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Saturday, September 19, 2015

#99HOMES Opens In Los Angeles On OCTOBER 2nd

NEW LOS ANGELES OPENING DATE IS NOW OCTOBER 2nd and OPENING ON SEPTEMBER 25th in New York at Lincoln Square and Angelika.

In this timely thriller, charismatic and ruthless businessman, Rick Carver (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon), is making a killing by repossessing homes - gaming the real estate market, Wall Street banks and the US government. When he evicts Dennis Nash (Golden Globe nominee Andrew Garfield), a single father trying to care for his mother (Academy Award nominee Laura Dern) and young son (newcomer Noah Lomax), Nash becomes so desperate to provide for his family that he goes to work for Carver – the very man who evicted him in the first place.
Carver promises Nash a way to regain his home and earn security for his family, but slyly seduces him into a lifestyle of wealth and glamour. It is a deal-with-the-devil that comes with an increasingly high cost - on Carver's orders, Nash must evict families from their homes. As Nash falls deeper into Carver's web, he finds his situation grows more brutal and dangerous than he ever imagined.

RUNNING TIME: 112 MINUTES • RATING: R
DIRECTOR: Ramin Bahrani
CO-WRITERS: Ramin Bahrani and Amir Naderi
PRODUCERS: Ashok Amirtraj, Ramin Bahrani, Justin Nappi, Kevin Turen, Andrew Garfield
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Mohammed Al Turki, Ron Curtis, Manu Gargi, Arcadiy Golubovich

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Sacramento #99Homes 99 Good Deeds Support @SacStepsForward

BROAD GREEN PICTURES LAUNCHES 99 HOMES: 99 GOOD DEEDS CHARITABLE INITIATIVE AHEAD OF ’99 HOMES’ THEATRICAL RELEASE TO ENCOURAGE GOOD DEEDS IN SACRAMENTO.

Local Organizations in 20 Cities Around U.S. to Benefit

Broad Green Pictures announces the launch of 99 Homes: 99 Good Deeds, a charitable initiative to encourage individuals to perform one good deed to help a member of their community and to underscore the positive impact that even the smallest amounts of assistance can have. The launch comes just ahead of the release of the studio’s upcoming film 99 Homes debuting in theatres on Sept. 25, expanding nationwide Oct. 9. In collaboration with local organizations in 20 cities throughout the United States, Broad Green Pictures will perform 99 good deeds, including a partnership with Sacramento Steps Forward, a local non-profit whose goal is to rally the local community towards a shared effort to end homelessness.

As part of this campaign, 99 Homes has partnered with Sacramento Steps Forward for a series of “good deed” initiatives. These include a special advanced screening of the film for local donors, volunteers and supporters, as well as a planned partnership for the organization’s Winter Sanctuary program to provide hygiene kits for the homeless.  Viewers were encouraged to volunteer for a day on 9/9 on behalf of the film and the station encouraged donations to Steps Forward and the Sacramento Food Bank.

99 Homes is written and directed by Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop, Man Push Cart) and stars Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman, The Social Network) as Dennis Nash, a single father trying to take care of his mother, played by Laura Dern (Wild, The Fault in Our Stars) and young son after being evicted from their home. Nash becomes so desperate to provide for his family that he goes to work for Rick Carver played by Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) – the very man who evicted him from his home in the first place. 99 Homes is produced by Ashok Amritraj, Kevin Turen, Justin Nappi and Bahrani.

For more information on the 99 Homes: 99 Good Deeds initiative in Sacramento and a full list of and how to get involved, please visit 99HomesGoodDeeds.com.

About 99 Homes
In this timely thriller, charismatic and ruthless businessman, Rick Carver (Academy nominee Michael Shannon), is making a killing by repossessing homes - gaming the real estate market, Wall Street banks and the US government. When he evicts Dennis Nash (Golden Globe nominee Andrew Garfield), a single father trying to care for his mother (Academy Award nominee Laura Dern) and young son (newcomer Noah Lomax), Nash becomes so desperate to provide for his family that he goes to work for Carver – the very man who evicted him in the first place. Carver promises Nash a way to regain his home and earn security for his family, but slyly seduces him into a lifestyle of wealth and glamour. It is a deal-with-the-devil that comes with an increasingly high cost - on Carver’s orders, Nash must evict families from their homes. As Nash falls deeper into Carver’s web, he finds his situation grows more brutal and dangerous than he ever imagined.

About Broad Green Pictures
Broad Green Pictures is a feature film financing, production and distribution company founded by Gabriel and Daniel Hammond in 2014. The studio distributes both specialty and wide release films from in-house development and production as well as acquisitions and co-productions.

Broad Green is constructing a fully-integrated movie studio providing filmmakers with unparalleled development support, production infrastructure, and marketing resources to execute their vision from script to screen. Through collaborative partnerships with both rising talent and established filmmakers, Broad Green shares incredible stories with the widest possible audiences, pushing boundaries and taking creative risks. The studio’s upcoming slate includes the critically acclaimed 99 Homes, Infiltrator, Brain on Fire, I Smile Back and The Dark Horse, as well as Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups, Voyage of Time and his untitled project starring Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Michael Fassbender. Previously released films include A Walk in the Woods, Learning to Drive, Samba, Eden and 10,000 km.

About Sacramento Steps Forward
Sacramento Steps Forward is the lead agency working to end homelessness in the Sacramento region. By using a collaborative, data-driven, outcomes-based approach, we help ensure that individuals and families experiencing homelessness have access to housing, employment, health, education, and other resources necessary for economic stability and an improved quality of life.

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Join #EliRoth Monday For A @reddit_AMA Talking #THEGREENINFERNO & More

Join us Monday for a Reddit AMA with Eli Roth on behalf of THE GREEN INFERNO!

Where: http://www.reddit.com/r/movies
When: Monday, September 21st at 12pm PT / 3pm ET

BH Tilt will release THE GREEN INFERNO in theaters September 25, 2015

Directed by Eli Roth
Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira, Daryl Sabara, and Aaron Burns.

