WATCH: Follow ‘The Star’ with first official trailer

Experience the first-ever Christmas from an entirely new perspective. Watch the first official trailer for Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star below.

In The Star, a small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock and Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told – the first Christmas.

The Star is directed by Timothy Reckart from the screenplay by Carlos Kotkin.

The voice cast includes Steven Yeun (Bo the donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Mary), Zachary Levi (Joseph), Keegan-Michael Key (Dave the dove), Kelly Clarkson (Leah the horse), Anthony Anderson (Zach the goat), Aidy Bryant (Ruth the sheep), Ving Rhames (Thaddeus the dog), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus the dog), Patricia Heaton (Edith the cow), Kristin Chenoweth (Abby the Mouse), Christopher Plummer (King Herod), and Tracy Morgan (Felix), and Tyler Perry (Cyrus) and Oprah Winfrey (Deborah).

Opening across the Philippines on December 6, The Star is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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4-minute footage from horror film ‘It’ to play in front of ‘Annabelle: Creation’

Warner Bros. Philippines has just confirmed that an exclusive four-minute footage from the upcoming horror thriller It has been attached to play before Annabelle: Creation when the latter opens in cinemas across the country on Wednesday, August 23.

The fresh footage will only be seen in theaters and won’t be officially released online.

Audiences of Annabelle: Creation are likewise advised to stay in their seats after the end-credits.

New Line Cinema’s Annabelle: Creation has David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) helming the follow up to 2014’s hugely successful Annabelle, which scared up nearly $257 million at the worldwide box office during its run in theaters. The new film is once again being produced by Peter Safran and James Wan, who also partnered so effectively on The Conjuring movies.

In Annabelle: Creation, several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

The film stars Stephanie Sigman (Spectre), Talitha Bateman (The 5th Wave), Lulu Wilson (Ouija: Origin of Evil), Philippa Coulthard (After the Dark), Grace Fulton (Badland), Lou Lou Safran (The Choice), Samara Lee (The Last Witch Hunter), Tayler Buck in her feature film debut, with Anthony LaPaglia (TV’s Without a Trace) and Miranda Otto (Showtime’s Homeland, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy).

Meanwhile, New Line Cinema’s IT is based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel of the same name, and will open in Philippine cinemas September 7, 2017.

When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

Directed by Andrés Muschietti (Mama), IT stars Bill Skarsgård (Allegiant) as the story’s central villain, Pennywise. An ensemble of young actors also star in the film, including Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip), Sophia Lillis (37), Finn Wolfhard (Netflix’s Stranger Things), Wyatt Oleff (Guardians of the Galaxy), Chosen Jacobs (upcoming Cops and Robbers), Jack Dylan Grazer (Tales of Halloween) and Nicholas Hamilton (Captain Fantastic).

Julian Trono, Ella Cruz topbill teen romantic comedy ‘Fangirl/Fanboy’

Young dance sensations Julian Trono and Ella Cruz are having their launching movie as a loveteam via “Fangirl/Fanboy,” opening in Philippine cinemas on September 6, 2017.

A Joyce Beran production for Viva Films and N2 productions, this K-Pop-inspired romantic comedy film is the directorial debut of Barry Gonzalez.

Julian plays the role of Ollie Fernandez, a highly confident one-hit boy wonder. He admires Korean actress Soo Mi Young (played by Yam Concepcion) who in turn portrays the character of Sandy/Android 5000 in the Korean drama “Program for Love.” Ella Cruz enters the picture as Aimee, the official dubber of Soo Mi Young. Also in the supporting cast is Ronnie Liang who plays Min Jun Park, the partner of Soo Mi Young in the drama program.

The hilarious and heart-strumming twists and turns begin when Ollie meets his biggest fan, Aimee. He seeks help from her to improve his acting much to her advantage to mingle with her idol. Consequently, Aimee risks on being heartbroken as Ollie is catapulted to stardom.

Catch the newest tandem of Julian Trono and Ella Cruz in the big screen starting September 6, 2017. VIVA Films presents the refreshing story of teen-oriented romantic comedy film “Fangirl/Fanboy.”

What’s the buzz about road comedy film ‘Patay Na si Hesus?’

No one gets crucified in the new satirical comedy “Patay na si Hesus.” Well, no one or nothing except Pinoy cinema’s tired cliches, our outdated biases, predictable expectations and actors’ over-the-top performances.

The latter gets skewered by the cast’s purposely deadpan dialogue delivery – led by the effortless Jaclyn Jose – rendering punchlines funnier, the stabs more razor-sharp. Did we mention that most of the lines are in Cebuano? How more eccentric can this film get?

