Category Archives: Trending

‘Peter Rabbit’ Is Being Boycotted Due To Food Allergies. Yes, Really.

I’ve covered a wide variety of films being boycotted for various different reasons. American Sniper for alleged Islamaphobia. Beauty and the Beast for a gay character. Black Panther for a predominately black cast. Wonder Woman because a woman was in the lead. A Dog’s Purpose for its alleged treatment of animals on-set. But now, we’ve gone to the next level for what people consider offensive in a film.

Peter Rabbit is being boycotted… because of fruit allergies.

Yes, really.

SOURCE: Sony Pictures

In what is surprisingly considered a “controversial” moment from the film, the character Mr. McGregor (played by Domhnall Gleeson) is being pelted by blackberries by Peter Rabbit (James Corden) and his akin animal crew. McGregor is allergic to blackberries. In order to ward off his animal attackers, he uses an Epi-Pen to defend himself from the blackberry onslaught.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but just from detailing that scene in the one paragraph alone made me chuckle upon imagining the picture in my head. Concerned parents, however, find nothing funny about the scene. The hashtag #BoycottPeterRabbit was created as a result of the controversy, with parents complaining that the scene was short-sighted, insensitive, and trivializing a serious issue.

In a statement released earlier today, Sony Pictures apologized for the scene and clarified that it was not their intention to make light of allergies.

“Food allergies are a serious issue,” the statement reads. “Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. Slapstick is meant to be over-the-top and immature, and it usually plays to the weaknesses of the characters involved. Yes, that can include food allergies. For crying out loud, Kevin Hart’s character was allergic to cake in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and freaking exploded from accidentally eating some. What, were people allergic to cake going to be traumatized by Kevin Hart’s cake-eating-explosion scene???

Of course not. These are the movies, and they are allowed to push the boundaries in some areas for the sake of comedy and entertainment; ESPECIALLY in a movie rated PG. For crying out loud, a food allergy is not the most offensive thing to be in a comedy to date. Was nobody disturbed by Seth Rogan and James Franco killing Kim Jong-In in The Interview? The masturbating baby in The Hangover? EVERYTHING in The South Park Movie?

Overall I find this to be a very silly and absurd controversy that will blow over as the movie continues its theater run. But what do you guys think? Do you think the controversy is justified, or do you think it should stay buried in Mr. McGregor’s garden?

Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter

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Tom Hanks Puts On Mr. Rogers’ Shoes

Hi there, neighbor. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Tom Hanks soon.

The Academy Award-winning actor behind classics such as Philadelphia, Forest Gump, and Apollo 13, Hanks is a Hollywood heavyweight who has starred in multiple iconic roles, from Woody in the Toy Story series to Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code series. This week, Hanks’ next big role was announced: he will be portraying Mr. Rogers in TriStar Pictures’ upcoming biopic You Are My Friend.

GETTY IMAGES

The creator behind the Emmy award-winning television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Fred Rogers is most recognized for his contributions to public broadcasting and for appealing to children’s imagination using puppets, trolleys, and music for his fictitious neighborhood. Rogers died in 2003 due to stomach cancer, but his legacy thrives to this day through more than 900 episodes of his wonderful, friendly neighborhood.

To portray one iconic talent, you also need another iconic talent to match him, and man did this production score in recruiting Hanks. Hanks has been more recently involved in a string of biographical pictures featuring notable historical figures, including Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, Rich Phillips in Captain Phillips, James Donovan in Bridge of Spies, Chelsey Sullenberger in Sully, and Ben Bradlee in The Post. He’s right at home with Mr. Rogers, although I do think he needs to lose some weight for the role. (Not fat-shaming here. Rogers is a skinny guy!)

You Are My Friend is directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster (“Transparent”). Filming will begin in September with an expected release date of 2019.

– David Dunn

SOURCES: The Hollywood Reporter, Snopes

Marvel Creator Stan Lee Accused Of Sexual Misconduct

CREATIVE COMMONS

No, Stan Lee. Not you too.

