Category: Movies & Facts

7 Things to learn from the set of “Preacher”

7 Things to learn from the set of "Preacher"

In April, we visited the set of AMC’s upcoming supernatural drama “Preacher.” We spoke to the show’s holy trinity — Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) — about the weird, wild, and violent ride fans of the comic and newcomers should expect when “Preacher” premieres on May 22.

1. Tulip O’Hare

Ruth Negga is an inspiration as Tulip O’Hare. She understands the nature of who the Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion character is from the “Preacher” comics, while not being afraid of adding her own flair to the character. When asked what she felt was kept from the comics Negga mentions Tulip’s “anarchic quality” as well as her relationship with Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), which she describes as one of “near hatred.”

Fans of the comics will know that sums up Jesse and Tulip’s relationship perfectly at the beginning. “We get much more sense of her history and how she came to be the woman she is,” says Negga. Which in Tulip’s case will no doubt involve a questionably violent past, with baddies in hot pursuit. But, as Negga says about Tulip, “What’s wrong with being flawed?”

2. Cassidy

He’s foul-mouthed and inappropriate, making Joseph Gilgun the best Cassidy “Preacher” fans could’ve hoped for. A larger than life personality in his own right who’s no stranger to playing odd violent men (i.e. Hydell in Lockout and Rudy Wade in “Misfits”), Gilgun says that he’s worked to keep Cassidy’s core elements: “He’s jovial, but he’s a sociopath.”

If fans were looking for a real-life embodiment of the surly Irish Vampire, Gilgun brings as much humor and heart as the Cassidy from the comics. Having found a family on the set of “Preacher” with his co-stars, Gilgun whole-heartedly believes there are “no limits with Tulip, and Cass, and Jess.” He explains, “You put them anywhere, put them through anything, and I think they’ll come out the other end.”

7 Things to learn from the set of "Preacher"

3. Jesse Custer

At last we get to Jesse Custer, the all-mighty Texas badass himself, but if you’re a fan of the comics you might be wondering if we’ll see that Jesse in AMC’s “Preacher.” Like Custer’s introduction in the comic, Dominic Cooper says when we first find Jesse he’s “lost, alone, dark, drunk, fighting against something he wasn’t.” Fans also know about Custer’s mean streak, and to that Cooper says, “[Jesse’s] trying to mask that all the time. He’s desperate to be good. But we often can’t hide the true monster that’s lying underneath the skin.” There will be plenty of time to see this monster come out as AMC’s “Preacher” continues.

4. Odin Quincannon

Very little is known about Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) – except by fans of the comics. But the question is: Are they the same beast? While walking on set, I was treated to a scene being filmed with Haley’s portrayal of Quincannon. And in that vignette, Haley conveyed a range of excitement, cold indifference, and outright hatred for his fellow man with chilling ease.

In the comics Quincannon is a ruthless meatpacking entrepreneur with a dark secret discovered by Jesse Custer. Whether AMC’s “Preacher” will mirror Quincannon and Jesse’s meeting is yet to be seen, but either way fans are in store to an amazingly dark portrayal of Quincannon by Haley.

5. Savage violence

“People get kicked in the balls repeatedly,” says Joseph Gilgun about the kind of action and violence people can expect. “It’s good fun.” The “Preacher” comics are known for a kind of hyperviolence that borders on hilarity, and that’s exactly the tone captured in the show.

One direction Dominic Cooper thought was important for both Jesse’s character and the scene was during filming of a bar fight. “They said ‘Enjoy this,’ and I’m smiling,” Cooper said, describing the bright side of a brutal fight scene from the pilot episode. “Amongst this violence there’s this joy, and it really unlocked a part of [Jesse] that he’s trying to suppress but actually he relishes and loves.”

6. The cast has become a family

Cassidy is a vampire older than folks know, and he’s just stumbled on his newest family in Jesse and Tulip. This aligns with Gilgun’s view of the “Preacher” family on set. He explains: “My word is all I’ve got and loyalty really matters. We have no agenda as a cast. We have no agenda as a crew. At the moment we’ve got everybody coming together. This is a unique and special job in that the stars aligned, and we all found each other.”

7. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are superfans with a plan

Keeping in line with Gilgun’s feelings on the cast, crew, and show, I sensed from my set visit that everyone working on AMC’s “Preacher” feels this show is special, collaborative, and sure to wow long-time fans and newcomers when it premieres. At the heart of this is the infectious enthusiasm of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

“Seth and Evan are not just producers and writers and directors in this; they’re super fans,” Ruth Negga says. And she’s right: From small-set details like art from the “Preacher” comic finding its way into the stained glass windows of Jesse’s church to the care Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga and Joe Gilgun have taken with the “Preacher” trinity of Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy, this show is poised to satisfy both old and future “Preacher” fans.

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“Angry Birds” isn’t as bad as you think

"Angry Birds" isn't as bad as you think"Angry Birds" isn't as bad as you think

The beaky buddies from the best-selling video game vault themselves onto the big screen with this adaptation, featuring the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Maya Rudolph.

If you imagine the arena of theatrical film releasing as a huge games arcade, then computer-game-to-film adaptation Ratchet and Clank, released in the U.S. by Focus Features, is the weedy kid whose feeble high score is about to be annihilated by a cocky rival: The Angry Birds Movie. This animated feature, directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Katis, is based on an already hugely successful franchise (if now fading from playground favor), first launched by Finnish game company Rovio in 2009, and which has already spawned a series of cartoon shorts.

The brightly colored, quirkily humorous games, puzzle-oriented but grounded around angles, arcs and brute Newtonian physics, cannily appealed to every quadrant of the demographic map, even moms. So this cinematic origin story has massive fan base to draw on, arguably bigger than those for the upcoming adaptations of the more macho combat games Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed. All Sony has to do to make a substantial summer hit out of this is not mess it up.

Fortunately, for this recently often unlucky company, The Angry Birds Movie is way better than most viewers would expect. That said, expectations are probably pretty low, given the ground-grazing bar set by the majority of game-to-film adaptations. Even for onlookers who’ve never played any of the games the whole concept isn’t even “so last year,” it’s so 2011. Admittedly, the storytelling is not in the league of Pixar or Disney at their best, and with the male-dominated cast it’s a bit embarrassingly retrograde in terms of gender balance, even compared with Ratchet. But the animation punches well above its weight with properly Looney Tunes-standard sight gags, polished, highly expressive character design, and rendering so intensely computed nearly every barbule and rachis on each individual feather is visible.

"Angry Birds" isn't as bad as you think

Given that there’s such a paucity of narrative in the original games and the shorts are nearly dialogue-free and all about slapstick anyway, the screenplay by Jon Vitti (Alvin and the Chipmunks), based on a story credited to John Cohen, Mikael Hed and David Maisel, hasn’t got much material with which to build up characters from the start. (Mind you, The Lego Movie probably had even less to work with.) Vitti’s script sets out to answer the core existential question many might have asked themselves: Why are these birds so angry? Why don’t they fly? And what’s with the green pigs?

We never do find out exactly why they’re all flightless birds, but it turns out that life on Bird Island is by and large fairly content, peaceful, and good-natured. So much so that naturally testy-tempered cardinal Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis) is made to feel like a social outcast among the happy-clappy residents and is ordered by the court to attend anger-management classes run by Matilda (Maya Rudolph), an indeterminate species with pretty mauve-colored plumage but her own barely suppressed issues.

Red’s fellow students include Chuck (Josh Gad), a hyperactive yellow canary, and Bomb (Danny McBride), a usually placid blackbird who has a long fuse (literally) but little control of when he explodes. Finally, there’s massive, monosyllabic bruiser Terrence, who is voiced by Sean Penn (a bizarre accidental irony given that he just won an apology and settlement toward the charity of his choice from Lee Daniels for accusing him of unproven domestic violence).

