Category Archives: Horror

Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Canceled at Starz After Three Seasons

Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Canceled at Starz After Three Seasons

Ash vs. Evil Dead has been canceled at Starz

The series will air its third season finale on April 29, which will now serve as the series finale. The series saw Bruce Campbell reprise the role of Ash Williams, the chainsaw-wielding anti-hero tasked with saving the world from evil in the “Evil Dead” film franchise. The series also starred Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, and Lucy Lawless.

The third season saw Ash, having gone from murderous urban legend to humanity-saving hometown hero, discovering that he has a long-lost daughter who has been entrusted in his care. Meanwhile, Kelly (DeLorenzo) witnessed a televised massacre with Ruby’s (Lawless) fingerprints all over it, and she returned with a new friend to warn Ash and Pablo (Santiago) that evil wasn’t done with them yet.

Campbell was also an executive producer on the series, along with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert from the original film franchise. The show had seen a steep fall off in its ratings during Season 3, averaging just a 0.08 rating in adults 18-49 and 177,000 viewers per episode with two episodes remaining in the season.

Starz current originals slate includes “Power,” “American Gods,” and “Counterpart.” They will also launch the shows “Sweetbitter” and “Vida” in May. The premium cabler previously canceled the comedy “Survivor’s Remorse” back in October after four seasons.

Film Review: William Friedkin’s ‘The Devil and Father Amorth’

Film Review: William Friedkin’s ‘The Devil and Father Amorth’

William Friedkin films an exorcism, all to revive the mystique of his most famous movie. But is it real?

In The Devil and Father Amorth director William Friedkin , still hale and hearty and hectoring at the age of 81, returns to the subject of his most legendary film The Exorcist. The new movie is a documentary built around a video, recorded by Friedkin in 2016, of what purports to be an actual exorcism. If you think that sounds like material that’s ripe for a musty old episode of “Unsolved Mysteries,” you’d be right. But if you claim that you aren’t just a wee bit curious as to whether you’re going to get to witness something…demonic, you’re probably lying. The Devil and Father Amorth is Friedkin’s shot-on-the-cheap, reality-based version of a “Mondo Cane” stunt, yet for 68 minutes (it’s that short), it is often an oddly compelling tabloid foray, since it winds up shedding a crucial ray of light on the mad moment we’re in now. Whether or not you believe in the Devil, the film helps to color in how our culture got possessed.

Most of the movie takes place in Italy, where Friedkin walks around talking directly into the camera, in what sounds like scripted “off-the-cuff” narration (though it’s possible he improvised it). To call him blunt would be an understatement; there’s a distinctly Trumpian bombast to his in-your-face oratory — he sounds like an ambulance-chasing lawyer on a late-night commercial. He’s working hard to sell us something, though there’s no denying that he’s an arresting carny barker.

Friedkin serves up a shocking statistic: that 500,000 Italians, out of a population of 60 million, have undergone exorcisms. For them, it’s like Californians getting high colonics — either that, or the Devil is alive and working overtime in Italy. The director also returns to Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., where he shot The Exorcist” 45 years ago, and speaks to us from the famous concrete stairway where Father Karras met his death, as if something genuine had happened there. That’s a standard shlock-TV-news ploy, but in this case it has a resonance. The real theme of “The Devil and Father Amorth” is the degree to which people now believe that exorcism is real.

The belief didn’t begin yesterday. Friedkin sketches in how William Peter Blatty came to write his smash-hit novel “The Exorcist,” spinning it out of a 1949 case of demonic possession that he became obsessed with when he was a student at Georgetown. In hindsight, that case, along with the alien incident at Roswell in 1948 and the 1974 Amityville haunting, constitute a kind of popular triptych of the otherworldly: a testament to how the spirit of the uncanny got recast — re-mythologized — for a secular age. “Rosemary’s Baby,” in 1968, famously pictured the Time magazine cover that asked “Is God Dead?” This trilogy of incidents — and, beyond all of them, the film version of “The Exorcist” — answered that question by saying: “Yes, He is. But He’s now going to be reborn as occult tabloid sensationalism, with a patina of Old Time Religion.”

A lot of movie buffs, especially if thy saw “The Exorcist” at a certain age, will tell you that they think it’s the scariest movie ever made. I wouldn’t call it that (“Psycho,” in its day, was scarier), but “The Exorcist” is the movie that terrified people into believing. It made the Devil “real.” It has often been noted that the film proved to be an extraordinary recruitment tool for the Catholic Church (exorcism became a part of the Church’s brand), though the “presence” of the Devil on our ’70s multiplex screens didn’t hurt the rise of the Evangelical movement, either. “The Exorcist” was a cinematic earthquake that has never stopped giving off tremors.

“The Devil and Father Amorth” shows you how deep the mystique of the demonic goes. Friedkin introduces us to Gabriele Amorth, an Italian Roman Catholic priest who’s also an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome — essentially, the Vatican’s chief ghostbuster. Ninety-one when the film was shot (he died in September 2016), Father Amorth is an ancient bald elfin tribal ringmaster who understands that religion, like politics, can always use a dash of showbiz. His favorite movie is “The Exorcist” (though he thinks the special effects were a bit overdone), and if he seems more casual about his work than Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin did, maybe that’s because he’s performed hundreds of exorcisms and lived to tell the tale.