Continuing a string of sexual assault allegations sparked after the ousting of film executive Harvey Weinstein in October last year, Marvel creator Stan Lee is the most recent celebrity caught in the crosshairs to be accused of sexual misconduct.

The accusation comes from Lee’s former nursing company, which claims that Lee groped and harassed multiple nurses who were employed under him last year. The claims specify that these instances involved asking for oral sex in the shower, walking around naked, and wanted to be “pleasured” in the bedroom.

Despite these claims, the company has filed no police complaint, nor any lawsuits against Lee. However, Lee’s attorney Tom Lallas did send a cease-and-desist letter to the company, accusing the “false and despicable” claims as attempting to defame Lee’s character.

“Mr. Lee will not be extorted or blackmailed, and will pay no money to anyone because he has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Lallas said.

An insider on the accusations said the owner of Lee’s former nursing company has openly stated that Lee has sexually harassed every single nurse that went to his house, and that she even complained directly to Lee about the accusations. The source said that Lee has “lost his filter.”

However, Julie Wozniak, spokeswoman for Lee’s current nursing company Vitale Nursing Inc., defended Lee, saying he’s a kind and respectful man, adding that it’s been a privilege to take care of the comic-book author. This is Lee’s first sexual harassment accusation during his long career in the entertainment industry.

Creator of many notable superheroes including Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men, the 95-year-old publisher is a pop culture icon adored by the comic-book and moviegoing community alike. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is heavily based on many of his characters, is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time at $13 billion, with Lee making cameos in many of the associated films. His wife of 70 years Joan passed away last year from stroke complications. Their daughter Joan Celia is their only child.

This story will be updated as more details are revealed in the coming weeks.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Daily Mail, Comicbook.com

Disney Set To Acquire Fox Assets, including X-Men and Fantastic 4

CREDIT: Ryan Reynolds

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get a whole lot bigger.

After weeks of negotiating and speculating, Walt Disney finally announced their intent to acquire the rights to 21st Century Fox properties for $52 billion, according to a company press release. The deal gives Disney the rights to many properties previously owned by Fox, including X-Men, Deadpool, Wolverine, and the Fantastic 4. Owner Rupert Murdoch would retain ownership of Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network, and associated newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.

“I know a lot of people are wondering, ‘Why did the Murdochs come to such a momentous decision?’” Murdoch said of the merger. “Are we retreating? Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment.”

This news is a lot to digest, but let’s break down why exactly this is a big deal to the entertainment industry. In addition to a few of Fox’s Marvel properties, Walt Disney would also purchase the rights to Fox’s other film and television franchises, including Avatar, Home Alone, “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy”, and “This Is Us.” This means that not only would Disney control Fox’s film properties, but they would also control a big portion of Fox’s television assets as well.

In short, this means that Walt Disney would be exercising more control over the entertainment industry in its entirety. This is both a good and bad thing. Good because, in the case of Fox’s Marvel properties, they now can merge over with characters from the MCU, allowing broader opportunities in scope and storytelling. Can you imagine Wolverine, Magneto, and Deadpool all sharing the big screen with the likes of Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Doctor Strange? Such a collaboration is something fans have been hoping for a long time, and it looks like they may finally get their chance to see all of their favorite Marvel superheroes up on the big screen together.

On the other hand, this level of corporate consolidation gives Disney a nasty advantage over the rest of the market, and it may not fare well for Disney’s competitors. For one thing, this gives a sharp edge to Disney’s upcoming streaming service, which is expected to launch in 2019. Previously, Disney only had their own movies, Pixar’s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Star Wars franchise to stream on their platform. A solid gallery for sure, but nowhere near as expansive as Netflix or Hulu’s library. The Fox merger changes things. Now they have access to hundreds of titles to fill their library, including the Alien, Die Hard, and Planet of the Apes franchises. With this merger, Disney is now primed to compete with Netflix and Hulu’s streaming services. This merger will cost both of them a lot of business.

