Archive | Controversy

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IFC Waives MPAA’s R Rating For Snowden Doc CITIZENFOUR

Posted on 10 December 2014 by Rich Drees


Manhattan’s IFC Center have decided to ignore the MPAA’s rating for the Eric Snowden documentary Citizenfour. Stating that “the film is appropriate viewing for mature adolescents,” the theater will be “admit high school-aged patrons at [their] discretion.”

The news comes via TechDirt, who provided this photo from outside the ticket booth at the theater’s downtown box office.


This is not the first time that the IFC Center has disregarded an R rating from the MPAA. The theater is already waiving the R rating for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, with the same rationale that both “films are appropriate viewing for mature adolescents.” Last year, they opened up their doors for adolescents to see the French coming-of-age drama Blue Is The Warmest Color, which the MPAA gave a NC-17 rating due to its graphic lesbian love story. In 2012, the AMC theater chain ignored the MPAA’s rating on the documentary Bully, arguing that the very teens who would be excluded by the R rating that the MPAA gave the film are the ones who should see the film the most.

IFC’s actions speak to two things. The first is a reminder that the ratings system is entirely voluntary, with the weight of no law behind it to back it up. And second, the MPAA’s rating system is a broken one that frequently awards lighter ratings to films produced by the member studios of the organization versus the harsher, and more economically restrictive, ratings given to films from independent studios.

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New Study Shows MPAA’s Claims About Piracy Losses To Be Overstated

Posted on 17 October 2014 by Rich Drees


A new study reveals that the pirating of certain movie files will have little to no effect on that film’s box office receipts, a finding that flies in the face of movie industry claims.

According to a paper titled “Testing the lost sale concept in the context of unauthorized BitTorrent downloads of CAM copies of theatrical releases,” the independent APAS Laboratory compared download statistics from the torrent site Demonoid to movie ratings and pre-release buzz to estimate the effect of CAM piracy on box office sales. Using a sample size of 32 widely released movies, the study showed that while a film’s box office revenue could be predicted from such factors as pre-release buzz and to a lesser extent by the rating of the movies, the amount of times that a CAM file of movie is downloaded has no affect on ticket sales.


This, of course, contradicts the Motion Picture Association of America’s claim that piracy has a negative impact on box office receipts in the millions of dollars each year.

CAM releases are copies of the movie recorded in a theater on a video camera and despite the fact that often have poor video and audio quality are downloaded in big numbers. As these are the type of files that generally appear right at the time of a new film’s theatrical release, they are the ones that the MPAA claim cause the most damage to the film’s potential ticket sales.

The study also goes on to show that the main driver for downloading CAM files is their high visibility on torrent sites rather than downloaders deliberately seeking out specific titles.

Speaking with Torrent Freak, APAS Laboratory researcher Marc Milot, explained how the findings support the arguments that downloaders have put forth against the MPAA’s allegations that downloading has contributed significant losses to the motion picture industry.

The research findings are the first to support with concrete behavioral evidence what BitTorrent file-sharers have been saying all along: that they don’t always download movies – in this case CAM versions of theatrical releases – they would have paid to view if they were not available on sites like Demonoid… BitTorrent site users appear to be exploring and downloading the most visible movies, without caring how good or bad they are. It is in this way that BitTorrent sites and the box office are completely different systems in which people behave uniquely and with different motivations… These findings should caution against the use of download statistics alone in calculations of losses – in this case lost ticket sales – to avoid overestimation.

But avoiding overestimation really isn’t in the MPAA’s best interests, is it? If anything, the trade organization has been making lots of hay from their own assertions that their member studios are losing money from people who download films. And if they can inflate those numbers to make things look worse than they really are, it helps to scare lawmakers into passing things like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other legislation that slowly but surely seems to encroach on Fair Use provisions of copyright law. Also, if the MPAA can blame periods of sluggish box office receipts like last month’s on piracy, it absolves the member studios from having to face the fact that maybe they have been churning out product that the public doesn’t have an interest in spending money on.