How far would you go for a cause you believe in? In Eli Roth’s terrifying new film, The Green Inferno, a group of college students take their humanitarian protest from New York to the Amazon jungle only to be taken prisoner by the indigenous tribe they came to save. The Green Inferno marks Eli Roth’s return to directing for the big screen for the first time since his Hostel franchise, and tells the story of what happens when “slacktavism,” the well-meaning social media response to global catastrophes, turns into terror in the depths of the Amazon rainforest.

Dark and primitive customs still rule the Amazon jungle: cannibalism and other mind, body and soul-destroying rituals. Trapped in the village, these high-tech modern-world students experience the ultimate in primal barbaric terror, suffering unspeakable acts of violence in an intense and chilling rituals reserved only for the most threatening intruders.

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Giveaway:Win Modern Family The Complete Sixth Season On DVD

Want to win the Emmy® Award nominated series for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Casting For a Comedy Series?

Modern Family Season Six Arrives on DVD September 22



“Modern Family” Season Six

The honeymoon is over, but the laughs continue in Season Six of “Modern Family,” winner of five consecutive Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series. As freshly hitched Cam and Mitch acclimate to the realities of wedded bliss, Phil and Claire find their marriage stressed by annoying neighbors, Thanksgiving dinner gone awry and Claire’s online snooping. Meanwhile, a spy-camera drone wreaks havoc in Jay and Gloria’s backyard and a close call on the highway leads to amusing changes in various members of the Pritchett-Dunphy clan. It all adds up to the funniest season yet of this brilliant and acclaimed comedy.

See how to enter after the Jump...



DVD Special Features

• Awesome Halloween
• A Modern Thanksgiving
• Modern Connections: The Making of an Episode
• A Day with Julie
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes


“Modern Family” Season Six DVD
Street Date: September 22, 2015
Prebook Date: August 19, 2015
Screen Format: 16:9 (1.78:1)
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English / French / Spanish
Total Run Time: 590 minutes
U.S. Rating: TV-PG
Closed Captioned: Yes

About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is the industry leading worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox produced, acquired and third party partner film and television programing. Each year TCFHE expands its award-winning global product portfolio with the introduction of new entertainment content through established and emerging formats including DVD, Blu-ray™, Digital HD and VOD. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, a 21st Century Fox Company.

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Giveaway: #PITCHPERFECT2 On Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD

Thanks to Universal Studios Home Entertainment for proving us with copies of PITCH PERFECT 2 Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD to giveaway to our fans.

The fabulous Bellas of Barden University are back to compete in the World Championships of A Cappella after a scandal threatens their legacy in Pitch Perfect 2. The high-spirited sequel to the movie that sparked a worldwide phenomenon is coming to Digital HD on September 1st and Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand September 22 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Pitch Perfect 2 is packed with more original musical arrangements, memorable one-liners and offbeat romance as the original’s most beloved characters fight to regain their former glory on a worldwide stage facing off against the toughest competition on the planet. Hysterical behind-the-scenes bonus features, never-before-seen deleted footage, all-new musical performances and a hilarious gag reel make Pitch Perfect 2 a must own on Blu-ray™ and DVD.

Oscar®-nominee Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods), Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids), Brittany Snow (Hair Spray), Anna Camp (The Help), Alexis Knapp (Project X), Hana Mae Lee (“Super Fun Night”) and Ester Dean (Ice Age: Continental Drift) return as the girls who run the a cappella world, with Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Chrissie Fit (Teen Beach Movie, “General Hospital”) and Katy Segal (“Sons of Anarchy”) joining the team for the first time. Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games series), who also directed the infectiously funny film, and John Michael Higgins reprise their roles as clueless competition commentators Gail and John. Skylar Astin (21 & Over), Adam DeVine (“Workaholics”) and Ben Platt (Ricki and the Flash) rejoin the comedy as the Barden’s favorite Treblemakers with YouTube superstar Flula Borg and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Automata) leading the Bellas’ archrivals, German supergroup Das Sound Machine.



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BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVE TO Blu-rayTM:

Never Before Seen Treblemakers Performance
The Making of the Riff- Off
Das Sound Machine Finale Breakdown
Snoop in the House
Green Bay Rap
Line-Aca-Rama
The World Championships of A Cappella
An Aca-Love Story: Bumper and Fat Amy
Elizabeth Banks’ Directorial Debut
Legacy: Hailee Steinfeld
Aca-Camp
Residual Heat Internship
BLU-RAYTM and DVD BONUS FEATURES

Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes
Gag Reel
Extended Musical Performances
The Bellas Are Back

Website: http://www.pitchperfectmovie. com
Facebook: https://www. facebook.com/pitchperfectmovie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ pitchperfect
Instagram: https://instagram. com/pitchperfectmovie
Hashtag: #PitchPerfect2

SYNOPSIS

Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and the Barden Bellas are back to pitch slap the world! After a scandal threatens to derail their last year at Barden, the three-time defending champs worry that they've lost their harmony for good. With one chance left at redeeming their legacy, they must face off against the toughest competition on the planet: German super group Das Sound Machine, and fight for their right to win at the World Championships of A Cappella. It will take the power of sisterhood to find their voice and see what it takes to be the world's top pitches!

FILMMAKERS:
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Ester Dean, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Platt, Chrissie Fit, Flula Borg, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins
Directed By: Elizabeth Banks
Written By: Kay Cannon
Based on Characters Created By: Mickey Rapkin
Produced By: Paul Brooks, Max Handelman, Elizabeth Banks
Executive Produced By: Scott Niemeyer, Jason Moore
Director of Photography: Jim Denault
Production Designer: Toby Corbett
Edited By: Craig Alpert
Costume Designer: Salvador Pérez
Music By: Mark Mothersbaugh

TECHNICAL INFORMATION BLU-RAY™:
Street Date: September 22, 2015
Copyright: 2015 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Selection Number: 61142600 (US)/ 61142601 (CDN)
Layers: BD-50
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Rating: PG-13 for innuendo and language
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1, French DTS Digital Surround 5.1
Run Time: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

TECHNICAL INFORMATION DVD
Street Date: September 22, 2015
Copyright: 2015 Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Selection Number: 61142595/ 61142603 (CDN)
Layers: Dual
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Rating: PG-13 for innuendo and language
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Sound: English Dolby Digital 5.1/Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Run Time: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

About Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is a part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Movie Review: 'Captive'

The religious thriller Captive looks like a Lifetime drama squeezed into Oprah bible commercial.