“Patay na si Hesus,” which opens in Philippine cinemas August 16 as part of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, is a quirky look at a family’s roadtrip from Cebu to Dumaguete, en route to the wake of its estranged father, the titular Hesus.

Jose plays Iyay, the feisty mother to a brood of three: Hubert, who has Down Syndrome; Jude, a lovesick trans man; and Jay, who is living the bum life. One unplanned detour comes after another, each pushing this family closer to confronting the past and figuring out how to enjoy the ride to an uncertain future.

In the following interview, director Victor Villanueva, screenwriter Fatrick Tabada and producer and co-writer Moira Lang, discuss what gave life to a film about death, and why audiences should take the time to attend the wake. Quick answer: Because they’ll laugh all the way.

Question: Fatrick, what motivated you to write this script? How did the story come about? Was it somehow autobiographical?

Fatrick Tabada: I wrote this for a school requirement. So the initial motivation was just to pass the course. And then I submitted it to QCinema which gave it a grant, the seed money that jumpstarted the film. I based the story on my family, so, yes, it’s semi-autobiographical. Like the family in the movie, my family had been estranged from my father for thirteen years when he died. Like them, we went to his funeral. I named Miss Jaclyn’s character after my mom – Fatima, nickname: Iyay.

Q: Please talk about the characters. They are not the usual bunch, which is refreshing. What compelled you to create them?

FT: Being exposed to people from all walks of life and coming from personal experience, I believe it is important to create on-screen representations of people that are less depicted in mainstream media, e.g., a strong-willed single mother, a person with Down syndrome, and a transman. They are so underrepresented, or portrayed negatively, and sometimes treated as objects of ridicule. But these are authentic characters with real attributes that everyone can relate to. That’s why it’s important for me to write about them because they actually reflect and present an accurate, if whimsical, picture of a contemporary family and society as a whole.

Q: Victor, what drew you to the script?

Victor Villanueva: I love the characters. Tawang-tawa ako sa script, but at the same time, I initially had my doubts if I can pull it off as this was a different kind of comedy. But I remembered the wise words of our producer, Bianca Balbuena, “If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing.” So I took the plunge.

Q: What’s it like directing Jaclyn Jose?

VV: She’s very professional, very collaborative with the cast and crew. She’s a master of deadpan acting – I think she’s an underrated comedian.

Q: Moira, was the script’s satirical tone on purpose? Did you always imagine it to be a comedy?

Moira Lang: When I read Fatrick’s first draft I laughed out loud several times. It’s irreverent bordering on iconoclastic, and that’s just my cup of tea. Strictly speaking, it’s not a comedy – the premise is not comedic: Learning of a family member’s death, a mother and her children go on a road trip to make it to that person’s funeral. It’s a drama filled with razor-sharp observations on family, that’s also a showcase of the finest deadpan acting there is, that’s also a wry commentary on the traditions we have frankly though quietly outgrown as a people, that’s also a lovingly forgiving take on human frailties. All these, combined, are what make the preview audiences react to it with laughter and tears.

Q: The film clearly brims with commentary on religious issues. Care to discuss this?

ML: A great majority of our population is Catholic, but how deep that Catholicism still runs in our veins is, I think, subject to debate. I do not question the sincerity of those who practice their faith nor belittle even the most rote displays of religious tradition. I believe, however, that when it comes down to matters of the heart, especially where it involves family, it is compassion – and not the moral judgments of religion – on which we rely instinctively, primally. I think the film succeeds in showing that. We absorbed the best part of religious teaching (love of the other) more than the bad (fire and brimstone and the fires of hell). And I think that is divine.

Now showing across Philippine cinemas,“Patay na si Hesus” is produced by T-Rex Productions and distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures.

T.J. Miller voices emoji with every expression in ‘The Emoji Movie’

In Textopolis, every face emoji has one expression and one expression only. But Gene doesn’t have just one expression, he has EVERY expression! He has no filter for his emotions – if he feels it, he shows it, in Sony Pictures Animation’s new comedy The Emoji Movie.

Funny, charming, awkward, and optimistic, Gene wishes he wasn’t so different. Determined to fit in and make his parents proud, he sets off on a dangerous trek through the world of the phone to change himself into a single-expression emoji. But what Gene discovers on the journey is that embracing his self-expression is the more powerful option…

The role is played by T.J. Miller (Big Hero 6, Deadpool). “This character was created with T.J. Miller in mind,” says director Tony Leondis. “He’s so ebullient, so expressive, so full of life – he can’t be held back. He’s a time bomb of energy, excitement, laughter and emotions. He wears his heart on his sleeve – he’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. He enjoys life and people – and that’s how I see Gene, a kind and expressive person.”

