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Hasbro Cinematic Universe could arrive as early as 2020

In April of 2016 news broke that Hasbro was going to make an effort to leverage several properties into a shared cinematic universe. The properties included G.I. Joe, Visionaries, M.A.S.K., Micronauts, and ROM.

Hasbro Shared Univrse

Art from IDW’s Hasbro Shared Universe which features Transformers, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K., Rom, and others

The toy company brought together a who’s who of storytellers to form a writers room and start figuring out how all of the pieces could interlock. From Variety:

The writers assigned to the room are Lindsey Beer (“Wizard of Oz”), Michael Chabon(“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”), Cheo Coker (“Ray Donovan”), Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), Joe Robert Cole (“Black Panther”), Nicole Perlman (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Jeff Pinkner (“The Dark Tower”), Nicole Riegel (“Soldier Girls”), Geneva Robertson (“Tomb Raider”) and Brian K Vaughan (“Lost”).

After that initial announcement, there wasn’t much follow-up on the status of any sort of shared universe.

We do know Akiva Goldsman, who oversaw the writers room as well as the last three Transformers films, has left Hasbro to work with Paramount.

Curious about whether or not we’ll ever see this universe I started to do some digging. The best (and limited) information I could find was in a Hollywood Reporter profile of Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner. Buried at the very end of the June 2017 interview Goldner says:

There are vault brands like Micronauts, MASK, ROM and Visionaries. We had a writers room last summer to develop a suite of stories. My expectation is that by 2020, we should see some major entertainment coming from the development that we’ve undertaken.

That’s it. No follow-up for further explanation. Whether or not Hasbro still plans to combine that suite of stories into a shared universe is still a big question mark. The concept has worked well for IDW who holds the comic licenses for all of those toy brands.

The 10-year-old in me would simply be happy with a G.I. Jor reboot that mirrors the original Marvel comic book series.

What is Zendaya reading in the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer?

Since it was announced Zendaya was cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming there’s been a big question mark around her character. Early rumors that she’d been cast as Mary Jane Watson were quashed by the star in a November interview with ET Online. She verified her character is named “Michelle.” Last night we saw the first trailer for the film which gave us our first glimpse at Zendaya in her role.

The moment doesn’t give us many answers other than showing us “Michelle” is an avid book reader. As a fan of seeing books on film and figuring out what characters are reading I took some time last night to squint at the blurry screen capture.

Here are the top three books in the pile with wikipedia synopsis:

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Adolescent

The novel chronicles the life of 19-year-old intellectual, Arkady Dolgoruky, illegitimate child of the controversial and womanizing landowner Versilov. A focus of the novel is the recurring conflict between father and son, particularly in ideology, which represents the battles between the conventional “old” way of thinking in the 1840s and the new nihilistic point of view of the youth of 1860s Russia. Whereas the young of Arkady’s time embraced a very negative opinion of Russian culture in contrast to Western or European culture.

Another main theme is Arkady’s development and utilization of his “idea” in his life, mainly a form of rebellion against society (and his father) through the rejection of attending a university, and the making of money and living independently, onto the eventual aim of becoming excessively wealthy and powerful.

Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove

This novel tells the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her effect on the people around her. Some of these people befriend Milly with honorable motives, while others are more self-interested.

Kōbō Abe’s Woman in the Dunes

In 1955, Jumpei Niki, a schoolteacher from Tokyo, visits a fishing village to collect insects. After missing the last bus, he is led, by the villagers, in an act of apparent hospitality, to a house in the dunes that can be reached only by ladder. The next morning the ladder is gone and he finds he is expected to keep the house clear of sand with the woman living there, with whom he is also to produce children. He eventually gives up trying to escape when he comes to realize returning to his old life would give him no more liberty. After seven years, he is proclaimed officially dead.

As for the fourth book, there are many books that have “Democracy” and I haven’t been able to find a matching book spine image.

BalboaCon presents a weekend of superhero cartoons and films

strangeThe late-1970s must have been an interesting time for comic book fans eager to see live-action adaptations of their heroes. Three heroes made the leap from page to pilot to, at the least, one season: Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and Hulk. One hero that wasn’t so lucky was Marvel’s Dr. Strange. In 1978, CBS produced a pilot for the Sorcerer Supreme that, unfortunately, didn’t get picked up for a full season. Outside of comic book super fans the two-hour pilot has remained mostly forgotten and unseen.