Review by Matt Cummings

In Director Jerry Jameson's thriller Captive, Ashley (Kate Mara) is a struggling addict who has recently regained custody of her baby daughter. Suffering from a string of failed rehabs, this is Ashley's last chance to reset her self-destructive path before the State steps in. Unfortunately, fate intercedes when the escaped murderer Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) takes her captive as the police desperately search for him. It's here that the two form an unlikely friendship around pastor Rick Warren’s best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life,” which Ashley reluctantly begins to read to pass the time. As the police close in, the two must decide if the book's message is worthy of further study, or if they're destined to live shortened, tragic lives.

Unfortunately, Captive never rises above its terse and tragic potential, content instead to mirror a Lifetime drama shot by a guy whose experience is limited to television. This is based on a true story, as the long-winded series of interviews afterwards featuring Oprah Winfrey can attest; but there's little in the way of production value. Scenes are shot way too close to the featured actor, there's no fluidity between scenes, and nothing to tell of the world surrounding Ashley and Brian. In fact, one can feel the hurried nature behind the shooting schedule, as if Jameson himself was under such pressures.

And while the story has potential, it alienates its hard-core religious audience by limiting the book's exposure in an effort to mainstream the message, but never completes the tale enough for average audiences to accept it. Regardless of where you stand on the religious scale, Captive fails to take bold chances with a clunky script by Brian Bird that merely lumbers along. In more capable hands, we could have lived Ashley's incarceration in more vivid detail, but there's never a sense that the capable Mara is ever in any sort of danger. Even when she stupidly gives Brian a snort of Meth, there's always a feeling that the book will return to settle Ashley's nerves and provide the direction it's supposed to before Nichols is re-captured.

Still, there is decent chemistry here between Mara (whose emaciated figure at least looks the part) and the psychologically disturbed Oyelowo. But it should be mentioned that Oyelowo's last project was an impressive portrayal in Selma. How he got to this point proves that the great actor still has a ways to go in selecting the right roles. More importantly, we never really learn whether the backdrop behind Nichol's past is that of a raving lunatic or a man pushed to desperation to see his newborn son. Mara too never gives up much about how she got into the life of Meth, which makes her 'scared-straight' exit all the more hard to cheer. This is the importance which good directors can play, elevating the performances, seeking the hidden truth, and getting the audience behind their characters. By the end, we just couldn't care less.

It's possible this film could have been something more, but instead Captive becomes an advertisement for dime-store religious values. All that's missing is a Walmart commercial with Oprah pimping a huge discount if you bring your movie ticket into the store.

Captive is Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving violence and substance abuse and has a runtime of 91 minutes minus the interviews and special features.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
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Movie Review: 'Black Mass'

Is the slow-burn gangster flick Black Mass worthy of recent Oscar talk? Read on to find out!

Review by Matt Cummings

For all the hype that 2015 has promised in terms of box office performance, we've experienced very little in the way of Oscar contenders. Usually, that arrives in October and barrels through Christmas with all the elegance of a load hauler. In a year that's seen more Oscar bait than catch, Black Mass arrives with a bat, a gun, and a terrific performance by Depp who feels like he's about to use both on us.

James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) is everything that encompasses a good Boston gangster: a receding hairline and sharp steely eyes that give nothing away as to how vicious a leader he really is. Starting in 1975, Bulger begins his rise as leader of the Winter Hill Gang, a troupe of hard-hitting Italians and Irish boys looking to carve out their place in the difficult but loyal South Boston streets. Enter the rising FBI star John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who's also Bulger's childhood friend: both want to see the Italians muscled out, and soon the two form a unique friendship. Bulger will supply intel to Connolly about their shared rivals, while Connolly looks the other way as Bulger drug deals and kills his way to the top. More than a simple thug, Bulger's a devoted father, a bruising fullback for his state senator brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), and a cold manipulator to the naive Connolly. Soon, the agent is awash in money, clothes, and prestige, deflecting the FBI to the true nature of their association, until their leader (Kevin Bacon) begins to realize he's not only been double-crossed, but has invited the devil himself to dinner.

Black Mass feels like cinematic opera with knuckles, each move carefully choreographed by Depp and Director Scott Cooper. Depp doesn't merely play the gangster, he inhabits Bulger, something he's rarely done of late. In fact, you'd have to go back to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to find a better performance. He plays the sober, plotting murderer like one of those huge South American snakes that lies in wait ready to attack a helicopter, because all of the living creatures have smartly run off. From the moment we gaze upon his creepy eye inserts, Depp has us cornered. He keeps the film going when the plot gets stuck, creeps us out when he fondles Connolly's wife (Julianne Nicholson), and shocks us with his ultra-violent responses. Without Depp, Mass is an entirely different experience.

I've never felt that Edgerton was worth all the accolades afforded him, and with Mass I'm only slightly more impressed. I can always imagine multiple actors getting more out of his roles, but here he does manage to play both sides against one another, pocketing the riches behind his indifference towards Bulger's movements but ready to arrest a major mob boss by driving him to the station himself. It's only near the end as the rope tightens that Edgerton doesn't quite know what to do. And this is where a creative wedge occurs that eventually leaves Mass with less than what it started.

This is an ensemble piece, filling every nook and cranny with enough story to tell a four-hour version; and that's the problem. Dakota Johnson - who plays Depp's wife - disappears after Act 1, Peter Skarsgaard makes what feels like an overblown cameo, as does an Act 3 Corey Stall as the hotshot DA planning to take down the entire system. None of them, including Adam Scott with a strange FBI porn-stache, get the time to delve into their characters, which I'm guessing wouldn't have amounted to much anyways. But because they're big stars, we expect them to receive some quality development. Find great character actors instead, and the audience raves about Cooper's smart casting.

