Saturday, August 29, 2020

Movie Review: The One and Only Ivan on Disney+

© Disney+
The One and Only Ivan isn’t as emotional as it should be
by Justin Moore

Growing up near Tacoma, WA, I always heard about Ivan the gorilla and his time at the B & I Shopping Center. I never had the chance to visit Ivan when he left the shopping center in 1994 to go to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle before going to a zoo in Atlanta. I’ve been to the B & I several times and every time I am there, I feel terrible that Ivan spent 27 years there without going outside. His story inspired the book The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate in 2012. The novel spawned a spinoff and the newest film, The One and Only Ivan on Disney+.

Ivan lives at the Big Top mall where he performs for mall-goers alongside various animals. He has lived there for quite some time with his best friend, Bob, who is a dog. Ivan was taken in by Mack (Bryan Cranston) after he got separated from his family in the wild. When a baby elephant enters the Big Top mall and is mistreated, Ivan plans to have all the animals, including himself, escape captivity.

The film has an impressive voice cast for the animals at the mall. Voice actors like Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Chaka Khan, and Helen Mirren give soft spoken performances that capture their feelings of being held in captivity and having to perform every day. Sam Rockwell is perfect as Ivan. You can feel his desire to live in the wild after he starts to piece together his past with his family. Danny DeVito also gives a great voice performance. I enjoy hearing DeVito’s voice, even if I am reminded every time of his character on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He gave a more lighthearted performance and provided the comic relief in the film. The film easily could have turned Bryan Cranston’s character, Mack, into a villain. He is a likable character despite wearing out the animals and pushing them to their limits. He enjoys his job and loves being around the animals, but often looses his temper when it comes to the animals performing. There are some endearing moments between Ivan and Mack, which highlights the relationship between the two. 

© Disney+

Going into the film, I expected some emotional moments since I was aware of the story and how Ivan was treated. With a film of this subject matter, it was incredibly short. At only an hour and thirty minutes, many of Ivan’s decisions moved quickly. With the film’s quick pace, it undermines the emotion weight of the film and the impact of Ivan’s story. If the film ran for about 20 more minutes, it wouldn’t have felt rushed and I probably would have cried at the end. There is a point in the film where Ivan tries to escape the Big Top mall with the other animals after he sees Mack training the new elephant, seeing she is clearly tired. His plan ultimately doesn’t work out and from there on, everything Ivan does with the other animals feels underdeveloped. It was almost like the director wanted to quickly get to the end of the film and be done with it.

All the animals in the film look fantastic. From the feathers on the chicken to the trunks on the elephants, everything was detailed which helped the realistic tone of the film. The paintings that Ivan creates towards the end of the film, to send a message about where he wants to be, offers bright moments in what is considered to be a dark place for the animals. People start to notice Ivan’s paintings and catch on to his cry for help, which leads to the most satisfying moment in the film.

When it came to the emotional moments and pacing of the film, I was disappointed. I expected a lot more when it came to Ivan’s story. Besides that, I thought the film was overall pleasing with the cast giving realistic performances to capture how animals may feel in captivity. I wonder if Disney has any plans to make a film based on the spinoff book, The One and Only Bob, which is from the point of view of the dog. A different approach on the story may offer a more dramatic touch to the movie. Plus, it would be nice to hear Danny DeVito again voicing a dog.

Friday, August 28, 2020

ABC reworks the Fall schedule

 


Back in May, ABC had some high hopes for the 2020 Fall schedule ... which has been completely revised due to production delays that are a result of the ongoing pandemic in the US. You can click the link to see what might have been. To counteract the dearth of scripted series, ABC has a different plan of attack to fill those empty time slots -- unscripted series, a lot of which can be produced with minimal interaction between participants and with smaller and remote crews. ABC even went so far as to confine the latest The Bachelorette hopefuls in a production 'bubble', much as CBS did with Love Island and Big Brother, keeping everyone quarantined for two weeks before production began to ensure no one would be infected by the time cameras rolled. Of course, that plan got completely screwed up when host Chris Harrison thought he could leave the bubble to take his son to college and then return as if there was no pandemic. Former Bachelorette Jojo Fletcher will fill in for several episodes with ABC promising Harrison will return for the finale.

ABC's latest game show revival, Supermarket Sweep hosted by Leslie Jones, went into production along with Card Sharks and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? And plans are still on track to bring the celebs back to the ballroom on September 14. Sadly, Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews will not be joining them in what may turn out to be one of the most bone-headed instances of trying to "fix" something by replacing the two things that weren't actually broken. Will Tyra Banks be able to draw in a younger crowd, or will the older viewers simply revolt over ABC's recast of the hosts?

Below is ABC's current partial slate for the Fall season, with programming for Wednesdays still a big question mark. Keep in mind, this is always subject to change at a moment's notice.

SUNDAY

  • 7:00 PM - AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS
  • 8:00 PM - SUPERMARKET SWEEP (NEW SERIES)
  • 9:00 PM - WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?
  • 10:00 PM - CARD SHARKS


MONDAY

  • 8:00 PM - DANCING WITH THE STARS
  • 10:00 PM -  EMERGENCY CALL


TUESDAY

  • 8:00 PM - THE BACHELORETTE


WEDNESDAY

  • TO BE ANNOUNCED


THURSDAY

  • 8:00 PM - CELEBRITY FAMILY FEUD
  • 9:00 PM - PRESS YOUR LUCK
  • 10:00 PM - MATCH GAME


FRIDAY

  • 8:00 PM - SHARK TANK
  • 9:00 PM - 20/20


NBC revises its Fall schedule

© NBC
 

With most television production at a standstill, except for a few isolated cases and those series that film outside of the United States, the traditional Fall season is going to look quite different this year. All of the major networks unveiled what one called 'hopeful' schedules but the reality of the continuing pandemic situation in the US is going to impact what we see in the Fall.

NBC had previously announced a Fall schedule but that has gone by the wayside as the network unveils a new plan to get the 2020-2021 season started as its regular series begin the slow process of returning to production, and dealing with how to film shows with multiple cast members on set at the same time. For now, NBC is planning a rolling launch of shows for the Fall, with some of the regular series premiering in November (again, this is all in pencil at the moment), while the bulk of the shows won't return to the airwaves until 2021. Of NBC's series currently at a standstill, The Blacklist is expected to be the first to resume production in New York. To fill the empty time slots, NBC will roll out its roster of new and returning reality series and game shows, acquired programming, and a remotely produced comedy.

As it stands at this point in time, Canadian medical drama Transplant will fill in for New Amsterdam, while American Ninja Warrior and Ellen's Game of Games will take over for The Voice. A revival of The Weakest Link will fill Manifest's time slot, and remotely produced comedy Connecting... will sub for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. NBC has not found a replacement yet for the new Law & Order spin-off with Christopher Meloni, but the Thursday time slot may be filled with a newsmagazine. All of the series mentioned here won't return until 2021, along with Good Girls, Making It, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Kenan, Mr. Mayor, Young Rock, That’s My Jam, Small Fortune, True Story, and Who Do You Think You Are?

With that, here are the current NBC premiere plans for September, October and November, which should be considered subject to change:

September

  • Transplant (Tuesday, 9/1, 10-11 PM)
  • American Ninja Warrior (Monday, 9/7, 8-10 PM)
  • NBC Sunday Night Football (Thursday, 9/10 and Sunday, 9/13, 8:20 PM ET)
  • Weakest Link (Monday, 9/28, 10-11 PM)
  • Dateline NBC (Friday, 9/25, 10-11 PM)


October

  • Connecting … (Thursday, 10/1, 8:30-9 PM)
  • Ellen’s Game of Games (Tuesday, 10/6, 8-10 PM, then shifting to 9-10 p.m. on 10/13)
  • The Voice (Monday, 10/19, 8-10 PM, Tuesday, 10/20, 8-10 PM then switches to 8-9 PM on 10/27)
  • Superstore (Thursday, 10/22, 8-8:30 PM)


November

  • This Is Us (Tuesday, 11/10, 9-11 PM; returns to 9-10 PM on 11/17)
  • Chicago Med (Wednesday, 11/11, 8-9 PM)
  • Chicago Fire (Wednesday, 11/11, 9-10 PM)
  • Chicago P.D. (Wednesday, 11/11, 10-11 PM)
  • Law & Order: SVU (Thursday, 11/12, 9-10 PM)
  • The Blacklist (Friday, 11/13, 8-9 PM)

Trailer Roundup from Netflix, Crackle, HBO Max, HBO, WeTV

August 28

 


Two dojos. One epic rivalry. The Cobra Kai legacy continues only on Netflix. Seasons 1 and 2 strike back August 28th. Season 3 enters the tournament in 2021.
 