One day, a ship covered in gears and tracks and sporting a massive wrecking ball pulls into the harbor. It is captained by Leonard (Bill Hader), a green pig whose beard-but-no-mustache hipster facial hair immediately marks him as dubious. Only Red is suspicious when Leonard and his crew mates, whose numbers swell at an alarming rate, start dispensing free food and catapults to help them fly and sure enough it turns out one should always beware of pigs bearing gifts. The visitors steal that which is most precious to the birds, and Red ends up leading an attack on their citadel using the very catapult the swine left behind.

Given the need to keep things simple for younger viewers, the filmmakers were probably compelled to ensure the plot traces a simple trajectory, a smooth parabola that guarantees what comes up must come down. But despite the predictable parameters, there’s room for some wry, adult-aimed humor that adds zest: allusions to films like The Shining and classic Tex Avery gags, meta references to photo-bombing and spoilers, and best of all, gags that play on the avian nature of the characters. For instance, at one point Red rallies the troops by reminding them how they’re descended from dinosaurs. Elsewhere, a mommy bird prepares her chicks’ lunches the way any bird-brained matriarch would: by regurgitating into paper bags.

If the screenplay verges a little too much on the homiletic, with messages about family and accepting who you are, in terms of storyboard-storytelling (a specialty of co-director Reilly) the quality of visual imagination is very high. Befitting of the nature of the original games, spatial relationships are exceedingly clear, and the intricate, Rube Goldberg-like structures the film’s world builds up make sense mechanically right up to the moment they get blown to smithereens.

At one point, early on in the film, the anger-management students are encouraged to draw in order to vent their frustrations, and Red drafts a series of storyboards showing Leonard skewered and pummeled and broken. “I call this one ‘Catharsis,’” he says revealing the gory last picture. If that’s the way it works for animators, the team who made this deliciously violent, cartoony work must be the most chilled-out crew in the business.

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Scarlett Johansson on the scrutiny of Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson on the scrutiny of Black Widow

Black Widow never has it easy. Onscreen, Natasha Romanov has an agonizing backstory and is working like hell to do enough good to erase the red from her moral ledger, redeeming a history of bad deeds that we are only allowed to imagine with acts of heroism that defy belief.

Offscreen, much of what Scarlett Johansson’s character does is scrutinized through the lens of gender politics. As one of the few female protagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (until recently), some view her not just as an individual character but as a representative for all womankind. That’s heavy lifting even for a superhero.

Amid accusations that her story arc in Avengers: Age of Ultron was stereotyped and offensive — because, like Tony Stark, she expressed a desire to step back from saving the world (and maybe find someone in it to love, and love her back) — Black Widow became a lightning rod.

Some accused writer-director Joss Whedon of sexism for a storyline that involved Widow developing romantic feelings for Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in the comic-book version of the Beauty and the Beast folktale. Others were outraged that Widow expressed regret over the juvenile assassin program that forced her to be sterilized. Still others took offense at that complaint, saying the desire to have a family doesn’t mean a woman can’t have a career (beating the hell out of evildoers, or otherwise).

Scarlett Johansson on the scrutiny of Black Widow

NPR’s pop culture critic Linda Holmes astutely noted that even if you swapped out Widow’s story in Ultron with the arcs of any of her male co-Avengers, each would still “raise questions of whether the story was influenced by gender stereotypes.” If she was Iron Man, she’d be the problem-causer. If she was Captain America, she’d be the uptight one. If she was Hulk, she’d have out-of-control emotions. And so on …

Add to that the scarcity of Black Widow toys, which caused universal uproar, even from Ruffalo, who tweeted about the need for Marvel merchandising to do a better job of inviting young girls to play in this universe, and Natasha Romanov starts to emerge not just as a warrior but a battlefield.

Which brings us to Captain America: Civil War. Where does Natasha’s fifth appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe find her?

This time, she’s on the side of order, aligning — at least for a while — with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man in trying to get Captain America to honor the global Sokovia Accords that force “enhanced individuals” to operate under government control.

In one scene EW watched being filmed this summer, she and Tony Stark have a quiet moment after being given an ultimatum to bring down the rogue Cap — or else the U.S. government will do it in permanent fashion.