Cooper does capture the 70s/80s quite well, although I could have had a bit more VCR filter than 1080p experience, a problem that the home experience might correct. He's also smart enough to use the sharpened knife that is Depp's ability to embody a character, without cutting the audience during a prison riot. His decision to point the talent in the right direction proves worthy time and time again, as the story gracefully moves through its slow-burn nuances. He also makes Bulger look like a hero to those around him, a complex and even sympathetic figure at points who merely uses these sides to gain access to what he desires. When tragedy befalls Bulger, we actually feel sorry for him, just before we see him murder a hooker or a snitch. It's that sort of trickery which I love about the film. Black Mass is not a run-of-the-mill, diet drama with a new pop song that plays in the end credits: it's as slow-burn as you're going to get, complete with its fair share of horrific violence to wake you up when the energy begins to wane.

It's possible that Black Mass could do very good numbers, but its slow-burn and huge cast will probably keep date-night couples away. But for those of us starving for anything of quality since August, this one will no doubt satisfy. Whether it's good enough to stick around come Oscar time will probably depend on how many of those couples give the film a chance. I think they should.

Black Mass is rated R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use and has a runtime 122 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
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Movie Review: 'Pawn Sacrifice'

The well-acted but dull Pawn Sacrifice does nothing to the elevate the game of chess.

Review by Matt Cummings

The game of chess is more than the strategy on the board, but the war going on inside the minds of the opponents. Analyzing moves and counter moves is just part of the neuroses which makes a chessmaster, sometimes resulting in odd quirks and even destructive psychological disorders. And while the Bobby Fischer biopic Pawn Sacrifice encapsulates some of that into a professional production, it relies too much on the personal struggles which its players endure, rather than balancing it with the brilliance of the game.

Arguably the greatest chess player in the world, Prospect Heights-born Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maquire) is also its loudest. Raised in a Communist household at the height of The Red Scare, a young Fischer turns to chess as a way to calm his distracted mind. But controversy and disappointment are never far behind, as years later he loses a vital match against a team of Russians without meeting their master Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber). Fast forward to 1972, and Fischer has dropped out of the public eye, until his opponent-turned-priest-turned-trainer (Peter Sarsgaard) and lawyer/manager (Michael Stuhlbarg) get him back into professional competition. Soon, the cantankerous Fischer is demanding a rematch against the cool Spassky, which takes both to a classic showdown in Reykjavik. The result will make history, but seal the fate of at least one of these champions.

There's something definitely missing from Pawn, as if Director Edward Zwick was close to checkmate but had to settle for a draw. Performances by Maquire and Schreiber are solid, and Zwick has a handle on the look of the time. But unlike Ron Howard's terrific Rush - which put a slick edge to 1970's Indy Car racing - Pawn lacks that sense of style, plodding through drama as if it's stuck in mud. More importantly, Pawn fails to celebrate the timeless sport of chess itself, making each move seem pedestrian and uninteresting. I wasn't expecting to see chess turned sexy, but Zwick takes no initiative to the teach the audience about the game or to make the pieces anything more than silent witnesses. I wasn't expecting the figures to jump out and start speaking, but Zwick could have shot the play better, choosing unique overhead and closeup angles to get the audience more involved. At the film's beginning, I was convinced Zwick was about to hand us a masterpiece, as Fischer imagines each move, which becomes diagrammed on the screen. But, that magic simply disappeared.

Maquire does his best as the snippy and unstable Fischer, whose paranoia of literally everything around him leads to his ultimate demise. But in it, Zwick and Co-Steven Knight take the wrong path, choosing to highlight Fischer's upbringing instead of the epic chess series and the effect it has on Fischer's spiraling neuroses. There was even a re-match of the two titans years later that I think could have provided for better drama than the stolid few glances Schreiber and Maguire eventually exchange. Surprisingly, they're in few scenes together, which burn white-hot and represent the film's best scenes. There's a mix of both 70's-era classic rock and a nice score by Composer James Newton Howard, but it's not enough to press the slow-burn strategy of Pawn into something magical.

In the end, Pawn Sacrifice is saved by its solid performances, but is constantly hampered by a lack of style and grace, two elements that make chess so appealing. It screams Oscar bait, but this King will have to take a draw.

Pawn Sacrifice is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual content and historical smoking and has a runtime of 114 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter West Coast Poster

From magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it's all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter , coming Spring 2016 to Universal Studios Hollywood℠. Explore the mysteries of Hogwarts™ castle, visit the shops of Hogsmeade™, and sample fare from the wizarding world's best-known establishments. Plus experience pulse-pounding rides and attractions that transport you into a world of magical thrills and excitement.

The ride is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.

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Jason Statham Headed To The Small Screen 'Viva La Madness'

According to THR The Transporter actor is set to star in action thriller Viva La Madness for Gaumont International Television, the company announced Thursday. A network is not yet attached.

The drama series is based on the book of the same name by J.J. Connolly and is the next installment to the author's novel "Layer Cake," which was adapted for the big-screen in 2004 and starred Daniel Craig.

Statham and Steven Chasman, who own the rights to the project, will exec produce alongside Connolly, who is set to pen the series.

Viva La Madness, with its riveting characters and twisting storyline, is a volatile cocktail of action and comedy that only J.J. Connolly can create,” said Gaumont International TV CEO Katie O’Connell Marsh. “Jason Statham, known for his roles in the Transporter trilogy, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, The Bank Job, as well as the recent Furious 7 and Spy, brings such strength and credibility to his characters but also has an effortless shade of vulnerability that gives him so much dimension on screen.”

Viva la Madness centers on an anonymous hero who is stranded in the Caribbean itching for the criminal life he left behind — but who is still a wanted man back home. He soon joins forces with two robust London gangsters: the menacing Sonny King and his paranoid partner Roy "Twitchy" Burns. Described as fast-paced and filled with sarcasm and humor, Viva La Madness takes place in a world of madness that somehow makes terrible sense.

For Gaumont, Viva marks its latest TV series following NBC's Hannibal, Netflix's Hemlock Grove and Netflix's Narcos, among others.

For Statham, Viva La Madness marks his first starring role on the small screen.

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New Release Date For #BROOKLYNMOVIE Starring #SaoirseRonan

Opening in select theaters in the U.S. on Wednesday, November 4, 2015.

BROOKLYN tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950’s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

Fox Searchlight will now release BROOKLYN on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 on a limited platform basis.