September 1

 


An egotistical megalomaniac CEO leads her staff on a corporate team-building trip that involves a weekend of caving in New Mexico. When they become trapped underground after a cave-in, the group must pull together to survive. Watch Corporate Animals September 1st On Crackle.
 

September 3

 


Two androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet. As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task. Raised by Wolves series premiere Thursday, September 3 on HBO Max.
 

September 9

 


Everyone has space to get organized, and The Home Edit team are the organizational gurus you need! From celebrities like Reese Witherspoon to everyday civilians, Get Organized follows The Home Edit's Clea and Joanna as they use their unique organization system to take spaces from MESS to YES. Get Organized with The Home Edit, September 9 on Netflix.
 

September 10

 


Two years after defeating a satanic cult led by his babysitter Bee, Cole's trying to forget his past and focus on surviving high school. But when old enemies unexpectedly return, Cole will once again have to outsmart the forces of evil. The Babysitter: Killer Queen, September 10 only on Netflix.
 

September 10

 


Reckoning with a different world, Atiye races against time to realize her destiny as the mysterious syndicate behind Serdar threatens the future. The Gift Season 2 premieres September 10 on Netflix.
 

September 17

 


After losing his home to a dragon, Ethan sets out to hunt it down once and for all. A pawn appears by his side and serves to protect his life. But the dangers that lie in wait for Ethan are beyond their imaginations, for when you fight a monster... you just may become one too. Dragon's Dogma premieres September 17 only on Netflix.
 

September 23

 


For some politicians chaos isn't something to fear, it's just part of the game. Agents of Chaos, A timely and revealing look at Russia's interference into the 2016 election, ahead of the 2020 election, debuts September 23, exclusively on HBO.
 

September 23

 


When Enola Holmes—Sherlock’s teen sister—discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord. Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, with Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham-Carter. Watch Enola Holmes, only on Netflix September 23.
 

September 24

 


The Bridezillas are back and ready to slay. These soon to be brides turn up the HEAT and bring the DRAMA and WE can't wait to see it! Bridezillaz premieres September 24th at 10/9c on WeTV.
 

October 17

 


David Byrne’s American Utopia brings the critically acclaimed Broadway show to HBO in a one-of-a-kind film directed by Oscar and Emmy-winner Spike Lee. Recorded during its run at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre in New York City, David Byrne is joined by an ensemble of 11 musicians, singers, and dancers from around the globe, inviting audiences into a joyous dreamworld where human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount. Debuts October 17, exclusively on HBO.
 

October 23

 


Are you a pawn or a queen? The Queen's Gambit, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, only on Netflix on October 23rd.
 

Friday, August 21, 2020

DC FanDome expands to two-part event!

This just in: DC FanDome — the first-of-its-kind virtual experience for DC superfans globally — became too massive to contain in the four dimensions of only a single day on Earth-Prime! And we realized that not even The Flash could get through the entire 100+ hours of programming in 24 hours. With hours upon hours of content and choices of what to watch and explore, DC fans (including DC’s Jim Lee himself!) clamored for a way to access more of what DC FanDome has to offer. So, in order to super-serve the world’s finest fans, DC FanDome has been transformed into a two-part event: the eight-hour DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes show on Saturday, August 22, followed three weeks later by DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse, a 24-hour, on-demand experience accessed via the DCFanDome.com program scheduler on Saturday, September 12.

“This is an incredible way to deliver for our fans and offer them twice the DC FanDome experience,” said Jim Lee. “Seeing all the feedback in real time on social media, we realized that the only way to do ‘Justice’ to DC FanDome was to allow it to evolve and expand into two unique events.”

Completely free to fans worldwide, all DC FanDome content at both events will be presented in nine Earth languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

In addition, the DC FanDome creators (no, not Perpetua) have set their fans free to explore both events on mobile devices. Now fully accessible on your phone or tablet as well as laptop or  desktop, the DC FanDome experience can teleport with you to whichever dimension you choose to travel! Get ready to vibe!

Here’s the scoop on both events:

  • On August 22, fans will be transported into the DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes, the epic world designed personally by Jim Lee and featuring special programming, panels and exclusive reveals from DC films, TV series, games, comics and more. The supercharged eight-hour show will air three times during a 24-hour period, allowing fans all across the world the chance to experience DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes in their own universe. The superpowered event will begin at 10:00 am PDT at DCFanDome.com.
  • On September 12, DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse will offer DC fans the experience of a lifetime, with full access to more than 100 hours of on-demand content, beginning at 10:00 am PDT. This is the time for fans to suit up and determine their own adventure, selecting from exclusive panel sessions, screenings and never-before-seen content from the DC Multiverse of films, television, comics and games. Fans, your timeline awaits — at your own pace and on your own schedule. Choose your path wisely with the help of the official DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse program scheduler found at DCFanDome.com. It doesn’t have the 12th-level intellect of Brainiac, but it will certainly be a great guide to help you explore the Multiverse on September 12!


And it’s not just the adults who get to have all the fun, the adventure is also heating up for young DC Super Hero fans. Launching Saturday, September 12, DC Kids FanDome will offer kids (and their parents) a break from the seemingly endless “at home” summer with a kid-friendly companion event to DC FanDome, accessed separately at DCKidsFanDome.com. The one-dayonly festivities kick off at 10:00 am PDT, and young Super Heroes in training around the world will not want to miss it!

DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes opens its doors on Saturday, August 22, at 1:00 pm EDT / 10:00 am PDT, with an eight-hour show that will air three times during a 24-hour period.

DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse will be unleashed on Saturday, September 12, at 1:00 pm EDT / 10:00 am PDT, with 100+ hours of content available on demand, to watch on your own schedule, for 24 hours.

DC Kids FanDome also launches on Saturday, September 12, at 1:00 pm EDT / 10:00 am PDT, with its own kid-friendly companion site at DCKidsFanDome.com, accessible on demand for 24 hours.

Movie Review: Chemical Hearts

© Amazon Studios

Chemical Hearts presents the world of high school as one of teenage limbo
by Jeremy Fogelman

Star rating: ★★

How many high school “slice of life” movies have there been? More than I can count off the top of my head, that’s for sure -- they often tend to be more in the comedic or comedy/drama direction than straight drama, but it’s not like that’s an unknown genre either. I suppose it makes sense that anyone would try it -- if you were in high school, likely you remembered it as hard or mixed as best. The perfect place for drama and to try to say something important and eternal, emphasis on “try”.

Chemical Hearts comes from writer/director Richard Tanne in his sophomore film effort, although the movie is based on the book “Our Chemical Hearts” by Krystal Sutherland. The movie focuses on seventeen-year old Henry Page (Austin Abrams), a privileged white kid who fancies himself sensitive and talented at writing. As the movie starts, we learn that Henry has been craving the editor-in-chief position at the school newspaper, which I suppose is meant to be hard-hitting on one side and filled with meaningful artistic pieces on the other side.

But he is told that instead of just being handed the position, he will be sharing it with newcomer to the school Grace (Lili Reinhart), but shockingly (to Henry) Grace turns it down. Grace walks with a cane, and has a mysterious traumatic backstory, so naturally Henry needs to figure it out because it’s not just her business, right? Well, the movie does take pains later to have Grace call Henry out for focusing too much on her backstory, but the movie also is handled almost entirely from Henry’s point of view so we get called out as complicit in Henry’s inappropriate curiosity.

Henry bonds with Grace over poetry and the love sonnets of Pablo Neruda, although he is worried about her standoffishness and frank discussion of suicidal thoughts. It is here that the movie makes an excellent point: Being a teenager sucks. It’s not exactly radical new ground, but it’s the wrapper for much of the direction of the movie.


Henry wants to help Grace and “fix her”, which is obviously not something she takes kindly to, and it becomes a classic Harry Potter/Cho Chang situation where Grace is confused about her feelings and how it connects to her traumatic backstory. These two teenagers get intense quickly, which I suppose feels realistic enough, although the movie mainly seems to care about the ephemeral, often devastating nature of first love.

This is contrasted to the two other, very minor relationships in the movie -- Henry’s milquetoast parents, who were high school sweethearts and are nothing but reasonable and supportive, while not being pushovers. Then there are two of Henry’s friends and fellow newspaper writers, two girls that have an extremely tiny storyline of first love in the background of Henry and Grace’s huge story. These friend characters are diverse but have no personality otherwise, so other than the fact that it’s two girls in love, it’s hard to really care about it, because so little time is devoted to them.

