It’s with a very heavy heart that we begin this week’s Movie News Cheat Sheet with the news that Philip Seymour Hoffman has died of an apparent drug overdose. As reported by the New York Times, Hoffman was found in his West Village apartment at about 11:30am with a syringe in his arm. He was clean for 23 years, but just last year did admit to “falling off the wagon.”
Hoffman’s got an Academy Award and a slew of unforgettable titles to his name, but personally, the standouts will always be “Twister” and “Pirate Radio,” “Twister” having been a film I grew up with and still watch repeatedly and “Pirate Radio” marking the first time I crossed paths with him in person.
ShockYa.com sends our deepest condolences to Hoffman’s friends, family and fans.
1. Jesse Eisenberg is Lex Luther: Jesse Eisenberg will play Lex Luther in the “Batman vs. Superman” movie. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? In the official Warner Bros. press release, director Zack Snyder is quoted as saying, “What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions.” The studio also revealed that Jeremy Irons will step in to take on the role of Bruce Wayne’s “most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure,” Alfred. Eisenberg and Irons join Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane in the May 6, 2016 release.
2. SXSW Features Lineup: The SXSW 2014 lineup has arrived and it is absolutely brimming with highly anticipated projects. The Seth Rogen/Zach Efron-starrer “Neighbors,” David Gordon Green’s “Joe” and the Ethan Hawke-starrer “Predestination” will join “Chef” and “Veronica Mars” as the festival’s headliners. In the Narrative Spotlight section we’ve got the Diego Luna-directed “Cesar Chavez” as well as “Things People Do” starring Wes Bentley, Jason Isaacs, Vinessa Shaw and Haley Bennett and “We’ll Never Have Paris” with Zachary Quinto, Maggie Grace and Melanie Lynskey. The Visions program has “Creep,” a Craigslist ad-gone-wrong scenario starring Mark Duplass, “Open Windows” starring Elijah Wood and Jack Plotnick’s “Space Station 76” with Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler and Matt Bomer. The 2014 lineup also introduces a brand new section to the event, Episodic, which will show off new work for the small screen. Come March, we’ll be able to check out some of “Deadbeat” with Tyler Labine, Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” a show that focuses on the rise of the PC, the psychological horror series “Penny Dreadful,” and more. We’ve also got some new additions to the Festival Favorites program worth noting out of Sundance including Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” “Frank,” “Hellion,” and “Obvious Child.” Click here to sort through the complete roster of films and be sure to keep an eye on the site because the midnight and short film lineups are coming soon, too.
3. No More Oscar Nod for “Alone Yet Not Alone:” After discovering that songwriter Bruce Broughton sent an e-mail to Academy voters alerting them to the submission of his song “Alone Yet Not Alone” for Best Original Song, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors have decided to withdraw the nomination. You can see the e-mail for yourself over at CBS News. Even though Broughton maintains, “I didn’t ask anybody to vote for it. I didn’t do any promotion about the film. I didn’t do anything that I understood the rules to exclude,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs still insists, “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.” It does seem likely that the message had an effect considering “Alone Yet Not Alone,” a film with a mere 21-day run in theaters and $134,000 box office haul wound up beating out some much more prominent contenders. But, then again, you’ve got to ask, how is it right to reprimand Broughton for a simple e-mail when every other production is bombarding Academy members and the public with For Your Consideration advertisements? Regardless, “Alone Yet Not Alone” is out and no additional nominee will be named so the Best Original Song honor will come down to “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2,” “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” “The Moon Song” from “Her,” and “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
4. Rogen, Franco, Hill, Wiig & More to Voice “Sausage Party:” At first the idea of a movie featuring animated sausages may make you think the industry has gone too far, but when you hear the details, it’s clear this project is pure comedy gold. According to The Wrap, Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures have locked Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton, Michael Cera, Nick Kroll and David Krumholtz to voice supermarket products in their raunchy, R-rated animated movie “Sausage Party.” Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan are directing the film, which will focus on a sausage that tumbles out of a shopping cart and embarks on a “perilous journey” throughout the supermarket in order to get back to his aisle in time for the Fourth of July sale. “Sausage Party” is expected to hit theaters in 2015.
5. Josh Gad for “Fantastic Four?:” Here’s another “Fantastic Four” rumor for the pile. As reported by Movies.com, Josh Gad is Fox’s top choice for the role of Ben Grimm in the Josh Trank-directed reboot. Since the news broke, both Gad himself and Trank took to Twitter to deny the rumor, but Movies.com updated their piece by adding, “We stand by what was told to us, especially since additional sources have since come forward to confirm it but it’s a long casting process and we imagine various names are floating in and out of contention on a daily basis.” The outlet is highly reputable so it’s very unlikely they’d run the story without legitimate sources and plus, how many times have rumors been denied only to be proven true soon thereafter? Clearly there’s no getting carried away until the studio makes it official, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if Gad’s name was being tossed around right now – and probably along with many others.
