And a very happy Alien Day to you, ScreenCrush readership! I trust you’ve already paid homage to the late John Hurt with the customary tense salad dinner and pantomimed death-spasms, and have refilled the ceremonial offerings at the Yaphet Kotto shrines we all keep in our closets. Today’s a day filled with wonders, many of which we outlined earlier this month, including various special screenings, a live trivia challenge, and plenty of exclusive merchandise to gussy up the mantle in need of something that says “expulsive viscera.” But one of today‘s surprise offerings dwarfs all pre-announced attractions, at least in terms of potential to give me nightmares.
People like a legend. When Heath Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose in January 2008, he had just completed principal photography on his Academy Award-winning role of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s grown-up Batman flick The Dark Knight. With zero foundation in confirmed public knowledge, a narrative sprung up around Ledger’s troubled final days, that the psychological demands of portraying a figure as sick and twisted as the Joker weighed too heavily on the actor. The apocryphal notion that the role ultimately drove Ledger to suicide is way off the mark, however, explains Ledger’s sister Kate.
Over this past weekend, CinemaBlend ran an interview with Marvel Studios decision-maker Kevin Feige. As per usual, the man was exceedingly tight-lipped about the future of his beloved superhero playthings, but even his obfuscating non-answers contained the tiny seedling of a revelation within them. While getting grilled about the fate of the Avengers franchise, its third entry of Infinity War slated for 2018, Feige let slip that there was a good reason that the already-scheduled fourth installment has no subtitle as of yet. Though the film was originally planned as the second half of Infinity War, the two projects were recently split into their own individual spheres, and Feige doesn’t want the fourth installment’s full title coming out because apparently it contains a spoiler.
Never lacking in ambition (at least when it comes to the expanding frontiers of branding and marketing), Marvel boldly announced back in 2015 that the third film in the Avengers series would be unlike those that came before it. At the time of the project’s initial reveal, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige clarified his plans to split Avengers: Infinity War into two parts that would be released independent of one another. This was cause for great excitement, as moviegoers love nothing more than to shell out for two separate tickets just for the privilege of waiting up to a year to see the conclusion of a self-contained story. Incredibly, however, Feige backpedaled on that can’t-fail proposition shortly thereafter, amending their plans to separate Avengers 3 1 and Avengers 3 2 into the simpler Avengers 3 and Avengers 4.
For a franchise about slightly sketchy space crooks and intergalactic military types, the Star Wars films are almost conspicuously free of profanity. It makes sense from a business perspective — keeping the series PG-13 ensures that it’ll be open to a wider array of viewers — and yet the absence of cussing feels especially noticeable in a movie starring the famously coarse-tongued Carrie Fisher. The closest the series came to a four-letter word was Han Solo getting dissed as a “scruffy nerf-herder,” but a recently discovered cache of lost footage from the original 1977 Star Wars is going to change all that in short order.
Shooting a movie’s not like performing a play. The theatrical process is primal, all rooted in emotion and immersion within the fictional moment. Production on a feature film requires far more on a technical level, to the point where actors will be ordered to pick up a spoon in the exact same way ten times, just to be safe. (David Fincher famously went through one hundred takes to nail the opening breakup in his magnum opus The Social Network.) For the typical actor, most of filmmaking is waiting around for stuff to happen — but that’s far less tiresome when you get to hang out with Carrie Fisher between calls of “ACTION!”
While the post-credits scene was once a surprise specially afforded to those superfans with the dedication to sit through the final frames of a film, it’s now become par for the course, a de facto advertisement for whatever a franchise might have up its sleeve next. Marvel Studios has turned this into standard operating procedure, to the point where viewers expect nothing less than another tasty morsel of footage, the cinematic equivalent of the delicious fries waiting for you at the bottom of your McDonald’s bag. How to continue taking audiences off-guard, then? Marvel could do no post-credit scene at all, that’d certainly throw people for a loop. Or... they could do five.
Much in the same way that I have always wondered who delivers mail to mailmen (if they live in their own district, are they allowed to deliver mail to themselves? is that a conflict of interest?), the writers of the new action-comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard ponder who a career killer goes to when he finds himself a mark. Even professional assassins need a little muscle from time to time, and when one especially ill-tempered sunuvagun hires a body guard with a short fuse, violent egos clash with nose-crushing results.
It’s pretty unilaterally agreed that Charles Manson was a bad egg. As the leader of the hippie cult known as The Family, he terrorized Southern California with a killing spree that claimed seven lives, including that of actress and Roman Polanski spouse Sharon Tate. He was sentenced to nine consecutive lifetime sentences in prison, where he continues to hang out today. Pop culture has made no bones about its continuing fascination with this charismatic, repulsive figure and a new project will soon provide a fresh perspective on the real-life villain — with another villain along for the ride.
In space… no one can hear your crackly John Denver records. The timeless country standard “Take Me Home, Country Road” provides an eerie soundtrack for the latest peek at Ridley Scott’s long-time-coming Alien prequel Covenant. Over some rather breathtaking shots of a hostile, foreign world (no offense, New Zealand), we hear the familiar ode to the beauty of the American South, contrasting the harsh new climate with mental pictures of the gentle, rolling hills of West Virginia. Things get progressively creepier as the Xenomorph descends on our motley crew of intergalactic colonists, scaling their spacecraft and trying to get at the humans inside like they’re the filling of a delicious meaty empanada.
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