That same year DC smashed through the comic book pages and elevated their flagship hero, Superman, from funny books to the level of a cinematic star. Christopher Reeve defined the role of the Man of Steel in Richard Donner’s Superman. Christopher Reeve would go on to play the hero in three more films.

This weekend at the Balboa Theatre, 1978 will be front and center as the Balboa screens both Dr. Strange and Superman. Those two films are only a small part of comic book film programming taking place this weekend as part of Balboa Con. The historic Outer Richmond theater will be showing no less than 12 comic book-based films including the first three Superman films, DarkmanHellboyTank Girl, and more. According to the event’s Facebook page:

 

We are very excited to present the first ever Balboa Con! This is going to be a whole weekend dedicated to comic book art, movies, and cartoons! There will be four days of comic book movie programming along with Q&As, special guests, and lots and lots of affordable and amazing art in the lobby.

Dr. Strange will screen on Friday alongside the 1992 cult classic Dr. Mordrid. Dr. Mordrid is essentially Dr. Strange without a mustache because the film was produced by New Moon’s Charles Band who held an expired option for the Marvel character. He made the film with slight changes to the title character.

In addition to comic book-based film the Balboa will screen thematic cartoons and present a number of artists. The full screening schedule is below and artists will be appearing throughout the weekend.

balboacon

Tugg This Movie and Support the Cartoon Art Museum: Comix Beyond the Comic Book Pages (June 9)

Comix PosterThe Cartoon Art Museum is hoping to host a screening of Comix: Beyond the Comic Book Pages on June 9 at Landmark Embarcadero Theatre. The documentary explores the history and culture of comics through the voices of creators, publishers, store owners, collectors, and fans. The screening is a dual opportunity to celebrate comics while supporting the important work of the Cartoon Art Museum. However, the event will only happen if enough people RSVP using the Tugg screening platform before May 30.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tugg it’s a clever tool that allows cinema fans to bring obscure films to a theater with very little risk. I used the system a couple of times as an events producer in Madison, Wisconsin. Most notably, to bring the crowdsourced Iron Sky to the city when I couldn’t get any theaters to commit. It sold out. How it works is a theater determines the minimum number of butts that need to fill seats to justify showing the film. If that many people RSVP in advance the screening moves forward. If you can’t generate the minimum number of attendees the screening doesn’t happen. Guests are only charged if the screening happens.

The Cartoon Art Museum shuttered it’s doors last September due to the high cost of hosting a unique museum in San Francisco. Currently, the Cartoon Art Museum is questing for a new home. In addition to seeing the film, attendees can donate to the museum when they reserve a place through Tugg. As of this morning, it looks like I’m one of two people RSVP’d. That’s a shame! Let’s all watch a film together and support the Cartoon Art Museum.

Exhibition: CJM announces Stanley Kubrick Exhibition programming

shiningmuseum The Contemporary Jewish Museum has announced programming for the Stanley Kubrick Exhibition. The exhibition celebrating the life and work of one of cinema’s finest auteurs opens on June 30 (June 29 for members) and will kick-off four months of lectures and gallery talks related to Kubrick. Opening night features a discussion about the personal and professional life of Kubrick featuring Jan Harlan, Tim Heptner, Katharina Kubrick, and Hans-Peter Reichmann.

Throughout the following four months Kubrick fans will have opportunities to attend discussions related to his films, the filmmaker through the lens of Judaism, a spotlight on his immense collection of lenses and cameras, Kubrick as futurist, and much more. A complete list is available here.

We previously wrote about how the exhibition was presented in South Korea and we’re looking forward to seeing CJM’s presentation.

Exhibition: Stanley Kubrick at the Contemporary Jewish Museum starting June 30

Image courtesy of Seoul Museum of Art

Image courtesy of
Seoul Museum of Art

Touring art exhibitions aren’t uncommon but they’re typically focused on artists one would expect to see on a museum wall or floor: photographers, painters, sculptors, etc. It’s rare to have an exhibition focused on the life and career of an auteur filmmaker. This summer the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street in San Francisco, will host an exhibition focused on the works of the late Stanley Kubrick.  This unique experience will take visitors deep into the works of Kubrick by showcasing his meticulous research and production documents, screenplays, correspondence, production stills, props, costumes, cameras and lenses.