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First Look At New FANTASTIC FOUR’s Dr. Doom

Posted on 28 August 2014 by Rich Drees


There has not been a lot of news about Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot at Fox that has instilled confidence in fans of the property. And I dare say that this leaked set photo is going to turn things around on the groupthink opinion on the project. Below you will see a photo of Toby Kebbell in costume as the villain Dr. Victor Von Doom. Now, even allowing for the fact that this is a blurry cellphone picture and that there may be some additional CG work done to enhance the costume, though I don’t see any of the markers on it that we’ve become accustomed to seeing in set pics of other costumes that use CG extension like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, I am not enthused by this picture at all. Doom has been the go-to villain for Fantastic Four films and I can certainly see the attraction. He’s big and melodramatic and given that his animosity to the team stems fro his broken friendship with Reed Richards, there’s an element of tragedy there as well. But when it is starting to look like the best version of the character we ever got was in the Roger Corman-produced unreleased Fantastic Four from the 1990s, then maybe it is time for Hollywood to dig a little deeper into their FF backissues to find someone new to bring to the screen.


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Epix To Air Color Version Of NEBRASKA Director Alexander Payne Would Rather You Didn’t Watch

Posted on 07 August 2014 by Rich Drees


When a director chooses to direct a film in black and white instead of color it is most definitely as much an artistic choice as is whom they cast in any particular role, how they frame their compositions and what music may be playing on the soundtrack. If you change any of that, you change what the director intended the audience to see.

That doesn’t seem to be much on the mind of cable outlet Epix, who are planning on airing the full color version of director Alexander Payne’s Academy Award-nominated Nebraska this coming Sunday. The channel has been advertising that after their screening of the black and white version they would be featuring the “world premiere of the color version.”

If you’re wondering as to how there is a color version of the film to begin with, that comes down to contractual obligations. Color versions of black and white films are routinely required for ancillary markets, i.e., foreign TV markets. But according to Payne’s contract with distributor Paramount, there were to be no major showings of the color version, including theatrical and DVD/Blu-Ray releases.

IndieWire reached out to Nebraska producer Albert Berger, who stated that he was not informed of Epix’s plans to air the film in its color incarnation and he was sure that Payne had not been notified either.

A look at Epix’s online schedule shows that the channel is not differentiating between the color and the black and white versions, which is definitely damaging to Payne’s intent. If you haven’t seen the film before and were looking forward to catching it here, beware.

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Marvel Not Moving On CAPTAIN AMERICA 3 And BATMAN V SUPERMAN Release Weekend

Posted on 21 July 2014 by Rich Drees


Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige states that the studio will not be blinking and moving their Captain America 3 from its May 6, 2016 release date just because Warner Brothers has placed the release of their own highly anticipated superhero epic Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice on to the same weekend.

Speaking to Empire (via Variety), Feige vowed that Marvel will be “sticking to our plan” for the superhero sequel.

I continue to be all for quality entertainment for moviegoers to enjoy on weekends. If it is on the same weekend, I enjoy it slightly less. But we are doing what we’ve always done, which is sticking to our plan and sticking to our vision for the movies going forward and we have a very large vision that we’re working on for ‘Cap 3′ and for all the threes movies and just because another movie plops down onto one of ours, doesn’t mean we are going to alter that. Maybe we should, but we’re not going to.

Previously, a spokesperson for Warner Brothers stated that the studio wasn’t looking at moving Batman V Superman from the date.

But it was a bit of a jerk move on Warners part to move Batman V Superman from its originally announced July 17, 2015 date to its current spot on May 6, 2016. Marvel had already planted a flag on that date, though it wouldn’t be until another three months after Warners announced their date change that Marvel would announce that the previously untitled project they planned for that weekend would be Captain America 3. The comic book industry initiative Free Comic Book Day is always held that first weekend in May and Marvel has a tradition of releasing one of their superhero films that weekend.

If the two films stay on the weekend, they most likely will split audiences and potential box office between them, harming both projects. Warners’ Man Of Steel took in $668 worldwide when it was released last summer while Captain America: The Winter Soldier did almost $713 million at the global box office.

Ball’s in your court Warners.

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Is Outer Space In THE HULK’s Future? (Updated!)

Posted on 01 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

avengers-commercial-hulkThe worst part about this latest information is that it will mean that El Mayimbe was at least partially right. Dagnabbit!