The movie has a sort of clichéd angle in a lot of its interactions, with often very cheesy dialogue, but the two leads are pretty good at elevating it. Austin Abrams has a sort of withdrawn, moody energy that feels like he’d be better suited to a more melancholy character, but he does well reacting in subtle ways. Lili Reinhart has a more difficult role, playing a disabled character living through trauma, and it’s clear she tried to be sensitive and accurate about it.

I think she feels like someone that ought to have been the real POV of the movie instead of Henry -- he is the normal dude, the wannabe romantic, and he’s simply not as interesting a character. It’s not a bad movie by any means, it’s paced decently and shot well enough, but in the end it does feel a bit half-baked.
Get it on Apple TV

Star ratings:

  • ★ - Avoid
  • ★★ - Worth a rental/matinee
  • ★★★ - Must See/Add to your library

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Trailer Roundup from Quibi, Hulu, BET, Netflix, Epix, Amazon, Syfy and Disney+

August 24


Reno 911! lets viewers ride shotgun with the courageous men and women of the Reno Sheriff's Department as they lay down the law and put it all on the line. The Reno 911! camera doesn't blink - and when danger is near, the Reno Sheriff's Department will be nearer.

August 28


In the not so distant future all drinking and drugs have been made completely illegal by the government... except for one night a year. It's all gonna go down. The Binge premieres on August 28.

September 2


The seventh season of Tyler Perry's House of Payne & new series Tyler Perry's Assisted Living premiering on BET Wednesday, September 2nd.

September 7


Can't wait to party with this Zoo crew! Madagascar: A Little Wild premieres September 7. Join your fave friends, Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman on September 7 as they grow up in the wildest jungle of all: New York City! The sky’s the limit as they bust out of their rescue habitat at the zoo for adventures and pursue their dreams in the city.

September 9


Amy, 11 years old, tries to escape family dysfunction by joining a free-spirited dance clique named Cuties, as they become aware of their own femininity through dance.

September 14


Led by icon and activist Samuel L. Jackson, Enslaved sheds new light on 400 years of human trafficking from Africa to the New World.

September 25


Utopia is an eight-episode conspiracy thriller about saving the world, while trying to find your place in it.

September 26


When a little red panda named Nut (Ana Gasteyer) arrives in the apartment of two directionless twenty-somethings and gives them the ability to transform into badass magical girls, Alex (Quinta Brunson) and Daisy (Anna Akana) are forced to get their shit together in order to save the Universe from otherworldly threats. Through a journey of love and friendship and with the help of their magical objects (birth control and a bong), Alex and Daisy learn to wield their new powers and protect their mysterious panda friend who claims to be the creator of the Universe. Magical Girl Friendship Squad premieres Saturday, September 26 at 12am ET/PT during SYFY's late night adult-animation block, TZGZ.

The series is a comedy about a gang of zoo animal friends hanging out after the apocalypse. There’s the pacifist cheetah Glenn (John Reynolds), bubbly dolphin Marny (Claudia O’Doherty), hyper fox Hudson (Baron Vaughn), psychedelic koala Darby (Reggie Watts), self-care loving panda Debbie (SkittLeZ Ortiz) and energy drink-guzzling sloth Viv (Natalie Palamides). Together, they come up with elaborate schemes to entertain themselves and just keep from going insane. From taking trips to a mutant-infested mall for hood ornaments to stumbling upon an old broadcast studio and creating their own shows, these critters are always up to something. Wild Life premieres Saturday, September 26 at around 12:15am ET/PT during SYFY's late night adult-animation block, TZGZ.

October 9


What does it take to be first? The Right Stuff, an all-new scripted Original Series from NatGeo, is coming Oct. 9 exclusively to Disney+.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Movies by the Decade feature #4 :: August 19•25

© Universal Pictures

It was an interesting week for new movie debuts. There were a few that are regarded as classics, not many that were very successful, and more than a few that have attained cult status. But the week gave us The Marx Brothers, Preston Sturgess, Shirley Temple's 'swan song' as a child actor, two Chuck Norris flicks in two different decades, cheerleaders, piranhas in 3D, and Darkman. Enjoy this week's look back at the latest movie premieres through the decades, and if you see something that strikes your fancy or is an old favorite, please consider using the highlighted link to make a purchase so we can roll out the red carpet again next week!

1920

Aug 20 - The Poor Simp
  • Cast: Owen Moore, Nell Craig, Harry L. Rattenberry, Vera Lewis
  • Director: Victor Heerman
  • Studio: Selznick Pictures
Aug 22 - An Arabian Knight
  • Cast: Sessue Hayakawa, Lillian Hall, Jean Acker
  • Director: Charles Swickard
  • Studio: Haworth Pictures Corporation, distributed by Robertson-Cole Distributing Corporation
  • Trivia: It's survival status is classified as 'unknown' which means it may be a lost film.
Aug 22 - Guilty of Love
  • Cast: Dorothy Dalton, Julia Hurley, Henry Carvill
  • Director: Harley Knoles
  • Studio: Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, distributed by Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Adapted from the play by Avery Hopwood. No copies have been located in any film archives so this is classified as a lost film.
Aug 22 - The White Circle
  • Cast: Spottiswoode Aitken, Janice Wilson, Harry Northrup, John Gilbert, Wesley Barry, Jack McDonald
  • Director: Maurice Tourneur
  • Studio: Maurice Tourneur Productions, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, distributed by Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the short story 'The Pavilion on the Links' by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Aug 23 - Blue Streak McCoy
  • Cast: Harry Carey, Lila Leslie, Charles Arling, Breezy Eason
  • Director: B. Reeves Eason
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Trivia: This film is considered lost.
Aug 23 - The Point of View
  • Cast: Elaine Hammerstein, Rockliffe Fellowes, Arthur Housman
  • Director: Alan Crosland
  • Studio: Selznick Pictures, distributed by Select Pictures
  • Trivia: With no listing of preserved prints, this is considered a lost film.
Aug 23 - What Women Love
  • Cast: Annette Kellerman, Ralph Lewis, Wheeler Oakman, William Fairbanks, Walter Long, Bull Montana
  • Director: Nate Watt
  • Studio: Associated First National

1930

Aug 20 - The Dawn Patrol
  • Cast: Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton, Frank McHugh, Clyde Cook
  • Director: Howard Hawks
  • Studio: First National Pictures (Warner Bros.)
  • Trivia: The film was released in New York City on July 10, 1930 before going into wide release. Oscar winner for Best Story by John Monk Saunders. Remade in 1938 with the same title, with the original renamed Flight Commander. Ronald Colman was originally to be cast in the lead but the studio offered Barthelmess. The production was sued by Howard Hughes who alleged the film plagiarized his own Hell's Angels which was in production at the same time, resulting in the film being rushed through post-production to be in theaters before Hughes' film. First National won the lawsuit. Later, Hawks and Saunders claimed ownership of the idea behind the film with Hawks saying it was based on his own experiences while Saunders insisted the screenplay was based on stories from pilots he and writer Irvin S. Cobb knew. The film earned over $1 million at the domestic box office making it Warner Bros. third highest grossing film of the year behind Gold Diggers of Broadway and Sally.

© Paramount Pictures

Aug 23 - Animal Crackers
  • Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Lillian Roth
  • Director: Victor Heerman
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the Marx Brothers' Broadway musical of the same name. Filmed at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Queens, NY, it was the second of two films the Brothers made in NYC. In the final scene, Harpo uses a Flit gun, spraying Groucho, knocking him unconscious; the name 'Flit' is obscured in current prints of the film as Paramount did not secure permission to use the trademarked name. The song 'Hooray for Captain Spaulding' became the theme song for Groucho's game show You Bet Your Life. The film was re-edited in 1936 to conform to the Hays Code, omitting some suggestive lyrics from the song, and the footage was thought lost until a pre-Code print was found in the archives of the British Film Institute; this print forms the basis for the Universal Blu-ray released in 2016. A 15-second clip filmed in Multicolor was shows as part of the AMC documentary Glorious Technicolor, and is significant because it's the oldest known color footage of the Brothers and features Harpo without his usual costume and wig. Captain Spaulding is one of the Marx Brothers character pseudonyms of the murderous clown played by Sid Haig in House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Alan Alda's Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H is modeled after Groucho, and a character named Captain Calvin Spaulding was featured in early episodes of the series.
Aug 23 - Good News
  • Cast: Bessie Love, Cliff Edwards, Penny Singleton, Mary Lawlor, Stanley Smith, Delmer Daves
  • Director: Nick Grinde
  • Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Trivia: The film was shot in black and white, with the finale in Multicolor but the surviving print at the UCLA Film and Television Archive does not include the color footage and none is known to survive. Based on the 1927 stage production of the same name. Another adaptation of the show was released in 1947. By the 1940s, the 1930 version was no longer shown in the US due to its pre-Code content including sexual innuendo and lewd humor.