The woman he’s going to be exorcising is no stranger to the Devil. Her name is Cristina, she works in an architecture firm in a small town 200 kilometers from Rome, and this will be her ninth exorcism. Friedkin interviews her, and she’s a polite, self-aware, rather neurasthenic woman in her mid-thirties, officious in manner, with a slight aura of damage. Then, having agreed to the stipulation that he’ll bring no crew with him at all (no lighting or sound assistants — just himself and his small camcorder), Friedkin enters a rather humdrum-looking conference room to film the exorcism. Cristina is surrounded by 20 or so of her relatives, and we can see that this is, for them, a therapeutic ritual that they accept and believe in. It’s the spirit version of an intervention, only with screams and a dash of holy water.

What do we see? Cristina sits in a chair, as Father Amorth talks gently to her, places his hand on her head, strokes her knees, and listens as she — or could it be…Satan? — screams at him. Cristina certainly seems like she’s channeling another personality, one that’s fierce, raging, merciless, insane. Yet this doesn’t necessarily strike us as all that exotic; it could be footage from an old est seminar. A lot of us would probably agree with the team of Columbia University psychiatrists Friedkin interviews, who say that Cristina journeys to a place deep inside her, but not necessarily a demonic one. The most striking aspect of what goes on has to do with her voice, which hits a low register rather strikingly like that of Linda Blair’s Regan in “The Exorcist.” In fact, the voice sounds as if it’s been manipulated. By Friedkin? He’s not telling, but in a movie like this one the devil is in the details.

Watching the exorcism in “The Devil and Father Amorth,” what we see is that Italians, in the DNA of their consciousness, still carry around the seeds of a medieval culture. The Devil, and exorcism, is part of the psyche of this passionately Catholic country. But we also see something that Friedkin, with supreme irony, never acknowledges: the profound influence of his own movie. Whether or not Cristina’s deep dark Devil voice was tweaked in post-production, it seems more than likely that she is, in fact, imitating the sound and spirit of the Devil when he spoke through Regan MacNeil in “The Exorcist.” The movie has fed, like a loop, into religion, which is now feeding into the chaos of a world that, increasingly, needs the Devil to explain why everything appears to be spinning out of control. “The Devil and Father Amorth” is a rather tawdry charade. But it channels that force.

Netflix Q1 Preview: Another Blockbuster Quarter Despite Price Hikes?

Netflix Q1 Preview: Another Blockbuster Quarter Despite Price Hikes?

When Netflix reports first-quarter 2018 earnings Monday after market close, investors again will laser in not on revenue or profits — but on the number of net adds, a key indicator of the subscription streamer’s momentum.For Q1, Wall Street analyst consensus estimates are for 1.48 million net streaming U.S. subscriber adds, and 4.84 million internationally. That’s roughly in line with what Netflix’s forecast in January (1.45 million domestically and 4.90 million internationally).

The expected strong showing comes after Netflix raised the price of its streaming plans in the fourth quarter of 2017 for customers in multiple territories, a demonstration of its relative pricing power. In the U.S., for example, the standard two-stream HD plan rose from $9.99 to $10.99 per month,  still a great value, analysts observed.

“A steady stream of new content introduced throughout Q1 likely mitigated churn associated with higher pricing on standard and premium plans,” Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter wrote in a note issued last week.

Analyst consensus estimates for Netflix Q1 see revenue of $3.89 billion and earnings per share of 64 cents. Investors remain upbeat on the company, even as it doubles down on its heavy content-spending strategy (with content expenditures of up to $8 billion this year, vs. $6 billion in 2017).

Netflix’s cash burn (negative free cash flow) is expected to increase from $2 billion in 2017 to $3 billion for the full year 2018, Goldman Sachs’ Heath Terry wrote in a note last week. Terry raised his price target on the stock, from $315 to $360 per share, citing a strong originals slate, new distribution partners  and returns from increased marketing spending.

Over the past eight quarters, Netflix has on average topped its total net subscriber addition guidance by around 950,000, mostly on stronger-than-expected international additions, Pachter noted. However, a year ago, Netflix turned in subscriber metrics slightly below forecasts, delivering 4.95 million inQ1 2017

Is Netflix poised for a Q1 2018 beat? Thanks to its continued growth — and bullish analyst forecasts — Netflix’s stock is up 62% year to date, besting nearly every other company on the S&P 500 and outperforming the other stocks in the FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Alphabet/Google) cohort tracked by Wall Street.

Netflix has “an increasingly robust content slate,” Cowen & Co.’s John Blackledge wrote in a Q1 earnings preview. He estimated Netflix released some 483 hours of U.S. original programming in the first quarter, up 85% from a year earlier.

In the first quarter, Netflix debuted 18 new original series, including 11 returning series, and 14 new original movies. Those included season 2 of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and sci-fi series “Altered Carbon.”

