Category Archives: Science Fiction

Arri’s expansion of the Franz Wieser Grant Program gives new filmmakers more reason to work harder

One of the biggest camera and imaging giants based in Munich, Arri, has today expanded its grant program, the Franz Wieser Grant program, to accommodate for creativity from aspiring filmmakers and directors.

The Franz Wieser Grant program is in charge of providing aspiring filmmakers access to all Arri products and resources so that can practice and gain experience through shooting documentaries and short videos without compromising their portfolio.

The expansion of this already fantastic program means aspiring filmmakers can now do much more than create short videos, or feature videos or music videos, they can now try their hands at some real filmmaking.

Previously named as Amira Grant Program and Launched nine (9) years ago, the grant program has since been renamed after one of Arri’s hardworking executives, Franz Wieser – a man who never tires of empowering small filmmakers. Franz died in 2019 after which the grant was named after him.

Many rising star filmmakers have been beneficiaries of this grant program and are more often than not being nominated for awards in the filmmaking industry.

Speaking about the expansion, the chairman of the grant program, Ksenia Lappo said, “Our goal is to challenge and inspire filmmakers to create the best projects they possibly can.”

This statement in itself shows there’s still a lot the grant program has for its aspiring talents.

Applying for the Franz Wieser Grant program is open all year round although beneficiaries are chosen by how interesting the grant committee sees their proposal. Once someone is selected to join the program, he or she automatically qualifies for the technical support and equipment package offered by the grants.

Adam Wingard, American Filmmaker behind the acclaimed “Godzilla vs Kong” is set to direct Comic Adaptation ‘Hardcore’ at Universal Pictures

Off the back of producing the successful but controversial sci-fi/Action “Godzilla vs. Kong” movie, Adam Wingard does not look like he’s going to be resting on his laurels anytime soon.

The American filmmaker and director have landed the role of directing and adapting “Hardcore” from a comic book series into a movie. The comic book series, written by Robert Kirkman (known popularly for creating “The Walking Dead” series) and Marc Silvestri is a sci-fi/Action thriller, something Wingard is not a stranger to.

The comic book follows the journey of a soldier who wants to save the world without having to play dirty. As of the time of this writing, the script for the adaptation, tailored to specific outlines made by Kirkman is said to have been completed before announcing Wingard as the director of the movie.

Wingard will be adapting the script with up-and-coming filmmaker Will Simmons. Although Wingard, alongside his company Montauk Chair, will produce the movie, Kirkman, Sean, and Bryan Furst are just some of the other executive producers that would have to work alongside Wingard at one point or the other.

Following the success of “Godzilla vs. Kong”, especially with the kaiju showdown amassing well over $400 million despite being released simultaneously on HBO max and theatrically, there is a lot to look forward to on Wingard’s new “hardcore” project.

Amazon Purchases the Iconic Film Studio MGM for $8.45 Billion

Amazon announces the purchase of the studio Behind the James Bond Franchise, MGM for $8.45 Billion

Amazon and MGM earlier today announced that an agreement, that will see Amazon acquire the studio and rights to all its works, has been reached between the two companies.

Founded in 1924, MGM has gone from being just a movie-making studio to a giant entertainment company with a rich catalog of films under its name. Alongside the announcement of the merger, the two companies added that all the movies and TV shows owned by MGM would be even more easily accessible now that the two companies are together.

While we cannot say which company is benefitting more from the merger, there is one thing we do know for sure,  Amazon Prime Video subscriptions are about to be worth every single dollar subscribers pay for it. What with the addition of over 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows owned by MGM, it is a good time to be a Prime Video subscriber! Furthermore, Amazon Studios would be looking to revive popular old franchises from the studio such as the incredible 007 series among other classic titles.

Speaking while announcing the deal officially to the public, Senior VP of Amazon Studios and Prime Video, Mike Hopkins, said that “The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of (intellectual property) in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.” During the announcement, Hopkins also briefly mentioned that MGM studios have over 800 global employees, all of whom will be joining the studio to Amazon.

This is not the first time Amazon would be pulling off incredibly expensive acquisitions but the $8.45 Billion deal sure puts it second on the list of Amazon’s expensive company acquisitions.

Although there is no confirmed date on when the merger deal would be approved by a regulatory body governing the whole industry, Variety quoted insiders believe the deal should be done by the end of the year (2021). One of the interesting terms and conditions of the deal is that Amazon will take responsibility for MGM’s debt while the studio will be working as a branch under the Amazon Brand.

