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Why Andy Serkis’ Mowgli Deserved A Proper Theatrical Release

This past weekend, Netflix debuted Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle for all of its subscribers to see. While the film has been a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to critical response, the film is undoubtedly a spectacle that would have been best seen on a big screen. One could even say that, if given a proper theatrical release, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle could have been the blockbuster that put Netflix on the theatrical circuit’s map.

Director and co-star Andy Serkis delivered a more mature, but still spectacle-filled, version of The Jungle Book mythos that audiences seem to be enjoying, if the scores on sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes are any indication. So clearly, there’s something that the viewing public has seen in the film’s charms. However, audience reaction is only a small part of why Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle deserved the larger, theatrical approach it was intended for, before its acquisition.

While the film was bought by Netflix from its original production / distribution party, Warner Bros Pictures, the film has only gotten a small release in some independent theater chains. On the surface level, the film’s visual and thematic splash would be a larger than life experience that could have started December with a big studio picture. However, looking closer at both the circumstances surrounding the film’s release, as well as the film itself, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle had a strong potential to be a breakout theatrical hit for Netflix.

The fact that Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’s release date of last Friday saw no new films released by a major studio would also have been a boost. The big hits from this past November are slowing down in their performance. Once Upon A Deadpool is ready to make its bid for box office glory. It might only be a week, but with the money that Netflix put into the acquisition of the film, Warner Bros might have seen an impressive return from opening on such a barren weekend.

Now some might cite the concern of internal competition as an excuse for Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle to not be released into theaters within the same two week period where Warner Bros. is set to drop Aquaman on the world. However, let’s not forget the studio’s success this past August with two films opening a mere five days apart. Both The Meg and Crazy Rich Asians opened domestically within a small gap of one another, and those films went on to be quite lucrative successes for the studio.

Another factor that should have seen Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle make an easy theatrical release was the fact that the film was designed to be a big deal in terms of a 3D release. While the man cub would have to obviously cede some 3D real estate to the king of Atlantis, the film might have still had legs in its reduced capacity. It’s true that the film is currently enjoying its extremely limited release platform in theaters, which is better than nothing. But the only problem with that is the fact that it’s exclusively outside of the major theatrical distributors,.

A slow weekend devoid of major studio muscle, plus strong support of 3D presentations during its exhibition, could have spelt big time success for Netflix and Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. After having seen the film, you can tell that it was designed with the sort of eye-popping thrills that most 3D conversions lack.

All of these factors lead back to the big problem with Netflix’s current theatrical release strategy. While the studio is definitely making inroads with theaters, and slowly expanding the scope of releasing big ticket films like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Roma and Bird Box into indie chains and art house theaters, the major theater companies still haven’t shook and made up with the big red envelope. There’s real momentum in the conversations between Netflix and the theater chains to get more of these movies into actual cinemas, and we think that in time, there will be a system in place where more Netflix movies get theatrical distribution. Plus, If Netflix had stuck to the original plan of a 2019 release date, negotiations could have been underway to change that distribution model. It has to happen!

With enough time, and a movie like Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle in their canon, Netflix could have had the right movie to break with tradition and become a full blown theatrical exhibitor. It’s even more baffling that the studio didn’t take that chance to play the long game, when the world was expecting the film to be released at some point in 2019. Once its October 2018 release date was yanked from the schedule, the film could have been given more of a chance to succeed theatrically.

Though their strategy of releasing films still seems to depend on the element of surprise, the lead time that Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle could have had leading up to any sort of 2019 release date would have given Netflix plenty of time to mount a full marketing campaign pitching the film far and wide. Even better, the problem of bad blood between the company and its theatrical distribution counterparts could have been solved in such a gap.

While Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle does have a rather large and accessible platform to be viewed by all who choose to, there’s an unshakable feeling that this could have been Netflix’s first breakout blockbuster. Such a victory could have put them ahead of all other streaming service production shingles, who have mostly been focused on playing the game of prestige films.

Shifting Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle to Netflix’s personal streaming library after its removal from the October release calendar seems like it was a decision made to keep the film’s momentum up, and it worked. Basically. The truth has always been that the appetite for the film was barely stoked with the public, even when it was at Warner Bros. With a full delay into 2019 already in the cards, the stewards of the property should have taken that time to revise their own release strategy, mend some fences with the big wheels of the theatrical industry, and put themselves on a better path to releasing select films through a more traditional theatrical release.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is a good enough film that, quite honestly, would have been worth the wait to find it a proper theatrical home, with a full 3D rollout. As it stands, you can currently find it on Netflix’s streaming lineup.

