Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 5

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 5 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Per usual, real world matters first! Because life sucks! The United Kingdom is currently in a bit of trouble as evidenced from actions taken this past Thursday. Britain has confirmed they have extended their countrywide lockdown for a total of three more weeks. This was announced by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is taking on responsibilities in place of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was previously announced to have a positive case of COVID-19. With this extension, the country’s lockdown is likely going to last until the second week of May unless things change.

For the record, a good number of people in my country, specifically the United States, often point out that the economy is likely to collapse should we keep these restrictions going for any longer. One take that I found interesting mainly because I don’t hear it all that much, is the one given by the recently mentioned Dominic Raab. He suggests the opposite and thinks if we loosen these restrictions, the economy is going to go to hell. After all, since there’s always a chance of a second outbreak, there’s always a chance of a second economic downfall.

Although here in America, people clearly want the economy opened back up, including medical expert Anthony Fauci. The well-known director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was on the Snapchat show “Good Luck America,” which discusses the role young people have in spreading the virus. He explained on the show that he’s likely missing baseball season as he suggests, “I’m living in Washington, we have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to see them play again.” He also thinks that sporting events like baseball and football could happen should there be a lack of an audience in stadiums.

President Donald J. Trump, who Fauci has been seen alongside for much of this crisis through cameras, wants the economy opened back up by May 1st, as I mentioned in part 4. As of suggesting that notion, certain states have declared the idea of opening back up on said day like Trump is opting for. One notable state is Ohio, which much like much of America, is planning to follow phases as to what exactly will open at supposed times. Restaurants may be more essential than bars, and bars may be more essential than football stadiums.

Speaking of U.S. states, one of the most talked about states in general regarding this crisis, has been New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose brother is a CNN reporter who has been tested positive for COVID-19, has been a significant voice in not only trying to pull his state into the right direction, but for the rest of the country as everybody deals with this. Although another voice that New Yorkers heard last week was former presidential candidate and current New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who had some unfortunate news for the state. De Blasio suggested that all major gatherings for the month of May have been canceled except for certain events like farmers’ markets. So if you are expecting to attend a “Last Week Tonight” taping this May, sorry to say, you’re gonna have to continue staring at John Oliver in front of a white void.

Screenshot (59)

Well, at least he got the rat painting he’s been searching a month to find.

Fun fact, when this whole crisis initiated, I was in Florida, which may be one of the worst hit states when it comes to this mess. For the record, Florida does not have the most cases for the virus, in fact none of them hold a candle to New York. In fact, my state, Massachusetts, has more cases to my surprise! But when it comes to properly closing everything in the state, those ends have not been met. In fact, Governor Rick DeSantis just opened a crucial element to what makes Florida Florida, the beaches. I should note that not all beaches have been opened, and they are NOT open for the purposes of bringing blankets, chairs, and coolers. They are specifically open for exercise-related purposes, plus taking care of pets. Individuals are still supposed to keep their distance from others and avoid gatherings of 50 people. Many of south Florida’s beaches, such as those in Miami, continue to remain closed, but if you live in Duval County (Jacksonville), there’s a good chance that you can find an open beach near you.

The beaches managed to receive a major turnout. However, not everyone is happy, as partially evidenced by the reaction that surfaced on social media. One of the top trending topics of the past weekend is #FloridaMorons. Here’s some of the tweets that surfaced.

Just because we talk about movies here…

Also, one man wanted to drop a public service announcement…

Thank you, sir! Very informative!

Now that we are done with our continuously depressing and ridiculous reality, let’s move onto movie topics. This first part is not a main topic since it may not have as much relevance as others, but I do feel it needs to be talked about. One of the topics I discussed last week is “Parasite’s” Hulu debut. Now Hulu has been a pretty popular streaming service that has been relevant for a few years. In fact, now that Disney oversees them, they are included in a bundle package with their other streaming services including Disney+ and ESPN+. But for a streaming service overseen by a company that does not make many independent features, “Parasite” has earned an ASTOUNDING success on the service so far. The movie dropped on Hulu Wednesday April 8th, where from then on, it was not long before the film immediately became the most streamed foreign or independent feature on the service in just a week. According to IndieWire, the film is also the second most watched film on the platform of all time. This beats the likes of mega-titles such as “Transformers: The Last Knight,” “A Quiet Place,” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Given the film’s Korean background, how Hulu does not even serve Korea, plus the necessity for non-Korean viewers to read subtitles, it should come as a surprise that “Parasite” is as popular as it is on Hulu. Although keep in mind, the film has already been a critical success in the states, not only having major buzz from reviews, but tons of award wins as well, including the Academy’s Best Picture, which no international feature has received prior to “Parasite.” The film has made over $50 million at the U.S. box office, indicating success. So either everybody wanted a chance to watch the film again, or there’s a possibility that a majority of Hulu users missed out on the theater experience but now have an opportunity to watch at home.

Speaking of theater experiences and watching something at home, Lionsgate is trying to recreate the communal theater atmosphere while keeping movie watchers on their couch. One of the best parts of going to the movies sometimes is the reactions people can blurt out during a presentation. If you have seen the last two “Avengers” movies, you’d understand. Lionsgate is attempting to get people together to react to their favorite movies without hearing anybody else and with the intention of keeping viewers behind closed doors.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIONSGATE MOVIES ON YOUTUBE

Throughout the series, I have often touched upon the goings on behind some of the bigger studios. Disney and Universal have shuttered theme parks, delayed films, and have decided to put some of their films like “Artemis Fowl” and “Trolls: World Tour” straight to a digital streaming service. Paramount delayed a ton of films, but some of their classics will be airing on CBS soon. Warner Bros. has stated in the past about its optimism to release “Tenet” in theaters on time, all the while delaying big films like “Wonder Woman 1984.” But one of the major studios I have not talked about all that much yet in this series is Lionsgate. While they don’t have the franchise power that a company like Disney has, they do possess the rights to iconic properties including “The Hunger Games” and “John Wick,” which are relevant to this topic.

Recently, specifically Friday April 17th, Lionsgate teamed up with Fandango, YouTube, and NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) to get people to watch “The Hunger Games” on YouTube for free. This is part of an event called “Lionsgate Live! A Night at the Movies.” These are movie night events hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), will feature celebrity guests, special programming, and opportunities for fans to interact via YouTube live. While the odds of watching “The Hunger Games” on one of these Fridays will no longer be ever in your favor, there are still a few movies listed for this special occasion. These include…

  • DIRTY DANCING (APRIL 24)
  • LA LA LAND (MAY 1)
  • JOHN WICK (MAY 8)

Just a reminder, if you want to watch “John Wick” during this occasion on YouTube, there is an age restriction. For the record, “John Wick” is rated R whereas the other films listed are rated PG-13. So if you want to watch your fan favorites with OTHER PEOPLE, I never thought I’d say that ever again! go to the Movieclips YouTube channel, check to see if one of the movies is playing or will be playing, and enjoy! This event will benefit the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, a foundation dedicated to helping workers within the motion picture industry. This even includes the many theater employees affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Even companies behind food are getting in on this, which does make sense as cinemas and food go together like bread and butt–, sorry. Popcorn and butter. I don’t always agree with that statement, my apologies to all popcorn eaters who butter on their popcorn at the movies, but still, it makes sense here. So feel free to amuse yourselves over my forced statement all damn day.

Popcornopolis, which judging by the name, you can probably tell makes popcorn, will be donating 10% of its sales to the cause. Meanwhile, SnackNation, typically known for being a healthy snack delivery service for offices and homes, will be giving away a specially priced box of goodies for these movie nights. The box will include fruity candy, chips, puffs, popcorn, and more. The box is priced at $9.95 and shipping is free. So if you are tired of going to Target to get some Sour Patch Kids while also buying tons of toilet paper, give this snack box a shot, and if you don’t use it for one of these movie nights, it could always work for something else you pop on at home. “Tiger King” is pretty hip right now, why not give that a shot? If you wanted to get some grub from SnackNation for “Dirty Dancing,” there is a solid chance that you might not get it on time. But if you wanted something for “La La Land” or “John Wick,” by all means place your order!

