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Interview: author Lawrence Grobel

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 08/09/2014 - 07:30

Screenjabber’s Mark Searby talks to author Lawrence Grobel about his book “I Want You In My Movie!” My Acting Debut & Other Misadventures Filming Al Pacino’s Wilde Salome.

Grobel explains why he came to be in the project, what has taken so long for the movie to finally see a release and also how Jessica Chastain was cast in her first ever role. Lawrence discusses his 20+ years as friend to Pacino, and just a few of the funny stories they have shared together including a Golden Globes speech that didn’t go as planned.

Salome & Wilde Salome will be shown at the BFI Southbank on Sunday September 21. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Pacino hosted by Stephen Fry. The event will be broadcast live to cinemas around the UK.

Grobel’s ebook “I Want You In My Move!” My Acting Debut & Other Misadventures Filming Al Pacino’s Wilde Salome is available from Amazon.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 01/09/2014 - 06:50

Summer 2014 finishes 15% down as Guardians climbs back to No.1

By Rich Matthews

Marvel/Disney's big gamble Guardians Of The Galaxy is now officially the biggest film of the summer in the US, with a gross of $274.6m, passing stablemate Captain America: The Winter Soldier and fellow Chris Pratt film The Lego Movie to claim the title.

Of course, internationally Guardians' $547.7m is waaaaay off current year champion Transformers: Age of Extinction, which is like to stay sitting pretty on its $1.1bn, which makes it the 12th biggest film of all time.

None of the new entries made much impact – the story of the summer – with Universal thriller As Above, So Below only managing to rustle up $8.3m at number four, while Pierce Brosnan's adult spy drama The November Man did even worse, landing at six with $7.7m. The rest of the top 10 is somewhat yawn inducing – yet another sign of the times.

Coming in second, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took $11.8m to take its homegrown total to $162.4m and its global gross to a getting-there $274.5m. Warner Bros' Chloe Moretz tearjerker If I Stay stayed at three with $9.3m ($29.8m), while Fox's Let's Be Cops comedy dropped to fifth with $8.2m ($57.3m).

Then from seventh to 10th, semi-religious football drama When The Game Stands Tall ($7.7m, $16.3m US gross), Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep in The Giver ($5.3m, $31.5m), Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey ($4.6m, $39.4m) and, continuing its inexorable slide into the franchise graveyard, The Expendables 3 ($3.5m, $33.1m, $83.5m). That's a very weak whimper that sees off the summer blockbuster season, without one movie breaking the $300m mark, let alone the desired $400m ceiling.

Here's hoping that next summers The Avengers: Age Of Ultron lives up to expectation and tops the first Avengers $600m-plus domestic total. Now we need Middle Earth's Hobbit, Fincher's Gone Girl, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, Disney's Big Hero 6 and Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 to try and claw back some dignity for 2014's final year gross.

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Gbenga Akinnagbe interview

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 29/08/2014 - 09:49

Screenjabber's Mark Searby talks to actor Gbenga Akinnagbe about his film and TV career – from his beginnings on the TV series Barbershop through his multiple roles in many hit US TV shows, as well as his film work in Hollywood blockbusters and smaller independent movies. He talks extensively about his work on The Wire, and what his feelings are towards his character, Chris Partlow. He also mentions which individual he would love to play in the Marvel cinematic universe...

Gbenga Akinnagbe interview Part 1

Gbenga Akinnagbe interview Part 2

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The Guest interviews

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Thu, 28/08/2014 - 21:42

Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor speaks with writer Simon Barrett, director Adam Wingard, star Dan Stevens and co-star Maika Monroe about their new thriller, The Guest.

The Guest: Dan Stevens round table interview

The Guest review

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Win a copy of Transcendence on Blu-ray or DVD

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 26/08/2014 - 11:51

Transcendence is out now, and thanks to Entertainment in Video, we have TWO copies on DVD and TWO copies on Blu-Ray to give away.

Transcendence stars Johnny Depp as Dr Will Caster, the foremost researcher in the field of artificial intelligence, who is working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions.  His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed — to be a participant in his own transcendence.  For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can, but if they should.

Their worst fears are realised as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown.  The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

For a chance to win, follow @Screenjabber on Twitter and tweet the following text:

Follow @Screenjabber and RT for a chance to win Transcendence on Blu-ray or DVD.

For an extra entry, just pop over and LIKE the official Screenjabber Facebook page.