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A Star Is Born Almost Starred Jennifer Lopez and Will Smith

A Star Is Born has been met with non-stop acclaim ever since its debut, which isn’t so surprising given that Lady Gaga is front and center of the project. Not only did she give the performance of a lifetime as pop singer Ally, but she basically caused a rupture in the space-time continuum with her show-stopping red carpet outfits during the press tour.

It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, but that could have been the case: In a recent interview, Jennifer Lopez shared that she had been in early talks to develop a Star Is Born script with Will Smith.

Speaking to Extra, Lopez addressed rumors that she and Smith had been attached to the film before Bradley Cooper came in to direct and star in the remake. “Oh yeah, Will and I talked about it and talked about developing the script,” the singer/actress/producer/icon said. “It just never took off. Projects are like that.”

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Lopez and Smith reportedly dropped out of talks around 2013. At some point, Clint Eastwood was also looking into the project and had tapped Beyoncé and Leonardo DiCaprio about lead roles. That didn’t work out either, of course. Eventually Cooper was brought on, and he turned to Lady Gaga in a room full of 100 people, and…well, you know the rest.

Cooper and Gaga’s version of the film is the third remake of the 1937 original; subsequent versions have starred Judy Garland and, later, Barbara Streisand. Gaga was nominated for a Grammy and a Golden Globe earlier this month, and she’s considered a top contender for an Oscar this year.

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PHOTO: Clay Enos

Lopez says that even though the film didn’t work out on her end, she’s happy with how it’s all turned out.

“I’m really proud of Bradley, one for directing his first film…we’re friends, and watching Gaga kind of do her thing in the movie, it’s just great,” she said. “It’s perfect, just like this movie, everything happens in its own divine timing.”

Still, we can’t but wonder what the J.Lo version of Ally would have been like. Would there have been dance routines? Green Versace dresses? I guess we’ll never know.

Related: I Was an Extra in A Star Is Born—and Here’s What Happened

Gossip Girl Fans Are Having Way Too Much Fun With Netflix’s Show Description

Gossip Girl, here, your one and only source into the hilarious Netflix description of the show that’s taken over social media. It’s been years since the television drama first entered our lives with its outlandish tales of “Manhattan’s elite,” but fans are officially reminiscing thanks to a recent Twitter discovery.

After posting a screenshot of the official Netflix description for Gossip Girl, comedian Lane Moore‘s tweet about the show quickly went viral. In her tweet, Lane points out that it appears as if Netflix got “someone who f*cking hates Gossip Girl” to write the accompanying show caption, which reads: “Rich, unreasonably attractive private school students do horrible, scandalous things to each other. Repeatedly.”

In response to the tweet, fans of the show — including writers Rachel Leishman and Ben Phillipe — have pointed out that the description is almost too accurate. “They also understand the show in such a profound way it’s almost poetry,” Ben tweeted. While editor Sam Machkovech also theorized that the caption could have come from the show’s “biggest hater OR its most diehard fan.”

The short write-up is already pretty epic, but Joey Ezon pointed out the one aspect that was missing. “Shame they didn’t end the description with ‘xoxo,'” he wrote.

Other social media sleuths noted that this isn’t the first time that Netflix has had some fun with its streaming titles. Mackenzie Herren pointed to a write-up that accompanied The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Zenny shared the jab that Netflix also took at Twilight.

We may never know the streaming platform’s official stance on Gossip Girl, but as their previous social media posts have shown, the brand definitely enjoys having fun with its followers. Perhaps we should just be thankful that they haven’t asked Blair Waldorf to baste a turkey… yet.

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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: This Is Why Leighton Meester Probably Won’t Go Back to Her Gossip Girl Days

Yes, Disney Just Hit Another Global Box Office High

It’s no secret that Disney as a behemoth force in the film industry. The House of Mouse own iconic properties like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while also putting out it’s own animated and live-action blockbusters in the process. As such, each year brings insane amount of box office profits, and 2018 was certainly no exception. In fact, the release of Mary Poppins Returns will push Disney to this year’s box office high.