In a statement released by MGM’s executive chairman, Kevin Ulrich, he expressed his happiness about the deal saying “I am very proud that MGM’s Lion, which has long evoked the Golden Age of Hollywood, will continue its storied history, and the idea born from the creation of United Artists lives on in a way the founders originally intended, driven by the talent and their vision. The opportunity to align MGM’s storied history with Amazon is an inspiring combination.”

While it is yet to be seen as to whether the next title in the Bond franchise would debut on the Amazon Prime streaming service, there is no denying that the merger can open a whole world of possibilities not only for both companies but also for fans of the various classics mentioned by Hopkins during the deal announcement. Some of the popular titles include Creed; Rocky;  Tomb Raider;  Robocop; Raging Bull; Poltergeist; The James Bond series; The Pink Panther;  Moonstruck;  Fargo (TV Show);  Vikings (TV Show);  The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Show); among others, all of which have generated not just huge revenue for the MGM studio and other marketing companies that own rights to them but also amassed jaw-dropping audience all over the world.

Considering Amazon studio has recently adopted an aggressive commercial fare type of production, it would be really interesting to see how MGM and Amazon handle how to run the new “film division”.

Looking Back: The Fly (1986)

WARNING!! (For those who have not seen this film) This review may contain some spoilers!

The Fly(1986)      Directed by David Cronenberg

Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and John Getz

I’m working on something that will change the world as we know it,” announces Seth to Veronica, the journalist who is looking for a good story. This sentence, in my opinion,  provides the set-up to this movie’s basic premise: A scientist who develops a major breakthrough with the idea to change the world, but a mistake creates some unfortunate results.

The Fly centers on Seth, a scientist who creates a device that teleports objects from one pod to another. Soon after he succeeds with a living organism, he decides to perform the act on himself. However, a fly goes into the pod without his knowledge, resulting in a genetic fusion of man and insect.

This film is a very engaging hybrid of horror, sci-fi, and romance. Jeff Goldblum’s(Seth) and Geena Davis’s(Veronica) romantic chemistry was impressive. I felt that their attraction developed a little quickly, but overall their relationship was organic and believable. The story kept me engaged, and the practical effects still holds up to this day. Those effects definitely made you believe that Seth was plausibly turning into a fly.

If you’re looking for a great Body-Horror movie that blends sci-fi and romance quite effectively, The Fly comes highly recommended. My score: 8.5/10(Add to your horror collection).

Looking Back: Hollow Man(2000)

Hollow Man(2000)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Starring Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Joey Slotnick,  Mary Randle, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Willian Devane, and Rhona Mitra.

I watched Hollow Man  for the first time in over a decade, and I have to say that this movie is still impressive. What would you do if you couldn’t be seen? That is the question this movie explores. It also asks you to imagine the idea of gaining a new power, and then deciding on how to use it, for good or for evil.   Not to start comparing, but this film effectively examines the theme of invisibility more than The Invisible Man(2020), in my opinion.

For those of you who are not familiar with the plot, here is the basic premise: A research scientist decides to makes himself invisible, but his new ability produces some unfortunate results.

There’s a lot that can be said about Hollow Man, but this review may turn into a term paper, lol. However, you can not deny that the mix of sci-fi and horror, and the top-notch performances, particularly Kevin Bacon’s role as the main research scientist, gave the viewer some thoughts on the dynamics of invisibility and its effects on individuals and the larger society.

If you haven’t seen this film, you should definitely watch it and add it to your collection. My score: 9/10(Add to your library)

Christopher Levy Launches CINEFLIK a new streaming service that cares


The film industry is ruled by companies that value corporate gain over artistry and films that tell real stories. These companies don’t give independent filmmakers a chance. In a time where it is so important that voices are heard through the imaginative minds of the creatives out there with a dream. 
 

I have been in the film industry for two decades. I have seen how they operate with a tunnel vision focus on numbers and sales. Large studios and others are taking advantage of independent filmmakers. They are not given a fair chance to showcase their talents, and they are not being adequately paid for their art. I have been a producer for several studios and I have seen how they turn everything into numbers. There is no creativity, there is no freedom. Everything turned into a walking barcode that depicted your worth. All you look for is the next “big hit”. The old saying that you are as good as your last movie constantly in playback in your head. 