Also in on this are major movie theater chains including AMC Theatres (Please make it through this!), Regal Entertainment Group, and Cinemark Theatres.

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON CANCELLED FOR FIRST TIME EVER

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Alright, my fellow nerds. Buckle up. This is possibly the most dissatisfying news any comic convention fanatic will ever hear. San Diego Comic-Con, known for pioneering the comic con name and blueprint has officially been cancelled for the first time ever. The event started out small and has grown ever since. It has achieved fame for its success at bringing together communities of nerds of all kinds from comic book collectors, sci-fi fanatics, movie buffs, fantasy lovers, and TV junkies. It’s even gotten so big that “Conan” on TBS has done shows in San Diego as the con goes on! It’s an event so lively that even if you don’t get to go, you are guaranteed to hear something from it that is extravagant in the nerd world, mainly because there is heavy self-promotion going on in the sacred “Hall H,” where celebrities talk to fans, crews behind projects promote trailers, and the effort to get in is just as hard as it is to get through waiting at the DMV. Sadly, this year, there won’t be any of that. Last year, SDCC brought some great news to the nerd sphere, especially within Marvel, because that is where they laid the groundwork for phase 4, advertising plans for each theatrical movie set to release, and even the shows they’re planning to drop onto Disney+. Unfortunately, this news is already outdated as we won’t be seeing one of those projects, specifically “Black Widow,” this May and instead wait until November, which is when “Eternals” was originally supposed to release.

Who knows what could have happened this year? Would we finally get another trailer to “Godzilla vs. Kong?” Would we get a look at footage for James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad?” Maybe we’d get word that Warner Bros. will release the Snyder Cut the same day that Universal plans on releasing the Butthole Cut for “Cats.” Who knows?

Not to get selfish here, but I go to a couple cons every year, and I don’t know if I’ll even get to go to one based on this information. San Diego Comic-Con is such a powerful name in this industry. So powerful in fact that they even felt it was necessary to call out another con for using their name, even when this has been a thing that has been done for years to the point where it has become commonplace. It’s a comic convention where people get together to be happy, not an international format of “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire!” But with the first sentence of this paragraph in mind, with a name San-Diego cancelling, I have a feeling that others may eventually follow in the con’s footsteps because of name power. For all I know, that could be different because every area of this Earth is dealing with COVID-19 in its own way, but I figured that the U.S., or at least most of it, would be done with this virus in a couple months that way we can gain a sense of normalcy. But who knows at this point?

By the way, I could go for a massive bucket of overpriced movie theater popcorn right now.

MOVIES THEATERS ON REOPENING

AMC Shore 8 - Huntington, New York 11743 - AMC Theatres

Remember how in part 3 I was talking about the possibility of AMC falling into its grave? Well, turns out they have a plan! To specify, a $500 million plan. Has a nice ring to it. Keep in mind, AMC has MASSIVE debts, so while $500 million does not cover everything, it’s likely to help during this time. Wall Street has officially parsed AMC, giving them the thumbs up. This will give AMC some time to prevent themselves from heading into dreaded Chapter 11 bankruptcy territory. Stock-wise, AMC is now at $3.20, up 31% reaching their highest level in a couple of weeks. Similarly, Cinemark, a nationwide chain whose subsidiaries include Rave Cinemas and Century Theatres, is also up. While not as high as the 31% for AMC, it bounced up 16% to achieve $13.48 per share.

Speaking of AMC and Cinemark, movie theater operators such as these have planned for a hopeful summer reboot. After all, the kids are out of school, you can only go to the beach so many times before getting sunburned all over, so the cinema is a great outing. Cinemark themselves stated that they are planning for an opening on July 1st, suggesting that they plan on spending June rehiring employees and will screen some classic films during the summer. How classic? I don’t know. Could be black and white, color, old, new, across the board. But I would kill to see “Endgame” in a theater again. I would love to take someone who hasn’t seen the movie just to see how’d they react to it in a theatrical environment, because that movie, plus the Jackoff-winning Best Picture “Infinity War” were literally built for audiences to come together. And while it is disappointing for a film like “Black Widow” to not come out until November instead of May, I would much prefer that, when I can likely see it with a crowd, then curling up in my room watching it as it goes straight to streaming. In fact, I still have no plans to get Disney+. HBO Max might be on my radar though (I’ll get back to that).

While I did talk about reality before, I should bring it up again. The Governor of Georgia, otherwise known as Brian Kemp, has recently announced that he gave the green light to businesses to reopen their doors beginning April 27th. Regardless of whether or not this is stupid, which I personally think it is, movie theater chains will likely need longer than a week to rehire and retrain people before opening doors again, as insiders suggest. As for local theaters, I don’t know what the case will be, but chains are likely to follow a structured process. Maybe they will open all their theaters at once, maybe vary state by state, do a few at a time, but who knows?

THESE DELAY STORIES ARE GETTING TIRESOME!

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So… “Black Widow” has been delayed. “Eternals” has been delayed. “The New Mutants” has been delayed. “Top Gun: Maverick” has been delayed. “Infinite” has been delayed. “A Quiet Place Part II” has been delayed. Now the Caped Crusader has something he’d like to say to all of those movies.

That’s right guys! Unfortunately, Matt Reeves’ upcoming “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson (Twilight, The Lighthouse), has been pushed back from it’s original release date, June 25th, 2021, and will now hit theaters October 1st, 2021. If you had to ask me, here’s my response.

If you ask me, “The Batman” is a film that I am definitely looking forward to, and I am disappointed by the announcement. Despite the flack Pattinson sometimes gets for his past roles, most notably “Twilight,” he has generated an excellent acting method over the past number of years. Plus, it’s f*cking Batman, how could I not get excited over a movie with Batman in it?

Well, okay, maybe not all of them are that exciting. By the way, f*ck the convenient Bat Credit Card.

Although I will state, as disappointed as I am, it could still be worse. After all, movies like “Top Gun: Maverick,” which I’ve previously talked about had trailers and a marketing campaign all set up. “Batman” hasn’t even finished filming yet. In fact, production shut down earlier this year due to the virus. While I am underwhelmed and dissatisfied with the news, I cannot say I’m scarred for life. Although not having a “Batman” movie during summer blockbuster season does feel a little weird. Maybe this is a case, much like “Joker” where the delay to October can be favorable for “The Batman” as there COULD be an effort to get some awards buzz for the movie. There could be a possibility that “The Batman” is also intentionally made for mature audiences, perhaps the MPAA will give it an R rating, making the Dark Knight the DARKEST Knight. Even so, this is NOT the delay we deserve. NOR is it the one eager movie and comic book fans need right now.

“The Batman” is being put out by Warnermedia, which should not be surprising as DC Comics and Warner Bros. go together like peanut butter and jelly. Speaking of Warnermedia delays, a movie set in the universe of HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos,” originally set to release September 25th, 2020, is now coming out March 12th, 2021. The film is a prequel to the recently mentioned title and is currently going by the name of “The Many Saints of Newark.”

Also in DC Comics movie news, a couple more titles have been moved around. “Shazam 2,” which was supposed to release April 1st, 2022, is being pushed back seven months to a new November 4th release. I have no problem with this, because that just means I have probably already figured out what I might want to do on my 23rd birthday about 2.5 years before it even arrives.