Stark rubs at the center of his chest, where his ARC reactor was once embedded. “You know the problem with a fully functional heart…? It’s stressful,” he tells Natasha.

Scarlett Johansson on the scrutiny of Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson Interview

During a break in filming, we caught up with Johansson, and asked what she thinks of the tug-of-war over her character.

During a break in filming, we caught up with Johansson, and asked what she thinks of the tug-of-war over her character.

Where is Natasha’s head these days? In what state do we find her after the events of Age of Ultron?

Scarlett Johansson: My gosh, this is like a therapy session! When we last saw her I think the stakes were astronomical. And she basically had to make this choice between [duty] and what she probably deserves. I think up until this point, she has put the hours in and is ready for…

To be, or not to be, an Avenger?

[Laughs] You know, I don’t think she’s ever aspired to become an Avenger. That’s not really a choice that she made. It’s kind of like the events in her life led her to that point and when we see her [in Civil War], she’s finally capable of making a choice for herself. Which is kind of a milestone in someone’s life when they’ve not really participated in the decisions that were made for them. She’s finally at a place where she’s going, “Okay, I actually kind of know what I want. And I think I kind of deserve it.”

But she’s still in the fight. So is that what she wants?

Unfortunately the events that took place … she has this kind of greater calling and this huge pull towards doing what’s right for the greater good. And she chooses that, and it’s a really heroic thing that she does, I think.

Widow appeared to be leading the team of new Avengers we saw at the end of Ultron, gathered at their headquarters.

Yeah, I don’t know if she’s leading this team but she’s certainly, she’s — I think Natasha’s a very strategic thinker and that’s her strongpoint. Her superpowers, if you want to call them that, are her experience, her ability to make usually the right decision in a quick moment, in a tight minute. And she’s not personally invested. I mean, that’s what she tells herself anyway. And so that keeps her head kind of level and clear.

She seems to be leaning strongly toward Iron Man’s side of things.
I think when you find her in Civil War, she’s looking to strategize her position, putting herself in a place where she is able to let the powers that be fight it out or whatever amongst themselves. She’s always a little bit on the perimeter so she can have a better perspective of what’s really going on.

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A Black Widow Movie Is a ‘No-Brainer’

A Black Widow Movie Is a 'No-Brainer'

Collider recently spoke with Captain America: Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo and they chatted about doing a standalone Black Widow film. They both endorse it, with Anthony saying, “It’s a no-brainer, right?” and Joe adding, “I don’t think [it’ll take] much. I think it’s just a function of where on the slate it goes. She’s a badass.”

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow first arrived in theaters in Iron Man 2 and since then has become a mainstay of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yet, despite other Avengers stars like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and even Ant-Man getting time to shine, it appears Black Widow will get a decade of Marvel movies under her belt without ever getting her own spotlight. And she’s helped save the world, like, four times.

In Tales From the Script, X-Men writer David Hayter said he was working on a Black Widow movie, set into motion during a successful run of female action flicks like Kill Bill, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil.

But when the studios followed this trend with a run of awful films, including Aeon Flux, they decided to pull the plug on a Black Widow film. Imagine if they stopped making male action hero films just because of Green Lantern or X-Men Origins: Wolverine?

A Black Widow Movie Is a 'No-Brainer'

Besides, Scarlett Johansson is a big moneymaker. Other than Samuel L. Jackson, she has by the far the best box-office totals of any other Avengers star. And she has already proven that she can headline an action film by herself — Lucy opened on the same day in 2014 as Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules and earned $15 million more, despite being R-rated. Moviegoers have proven they are happy to see a good action movie with a female lead — Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sicario, and Spy are just a few recent examples. And The Hunger Games franchise has made more than $2 billion.

Putting aside the business of moviemaking, there are artistic reasons to make a Black Widow film, not least of all: She’s an interesting character. There are various origin stories, but basically she was trained to be an assassin and is a villainous character before she finds redemption through the Avengers — a story that would be a nice addition to Marvel’s slate.

