ‘Game Night’ starring Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams

Principal photography is underway on New Line Cinema’s action comedy “Game Night,” starring Jason Bateman (the “Horrible Bosses” films, TV’s “Arrested Development”) and Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams (“Spotlight,” “Dr. Strange”). Filming began on location in Atlanta, Georgia, under the direction of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, marking their second film as co-directors following “Vacation.”

Joining Bateman and McAdams in the cast are Billy Magnussen (“Bridge of Spies,” TV’s “American Crime Story”), Sharon Horgan (Amazon’s “Catastrophe”), Lamorne Morris (TV’s “New Girl”), Jesse Plemons (“Black Mass,” TV’s “Fargo”), Kylie Bunbury (TV’s “Pitch,” “Under the Dome”), Michael Cyril Creighton (“Spotlight”) and Kyle Chandler (“Manchester by the Sea,” TV’s “Bloodline”).

Bateman and McAdams star as Max and Annie, whose weekly couples game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s charismatic brother, Brooks (Chandler), arranges a murder mystery party, complete with fake thugs and faux federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all part of the game…right? But as the six uber-competitive gamers set out to solve the case and win, they begin to discover that neither this “game”—nor Brooks—are what they seem to be. Over the course of one chaotic night, the friends find themselves increasingly in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn. With no rules, no points, and no idea who all the players are, this could turn out to be the most fun they’ve ever had…or game over.

Goldstein and Daley are directing the film from an original screenplay by Mark Perez (“Accepted”). John Davis (“Joy”) and Jason Bateman are producing, with Marc S. Fischer, John Fox and James Garavente serving as executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes team includes director of photography Barry Peterson (“Central Intelligence,” “We’re the Millers”), Oscar-nominated production designer Michael Corenblith (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Apollo 13”), editors Jamie Gross (“Vacation”) and David Egan, and costume designer Debra McGuire (“Vacation,” “Ted”).

“Game Night” is a New Line Cinema presentation and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

Ryan Reynolds back with ‘Deadpool’ writers for sci-fi thriller ‘Life’

Deadpool himself Ryan Reynolds stars in Columbia Pictures’ new terrifying sci-fi thriller Life as astronaut Rory Adams, an engineer and specialist in space walking. “This script had such a degree of reality and a feeling of constant tension,” says Reynolds, who stars alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson.

The film reunites Reynolds with his Deadpool writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and his Safe House director Daniel Espinosa. “It begins with an air of discovery that turns to a tension that permeates the whole film as we learn more and more about this thing that we’ve put on board the ISS,” he says.

Life is about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

“Rhett and Paul wrote a very scary, well-paced thriller, but it’s really fed by their investment in the characters,” says producer Julie Lynn. “These six astronauts are smart, industrious, tenacious, hardworking – and when things get hairy we care about what’s going to happen to them.”

Offers Reynolds, “Some of us are a little more excited than others. Some are incredibly aggressive, others more conservative. And these ideas are mixed together – but like a lot of human actions, we push things a little farther than we should.”

Reynolds’ character, Adams, is the spacewalk specialist, and he’ll tell you just how cool that is. (It’s f-in cool.) Just charming enough to keep from being called cocky, and way more handsome than he needs to be, Adams is the rock star of the mission.

“A mission specialist is a fancy way of saying he’s a mechanic who understands how the ship works, how to fix anything that breaks,” says Reynolds. “He’s also the guy that specializes in the spacewalk and he operates the Canadarm, a system that they use to capture the Mars capsule that is hurdling through space.”

Shooting for the space station scenes, the filmmakers created a zero G effect for the actors with harnesses and other effects. Reynolds says that while on Earth, it takes a good deal of force to stop momentum or push off of an object, it takes only a slight touch in space. “If you’re truly weightless, just applying the slightest amount of pressure in one direction will send your entire body in another direction,” he says. “The trick is not to land. Even if you’re grabbing onto something as you stop, just touching it will actually make you stop. I spoke to some astronauts going into this and they were saying that you can actually get stuck in the middle of a room, and you would perish there unless somebody comes and pushes you to a grab handle.”

On the whole, Reynolds found zero gravity an exciting challenge. “We had to do a lot of training,” he recalls. “We had an obstacle course set up in the weeks leading up to shooting where we played around on the wires and learned what the wires are capable of doing and how much we could move around. There’s no sequence in the movie where we’re not weightless. We were always on wires, always floating and slightly moving all the time. It can feel bizarre, because you get invested emotionally in the scene, and then suddenly you forget to move, you forget to float. It was a challenge, but it’s fun playing an astronaut.”

Still showing in select cinemas across the Philippines, Life is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.