Second, because of this merger, Fox will be completely removed from the filmmaking business, leaving Disney as one of the only major film conglomerates left next to the likes of Warner Bros. and Universal. That much ownership is not healthy for a competitive business market, especially when Disney already owns four billion-dollar entities without Fox (Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilm).

The mixed-bag of a merger is set to go before the U.S. Department of Justice next year, where they will review the deal and decide whether to approve or deny the sale.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Walt Disney Company, The Los Angeles Times

Bryan Singer Fired From ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Bryan Singer’s time has come.

After a series of on-set tensions from the upcoming Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, director Bryan Singer was fired from the production after being absent from the set for long periods of time. 20th Century Fox didn’t mince words with their statement on the subject, stating plainly that “Bryan Singer is no longer the director of Bohemian Rhapsody.”

So what exactly happened? According to The Hollywood Reporter, the problems started when Singer was missing from the set on several occasions. Frequent collaborator and cinematographer Thomas Newton Singel stepped in to both direct and shoot the film on days where Singer was absent. Actors Rami Malek and Tom Hollander were reportedly frustrated by Singer’s lack of professionalism, with Hollander even temporarily leaving production himself due to Singer’s absence.

Although Singer eventually returned under the watchful eye of Fox and a DGA representative, tensions were already heightened to the point where Malek and Singer had an intense confrontation while on-set. While it seemed that they had settled their differences and were ready to resume production, Singer went missing again during Thanksgiving break and did not return to the set. Siegel once again oversaw filming before Fox finally shut down production and fired Singer, reportedly looking for a new director to finish out the remaining two weeks of filming.

This story is perhaps one of the more unusual developments to come out of Hollywood this year. Notable for many successful projects, Singer has been at the helm of many cinematic hits, including The Usual Suspects, X2, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. You would think that his contributions to Bohemian Rhapsody would help the film’s production, not hinder it. And yet, Singer’s inclusion (or rather lack thereof) undoubtedly caused much on-set tensions and frustrations. This type of behavior is typically unheard of from Hollywood, especially from Singer.

Regardless, Singer is out and the project is in the market for a new director. Who should replace him? Personally I’m privy to Siegel himself, as he’s so far answered beyond the call of duty by managing much more of the film than he was originally expected to. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see him finish out the remaining two weeks of filming, but only if he really wanted to. Plus, it would be a nice addition to his resume as Bohemian Rhapsody would technically be his first directing credit.

If he wasn’t interested in director, who would be the next best pick? Steven Soderbergh? Surely he’s got Freddie Mercury’s moves down from Magic Mike.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline

Full ‘Lion King’ Cast Announced

Haaaaaaaa-I-see-aaaaaaaa-a-Glover-a-Simbaaaaaaaaa.

That lead probably worked better in my head rather than typed out. But if The Mummy has showed us anything, it is that my lead is still not the worst thing that was written this year.

Regardless, Walt Disney recently released their full voice cast for The Lion King remake, directed by The Jungle Book’s Jon Favreau. Many of the actors are unsurprising, especially when names such as Donald Glover have been circling the project since day one of development. Others were merely rumored until Disney confirmed their involvement late last night.

See the whole cast list below:

SOURCE: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Simba (Donald Glover)
Nala (Beyonce Knowles-Carter)
Mufasa (James Earl Jones)
Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor)
Sarabi (Alfre Woodward)
Zazu (John Oliver)
Rafiki (John Kani)
Pumbaa (Seth Rogan)
Timon (Billy Eichner)
Azizi (Eric Andre)
Shenzi (Florence Kasumba)
Kamari (Keegan-Michael Key)

Gotta say, solid cast. Rogan and Oliver are excellent choices in their respective comedic roles, while Beyonce (a.k.a. BAE!) is pitch-perfect as Nala. My favorite casting by far is James Earl Jones, who is reprising his role as Simba’s father Mufasa from the original animated feature. The Jungle Book also a great cast associated with it (Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba), but The Lion King easily knocks theirs out of the park. I can’t wait to see how these actors do in their respective parts.