We’re going to have to wait until 2018 to get a movie with a female hero in the title, and even then the Wasp is sharing it with Ant-Man. It won’t be until 2019 that we get our first true female lead, Captain Marvel. Yet a character we all know and like played by a huge movie star who has already stated interest in giving it a go, only gets to be a supporting character.

There is a wild gender imbalance in comic book movies, and while one Black Widow movie won’t solve this problem, it’s a step in the right direction.

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Meet Black Panther: Marvel’s New Breakout Hero

Meet Black Panther: Marvel's New Breakout Hero

“We have a character — the Black Panther — that they’re going to do as movie. I think he’ll be very popular.”

That was what Stan Lee told me a year ago when talking about his roster of classic comic-book characters being adapted to the big screen. This week, Black Panther makes a spectacular entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War.

Played by Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up), Black Panther is the formidable alter ego of T’Challa, prince of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He is a compassionate diplomat with a righteous streak who inherits the mantle of the Panther from his father, King T’Chaka, and becomes a key ally of Iron Man in the confrontation between Avengers factions.

While Panther might be new to casual fans, the character is considered an iconic figure in comics history, who’s in the midst of a renaissance as he marks his 50th anniversary. With the hero playing such a key role in Civil War and with his own stand-alone film looming in February 2018, it’s worth taking a brief look at T’Challa’s curriculum vitae with insight from those who know him best.

Created by Lee and illustrator Jack Kirby, Black Panther was the first mainstream black superhero, debuting before Falcon or Luke “Power Man” Cage. “I had some super characters before [that were black], but the Black Panther was the first one we devoted an entire book to,” Lee recalled. “He first appeared in Fantastic Four and then he became an Avenger. Then we gave him his own book.”

Billed, in typical Lee understatement, as the “surprise sensation of the century,” T’Challa made his Marvel premiere in issue 52 of Fantastic Four in July 1966. He immediately established himself as one of the great intellects in Marvel-dom, matching wits with fellow brain Mr. Fantastic by putting the superhero quartet through a series of tests before deeming them worthy.

The Panther would eventually split his time between his homeland of Wakanda and his work alongside the Avengers. At one point, Black Panther became Black Leopard to avoid confusion with the nascent political party, which launched five months after the Panther appeared on the scene. (The Black Panthers’ name was completely coincidental and not based on the character.) But the new moniker didn’t stick because, according to Lee, fans and writers preferred “Panther.”

Those early comic books teased out the hero’s origin. The hidden country of Wakanda is ruled by T’Chaka and is the sole source of the prized metal Vibranium, the super-stuff Captain America’s shield is made out of. The sinister Ulysses Klaw murders the king in an attempt to score the precious element, but is driven off by the teenaged T’Challa.

The heir passes a series of tests to become the new Black Panther, wearing the signature black costume with the ritual toothed necklace and gaining possession of a special herb that enhances his already preternatural cat-like abilities. Under T’Challa’s rule, Wakanda flourishes and becomes an advanced technological society.

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Why Scarlet Witch’s sexy costume was never an option

Why Scarlet Witch's sexy costume was never an option

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done an amazing job of transitioning many of their characters from the page to the screen, several have gone through some significant changes in making the leap. The character who may have seen the most change from page to screen is Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, who went through a fairly substantial physical transformation. The actress says the traditional look for the character was never going to happen. Joss Whedon promised her that from day one.

Appearing on Late Night with Seth Meyers in advance of this weekend’s Captain America: Civil War, the host asked Elizabeth Olsen about the more traditional look of the character. Apparently, Olsen was not previously familiar with the character when Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon presented it to her, but he promised her one thing:

Why Scarlet Witch's sexy costume was never an option

[Joss] said, ‘When you go home and Google her, just know you will never ever have to wear what she wears in the comics.’ Because I did ballet growing up, but that’s not a confident look.