The Latino Review scribe was the one who started the rumor in February of last year that the Hulk would be featured in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storyline from the comics would be the basis of of the film story. The rumor was almost immediately refuted by Ain’t It Cool News, but was so powerful that it still held enough sway that Mark Ruffalo felt the need to debunk in once again as recently as yesterday.

However, this most recent denial from Ruffalo was too much for HitFix’s Drew McWeeny. See, McWeeny paid a visit to the set of The Avengers: Age of Ultron and what he saw did not exactly jibe with what Ruffalo was saying, and it bothered him so much that, confidentiality agreement be damned, he felt compelled to say something. So, he did.

(See update below for clarification.)

Now, McWeeny felt the need to reveal where the Hulk is at the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Since I am going to be discussing as well, I think it calls for one of these:

DisneyspoilerwarningAnd, since I want to be sure that you know what you are getting into, let me hit you with that again:

DisneyspoilerwarningSo, apparently McWeeny saw  Bruce Banner’s final fate in The Avengers: Age of Ultron during his set visit. And this is what it is:

Without giving away why and how, let’s look at the state of things for Bruce Banner at the end of “Age Of Ultron.” Banner continues to play a key role in things in this movie, and when the final war with Ultron spills onto the battlefield and out of the virtual realm, he has a major part to play. Unfortunately, that ends with him onboard a Quin jet on his way off the planet, with no way to immediately turn things around. He’s going to have to ride out the trip. It’s pre-programmed and he can’t stop it.

I am immediately willing to discount this whole thing just because McWeeny doesn’t know that “Quinjet” is one word.

As any savvy comic fan knows, that is pretty much how the Planet Hulk storyline begins in the comics. I bet El Mayimbe is happy!

And look, he is!

However, McWeeny is quick to burst that particular bubble, by giving his own, non-Planet Hulk theory on how Banner’s exile will work out.

Here’s where I’d wager his spaceship is headed: wherever the Guardians of the Galaxy are located. If I was a betting man, I’d say there will be no Hulk solo film as part of Phase Three. Instead, Banner’s ship will take him to another planet, where he will end up meeting the Guardians and having an adventure with them. Hulk will definitely come out to play a few times. I suspect we’ll see some sequences that very much feel like they’re part of the Planet Hulk story, but that the larger story will be about the Guardians finding a way to get Banner home, only to end up going with him. That would move a big piece of the puzzle into place to get Thanos looking back at the Earth in time for the third “Avengers” film.

McWeeny’s theory does makes sense. Ruffalo has a lot of films to burn through and him being in GotG 2 will add another film. It will also add star power to the sequel, and provide a bridge between Marvel’s Earthbound heroes. But while Marvel supposedly has a plan until 2028, they typically don’t announce a sequel until they get a box office from the current film. I don’t think GotG2 is a done deal quite as of yet.

And, of course, there are could be other ways Marvel can go from here, everything from a pure Planet Hulk adaptation to a way to introduce the Inhumans into the Cinematic Universe. Also, just throwing this out there, this scene could have been a fake scene shot for McWeeny’s benefit as a test by Marvel if he would say anything. And, of course, now that this scene is out there, Marvel might decide to scrap it and go elsewhere since the surprise is gone. The possibilities are endless.

However, if either El Mayimbe’s or McWeeny’s theories are correct, it might be another sign that we are entering a dark period of creativity for Marvel Studios. You get the feeling that Marvel doesn’t believe that the “Hulk being a hunted man” storyline will no longer bear any fruit, even though The Incredible Hulk TV series ran for years on that very premise. But the Hulk is still one of Marvel’s most recognizable properties. Having to wait for an Avengers flick to see the character is bad enough. Having the next time we see him after that be once again as an ensemble player or the lead in a gladiatorial epic seems to be at best very risky or at worse, deadly for the character.

More should be clear as the weeks and months progress.


Drew McWeeny sent us an e-mail to clarify some confusion I had pertaining to his post:

The information I revealed about the fate of the Hulk in “Avengers: Age Of  Ultron” was not something I learned during my set visit, nor did I say “confidentiality agreement be damned.” I did not discuss anything I saw during my trip to London. My own sources supplied me with my information about the end of the film, and I am 100% confident of its accuracy.

Please take this into account when considering my post above.