Alright, kids. Buckle up. This movie deserves its own paragraph, because while I am busy bitching about all of these movies that have been pushed back like a skinny dude in a wrestling match, there’s one movie that has believe it or not, been pushed FORWARD. I’m talking about another DC movie, “The Flash!” The film was supposed to release July 1st, 2022 but has recently been pushed forward to its new June 2nd release date, also in 2022. I have NO IDEA if this movie will be out by this time, and to be honest, it’s almost wishful thinking. This film was supposed to come out in 2018 as the DCEU’s sixth installment. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, famous for movies including “21 Jump Street” and TV shows including “The Last Man on Earth” were supposed to get the ground running. They sent a treatment, but they couldn’t direct the film because they were busy. Seth-Grahame Smith was hired to direct, but he dropped out in 2016 due to creative differences. Then, Rick Famuyiwa said he was directing as of June 2016, and production was going to start in January 2017. But by the looks of things, that did not seem to last, as Screen Junkies reported that Robert Zemeckis was on a shortlist of directors to take on “The Flash.” Also on the shortlist, Sam Raimi and Matthew Vaughn, two famous directors within the comic movie realm. This comes three months after a Variety report that Joby Harold (Edge of Tomorrow, Underground) was going to rewrite the script. FLASH (see what I did there?) forward to June 2017, look who’s back! Lord and Miller, that’s who! While things did not seem to go far, the Wrap reported that the dynamic duo were in talks to direct the film again. Then in February 2018, another duo popped up, this time it was John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. These two managed to create one of the best comedies of the past five years, “Game Night,” and they also acquired comic book movie experience through writing the Disney/Sony collaboration, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Then came July 2019, where the duo announced their departure from the project! As of now, the project is expected to be helmed by Andy Muschietti (It, Mama) and Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey, Bumblebee). Also joining the project as a producer is Barbara Muschietti, Andy’s sister. As for Ezra Miller, who plays The Flash in the DCEU, who knows what’ll happen to him after the recent controversial video of him released where he chokes a woman? This project is going GREAT so far!

Holy crap, that was a mouthful. You think “The New Mutants” is having trouble? At least that movie got f*cking shot! “The Flash” has not even reached “production” level! It’s insanity! I remain hopeful that this film comes out in June 2022, but this is one of those cases of where I’ll believe this movie when I see it.

Warnermedia has also delayed two movies to November 2021. One of which was the movie Tom Hanks was shooting in Australia when tested positive for COVID-19, an untitled Elvis film. The film was originally supposed to come out October of next year. However, one film got the “F9” treatment where it won’t even see the light of day this year. It was once set to come out this November, but that will not be happening.

Moving away from Warnermedia, let’s talk about Sony. Recently I discussed that the studio pretty much abandoned the summer of 2020, pushing back films including “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Morbius.” But it just so appears that they have delayed one of their Fall projects as well, specifically “Venom 2,” which is now titled “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” Based on the title, the film is likely to have the comic book villain Carnage as the main antagonist, information that has been teased since the first movie. I’ll be blunt here, I am not looking forward to “Venom 2.” This is a delay that I am not personally offended by. I will say, I do feel bad for the people behind the film, because the first one came out in an October as well and grossed over $800 million. Then again, that piece of crap people like to call “Venom” grossed over $800 million even though it is most likely the worst movie that I have seen which is related to “Spider-Man.” This sequel has one thing giving me mixed thoughts, and that is the director. I feel like the vision for the first “Venom” is entirely corporate and lacks soul. I still wonder why people even clapped at the end of the movie. Even though Ruben Fleischer did some decent stuff in the past, like “Zombieland,” this was an idea that felt rushed and underwhelming. And honestly, they should have gone for the R rating. But this time, it is being directed by Andy Serkis, who definitely has a knack for visual effects, both in terms of acting and behind the scenes. However, I’ve heard “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” was not the best work in the world. It has a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating that a majority of critics liked it, but it’s also not the finest number of all time. I like Andy Serkis, but I have vivid memories of the first “Venom” and they’re not pretty. I still have a bad taste in my mouth. The “Venom” sequel hits theaters June 25, 2021, which was “The Batman’s” former release date, as opposed to when “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was supposed to hit theaters, October 2nd, 2020.

HBO MAX LAUNCH DATE ANNOUNCED

Now I love physical media, and I will likely continue to buy it even in a time where I cannot leave my house. It is by far the best way to watch a movie. Although if I were to invest in a streaming service anytime soon, one of my options is likely going to be HBO Max, which, yes, it will have HBO content. This service will be launching May 27th, as announced in a trailer down below.

Doesn’t HBO have a couple fancy streaming services already? Sure, but this is one may be worth your time. Aside from including bunches of HBO content including “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” and “The Sopranos,” they will also be shipping in content from alternate channels such as TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and truTV, all of which are owned by Warnermedia. So this means in addition to all of the HBO programming available at launch, viewers will have access to content including “Conan,” “Impractical Jokers,” “Rick and Morty,” and “Miracle Workers.” Also available for TV are all the seasons of “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory,” two of the longest running situation comedies of all-time. Another really long series that you can invest some time in is “South Park,” the long-running animated series that caters to an adult demographic. That series in particular will join the service this June. They’re even using content from a streaming service that I don’t know how many of you knew existed, DC Universe. From this, it can be confirmed that one of the starters for this service is “Doom Patrol,” based on a previously established superhero team. One show I am still wondering about is DC’s “Harley Quinn,” which recently dropped season 2 on DC Universe, but who knows what’ll happen in regards to coming to HBO Max? But don’t worry, there’s movies too! Some of the upcoming titles are “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Star is Born,” “The Dark Knight,” “Joker,” “The Matrix,” “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” the DCEU movies, and the Studio Ghibli library. The service is likely to serve around 10,000 hours of content at launch, which is more than Disney+ and Comcast’s Peacock, which is now available for Xfinity customers, but will be available for everybody else starting July 15th.

The downside however, is the price. At $14.99/month, which is more than what one would pay for Hulu, which has significantly more content, it is not the cheapest service out there. However, HBO has been known for their premium programming, therefore it is no surprise that a premium price would be placed for HBO Max. But if you are a Charter customer, it is free as long as you are currently paying for HBO. Certain AT&T customers, specifically those paying premium prices for AT&T’s services, will also be given HBO Max for free. Nevertheless, even though I don’t stream much, I think I would get some use out of HBO Max if I were to buy a subscription. Warner Bros. is my favorite movie studio, HBO is a notable channel with a lot of content known for quality, and TBS, plus truTV, have done some originals I like, plus some that I have missed out on that I want to check out like “Wrecked.” I just hope that said originals make it to the service in the first place.

Speaking of originals, there is some original content coming to HBO Max. Season 3 of “Search Party,” which originally aired on TBS, will debut on the service. Anna Kendrick will be starring in a new comedy, “Love Life,” which comes from Lionsgate Television. But if you have kids, there will also be content related to “Sesame Street” and “Looney Tunes.” HBO Max was going to have a “Friends” reunion at launch, but it has been delayed due to COVID-19 complications. Sorry, they will not be there for you.

Going back to my original point, HBO Max launches May 27th on smart devices, so if you cut the cord but miss many of the cable-based shows, or you just want some acclaimed TV and movies to watch, HBO Max may get your seal of approval.

HOME VIDEO RELEASES

Going back to my comment on physical media, it is fun to collect, but not everyone does it anymore. In fact, it’s getting hard to do in these times now that places like the mall have basically shut their doors down. Walmart’s still open, so there’s that. And if you do want to know what new releases are on DVD and Blu-ray, some notable titles include “Bad Boys For Life,” “Ip Man 4: The Finale,” “The Gentlemen,” and “Like a Boss,” which already released on digital, but needed some time to come out on physical formats. Out of these films, the only one I’ve seen is “The Gentlemen,” which honestly underwhelmed me. Hopefully that won’t be the same case should some of you give it a shot.

As for digital media, there is not much new content to pick from. However, “Wendy,” a movie that takes place on an island and follows a young girl in world that is increasingly facing destruction, has just dropped on services as of April 17th. So if you are expecting me to talk about any blockbuster titles dropping, think again.