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Bryan Singer To Direct 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

In keeping with his tradition of handling his own PR through social media, Bryan Singer has announced his next film via his Instagram account. According to the director, he’s planning an adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

It’s certainly an ambitious project, and one that has defeated the likes of McG and, most famously in recent years, David Fincher. The latter got as far as trying to land Brad Pitt for the lead and locking down Australian studio space and locations for his take on the adventure tale with a script by Andrew Kevin Walker.

Now Singer – no stranger to big films following the likes of X-Men: Days Of Future Past and its incoming follow-up X-Men: Apocalypse – has a screenplay written by Rick Sordelet and Jack The Giant Slayer’s Dan Studney based on a story by the director and his writers. And, of course, drawing from Verne’s novel, which features the temperamental Captain Nemo and his giant sub the Nautilus, which has been brought to the screen several times before.

Fincher and his team were working for Disney, but Singer’s post, which promises “an epic and emotional adventure for all ages” doesn’t mention a studio. Given the public domain nature of the tome, any studio should be able to adapt it, and with his close X-Men ties there, it’s possible this will be for Fox, which has tried its own version, without success, in years past. And mutant fans shouldn’t worry – Singer also mentions he has no plans to abandon the X-universe just yet. Talking of, Apocalypse will be with us on May 19 next year.

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Taken Prequel Headed To TV

Luc Besson is revisiting Taken with NBC.

The network on Thursday handed out a straight-to-series order for a drama prequel based on the 2008 action thriller written by Besson, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The drama hails from Universal Television and EuropaCorp, which produced the Liam Neeson feature film that helped transform the actor into an action star. There is no writer or showrunner attached to the reboot, though a search is underway. Also undetermined is the number of episodes that the Taken prequel will feature.

The original film starred Neeson as Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative on a mission to save his daughter. NBC's modern-day prequel would focus on how a young Bryan honed his skills and became the character depicted in the feature.

The Taken prequel comes as IP — including features and TV series — have been hot commodities across broadcast and cable networks amid an increasingly cluttered original programming landscape. This development season, Fox is taking on Behind Enemy Lines, CBS is tackling Training Day, while The CW is prepping a series based on The Notebook and Friday the 13th, as the reboot trend continues into its second development season. For its part, NBC is also prepping a gay-focused remake of TV series Hart to Hart.

Coming this broadcast season are TV series based on features Rush Hour (CBS), Limitless (CBS), Uncle Buck (ABC) and Minority Report (Fox).

For NBC, the news comes after the network recently pulled the plug on its straight-to-series order for a Coach revival. Straight-to-series orders like Taken (and Coach) come as broadcast, cable and streaming services compete for high-demand fare in a bid to break through.

The Taken reboot will be a co-production between EuropaCorp and Universal Television. NBC has a history with EuropaCorp, having aired summer comedy Taxi Brooklyn a few years ago. For Besson, Taken becomes his latest movie to be adapted for TV. It joins La Femme Nikita and Transporter.

It's unclear when Taken would arrive on the schedule or if it would be for this broadcast season.

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New #THELASTWITCHHUNTER Trailer & NYCC Information

In celebration of the upcoming release of this Fall’s highly-anticipated film THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, we have an exciting new trailer and posters to share. Featuring scenes of the immortal Kaulder [Vin Diesel] in a battle between good and evil, this action-packed inside look is an adventure you’ll be eager to join – in theaters NEXT MONTH.

Watch the trailer after the Jump...



The trailer also includes a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” recorded by Ciara exclusively for The Last Witch Hunter.

“I am honored to have been asked to cover such an iconic song by one of music’s greatest bands, the Rolling Stones, for the film. “Paint It Black” matches the film’s mystical and suspenseful plot perfectly. The film and song have the magical recipe that combines romanticism with a touch of black! I cannot wait to see and hear the film and the song on the big screen with the rest of the world” - Ciara

The Last Witch Hunter is coming to New York Comic-Con! Join Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie and director Breck Eisner, in the Main Hall on October 10, 2015 at 3:15pm for a Q&A and a sneak peek at the film before it hits theaters October 23.

The WITCHES REVEALED web app has also just launched. Using facial recognition to automatically apply a variety of witch effects to pics, fans will be able to reveal their "true witch self," made ugly by magic-fueled long life or beautiful by mixing potions for smoother skin, makeup, piercings, tattoos and more. Users can login to the web app via mobile or desktop by visiting http://www.witchesrevealed.com.

Explore the mysterious inside world of THE LAST WITCH HUNTER by visiting The Witches Brood – an online publication that encompasses witch culture and welcomes all fans hoping to experience the life of a real witch. With an opportunity to register as a witch, this resource includes in-world editorial, fashion photography, important news surrounding the lifestyle of witches, and potion recipes pulled straight from the film.

The witchcrafting world can be very unpredictable, so be sure to keep visiting The Witches Brood until the movie's release on OCTOBER 23, 2O15, as you may find a few wicked surprises.

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Movie Review: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

If you liked the first one, you'll love its sequel.
By: Sue Lukenbaugh


The Gladers return for another harrowing experience. The first Maze Runner opened up with an amnesiac Thomas waking in an elevator, which is shortly relived in the sequel, and being thrust into an enclosed glade completely disrupting the other Gladers lives. Outside their safe walls is a mysterious and deadly maze as their sole means of escape. They thought that it was all over when they escaped the maze, but they couldn't have been more wrong, heck they should have stayed in the maze. What awaits them on the outside is far worse than the Grievers in the maze picking off the unlucky few. Out of the frying pan, and into the scorch, Thomas and crew head for the next chapter in the Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.



The film picks up where the second one ended. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), and his companions Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), Frypan (Dexter Darden), Winston (Alexander Flores), and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), get a brief glimpse of the wasteland that the Earth has become. It's full of crumbling cities, and weird, fast, tree like zombies. Their saviors take them to a compound away from WCKD (World Catastrophe Killzone Department), the mysterious organization responsible for putting them in the maze in the first place, and introduce them to a whole new group of kids who were in the many mazes that WCKD had as a part of their experiments. Occasionally the kids are chosen to go to their new forever home, which is kinda vague, but the place is being run by Game of Throne's Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) which just screams shady. Seriously, did anyone buy his act for a moment?