The immersive experience highlights Kubrick’s entire cinema including popular films like Lolita, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange. It examines the many cinematic breakthroughs that can be credited to Kubrick and his team of filmmakers. Perhaps of most interest to Kubrick fans is the opportunity to see materials related to Kubrick’s unfinished projects Napoleon and Aryan Papers.

Some prop highlights include the dresses worn by the Grady twins in The Shining, Private Joker’s “duality of man” helmet from Full Metal Jacket, the Star-Child from 2001, decor from the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, and period costumes from Barry Lyndon.

The exhibition opens June 30 and runs through October 30, 2016. More information and photos are available at the exhibition’s website.

Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
415.655.7800

Monday 11am–5pm
Tuesday 11am–5pm
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 11am–8pm
Friday 11am–5pm
Saturday 11am–5pm
Sunday 11am–5pm

 

The Alamo Awakens

alamoawakensEver since moving to the Bay Area in 2013 one of the most constant questions on my mind has been “when will the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema open?”

I’ve been following the renovation to the point of occasionally watching the construction cam (when it was available). I open every Victory newsletter hoping this will be the one to finally let me know when I can move into my future home take in my first Drafthouse experience. Suffice it to say, I’m really excited about the Alamo Drafthouse opening in San Francisco.

Something I haven’t been excited about until 9:30 a.m. this morning? Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It isn’t that I’m not looking forward to seeing new stories set in the Star Wars universe, but two things working against me is having been burned by the new trilogies and a natural reflex against unearned hype. I was a Star Wars Hype Monster before The Phantom Menace arrived in theaters, but by time Revenge of the Sith hit the screen I’d sufficiently adjusted my hype meter. Moving forward my devotion and willingness to spread gospel for a licensed property needed to be earned. J. J. Abrams didn’t impress me with his take on Star Trek, so he needs to win me over with SW:TFA before I’ll start singing praises for the next Star Wars.

That isn’t to say watching the first trailer didn’t make me feel giddy (which I acknowledge is a form of being excited). It made me giddy to the point where I moved from “I’ll go see it at some point opening week” to “I’ll likely go see it opening weekend.” Honestly, it was the shot with the crashed Star Destroyer and a sudden desire to want to see that image on a giant screen.

Back to 9:30 a.m. this morning. The meter moved from “I’ll likely go see it opening weekend” to “I will go see this movie opening night.” Why? Because, as long as I can get tickets, I’ll be able to see it at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco. This morning the Victory newsletter revealed that although we don’t know the opening date for the new theater (I understand that information will be coming later this week) we do know it’ll be open in time for The Force Awakens. I’m all about the proper viewing experience and I trust the Drafthouse team to make this into one hell of a proper viewing experience.

Tickets for The Force Awakens  go on sale tomorrow. As of this writing the exact time is TBD.

star-wars-the-force-awakens-teaser-2-breakdown-359967

AMC Metreon 16 is screening “Snowpiercer”

johnhurtI have a love/hate relationship with the Weinsteins. For all of the great film work they bring to the universe they also do a great deal of damage on the independent circuit. For some reason, going all the way back to the days of Miramax, they love to buy up the rights to Asian films and either sit on them or hack the shit out of them (earning the name Miramaxe). I recall 2003 being a rather spectacular year for the Weinsteins when they sat on Shaolin Soccer, Hero, and Infernal Affairs. All three films are now considered classics, but Asian film fans were chomping at the bit waiting for the movies to be released stateside.

I’d forgotten about this tendency until the current debacle with remnants of humanity on a train dystopian film Snowpiercer. For nearly a year now I’ve been waiting for the Weinsteins to trust the U.S. audience by releasing Snowpiercer. Much of the reason for the delay is due to typical Weinsteinian fiddling. They wanted to hack the film and make it easily digestible for a US audience and director Bong Joon-ho wasn’t having any of it. Neither side would flinch and the film has languished – until now.

My God, America, can you believe the Weinsteins are going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you might want to see an uncut foreign film? It’s true! Mostly. A tiny handful of theaters around the country are screening Snowpiercer. In San Francisco, the pleasure goes to AMC Metreon 16.

Snowpiercer is based on Jean-Marc Rochette’s graphic novel of the same name. The English translation of the graphic novels were released earlier this year by Titan.