Thanks for reading the fifth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” This was a long one to make, so I’ll try to wrap things up quick. If you’re wondering where my reviews are, I want to make them, but the apocalypse is currently my priority. Plus, “My Spy” hasn’t dropped on Prime yet, so there’s that. But should things still be hectic next week, which they most likely will, there’s a good chance you’ll see a part 6 to this series. Because life sucks! I have not left my house for *anything,* even a walk, for almost a month now. How did the country, no, the WORLD even get here?! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can tuned for more great content! Speaking of great content, why not check out my Facebook page? Give it a like and keep up with the latest info through Mark Zuckerberg’s wonderland! I want to know, did I miss anything for this past week? What are some your big points as of late regarding film and COVID-19? It could even be something I already mentioned! Or, what are you looking forward to seeing on HBO Max? Is there something you want to see that has not been fully announced? If they drop TBS’s “King of the Nerds” on the service, I’m sucking all my money into it. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Marvel Cinematic Universe PHASE 4 Plans Announced

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Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! You thought we were in the endgame? Think again, because, to my lack of surprise, as well as others perhaps, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going anywhere, and as part of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige and crew have officially announced their gameplan going forward in regards to movies and television. While I could not make it to San Diego this year (just like every other year), I had the pleasure of receiving a number of these announcements through social media, which is something Captain Marvel should have brushed up on by now.

This first announcement, doesn’t relate to what some would call “phase 4,” but it happens around that certain timeline and takes place in the same universe, so why not leave it in? Anyway, as you may or may not know, Marvel is finishing up their series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..” It’s a series that I tried watching when it first started, but for one reason or another, I just couldn’t latch onto it. It just didn’t work for me. The show will begin its seventh season during the 2019-20 television season, and will air for 13 episodes. However, if you are caught up with the series, you’d know that season 6 is still in progress, so the show still has time left before ABC dusts it away from its current lineup.

Speaking of television, Marvel in general is seemingly changing the norm of how they release their television programming. Before now, they would release various MCU-related content on ABC such as the recently mentioned “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Agent Carter,” and the short-lived “Inhumans.” Netflix also had a fair share of content, all of which was recently cancelled such as “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and to what I believe is to a lot of people’s surprise, “Daredevil.” These platforms, for all I know, could lose the ability to air new Marvel content for awhile whereas the TV channel Freeform, and streaming services Hulu and the yet to be released Disney+ are going to be the big three for some time. Speaking of Disney+, Marvel announced a plethora of shows to be exclusively released on the upcoming service.

For the record, Disney+ is expected to be released during the fall. So just a reminder, none of these shows will be available on day one.

The first show to premiere on Disney+ is going to be “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” As you can tell by the title, the series revolves around the known characters played by actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. It is expected to start filming October 2019 and premiere in August 2020. While there are not many details about the series just yet, Mackie and Stan have previously wanted to do their own spinoff film at some point, particularly in the style of a buddy cop story. So who knows? Maybe this series could have some sort of comedic buddy vibe. But only time will tell.

Moving onto 2021 programming, up next we have “WandaVision,” which is short for the characters Wanda Maximoff and Vision meshed together. This series is going to star actors Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as the characters we have previously come to know throughout the Infinity Saga. Although I must point out. This takes place after “Avengers: Endgame,” and Vision died in “Infinity War” only to never come back to life. So my question is… How will they allow him to return? Let me guess, time travel. Because now if the Marvel universe has a problem. Boop! You got a time machine! Want to save Nick Fury from losing an eye? Boom! You got a a time machine! Want to stop Tony Stark’s home from being destroyed like it was in “Iron Man 3?” Boom! You got a time machine! Want to give Captain America the most advanced pop culture lessons of his life? Boom! You got a time machine! Granted, there’s probably more to it, but a time travel element would not be surprising. The show will hit Disney+ in Spring 2021.

Also coming in Spring 2021 is a “Loki” series. Without going into much detail, because this does involve a spoiler for “Avengers: Endgame,” which as of writing this, is still in theaters, it will involve a Loki of the past. That’s all I’ll say. The series will of course star Tom Hiddleston. I don’t know if I am going to watch any of these series, but I think out of all the series on this list, I feel like this is the one I’d be least likely to watch. It almost seems like an idea from a think tank meeting (even though a number of these shows feel the same way). “Remember that mysterious guy from ‘Thor’ who keeps dying and coming back to life? Nobody knows if he’s good or evil? Let’s not deal with any new characters, let’s use this guy some more! Yay!” The way I wrote that sounds generous, but when I imagine it, it sounds like a business meeting all involving out of shape guys in suits smoking cigars.

OK… I take my last statement back, this is a series I’d probably watch. Granted, I don’t want to pay for Disney+, I don’t see any reason to. Plus, as someone who wants to avoid witnessing Disney’s plan for world domination put into action, I want to spend as little money towards them as possible. Although I kinda do want to go to Disneyland to see Galaxy’s Edge the more I think about it. Nevertheless, the next series is “What If…?” For those of you who don’t know, “What If…?” is a franchise that creates and realizes perhaps unlikely or alternate scenarios related to Marvel characters. Some examples from comics include: “What if the Fantastic Four all had the same power?,” “What if Captain America had been elected president?,” and “What if Jane Foster had found the hammer of Thor?.” While I’m not getting Disney+, if they are ever to release any of these shows on DVD or Blu-ray I am very likely to pick up “What If…?” simply for the concept. The stories presented in the show will not affect the MCU’s timeline, but merely exist just to answer questions through the power of imagination. It is simply something that just provides a unique take of some sort.

Hawkeye in the MCU is an “interesting” character to say the least, because just about every time he appeared in an MCU movie when he first started, I did not care about him as much as the other characters. Then I saw “Endgame” and thought he was one of the best characters of the whole thing. Coincidentally, of the upcoming shows on Disney+, “Hawkeye” is one of them. Also, according to what I have gathered, this series will introduce Kate Bishop, who in the comics is the first woman to earn the Hawkeye title. She’s also a member of the Young Avengers. Here, this show will seemingly spend some time on allowing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye to pass the torch to this younger character. The question is… Will I care about her? Or will she just be another boring bow and arrow fetishist?

That’s it for TV shows. I’ll probably watch NONE of them. Mainly because I feel that the way that everyone is trying to push streaming service upon streaming service towards the consumers is going to eventually make streaming as a whole a significantly worse deal than cable. My family and I have not cut the cord, and honestly, I’m happy. Especially considering how I still have my game shows (streaming IS NOT a good alternative if you are a game show fan for the most part), plus it’s nice to watch a new episode of a show and have it feel like an event, whereas an episode or two of a show, or a whole season, drops on Amazon or Hulu and it’s almost like you unintentionally DVRed something. Plus, I enjoy my livetweeting. It makes me feel like I am part of a community. Another reason why I’ll probably miss out on all these shows is because I REVIEW MOVIES DAMMIT! Movies are a top priority of mine and because I watch and review them excessively, I barely have time for TV. And speaking of movies, let’s reveal what Marvel has planned for that realm of entertainment in phase 4.

First up for movies is a project that I think a good number of people know has been in full swing, “Black Widow.” The plot and details are mostly unknown at this time, but Scarlett Johansson, the woman that I have a crush on who says she should be allowed to play trees, well then, if that’s the case… Vin Diesel? Watch out, you might be fired soon! She is returning as the title character who we have seen in several parts of the MCU such as the “Iron Man,” “Avengers,” and “Captain America” franchises. From speculation, I would imagine this would take place long before the main events of the MCU, kind of like in “Captain Marvel.” I am also willing to bet this will be a grittier film in the franchise (even though they aren’t going for an R rating), while also trying to be fun. After all, Black Widow isn’t really a superhero, kind of like Iron Man, she just plays with toys. And based on what we have seen from her character in comics and movies, this is very likely to be a spy flick. If you ask me, this is not my most anticipated spy-related film of next year, I’d reserve that spot to “Tenet,” directed by Christopher Nolan, but I’ve been eager to see a “Black Widow” solo film for quite some time, so I’m excited!

Plus, ScarJo is a dream girl. Just saying. The film will be released on May 1st, 2020.