The competition will close at NOON on Sunday September 7, 2014. The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

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Relive the best in horror this Film4 FrightFest

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Fri, 22/08/2014 - 10:20

In celebration of this year’s Film4 FrightFest, Zavvi is offering a special deal on the best in horror for chills, thrills and scares.

From the icons of fright, right through to the classic scenes that always leave a chill down your spine, experience the terrifying horrors that everybody knows and loves, both old and new, that take suspense to that all-time teeth-chattering high, so high in fact that you need to experience it time and time again.

The films on offer at Zavvi include the following from Warner Home Video’s extensive range of horror:
The Shining Blu-ray
The Conjuring Blu-ray
The Exorcist Blu-ray
Poltergeist Blu-ray
A Nightmare On Elm Street Collection Blu-ray

The Shining extended edition is also screening at this year’s Film4 FrightFest on Sunday August 24, at 6:10pm. Frightfesters are being treated to a rare UK appearance from Kubrick’s former producer and brother-in-law Jan Harlan, who will give an invaluable insight into the mind of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. You cannot miss this once in a lifetime opportunity - tickets are available to book now.

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A look back (and inside) The Mask

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 19/08/2014 - 21:00

By Mark Searby

1994 seems to have been the year that kick-started new trends that are still prevalent in today’s society. The year saw the launch of the PlayStation games console by Sony, and Oasis exploded onto the music scene with one of the greatest debut albums ever, Definitely Maybe. Sadly, the music scene also saw the death of Kurt Cobain, a man who pushed grunge music into the mainstream. On the movies front, the Hugh Grant-led Four Weddings And A Funeral became the UK’s biggest box office film ever with worldwide takings of more than $250m worldwide. The box office also caught light thanks to Tom Hanks’s Forest Gump, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Disney’s The Lion King.

Coming in at number nine on the highest-grossing films of 1994 was a movie that not many people at the studio had high hopes for or that audiences were particularly interested in watching (comic book-style movies were not box office gold – unlike today), yet The Mask became a global phenomenon and its opening weekend in the US saw it take $23m.

The Mask was a film that the whole family could enjoy, and quote to each other for years to come. But what made this movie such a huge success? And where did it all start?

“Ooh, Somebody Stop Me!”

The Mask was intended to be a horror film from New Line Pictures. The studio was looking for a new type of horror icon, much like Freddy Krueger, to kick start another scary movie franchise. Charles Russell was offered the job of directing the horror version of The Mask, but he felt it worked better as a comedy. New Line thought differently and had three alternate scripts written where the protagonist would put on the mask and go around killing people. Then about a year later, the studio came back to Russell and asked him if he would be interested in doing his version of The Mask.

“What are you doing down there?”
“I’m just looking for ... My Mask. FOUND IT!”

Russell had wanted to work with Jim Carrey for a long time. Carrey was only really known as one of the guys on the TV series In Living Colour. Jim modelled the character of Stanley Ipkiss on his own father, so many  of Ipkiss’s traits are Carrey family ones – such as the fact that Stanley keeps asking people ‘Ah?’ ‘What?’ ‘Eh?’. This was because his father was deaf in one ear. His motions as The Mask are very dance like and his movements bring to mind slapstick stars of the silent era. The facial expressions on the mask were devised to resemble Carrey’s own expressions.

It wasn’t a rigid mask like most would have today; instead, it was latex that had the ability to move with Carrey’s facial features. The mask was made of 17 separate pieces of latex that had to be joined together, and took four hours in the make-up chair to apply and only 30 minutes to remove. The problem was trying not to bury Carrey underneath too much rubber.

Some people might say that Carrey's rubbery face doesn’t need a mask as he has the ability to contort his face in nearly every way imaginable. Carrey said that: “[The Mask] makes Stanley the person who has all the answers. He can never be hurt. He is the guy everybody would love to be when they are faced with a situation.”

The Mask opens up the suppressed side of Stanley’s personality. Co-star Cameron Diaz commented that it wasn’t when Carrey was wearing the mask that scared her; instead, it was when he had to have it removed at the end of the day. “It was terrifying as it was glue and chunks of sponge would just stay on his face.”

“You know what Mrs Peenman ... Nothing”
“Well that’s what you are Ipkiss. A big fat nothing”

The CGI was created by two teams at Industrial Light & Magic, as they had to create cartoon-like images directly fused to the real actors. The scene where Stanley, as The Mask, has his eyes and tongue pop out when Mrs Peenman walks into him took about four weeks to complete. The only CGI scene that wasn’t scripted was when The Mask blows a heart shape from his cigarette smoke followed by snorting the arrow out. Carrey had come up with the idea at about 3am on the set, so the crew shot the scene and just hoped that the digital effects could be included later. As it turned out it’s one of the best visual CGI moments in the film.