All the great character development and story narrative that was so key in the first one is set aside for action, lots and lots of running, almost too much running. Luckily the characters were so well developed in the first installment, there's almost no need to revisit this in the first half of the film. Those that have seen the first know the characters and circumstances well enough that the refresher course isn't needed.



The second half of the film is where things get interesting. It was as if director Wes Ball thought, that there wasn't enough craziness going on, and decided to ratchet things up a notch. The Grievers provided a few jumpy moments in the Maze Runner, but the mutant tree zombies are far more terrifying. Our group of heroes meet others in the Scorch, some with fewer marbles and morals than others, and the story line not only gets an injection of fun but some great actors when Alan Tudyk, Giancarlo Esposito and Lili Taylor show up.

As the final act comes to a roaring close with betrayals, revelations, and deaths, it perfectly sets up the next film in the series. The Scorch Trials isn’t a particularly good movie, but it’s fast enough and crazy enough to keep you entertained. If you liked the first one, you'll love its sequel.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Sue Lukenbaugh on Twitter @suepafly .

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Movie Review: Everest

Mountain film has a molehill of dramatic stakes.

Review by Brandon Wolfe

In May of 1996, a large collection of climbers attempted to scale the perilous heights of Mount Everest. Led by expedition leader, New Zealander Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), most of the party were experienced climbers, including Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin) a doctor embarking on a personal mission to climb the Seven Summits, and Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), a mailman who had made a previous run at Everest the year before. Rob’s group also consisted of a journalist, Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), on assignment to document the voyage. A parallel climbing party, led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), forged an uneasy alliance with Rob’s to increase overall safety with greater numbers. Back at base camp is Helen Wilton (Emily Watson), running Rob’s operation from a safer distance, while Rob’s pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightley) wisely stays home, confident in her husband’s expertise keeping him safe.

This is the setup for Everest, the dramatization of the true story of this disastrous excursion. Mount Everest, never a safe destination point under the most optimal circumstances, proves catastrophic for these thrill seekers, as a series of brutal storms conspires to rob the climbers of their personal triumph and, for many of them, their lives. Some reach the top, some make it back alive, but none would walk away from this experience feeling victorious.


The first hour of Everest proves nearly as difficult to surmount as the mountain itself. As we are introduced to each member of the climbing party, it becomes readily apparent that none of these actors are being granted roles rich with characterization. There’s a general bonhomie among the climbers that never surpasses the level of blandly genial. Similarly, the muted animosity between the rival parties never reaches anything approaching a boiling point of hostility, never resulting in something like compelling tension. This entire first half is crafted so that watching these people climb, largely without incident, is the only objective, and impressive vistas aside, that minimal level of dramatic investment, coupled with the minute character development, doesn’t give the audience much of a rooting interest in anything. The last thing anyone could call climbing Mount Everest would be boring, but that label fits neatly with the experience of watching others do it.

Of course, the relative uneventfulness of Everest’s first half is clearly calibrated to lull the audience into a sense of calm before all Hell breaks loose in the second half, as it inevitably does. When a vicious storm takes hold while the parties are approaching the summit, the climbers gets scattered. Rob is stuck at the top with a rapidly fading Doug, while Beck finds himself too weak to retreat. It’s here that Everest essentially becomes misery porn, as we watch the climbers gradually succumb to death and frostbite, helpless to do much to save themselves from the elements and out of range for outside rescue. Apart from one character’s miraculous second wind of endurance, this is not a story of heroics or tyranny of will leading doomed men to persevere against treacherous odds. This is a tragedy, plain and simple, yet the film’s weak characterization, or even ability to adequately distinguish these mostly bearded, parka-covered men from one another, makes it very difficult to become emotionally engaged in any of their fates.


It’s hard to fathom what attracted this impressive assemblage of actors to this film. None of these roles give performers as exemplary as Gyllenhaal and Brolin much to do beyond looking miserable and cold. Everest doesn’t look like it was an enjoyable film to make on a physical level, but the characters are so thinly defined that it’s impossible to surmise what the professional rewards were for the cast, either. Gyllenhaal, in particular, has become one of our most interesting actors, so to see him used to such little effect here is dismaying, to say the least.

Everest is impressively shot, if nothing else. It feels effectively harsh and unforgiving, and it’s impossible to discern just how much of the film was greenscreened given its level of you-are-there authenticity. Though apart from an overhead shot of the group crossing a suspension bridge at the outset of their journey, the film makes astonishingly minimal effort to convey the dizzying heights of its locale, even to the extent that a lowbrow actioner like Cliffhanger once did. Everest exploits one’s fear of freezing to death far more acutely than it does one’s fear of heights.

Walking out of Everest, there is little to recommend beyond basic filmmaking acumen. There isn’t much to glean here beyond the experience of watching people climb and die, both occurring with grueling sluggishness. The greatest takeaway from the film is, quite simply, how nice it feels to walk outside into a warm September evening after it’s over.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe at @BrandonTheWolfe.


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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Watch A Red Band Clip From #THEGREENINFERNO

The first Red Band Clip from THE GREEN INFERNO.

How far would you go for a cause you believe in? In Eli Roth’s terrifying new film, The Green Inferno, a group of college students take their humanitarian protest from New York to the Amazon jungle only to be taken prisoner by the indigenous tribe they came to save. The Green Inferno marks Eli Roth’s return to directing for the big screen for the first time since his Hostel franchise, and tells the story of what happens when “slacktavism,” the well-meaning social media response to global catastrophes, turns into terror in the depths of the Amazon rainforest.

Watch the clip after the Jump...



THE GREEN INFERNO will open in theaters September 25, 2015

Presented by BH Tilt

Directed by Eli Roth
Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira, Daryl Sabara, and Aaron Burns.

How far would you go for a cause you believe in? In Eli Roth’s terrifying new film, The Green Inferno, a group of college students take their humanitarian protest from New York to the Amazon jungle only to be taken prisoner by the indigenous tribe they came to save. The Green Inferno marks Eli Roth’s return to directing for the big screen for the first time since his Hostel franchise, and tells the story of what happens when “slacktavism,” the well-meaning social media response to global catastrophes, turns into terror in the depths of the Amazon rainforest.