One cast member that I am hesitant with: Chiwetel Ejiofor as the film’s villain Scar. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Ejiofor as an actor, and I have no doubt he’ll be great in this role. Why in 12 Years A Slave he was the best part in it by far, and he was also great as a supporting role in films including The Martian and Doctor Strange. But earlier this year, Hugh Jackman was among those rumored to be in the running for Scar. That ended up being an April fool’s joke, but after I heard that I couldn’t picture anybody else in the role. Seriously, listen to Hugh Jackman’s voice the next time you rewatch him as Wolverine in any of the older X-Men films. Tell me you don’t hear a perfect Scar behind that grisly growl of his.

Either way, it looks like Disney is all-hands-on-deck for their Lion King remake. We’ll have to wait until 2019 to see how far the horizon goes.

– David Dunn

SOURFCE: Walt Disney Studios, Slate

Zachary Levi cast as DC’s ‘Shazam!’

CREDIT: BossLogic

Zachary Levi is shazamming his way into theaters.

After a lengthy casting process where Warner Bros. auditioned several actors, “Chuck” and Thor actor Zachary Levi was announced this weekend as DC’s Shazam, starring in the titular role for his solo feature due after Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman in 2018. Levi took to Instagram to voice his excitement and to thank fans for their support.

“Honored and greatly humbled to be a part of the [DC Universe] by bringing the original Captain Marvel to life,” Levi wrote. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the gym for the rest of forever.”

This casting news has been long overdue. Former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was cast as Shazam’s mortal enemy Black Adam way back in 2014. Three years later, Levi is finally cast in the central role. What happened? Did DC take a bathroom break while Zack Snyder was busy working on Justice League?

Regardless, this announcement is better late than never. While Johnson is reportedly starring in his own separate solo film as opposed to starring alongside Levi in Shazam, ultimately I feel this will give both actors a great chance to explore their characters and see how they further expand upon the DC Extended Universe. No word on who will star as Shazam’s 15-year-old alter ego Billy Batson yet. Presumably that news will break within the next few months and hopefully not years from now like Levi’s announcement was.

The film is being written by Henry Gayden (Earth To Echo) and Darren Lemke (Goosebumps, Turbo) and directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out). The film is scheduled for release in April 2019.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline

X-23 shreds her way back to the big screen

Wolverine’s claws are popping back out, except this time, it’ll be his daughter that is using them.

After the critical and financial success of Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine in Logan, director James Mangold confirmed that Laura, a.k.a. X-23 is set to be featured in an upcoming solo outing focusing on the character. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mangold said a script is reportedly in the works and the success of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman served as inspiration to keep pursuing Laura’s story.

“That film only solidifies more for studios that there’s less to fear with a female protagonist,” Mangold said. “The more that keeps getting hit home, that ends up giving me more space turning around and going, ‘Well, here we are with a female protagonist. That’s incredible. And what are we going to do with her?’ And that’s where we are with that right now, dreaming.”

Lot to unpackage here, but let’s start with the implications of X-23 herself. Now I loved Logan. I feel it’s among the X-Men series’ best, and it’s definitely the best Wolverine film by far. However, due to the way Logan ends and what it means for the characters going forward, I feel that an X-23 film is not only unnecessary but also contradictory to Logan’s ending (see my piece published on MoviePilot for an in-depth explanation of why. Spoiler warnings ahead).

That being said, I am open to an X-23 movie, as no character’s story is truly over until the day they meet their maker. I’m hopeful for two things here. One, that Dafne Keen will reprise her role as X-23. It’s hard to say if the studio will do that or not, considering if they want to keep the character at her young age or wait until she’s older. Either way, she was a standout in Logan, and it would be exciting to see how she would handle the lead role in a solo outing.