1940

Aug 23 - The Great McGinty
  • Cast: Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff
  • Director: Preston Sturges
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: The film premiered on August 15, 1940 in NYC before going into general release on August 23. This was Muriel Angelus' final film. It was Sturges' first film as a director, selling the story to Paramount for $10 on the condition he directed. Sturges went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The film was retitled Down Went McGinty for the UK release, an allusion to a song from 1889 (also one of the film's early working titles). Donlevy and Tamiroff reprised their roles in Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944). This was the third film written by Sturges featuring William Demarest, who would become part of the Sturges stock company and appear in seven more of his films. Tamiroff's character inspired Boris Badenov on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Paramount considered remakes in 1950 with Bing Crosby and in 1954 with Bob Hope but decided against them.
Aug 23 - Young People
  • Cast: Shirley Temple, Jack Oakie, Charlotte Greenwood, Arleen Whelan, George Montgomery, Darryl Hickman
  • Director: Allan Dwan
  • Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Aug 24 - Flowing Gold
  • Cast: John Garfield, Frances Farmer, Pat O'Brien
  • Director: Alfred E. Green
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Trivia: The female lead role was turned down by Ann Sheridan and Olivia de Havilland. John Garfield suggested Farmer, who had recently been fired from a New York production of Hemingway's only play, The Fifth Column. Farmer later admitted she had an affair with Garfield while shooting the film.

1950

  • No new films premiered this week in 1930.

1960

Aug 19 - I Am the Stars
  • Cast: Curt Jürgens, Victoria Shaw, Herbert Lom, Gia Scala, James Daly, Hayden Rorke
  • Director: J. Lee Thompson
  • Studio: Morningside Productions, Fama-Film, distributed by Columbia Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the life of Wernher von Braun, the film was shot at Bavaria Studios in Munich. The film premiered in Munich on August 19, then made its US debut in New York City and Los Angeles on October 19 followed by London on November 24. Dell published a comic book adaptation of the film in October 1960.
Aug 20 - College Confidential
  • Cast: Steve Allen, Mamie Van Doren, Jayne Meadows, Herbert Marshall, Rocky Marciano, Mickey Shaughnessy, Cathy Crosby, Conway Twitty, Pamela Mason, Elisha Cook, Jr.
  • Director: Albert Zugsmith
  • Studio: Universal-International
  • Trivia: The film was an unofficial follow-up to High School Confidential, but made for a different studio.

1970

© Paramount Pictures

Aug 19 - WUSA
  • Cast: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Perkins, Laurence Harvey, Cloris Leachman, Wayne Rogers
  • Director: Stuart Rosenberg
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the 1967 novel A Hall of Mirrors by Robert Stone, who also wrote the screenplay. The National Society of Film Critics nominated Perkins for Best Supporting Actor of the Year. Paul Newman called the movie the most significant film of his career and the best; The New York Times review called it 'a very bad movie'.

1980

Aug 22 - The Octagon
  • Cast: Chuck Norris, Karen Carlson, Tadashi Yamashita, Lee Van Cleef, Art Hindle, Kim Lankford, Jack Carter, Ernie Hudson
  • Director: Eric Karson
  • Studio: American Cinema Releasing
  • Trivia: Notable for its use of voice-over to portray the inner life of Norris' character. Norris' third martial arts film in a row after Good Guys Wear Black and A Force of One.

1990

© New Line Cinema

Aug 22 - Pump Up the Volume
  • Cast: Christian Slater, Scott Paulin, Ellen Greene, Samantha Mathis, Mimi Kennedy, Seth Green, James Hampton
  • Director: Allan Moyle
  • Studio: New Line Cinema
  • Trivia: Moyle had quit directing after his 1980 film Times Square was taken away and re-edited, focusing on screenwriting. When the script for Pump Up the Volume was optioned, Moyle was persuaded to direct his screenplay. Moyle's contract stipulated if the right actor could not be found for the lead role, the project would be cancelled; Christian Slater had all the qualities Moyle was looking for. The film won the Golden Space Needle Award at the Seattle International Film Festival, beating festival favorite Jesus of Montreal from Denys Arcand. Some audience members booed when the winning film was announced.
Aug 24 - After Dark, My Sweet
  • Cast: Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, Bruce Dern, George Dickerson
  • Director: James Foley
  • Studio: Avenue Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the 1955 Jim Thompson novel of the same name. Roger Ebert put the film on his 'Great Movies' list.
Aug 24 - Darkman
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, Larry Drake, Ted Raimi, Nicholas Worth
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Studio: Renaissance Pictures, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on a short story by Raimi that paid homage to the classic Universal horror films of the 1930s. Raimi created the film after failing to secure the rights to The Shadow and Batman, making a deal with Universal as his first Hollywood studio film. This was Neeson's first action film. The film's success at the box office led to two direct-to-video sequels; Neeson did not reprise the role for either. Appearing in cameos are Bruce Campbell, Ivan Raimi, John Landis and Jenny Agutter. Raimi drew inspiration for the character from The Phantom of the Opera and The Elephant Man. Raimi has said directing McDormand was difficult because they had differing ideas on how to make the best film possible. Raimi had issues with the editor Universal had given him who was not following Raimi's storyboards, and eight weeks into assembling a rough cut, the editor had a nervous breakdown and quit. Test audiences did not like the film, and Universal execs said it was the worst scoring film in the studio's history. Two more screenings with Danny Elfman's musical score went better, but Raimi said the film was not what he thought it should be because the studio got nervous about some of the wilder things in the movie and Raimi had to cut them, which he said was unfortunate. Raimi did love the marketing campaign, saying it was 'brilliant' and made the movie a money-maker. A 30-minute pilot for a proposed FOX television series that basically retold the Darkman origin story with some alterations starred Christopher Bowen and Kathleen York, with Larry Drake reprising his role. The pilot never aired and the series was not picked up.
Aug 24 - Delta Force 2
  • Cast: Chuck Norris, John P. Ryan, Paul Perri, Richard Jaeckel, Begoña Plaza, Mateo Gómez, Héctor Mercado, Billy Drago
  • Director: Aaron Norris
  • Studio: The Cannon Group, distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Trivia: Also known as Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection and Delta Force 2: Operation Stranglehold. The film's original title was simply Stranglehold. Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down a role in the film to do Cyborg. While set in a fictional South American country, the film was shot in Tagaytay City, Philippines which explains the Taal Volcano in some scenes. Much of the film was shot at an unfinished hilltop mansion that Imelda Marcos started building in 1983 as a guest house for a visit from then president Ronald Reagan that was never made. The building stood unused after Marcos was removed from power so the production company bought it, made $1 million worth of refurbishments including the addition of a pool ... and then blew it up. A helicopter crash two months into filming killed three crew members and the pilot and injured ten others including actors John P. Ryan, Matthew Gomez and Geoff Brewer, who died a few days later. Production shut down for six weeks and production was completed in Tennessee because the cast and crew were too devastated to return to the Philippines.
Aug 24 - Dreams
  • Cast: Akira Terao, Martin Scorsese, Chishū Ryū, Mieko Harada, Mitsuko Baisho
  • Director: Akira Kurosawa
  • Studio: Akira Kurosawa USA, distributed by Warner Bros. Picture (US) and Toho (Japan)
  • Trivia: Inspired by recurring dreams Kurosawa claimed to have had. It was the first film in 45 years in which he was the sole screenwriter. The film was made with assistance from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. The film was released May 11, 1990 in Japan.
Aug 24 - Men at Work
  • Cast: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Leslie Hope, Keith David, Darrell Larson, Dean Cameron, John Getz
  • Director: Emilio Estevez
  • Studio: Epic Productions, distributed by Triumph Releasing Corporation
  • Trivia: The original screenplay was titled Clear Intent, and Estevez came up with the idea while filming St. Elmo's Fire. At one point, John Hughes was interested in producing or directing. Estevez did 15 drafts of the script and had no intention of casting his brother, but Sheen wanted in after reading the script and Estevez felt he needed to do a comedy at that point in time. The film's title was changed to Pop 65 then Men at Work. The studio disliked the original ending and added ten days to the shoot schedule. Estevez edited the film at night while making Young Guns II during the day.