The howling wolf shot when The Mask see’s Tina is a complete ripoff of the legendary Tex Avery cartoons. Carrey filmed it, but then post production at ILM saw his head removed and a computer graphics metal frame imposed on the shot. That was then covered with CGI skin and finally the stars and planets flying round his head.


The role of Tina Carlyle was set to be filled by the up and coming actress Anna Nicole Smith. It was only changed when the producers were on their way out of a modelling agency and noticed Diaz. It was her first film role – previously a model, Diaz burst onto and in to the film with one of the greatest entrances ever committed to celluloid. Anybody who saw that film upon release will remember, until their dying breath, the dolly-in and pull-back scene.

Diaz turned 21 while shooting, so the crew decided to throw her a party after filming had finished. As they were filming through the night the party started in the early hours of the morning and went on into a normal working day. During the entire filming process Diaz used a pushup bra as she felt it suited the character, but she has never worn one since in a film. Cameron’s singing in the nightclub was all overdubbed by Susan Boyd, who does a lot of voiceovers for animated films including Mulan, The Little Mermaid and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure TV series.

“They call me Cuban Pete. I’m the king of the rhumba beat”

The Mask was completed in a little over eight months at a cost of $18m – which included all of the special effects that had never been done before. Russell commented that: “It saved us a lot of money when we cast Jim. As he was so flexible that we didn’t need to enhance his movements via digital.” Carrey had signed on for the film before the release, and blow up, of Ace Ventura so he was only paid $500,000 for his work on The Mask. Once it was released he next inked a deal for Dumb & Dumber at a fee of $7m.

“That’s a spicy meatball”

A year later, Nintendo Power magazine exclusively revealed that there would be a sequel – The Mask 2. Alongside announcing the sequel, the magazine also ran a competition for the winner to have a walk-on part in the forthcoming film. But it never materialised, mainly due to Carrey not wanting to reprise the role. The basic storyline would have been that mob boss Dorian would have returned and The Mask would have been worn by a woman, which follows some of the stories from the original comics. Rather than that we were given Son Of The Mask, a terrible prequel that involves no one from the original film. Also churned out was an animated TV series that ran from 1995-97. The final episode saw The Mask/Stanley Ipkiss team up with Ace Ventura. None of the subsequent tie-ins could match the popularity of the original film.

“We all wear masks ... metaphorically speaking”

The Mask is silly at its heart, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable, but it also has this charming personality about it – a human romance that takes place within the cartoon comedy world. A Jekyll and Hyde story for the 1990s that gave Jim Carrey a bigger canvas to express his talents, and it introduced us to the beauty of Cameron Diaz.

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 17/08/2014 - 20:08

The Expendables 3 proves undependable while Turtles and Guardians stay on top

By Rich Matthews

With Paramount's Michael Bay-produced reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Disney/Marvel's latest blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy holding strong in the top two spots, this weekend's three new releases – Fox's Let's Be Cops, Lionsgate's The Expendables 3, and the Weinstein Company's The Giver – could only manage third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

The fourth place showing for the third in Sylvester Stallone's Expendables marks a franchise low of $16.2m, with the first entry grossing $35 and the sequel $28m. This is in part probably because of a leaked pristine copy of the star-jammed actioner early in the month being heavily downloaded and damaging business, but nonetheless shows that the concept of putting Sly, Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes and co in one movie together has now run out of steam. Just the fact that it was beaten to the number three spot by Let's Be Cops' $17.7m – which stars low-level celebs Jake Johnson (from TV's New Girl) and Damon Wayans Jr – is a major blow for Lionsgate. Fifth place was taken by The Giver, starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift, with $12.8m.

None of the these could challenge Teenage Mutant Turtles ($28.4m, US total of $117.6m, global $185.1m) or Guardians Of The Galaxy ($24.7m, $222.3m, $418.7m). Currently Guardians is pacing ahead of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Transformers: Age Of Extinction at the domestic box office, although its worldwide haul is lagging behind all of them.

Positions six to 10 were filled by disaster flick Into The Storm ($7.7, $31.3m, $49.8m), Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey ($7.1m, $23.6m), Scarlett Johansson's Luc-Besson-augmented Lucy ($5.3m, $107.6m, $168.5m), dance sequel Step Up All In ($2.7m, $11.8m, $49.6m) and Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making indie smash Boyhood ($2.2m, $13.8m, $22.7m).