SOURCE: Comic Book Resource

 

Second (and this is the most important part), GIVE HER THE FREAKING SUIT. The one disappointment with the X-Men franchise is that Hugh Jackman has never, not once, worn his iconic yellow and blue suit. There was a deleted scene that contained an Easter Egg in The Wolverine, and his Days of Future Past suit had yellow and blue tints in it. But no, neither of those actually count. Jackman never wore the yellow suit, and that is the one thing that fans such as myself have been pining for a long time.

As this is the case, Fox has a real opportunity to take Laura and give her the suit, paying homage to her father and his comic book appearance. If they don’t use this opportunity, I swear I will boycott every X-Men movie Fox puts out in the future. The New Mutants looks terrible anyway.

What do you guys think? Are you excited for an X-23 solo outing, or do you wish she would just live out a normal life out in Canada? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline

Harvey Weinstein Fired In Midst Of Sexual Harassment Allegations

CREDIT: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The Weinstein Company has officially removed the “Weinstein” part from its name.

After The New York Times broke the story that studio executive Harvey Weinstein had spent three decades paying off sexual harassment accusers, his own company officially fired him Sunday after the board of directors learned about the allegations. The company released their official statement below:

“In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company – Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar – have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated effective immediately.”

A media mogul and a pioneer in promoting independent cinema, Weinstein has served as executive producer for multiple Academy Award-winning films, including best picture winners Shakespeare In Love, The English Patient, Chicago, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The King’s Speech, and The Artist. He also co-founded Miramax films, which produced the movies Pulp Fiction, The Crying Game, and Sex, Lies, And Videotape. Allegations or not, Weinstein has introduced many filmmakers into mainstream cinema, and helped shape entertainment culture for years to come.

It is understandable, then, that the allegations have shaken up Hollywood as we know it. According to The New York Times, the allegations go as far back as 1990, during Weinstein’s first marriage with Eve Chilton. His accusers consist of eight former employees, including actress Ashley Judd. Of the allegations, Weinstein said:

“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”

Weinstein’s attorney Charles Harder said that the producer plans to sue The New York Times over the story’s publishing. The Weinstein Company has launched an official investigation into the full extent of the allegations.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The New York Times, Variety

 

J.J. Abrams Bringing ‘Your Name’ Into Theaters

Oh boy. Let the anime fan rage resume.

After the astronomical success of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) reserved the rights to adapt a live-action version of the animated film, bringing Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer on board to pen the screenplay. The film tells the story of two different individuals in Japan who inexorably switch bodies on opposite ends of the continent. Their journey to get back into their own bodies eventually leads them to meet each other, gaining a greater understanding of their shared experiences and how it’s led them both to grow as people.

This announcement comes after a year jam-packed with whitewashing controversies. First there was recasting Major, a Japanese cyborg, into Caucasian actress Scarlett Johansson for Ghost In The Shell. Then came recasting Light Yagami, the Japanese protagonist of Death Note, into Caucasian actor Nat Wolff for the Netflix adaptation. Deadpool actor Ed Skrein was almost slated to take over a Chinese character’s part in the Hellboy reboot, but Skrein graciously turned it down after learning of the character’s true ethnicity. With all of these controversies in mind, fans are reasonably concerned about the live-action version of Your Name and of Hollywood whitewashing more of their favorite characters.

SOURCE: Toho Co.

Hold on, take a deep breath for a moment, because I honestly don’t think this is as troublesome as it sounds. Remember that J.J. Abrams made one of the progressive moves of our time by casting actor John Boyega and newcomer Daisy Ridley as the leads for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That was the first time in the series where both a woman and a black actor led the charge for Star Wars, and that helped catapult the film to its highest grossing release ever at $2 billion. With Abrams being aware of Hollywood’s cultural appropriation, I’m confident he will do the original justice by casting multicultural actors in the leads. If he doesn’t, then he’ll have to face the backlash of many passionate fans of the source material. I don’t know which is scarier: Darth Vader, or the PO’d anime fan.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to a live-action adaptation of Your Name, or would you wish that Hollywood could just leave the original alone? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: MoviePilot, IndieWire
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