Petition: Build Lucas Cultural Arts Museum in San Francisco

The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum was one of the three proposals rejected to be built on the gateway of the Presidio. Since the proposal was rejected George Lucas and his museum team have been shopping the proposal around to other cities. This month San Francisco Mayor Ed lee plans to present Lucas with alternative sites. There’s currently a petition circulating  to show public support for the museum to be built in San Francisco. Personally, I’d like to see it land in Oakland, but would be content with the museum ending up anywhere within a public transit ride from where I live. Sign the petition here.

SFIFF 57: The quirky, the scary, and the creepy

sfiff57The 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival* starts on April 24 with more than 100 films spanning two weeks. The more than 100 films screening at SFIFF captures the whole gamut of film genres from documentaries to dramas to the downright creepy. This post is mostly interested in the latter. Below you’ll find five films from this year’s film festival that will leave cinephiles with either pounding pulses or pondering brains.

Borgman Netherlands

Screenings:
Wednesday, April 30 | 9 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Monday, May 5 | 9 p.m. | New People Cinema

Most reviews of Borgman suggest the film is a home invasion story at it’s heart. Before you roll your eyes and mumble something about “home invasion” movies having run their course take a moment and reflect on You’re Next. Most horror film fans tend to agree that You’re Next, which screened at last year’s SFIFF, took the subgenre and managed to squeeze rewarding fresh life out of it. Everything I’ve read about Alex van Warmerdam’s dark horror/comedy seem to suggest it does the same. Jordon Hoffman wrote for Film.com “What works wonderfully, however, is the unease of not knowing just who, if anyone, deserves our sympathy in this story. The infiltrators are all so charismatically nonchalant (and well dressed) that it is hard not to cheer them on, but as the body-count of innocents unlucky enough to get in the way of their scheme increases, the “Funny Games” fourth-wall break isn’t even required.”

Coherence USA

Screenings:
Friday, April 25 | 9:45 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Tuesday, April 29 | 9:45 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki

Coherence is an indie sci-fi flick that comes to SFIFF riding on a wave of buzz created at last year’s Fantastic Fest. Reviews for this film are spoiler heavy, so I won’t be linking out for this one, but the festival guide describes it as “delightfully weird and brain-busting.” If you wanted to have a loose theme for your festival  viewing experience Coherence would act well as a bridge between Borgman and The Double.

The Double UK

Screenings:
Saturday, April 26 | 1 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Tuesday, April 29 | 9:15 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki

The Double, based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name, follows mundane office worker Simon James as he copes with the sudden appearance of an out-going and well-liked doppelganger of himself. Fans of  Terry Gilliam’s kingdom of schizophrenic alienation will feel right at home while taking in Richard Ayoade’s sophomore effort. While the film has been received with considerable praise where there is negative criticism it mostly relates to Ayoade’s dependence on his influences. Considering the source material this criticism seems appropriate. Dostoyevsky scholars see The Double as the important juncture where the author was still under the shadow of his influences, but also showing the signs of his personal voice.

History of Fear Germany/France

Screenings:
Wednesday, April 30 | 7 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki
Friday, May 2 | 9 p.m. | New People Cinema
Wednesday, May 7 | 8:45 p.m. | BAM/PFA

History of Fear provides a different sense of paranoia and anxiety than The Double. While The Double offers an object of paranoia for the audience History of Fear goes the opposite direction. The audience is only granted vague suggestions of what’s creating the air of anxiety in a Buenos Aires suburb. It’s the sort of storytelling that isn’t well-suited for mass consumption, but, as The Hollywood Reporter‘s Boyd van Hoeij writes, “is the kind of feature that requires an active investment from its audience, making this more suited to festivals.”

The Sacrament USA

Screenings:
Saturday, April 26 | 11:45 p.m. |Sundance Kabuki
Monday, April 28 | 9 p.m. | Sundance Kabuki

I won’t lie, You’re Next was one of my favorite films of 2013, so it brings me some pleasure to reference it twice in this post. Fun trivia: In You’re Next the character Tariq, who takes a cross bolt to the head during dinner, was played by The Sacrament director Ti West. This year West brings to the festival a horror film that takes many of its queues from the Jamestown Massacre…maybe?  Using the “found footage” technique the film follows  ambitious Vice reporters as they travels to the Eden Parish commune where all isn’t as it seems…or is it?  I don’t know the answers to these questions…or do I?

* disclosure: this author is a seasonal employee of the San Francisco Film Society

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