Tolkien Biopic to Be Released on May 10, 2019

The first still images from the upcoming #Tolkien biopic film have been released. They show Nicholas Hoult as the iconic #fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien. Born 1892 in South Africa, Tolkien was orphaned as a teen after his parents died. The film (directed by Dome Karukoski) will follow these formative years as he attends school in Birmingham and finds companionship with a group of outcasts.

The still images that were released offer snapshots from J.R.R. Tolkien’s life, including his younger years with future wife Edith (being played by actress Lily Collins) and the approach of World War I. The events of that war would come to impact Tolkien’s work with #TheHobbit, #TheLordOfTheRings, and #TheSilmarillion. For example, his war experience inspired The Fellowship of the Rings, and his relationship with Edith affected how he wrote the literary romance between Aragorn and Arwen.

Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien in "Tolkien"

Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien in “Tolkien”

Nicholas Hoult & Lily Collins in "Tolkien"

Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien & Lily Collins as Edith Bratt in “Tolkien”

Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien (Right) with School Chums

Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien (Right) with School Chums in “Tolkien”

Lily Collins (as Edith Bratt) & Nicholas Hoult (as J.R.R. Tolkien) in "Tolkien"

Lily Collins (as Edith Bratt) & Nicholas Hoult (as J.R.R. Tolkien) in “Tolkien”

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91st Academy Award Nominees

The 2018 #Oscar nominees have been announced and eight #SciFi & #Fantasy films have been nominated in multiple categories, including for “Best Picture”!

The eight sci-fi & fantasy films that have received at least one nomination are as follows:

  • #AvengersInfinityWar
  • #BlackPanther
  • #ChristopherRobin
  • #IsleOfDogs
  • #MaryPoppinsReturns
  • #ReadyPlayerOne
  • “#Solo: A #StarWars Story”
  • “#SpiderMan: Into the Spider-Verse”

Award Categories Breakdown

For Best Animated Film:

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

For Costume Design:

  • Black Panther (Ruth Carter)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Sandy Powell)

For Music (Original Score):

  • Black Panther (Ludwig Goransso)
  • Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

For Music (Original Song):

  • “All the Stars” from Black Panther
  • “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns

For Best Picture:

  • Black Panther

For Production Design:

  • Black Panther (Production Design: Hannah Beachler; Set Decoration: Jay Hart)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Production Design: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim)

For Sound Mixing:

  • Black Panther (Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter Devlin)

For Visual Effects:

  • Avengers: Infinity War (Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick)
  • Christopher Robin (Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris Corbould)
  • Ready Player One (Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and David Shirk)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy)

Total Number of Nominations for Each Film

Here’s how many nominations each sci-fi & fantasy film received:

  • Black Panther: 6
  • Mary Poppins Returns: 4
  • Avengers: Infinity War: 1
  • Christopher Robin: 1
  • Isle of Dogs: 1
  • Ready Player One: 1
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story: 1
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: 1

References

EA Cancels Another “Star Wars” Video Game

#ElectronicArts (#EA) has canceled development of an open-world #StarWars game, which they had originally announced when they had also announced the shutdown of #VisceralGames back in 2017. The video game that had been under development at Visceral, codenamed #Ragtag and under the helm of Amy Henning, was being partially developed at EA’s offices in Vancouver, Canada. After the closure of Visceral, EA Vancouver totally rebooted the Ragtag project and transformed it into the open-world Star Wars game that EA was more interested in. Some of the art assets developed for Ragtag were all that was kept of Ragtag for the open-world game. (EA Vancouver handles support for a variety of the publisher’s games, including FIFA and Battlefront.)

Unlike Ragtag, EA had not shown any of EA Vancouver’s open-world Star Wars game publicly. EA talked about it when they announced Visceral’s demise. “It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design,” the company said at the time. “A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project.”

EA had codenamed the open-world Star Wars game as #Orca, which would have involved playing as a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.

According to insiders, EA canceled Orca so that it could instead focus on a smaller-scale Star Wars project that they could release sooner, possibly late 2020, which coincides with possible new next-generation game consoles will be released.

Reaction to the game’s cancelation has been largely negative, including from “Rogue One” writer Gary Whitta, who said,

“It has been catastrophically mismanaged. If I were Disney, I’d be fucking furious. I saw a bunch of that game, and it looked terrific. It would have been Star Wars Uncharted.”