Up next is a newcomer to the MCU, specifically, “Eternals.” Some big name actors in the film include Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Desparado), Kumail Nanjiani (Stuber, Silicon Valley), Angelina Jolie (Kung Fu Panda, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Richard Madden (Rocketman, Game of Thrones), among others. It is going to be about a bunch of eternally living beings who have spent infinite portions of their lives fighting a force of evil referred to as The Deviants. One character, Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff is going to be the MCU’s first deaf hero. The film will be released on November 6th, 2020.

The third movie is one that I personally think will be a mega hit at the box office. It’s not to say the others won’t be, but if “Black Panther” from phase 3 has proven anything, it’s that if you put a “visually different” person at the forefront of a superhero project, people will see it. That’s because this movie we’re talking about is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” I don’t know if the final product will have a title this long, but only time will tell. Then again, it’s not as much of a mouthful as say “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” The main reason why I’d say this film has a bonkers chance of success is because Shang-Chi is Chinese, and in this film, he is going to be played by Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu. Not to mention, based on comic-related images I have seen, this movie could be a visual treat. Another thing to consider is the Chinese movie market. If this movie is as visually impressive as I think it will be, not to mention as honorable to the Chinese culture as I think some would want it to be, I think a lot of people will go see this in the theater. China, at least to my knowledge, seems to go to a lot of spectacle type films. Some historical examples that come to mind include “Transformers; Age of Extinction,” which to be fair, was partially shot in China, and “Warcraft.” While “Transformers” is popular in the United States, “Warcraft’s” domestic returns led to its underwhelming final box office total despite making more than twice its budget. But it couldn’t reach the total $450 million needed to completely break even. But if anything has been proven, Marvel is an automatic success in the United States. In the US and Canada, “Black Panther,” a culturally significant film for the African community, managed to make over $700 million, which for those countries specifically, is actually more than “Infinity War.” But with the massive potential for winning over China and perhaps other somewhat related Asian communities, plus Marvel’s domestic success, it has a chance of being possibly a bigger success than “Black Panther.” The movie is scheduled for a February 12th, 2021 release.

Another film I saw coming was “Doctor Strange 2,” and we got it! But it technically has a more specific title, “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” Based on what I’ve heard, Scott Derrickson could be coming back to direct this sequel. It is also suggested that Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong, or in this case, just for fun, I’ll call them Team Benedict, will be returning to reprise their roles. One thing that I found interesting though is that Wanda Maximoff will be in the be in the movie as well, and it will be tied directly to the Disney+ series “WandaVision.”

OK… You gotta be kidding me. I know people give flak to DC for how they do their movies, but at least you don’t have to watch a freaking TV show to perhaps understand or comprehend what is happening in one of the DCEU’s films! Guess I’ll just read the Wikipedia entries for the WandaVision episodes, because I ain’t paying for Disney+. But one thing that does intrigue me, is the notion that this is going to be a more horror-esque movie compared to a lot of the other MCU installments. So who knows? Maybe this could have a wacky funhouse vibe, or maybe be the MCU’s version of “The New Mutants.” Although now that I think about it, “The New Mutants” could possibly end up being another version of this movie depending on how many more times it gets pushed back. Man, that movie premiere is gonna be one big realistic version of a FaceApp demo. This is definitely a movie I would want to see on an IMAX screen, maybe in 3D. Because I saw the original “Doctor Strange” in IMAX 3D, which made for one of the best visual trips of 2016. This film is expected to drop into theaters May 7th, 2021.

But my one request for this movie. JUST GIVE A MORE MEMORABLE VILLAIN. Then again, it’s Marvel, it’s not their strong suit.

When 2015 first started, the YouTube channel RedLetterMedia made a video where they jokingly predicted that we’d eventually get a fourth “Thor” movie called “Thor 4: More Thor.” Believe it or not, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” used that title in their show. Unfortunately, we’re not getting “Thor 4: More Thor.” But we are getting a fourth “Thor” movie titled “Thor: Love and Thunder.” I have mixed thoughts on this movie, because I REALLY enjoy 2011’s “Thor,” probably more than I should. I know some people don’t like it, but I enjoyed Thor’s character arch and Loki was a solid villain. Granted, the followup in 2013, “Thor: The Dark World,” is in the conversation to be my least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. And even though “Thor: Ragnarok” was… “better,” it’s not what I wanted. I thought it was too comedic, and some of the jokes didn’t land. While it is visually stunning, somewhat appealing from a story perspective, the tone just didn’t work. Basically, Asgard is in a state beyond repair in this film. It could have been dark, gritty, maybe a little funny, but not like it was “Deadpool” for kids. I don’t think Taika Waititi is a bad director, in fact, I thought he would be a better suit for something like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but he did a “Thor” film instead. It just didn’t stick the landing for me. I’m hoping “Thor: Love and Lightning” will be better, but from what I can imagine, it could be tonally similar to the previous “Thor” installment, which if that’s the case, I’m just hoping that the story actually fits the tone.

One thing that could be interesting is that Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, is making a comeback. And similar to a comics storyline, Foster is going to be taking on the mantle of Thor. And based on visuals presented from San Diego Comic-Con, it looks like her character will be holding Mjölnir at some point during the film. As long as Kat Dennings doesn’t show up to play her character from “2 Broke Girls” everything should be rather fine and dandy. The film is predicted to be out November 5th, 2021, so I demand there should be at least one reference to “V For Vendetta,” ESPECIALLY since Natalie Portman is returning!

Now let me just say, I have no idea when these next films are going to be released, part of me is willing to bet that one or two of them, are not even in phase 4, but Marvel Studios chairman Kevin Feige has confirmed that these movies are in development, therefore we are going to cover them. So let’s continue!

Remember the 1998 film “Blade?” Guess what? Marvel is getting to do another project with the character. I personally can’t say I have seen “Blade,” but part of me is willing to imagine that this will be a somewhat different take on the character because the original trilogy was rated R, whereas all the MCU films so far have gotten a PG-13. If you ask me, I would not mind seeing an R version of the character in the MCU, kind of like with Black Widow, but you cannot have everything. One thing that does intrigue me though is that Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book) is attached to playing the lead role. He’s a fantastic actor who has a ton of range, and he actually pitched this sort of idea to Marvel Studios through a call. Coincidentally, Ali has been attached to a couple of alternate recent comic book-based products including Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Netflix’s own MCU show, “Luke Cage.”

There’s not much to say on this next film, but I KNEW this was gonna be made at some point, perhaps soon. Why? Because again, it made SO MUCH money. I guess this is what happens when Disney remakes “The Lion King” for a new generation. Wait… I’m talking about “Black Panther 2.” There’s not much to say about this movie yet, but Ryan Coogler suggested that he’d write and direct this film, which does intrigue me because I thought he did a rather decent job with the first one despite its flaws. So… what Disney movie are they gonna retread next? Are they gonna do “Dumbo” because Black Panther is learning to fly for some reason? Are they gonna do a film in the style of “Wreck-It Ralph” where it is revealed that Wakanda is in an arcade cabinet? Are they gonna do one like “Frozen” where Shuri or Okoye just breaks out into an annoying catchy tune? By the way, screw “Frozen,” that movie can rot in hell!

Up next is a film that was supposed to come out in 2020, but based on recent controversy, that’s not happening anymore. Specifically, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” This is a film that I am honestly curious to see, because while I imagine this could potentially be a capper for a trilogy, director James Gunn has previously exposed that this installment is not meant to be a powerhouse of emotion. It is still going to be fun and lively. But if you have been following the news in terms of film recently, you’d know that Gunn was fired by Disney/Marvel over the resurfacing of less than family friendly tweets. Tweets that even he admits, he’s not proud of. If you ask me, I believe James Gunn is a competent director, who may have deserved the criticism that he received, but I’m not sure if Disney should have gone as far as firing him, especially when you consider how much he has changed over the years in terms of his outlook. Nevertheless, I am quite curious to see how this upcoming “Guardians” film turns out, and I do have a shortlist of soundtrack ideas, but I think I should save that for another time. The movie is not expected to begin filming until 2020, but that’s because James Gunn is currently doing a DC movie, specifically “The Suicide Squad.”