© Warner Bros. Pictures

Aug 24 - The Witches
  • Cast: Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, Jasen Fisher, Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks
  • Director: Nicolas Roeg
  • Studio: Jim Henson Productions, Lorimar Film Entertainment, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on the 1983 children's novel by Roald Dahl. It was the last theatrical film produced by Lorimar before the company shut down in 1993. It was also the last film Jim Henson worked on before his death, and the last film made based on Dahl's material before his death. The film performed poorly at the box office but has gained a cult following. Dahl hated that Roeg changed the ending to the film, so he agreed to film his ending and the one from Dahl's book. Dahl was so moved by the ending based on his material that it made him weep, but Roeg stuck with his own ending which prompted Dahl to demand his name be removed entirely from the credits and threatened a publicity campaign against the film, only dissuaded on the urging of Henson. The film sat on the shelf for more than a year after completion due to Lorimar dissolving its theatrical distribution operation. The film premiered in London on May 25, 1990 and was scheduled to open in the US the same day, but a bad test screening in Florida caused Warner Bros. to delay the film until August.

2000

© Screen Gems

Aug 23 - Snatch
  • Cast: Benicio del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemyng, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia, Jason Statham
  • Director: Guy Ritchie
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures (UK), Screen Gems (US), SKA Films, Matthew Vaughn Productions, distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
  • Trivia: The film shares themes and the visual style of Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and shares actors Vinnie Jones, Jason Flemyng, Jason Statham and Alan Ford. A TV series based on the film debuted on the Crackle streaming service on March 16, 2017 and starred Rupert Grint; the series ran for two seasons. The film premiered in the UK on August 23, 2000 but did not cross over to the US until January 19, 2001.
Aug 25 - The Art of War
  • Cast: Wesley Snipes, Anne Archer, Maury Chaykin, Marie Matiko, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Michael Biehn, Donald Sutherland
  • Director: Christian Duguay
  • Studio: Morgan Creek, Franchise Pictures, Amen-Ra Films, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Trivia: Two direct-to-video sequels were produced, The Art of War II: Betrayal, which featured Snipes, and The Art of War III: Retribution, which did not. Jet Li was originally cast for the role played by Snipes. The film opened at Number 2 behind Bring It On with $10.4 million.

© Universal Pictures

Aug 25 - Bring It On
  • Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union
  • Director: Peyton Reed
  • Studio: Beacon Pictures, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: The film spawned five direct-to-video sequels which featured none of the original cast. This was Payton Reed's first film. Actors were expected to have a cheer prepared before auditioning. Actors attended a four-week cheerleading camp to avoid the use of stunt doubles during filming. The 'types of inspiration' montage included a clip from the film Sweet Charity. The film was Number 1 at the box office for three weeks, opening with $17.3 million. Roger Ebert called the film the 'Citizen Kane of cheerleading movies.' Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote the music for a musical stage version that opened at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta on January 16, 2011, embarked on a national tour launching in Los Angeles in November 2011, and had a limited Broadway run with previews starting July 12, 2012 and an official run from August 1 - December 30, 2012.
Aug 25 - Some Voices
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Kelly Macdonald, David Morrissey
  • Director: Simon Cellan Jones
  • Studio: Film Four Distributors
  • Trivia: Adapted from the stage play of the same name by Joe Penhall, who also wrote the screenplay. It was the first feature film for Cellan Jones, who was also nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Academy Awards. The film opened in the UK on August 25 but may not have received a theatrical release in the US.

2010

Aug 20 - Lottery Ticket
  • Cast: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Keith David, Charlie Murphy, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Terry Crews, Loretta Devine, Ice Cube
  • Director: Erik White
  • Studio: Alcon Entertainment, Burg/Koules Productions, Cube Vision, Sweepstake Productions, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Aug 20 - Nanny McPhee Returns
  • Cast: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith
  • Director: Susanna White
  • Studio: StudioCanal, Relativity Media, Working Title Films, Three Strange Angels, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: Released internationally as Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. The film opened in the UK on April 2, 2010. A third film was planned to be set in modern day England, but while the film performed well at the box office, it was still a disappointment for the studio and plans were cancelled.

© Dimension Films

Aug 20 - Piranha 3D
  • Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Dreyfuss
  • Director: Alexandre Aja
  • Studio: The Weinstein Company, Atmosphere Entertainment, Chako Film Company, Intellectual Properties Worldwide, distributed by Dimension Films
  • Trivia: A very loose remake of 1978's Piranha, which was inspired by Jaws. Richard Dreyfuss, who played Matt Hooper in Jaws, agreed to appear in the film when offered a larger salary, which he then donated to charity. His character is a parody of the Hooper character, and they share the same first name. The character listens to the song 'Show Me the Way To Go Home' on the radio, which was the same song Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw sang aboard Quint's boat. Chuck Russell was originally set to direct, and made uncredited rewrites to the script before Aja was hired. The film was scheduled to begin shooting in late 2008, but was delayed until March 2009 so the lake water would be warm enough for the cast and extras. The film was shot in 2D but was always planned for a 3D release so care was taken to compose shots for the optimal 3D conversion, one of the first post-conversions to be well-received by the critics. The film was set to have a panel at the 2010 Comic-Con but was cancelled after organizers felt the footage that was to be shown was inappropriate.
Aug 20 - The Switch
  • Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis
  • Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
  • Studio: Miramax Films, Mandate Pictures, Echo Films, distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
  • Trivia: The film premiered at the ArcLight Hollywood on August 16, 2010. The film's original title was The Baster, which was inspired by the short story 'Baster' by Jeffrey Eugenides, originally published in The New Yorker in 1996. The last Miramax film distributed by Disney before the company was sold to Filmyard Holdings in December 2010. Aniston had known Bateman since she was 25.
Aug 20 - What If...
  • Cast: Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, Debby Ryan, John Ratzenberger
  • Director: Dallas Jenkins
  • Studio: 10 West Studios, Jenkins Entertainment, distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E12: The End is at Hand / S07E13: What We’re Fighting For

© ABC

There's a whole lot to process in these final moments...
by Brandon Coulson

Now that the giant two part finale to Agents of SHIELD has come and gone, did it live up to expectations? Did our heroes get the send off they deserved?

Eh, kinda?

Now first off, these episodes did remember to give us multiple instances of that humor and snark we love from the series. Even in the opening moments as the gang waited for a torrent of warriors to storm the ship, and waited, and waited some more, eventually wondering if the Chronicoms are just doing the same outside. That kind of poking the fourth wall and playing with expectations is what we love.

There was a lot to get done though so very quickly we see Gemma injected with something to dissolve her implant and supposedly return her memories of Fitz’s location. Sibyl is back in person though she nor Malick ever really made themselves worthy villains by the end the largest glaring error of this season. Following last week's destruction, we find that the Lighthouse is the only SHIELD base left standing though not for long as Garrett is sent in to line the place with explosives.

Kora is back with Malick and quickly confronts him about her mother though he is able to at least temporarily calm her with the most basic of lies and misdirection that even a child should see through. Again Kora was introduced too late and given far too little for me to really care about her at all so literally making her the linchpin of the plan, as we find out later, just makes the whole climax just a bit underwhelming.

The other running thread that felt too late in its introduction to have weight is Gemma’s memory loss. As Daisy is left to her own devices because Sibyl thinks the odds of her triggering the memories return was a big cheat to not have to fight their way into the ship, and then we spend the better part of the two hours with Deke and Daisy trying to jog her memory. There was a great running joke attached to this though as Daisy is so dismissive of getting Deke back along with Gemma. Between this and his eventual line about her being a better fit with Sousa, it seems the writers are aware that Deke has become a bit of a leftover on the team.

Lots of fakeouts and set-ups for misdirection through the episode. Mack about to unleash hell in a blaze of glory only to have his missiles fizzle against the ships defenses was an hysterical moment which even paid off bigger and better later when they jury-rigged Chronicom bodies with duct tape to become a homemade bomb. They really had Sousa setting us up to think he would be the big sacrificial lamb after finally putting the moves on Daisy and ready to offer himself up multiple times through the episode. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Sousa and I’m glad it was a fakeout but it did leave me wondering if having at least one death wouldn’t have made things seem a bit weightier.

There was some significant drama anyways as once Garret lined the Lighthouse with bombs and then was subsequently trapped by Coulson and Yoyo in a trap both ingenious and somehow also worthy of Looney Tunes, giant red X and all. Here again an obvious set-up for sacrifice as after Garrett is left to die by Malick, Yoyo runs the bombs off to one section saving their lives while still destroying the base, It seemed certain Yoyo wouldn’t survive but nope she's fine ...  actually only poor Garrett died after finally turning good and helping the team back to our favorite bar for a SHIELD meetup as he was quickly shot in the head. Sorry li'l buddy, maybe there’s an acting classes in Heaven.

© ABC

At the bar it’s revealed that Enoch kept busy during his years on Earth and seeded the parts for the machine that, with Gemma’s help, would be assembled to transport Fitz and answer the biggest question of this whole season: how the heck are they going to fix things?