6. Dylan Farrow’s Open Letter About Sexual Abuse: There’s no forgetting that Dylan Farrow accused Woody Allen of molesting her back in 1992, but now the issue is front and center again because in the midst of Allen’s awards season run with “Blue Jasmine,” Farrow published an open letter in the New York Times recounting the whole situation. Why now? Even though she’s now happily married, Farrow admitted fearing, “I was thinking, if I don’t speak out, I’ll regret it on my death bed.” She added, “For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual assault who have reached out to me … have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.” You can read Farrow’s letter in its entirety here. (via People)
7. Writer’s Guild Winners: Yet another string of guild award winners have been announced, possibly forecasting the results of the Academy Awards. The Writers Guild of America bestowed the Best Original Screenplay honor upon Spike Jonze for “Her,” further suggesting that Jonze could be on his way to an Oscar win. The Best Adapted Screenplay category, however, had a less likely winner. Whereas “12 Years a Slave” was the frontrunner, it was Billy Ray that walked off with the award for his work on “Captain Phillips.” Regardless of these results, I’m still inclined to believe “12 Years a Slave” will take the Oscar, but now there’s no denying that “Captain Phillips” could still be a serious contender. Check out the full list of WGA winners right here.
8. Super Bowl Spots: Who needs to watch the Super Bowl when all of the movie-related TV spots are already on online? Well, perhaps not all of them, but a lot of them are ready for immediate viewing. We’ve got a double dose of Kevin Costner talking football thanks to the ads for “Draft Day” and “3 Days to Kill” as well as full spots for “The Monuments Men,” “Pompeii,” and “Noah.” However, even though they didn’t arrive in full, it’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Captain America: The Winter Solider” that are stealing most of the attention. Part one of the “Amazing Spider-Man” ad is online and shows off snippets of new sequences including a vicious Gwen Stacy freefell. Then there’s also a preview of the “Captain America” spot which is more along the lines of a genuine tease, offering up just about 15 seconds of footage, so that’s absolutely one to keep an eye out for tonight. And for those of you looking for a little comedy – and cars- you can watch Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus supporting the Kia K900 and Terry Crews hanging with the Muppets in a Toyota Highlander. You can watch all of these TV spots and more during the game tonight, but if you’d rather plow through them on your own time, head over to Screen Rant for a complete list of Super Bowl ads as they’re made available online.
9. Trailers: “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “The Zero Theorem:” Even though all eyes are on “Ted 2,” Seth MacFarlane could hit it big again well before the sequel’s June 26, 2015 release. His next film, “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” will arrive in theaters on May 30, 2014 and based on its new red band trailer, it should be yet another ridiculous, raunchy and downright hilarious watch. After you get your laugh on, how about shedding a few tears? If you’ve read John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” you know the book is a major tearjerker and now it looks as though Josh Boone’s big screen adaptation could have the same effect. The trailer is a mere tease of the full feature, but there’s still no getting through it without connecting to Hazel Grace Lancaster and, therefore, getting torn up over her situation. This last one isn’t a riot and it isn’t particularly moving either, but you can certainly call it an interesting endeavor. A new promo for “The Zero Theorem” has arrived and while it’s loaded with exposition, no clear hook or connecting factor is identified, making it impossible to care about Christoph Waltz’s character’s mission, let alone understand it. However, it’s still Waltz, Terry Gilliam and masses of bizarrely vivid visuals so it’s also hard not to be the least bit curious.
10. Box Office: “Ride Along” may still be sitting pretty at the #1 spot, but that also means it was a miserable week for box office newcomers. “Ride Along” held strong, dropping just 42.2% for a $12.3 million weekend two total. Thanks to the lack of competition and the sing-along screenings, “Frozen” managed to jump back up to #2 with a $9.3 million weekend 11 total. Newcomer “That Awkward Moment” took just $9 million on a mere $3,208 per theater average, which was only good enough for the #3 spot. Even though “Frozen” enjoyed a particularly strong weekend, “The Nut Job” managed to do the same, too. It took a minimal 37.1% hit, giving it another $7.6 million for its third weekend out. “Lone Survivor” rounds out the top five with another $7.2 million, brining its domestic grand total well over the $100 million mark. Not only did “Labor Day” miss out on snagging one of the top five spots, but its per theater average didn’t even crack $2,000. It’s $1,858 weekend average left it with just $5.3 million and the seventh position to start. (via Box Office Mojo)
By Perri Nemiroff
Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire