Last night, Conan O'Brien had J.J. Abrams on his show to talk about Star Trek Into Darkness, among other things of course, and at one point the conversation turned to Alice Eve and her brief, yet exceedingly stupid and gratuitous, underwear shot in the film. (Conan's stance: "I didn't personally see what the fuss was about, myself — I was quite happy about the scene.") For those of you who haven't seen the film, Eve plays Carol Marcus, a purportedly brilliant scientist who teams up with Kirk and Spock et al. At one point (I think it was an action scene, but the whole film is kind of a big clangy blur to me right now) it becomes imperative that Marcus change her outfit, and does so while Kirk watches, then is offended by his ogling. It lasts less than five seconds but the outcry over it on the Internet has lasted a lot longer.
This is ForceWatch, your as-needed check-in with the upcoming Star Wars reboot, including but not limited to Star Wars Episode VII. Full disclosure: Disney owns Grantland, and the rest of the universe.
Ever since J.J. Abrams was given the keys to the future of the Disney/Lucasfilm cultural property know as Star Wars, every subsequent piece of news about the 2015-slated sequel has started to feel less like the details of the movie event of the decade and more like press releases for a 40th-anniversary Great Performances Reunion Revue/Telethon. Harrison Ford's onboard. Sweet. So are Carrie and Mark. Radical. John Williams was eyeing that villa in Majorca and finally thinking about calling it a (decades-spanning, unparalleled) career when Abrams called him up and was like "A blood oath's a blood oath, man." Far out. But do we have any new ideas, gentlemen?
J.J. Abrams's second go-round on the Star Trek carousel was the top dog at the box office this weekend, with $70.6 million accrued over the weekend and $84.1 million in the bank since it opened on Wednesday. But that's actually $16 million less than Paramount forecast, the Los Angeles Times reports. Promising signs for the movie include the fact that it has managed an A rating at CinemaScore, and that its international box office is healthier than it was for the first flick: $80.5 million has already been stacked in the exotic climes of not-America. (The Times credits, in part, "Efforts made at the script level more action, less allegory." Which, duh. Everyone knows German people, among many others, hate allegories.) The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6 hit theaters next week, so Star Trek Into Darkness will have some fiercer competition soon enough. And so, when the story of STID’s box office performance is ultimately written, the big question might remain. Would it have made more money if the colon hadn't been inexplicably, bewilderingly left out of the title?
Luke and Leia are probably onboard. Han Solo might yet join them. Screenwriter Michael Arndt is hard at work on the script, and it's flowing seamlessly into his Mac. So what else does J.J. Abrams need to lock down on Star Wars: Episode VII before going any further? Why, a killer soundtrack of course. Good news, then. While plugging Star Trek Into Darkness at a press conference in Berlin, Abrams confirmed what we were all hoping and expecting: "Again, for Star Wars, it’s very early days, but I believe that, going forward, John Williams will be doing that film because he was there long before I was." Boom! Cue the strings.
You thought you had been adequately enticed by the prospect of J.J. Abrams's Star Trek sequel by its first trailer? You thought wrong! Above: the teaser trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, which provides seconds upon seconds of footage we had not yet seen. The bwaaaangs from Inception are still with us, as is the general air of calamity and doom. But we also get a nice little tour of the Enterprise, somberly folded flags over coffins, an extremely tricky Baumgartner-esque space jump, hellfire, and Captain Pike delivering a heavy voice-over lashing out, vis-à-vis Kirk's humanity-threatening hubris. By the way, if you're here for the heavy nerding, you should know there's still no definitive answer as to which villain Benedict Cumberbatch is playing. As EW's highly helpful deep dive into the question explains, it could be the monolith of Star Trek bad dudes — Khan! It could also be a lesser-known figure from the original series, one with "God-like abilities" — Gary Mitchell! It could also be a proto-electro pop hero — Gary Numan! (It could not be Gary Numan.) Anyway, here it is. Bwaaaang!