But Netflix currently has a weaker originals lineup going into Q1, with nine original series (five returning and four new series), including “Lost in Space” and second seasons of “Dope,” “3%,” and “Marvel’s Luke Cage.”

Wall Street expects 5.2 million net streaming adds in Q2 2018, but that “may be on the high side,” RBC Capital Market’s Mark Mahaney wrote in a note. He cited “what doesn’t clearly appear to be a rock-star spectacular Q2 new content slate” as well as typically weak Q2 seasonality and “tough comps” with Netflix’s huge beat in the second quarter of 2017.

Two wildcards on Netflix’s Q2 content performance remain, according to UBS’s Eric Sheridan: When season 2 of popular teen drama “13 Reasons Why” will be released and whether Netflix “is enjoying success in its local-language content initiatives outside of North America,” he wrote in an April 11 note.

In addition, Netflix’s newly expanded deal with Comcast — under which the cable operator will bundle Netflix service with new and existing TV packages — could give Netflix a boost in Q2, which is historically weak for subscriber additions.

Meanwhile, Wedbush’s Pachter pointed to Netflix’s potential longer-term risk from losing content-licensing deals. It’s worth noting that the bulk of the viewing on the platform remains generated by licensed TV shows and movies — with licensed content estimated to account for 80% of Netflix’s U.S. streams for the 12 months ended September 2017, per a study by 7Park Data.

“[T]he combination of less content from Disney (pulling the majority of its newer content at the end of 2018) and a steady migration of Comcast, Time Warner, and 21st Century Fox content towards exclusive deals with Hulu will ultimately lead to lower subscriber satisfaction,” he wrote.

‘Rampage’ Sneaks Up on ‘A Quiet Place’ to Win Weekend Box Office

‘Rampage’ Sneaks Up on ‘A Quiet Place’ to Win Weekend Box Office

After a weekend of fluctuating projections, Dwayne Johnson (just barely) owned the North American box office after all.

Though earlier estimates looked like the second frame of  A Quiet Place would take the weekend, Johnson’s Rampage  snuck up to take the top slot with $34.5 million from 4,101 theaters.

New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.Rampage opened under initial predictions  that estimated between $37 million to $40 million. Though the sci-fi actioner has an impressive A- CinemaScore and 80% audience approval on Rotten Tomatoes, “Rampage” will need to rely heavily on overseas to carry its costly $120 million budget.

Still, its opening was enough to just narrowly take the box office crown from A Quit Place” which earned $32.9 million in 3,589 locations. “A Quiet Place” has been riding high with rave reviews only dropping 34%. That brings its cumulative domestic gross to an impressive $100 million.

Also benefitting from the Friday the 13th weekend was Universal and Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare starring Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey. The supernatural thriller debuted in third place with $19 million from 3,029 theaters.

“This is an outstanding debut considering the competitive landscape,” Jim Orr, head of domestic distribution at Universal, said. “For original horror, Blumhouse has define the genre for many years. They built a model that is just terrific.”

The third frame of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” made $11 million from 3,661 locations, lifting its domestic gross to $114.5 million.

Rounding out the top five is the sophomore weekend of Universal’s “Blockers.” Kay Cannon’s raunchy comedy starring John Cena, Leslie Mann, and Ike Barinholtz took in $10 million from 3,418 locations. In total, the pic has made $37 million.

The wide release of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” made $5 million from 1,939 locations. The stop-motion animated film, which has grossed $18.5 million, opened in limited release at the end of March with the best per screen average of 2018 to date.

Another newcomer, Entertainment Studios’ canine-themed “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” made $1.1 million in 1,633 locations. Directed and co-written by Richard Lanni, “Sgt. Stubby”  features the voices of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu.

The 2018 box office is down 2.4% compared to 2017. The same weekend last year, where “The Fate of the Furious” opened with $98.8 million, is down 15.5%

Review: Bus Party to Hell, including an interview with the Amazing Sadie Katz

bus party to hell review

Bus Party to Hell (2018)

Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky

Starring Sadie KatzDevanny Pinn…and Tara Reid

Thanks to October Coast for screening this one for me.

Bus Party to Hell is the perfect movie review for me to go on an itty-bitty rant.

There is this thing in horror films that is rather common where indie creators do everything they can to get a “star”. This makes perfect sense as it is perceived that stars sell tickets. However, it has also been shown that, except for a few celebrities at the top, stars no longer have the selling power they once did. People are more likely to go see their favorite character or series regardless of who is in the movie. Generally, horror films don’t get those big-name stars and I think that most of us have our favorites that probably aren’t on the A-list.

It feels sort of cheap to me when a “star” is shoehorned into a film just to put their name on the poster. I feel robbed in a way. Perhaps this is something that shouldn’t get to me at all, but it does. Tara Reid is billed as this movies star, yet I am happy to say that she is barely in it. The moment that she kicks the bucket is her finest moment. The poster has a giant image of her on it. All of the production stills I have seen feature her. In my opinion, Sadie Katz is the actual star of this movie – which is something we talk about in an interview that you can read at the end of this post.

So, while I understand the reasons for it, I wish that filmmakers would stop this shit. I loathe purchasing a movie because it says it stars Brad Dourif only to find that he is in it for 2 minutes – for example. It puts a stench on a movie that could have done without it. I’m already bummed that I am out 10 or 15 bucks for a 2-minute cameo, even if the rest of the movie is really good, I might be too upset to care. That wasn’t the case here. This was a screener and I would never buy anything because freaking Tara Reid was in it anyway.

Rant over.

Party Bus to Hell, or as the kids are calling it these days, Bus Party to Hell is a pretty decent flick once it gets going. The story goes that a bunch of young folks are traveling to burning man on a bus driven by Joan (Katz). It just so happens that the bus “breaks down” in the desert at the same spot as a murderous group of Satan worshipers are hanging out. As you might expect, a massacre takes place, leaving 7 people alive on the bus.

bus party to hell review

There is plenty of comedy and gore to feast on in this one and I had a pretty good time chowing down. Lots of boobs, creepy crawly things, killer tattoos, and a demon performed cunnilingus. While some of the acting is a little weak here and there, mostly with the smaller parts, and some of the jokes fall flat, Bus Party is still a really fun ride.

I know that most of this review didn’t really cover the film itself and was rather self-serving, but my interview with Sadie Katz will cover more of that stuff, and I didn’t want to be too repetitive. She was really cool and I loved talking to her.

7/10

bus party to hell review

Sadie Katz has been in Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort and Blood Feast. On April 13th you can see her in Bus Party to Hell. She also is the creator and star of the documentary, The Bill Murry Experience. I got a chance to talk with her about these films and plenty more.

Tara Reid. She’s the top-billed person in this movie, right? But, she’s barely in the movie. Your character is clearly the star of the movie. So I guess the way to ask is – What is it like to deal with that sort of thing? Knowing that someone can show up for a scene and be the big deal.

Yeah, ya know, that’s kind of like a producer’s choice there…um, that’s a really fun and fabulous question. Let me answer diplomatically. You know, it’s one of those things where you go -Well, if that’s what brings eyes to the film. If someone says I’m gonna get this film because Tara Reid is in it, then Tara Reid did you a favor, ya know?

It’s in my contract that I would be 2nd billed. I took a pay cut for that. You should see the new international poster. A huge picture of Tara Reid and I’m the tiniest little thing, you can’t even tell it’s me.

It’s just the way it is.

bus party to hell review

What’s the main goal for you? Will you be happy to settle into a scream queen role, or do you want more?

I would just be happy to make enough money to afford my apartment. In seriousness, I have a 16-year-old and I think it would be pretty cool – I love your questions. They’re so honest – I think it would be pretty cool if I got consistent work. The scream queen thing – I don’t care about being famous. It’s more about getting jobs on a consistent enough basis where I can make a somewhat living doing what I love. The billing isn’t an ego trip, it’s about being able to get work. You have to be able to sell a movie to get your next job.

Unless people know your name, you’re not getting that next job. If I was doing one type of movie that would be cool, but if I were to do movies that were not horror, and, you know, Sundance movies – yeah that’d be fucking great. But, last year 30,000 movies were submitted to Sundance. So, you’ve got to be realistic about what is able to happen.

I looked at your IMDB page and it looks like you’ve got 7..8,…9 movies coming out this year?

Yeah, I do have some feature films that I don’t have top billing on but I’m really crossing my fingers that they do well enough. The horror genre, why it’s really good is that I can also supplement by doing conventions and maybe making a couple bucks. That kind of stuff means I can make a living.

Hopefully, I marry a guy that makes decent money and live happily forever after. Boom!

Actually, I would really like to make my documentaries and I’m a writer. I’d like to write a novel. so, I don’t need to be a super-millionaire but I would like to be a little comfortable, and hopefully not die a miserable death, and be able to afford botox.

Ah, botox. Is that expensive? I have no idea.

No! It’s like 400 bucks. I’m still young so I don’t need that much. You know, you start to get older and say, Oh yeah, I forgot, I’m supposed to have a savings. I don’t have a retirement account and I can barely afford, ya know, a steak dinner

Anyway, I would really like to make documentaries. To be a female Morgan Spurlock – that is my dream. And then do the horror films on the side because I love that too.

Tell me what your experience was like working on the movie. I know that’s a normal generic question, but it is what it is.

Well, I shot it in Vegas and I think it was very interesting because it was an ensemble film, which is always fun. Like American Pie but in horror. We shot it in that little bus. Originally we were going to do it on a sound stage but we ended up using an actual bus from Sin City Party Bus. We kind of had to be in close quarters and it was a challenge for me because my character is filled with all these crazy ass creatures and I’m being possessed by this sexual being. I didn’t have all this space to move while everything is happening inside me, and as an actor – not to get too thespian here, but – one of the tricks you play is that your character always has a secret. This character really did have a secret and I wanted to, hopefully, play the character so if someone watched the movie again they would actually see the progression. That I was tipping my hat to the audience a little bit, just enough so you would see that she really is kinda starting to twitch a little bit.

Even though I play these silly characters, I do try to play them as truthful, fun, and committed as I can. That’s fun for me. If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability and try to play the truth of the character.

It was fun because I was really only acting in about 2 feet and I wanted to see if I could make it cool, and you know, topless. Hopefully, people will see it and go, “That bitch is acting her ass off!”

bus party to hell review

Ok, Bill Murray. I really enjoyed Party Bus and my site focuses on horror but I really wanted to talk to you about The Bill Murray Experience too. So, I will just come out and ask – Do you consider yourself a crazy person?

Um, yes. I am a crazy person. That is a great question. I used to, when I was younger, tried to really run from that but I think while doing the documentary and watching so much footage of myself I started to go – Oh. I’m really a crazy person. Like, I’m different than other people and that’s ok.

If you were savvy, or not so savvy, you would say she’s bipolar. I’m bipolar. I feel things a lot. I’m not bipolar where I’m going to kill you but I’m bipolar where I feel things. I’m very, very intense so if I love something, I LOVE it. I’m very committed to things, and when I feel sad; I’m devastated, and when I’m happy, I’m VERY happy

There was some talk when I was editing whether or not I should say that and I thought it would take away from the journey. People would say that this isn’t about Bill Murray, it’s about being bipolar, and so I was decided that we won’t say that. The savvy people will understand that.

I really took finding Bill Murray to heart and if that makes me crazy to believe in something – I think it’s crazy that most people don’t.

Did you ever get your experience? Like after the movie was done.

No. So two things happened. One is that I went to go promote the film, Bill was playing, so I went to Portland and Seattle to watch his performance and to give out balloons outside the show. So, my son and I got tickets and went to the show, and at the end of the show he goes into the audience and gives out roses to certain audience members. Well, I ended up leaving before he did that. My son said, Why are you going to leave? I said because if he doesn’t hand me a rose I’m going to be upset and if he hands me a rose, I’ll be upset because I’ll just feel strange. It’s just too…I can’t explain it.

Then, I entered a contest for the Bill Murray golf tournament to be his caddy. I figured I’d leave it up to chance. I feel conflicted and I didn’t include this in the documentary because I didn’t want to say anything negative, but in some ways, I feel like Bill doing what he wants to do with fans is a little more about Bill that it is really about fans. Maybe that’s just my own opinion, but yeah I do have a little bit of jealousy because I feel like I’m promoting this and the more I talk about it, everybody is like, “Oh, I was just on the airplane and sat by Bill Murray”, and I’m like, God, as much as I said I was over it at the end of the doc, it’s going to be on my fucking gravestone. Here lies Sadie Katz. She never officially met Bill Murray.

I was going to ask about that. The “journey is the experience” ending to the documentary. It works well for a movie, but it has to be bullshit right?

Well, I have to tell you. We did a screening and it ended with me in tears saying that I am still open to having my experience. I was surprised that the audience didn’t realize that it was like a big cartoon. The people, they were really upset. they loved the doc, it won an award. I flew home and called my editor and said – They don’t understand that the whole documentary is a cartoon. I am the cartoon. I told him that I need a new cartoon at the end and said just trust me. So I sent him this voiceover and said, just animate this voiceover for me.

He did exactly what I wanted and made it even better. I couldn’t have wanted anything more for the doc. Every time I see it I get chills and it is exactly what I wanted.

So, It’s not like I don’t agree with it, I just wish it was another way. It truly is my Bill Murray experience, but I wish it weren’t. My goal was to meet Bill Murray, give him the balloons, and for him to grab me by the hand and run through [the crowd] handing out balloons, then maybe go get tuna melts at a cafe.

It seems so ridiculous, but wonderful.

My heart is still like, boy I hustled and I worked so hard. As an artist you give everything and people shit on your dreams. I wonder what it all means at the end of the day, but I look at the poster, and like, it’s in my house. I finished what I started, and you know, I think maybe that makes me a better person. I accept it. I’m a little nuts but I think when I’m 60 I’ll always have that. No one can take that away from me. It gives me an identity.

I truly wish that I didn’t have to edit this interview down so much. Sadie was a delight to talk to. So sincere and hilarious. Hopefully, I will get to talk more with her about her next project.

bus party to hell review

Casey Bartsch is a horror novelist and film critic. You can find this and other reviews – as well as top 10’s, interviews, and news – at www.FullBlownPanicAttack.com

He also recently started a youtube channel to go with the site that you can see here, but it is very early days on that.

You may find him and other like-minded people in the Facebook group, Horror, Horror on the Wall.

 

Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard

Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard

New movies from Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”), Jean-Luc Godard (“The Image Book”) and Oscar-winning “Ida” director Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”) join previously announced Solo: A Star War Story at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, making for a lineup that’s considerably less starry — at least by Hollywood standards — than in years past.Apart from Lee, films with American connections are few and far between. “It Follows” director David Robert Mitchell will present his 140-minute thriller Under the Silver Lake; Egyptian-made “Yomeddine” was directed by NYU Tisch graduate A.B. Shawky; and Brazilian director Joe Penna (whose English-language “Arctic” will bow in the Midnight section) resides in Los Angeles.

At the press conference in Paris, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux explained that his programming team deliberately selected work by lesser-known and in some cases unheard-of directors. Conspicuous absences include a number of “the usual suspects” — established directors such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Mike Leigh to whom Cannes typically invites high-profile spots for each new film. Also missing is Naomi Kawase from a lineup that is otherwise heavy with Asian directors, including a pair of Iranians: Jafar Panahi with “Three Faces” and Asghar Farhadi, who made opening-night selection“Everybody Knows” (starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem) in Spain.

The competition program includes just three female filmmakers, prompting Frémaux to reiterate his position that “the films that were selected were chosen for their own intrinsic qualities,” not the gender of their directors. Acknowledging the importance of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, he said, “The world will never be the same again … and we will question our own practices about the gender parity” in salaries and jury representation, but stressed that “there will never be a selection with a positive discrimination for women.”

Frémaux countered criticisms that the festival may be losing its power to attract high-profile films, unconvincingly suggesting that prize-winning directors Xavier Dolan and Jacques Audiard had not turned down a formal invitation to screen in Cannes, but rather, were still editing their respective films, “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan” and “The Sisters Brothers.” And yet, he admitted that American companies in particular can get nervous about how a film’s reception  in Cannes can impact its awards and box office chances, admitting, “When you are on a strategy of a late [fall] release, Cannes might not be the ideal place to show a film.”

Even a cursory survey of past lineups reveals that many films chosen for official selection already have French distribution, which is frequently timed to the days and weeks immediately following the festival. This phenom illustrates not only the way French companies leverage Cannes for publicity, but also the enormous influence they wield over the selection of such films in the first place — nowhere more evident this year than in the exclusion of Netflix from competition.

Frémaux explained that he had personally appealed to Netflix honchos Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos not to pull their films from the festival, and yet, under pressure from the French industry (where a law insists upon a three-year window between theatrical release and streaming), Cannes was forced to exclude them from competition unless Netflix agreed to sell theatrical rights to a French distributor. “We made offers on two films owned by Netflix,” said Frémaux, “and there were candidates for the theatrical distribution of those films,” including the restoration of Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind,” which Frémaux sorely wanted to invite.

Several more movies may be announced in the days to come, including a couple midnight screenings. Asked about whether Lars von Trier (whose “The House That Jack Built” would be a likely candidate) is still persona non grata with the festival, Frémaux enigmatically replied, “We will answer in a few days.”

At just 17 titles, the competition lineup is currently the smallest in decades, although it should be noted that 2017 Palme d’Or winner “The Square” was a late addition to last year’s lineup. Frémaux specifically hinted that they would have liked to invite Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” which is currently tied up in a legal dispute, and said discussions are still underway with Paolo Sorrentino about his two-part “Loro,” the first half of which opens in Italy before Cannes.

Scheduled to kick off a month after the inaugural television-focused Cannes Series event, the festival will unspool from May 8-19 — which is the earliest the festival has taken place in more than 20 years. The parallel Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week programs will take place during the same dates, but technically fall outside the “official selection,” and as such, will announce their lineups later in April.

2018 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP

OPENER

“Everybody Knows” (Asghar Farhadi) 

COMPETITION

“Ash Is Purest White” (Jia Zhang-Ke)

“At War” (Stéphane Brizé)

“BlacKkKlansman” (Spike Lee) 

“Burning” (Lee Chang-dong)

“Capernaum” (Nadine Labaki)

“Cold War” (Pawel Pawlikowski)

“Dogman” (Matteo Garrone)

“Girls of the Sun” (Eva Husson)

“The Image Book” (Jean-Luc Godard)

“Lazzaro Felice” (Alice Rohrwacher)

“Leto” AKA “Summer” (Kirill Serebrennikov)

“Netemo Sametemo” AKA “Asako I & II” (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)

“Shoplifters” (Kore-Eda Hirokazu)

“Sorry Angel” (Christophe Honoré)

“Three Faces” (Jafar Panahi)

“Under the Silver Lake” (David Robert Mitchell)

“Yomeddine” (A.B. Shawky)

Solo: A Star Wars Story

UN CERTAIN REGARD

“Angel Face” (Vanessa Filho)

“Border” (Ali Abbasi) — PICTURED

“El Angel” (Luis Ortega)

“Euphoria” (Valeria Golino)

“Friend” (Wanuri Kahiu)

“The Gentle Indifference of the World” (Adilkhan Yerzhanov)

“Girl” (Lukas Dhont)

“The Harvesters” (Etienne Kallos)

“In My Room” (Ulrich Köhler)

“Little Tickles” (Andréa Bescond & Eric Métayer)

“Manto” (Nandita Das)

“My Favorite Fabric” (Gaya Jiji)

“Sextape” AKA “On Your Knees, Guys” (Antoine Desrosières)

Sofia” (Meyem Benm’Barek)