EA’s record with Star Wars video games is certainly mixed. While Battlefront was good, Battlefront II became highly controversial when news of EA’s micro-transactions built into the expensive game infuriated the gaming community. Only time will tell how the community reacts to the future games.

star-wars-open-world-concept-art

References

Comic Books Legend George Pérez Announces Retirement

#ComicBooks legend George Pérez has announced his retirement from comics. In a letter published on Facebook, the artist wrote,

“While I know it’s been no secret that I’ve been dealing with a myriad number of health issues (diabetes, heart ailments, vision issues, etc.), they have indeed have [sic] forced me to, for all intents and purposes, formally retire from the business of creating new comic stories.”

Pérez went on to to announce he will no longer be completing commissions, and that 2019 will be his final year making a full slate of convention appearances. He currently plans to continue to attend DragonCon and FetishCon annually.

Pérez closed his letter with the following:

“I’ve had a wonderfully good run doing exactly what I have wanted to do since I was a child. Now I can sit back and watch the stuff I helped create entertain whole new generations. That’s a pretty nice legacy to look back on.”

Pérez’ extensive works during his long career include the following:

For #MarvelComics:

  • The Avengers
  • Fantastic Four
  • Man-Wolf
  • The Inhumans
  • The Infinity Gauntlet
  • Sachs and Violens
  • Hulk: Future Imperfect

For #DCComics:

  • The New Teen Titans
  • Nightwing (co-creator)
  • Justice League of America
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Wonder Woman (relaunched series and introduced the Greek mythology into the character for the first time)
  • The New Titans
  • Deathstroke
  • War of the Gods
  • Silver Surfer
  • Justice Society of America
  • The Brave and the Bold
  • Infinite Crisis
  • Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds
  • Green Arrow
  • World’s Finest

For #MalibuComics:

  • Break-thru
  • Ultraforce

For #ToppsComics:

  • Jurassic Park

For #GorillaComics, #EventComics & #CrossGen:

  • Crimson Plague (creator)
  • CrossGen Chronicles
  • Solus

For #BOOMStudios:

  • Sirens

We wish George Pérez a wonderful retirement and thank him for all of his contributions to comic books, science fiction & fantasy!

George Pérez

George Pérez

References

Paramount Has Reportedly Shelved “Star Trek IV”

In not-so-good news for #StarTrek fans, #Paramount has reportedly shelved plans for #StarTrekIV. Contributing factors appear to include:

  • Poor box office revenue for “Star Trek Beyond”, the third film.
  • Contract negotiations with Captain Kirk star Chris Pine (and Chris Hemsworth, who played his father George in the 2009 reboot) collapsed around August, 2018, which we reported about.
  • Attached director S.J. Clarkson has moved on to direct the upcoming>Game Of Thrones prequel pilot.

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“Star Wars Resistance”: Is it Too Lighthearted, Comedic and Juvenile?

With “Star Wars Resistance” now on a holiday hiatus, let’s take a look at how well this new #StarWars animated series is doing as compared with its highly successful and well-loved predecessors: #TheCloneWars and #Rebels. For many, #Resistance is a departure from what many longtime franchise fans expected. For comparison, let’s recap its animated predecessors.

  • “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (which aired from 2008-2013 on the Cartoon Network, then had a shortened sixth season on Netflix) was created by George Lucas with supervising director Dave Filoni. The series focused on primarily upon Anakin Skywalker, Obi-wan Kenobi, Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka Tano, various clone troopers, other Jedi, Separatists, etc. during the Clone War between movies II and III. The series featured many battles and encounters between the Jedi and various Sith and other dark Force users.
  • “Star Wars Rebels” (which aired from 2014-2018 on the DisneyXD network) was co-created by Dave Filoni, who was also an executive producer until season 3 when he was promoted to a higher position within LucasFilm Animation. This series began 15 years after the end of the Clone War and start of the Galactic Empire and featured a brand new set of characters to the “Star Wars” franchise: Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus (a former Jedi), Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren (a Mandalorian), Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios and their older droid known as Chopper. The group begins to fight the Empire and helps to create the Rebel Alliance.

While the animation styles for “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” were different, both used high-quality animation. Both series also featured a lot of elements common to the “Star Wars” franchise: fighting with light sabers, space battles, fighting the Sith, the more scummy elements, etc. Thus, both series attracted both children and adults viewers alike.

Both “The Clone Wars and “Rebels” have high ratings from viewers:

  • “The Clone Wars”: 8.1 out of 10 (over 38,000 votes) on IMDb; 94% Tomatometer with 89% audience score on RottenTomatoes.
  • “Rebels”: 8.0 out of 10 (over 21,000 votes) on IMDb; 100% TomatoMeter with 83% audience score on RottenTomatoes.