Dark and primitive customs still rule the Amazon jungle: cannibalism and other mind, body and soul-destroying rituals. Trapped in the village, these high-tech modern-world students experience the ultimate in primal barbaric terror, suffering unspeakable acts of violence in an intense and chilling rituals reserved only for the most threatening intruders.

R | 100 minutes

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Get To Know Luke From #HeroesReborn

Luke and his wife Joanne are in hiding, they lost their son in the terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas and now they are looking for their revenge. Luke and Joanne take it upon themselves to avenge their son’s death by wiping the world clean of people with abilities.

Click HERE to watch the Video
From creator/executive producer Tim Kring, who imagined NBC’s original critically-acclaimed 2006 “Heroes” series, comes “Heroes Reborn,” an epic 13-episode event series that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities.

A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Two such vigilantes include Luke (Zachary Levi, “Chuck”) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2”), who are seeking to avenge a tragic loss.

Noah Bennet, a.k.a. H.R.G. (Jack Coleman, “Heroes”), has gone off the grid but conspiracy theorist Quentin Frady (Henry Zebrowski, “A to Z”) finds him and opens his eyes to the truth behind the Odessa tragedy.

While in hiding, some are discovering their newfound skills. Awkward teen Tommy (Robbie Kay, “Once Upon a Time”) just wants to be normal and win the girl of his dreams, Emily (Gatlin Green, “Criminal Minds”), but normalcy is virtually impossible after learning of a new ability that terrifies him. Coming from a very sheltered upbringing, a bold and ethereal teenager, Malina (Danika Yarosh, “Shameless”), has been told she is destined for greatness. In Tokyo, a quiet and unique young woman, Miko (Kiki Sukezane, “Death Yankee 3”), is trying to track down her missing father while hiding an extraordinary secret that will make her a force to be reckoned with. Elsewhere, a different type of hero is emerging through former soldier Carlos (Ryan Guzman, “The Boy Next Door”).

Meanwhile, the head of the highly successful tech conglomerate, Renautas (Rya Kihlstedt, “Masters of Sex”), has an agenda of her own.

For better or for worse, some are fated to cross paths with assorted heroes of the past, including Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and the Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis), among others. Yet, together, their ultimate destiny is nothing less than saving the world and mankind.

Joining Kring are executive producers James Middleton (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) and Peter Elkoff (“Sons of Anarchy”). “Heroes Reborn” is produced by Imperative Entertainment, in association with Universal Television.

Please visit the official show site at: http://www.nbc.com/heroes For the latest "Heroes Reborn" news, videos, and photos, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

http://www.facebook.com/heroes

http://twitter.com/heroes #HeroesReborn

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New High Energy #PointBreak Trailer

In Alcon Entertainment’s fast-paced, high-adrenaline action thriller Point Break, a young FBI agent, Johnny Utah (Bracey), infiltrates a cunning team of thrill seeking elite athletes, led by the charismatic Bodhi (Ramirez). The athletes are suspected of carrying out a string of staggering crimes that kill innocent people and send the world’s economy into a tailspin.

Watch the trailer after the Jump...



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#LegendMovie Will Now Open In November

The upcoming film LEGEND will now open in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, November 20, 2015. LEGEND was originally scheduled for release on October 2, 2015.

The film will expand to additional U.S. markets on November 25 and further on December 11.


From Academy Award® winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River) comes the true story of the rise and fall of London’s most notorious gangsters, Reggie and Ronnie Kray, both portrayed by Tom Hardy in a powerhouse double performance. LEGEND is a classic crime thriller taking us into the secret history of the 1960s and the extraordinary events that secured the infamy of the Kray twins.

Written and directed by Helgeland, the Studiocanal, Working Title and Cross Creek film co-stars Emily Browning, David Thewlis, Duffy, Christopher Eccleston and Chazz Palminteri. Working Title Film’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produce LEGEND alongside Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis and Cross Creek Pictures’ Brian Oliver. Universal will release the thriller in the U.S., and Studiocanal will distribute in the U.K., France, Germany and Australia/New Zealand.

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Woody Harrelson Joins War For The Planet Of The Apes

THR is reporting Woody Harrelson has nabbed one of the leading human roles in Fox’s latest Planet of the Apes installment.

Matt Reeves, who directed 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, has returned as helmer for the new project, which is titled War for the Planet of the Apes. Mark Bomback also is back as screenwriter and Chernin Entertainment as the producer. Dylan Clark is also producing.

It is unclear who is returning to the new movie, which will continue the story of Caesar, the evolved ape who is brought to life via motion capture by Andy Serkis.

Plot details are being kept secret, but Harrelson will play a character called the Colonel.

It was recently reported that Gabriel Chavarria would play one of the new characters, but insiders say his part is small.

Harrelson is currently shooting LBJ, starring as President Lyndon B. Johnson, and will be back on the big screen in the final Hunger Games movie, which hits theaters on Nov. 20.

The actor is undergoing a resurgence thanks to the critical acclaim for his work on the first season of HBO’s True Detective.

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Win Tickets To An Advance Screening For #SICARIOMOVIE In San Francisco

Win Tickets To An Advance Screening For SICARIO on September 22nd at 7:30 PM in San Francisco.


SICARIO, Directed by the critically-acclaimed Denis Villeneuve, and starring a fantastic ensemble including Academy Award® winner Benicio del Toro, Golden Globe Award® winner Emily Blunt, Academy Award® nominee Josh Brolin along with Jon Bernthal, and Emmy Award® nominee Victor Garber, this film is packed with gripping suspense and non-stop action.


In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent [Emily Blunt] is enlisted by an elite government task force official [Josh Brolin] to aid in the escalating war against drugs.


Make sure to LIKE SandwichJohnFilms on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all your entertainment news and to be to notified about our upcoming Advance Screenings. Also make sure to subscribe and download our Podcast



See how to win tickets after the Jump...

Click HERE to get your tickets.

DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE REVIEWING PRESS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERBOOKING. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION AND MUST BE SURRENDERED UPON DEMAND. NO ONE WILL BE ADMITTED WITHOUT A TICKET AND ONLY REVIEWING PRESS WILL BE ADMITTED AFTER THE SCREENING BEGINS. Duplicate passes will not be accepted. Screening passes are non transferable. This ticket is NOT for resale. Reselling of tickets is strictly prohibited and punishable by law. All those found in violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. MPAA - No Recording This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device*, you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device.