While all of the characters in the MCU have their ornate and somewhat bizarre outfits, most of them tend to make some sense. A couple of the guys wear giant suits of armor. The guy with the shield is a soldier. It’s difficult to argue that Wanda Maximoff’s clothing choice was particularly functional. It looks amazing as a piece of art on a comic page, there’s no question about that, but they would have had to have come up with a pretty convincing argument for why the character would choose to dress like that. It’s just not the sort of thing one would wear on a battlefield.

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‘Captain America: Civil War’ dominated the foreign box office

‘Captain America: Civil War’ dominated the foreign box office

“Captain America: Civil War” dominated the foreign box office, debuting to a massive $200.2 million in its first weekend of overseas release, and kicking off the summer movie season on a high note.

The Disney and Marvel superhero adventure is performing less like a sequel to the star-spangled hero’s films and more like another installment in the “Avengers” franchise. It opens domestically on May 6, when it is expected to make nearly $200 million.

Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis hailed the Marvel films as a model of commercial consistency in a business that is notoriously unpredictable.

“They have found a way to keep the films unbelievably fresh and the reception to this leading into its opening suggests that they’ve delivered arguably one of the best films to come out of the studio,” he said. “We expect a lot of repeat business.”

Beyond branding, there are several reasons “Captain America: Civil War” is off to such a hot start. The film promises the spectacle of watching Captain America (Chris Evans) square off against Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), in an intra-Avengers duel. It also introduces Tom Holland’s take on Spider-Man and marks the first appearance of Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther, two characters that are fanboy and fangirl favorites.

Then there are the reviews. Critics have embraced the movie, handing it some of the best notices of the year. Joe and Anthony Russo, who previously oversaw “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” handled directing duties.

Its gargantuan foreign debut comes from 37 major territories representing approximately 63% of the international marketplace. The film played well in premium formats, with Imax responsible for $9.6 million of the foreign box office haul. The opening is only 5% behind “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and is outpacing “Iron Man 3” and “The Avengers” by 26%.

Among the most significant contributors were Korea with $28.9 million, Mexico with $20.6 million, the United Kingdom with $20.5 million, Brazil with $12.3 million and Australia with $10.9 million. The Brazil and Mexico openings set a new industry high, as did the film’s $7.5 million kick-off in the Philippines.

In addition to North America, next weekend will also see “Captain America: Civil War” debuting in China, Russia, Italy and Argentina. Its success continues a torrid streak for Disney, which has minted money this year with “Zootopia” and “The Jungle Book,” both of which have a realistic shot of generating nearly $1 billion globally. The studio also seems likely to score with “Finding Dory,” the follow-up to Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” and “Star Wars: Rogue One.”

“All the box office is about is Disney, Disney, Disney,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations.

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Studiocanal to co-produce German children’s classic

Studiocanal to co-produce German children's classic

The Little Witch (Die Kleine Hexe) will star German actress Karoline Herfurth and reunite the production team behind local box office hit Heidi.

Studiocanal is to co-produce and handle world sales on the first German live-action film adaptation of Otfried Preussler’s children’s classic The Little Witch (Die Kleine Hexe).

Published in 1957, Preussler’s tale centres on a witch who is a mere one hundred and twenty-seven years old and thus deemed too young to be allowed to dance with the others on the Hill of Witches during Walpurgis Night (30 April).

Before she can prove to the chief witch that she has what it takes to become a good witch, she must hone her magic skills, but she hadn’t reckoned with the mean weather witch Rumpumpel using every means to prevent her reaching her goal.

Studiocanal’s German production arm, Studiocanal Film, will co-produce with Munich-based Claussen+Putz Filmproduktion and Switzerland’s Zodiac Pictures after last year’s successful collaboration on the remake of another children’s classic, Heidi.

Alain Gsponer’s adaptation of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi has been seen by 1.2m cinema-goers in Germany and was sold by Studiocanal to nigh on 50 territories worldwide. It is one of two children’s films nominated at this year’s German Film Awards.

Principal photography on The Little Witch is scheduled to run between the end of September and December at locations in Thuringia, Lower Saxony, Bavaria and Switzerland. Funding is already in place from FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, MDM, the German Federal Film Board (FFA), and MEDIA Development.