Mindy Kaling will co-produce an animated series for NBC alongside Greg Daniels, her boss at The Office, which revolves around a girls’ high school volleyball team. She’ll also voice a character. Meanwhile, Daniels is also teaming up with Alan Yang, a writer on his other show Parks & Recreation, for an animated show about a group of bros living in the L.A. neighborhood Hancock Park. Apparently hit-starved NBC is hoping Daniels, who co-created the long running King of the Hill, can churn out some animated stalwarts. And if this doesn’t work, next up for the always-game, sort-of desperate network? Probably shows where dogs drive cars. Grade: A [Deadline]
Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Penn are in talks for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s The Revenant. DiCaprio would play an 1820s frontiersman who, after being mauled by a bear on an expedition, hires two guys to transport him back from the wilderness; those two guys rob him and leave him for dead, and DiCaprio seeks out some solid revenge. Penn is in talks to play one of the two guys and being the ever-innovative thespian that he is, though, he's also looking into what it would take to play the bear. Grade: A- [Deadline]
The last thing J.J. Abrams produced for NBC was 2010’s sexy spy-couple show Undercovers, and that was canceled quick. But the network has just given a pilot production commitment to another Abrams show, Revolution, an "epic adventure thriller" for which no other details have been released. Abrams also has series set up at CBS and Fox this season, so either Revolution is good enough to make NBC forgive Undercovers, or they just really didn’t want to feel left out. Grade: B- [HR]
Brad Pitt has been offered a role in All You Need Is Kill, an adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s manga comic about a soldier killed in the first day of an alien invasion and then forced to relive the day before his death over and over again. The soldier then spends that time learning ice sculpture and how to woo Andie MacDowell. Grade: B+ [Vulture]
It had long been assumed that J.J. Abrams would return to directing duties on the sequel to his 2009 smash Star Trek reboot — and now it’s confirmed. The script is going to be wrapped up by the end of the month, and the movie starts shooting this winter. Apparently Abrams waited to make it official until Alex Kurtzman (the co-writer, alongside Roberto Orci, of the first movie) finished work on his directorial debut Welcome To People and could return to the screenplay full time. Another reason Abrams took so long to commit: He was spending a lot of that time trying, ineffectively, to come up with a hilarious sequel subtitle. Grade: A [Vulture]
Movie star Hugh Jackman will revisit his past glories on the stage with a limited-run show running this fall called Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway, featuring an 18-piece orchestra, musical numbers, and personal anecdotes. The first anecdote Jackman will tell will be about what Professor X is like in real life. Grade: A- [Variety]
Unlike somepeople, J.J. Abrams sees his highly lucrative franchises through to the end. He's nearing an agreement to direct Star Trek 2, the sequel to 2009's $260 million-grossing original. The only problem: He won't finish writing and shooting in time for the June 29, 2012 release that Paramount had hoped for. So the studio will open G.I. Joe that weekend instead, since they can probably knock that one out in a week or two. Grade: B+ [Deadline]
Jennifer Lopez is expected to sign a deal this week to return to the judges' table for the next season of American Idol. She was presumed to be holding out for more money and a chair farther from Steven Tyler. Grade: B [HR]
What do auteurs Michael Bay and Terrence Malick have in common — other than that they’ve both made Megan Fox wash their cars in a bikini in lieu of auditioning for a role? (Fox got the part in Bay’s Transformers but her performance as "Celestial Dinosaur No. 3" was sadly cut from Malick's of Tree of Life.) They’ve both written letters to projectionists, advising them on how best to present their 2011 films! While the letters themselves strike differing tones (Malick terms his a "fraternal salute" to a "forgotten art" while Bay, unsurprisingly, uses capitalist logic – "your theaters invested a lot of money in this equipment" — in his plea for 3-D perfection), they are the latest missives in a trend that stretches at least as far back as noted control freak Stanley Kubrick, whose own letter re: Barry Lyndon also recently surfaced.
But this epistolary practice goes deeper than most cinephiles realize. Grantland gained access to some other recently-penned letters to projectionists from the directors of a few of summer 2011’s other prominent releases. We are proud to share excerpts of them with you now.
This week brings the release of Super 8, director J.J. Abrams’ bighearted tribute to the sort of wide-eyed, family-friendly alien adventure movies Steven Spielberg used to make before he discovered less interesting things such as American history, Oscars, and Tom Hanks. The compelling wrinkle? Spielberg himself is the film’s executive producer and, in Abrams’ words, its "key voice." Imitation, flattery, and outright theft have a long, distinguished, and shameless history in Hollywood — but this strikes us as something different. Rather than merely aping his idol, Abrams is, essentially, making a Spielberg film for Spielberg.
And this got us thinking: What other faded masters could use the vibrant influence of their own artistic descendants — and what current up-and-comers could really use the firm, if graying, hand of an old master? Thus we propose the Director Mentorship Academy, in which younger directors enroll to make a better version of someone else’s movie — with the help of that very someone else. Below are some suggestions for the inaugural class.