OUT OF COMPETITION

Solo: A Star Wars Story

“Le Grand Bain” (Gilles Lellouche)

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” (Ron Howard)

 

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS

“Arctic” (Joe Penna)

“Gongjak” AKA “The Spy Gone North” (Yoon Jong-Bing)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“Dead Souls” (Wang Bing)

“La Traversée” (Romain Goupil)

“O Grande Circo Místico” (Carlo Diegues)

“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” (Wim Wenders)

“The State Against Mandela and the Others” (Nicolas Champeaux & Gilles Porte)

“10 Years in Thailand” (Aditya Assarat, Wisit Sasanatieng, Chulayarnon Sriphol & Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

“To the Four Winds” (Michel Toesca)

Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rule Change

Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rule Change

Ted Sarandos says Netflix won’t be going to Cannes this year.

Netflix’s chief content officer says that the festival sent a clear message with a new rule that bans any films without theatrical distribution in France from playing in competition. Netflix could screen some of its upcoming movies out of competition, but Sarandos says that doesn’t make sense for the streaming service.

“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” Sarandos says. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”

Netflix made a big splash at the prestigious film festival last year with two movies that showed in competition: Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories.” But after the 2017 announcement, French theaters owners and unions protested the inclusion of these films to Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of Cannes. Netflix was amenable to having their movies play on big screens in France, but a law in the country requires movies to not appear in home platforms for 36 months after their theatrical release.

Netflix has had day-and-date theatrical releases for such titles as “Mudbound,” Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father,” “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories.”

Sarandos will not personally be attending Cannes in May, but some of his executives will be there. “It is not a coincidence that Thierry also banned selfies this year,” Sarandos says, of another new rule that doesn’t allow guests to snap pictures on the red carpet. “I don’t know what other advances in media Thierry would like to address.”

Here, Sarandos spoke with Variety about the Netflix rule change.

Are you deciding not to participate in Cannes this year?
Well, it was not our decision to make. Thierry announced the change in their qualification rules [that] requires a film to have distribution in France to get in, which is completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world. Film festivals are to help films get discovered so they can get distribution. Under those rules, we could not release our films day-and-date to the world like we’ve released nearly 100 films over the last couples of years. And if we did that, we’d have to hold back that film from French subscribers for three years under French law. Therefore, our films they are not qualified for the Cannes Film Festival competition.

And you aren’t taking movies to the festival out of competition?
No. I don’t think there would be any reason to go out of competition. The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule.

Were you surprised by the rule? Netflix had the two biggest English-language releases at last year’s Cannes.
I would say not just on the English-language side. I think they were the biggest films in the world last year with Bong Joon-ho and Noah Baumbach and the star power we were able to bring — Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, it goes on and on. We loved the festival. We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. It’s just that the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema. We are 100% about the art of cinema. And by the way, every other festival in the world is too.

Did you talk to Thierry before he made the rule change?
I believe it was not just Thierry’s decision. I think it was the decision of his board, which is made up of several exhibitors. I know we didn’t have any conversation with Thierry. I read about it in the press.

In interviews, Thierry said that “the Netflix people loved the red carpet,” but your “model is now the opposite” of what Cannes does. Do you agree with that?
No, obviously not. Do we love the red carpet? I love our filmmakers being on those red carpets. Of course. It’s a very glamorous, very fun event for filmmakers. That is beside the point. That is true of every festival. Last year we were jointly celebrating the art of cinema at Cannes. The divergence is this decision to define art by the business model. In that way, yes, we have diverged.

Will you or other Netflix employees be attending Cannes?
I personally won’t be attending myself. But we will have people there who are in the business of acquiring films, because many films will be there without distribution.

So you could end up buying a movie that’s in competition?
Yes 100%. We don’t discriminate that way.

Netflix acquires movies from film festivals all the time. Ultimately, this rule seems to be about preventing a movie from entering Cannes as a Netflix release.
It was a puzzle to me. Keep in mind last year at Sundance, we produced the film that won the jury prize [“I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore”], and we acquired “Mudbound” in the biggest acquisition of the festival.

Have you had conversations with your filmmakers about Cannes?
We’ve talked to a lot of our filmmakers after the rule change. When we went into making these films and acquiring these films, that rule wasn’t in place. That was a change in dynamics.

Do you think Cannes might change its mind in the future?
Yeah. I do have faith that Thierry shares my love for cinema and would be a champion of changing that when he realizes how punitive this rule is to filmmakers and film lovers.

What is your message for the international film community?
We hope that they do change the rules. We hope that they modernize. But we will continue to support all films and all filmmakers. We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back. Thierry had said in his comments when he announced his change that the history of the Internet and the history of Cannes are two different things. Of course they are two different things. But we are choosing to be about the future of cinema. If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that’s fine.

Norway’s Maipo Prepares Dystopian Thriller ‘Fortress,’ Season 2 of ‘State of Happiness’

Norway’s Maipo Prepares Dystopian Thriller ‘Fortress,’ Season 2 of ‘State of Happiness’

Leading Norwegian company Maipo is developing “Fortress,” an ambitious dystopian thriller, and is preparing the second season of “State of Happiness” (“Lykkeland”), the historical series which is competing this week at Canneseries.