The answer is, as expected, a huge cheat. After dropping a little Quantum Realm reference on us and tying into the MCU film side of things, we found out that this is, like Endgame, an alternate timeline and the original still very much exists and they need to just hop back to it. Not only was this cheap but now we know that the team has ruined an entire other universe and left them to pick up the pieces is kind of messed up, like really messed up!

It did however provide Deke with his moment to shine, staying behind to operate the machine. Deke is set up pretty sweet though, already a rock star and seemingly the new head of that world's SHIELD along with a young, not dead, Victoria Hand (Season 1 callback y’all!). He’s gonna be A-Okay.

Once everyone got back to the original timeline that's when things got weird and a little bit genius. Arriving just before the end of last season, we see this time that the whole team was actually there as their future selves at the temple setting up the pieces that would make their trip possible. Even the blast that they barely dodged last season that took out the temple was actually fired by the Chronicoms chasing the future versions of them … yes, it was a bit confusing. But together with the flashes from Gemma’s memories showing the years, yes years, that she and Fitz worked things out it all did make sense. Bringing Flint and the Monolith in the plan were nice callbacks and the back half of this finale was certainly loaded with information to absorb.

The Chronicoms provided a few more opportunities for some amazing action, however brief, as Yoyo and Coulson went on a vicious assault of their ship leading to the badass moment of the night as May got to drop in to be the Cavalry one last time. While still not up to the standards of the best fights on the series (May vs May still holds that title), it was still great to see some great stunt choreography and Coulson and May working together one last time. Less impressive was Daisy and Malick’s final fight which after a lot of build up was just okay.

The biggest shock of course coming when Daisy decided to sacrifice herself?! Yeah we saw Daisy floating dead in space, thanks for that! Oh, but Kora has magical healing powers … did we know this?! I swear nothing about this was ever established or maybe I’m crazy, but sure, yeah, Kora has all the powers now I guess. She even boosts the signal using May’s empathy to give said empathy to the Chronicom race, in effect making thousands of Enochs.

This felt also very out of left field and I think somehow uploading Enoch or something like that would have felt a bit more earned. But this late in the game, fine, whatever, bad guys are good now and peace in the world, yay.

© ABC

The last “surprise”, though not really since I literally called it last week, yes Fitz and Simmons have a little girl and a happy ending finally!

Yes, in fact after jumping to one year later we see everyone gets their happily ever after. Obviously from the start that they are holograms and not really together, we get one last glimpse into all their lives after the team has split up. Mack and Yoyo are still agents, Mack apparently upgraded to a helicarrier! They realize every one of them has died or been a zombie at least once. May is a teacher at a SHIELD academy named for Coulson, Daisy and Sousa (reading Cosmos I believe) are off in space with her sister, while Fitz and Simmons live a suburban life. But the last moments of the series are fittingly saved for Coulson and his gift from Mack. Both his control unit and the keys to his baby Lola are presented to him as he goes off to travel the world and decide the next step. Coulson gets to literally fly off into the great beyond.

While not the greatest finale, and certainly with its ups and downs I have to say overall they did a pretty decent job wrapping up seven years of the series. A little more gravitas could have made it truly epic but let's face it, the show had its highs and lows over the years and this was a pretty perfect encapsulation of that. If only we had gotten that cherry on top, an Avengers cameo or even Bobbi and Hunter on the Helicarrier. Just something to make you go wow. But ultimately this was a satisfying albeit rushed ending that gave every character a moment to shine and have a happy ending.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Movies By The Decade #3 - August 12-18

© The Samuel Goldwyn Company

This week offers a wide variety of movies that premiered between August 12 and August 18, some lost, some classic, some not-so-classic, box office hits, award winners and nominees, and cult classics. This week also sees the release of the second of two Alfred Hitchcock films to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (possibly the first, and only, time this has happened) -- but did either of them win? Let's browse through ten decades of releases, and if you see a film that strikes your fancy, be sure to use the links within the post to make a purchase or rental from our affiliates. Every sale will help us to keep popping the corn and bringing you more entertainment! 

 

1920

Aug 15 - The Great Redeemer
  • Cast: House Peters, Marjorie Daw, Jack McDonald, Joseph Singleton
  • Director: Clarence Brown, Maurice Tourneur
  • Studio: Maurice Tourneur Productions, distributed by Metro Pictures.
  • Trivia: The first film directed by Clarence Brown, who also produced. It's unknown if there are any surviving prints.
Aug 15 - The Soul of Youth
  • Cast: Lewis Sargent, Lila Lee
  • Director: William Desmond Taylor
  • Studio: Realart Pictures Corporation
  • Trivia: Preserved in the Library of Congress collection.
Aug 15 - What Happened to Jones
  • Cast: Bryant Washburn, Margaret Loomis, J. Maurice Foster, Frank Jonasson, Lillian Leighton
  • Director: James Cruze
  • Studio: Famous Players-Lasky, distributed by Paramount Pictures/Artcraft
  • Trivia: Based on the 1987 play of the same name by George Broadhurst.

1930

  • No new films premiered this week in 1930.

1940

Aug 12 - Doomed to Die
  • Cast: Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds, Grant Withers
  • Director: William Nigh
  • Studio: Monogram Pictures Corporation
  • Trivia: The film is a sequel to The Fatal Hour (1940). The film uses actual footage from the burning of the SS Morro Castle which caught fire on September 8, 1934 during a voyage from Havana to New York City.

© United Artists

Aug 16 - Foreign Correspondent
  • Cast: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Albert Bassermann
  • Director: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Studio: Walter Wanger Productions, distributed by United Artists
  • Trivia: Hitchcock's second Hollywood film. The film had an unusual number of writers, ten total, with only four -- Charles Bennett, Robert Benchley, Joan Harrison, James Hilton -- getting a writing credit. It took producer Walter Wanger five years before he had a script he was satisfied with. Based on the political memoir Personal History by Vincent Sheehan. This and Hitchcock's first Hollywood film Rebecca were both nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 1941; Rebecca was the winner. Also nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Albert Bassermann) and four other awards but won none. Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper for the lead but he turned it down, not interested in doing a thriller; he later admitted to Hitchcock that was a mistake. Joan Fontaine was also wanted for the female lead but was under contract to Selznick and would not loan her out (he had already loaned out Hitchcock for this production). The film's working titles were 'Personal History' and 'Imposter'. The final scene was replaced with a new scene at a radio station after Hitchcock returned to England on July 3 and heard reports that Germany was expected to bomb London at any time; the new ending foreshadowed the famous radio broadcast by Edward R. Murrow. The film opened in the UK on October 11, 1940. The film opened in the US a week before Germany began bombing London on August 24. Named one of the Top 10 films of 1940 by Film Daily, and nominated for Best Picture of 1940 by the National Board of Review.
Aug 16 - Stranger on the Third Floor
  • Cast: Peter Lorre, John McGuire, Margaret Tallichet
  • Director: Boris Ingster
  • Studio: RKO Radio Pictures
  • Trivia: Nathaniel West wrote the final version of the screenplay but was not credited. Often referred to as the first true film noir of the period from 1940-1959. Margaret Tallichet only made three more films after this and retired from acting; she married director William Wyler in 1938. Ingster's directorial debut, he was an associate of Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Ingster only directed three films in his career. The film's influential production designer Van Nest Polglase also worked on King Kong, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Citizen Kane.

1950

Aug 16 - The Furies
  • Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey, Walter Huston
  • Director: Anthony Mann
  • Studio: Hal Wallis Productions, distributed by Paramount Pictures.
  • Trivia: Walter Huston's final film performance; he died four months before the film's release. Based on the 1948 novel of the same name by Niven Busch. The film was a financial failure upon its release but went on to gain a reputation as a 'Freudian Western' and is viewed as one of Mann's greatest contributions to the genre. Filming took place on location in Tucson, Arizona, with some interiors shot at Paramount Studios. The film opened in Tucson on July 21, 1950 before its national release in August.
Aug 16 - No Way Out
  • Cast: Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, Stephen McNally, Sidney Poitier
  • Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Trivia: The feature film debut of Poitier and Mildred Joanne Smith. Screenwriters Mankiewicz and Lesser Samuels lost the Best Story and Screenplay Oscar to Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman Jr. for Sunset Boulevard.

1960

  • No new films premiered this week in 1960.