Next weekend Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For debuts alongside Chloe Moretz's Warner Bros drama If I Stay and Jim Caviezel football drama When The Game Stands Tall, so don't expect any major dents at the top.

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Trips of the Week

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 11/08/2014 - 13:03

By Stuart O'Connor

Each week, the Screenjabber inbox gets overloaded with emails containing new film trailers, or clips of films or upcoming Blu-ray/DVD/VoD releases. Here are a few of those trailers and clips (hence trips) that caught our eye this week ...


Doctor Who World Tour hits Korea

Maps To The Stars trailer

Doctor Who World Tour launches in Cardiff

Alex Zane's Movie Rewatchability

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sun, 10/08/2014 - 19:38

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles startle Guardians Of The Galaxy

By Rich Matthews

Well, that didn't last long. While Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy continued to impress at the US domestic box office this weekend, it's reign at the top only lasted one week. Paramount and Nickelodeon's relaunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced by Transformers guru Michael Bay and starring that franchise's Megan Fox, confounded expectations and outperformed all expectations – much as Guardians did last week. Taking in $65m at home and a further £32.3m internationally, Paramount wasted no time in announcing a sequel for summer 2016 such was the level of success.

Between them, Turtles and Guardians have managed to boost the ailing summer box office, which was running more than 20 per cent behind 2013 and has now clawed back at least three per cent of that deficit thanks to these two fantastical tentpoles. Whether TMNT can hold on to pole position longer than Guardian's short-lived triumph will hinge on whether anyone really cares about seeing Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson together in one movie anymore, with The Expendables 3 vying with Fox Jake Johnson/Damon Wayans Jr comedy Let's Be Cops for top newcomer plaudits.

For its part, Guardians showed the now-standard decline for Marvel films of 56 per cent to bag a further $41.5, taking its overall US tally to $175.9m and its Earthbound gross to $313.2m. It still has a long way to catch up stablemate Captain America: The Winter Soldier's $713.9m, but then it has only been on release for 10 days – it will be interesting to see how quickly interest tails off now that it's been classified a hit.

Of the other new releases for the weekend, Warner Bros disaster flick Into The Storm followed behind Guardians at three, scooping up a middling $18m for a $50m-budgeted movie, while Lasse Hallstrom's dramedy The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, came in fourth with $11.1m. You have to spring over five to find the weekend's final new entry, with Step Up All In only managing sixth with a franchise lowpoint of $6.6m. But don't feel sorry for the Lionsgate/Summit dance sequel, because it's already body-popped to $26.2m internationally for a global haul of $32.8m.

In between the walking and the dancing, Scarlett Johansson continued to show strong legs of her own in Luc Besson's Lucy, with grabbed a further $9.3m at five, to swell its total to $97.4m, plus an extra $5m from only three international territories, so expect those global numbers to swell soon, especially from Besson's native France. Dwayne Johnson alas showed that he while he's good as saving existing franchises, he still isn't a lock at starting new ones, with Brett Ratner's Hercules already down to seventh with $5.7m for an underwhelming domestic total of $63.5m and a global cume of $136m. Compare it to the similarly themed The Scorpion King, which opened 12 years ago to $91m and $165m worldwide, and it seems The Rock hasn't made much progress – especially if you adjust for inflation, which sends the US total alone up to $127.7m. James Brown biopic Get On Up went on down to eighth with $5m for a total of $22.9m, while Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes hit ninth with $4.4m, which gives the Andy Serkis-led mo-cap sequel a US gross of $197.8m and a worldwide tally of $456m – surpassing the domestic gross of original reboot Rise by more than 20m, but still lagging a good $25m-odd behind its global total. Interestingly, if you adjust for inflation, Tim Burton's 2001 "reimagining" (the first film to try to so dodge the remake tag) comes out on top with $259m, with the 1968 Charlton Heston original second with $202.8m. Lastly, Planes: Fire & Rescue brought up the rear with $2.4m and a home gross of $53m and $83m worldwide. The first Planes made $90m and $220m, respectively, last year.

Once Sly and Ahnuld have made their third Expendable bow next weekend, the summer is officially winding to a close, with only Sin City: A Dame To Kill For of any note, and that's fairly niche, so it's doubtful that the US box office will be able to claw back much more of that 17 per cent decline, but at least it'll be going out on a more positive note.

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