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Is Bryan Singer Being Removed From X-MEN: APOCALYPSE?

Posted on 09 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

BryanSingerBryan Singer has just directed the incredibly successful X-Men: Days of Future Past, a film that has returned to franchise to greatness, not only in terms of grosses but also reviews.

Bryan Singer is also the focus of a scandalous lawsuit where he is accused of coercing a male minor into have sex with him using his Hollywood connections vis a vis the victim’s desire to become an actor as leverage.

The former should lock Singer in as director of X-Films for the rest of his life if he so chooses. The latter should have him dropped as a hot potato for any future, big budget project. The question became, which direction world Fox go?

A new rumor has it that Fox is choosing option number two.

Radar Online is reporting that the studio wants Singer to step down from directing X-Men Apocalype because of his impending court case. The reason Radar gives isn’t necessarily because the studio thinks Singer is guilty or the nature of the crime he is accused of.  The reason sources gave Radar is that the court case might cause costly delays during production of the film as Singer would have to take time off to defend himself from the charges. And it is believed that Singer would do just that because there is evidence that he might have been shooting the first X-Men film at the time the alleged abuses took place.

Fox appears to want Singer to step down willingly, offering him the chance to handpick his successor and stay on as a producer, but all attempts at negotiating a graceful exit for Singer has not been well received by the director.

This is a messy situation and if these rumors are true it’s bound to get a whole lot messier.

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ANT-MAN Director Carousel Now Lands On Peyton Reed and David Wain

Posted on 06 June 2014 by William Gatevackes


Have you started to smell the stink of desperation from Marvel yet? I haven’t, but I feel that it is not long coming.

We have two new names in the directorial pool to replace Edgar Wright on Marvel’s Ant-Man–Peyton Reed and David Wain.

The Wrap is the site that throws Reed’s name into the mix, saying he is the top contender. You might remember that Reed, fresh off the inventive Down With Love, had a cup of coffee as the director of the 2005 version of Fantastic Four, before Marvel eventually went with Tim Story. Reed went on to direct hits such as 2006’s The Break-Up and 2008’s Yes Man. That film was Reed’s last theatrical directing job, although he has another graphic novel adaptation, The Fifth Beatle, in pre-production.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog also lists Reed as a contender, but adds David Wain’s name into contention. Wain is perhaps best known in some circles as a member of the legendary, if underrated, comedy troupe, The State. He has acted, written and directed a number of TV shows and features staring his State cast mates. One can’t help but think that Paul Rudd might have suggested Wain for the job, as the actor has worked with the director around 14 times, starting with 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer right up to this June’s They Came Together.

One thinks that eventually Marvel will find someone to pick up this accursed project. I’ll do it for them, for a lifetime supply of Marvel Comics. Call me, Marvel.

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OSCAR CONTROVERSY: “Alone Yet Not Alone” Removed From Oscar Contention

Posted on 30 January 2014 by William Gatevackes

BrucebroughtonWhen the nominees were announced for Best Original Song for this year’s Oscars, you might have noticed a small chuckle raising from the stunned, puzzled audience when one of the nominees was announced. That nominee was for the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the film, Alone Yet Not Alone. People began to wonder why a song from a film they never heard of would be in contention for the same award as songs done by the like of Pharell, Idina Menzel and U2 from films such as Despicable Me 2Frozen and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Some people did more than wonder. A public relations firm working for a snubbed rival hired a private investigator to see if the film itself was eligible to be nominated because it was not advertised in the Los Angeles area as per the Academy’s requirements.

The Academy decided the newspaper ads ran by the Encino theater that showed the film once a day for a week was sufficient advertisement. However, people who wanted to get the song removed from consideration would get their wish. It was discovered that the song’s nominated writer, Bruce Broughton, seen above, had e-mailed members of the music branch in order to make them aware of his submission. The Academy found this to be in violation from it’s standards and practices, and the song has now been disqualified from Oscar contention.

In a time where many trade journals are filled with “For Your Consideration” ads leading up to the nominations, this might seem at best a double standard. But what made Broughton’s campaigning a step over the line is that he was a former governor and current executive committee member of the music branch of the Academy. This takes his plea from a composer asking his peers for consideration to a man in a position of power asking the people who he works for for a favor. That apparently is an Oscar no-no.