1970

© ABC Pictures

Aug 12 - Lovers and Other Strangers
  • Cast: Beatrice Arthur, Richard Castellano, Bonnie Bedelia, Gig Young
  • Director: Cy Howard
  • Studio: ABC Pictures, distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation.
  • Trivia: Adapted from the 1968 play of the same name by Renée Taylor and Joseph Bologna. This was Diane Keaton's film debut; Sylvester Stallone was an extra. Nominated for three Oscars, winning for Best Original Song. Richard Castellano and Diane Keaton went on to appear in The Godfather (1972). The song For All We Know was performed in the film my Larry Meredith, and covered by The Carpenters in the US and Shirley Bassey in the UK in 1971.
Aug 12 - Soldier Blue
  • Cast: Candice Bergen, Peter Strauss, Donald Pleasence
  • Director: Ralph Nelson
  • Studio: Katzka-Loeb, distributed by Embassy Pictures.
  • Trivia: Adapted from the novel Arrow in the Sun by T.V. Olsen, and inspired by the events of the 1864 Sand Creek massacre in the Colorado Territory. The story was intended to be an allegory for the Vietnam War. The film's explicit depictions of violence have garnered critique and interpretation citing the film as everything from anti-war to exploitation. Exterior photography took place in Mexico. Bergen has said a large van full of prosthetics, dummy body parts and animatronics was brought in for the bloody final scene. Amputees from Mexico City were also employed to serve as victims of the final massacre sequence. The film premiered in New York City on August 12 and then in Los Angeles on August 14.
Aug 14 - Darker Than Amber
  • Cast: Rod Taylor, Jane Russell, Theodore Bikel, Suzy Kendall, William Smith, Anna Capri, Janet MacLachlan, James Booth
  • Director: Robert Clouse
  • Studio: National General Pictures
  • Trivia: Adapted from the novel of the same name by John D. MacDonald. Taylor played the Travis McGee character, while Sam Elliott played the character in the 1983 TV movie Travis McGee, which was adapted from the novel The Empty Copper Sea; the only two times the character has been portrayed on screen. Other actors considered for the role: Jack Lord and Robert Culp, while MacDonald pushed for Steve McQueen or Vic Morrow. Jane Russell's final film role. Shot on location in Florida and Nassau. MacDonald disliked the film intensely, calling it 'feral, cheap, rotten, gratuitously meretricious, shallow and embarrassing.' The film has developed a cult following due to its scarcity on home video and television broadcasts, which features a slightly edited fight scene. While edited prints of the film exist, an uncut version does not seem to exist any longer. The staged fight scene escalated into a real brawl between Taylor and Smith after Taylor hit Smith, who retaliated and ended up breaking Taylor's nose while Smith suffered three broken ribs. Both Taylor and Smith were considered for the role of martial artist Roper in Enter the Dragon, also directed by Clouse, but the role went to John Saxon.
Aug 17 - Macho Callahan
  • Cast: David Janssen, Jean Seberg, Lee J. Cobb, James Booth, David Carradine, Bo Hopkins, Richard Anderson, Diane Ladd
  • Director: Bernard Kowalski
  • Studio: Felicidad Productions, distributed by Embassy Pictures.

1980

Aug 15 - The Kidnapping of the President
  • Cast: William Shatner, Hal Holbrook, Van Johnson, Ava Gardner
  • Director: George Mendeluk
  • Studio: Presidential Films and Sefel Films, distributed by Crown International Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on Charles Templeton's novel of the same name. The New York City location of the novel was changed to Toronto for the movie. The film opened in Canada on September 19, 1980.

© 20th Century Fox

Aug 15 - My Bodyguard
  • Cast: Chris Makepeace, Ruth Gordon, Matt Dillon, John Houseman, Craig Richard Nelson, Kathryn Grody, Adam Baldwin, Martin Mull
  • Director: Tony Bill
  • Studio: Melvin Simon Productions, distributed by 20th Century Fox
  • Trivia: Tony Bill's directorial debut, the acting debut of Baldwin and an uncredited Jennifer Beals, and Joan Cusack's first major film role. The film opened on July 11 in limited release. Named as one of the Top Ten films of the year by the National Board of Review. Nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen.
Aug 15 - Smokey and the Bandit II
  • Cast: Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Dom DeLuise, Sally Field, Paul Williams, Pat McCormick
  • Director: Hal Needham
  • Studio: Rastar, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: The film was released in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries as Smokey and the Bandit Rides Again, and early video releases and TV prints used this title, but have reverted to the original title in recent years. Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 was released in 1983, but Reynolds just made a cameo appearance and Field did not appear at all. Reynolds and DeLuise were friends who had worked together before and worked together again in The End, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, and lent their voices to All Dogs Go To Heaven. Smokey II and Cannonball Run were filming simultaneously. Football players Joe Klecko and Terry Bradshaw also appear in both films. It was the first film to feature director Needham's 'Blooper Reel Credit Crawl'. The Pontiac LeMans sedans dressed as police cars destroyed in the desert roundup sequence were originally purchased by a rental agency in Phoenix which refused delivery of the cars when it was learned they had no air conditioning; Pontiac took the cars back and gave them to the producers to be used in the film. A record breaking automobile jump was captured on film during that scene as stuntman Gary Davis jumped a 1974 Dodge Monaco over 150 feet, suffering compressed vertebrae as a result of a hard landing. It was the eighth most popular film of the year, earning over $66 million at the North American box office. Critical reaction was harsh, calling the sequel unnecessary, and even Reynolds was unhappy working on the film, feeling it was just a cash grab by Universal.
Aug 15 - Those Lips, Those Eyes
  • Cast: Frank Langella, Glynnis O'Connor, Tom Hulce, Jerry Stiller, Kevin McCarthy
  • Director: Michael Pressman
  • Studio: United Artists
Aug 15 - Willie & Phil
  • Cast: Michael Ontkean, Margot Kidder, Ray Sharkey, Jan Miner, Jerry Hall
  • Director: Paul Mazursky
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox

1990

© 20th Century Fox

Aug 17 - The Exorcist III
  • Cast: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Jason Miller, Scott Wilson, Nicol Williamson, Brad Dourif
  • Director: William Peter Blatty
  • Studio: Morgan Creek Productions, distributed by 20th Century Fox
  • Trivia: Despite the title, the film takes place 17 years after the original film and ignores the events of Exorcist II: The Heretic, but it follows a character from the first film, Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, who investigates a series of demonic murders he believes are connected to the Gemini, a deceased serial killer that Blatty based on the Zodiac Killer. Blatty conceived the project with original The Exorcist director William Friedkin, but when he left the project Blatty turned the screenplay into the novel Legion (1983). Blatty was unhappy with Morgan Creek which demanded extensive reshoots, last minute changes and an exorcism for the finale. Scream Factory released a version closer to Blatty's 'director's cut' on Blu-ray in 2016, but some of the original footage appears to be permanently lost. Blatty offered directorial duties to John Carpenter, but he backed out when it became apparent Blatty wanted to direct the film. George C. Scott was cast to replace the late Lee J. Cobb, who played the role in the original film, saying he liked the script because it was a horror film and much more. Jason Miller reprised his Father Karras role but was billed as 'Patient X' in the credits. There are cameo appearances by Patrick Ewing, Fabio, C. Everett Koop, Larry King and Samuel L. Jackson in an early appearance in a dream sequence. The film was tentatively titled Exorcist: Legion. The demonic voice emanating from Karras at the film's climax was Scott's ex-wife Colleen Dewhurst, altered to sound like Mercedes McCambridge, who provided the voice of Pazuzu in the original, albeit uncredited. The film premiered in October 1989 at the European MIFED Film Market, and was released in the US a month before the parody film Repossessed (with Linda Blair) opened. Blair claimed Exorcist III was rush-released to hijack her film's publicity and was forced to open a month later than planned. The film became a focal point at the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer, who would play the movie for some of his victims before killing them.
Aug 17 - My Blue Heaven
  • Cast: Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Joan Cusack
  • Director: Herbert Ross
  • Studio: Hawn/Sylbert Movie Company, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Trivia: This was the third film in which Martin and Moranis starred together. The film was released a month before Goodfellas, and both are based upon the life of Henry Hill. Goodfellas was adapted from the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, while the screenplay for My Blue Heaven was written by Nora Ephron, Pileggi's wife. Much of the research for both projects was done at the same time in sessions with Hill. Martin was originally cast in the Moranis role of Coopersmith with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Antonelli role. Schwzenegger was offered Kindergarten Cop and left the production, and failing to find another suitable actor, Martin offered to take the role himself. Moranis had originally been offered the Coopersmith role but had been unavailable at the time.
Aug 17 - Taking Care of Business
  • Cast: James Belushi, Charles Grodin, Anne De Salvo, Mako, Veronica Hamel, Héctor Elizondo, John de Lancie, Gates McFadden
  • Director: Arthur Hiller
  • Studio: Hollywood Pictures, Silver Screen Partners IV, distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
  • Trivia: The film was released in the UK as Filofax. This was the first screenplay written by J.J. Abrams.
Aug 17 - Wild at Heart
  • Cast: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Crispin Glover, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Harry Dean Stanton
  • Director: David Lynch
  • Studio: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Propaganda Films, distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
  • Trivia: The film premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival on May 25, 1990, one day after it was completed, where it won the Palme d'Or. After the screening, the film was met with wild cheering but when the award was announced, the boos, led by Roger Ebert, nearly drowned out the cheers. Based on Barry Gifford's novel of the same name. Lynch did not like the ending of the book and changed it to fit his vision of the main characters, but feared the change would be seen as too commercial. The film includes allusions to The Wizard of Oz and Elvis Presley movies. The film had poor test screenings with 80 people walking out of the first and 100 walking out of the second due to a graphic torture scene; Lynch refused to cut the scene after the first screening, but knew it was killing the film after the second set of walkouts and cut it so it remained powerful but didn't send people running. Diane Ladd received nominations for Best Supporting Actress from both the Oscars and the Golden Globes. It was Cage's idea for Sailor to wear a snakeskin jacket. Before filming started, Dern suggested she and Cage go on a weekend road trip to Las Vegas to bond and get a handle on their characters. The film features Chris Isaak's song 'Wicked Game' for which Lynch directed the music video, incorporating scenes from the movie with black and white footage of Isaak performing. The film received an X rating (NC17 had not been created yet) and Lynch had to make cuts to deliver a contractually obligated R rated film. Only one scene featuring a character shooting off his own head was altered with smoke effects to hide the blood and removal of the head from the body. Foreign prints of the film were not affected. The film was in limited release until it went wide on August 31.