Karoline Herfurth – recently seen in the box-office hit Fack Ju Göhte and The Pasta Detectives trilogy – has been cast as the little witch under the direction of the Student Academy Award-winner Michael Schaerer (Warmth).

Schaerer is no stranger to Preussler’s work having edited Claussen+Putz Filmproduktion’s 2013 version of The Little Ghost, another of the author’s evergreen bestsellers. In addition, Schaerer was the editor on Heidi as well as for other Swiss box-office successes of recent years such as Achtung, Fertig, Charlie!, Die Herbstzeitlosen and Alain Gsponer’s Rose.

Moreover, producers Jakob Claussen and Uli Putz (with former partner Thomas Wöbke) brought another Preussler property, Krabat, to the big screen in 2008 under the direction of Marco Kreuzpaintner and starring David Kross, Daniel Brühl and Hanno Koffler.

The Little Witch, which has been translated into 47 languages, was the centre of a heated debate in 2013 when the book’s publisher Thienemann wanted to replace the word “nigger” with a less outdated and offensive expression in a reprint.

Prior to this new project, the story of the little witch inspired filmmakers in both East and West Germany, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union to make animated, silhouette and live action versions of the bestseller.

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‘Captain America: Civil War’ soars to $14.9 Million overseas on first day

‘Captain America: Civil War’ soars to $14.9 Million overseas on first day

Disney-Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” soared to $14.9 million in 15 international markets in Europe and Asia, finishing first in each.

Disney reported that the Wednesday opening is just behind last year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which wound up being Marvel’s highest international performer with $946 million.

South Korea led the way with $4.3 million, followed by France with $2.4 million, Philippies with $1.5 million, Taiwan with $1.4 million, and Thailand and Hong Kong with $1.1 million each.

The Korean launch was the third-largest opening day of all time and took 91% of the market. Its number trailed “Avengers: Age of Ultron” by 5%.

The French launch was the biggest opening day of the year and 16% behind “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The Philippines debut was also the third largest opening day of all time and only 4% behind “Ultron.”

“Captain America: Civil War” will be open in 63% of the international marketplace by Sunday. Thursday sees openings in Germany, Australia and Brazil, along with Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Malaysia, Singapore, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia.

Pre-release tracking estimates suggest that the superhero sequel could rack up roughly $200 million overseas after its first five days in theaters.

An opening of that size would put it in line with the foreign launches of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” ($212 million) and “Iron Man 3” ($160 million). It dwarfs the last film featuring the star-spangled hero, 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which opened to $78 million overseas.

The tentpole includes Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ title character while introducing Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. The “Winter Soldier” directorial team of Joe and Anthony Russo returns to helm.

“Captain America: Civil War” hits theaters stateside on May 6, with some analysts estimating it could score a $200 million launch.

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The tragic true story behind The Danish Girl

The tragic true story behind The Danish Girl

Lili Elbe defied convention and pushed the boundaries of medical science to become the first transgendered woman. But at what cost?

Einar Wegener would kill himself in the spring. He had chosen a date – May 1, 1930 – after a year spent in torment. The cause of his suffering was quite simple: he was sure he was a woman, born into the wrong body. Or perhaps it was more complicated: sometimes Wegener, whose life is soon to be portrayed on film by the Oscar-winning British actor Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, felt he was two people in the same body, each fighting for supremacy.

One was a Danish landscape painter, a steadfast man who, in his own words, “could withstand storms”. He was married to a woman whose strength and talent matched, or perhaps even surpassed, his own: Gerda Wegener, a successful Art Deco illustrator who produced portraits of fashionable women for magazines such as Vogue and La Vie Parisienne.

The other shared none of these qualities. Lili Elbe was, as she set down in letters and notes for an autobiography, a “thoughtless, flighty, very superficially-minded woman”, prone to fits of weeping and barely able to speak in front of powerful men. But despite her womanly defects, by February 1930 she was becoming too powerful for Wegener to resist. “I am finished,” he wrote at the time. “Lili has known this for a long time. That’s how matters stand. And consequently she rebels more vigorously every day.”
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