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#PacificRim2 May Not Happen Now

According to THR Legendary wanted to produce a sequel to del Toro's Pacific Rim, which was made under the Warners deal and turned into one of those films that grosses a lot ($411 million worldwide) while being so costly that a follow-up isn't a sure thing. Sources say Legendary liked that the original performed exceptionally well in China, where the company is heavily invested, but for now the project — which had been ramping up to make a release date in August 2017 — has been halted indefinitely and will be pushed back (if it gets made at all).

Universal Pictures' decision last week to let Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures take its Kong: Skull Island project to Warner Bros. in the midst of a five-year production and financing deal is being read as a symptom of relationship trouble between the companies.

Several sources say there has been strain, in part because Tull kicked off the deal in 2014 with a couple of clunkers that he put through Universal's distribution system and then upset some at the studio who feel he has indulged a bad habit of wrapping himself in credit for hits that he merely helped finance. In this case, the film at issue was the biggest movie of the year to date, Jurassic World.

Known as a brash fanboy with a knack for raising big money, Tull, 43, brought potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in film financing to Universal after his relationship with Warners soured amid similar reports of tension over that studio's perception that he grabbed credit for Christopher Nolan's Batman movies and other hits on which he was a financing partner. (In a 2009 Wall Street Journal profile, for example, Tull said Legendary had made The Dark Knight.) "That will always be his biggest problem," says a source close to Warners. "Not just saying, 'Thank you.' " Legendary, Warners and Universal declined comment, but a source with ties to Tull notes that both studios "certainly decided to cash his checks."

In a twist, following Universal's decision to pass on Kong — with a budget north of $125 million — Warners is stepping in with a three-picture deal that kicks off with Kong; followed by a sequel to 2014's Godzilla, the biggest Warners hit originated by Legendary ($529 million worldwide); followed by a mashup that pits the ape against Godzilla. Warners is said to be kicking in 25 percent of budgets as well as marketing costs on the Kong films.

One industry veteran notes that the deal brings Tull "back to Warners, which was thrilled to see him leave." But a studio insider says a broader deal between Warners and Legendary won't happen in the foreseeable future because WB is happy with its financing partnership with James Packer and Brett Ratner's RatPac Entertainment.

It's still early days in the relationship between Legendary and Universal. But things got off to an inauspicious start as the deal required the studio to distribute two existing Legendary-backed films: Michael Mann's $70 million Blackhat, which was released in January and grossed a paltry $17.8 million worldwide, and Seventh Son, a $95 million-plus fantasy that reached only $111 million worldwide. (Universal lost no money on those films but spent manpower on releasing them didn't relish the association with them.)

Universal has invested in three Legendary projects: the $15 million horror movie Krampus (Dec. 4); the ambitious Warcraft, based on the video game (June 10); and The Great Wall, a Matt Damon sci-fi action film directed by Zhang Yimou for November 2016. (Tull shares "original story" credit on Great Wall.) Several sources say the latter two are seen as "problem movies" that have heightened concerns on the part of Universal studio chief Donna Langley.

Meanwhile, Legendary opted into two big Universal hits: It took 25 percent of Jurassic World, which was a smart bet because it has grossed $1.7 billion worldwide, and 50 percent of the moderately budgeted Straight Outta Compton, which has earned $181 million. Legendary also invested in Danny Boyle's awards hopeful Steve Jobs (Oct. 9).

Kong is not the first Legendary film in which Universal has declined to participate. This spring, the studio bowed out of paying for half of Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak (Oct. 16). The studio had said it would share the cost only if the film got a PG-13 rating; a source says Langley believed the movie cost too much for an R rating. With del Toro now having delivered an R, Legendary is footing the whole bill.

Some industry insiders assumed King Kong was a Universal property, probably because of Peter Jackson's 2005 film and the theme park attraction, but the material is in the public domain. Tull wanted Universal to kick in 25 percent of the new film's budget, and sources say some at the studio were excited about the idea of a new Kong movie. But "when you're taking a big swing like that," says an insider, "you'd better have your shit together." And Universal was not convinced that such was the state of Legendary's project. But Legendary attorney Skip Brittenham says Tull has talked for years of making a movie that would matchup Kong and Godzilla and asked Universal to let the project go to Warners.

Now that Legendary has moved Kong, that settles a brewing argument over the script's references to Monarch, the secret government entity in Godzilla that employed the characters played by Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins. Obviously, the inclusion of Monarch in Kong is a move to tie the ape into a hoped-for Godzilla "universe." Warners, which held onto the right to participate in any Godzilla sequel, did not relish the idea of a Godzilla element in a Universal-backed Kong movie.

A threshold problem is that Kong supposedly is much smaller than Godzilla. That fact was not lost on Universal. "There were funny comments about him having to be the size of the Empire State Building instead of hanging off of it," says a studio insider. But a source close to Tull says Legendary is confident it can come up with a rationale to explain how Kong and Godzilla can do battle — and possibly become allies.

Sources with ties to both Legendary and Universal point out that the deal between the two was engineered by NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke just before the ouster of Adam Fogelson as Universal's film chairman. Burke was said at the time to have been enamored with Tull's company and to have promised him nearly unfettered access to Universal projects (minus Fast & Furious, Minions movies and Ted). Universal had no major financing partner at the time, and though it was showing signs of life with Fast & Furious 6 and Identity Thief, it also had costly disappointments like R.I.P.D. and 47 Ronin.

But after Universal's record-setting year at the box office, says a person with knowledge of the situation from the studio's perspective, things have changed: "Donna Langley is ascendant and carrying far more weight with [Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman] Jeff Shell, Burke and [Comcast chairman and CEO] Brian Roberts than Thomas Tull. That was not Thomas Tull's plan." And given Universal's dazzling run, says another person close to the studio, "They have the right to be really selective. They're riding on top of the world right now."

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First Glimpse From #Arrow Season 4

The CW has delivered the first images from Arrow season 4 in all it's glory.


We get our real first look at Diggle in his new costume, a glimpse of Star City and a greener Arrow.


See all the images after the Jump...



























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