While there are still a few weeks left of the year, the projections for Disney’s profits for 2018 are going to pass a big number: $7 billion globally. This is only the second time the House of Mouse has passed this mark, with 2016 currently the record holder at $7.6 billion. It’s an impressive feat, and these two years are marked with highly anticipated blockbusters.

This new estimation comes to us from Deadline, which marks the upcoming release of Mary Poppins Returns as the final movie to put Disney over the $7 billion mark. Rob Marshall’s upcoming musical sequel will no doubt take quite the haul during the Holiday season, considering the family friendly nature of the movie, and the iconography of the original. And only James Wan’s Aquaman to compete with in theaters, Disney’s return to Cherry Tree Lane appears to be a practically perfect way to make some money.

Of course, Mary Poppins Returns is far from Disney’s highest grosser from 2018. That honor goes to The Russo Brothers’ Avengers: Infinity War. Ten years in the making, the massive blockbuster combined almost every major character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and brought an epic and emotional blockbuster to theaters. It ultimately made an insane $2 billion, and its follow up Avengers: Endgame might end up making even more money, as it brings Phase Three to a close.

2018 was ultimately beat out by Disney’s performance in 2016. For those who don’t remember, that was the year that the Star Wars franchise returned to theaters with J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens. Casual moviegoers and the generations of Star Wars fans came out in drove to see the third trilogy begin, eager for franchise favorites like Leia and Han to interact with the new cast of heroes. As such, it brought Disney to an even stronger year of profits.

Still, 7.6 billion is no sum to shake your finger at. In fact, there have only been three years in the film history where this number was reached. It’s clear that Disney knows exactly what moviegoers are interested in, and the House of Mouse is showing no signs of slowing down. Between Star Wars, the MCU and Disney blockbusters like the live-action Lion King movie, the money is going to keep rolling in.

Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns will arrive in theaters on December 19th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.

Lily Tomlin Loved Not Playing Damsel In Distress Aunt May In Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

We’ve seen multiple iterations of Spider-Man’s Aunt May on the big screen in the last 16 years, but Lily Tomlin’s version in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is completely different than what Rosemary Harris, Sally Field and Marisa Tomei have done. Sure, she’s as loving and protective as any other take, but what sets her apart is her deep involvement in her nephew’s vigilante activities. She’s definitely not the damsel in distress she’s been depicted as in the past — and it was one element of the character that the actress playing her really valued:

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse notably doesn’t follow Peter Parker as its central hero, but does still have a key role for Aunt May to play. Specifically, while her actual nephew is killed in the first act of the movie, she winds up teaming with Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and the alternate dimension Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) to try and stop Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) from activating his super collider and destroying the city. Saying exactly how she helps is a bit spoiler-y, but she does play an important role.

I got to discuss the role of Aunt May in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse with Lily Tomlin a couple weeks ago when I sat down with the actress during the film’s Los Angeles press day. Being familiar with the many different versions of the character we’ve seen in popular culture, I was curious how she felt about not playing the standard — put into some perilous situation that requires rescue from the webslinger. As it happens it was something that she definitely appreciated, partially because it offered something new and didn’t go the easy route.

Overall it was very much a project of which Lily Tomlin loved being a part, expressing love for the diversity that the animated feature offers, and the fact that it’s a special take introducing audiences to a character they may have never heard of before. And the fact that her version of Aunt May has an active and important role in all of it was a very real bonus. Tomlin explained,

You can watch Lily Tomlin discuss not only her role in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, but also her first experience watching the finished film, by clicking play on the video below!

Prince Harry Is Reportedly Protective of Meghan Markle for This Heartbreaking Reason

There’s a reason that royal watchers often refer to the British royal family as the world’s longest-running soap opera. It’s a story filled with glamorous people, power struggles, scandals, and, sometimes, tragedy.

The most recent round of press has focused on a rumored rift between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and Prince William and Kate Middleton. There’s always gossip when it comes to the royals, but reports really heated up after it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be making their official home in Windsor outside of London proper, away from Kensington Palace where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge live with their three children.

Initial reports focused on a problem between the duchesses, which multiple royal insiders have since debunked. Now, sources are claiming the tension is really between the brothers—with a heartbreaking reason at the core. A story from the Sun‘s royal reporter Emily Andrews posits that Harry’s extreme protectiveness of Markle is causing some of the problems.

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PHOTO: PAUL GROVER

“It’s my opinion that Harry feels he couldn’t protect his mother, so he’s going all out to protect his wife,” one royal courtier reportedly said. “This is his way of atoning.”

Harry was just 12 years old when Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car crash in Paris after being chased by the paparazzi. And while he was young at the time, he was old enough to see how his mother was harassed and followed by the press at every turn. It’s not a leap to assume he’d want to protect his wife from it. “He will brook absolutely no criticism of Meghan,” the source continues. “And he is so sensitive he often sees criticism or negativity where there isn’t any.”

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PHOTO: Adam Butler/PA Images/Getty Images

If palace sources are to be believed, the disagreement with William may stem from some questions the future king asked his little brother early on in his relationship with Markle. “William told his brother they knew nothing about her background, her intentions, what she was really like,” another “well-placed” source told the Sun. “He just wanted to stress that becoming part of the Royal Family is a massive undertaking, and the pressure and scrutiny is unrelenting. Was Meghan the right one?”

Andrews also notes that there is no “war” between the brothers. “As far as we understand, it’s perfectly civil between the two couples. And this is a redrawing of boundaries/relationships,” she says.

Whatever is going on, we’re hopeful all will be worked out. It sounds like everyone involved has good intentions, and every family has their highs and lows—even royal ones.

Related: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton All Have a Group Text—and I Want In

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Out Sexist Double Standard Comparing Herself to Paul Ryan

While a historic number of women were elected to Congress in November, that doesn’t mean that sexism itself has been booted from office. But Congresswoman-Elect, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has quickly become the Chrissy Teigen of political social media clapbacks, isn’t just going to give it a pass.

Most recent case in point: She called out the double standard between herself and outgoing Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Ryan was 28 when he was first elected, the same age as Ocasio-Cortez was when she won her New York primary race over the summer. But as Ocasio-Cortez noted on Twitter, the similarities end there—and she doesn’t just mean their opposite political views. (He’s a conservative Republican; she’s a Democratic Socialist.)

“Double standards are Paul Ryan being elected at 28 and immediately being given the benefit of his ill-considered policies considered genius; and me winning a primary at 28 to immediately be treated with suspicion & scrutinized, down to my clothing, of being a fraud,” she tweeted on Monday along with a Vox article titled “Paul Ryan’s Long Con”.

Ocasio-Cortez has been scrutinized and criticized—especially by the right wing news media—since her primary victory in New York’s 14th Congressional District catapulted her onto the national stage. And to the women watching her rise, it’s no surprise that her achievements have been questioned while those of a “fresh-faced” white man were applauded and validated. He got to be a man “on the rise.” To some of her critics, she’s a woman who doesn’t “know her place.”

See: a recent photo that Eddie Scarry, a writer for the Washington Examiner, took of Ocasio-Cortez and proceeded to share on Twitter in order to question her socio-economic status. (“I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles,” he wrote in the now-deleted tweet.)

But Ocasio-Cortez had a brilliant comeback for him, too. “If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh & take a picture of my backside,” she tweeted. “If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh & take a picture of my backside. Dark hates light—that’s why you tune it out.”

It’s such a relief to see these double standards and sexist barbs called out for what they are—attempts to tear women down and count us out. Whatever work there is to be done (and there is still so much work), we have at least arrived at a moment in which we can be honest about the uphill climbs women face.

Women like Ocasio-Cortez are the future and if that means cutting through all the sexist noise with wit, brains, and a voice that doesn’t sound like it’s been run through 47 political consultants before posting a tweet, I’m in.

He’s Ready to Let His Lola Run

Eduardo Menascé, 72, a board member of public companies and a former Verizon executive from Rye, N.Y., on his Lola T-165, as told to A.J. Baime.

I was born in Argentina. I lived in Brazil, then the United States, France for 10 years, then Brazil again, Venezuela, Argentina and finally back to America. In all these countries, I found one thing in common: People who are as crazy about cars as I am. It is in my DNA.