“Gene is a ‘meh’ emoji, which means he’s supposed to be disinterested and always have that ‘meh, who cares, I’m over it’ expression on his face all the time,” Miller explains. “But Gene doesn’t always feel meh, so he ends up with the wrong expression on his face pretty often, and this is quite scandalous in Textopolis.”

That scandal has made Gene an outsider – and worse, when a text is sent with Gene making the wrong expression, the powers that be set in motion a plan to delete him. Desperate, he joins with his friend Hi-5 – a once-popular emoji whose fame has waned – to find the notorious codebreaker Jailbreak. “Gene and Hi-5 make a deal with her,” says Miller. “She’ll help reprogram Gene and get Hi-5 into the favorite section, if they help her get past a firewall that will let her leave the phone.”

The stakes are huge for Gene, Hi-5 and Jailbreak. “On Gene’s first day of work, he chokes badly – he freaks out, he doesn’t know what to do, he sends the wrong facial expression out to the phone, and the phone’s owner, Alex, thinks that his phone is broken,” says Miller. “When they leave the Textopolis app and go into other apps, they activate those apps – Just Dance and Candy Crush start without him playing them. And that creates embarrassing situations for Alex, so he’s starts thinking he needs to get the phone wiped, and that would mean that Textopolis would be erased from existence.”

Opening across the Philippines on August 23, 2017, The Emoji Movie is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

‘Annabelle: Creation’ unveils origin of haunted doll

In New Line Cinema’s Annabelle: Creation, the mysterious doll was created out of love—a father’s love for his daughter. As a result, the filmmakers centered the foundation of Annabelle’s sinister nature on the ultimate tragedy, the loss of a child, and just how far parents would go to assuage their grief.

Director David Sandberg explains, “The Mullins are a family who went through a horrible experience, and didn’t deal with it in a good way. Instead, they let evil into their lives, and now, to atone for certain things that have happened, they make another bad decision.”

That choice is to relieve their loneliness of the past 12 years by inviting six young orphaned girls who’ve recently lost their only shelter and their guardian, a nun, to live with them. “It’s a bad idea,” Sandberg adds, “because, of course, Annabelle is there, too.”

The parents, Samuel and Esther Mullins, are played by veteran actors Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto. “To have Miranda and Anthony play the Mullins was incredible,” Sandberg states. “They are such class acts and they are always just great in everything they do.”

Sandberg wasn’t the only one pleased to have LaPaglia on board. The actor’s 13-year-old daughter was ecstatic when her dad took the job. “She has seen me working her whole life,” he says. “She’ll ask me what I’m doing, I’ll tell her, and there’s not much response. But when I told her I was doing this film, she flipped out and was like, ‘I’m telling all my friends at school, this is the greatest moment ever; you don’t know how you’ve made my life!’ I didn’t quite realize the popularity of the Annabelle character or the franchise, but it certainly made my daughter very happy. In fact, this is my first movie in the genre, but I liked it a lot.”

Otto herself confesses to being intrigued by the role in part because of her own childhood interests. “I was really into dolls when I was growing up, and I used to collect the antique ones,” she says. She also readily acknowledges that “because they’re based on something lifelike, but have no life in them, there’s something about them that’s essentially disturbing.”

Her character, Esther, would likely disagree—at least at first. “At the beginning of the story, they’re in a very happy place, Samuel and Esther. He makes beautiful dolls for children, they live in this wonderful old house and they have a beautiful daughter, Bee. They’re a very happy family.”

“I call him a master doll maker,” LaPaglia says of his character. “He makes a living making these fairly stunning dolls. Personally, I think anything that sits in a corner, has its eyes open and stares at you all the time is a little unsettling. But Samuel is a craftsman who takes pride in his work and has a great relationship with his wife and child. He and Bee have a game they play, kind of like hide-and-seek, but they use notes to give each other clues.”

But the idyllic life the Mullins live doesn’t last; their beloved Bee is lost to them in a tragic accident. “Cut to 12 years later and you have a very dysfunctional Esther and Samuel Mullins,” LaPaglia observes. “You can tell something’s amiss.”

Opening across the Philippines on August 23, Annabelle: Creation is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Feel-good barkada movie ‘Bar Boys’ uncovers secret lives of law students

“Bar Boys,” a feel-good barkada movie starring heartthrobs Rocco Nacino, Carlo Aquino, Enzo Pineda and Kean Cipriano, presents the real lives of law students in the Philippines. This motion picture written and directed by young filmmaker Kip Oebanda is one of the 12 films in the lineup of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) which happens from August 16 to 22.

Direk Kip spent more than a year researching for the project, talking with law students, graduates and dropouts from different schools; interviewing professors and judges; sometimes even sitting in actual law classes. “It helped that I was not a law student so I was able to look into their world from an outsider’s point of view,” says Direk.