Here’s another no-brainer, “Captain Marvel 2.” When your film has the sixth biggest opening of all time, you know you have to make a followup. I’ll be honest, the first “Captain Marvel” did not work for me. I thought the chemistry between Fury and Danvers was kind of hit and miss. The scene where “Just a Girl” plays honestly, while I guess it was trying to be empowering, felt really off for an action scene that was most likely trying to be kick-ass. The final fight, which I imagine was trying to be funny, just ended up being questionable to me. And don’t even get me started on Goose the Cat! But, we are getting another movie, and I’m honestly hoping it is better than this one, but only time will tell. I like Brie Larson as an actress, but when she plays Captain Marvel, she honestly sounds like she’s only been in straight to DVD content. Come on, Brie! You won an Oscar for “Room!” Show me the magic! She did alright in “Endgame,” but she was not in the movie that much so there is that to consider. Then again, I’m a straight white male. So is my opinion even valid to begin with?

Another film on the list of “in development” is a third “Spider-Man” movie. By the way, by the time you finish reading this post, five more “Spider-Man” movies will be released, because they keep cranking them out! I finally saw “Spider-Man: Far From Home” the other day, and honestly, after seeing that film, I’d say a third one HAS to be made. And without going into detail, Kevin Feige suggested that the mid-credits scene from that film implies the third film will involve “a Peter Parker story that has never been done before on film.” And it does not surprise me that this is happening. I believe Sony is already satisfied with making their own “Spider-Man” movies in their universe and still enjoys the success they can get from spinning their webs in the MCU. Nevertheless, can’t wait. But if I had any requests, make sure the word “home” is in the title. That way I don’t have to end up confusing “Spider-Man” trilogies and can refer to this as the “Home” trilogy. Seriously! Even if it simply means that there is a minute of the two of the film where we find Peter Parker watching a Mets game, and for that reason it is called “Home Run,” it would still work because the other two movies have the word “home” in their titles too!

The next two films are a couple of projects that I think a lot of people have been asking for. Why? Because Disney just acquired 21st Century Fox recently, meaning they have retained the rights to a couple of big name franchises. One example is “X-Men.” I have no idea how the film will present itself. If anything, it is definitely going to be a complete reboot, staying away from the timeline Fox originally showcased to audiences since the early 2000s. After all, while I didn’t go see “Dark Phoenix,” probably just like everyone else in the world, maybe that movie tarnished the franchise enough to say, “Screw it, it’s over.” But some movie franchises or IPs are like Jenga, you can end the game by collapsing the tower, but you can always start a new one by rebuilding it. Maybe “X-Men” has a place in the MCU. And honestly, if a couple of the phase 1 heroes are going away, I think this is the perfect time to add in new heroes, because if they were still there, I’d honestly worry about clutter in the MCU. Granted, even with them showing up now, that is still a worry. But I also have a slight intrigue as to what this mega franchise can bring to the cinematic universe.

Speaking of Fox, one other franchise they once had, not to mention wasted, is “Fantastic Four.” Since Marvel has the rights to them, they can now possibly… NOT screw it up this time… Hopefully? I imagine it’ll be good, but I’m keeping experience in my back pocket. It’s in different hands, but for all I know, despite its popularity in the comic book world, maybe “Fantastic Four” is simply cursed as a movie franchise. But I am curious about this film and how it’ll turn out, and perhaps a little more excited about this than “X-Men.” Will Dr. Doom be the main villain again? Will the movie have the four in the middle of its title? Or… How about this? How about we get Chris Evans to play Johnny Storm again? Do it just to get some other character in the movie for a second. Maybe the group will be going around New York City grabbing lunch or something and they run into Peter Parker walking with Ned, which leads to Peter pointing at Johnny saying, “Hey! You look like someone I know!” I highly doubt that will happen, but it certainly would make for a proper more realistic “What If…?” scenario. Plus, with Stan Lee gone we’re gonna need new cameo ideas.

That’ll probably do it for all of the MCU-related announcements for phase 4, and again, a lot of these films and TV shows are in development. So who knows? One could get pushed back, maybe one gets cancelled. Perhaps it ends up being a part of an eventual phase 5. Nevertheless, I’m excited for a large number of these projects, and hopefully they will all end up being good! Also, James Gunn, I know it is a little late, but welcome back. I want to know, is there something I’m missing from this list? I think I’ve covered all the ground, after all I have 4,000 words inserted into this thing! Or, what is something that you want to see from the MCU as a TV series, as a movie, as a concept? It doesn’t even have to be for phase 4 if you want it someplace else. Let me know down below! Thanks for reading this post! Pretty soon I am going to be reviewing Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is out this upcoming weekend. I’m going to one of my local theaters for their first screening of the film in 35mm, can’t wait! Also, speaking of Tarantino, be sure to stay tuned for my final installment in my Quentin Tarantino review series, “The Hateful Eight.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, if you could do me a favor, like this post, share it around with those you know, it really helps me out. And speaking of that, like my Facebook Page! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

2017 Box Office: Little Room For Originality

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! As it is the beginning of 2018, I feel it is appropriate to leave links to two posts down below for you to read in case you haven’t read them. My top 10 BEST movies of 2017, and my top 10 WORST movies of 2017. I’ve had fun making these lists, I’m sure you’ll have fun reading them, and I’m also interested in hearing what your best and worst films of the year are. So, read the posts, leave a like, comment, add Scene Before to your subscriptions through email or WordPress, and keep life going!

TOP 10 BEST MOVIES OF 2017: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/top-10-best-movies-of-2017-2/

TOP 10 WORST MOVIES OF 2017: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/top-10-worst-movies-of-2017/

Staying on topic, the end of the year and the start of a new one has a meaning when it comes to film. From one perspective it means January is here and a lot of crap is being put in theaters that people are gonna suffer through if all the award winning movies are high in ticket sales. Another perspective goes along the lines of what I just did with the posts above which I have links to, my top 10 best and worst movies of the year. Not only that, but we also have a bunch of award shows that are on the rise. January has the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the BAFTA awards, and the Critics’ Choice Awards. In February you got some stuff here and there, but when it comes to film, many people say the Academy Awards might be the only thing that matters (unless you’re that one guy who handed Warren Beatty the wrong card). When it comes to reflection, that’s not the limit to what’s been done this year so far. I’m pretty active on Twitter, and one account I occasionally surf is Collider. They posted a tweet which contained the five highest grossing films at the box office for 2017. This tweet had a link which lead to the highest grossing films of the year, looking over 2017’s box office winners and losers. Here’s the tweet:

This list reveals the top five for the specific category, and as I looked at the results, I’d say that it all makes a lick of sense. How do I feel about it? Honestly, not too good. Because a some time ago, I asked something about the future of movies, and so far nothing has been done about it. Although then again, it wasn’t that long ago that I asked. The question I asked was also the title of a post I did, the post is called “Where Are The Original Movies?” The answer, not here.

Of the top five films mentioned on this list, THREE are superhero films based on comic books, ONE is from a franchise that people recognize instantaneously once you put a picture of a lightsaber in front of them, and ONE is a live action remake that only adds a couple new things in of a Disney animation which is considered a classic by a lot of people. By the way, those aren’t the only two adaptations of the story! Oh yeah, did I mention FOUR of these have Disney at least partially associated with them? I will admit that I personally am at fault. I managed to see four of these films. These include “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and “Wonder Woman.” I review movies, and it feels like a job where I don’t get paid because I don’t monetize my site at the moment, and I actually legit wanted to see all of these films.

Out of the four I saw, I only found one to be great, in fact it made my top five of the year, specifically “Wonder Woman.” I gave it a 10/10 in my review and while it’s not technically flawless, given the villain side of the story, I thought it was an amazing ride with Gal Gadot proving to the world that she is this kick-ass superhero. Plus I felt for the most part this seemed like it was not a studio-type film unlike 2016’s “Batman v. Superman,” it was more like one person (Patty Jenkins) unleashing their vision and sharing it with everyone.