Today…

The Latest Fake Controversy Has People Concerned About Clothing Choices In Frosty The Snowman

You know what’s more fun than watching iconic network holiday specials? Being snarky about said nostalgia-inducing holiday specials. A few weeks after the humor mill got into Rudolph the Red-nosed Bully (and some people on the Internet freaked out), we’re back with a new edition of Frosty The Pantless Snowman. Take a look at one still from the long-running special to get a glimpse at what the characters are wearing.

Frosty The Snowman, the iconic holiday special coming from Rankin/Bass productions, aired on CBS over the weekend. Per usual, Frosty was entirely pantless, but that’s not what had people online making comments. Instead, they ignored nearly naked Frosty in order to avidly discuss the fact the kids in the movie don’t really have on appropriate winter wear.

Sure, there are some hats and some sweaters, but coats are not really a big deal for these children, who are playing in quite a bit of snow. In fact, pants don’t even seem to be a priority, as most of the kids are running around in shorts like it’s 85 degrees out. (We all know what happens to snowmen when it’s 85 degrees out.)

Occasionally, you’ll catch a kid in a hat in this holiday special, but for the most part, inappropriate outerwear was apparently the way to go in 1969.

Another woman who got a little smarty pants about the clothing choices (tried to get a smarty shorts joke in there, it didn’t work), also had some other thoughts about Rankin/Bass’ story, noting,

Some people on the web have ire for a particular dumb child, like Karen. Although, I will say at least Karen thought to put on ear muffs! Things could be worse for Karen.

We can’t all be like Elsa, whose magical Frozen snow powers keep her from feeling cold, even in silk gowns with see-through sleeves. Animated kids get cold too. But if you ask this lady, they’re just trendsetters.

Anyway, probably the moral of this story is we shouldn’t be taking advice from animated children whilst dressing our own kids, if you didn’t get the memo. But go ahead and keep watching Frosty the Snowman on network TV each winter.

Here’s hoping the Rankin/Bass animated specials live on for another 50 years, even if people have to come out of the woodwork to defend them on occasion.

Jason Momoa Says ‘Swimming’ Through Air For Aquaman Was Not As Fun As It Looks

DC’s live-action universe has had a bumpy road to theaters, with plenty of peaks and valleys since Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel arrived in 2013. The next installment is James Wan’s Aquaman, with the acclaimed horror director tasked with hopefully bringing DC’s second critical success. The movie is breaking plenty of new ground, giving the title character his first solo movie, while also pushing the boundaries of filmmaking with its myriad underwater scenes.

Filming Aquaman sounds super complicated, with tons of wire work used in order to give the actors a sense of weightlessness, which will also be supported with visual affects. Jason Momoa was super uncomfortable, and recently joked about how bad it could get, telling the crew:

Well, that’s certainly an honest way to handle things. Jason Momoa is a big hulking guy, so being strapped in for extensive wirework no doubt took its toll on his body. Specifically, his private parts.

Jason Momoa’s comments to Mirror.Co.Uk shows what a great character the Game of Thrones alum has. He’s bringing a lot of himself into playing Arthur Curry, making the less popular hero into a bonafide badass and leading man. Rather than the butt of the jokes, Momoa brings a hulking physicality to Aquaman— all 240 pounds of him.

James Wan had quite the task of ahead of him for Aquaman, as roughly 2/3 of the movie takes place underwater. As such, lots of movie magic was needed in order to visually make the world of Atlantis come to life. While he didn’t overthink how the characters would be able to speak underwater, Wan did have to think of new ways to film each scene. Wires were used to make the characters appear weightless, and would be necessary for even the smallest movements.

After all, people aren’t exactly walking around on the ocean floor– they’re swimming. Plus, their clothes and hair needed to be touched up with CGI, allowing them to float underwater.

The early reception for Aquaman has been overwhelmingly positive, praising James Wan’s vision and the performance by Jason Momoa as the title character. With no Star Wars movie in theaters, the underwater blockbuster has the potential to really clean up at the Holiday box office. While Aquaman will be competing with other highly anticipated projects like Mary Poppins Returns, James Wan’s movie will be the destination for action fans and Star Wars lovers who don’t have a chapter to watch this December.

It should be fascinating to see how the underwater scenes function in Aquaman, and if any of the cast’s discomfort reads onscreen. DC needs a win badly, so the pressure is on for Arthur Curry’s solo flick to deliver.

Aquaman will arrive in theaters on December 21st. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.