“No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy president.

“I’m devastated,” Broughton said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “I indulged in the simplest grassroots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them. I simply asked people to find the song and consider it.”

If Broughton can take some cold comfort for this, it that none of the accused competition will be able to reap the benefits from “Alone Yet Not Alone” being removed from contention. The Academy has decided to not replace the song with any of the other 70 songs eligible for nomination, and will just go with the four remaining nominees.

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UPDATE: Stephen Amell Addresses JUSTICE LEAGUE News Stories

Posted on 23 January 2014 by William Gatevackes

stephenamell2Big day on updates to yesterday’s stories, isn’t it?

We have another update to that Justice League story we ran yesterday. Stephen Amell took to his personal Facebook page to rant about how the media twisted his words around to create a story out of nothing:

Something I need to get off of my chest.

When I do press, I try and be open, honest and thoughtful. That being said… I find it incredibly discouraging to see a headline like the ones I’ve been seeing this morning. Headlines that aren’t just a stretch, they’re totally fabricated. At no point, have I had “studio level” discussions about any feature films at Warner Bros.

In this particular instance, when I read articles that take a pretty straightforward answer and slap a title on it that has little to no correlation to what I’ve actually said, it makes it seem as though I’m disrespecting my current position. Which is bullshit. And why would I do that? I mean… I’m not the smartest dude in the world. (After all… I picked a career in acting.) But would I really just casually subvert a process cloaked in secrecy? A process – by the way – being run by the company who currently employs me. C’MON!

We’re making a kick ass show. We will continue to make a kick ass show. And I will continue to interact and provide interesting content for our fans. Because I love our fans. If every once and a while, some dickweed wants to pull a headline out of thin air to generate page views, then that’s the price we pay.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I subscribe to Amell’s Facebook page and I think for the most part, he’s a straight-shooter. I like Arrow and think he does an excellent job on the show. So I have no hidden animosity towards him. But I have to call shenanigans here.

Let me explain. I’ll start off by reprinting the pertinent quote in question, taken word for word from the Fandango site yesterday when I wrote the article:

I have had discussions, but I think the gestation process for this project is a lot slower than most people think. I mean, they haven’t even shot the next one. They haven’t even shot a frame of the movie before the movie everyone thinks is the Justice League movie!

That part of his quote is conspicuously absent from the story on the site as of right now. There is no reason given for why the text was altered or that part of the quote was removed. But the point is that that quote actually was part of that article yesterday, as reported by many, many, many other sources. Having it removed does not mean it was never there in the first place.

Furthermore, that was a direct quote attributed to Amell. It wasn’t a reworking of what he said, it was what he said. And he’s right. He didn’t specifically say that he had “studio-level” discussions. But he did say that he did have discussions. So that part, at the very least, wasn’t fabricated (unless the entire quote was). And it might be a stretch to say that he had these discussion with the studio, but not much of one. That is the context of the quote. I mean, who else WOULD he have discussions about bringing Oliver Queen to the big screen with?

And notice that Amell makes a point of attacking the “headlines,” not the original quote. Granted, the third paragraph of his diatribe seems to go with the idea that his original quote ceased to exist when Fandango removed it, but he never explicitly says that the original quote was a fabrication, just that he didn’t say he had studio level talks, which wasn’t what his original quote said anyway.

And what part of the original article was making it look like he was disrespecting his current position? The part of the quote that remains where he says that the important thing is his TV show?

In other words, I think Amell is dancing a fine line here, trying to show outrage without ever truly saying that he was misquoted. In my opinion, just judging by his overreaction  to his original quote, I think that these talks really did happen. Maybe that original quote was supposed to have been off the record and that Fandango ran with it anyway. That would be a breach of journalistic ethics, but not as big of one if the fabricated the quote out of thin air for page views. And if they did that, Fandango should have ran a retraction and an apology for it, and the writer, Scott Huver, would have been canned. As far as I can tell, that hasn’t happened. But I think, and this is purely speculation and opinion on my part, that Amell said these things, got called in the “principal’s” office (if you will), got read the riot act (up to and including having his job threatened), and is trying to do damage control.

I could be wrong. But that is what my gut is telling me.

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