When it comes to “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” it tried to be a different “Spider-Man” movie, but in the end, the execution could have been better. The script had Spidey cracking jokes all over the place. And I think that’s fine, this is Tom Holland playing him, and he played the character in “Captain America: Civil War,” another movie where Spidey cracks jokes. Not to mention, BRILLIANT jokes. Unfortunately, the brilliance wasn’t repeated in “Homecoming.” In my review, I gave it a 7/10, but right now it’s borderline 6-7/10. Speaking of failed attempts at humor, let’s talk about “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

When I saw the first trailer for “Guardians 2,” I was in instant hype mode. Granted, I don’t consider the first installment to be the best movie in the MCU, but I also think it is definitely one of the better ones. Not to mention, I consider it to be the most fun out of all the movies released in said cinematic universe. This second installment however wasn’t exactly terrible, but it should have been WAY better than it was. It shoves too much into one movie, kind of like “Age of Ultron,” and at the same time, it feels like it doesn’t feel it inserts too little. No pun intended, but BABY GROOT SUCKS! The humor seemed to land with just about the five-hundred other people watching the film alongside me, but I only laughed at various times. It just wasn’t that funny. The first one is lovable, quotable, and memorable. This one isn’t lovable, but you can say it’s quotable and memorable. I remember a turd joke. I remember a conversation about male genitalia. I will say that for the most part, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at least tried to be one thing. I can’t exactly say the same for the conundrum that is “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

I love “Star Wars.” There are so many days where I think about “Star Wars” and how much it has brought a tremendous influence on our culture. When it comes to “The Last Jedi,” it’s a very weird installment when it comes to the “Star Wars” saga, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I say that because you can look at a movie like “Colossal,” think of it as weird, and praise it for being weird. The way I’m using “weird” when it comes to this movie is not a good kind. I mean that as in, this movie is “not ‘Star Wars.'” I do appreciate it for not ripping off “The Empire Strikes Back,” but the way they’re taking a lot of the stuff shown in the movie made the whole experience more of a wreck the more I think about it. Also, I’m glad Porgs aren’t in the film for that long, but seriously, they can go to hell.

For the record, the results I talked about are domestic. These results make me wonder what the rest of the decade will look like for box office returns. In the 2010s decade, there have been a small number of original films making the top five for box office returns. These include “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Inside Out,” and “Frozen.” I will give credit to “Inside Out” because I do feel it deserved every penny it made. I watched that and it was extremely emotional. I did watch “The Secret Life of Pets” in the theater, and while it was a technically passable animation, it wasn’t exactly something I would ever want to watch again or show to a kid. I also watched a portion of “Frozen,” and it made me want to die. Beautiful animation, but what else does it have going for it?! The further we go in terms of cinematic history, the more I’ll probably miss 2009 because in that year, “Avatar” came out, and it shut the door on other movies at the box office. And while I do consider that movie to be overrated, and already somewhat dated, I do have to give credit because at the very least, it’s a property that nobody’s heard of.  People have picked up on how much it can be compared to movies like “Pocahontas,” but still. Although I wonder how many people confused it for “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Sure, it’s from a well known director, but it’s still better than paying money to see “The Hunger Games.” Why did it make so much money? IT’S F*CKING POPULAR! But wait, there are other films on this list too. Just for the sake of letting out information, let’s add on the other top films at the 2017 box office. Just to tell you which ones are actually original ideas, I have those in bold.

6. IT
7. Thor: Ragnarok
8. Despicable Me 3
9. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
10. Justice League
11. Logan
12. The Fate of the Furious
13. Coco
14. Dunkirk
15. The LEGO Batman Movie
16. Get Out
17. The Boss Baby
18. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. Cars 3

As you can see, only TWO original films are in the top 20 for the 2017 box office numbers. Just a fun fact, I saw neither one of those, and I’m deeply disappointed in myself. I never got around to watching “Coco” because I don’t know anyone who would want to watch animations, but I heard so many great things about it. As for “Get Out,” I was in a similar situation, I don’t know many people who would want to watch a horror film. I almost picked it up on Blu-ray based on thoughts I had in the past, but I never got to it. Although for those who actually did manage to go see those films, I have tremendous respect for you. Admittedly, I saw five of these fifteen films from beginning to end. I saw another one, “Kong: Skull Island” for the first ten minutes, but my 4K Blu-ray player was having problems therefore not allowing me to watch the rest of the picture. Of the five I saw, I loved two of them. This seriously does beg a question I asked in the past. Why do people watch these movies?

If you want my theory, it’s because everyone is familiar with a particular property. This is why “Star Wars” has owned the box office for the past three years. Main saga installments such as “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” broke box office records because a large number of people wanted to see these films since it’s part of a well known franchise that a lot of people admire. They didn’t really know what the verdict was from critics who saw the film early, in fact many people, including myself, bought tickets as early as about two or so months prior to release. People went to see “Thor: Ragnarok” because it’s Marvel, the same can be said for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Also, you can consider how both of those movies received positive ratings from critics. People saw “Logan” because the Wolverine’s in it. People saw “Justice League” because it’s DC, although in reality you can say that’s why some folks skipped this movie. You can also say because it has Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, those people. People saw “The Fate of the Furious” because it’s “Fast and Furious.” Not to mention, it’s not that complicated of a movie, it’s not one of those films where you have to sit down and think. You just eat popcorn and let time go by. People saw “The LEGO Batman Movie” because it’s animated so it’s good for the kids, it has Batman, and “The LEGO Movie” was not only popular, but well received. People saw “Cars 3” because it’s animated, it’s from Pixar, there are a couple of installments leading up to it, and there’s a good chance your kid dragged you to it. You see my point?

I also have to say that studios are partially responsible for this craze. When studios like Disney put out another “Star Wars” movie or another Marvel movie, do you think they’re doing it because they want to put out a quality movie that will be talked about generations to come? It’s possible, however it’s also possible that they’re thinking with their wallet, or in this case their Scrooge McDuck money vault. Yes, I’m still talking about “The Force Awakens” today, and I think it’s an amazing movie. One of my biggest problems with it is that they played it safe, but it’s a very minor issue. There’s a good chance I’ll probably still be talking about “The Last Jedi” too, but I might not be talking about it saying that it’s a great movie. The name “Star Wars” will put almost anyone in the theater. If “The Phantom Menace” didn’t prove that already, these past few years certainly have. Disney also released “Beauty and the Beast,” which I heard is visually dazzling, but ultimately just the same story as the animated version, just told in live action, with a couple songs added in, and changing someone’s traits to make them homosexual. I’m not saying live action remakes from Disney are terrible, after all I really enjoyed “The Jungle Book.” I will blurt that I actually might not have the right to say what I’m saying because I didn’t see any version of “Beauty and the Beast.” This is the problem. Hollywood is just redoing old ideas and passing them off as new. It works for “Super Mario Bros,” not for Disney movies.

As for 2018, originality isn’t looking too great for Disney either. Let’s see what movies they have lined up:

  • A Wrinkle in Time (based on a book by Madeleine L’Engle)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (Star Wars)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel)
  • Black Panther (Marvel)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (Marvel)
  • Incredibles 2 (Pixar sequel)
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Based on a story and ballet)
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (Disney animation sequel)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Title pretty much says it all)

It’s not just Disney to blame here. Let’s talk about some other unoriginal films coming out in 2018!