I quit everything in 2019 and set to reinvent myself and what I stand for. I started my own production company to seek out true talent with beautiful stories, now adding to the distribution side, having a presence in Cannes, Berlin, and L.A’s AFM. It is not enough that these films are being made, but they deserve the opportunity to be seen.

CINEFLIK is a streaming service built for people who want exposure, a platform to showcase creativity and talent. Whilst we are not as established as Amazon, HBO max, and others, what sets us apart is that we care. We care about the integrity of filmmaking and the efforts that you have put in, as an artist to create these films. You are not just a number to us, we will also put in our all to make sure your story has the opportunity for maximum exposure. That is why I have also partnered with INFILMS Magazine to promote filmmakers. 

A streaming service that cares about art and also the filmmakers 

With CINEFLIK, the film owners decide on the price of rental and receive a cut of 80%. We will give you a fair price because we understand how other larger companies will try and take advantage. We will not compromise the opportunity for distribution with fair compensation. For example, Amazon pays only 6 cents per hour, for up to 99,999 hours streamed in a period of 365 days, tied in with an exclusive rights clause. Not only are they taking advantage, but they are making sure that you are legally unable to sell or share your stories with others. If you rent your film for $1.99, you will get $1.59 with CINEFLIK as opposed to $0.06 you would get from Amazon, with 100 downloads is a difference between $159 and $6 with Amazon.
We only keep 20% to maintain the site.

Unlike other services we also don’t follow a set of rules and requirements that may restrict distribution. For instance, Redbox has a list of preferred titles and requests, like; Action genre with a recognizable cast, supernatural horror, and family films that are animated standalone features. They only accept “new” titles that have been produced in a rolling two-year time span, they don’t consider films that have previously been available on DVD or via SVOD streaming services, NC-17 ratings and features under 80 minutes are out of the questions and don’t even think about direct television in the Comedy or Drama genre or Foreign Language films or Documentaries. With all these restrictions, they are not accepting of a variety of content, effectively closing doors to many filmmakers. On top of that, they set the price and pay around $2.75 to $3.50 per disc, this is largely dependent on the cast, genre, and a fit for their customers. A factor that is completely determined by themselves, which doesn’t sound fair at all. The film owners would have to pay for the DVDs and they would have complete control of how many times your movie is rented. We do not want to go down this path, CINEFLIK is fair, we set the pricing together with the film owner, we respect that they deserve to have their films and shows distributed at a fair price. We respect and accept all submissions of genres, the audience is always evolving and we want to anticipate what they want by providing a range of films and shows. 

This marks a new chapter to promote independent filmmakers in a way that does not involve bias or pure judgment of how much money they can generate. CINEFLIK carries everything, including, Classic Movies, Independent Films, short and full-length Features, as well as all genres of Television shows. We embrace creativity and have a thirst for real stories and originality. We want your trust in your films. Let us take you onboard and together we can discover a whole new audience for you. I am excited about the future, we can challenge the underlying issues of the film industry together and pave the way for real stories and talent that is often overlooked by Hollywood executives. 

Let’s take this challenge on together, no more waiting, no more negotiations, no more banging on the wrong door. We are here to make it happen.

You can access CINEFLIK here http://www.cineflik.com
Membership is always free.

Taking a Second Look: The Cell(2000)

The Cell(2000)

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D’Onofrio

I’ve seen The Cell for the first time in about 20 years and I am still quite impressed with it. What makes this movie interesting is how it explores the subconscious of the human mind.

The Cell is about a social worker named Kathryn who, via technology, goes into the imaginations of her patients to help them with their inner turmoil. The FBI, aware of her expertise, asks her to go into the mind of a comatose serial killer named Carl in order to find his latest victim.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but what made this film impressive was the story, characters, and in particular, the special effects.  The visual effects were used very effectively in giving us a real sense of Carl’s mental state. They were also used very successfully to show how we visualize who we are, and as a result, internalize it.

If you’re in the mood for a good psychological thriller/horror movie with a bit of sci-fi, The Cell comes highly recommended. My score: 8/10(purchase-worthy).

Warner Bros. Moves fourth Matrix Film to 2022

Off the back of moving Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 to new release dates, Warner Bros. has announced the change in date of another upcoming highly anticipated movie.

This was announced in line with the huge changes Warner Bros. has been making. Matrix 4, which was initially scheduled to release May 21, 2021, is now scheduled for April 1, 2022.  This decision came as a result of the pause in production which was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming of the movie was carried out in Germany before the pandemic and is proposed to start next month.