“Fortress” is created and penned by two high-profile Norwegian screenwriters: John Kåre Raake, whose track record includes Nordic blockbusters such as “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug’s disaster movie, and “Ragnarok, a family film based on Viking mythology;” and Linn-Jeanethe Kyed, who notably co-wrote “Børning” and “Børning 2,” a action-comedy movie franchise set in the world of illegal sports car racing, and Benjamin Ree’s critically acclaimed documentary feature about the Norwegian chess prodigy, Magnus Carlsen.

“Fortress” takes place in a near future in Norway which is now secluded from the rest of the world by a wall built by the nationalistic government. Norwegians live in absolute sovereignty, relying only on their own homegrown resources and caring solely about national affairs. But when a malicious epidemic starts spreading in the country, officials embark on a race against time to find who is behind the epidemic and seek help to find a cure from foreign organizations which are reluctant to provide any support.

Synnøve Hørsdal, who is producing “Fortress” with Ales Ree at Maipo, said the concept of the series echoes some tendencies of the politics happening in the western world today.

The producer said that in addition to examining the consequences of political decisions that have been made, it will mostly be a suspenseful character driven thriller.

Meanwhile, Maipo is also developing the second season of “State of Happiness” with Mette M. Bølstad (“Nobel”) back on board to write the show. Set to world premiere in competition at Canneseries on Tuesday, the first season of “State of Happiness” takes place in the summer of 1969 in the coastal town of Stavanger and follows four young characters who come from different backgrounds and are thrown into a whirlwind of opportunity during the oil boom which turned Norway into one of the world’s most prosperous countries.

“State of Happiness”‘s second season which will set the action five years later years afterwill also bring back the cast, including British actor Bart Edwards (“UnREAL”), as well as newcomers Anne Regine Ellingsæter Malene Wadel and Amund Harboe.

Hørsdal said one of the biggest challenges Maipo faced to make “State of Happiness” was raising the financing for the 10 million euros series. “Everybody says ‘we want to make different shows that are not Nordic Noir but the reality is that it’s difficult to raise financing for ambitious drama series that are not crime-based.”

Maipo is behind some of Norway’s biggest films, such as “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King,” and Anne Sewitsky’s anticipated “Sonja – The White Swan” about Sonja Henie, the famous ice skater-turned-Hollywood star.

Box Office: ‘A Quiet Place’ Sounds Off With Huge $50 Million Debut

Box Office: ‘A Quiet Place’ Sounds Off With Huge $50 Million Debut

Paramount Pictures’ thriller directed by John Krasinski soared past estimates to a massive $50.3 million opening in 3,508 theaters. That’s enough to land it the second highest domestic opening of the year to date behind “Black Panther,” which opened in February with $202 million. Since its debut at South by Southwest, .It currently holds an solid 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a B+ CinemaScore.“This much bigger than expected debut comes in an era of ongoing popularity for the horror genre that in North America alone last year generated over $1 billion in box office,” Paul​ Dergarabedian, a media analyst at comScore, said.

Paramount’s president of domestic distribution Kyle Davies, attributed the film’s success to positive word of mouth following

“There was a lot of momentum going into the weekend that never stopped,” Davies said. “John Krasinski has emerged as an incredible filmmaker with a story that’s simple, but has clearly resonated with audiences.”
“We could not be more pleased with the result this weekend,” Universal’s head of distribution Jim Orr said. “Kay Cannon and her directorial debut knocked it out of the park. It really overperformed.”

Meanwhile, the eighth frame of “Black Panther” landed at No. 4 with $8.8 million in 2,747 locations. Domestically, the Marvel film earned $665.4 million, making it the third-biggest release of all time behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avatar.” Globally, “Black Panther” has grossed $1.29 billion.

Rounding out the top five is Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions’ “I Can Only Imagine,” with $8.4 million in 2,894 theaters. The faith-based film has been a force at the box office, making $69 million in four weeks.

Two other newcomers, “Chappaquiddick” and “The Miracle Season” premiered slightly above estimates. Entertainment Studios’ “Chappaquiddick” opened with $5.9 million at 1,560 locations, while LD Entertainment’s “The Miracle Season” saw $4 million at 1,707 locations.

While the 2018 box office is down 2.1% compared to 2017, this weekend is up 35% compared to the same weekend last year.

The Darkest Nothing: Paraphrenia (2018) Teaser And Posters

The movie is a cyber crime psychological thriller about the first technically possible “red room” with live video streaming out of a deep web site, with the psychiatrist who is responsible for it using projection technology and the whole platform for manipulating the viewers, who indirectly submit themselves into a deep and disturbing psychotherapy with subliminal messages and explanations about dreams, fears and pop culture references, movies and music, and how they affect the audience subliminally.

This is the first feature length film out of the series, with 5 short movies as bonus material, showcasing the whole back story of the psychiatrist, his entire group and how they got into the underground horror deep web business.

Gallery and more info below!!