  • Deadpool 2
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix
  • Ready Player One
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising
  • Rampage
  • Tomb Raider
  • Fifty Shades Freed
  • Creed 2
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Bumblebee: The Movie
  • Aquaman
  • Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindenwald
  • Venom
  • Slender Man
  • The New Mutants
  • Sicario 2: Soldado
  • Johnny English 3
  • Goosebumps: Horror Land
  • The Grinch
  • Super Troopers 2
  • Scarface
  • The Equalizer 2
  • Barbie
  • Mission: Impossible 6
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  • Insidious: The Last Key
  • Animal Crackers
  • Ocean’s 8
  • The Purge: The Island
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  • Teen Titans Go! to the Movies
  • Robin Hood
  • The Predator
  • God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

You get the point by now…

I get that filmmaking is technically a business, and people use it to make money, but they have to realize what they’re doing to people who watch the films. They could walk in, walk out, and say that they had an experience. It could be good, it could be bad. The real question is: How many experiences like the ones I just described will have a good chunk of people who felt like they experienced something new? Granted, storytelling has been around for a long time. The oldest written story passed down to us, The “Epic of Gilgamesh,” was introduced to the world around 2100 BC. We’ve been telling stories for as long as time can stand. It’s quite possible that original stories are going the way of the woolly mammoth. In fact a lot of original stuff we’re actually getting now borrows elements from other pieces of work. At this point, I don’t really care if we get a new franchise or a new movie from something we haven’t technically watched in the past, but I want to see more of that and less sequels each and every day. I may be a picky eater, I always have been since I was a kid, but my tastes in film go like this: As long as the film’s good in any way possible, it’s cool. Do I like unoriginal work? Yes, as long as it’s good. I’m not saying every original film is good either. Heck, 2017 gave a ton of original crap! Films like “Gifted,” “Downsizing,” and “The Space Between Us.”

I’m also not saying every unoriginal film did well at the box office in 2017. Films like “Blade Runner 2049,” “xXx: Return of Xander Cage,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Underworld: Blood Wars,” “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” “A Bad Moms Christmas,” “The Mummy,” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” didn’t appear to be as successful as other films during the year. By the way, for those of you who skipped out on “Blade Runner 2049,” you missed a work of art.

What I want studios and filmmakers to learn is this: It’s OK to take risks, it’s OK to be different, that’s what storytelling is about. Showing a unique vision to the world, not grabbing everyone’s wallet and swallowing it because of something they already know getting a new installment. How do you think Quentin Tarantino is popular today? How do you think he got popular in the first place? Is he doing the same thing as everyone else? Is he recycling old ideas? Sure, he definitely has influence from others, but his ideas are usually original so people usually view his movies as refreshing. Christopher Nolan has borrowed ideas from others, including his own brother, but at least he has done some stuff of his own like “Inception.” Not to mention, he stays away from traditional Hollywood conventions, even in unoriginal content like “The Dark Knight.” Another director I have my eyes on now is Nacho Vigolando. He wrote and directed “Colossal,” one of my top films of 2017.

The concept of “Colossal” itself, takes a number of elements from other movies, but in end, it’s truly its own thing. A girl named Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend who goes by the name Tim (Dan Stevens). Gloria moves back to her hometown where she reunites with a childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). As the movie progresses, we are shown that a monster recently attacked Seoul, South Korea. The thing that everyone has yet to realize, Gloria is responsible for the monstrous actions. You can do so many things with this, and what they did with it was just imaginative. It tries to be a lot of things at once, and believe it or not, it actually works! Films like this are something that I could imagine inspiring a generation of filmmakers. The problem is that it’s not all that popular, it’s an independent film, and was never really marketed all that well. In fact, I never really anticipated “Colossal” to be the absolute masterpiece that it is. People never really talked about it much before or even during the release. The same can’t really be said for a chunk of unoriginal content.

One of the movies I’m really looking forward to in 2018 is “Incredibles 2.” Not much has been shown for it yet, but regardless, I want to see it. Why? Because the original film is my favorite animation ever made! This just really makes me wonder, how rare is it for someone to actually go on for a long time, hyping for something totally original? Hype is something that people usually have for unoriginal content for no other reason other than because what they’re hyping for IS that unoriginal content. I’ve hyped for original content, but the more I look around, that’s not the case with everyone else. Look at all the hype “Avengers: Infinity War” is getting right now! This based on comic book story has been built up for quite some time through the release of a ton of films, and now that it’s almost here, there’s an enormous craze regarding it.

I’m not saying all unoriginal ideas are bad, I think I’ve made that clear already. In fact, I want to say one of them could be a future masterpiece. This year I was one of those people who actually got off their ass, went to the theater, and saw “Blade Runner 2049.” Just about everyone who saw the film would agree with me when I say it’s good. I’d bet not everyone would say they enjoyed it as much as I did. There will inevitably be those people who were bored out of their minds due to the movie’s slow pace, but in the end, this movie is just a testament to cinema. From a technical perspective, I was blown away. Roger Deakins’s cinematography was some of the best I’ve seen all year. The visual effects were eye candy that you’d want in your mouth instantly. Watching every single frame pass by was like looking at neon Heaven. Story-wise, I was also impressed, especially for a sequel like this. It develops all of its characters perfectly, continues in a future that probably will not happen entirely, but based on the world of “Blade Runner,” it does seem like something that would make sense from a certain angle. I’ll remind you that the original film came out in 1982 and took place in 2019, this sequel released thirty five years after, 2017, and took place in 2049. Sadly, not many people saw this when you compare the results this movie got against others. Although you might as well consider that not many people left their houses to go and see the first “Blade Runner” either. One of the biggest things I appreciated out of this sequel is how it didn’t set the stage for endless sequels or a cinematic universe. It felt like a movie, not a neverending TV series.

As interesting as cinematic universes are, they are becoming more and more common and the concept is just becoming rather boring. I will say, I have an idea for a cinematic universe, I think it could work, but as far as standalone franchises, I’m only incorporating two of them. It’s simple and effective. Standalone sequels have a beginning, middle, and end. They can give a sense of satisfaction. I’m not saying cinematic universe movies don’t have a beginning, middle, and end, but meshed in there is setup. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just comes off like a kid trying to get attention. Despite how much “Avengers: Infinity War” may sound like a finale for the MCU, trust me when I say it’s not. For one thing, there’s going to be a fourth “Avengers” film the following year, and Marvel still has more plans for films afterwards. They have another “Spider-Man” movie and another “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie! According to James Gunn, writer and director of the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, not to mention the possible writer and director of the upcoming third installment, he says that “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” will expand the cosmic universe. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel. At least “Two and a Half Men” had a conclusion! It took about twelve or so years to get to it, but it happened! Although you know what could happen once this cinematic universe ends? One word. Reboot. And you know what? It’ll probably make some f*cking money!

You know what else could be true? I don’t know, we’re probably just reaching the bottom of the barrel and running out of ideas. Although I can’t say that’s true because I have an idea for an original film. I won’t say what it is, but if any major Hollywood studio wants in on it, I’d be happy to send it to them. I don’t have the script finished yet, but I can definitely work on it if you want to see this idea realized in the future.

I’m not against unoriginal content, but from my personal viewpoint on society, these results make it seem like that’s all anyone watches now. Is it a popular thing? Someone watched it. Is it based on something that happened before? Someone watched it. I just want to see a future where at least some original content gets to shine as much as unoriginal content. Well, as long as said original content is good. I want to say to both studios and audiences, take some steps off the beaten path. I did that when I saw “Colossal,” I was originally planning to see “Kong: Skull Island,” but “Colossal” was the movie I ultimately had time for, and it was f*cking worth the ride.

Thanks for reading this post! As far as upcoming reviews go, I do plan on seeing this film called “The Commuter,” there’s a chance you may have heard of it on TV. It stars Liam Neeson as a person on a train who’s caught in a criminal conspiracy. The director who’s doing this film directed “The Shallows,” which was pretty great, but it’s January, so anything could happen.

Also I want to inform you that pretty soon I’ll be starting a new mini-series of reviews, specifically for the “Maze Runner” movies. I’m gonna watch “The Maze Runner” and “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails,” and I’ll review the first film one week, and follow up with a review for the second film the week afterwards. This is all being done in preparation for “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” which comes out January 26th. Stay tuned for those reviews and more great content! I want to know, which movies did you see in 2017? Did you see any that made the top results at the box office? Do you think we need more original content? Would you watch more original content? Leave your comments below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!