Now let’s look at “Star Wars Resistance” and what makes it so different:

  • “Star Wars Resistance” (which began airing in 2018 on the DisneyXD network) was created solely by Dave Filoni. The series takes place decades after the events of “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi” and 6 months before the events of “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” occur. Thus, there is no current war. Part of the galaxy is governed by the New Republic, and part of it under the control of the First Order. Cameron Poe (who is not a regular character) assigns a young pilot named Kazuda Xiono to spy on possible First Order sympathizers. on the independent refueling station named Colossus on the outer rim planet of Castilon. Kazuda is young (maybe early 20’s), but acts more like a teenager. He spends much of his time with mechanics & pilots working on their own ships.

Given that this animated series is supposed to occur only 6 months before the events of “Star Wars VII”, its overall lightheartedness and tendency towards comic relief is inconsistent with the seriousness and grave threat that is present at the beginning of “Star Wars VII”. This lightheartedness & overuse of comic relief has given the impression that the series is geared towards a very young audience. It’s use of Japanese-style animation supports this impression. Additionally, the apparent lack of adults discussing this series on social media (unlike when its predecessors were airing) also suggests that the series has low appeal to adults who are long-time fans of the franchise.

Taking a look at the show’s ratings may give more clues:

  • “Resistance”: 4.7 out of 10 (over 1400 votes) on IMDb; 92% TomatoMeter and 77% audience score on RottenTomatoes.

While the scores on RottenTomatoes are not significantly lower for “Resistance” as compared with “The Clones Wars” and “Rebels”, its IMDb rating is and the total number of voters is also significantly low. This low number of voters on IMDb implies fewer adults watching the series than its predecessors.

This reduced viewership by adults can be demonstrated by the average number of viewers watching the first season episodes of “Resistance”: approximately 400,000 viewers per episode. By comparison, “Rebels” had an average number of 825,000 viewers per episode for its first season, and “The Clone Wars” had an average number of 2.75 million viewers per episode for its first season. Thus, the first season of “Resistance” has 48.5% of the viewers that “Rebels” had and only 14.5% of the viewers that “The Clone Wars” had.

Thus, it does seem that the more lighthearted, comedic and juvenile approach that has been applied to “Star Wars Resistance” as compared with its predecessors has not benefitted the series. Had the series applied the same seriousness as its predecessors, it would probably have more viewers and a higher rating on IMDb. Only time will tell how long this series will last.

Star Wars Rebels

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“Mortal Engines” is a Box Office Failure, but “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a Huge Hit

While the dystopian #SciFi film #MortalEngines was a box office failure on its opening weekend (earning disastrous $7.5 million domestically), the animated “#SpiderMan: Into the Spider-Verse” earned the largest December animated opening with $35.4 million at the box office. Also, while “Mortal Engines” earned more outside of the U.S., its total box office take for opening weekend globally was only $42 million. This is a far cry from the film’s budget of $100 million, which is now what its estimated loss is going to be.

“This is a true Christmas disaster and a lump of coal for Universal,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “They took a big swing, and they struck out.”

The question is, why did “Mortal Engines” do so poorly? In spite of the fact that the CGI spectacle was co-written and co-produced by Peter Jackson (who directed all of the highly successful #LordOfTheRings and #Hobbit films), the film earned a very poor 27% Tomatometer score by film critics from #RottenTomatoes, and audience ratings were equally poor at 58%. Audience ratings on IMDb are also rather mediocre at 6.5.

“Mortal Engines” has been a marketing challenge for its distributor, Universal, and it’s based on author Philip Reeve’s book series that’s not that widely known in the U.S. With the exception of Hugo Weaving, the movie lacks any major movie stars and has a plot that’s difficult to convey in a television spot or a poster. “Mortal Engines” focuses on “predator cities,” which are mobile urban centers on wheels that roam around the planet preying on smaller cities, robbing them of resources in order to sustain themselves. This hard-to-comprehend plot was one reason several studios (including Warner Bros. and Fox) passed on the project.

On the flip side, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is the 13th time this year that a film based on a Marvel property has been top at the box office. The critically-acclaimed animated film received a 97% Tomatometer score from film critics on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as an audience rating of 95%. Similarly, the film has a rating of 8.8 on IMDb.

Mortal Engines Spider-Man

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