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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk ZeoBandit's Avatar
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    Default H'wood hopes 3rd time's the charm this summer

    H'wood hopes 3rd time's the charm this summer
    POSTED: 10:08 a.m. EDT, April 25, 2007
    Story Highlights
    Blockbuster summer almost here
    "Spider-Man 3," new "Shrek," "Pirates of the Caribbean" tops
    Also: "Ocean's Thirteen," "Evan Almighty," "Simpsons Movie"

    LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The superstitious believe bad things happen in threes. Hollywood is counting on the opposite this summer, with the industry's hopes resting on the third installments of some mammoth movie franchises.

    First, there's the big three, third chapters in the "Shrek," "Spider-Man" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" sagas. "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" debut within three weeks of one another, hatching what box-office analysts believe could end up a record summer.

    Then there are the supporting trio of third chapters: "Ocean's Thirteen," "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Rush Hour 3."

    Other big sequels include No. 5 for the boy wizard with "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"; No. 4 for die-hard Bruce Willis with "Live Free or Die Hard"; and Nos. 2 for the family of superhero mutants with "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and Morgan Freeman's divine being with "Evan Almighty," a follow-up to "Bruce Almighty."

    Other major summer releases include the Disney-Pixar animated comedy "Ratatouille," a big-screen take on TV's cartoon series "The Simpsons," the sci-fi adventure "Transformers" and Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko." (Read EW's take on the blockbuster season.)

    Summer's so crowded that the makers of "At World's End" staged a media blitz in March just to debut their trailer, figuring the extra attention would help even though "Dead Man's Chest" was last year's biggest hit.

    "You've got to set up your movie," "Pirates of the Caribbean" producer Jerry Bruckheimer said. "There are a lot of pictures coming this summer, so you have to get it out there and make a lot of noise for your movie."

    Hollywood's summer gets under way May 4 with "Spider-Man 3." Sam Raimi directs for the third time and the three key stars return, Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Spidey, Kirsten Dunst as his girlfriend Mary Jane, and James Franco as Harry, Peter's pal-turned-nemesis.

    "It's the soap opera of the three characters, with Harry and Peter and Mary Jane," Dunst said.

    Lulled into thinking he finally has balanced his personal life with his superhero gig, Peter's Spidey suit suddenly turns black, and he tussles with his dark side along with two new super-villains, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace).

    "He is struggling with his own character. Struggling with his darker side, and it starts to consume him," Maguire said. "Sam is making this soap-opera action-adventure film. That's kind of what we make. High drama, where lots of big stuff happens to the characters."

    'Shrek' and 'Pirates'
    In "Shrek the Third," the lovable ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) hopes to head home to the swamp with his bride, Fiona (Cameron Diaz). But the death of Fiona's dad, the king, leaves Shrek with a choice: Rule in his place or groom teenage cousin Artie (Justin Timberlake) to rule as the future King Arthur.

    Shrek and sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) hit the road to track down Artie. Fiona stays home and leads a counterattack to reclaim the kingdom from Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who has usurped the land.

    "Shrek the Third" continues the franchise's tradition of tweaking fairy-tale conventions as the ugly ogre and his homely wife battle heroically while the dashing prince remains the sniveling bad guy.

    "It was genius to take the fairy-tale form and explore the cliches of it and turn them on their head to challenge our notion of beauty and villainy," Myers said. "The films say a few things, that family and love come in all shapes and sizes, and beauty comes from within, not from your exterior. Those are two beautiful messages that allow us to enjoy the traditions of fairy tales with an updated, inclusive lens."

    Timberlake said nailing Artie's personality took some work, since he's not as funny on the surface as the more over-the-top "Shrek" characters.

    "I don't know if they had that challenge with somebody like Puss in Boots. You hear Antonio's voice and see that cat, and it's funny," Timberlake said. "But Artie doesn't get the jokes. He's the straightman."

    "At World's End" picks up where "Dead Man's Chest" left off, as friends and foes unite on a rescue mission to save Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from the keeper of the ocean bottom, Davy Jones.

    Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush return, joined by Chow Yun-Fat as a Chinese pirate they encounter on the voyage.

    "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" finds young wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) at the center of a tug-of-war among adult leaders of the magic world as a repressive new teacher (Imelda Staunton) is appointed to teach the Hogwarts students and keep watch over headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).

    Harry enlists schoolmates Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) to form a secret society to prepare the Hogwarts gang for the coming battle against evil forces led by Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

    "Order of the Phoenix" is much darker than anything that has come before in author J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, said David Yates, the film's director.

    "What's great is that each of the actors, Dan and Rupert and Emma, are getting older, more capable and more ambitious," Yates said. "They're really keen to push themselves as actors, and actually the material is really allowing them to do quite heavy, interesting things."

    More sequels, more comedy
    Also among the summer lineup:

    "Ocean's Thirteen," reuniting George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and director Steven Soderbergh for another heist romp; "The Bourne Ultimatum," with Damon back as the amnesiac assassin as he tries to unravel his past; "Hairspray," featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and newcomer Nikki Blonsky in an adaptation of the hit musical and earlier cult film about a teen who sets out to integrate a 1960s dance show; "Georgia Rule," with Lindsay Lohan, Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman in the story of a rebellious teen whose mom puts her under the thumb of her no-nonsense grandmother; "Knocked Up," with Katherine Heigl as a career-minded woman whose plans go awry after a drunken one-night stand with a slacker (Seth Rogen) leaves her pregnant; "Rush Hour 3," starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as buddy cops again, taking on a Chinese crime family in Paris; and "Live Free or Die Hard," with Bruce Willis' bullheaded hero facing a Fourth of July terrorist attack.
    "What we are dealing with here, is a complete lack of respect for the law" - Jackie Gleason, Smokey and the Bandit