2000

Aug 18 - The Cell
  • Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jake Weber, Dylan Baker
  • Director: Tarsem Singh
  • Studio: RadicalMedia, distributed by New Line Cinema
  • Trivia: Tarsem Singh's directorial debut. Several scenes in the movie are based on works of art by Damien Hirst, Odd Nerdrum, H.R. Giger and the Brothers Quay. Singh directed music videos for En Vogue and R.E.M. and imagery from Stargher's dream sequence were inspired by music videos such as Nine Inch Nails' 'Closer' and 'The Perfect Drug', Madonna's 'Bedtime Story' and Floria Sigismondi's work with Marilyn Manson. The plot of a psychiatrist entering the mind of an insane patient was used in the 1965 novella He Who Shapes by Roger Zelazny, and in the 1984 film Dreamscape. Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star review. A sequel, The Cell 2, was released directly to DVD on June 16, 2009.
Aug 18 - The Original Kings of Comedy
  • Cast: Steve Harvey, D. L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Studio: MTV Productions, Latham Entertainment, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, distributed by Paramount Pictures
  • Trivia: Filmed over the last two nights (February 27-27, 2000) of the tour at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, NC. The film opened at Number 2 at the box office behind The Cell, but grossed $11 million from just 847 screens. The film's popularity inspired several spin-offs including The Queens of Comedy, The Original Latin Kings of Comedy, The Kims of Comedy, The Comedians of Comedy and The Killers of Comedy.

2010

Aug 13 - Eat Pray Love
  • Cast: Julia Roberts, James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, Billy Crudup, Javier Bardem
  • Director: Ryan Murphy
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, distributed by Sony Pictures
  • Trivia: Based on Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir of the same name. Filming locations included New York City, Rome, Naples, Delhi and Pataudi (India), and Ubud and Padang-Padang Beach at Bali. Hindu leaders were concerned with the production and urged the use of spiritual consultants to accurately reflect life in an ashram. The film opened the same weekend as The Expendables which featured Julia's brother Eric Roberts. While opening in second place to The Expendables, Eat Pray Love was Roberts' highest debuting film since America's Sweethearts in 2001. There were over 400 merchandising items created for the film including jewelry, perfume, tea, gelato machines, prayer beads and window shades. The World Market department store had an entire section devoted to the film's merchandise. Home Shopping Network ran 72 hours of programming featuring movie merchandise. The decision to market such a wide range of products, many of which were not even featured in the film, was harshly criticized by several media outlets.
Aug 13 - The Expendables
  • Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, David Zayas, Giselle Itié, Charisma Carpenter, Gary Daniels, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke
  • Director: Sylvester Stallone
  • Studio: Millennium Films, Nu Image, distributed by Lionsgate
  • Trivia: The film premiered on August 3 in Los Angeles before opening wide on August 10. Dolph Lundgren's first theatrical release since 1995's Johnny Mnemonic. The film opened at Number 1 in the US, UK, China and India, and spawned two sequels. Writer David Callaham's third draft of a script titled Barrow drew interest from Stallone, who used it as a starting point for The Expendables. Jean-Claude Van Damme turned down a role because he felt there was no substance to the character. Stallone was reportedly on the phone with Van Damme at the premiere and JCVD admitted he made a mistake, later appearing in the sequel as the main villain. The role of Hale Caesar was conceived for Wesley Snipes, who could not leave the US due to his tax issues, then rewritten for Forest Whitaker, who had a scheduling conflict, then was replaced by 50 Cent before finally being played by Terry Crews. Steven Segal was asked to do a cameo but turned it down due to issues with the film's producer. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Ben Kingsley and Ray Liotta were all considered for the role that went to Eric Roberts. The role of Mr. Church was offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he took on the role of Trench. Kurt Russell was approached but his agent said Russell was not interested in doing an ensemble piece. The role was cast with Bruce Willis after principle photography had been completed. With filming taking place in Brazil, Stallone cast mercenary soldier roles with mixed martial arts fighters from the UFC. The film was originally set to debut on April 23, 2010 but was pushed back four months for extra production time. An extended director's cut with approximately 11 additional minutes premiered on the Epix cable channel on May 30, 2011. Stallone was nominated for the Worst Director Golden Raspberry Awards.

© Universal Pictures

Aug 13 - Scott Pilgrim vs the World
  • Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman
  • Director: Edgar Wright
  • Studio: Marc Platt Productions, Big Talk Films, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, Dentsu, distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Trivia: The film premiered at San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2010, and played at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal on July 27, 2010. The film opened in the UK on August 25, 2010 and in Japan on April 29, 2011. Based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Edgar Wright had been interested in making the film after receiving a pre-release copy of the graphic novel while working on Shaun of the Dead in 20041. Wright has cited Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik as an influence on his approach to the film. The second and main draft of the script was submitted at midnight on the night the Writers' Strike was due to begin in October 2007. Wright stopped working on his Ant-Man screenplay for two years to focus on Scott Pilgrim. The cast spent two months in fight training before production began. The film is said to be the biggest movie ever identifiably set in Toronto with notable locations like Casa Lorna, St. Michael's College School, Lee's Palace and Artscape Wychwood Barns. Wright lived in Toronto for a year before filming commenced to get the correct feel of the city. Casa Lorna had been used as a set for other films but this was the first time it was 'playing itself'. Anna Kendrink and Aubrey Plaza were virtual unknowns when they were cast in the film. Kendrick auditioned before she shot Twilight, and Plaza was cast before she did Parks & Recreation. Winstead was Wright's first choice for Ramona after seeing her in Death Proof. Seth Rogen had been suggested by Universal for the role of Scott, but Wright had no one else in mind but Cera. Ellen Wong auditioned for the role of Knives three times but didn't think she'd get cast because she's Asian. Chris Evans said taking the role was a no-brainer because he was such a fan of Wright. 18-year-old Brie Larson was cast after her audition blew everyone away.
Aug 17 - Big Money Rustlas
  • Cast: Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope, Jamie Madrox, Monoxide, Jason Mewes, Mark Jury
  • Director: Paul Andresen
  • Studio: Psychopathic, Fontana, Vivendi
  • Trivia: Prequel to Big Money Hustlas. The film was influenced by Westerns, Warner Bros. cartoons and Blazing Saddles. The film premiered at The Fillmore Detroit on January 23, 2010 then was released directly to DVD after being released locally at the 11th annual Gathering of the Juggalos.
Aug 18 - Vampires Suck
  • Cast: Matt Lanter, Chris Riggi, Ken Jeong
  • Director: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
  • Studio: Regency Enterprises, distributed by 20th Century Fox
  • Trivia: Panned by critics, the film topped the box office on opening day but ended the weekend at Number 3 behind The Expendables and Eat Pray Love. By the full second week, the film had dropped out of the Top Ten, landing at Number 11 and grossing no more than $500 per screen, but rebounded over the weekend to finish at Number 6. The Twilight parody ended up earning more than $81 million against a $20 million budget.