Many of the original casts of the franchise such as Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Neil Patrick Haris are back for the fourth installment of the movie. The franchise’s co-creator, Lana Wachowski, also remains one of the directors of the movie.

In other news, Warner Bros. has removed “Witches” from its scheduled release date and is yet to announce a date for the movie. The movie which stars Anne Hathaway is directed by Robert Zemeckis and was initially scheduled for release on October 8, 2020.

In addition, the sci-fi action movie “Godzilla vs Kong” is now scheduled by Warner Bros. to release May 21, 2021; the date which was originally scheduled for Matrix 4 release. Also, Warner bros. moved its upcoming live-action comedy film, “Tom and Jerry” to March 5, 2021, from December 23, 2020.

 The Hollywood studios also announced it will be releasing one of its untitled horror movies on Jun. 24, 2020 while also removing another untitled Warner Bros. event film originally scheduled for Oct. 16, 2020, to a date later to be announced.

All in all, the studio changed the release dates of 6 of its upcoming movies while also removing two other ones from their scheduled release date with no date yet to be announced. 

2021 Oscars Postponed by two months due to Coronavirus Pandemic

With the world adjusting to the Coronavirus pandemic with various events being canceled and the deployment of several health guidelines, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced its 93rd Academy Awards event has been postponed.

The announcement came last week the 2021 Oscars which was scheduled for Feb. 28 will be delayed by two months and the new date being April 25, 2021. This announcement is in line with Variety’s report in May in which the report said the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was planning on delaying the upcoming event due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released by Dawn Hudson (CEO) and David Rubin (Academy President), they said: “For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control. This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark a historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema”.

Also, the academy announced that the annual Governors Awards gala scheduled to take place in November has been postponed with a date later to be announced. Also, the opening of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures building in  Los Angeles, California has been pushed back to April next year.

Alongside postponing the date of their major events, the organization also updated its eligibility rules for the 2021 Oscars Academy Awards. In the new rules, feature films that want to be nominated for an award must have a release date between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb 28. 2021. The new submission deadline for specialty categories has been pushed to Dec. 30, 2020, while submission deadline for general categories (such as Best Picture, Original song, Best Actor and Actress, etc.) is now Jan. 15, 2021.

The novel Coronavirus outbreak has caused a lot of changes in the entertainment industry. Many studios have turned to digital distribution platforms for the release of some of their movies due to the shutdown of movie theaters. Some other studios however decided to postponed their upcoming blockbuster movies with dates to be announced when movie cinemas reopen.

There is still no certainty what the future holds for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards telecast but we will definitely keep you updated. 

Universal Moves Tom Hanks’ Post-Apocalypse Movie ‘Bios’ Back to 2021

Following the different release date changes and adjustment the coronavirus pandemic has forced the entertainment industry to make, Universal Pictures has decided to move Tom Hank’s ‘Bios’ from its initial release date of Oct. 2, 2020, to April 16, 2021.

‘Bios’ starring Tom Hanks and directed by Miguel Sapochnik is a post-apocalypse sci-fi movie written by Craig Luck and Ivor Power. The executive producers are Adams Merims, Craig Luck, Zemeckis, Miguel Sapochnik, and Andy Berman.

The movie follows the journey of an ailing inventor who is one of the remaining survivors on earth after a cataclysmic solar event almost wiped out all of mankind. Whilst living in his underground bunker and with time running out due to his terminal illness, the inventor builds a robot to protect his dog when he dies. The robot, though built to protect his ailing creator’s dog soon learns about friendship, love, and what it means to be human. Caleb Landry Jones plays the robot in the movie.

The new release date was announced shortly after Warner Bros. moved eight of their upcoming movies to new dates with Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman 1984 now scheduled for release on Oct. 2.

In other news, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions’ psychological horror movie, ‘You Should Have Left’, is set to release digitally via premium video-on-demand instead of its planned theater release. The release date is set for June 18, 2020 (U.S.). This is not the only Universal Pictures movie set to be released on digital rental services. “The King of Staten Island” directed by Judd Apatow which was originally scheduled for a theatrical rollout, was also dropped for rent via premium video on-demand services.

Other upcoming Universal Picture movies including Fast and Furious’ latest installment, Minions 2, Sing 2 have all been rescheduled to release in 2021.