“Bar Boys” tells the stories of four friends who all wanted to go to law school. Rocco plays a happy-go-lucky fellow whose family is always proud of whatever he achieves. Carlo’s character comes from a simple family who goes to great lengths just to keep him in school. Enzo takes on the role of a guy who must live up to the legacy of his lawyer-father and whose conflict deals with choosing between his studies and his girlfriend. Kean’s character, meanwhile, feels left out because he is the only one in the group who failed to make it to law school.

One of the film’s themes is about sacrifices. “It’s about sacrificing sleep, family, health, love, and even friends,” Direk Kip says of “Bar Boys.”

The four male leads bonded well with their co-stars, such as indie sensation Anna Luna and veteran character actress Odette Khan (who plays a terror professor).

Award-winning film editor Manet Dayrit, one of members of the PPP selection committee, describes “Bar Boys” as an eye-opener. She says, “We liked ‘Bar Boys’ because it’s a look into the unique world of law students. If you are not aware, students taking up law in the Philippines have a different set of problems. Not only do they go through the usual angst, love life, challenges of studying and pressures coming from the family, they also have terror teachers.”

She also praised the cast saying, “The ensemble cast of the four barkadas was well chosen.” She adds that even those who did not take up law will be able to relate to what the Bar Boys go through. “I think all young students, as well as those who’ve finished school a long time ago, will appreciate the film. University life evokes bittersweet memories. ‘Bar Boys’ certainly gives that feeling.”

As a testament to the movie’s strong appeal, about 50 different groups from all over the country—ranging from schools to fans’ clubs, to college organizations, to law firms— have confirmed block screenings.

Direk Kip hopes that his film will somehow contribute to the current evaluation of Philippine law schools. “The amount of readings that law students go through, for instance, is astounding… There are a lot of conversations on the level of school deans about how to reform the law schools,” says Direk Kip.

“Bar Boys is produced by TropicFrills Film Productions in cooperation with Wild Sound Studios. The film received generous support from SM Foundation Inc. It is rated “A” by the Cinema Evaluation Board.

Opening across the Philippines on August 16, 2017, “Bar Boys” is distributed by Quantum Films.

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.

If Filipino jeepney were a character in Disney-Pixar’s ‘Cars’ series

Ever wondered how the Jeepney, a distinctly Pinoy cultural icon, would look like if it were a character in Disney-Pixar’s “Cars” series? Wonder no more.

To celebrate the release of Disney-Pixar’s “Cars 3” (now playing in PH theaters), the studio has revealed an exclusive art for the Philippines featuring the Jeepney as country’s very own “Cars” character!

The exclusive art was drawn by Michael Daley, a story artist at Pixar Animation Studios. For Disney-Pixar’s “Cars 3,” Daley was responsible for visualizing the script into panels of drawings.

It is also worth noting that Disney-Pixar’s “Cars 3” features a team of filmmakers from all over the world, including two hometown heroes from the Philippines, namely Nelson Bohol and Paul Abadilla. Working on the film as Set Designer Artist and Sketch/Envronment Artist, respectively, these hometown heroes are based in San Francisco, California, working alongside the director of Disney-Pixar’s “Cars 3,” Brian Fee.

Michael Daley joined Pixar Animation Studios in November of 2014. He began as a story artist on Disney-Pixar’s “Cars 3,” and is currently working on upcoming Pixar projects in development.

As a story artist, Daley helps create the initial visuals, or the blue print, of the film. The story artist’s simply drawn rough version of the movie work as a foundation to build the computer graphics and bring the story to life.

About Disney’s “Cars 3”

Lightning McQueen is back on the big screen, but he’s not a rookie anymore. Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist “Cars,” “Cars 2“) and produced by Kevin Reher (“A Bug’s Life,” “La Luna” short), “Cars 3” is now playing across the Philippines.

Two new posters arrive for sci-fi psychological horror film ‘Flatliners’

“Cross the line. Death will follow you back,” warn the two new posters for Columbia Pictures’ new suspense thriller Flatliners which have just been released by the studio.

Check out the one-sheets below and watch Flatliners in Philippine cinemas on October 29, 2017.

Starring Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, Diego Luna and James Norton, Flatliners tells of five medical students who embark on a daring and dangerous experiment to gain insight into the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life. The bold adventure begins when they trigger near-death experiences by stopping their hearts for short periods of time. As their trials become more perilous, each must confront the sins from their past while facing the paranormal consequences of journeying to the other side.

Flatliners is directed by Niels Arden Oplev, from a screenplay by Ben Ripley, story by Peter Filardi.

Flatliners is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.