Friday, April 20, 2012

Catching Fire Catches Francis Lawrence as Next Director

Look Katniss, look at all the millions we will make.
Well, it's official. I suck at creating catchy titles. Oh, that and Catching Fire has found itself a director. Ladies and gentlemen, Lionsgate gives to you:

Francis Lawrence.

Yesterday, I wrote an article that Lawrence and Moneyball's Bennett Miller were the final two candidates to helm Catching Fire. The studio's apparent shortlist of directors included the likes of David Cronenberg, Tony Scott, Stephen Daldry, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, along with Miller and Lawrence. When Lionsgate was animate that they wanted to start shooting in August of this year, Mr. Miller had to turn down their offer. Apparently, the odds were in Francis Lawrence's favor.

I did mention something about Jennifer, right...? Does it matter?
Unfortunately, Miller was already scheduling to shoot Foxcatcher, a film starring Steve Carell, Channing, and Mark Ruffalo. Lionsgate would not want to delay Catching Fire any further, and waiting for Miller to wrap up production could have pushed back the Hunger Games sequel to early 2013. This would have caused all sorts of scheduling conflicts with Jennifer Lawrence, who is also starring in the X-Men: First Class sequel which begins filming in early 2013.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Catching Fire Hunts for New Director

Because there can never be enough Jennifer Lawrence on this site.

Smile. I'm making Millions.
With the astronomical success of The Hunger Games, it looked as if Gary Ross would certainly return to direct the for-sure-hit sequel, Catching Fire. However, this is not the case. Ross turned down the opportunity to direct (and co-write) Catching Fire, much to the dismay of pretty much everyone. The Seabiscuit director did not feel he would have had adequate time to not only direct, but also co-write the adaption of Suzanne Collins's popular young adult novel. I can't say I blame him, as the overwhelming success (critically, but more importantly to the studio, at the box office) has led the film studio helming Catching Fire to rush the production. Obviously, when they look at Jennifer Lawrence or Josh Hutcherson, they see giant dollar signs, so it's no wonder they would want the sequel to be spit out as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Lawrence, already with a packed schedule, has had the filming of the sequel to X-Men: First Class moved to the beginning of 2013, so she could film Catching Fire. Simon Beaufoy (the writer of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours fame) has also been brought on board the project to collaborate with Collins.

This is obviously a huge blow for the fledgeling franchise, which is experiencing critical and commercial bliss. Ross, while criticized for overdoing the dreaded hated despised shaky cam, did a wonderful job at taking difficult source material (the book is told in a first person point of view of a super paranoid, teenage girl...) and weaving it into the film medium. Establishing and fleshing out the numerous characters within the Hunger Games was no small feat, and Ross did an admirable job.

um. what was I talking about?
While switching up directors in a popular movie franchise is nothing new (Harry Potter, Twilight to name a few), the hole that Ross leaves is no easy one to fill. With Catching Fire scheduled to start production within the year, Lionsgate is left scrambling for a replacement director.

A big hurdle that Lionsgate must jump is an obvious one: Suzanne Collins. She wants a director who has the film making know-how and experience more than one who can spin some movie into a cash cow. Well, even though Catching Fire looks like it will be a bit of a rushed production, at least Collins won't allow her beloved book series about murdering children become a pathetic production, a la Twilight or the middle Harry Potter movies (seriously, 4, 5, and 6... so... bad...).

While the studio hasn't officially decided on who they will select, there are some names being thrown around...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marvel's Expanding Universe, Pt. II

What a guy.
The film that started this whole thing off was Iron Man, starring Tony Sta-Robert Downey Jr as the charismatic, egocentric genius that is Tony Stark.  I think we can easily say that the main reason why Marvel has had the success they've had so far with this adventure is largely thanks to Mr. Downey Jr.  It's impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.  Like, say, Tom Cruise...? or something ridiculous like that.  Which definitely didn't almost happen for 9 years... Iron Man enjoyed great box office, as will as critical success.  It raked in over $90,000,000 opening weekend, and currently has grossed over $500,000,000 worldwide. The critics favored it as much as the audiences did, as well. gives it a rating of 94% on the tomatometer.  For comparison and contrast, The Dark Knight (seemingly the benchmark for superhero films) also has a 94% rating.  The difference between the two lies in the audience review section, where Iron Man has a nice 91%, whereas The Dark Knight has a 96%.  

...stop staring at me like that...
I'm not insulting your movie... promise........
Personally (and also because I'm a crazy Marvel fan) I do think Iron Man is a better movie than the The Dark Knight, although I believe Batman Begins to be superior to both (I believe that some of my fellow writers here disagree with me...).  Rottentomatoes disagrees and Marvel fanboys reading this (if ever such a thing happens on this site) have zero respect for me now, but you have to admit Nolan does one hell of a job.  Back to what we're here to talk about.  

The "button" at the end of Iron Man was the real start of the Avengers story-line.  When that shadowy figure came out of the dark and was in fact Samuel L. Jac-Nick Fury, and then uttered those wonderful words that had those fanboys (that hate me now) screaming all over the world: "I'd like to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative."  CHILLS.  Plus other things.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guest Writer: Marvel's Expanding Universe, Pt. I

get. pumped.
With mere weeks left until the premiere of the Marvel juggernaut, The Avengers directed by Joss Whedon, it's kind of hard to think about anything else in the Marvel universe. For instance, Peter Parker and Mary Jane have gone to another reality where they have no memory of each other, have never met, and maybe will never meet again, and they did so by choice! "whaaa...?" is the appropriate response. Captain America was dead, but not really. He was just in a different time stream because bullets do that because comics. And in the ultimate universe Spiderman is Latino and can turn invisible? Cool beans! *Insert Bill Nye sound effect of "now you know..." here*.

Anyways, it seems like Marvel is always up to something awesome, and so soon we have to ask ourselves, "what's next?" See how soon that was? At this point I have 100% confidence in Whedon and the Avengers team that The Avengers movie will be fantastic. Early clips show witty dialogue, insane action, cool effects, and classic character moments (Hulk smash!).