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  2. #2
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    Also, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," pitting the comic-book superheroes against a menace from outer space; Nancy Drew," starring Emma Roberts as the plucky detective of the teen novels as she investigates a movie star's death; "Evan Almighty," with Steve Carell moving up from bit player to leading man as a new congressman commanded by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an Ark; "Sicko," "Fahrenheit 9/11" director Michael Moore's dissection of the U.S. health care system; "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," with Adam Sandler and Kevin James as firefighting buddies forced to pose as gay newlyweds so one can maintain insurance benefits for his kids; "The Invasion," starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in a sci-fi tale about an alien epidemic that alters human behavior; "Transformers," with Shia LaBeouf and Tyrese Gibson among the cast of humans caught up in the devastation after warring alien races bring their battle to Earth; and "No Reservations," starring Catherine Zeta-Jones as a chef obsessed with work who must develop her repressed maternal skills after she becomes guardian to her 9-year-old niece (Abigail Breslin).

    In real life, Zeta-Jones said she was the opposite, good with children but terrible in the kitchen, at least until she and co-star Aaron Eckhart trained at a fine New York City restaurant.

    "I think we pulled it off. Aaron and I could probably make a good meal," said Zeta-Jones, who added that she cooked three square meals a day for her husband, Michael Douglas, in preparation for the film. "My husband said, `They have to give you kudos,' because I had never boiled an egg in my life. ...

    "But I'm good a being a nurturer, especially around children, and I had to really shy away from that."

    "Transformers" star LaBeouf also provides lead vocals for "Surf's Up," a cartoon story about surfing penguins that follows last year's animated dancing-penguin tale "Happy Feet."

    The filmmakers insist no one will confuse the musical "Happy Feet" with the wry "Surf's Up," which is done in the style of a fake documentary, a la "This Is Spinal Tap," about penguins competing in a surfing competition.

    The market can bear another animated penguin movie, said LaBeouf, the voice of a young penguin surfer who becomes protege to a has-been champ (Jeff Bridges).

    "People would get sick of it if we weren't telling a good story and our whole allure was penguins," LaBeouf said. "But our allure is we're stretching the medium. Animation has never been done like this, in this tone, in this mockumentary 'Spinal Tap' way."

    Amid the onslaught of gorgeous computer animation that includes "Surf's Up," "Shrek the Third" and "Ratatouille," the makers of "The Simpsons Movie" proudly proclaim that their cartoon dares to be ugly.

    The filmmakers used computer animation to augment backgrounds and other details but relied heavily on the hand-drawn cartoon style used on the venerable TV cartoon for 18 years.

    "In a way, we waited until the technology made us able to do it. Make a movie that looked really good and looked true to the show," said "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening. "That's always something we've been pondering. How do we do something that is rich-textured the way cartoons are on the big screen, yet stay true to our relatively crude and simple TV show?"

    The animation masters at Pixar, whose films include "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo," were immediately hooked when a colleague came up with the idea for "Ratatouille," about a rat who dreams of being a chef in a fine French restaurant, where the discovery of a rodent would spell business disaster.

    "If a rat is death to a gourmet restaurant, and a gourmet restaurant is death to a rat, it automatically creates the kind of enormous obstacles that movies thrive on," said "Ratatouille" director Brad Bird, who won an Academy Award for Pixar's "The Incredibles."

    Bird chuckled over the irony that a rat would be one of the summer standard-bearers for Disney, home of Mickey Mouse.

    "Things have got to evolve," Bird said. "And rats are good survivors."
    "What we are dealing with here, is a complete lack of respect for the law" - Jackie Gleason, Smokey and the Bandit

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  3. #3
    Atomic Punk chefcraig's Avatar
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    So..."everything old is new again"? This merely points out the paucity of ideas in Hollywood right now. Then again, until word of mouth spreads the news that most of these films are terrible, they all guarantee great box office returns for a few days.
    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
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  4. #4
    Atomic Punk jimmy812's Avatar
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    Speaking of everything old is new again, let's not forget about Rob Zombie's "updated" (he claims it's not a remake) "Halloween" which comes out in August. Seems a little early to be releasing a film with that title.

    The Bourne Ultimatum looks good. I'll check that out.
    I never thought I'd have any interest in it but The Transformers looks good too.
    There's a comedy that is written by and starring Will Forte (SNL) called The Brothers Solomon. I don't know if it looks good or not but I'm definitely curious since Will Forte is involved.
    "Knocked Up" looks funny too.
    2-time Fantasy Baseball Champion.

  5. #5
    Romeo Delight Schools's Avatar
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    A couple years ago there was a debate over was box office receipts were down. A lot of people wanted to blame it on the politics of Hollywood because it was an election year. There is probably some truth to that, but IMHO it has more to do with the complete lack of originality in the movies that were and continue to be released. I personally don't mind sequels. I like to see a story continue as long as it is done well. Clearly some sequels (Caddyshack 2, Slapshot 2, Rocky 5, Batman & Robin, etc.) NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED, but others do quite well like the Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Star Trek and James Bond franchises.

    Where I find fault with the studios is when they either remake, or euphemistically "update," an existing film (Longest Yard, Bad News Bears, Hairspray, and dozens of others over the past five years) or try to transfer a TV show to the silver screen (The X-Files Movie is the only time I can think of when this has worked well).

    All in all this summer looks pretty good in comparison to past years. I'll probably go and see five or six of the movies listed in the article while they are in the theaters.
    Last edited by Schools; 04.25.07 at 10:52 AM. Reason: Fixed a typo
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