The Internet Is Having A Field Day Celebrating Knives Out With… Sweaters

While the box office has mostly been going bonkers for Frozen II in the last couple of weeks, Rian Johnson’s whodunit Knives Out was able to hold its own last weekend and the film has been getting strong support from both fans and critics. Recently, that support has come in a very specific form, sweaters.

It all started a couple days ago when video essayist Patrick Willems started the #KnivesOutChallenge. This challenge wasn’t anything complicated or even silly as so many internet “challenges” are. This one was something anybody could do. Simply post a picture of yourself wearing a sweater.

It worked. The hashtag picked up steam and a lot of people started posting pictures of themselves in sweaters. Most of them resemble the white sweater we see Chris Evans wearing in Knives Out, but really any sweater works. It’s pretty hilarious to scroll through Twitter and just see all the people getting in on the fun.

Internet challenges based on movies are nothing new, and they can be a lot of fun, but frequently they get a little ridiculous. The Get Out challenge had people posting video of themselves running directly at a camera while looking stern. The Bird Box challenge had people walking around, and sometimes driving, blindfolded. That worked out about as well as you might expect.

However, the Knives Out challenge reached a new plateau when Knives Out director Rian Johnson picked up the challenge, posting an image from behind-the-scenes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi where he was directing Carrie Fisher while wearing a sweater.

And yet, things did not end there. Yesterday, the official Twitter account for Knives Out actually changed its name to “Chris Evans Sweater Stan Account.” Things might be getting slightly out of control here.

For those of us that know Chris Evans as Captain America, he perhaps could not have found a better role to play against that type that the smarmy entitled asshole Ransom in Knives Out. Everybody in the film’s all-star cast is excellent, but Evans is especially great and looks to be having more fun than anybody else in the room. And yes, the sweater game is excellent.

Knives Out made nearly $30 million during its opening weekend, which was on the high end of expectations going into the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s already grossed $77 million worldwide which, with a reported budget of $40 million, means the movie is well on its way to being a financial success.

Whatever the reason, it’s great to see such public support for such a great movie, that might otherwise go unappreciated for not being a massive franchise film. Which, is not to say that we might not see Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig re-team for another mystery down the road, and see Knives Out become its own franchise.

Walt Disney World’s Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance Reportedly Evacuated On Opening Day

Yesterday was a very big day at Walt Disney World as the newest attraction at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Rise of the Resistance, finally opened to the public. It was a wild day by all accounts. Walt Disney World used a virtual queue system for the new ride which was filled up for the day within only a couple hours, and based on most reactions, the ride itself is truly something special.

But, of course, these attractions are massive undertakings with a lot of moving parts, and you can never really know how they’ll hold up under the stress of a full day of functionality until that day comes. For the most part, it seems Rise of the Resistance held up well, but there were some issues, including a ride evacuation.

It seems the breakdown happened about 7:30 in the morning yesterday. Something happened that stopped the ride and the ride was cleared. Everybody who was pulled off the ride was given a pass to return later, and about an hour later Theme Park Express reported that people were reentering the attraction.

There were no other significant stops to the attraction on day one, and so in all honesty, this feels pretty close to a best case scenario. Rise stoppages happen, they suck, but this one looks to have been handled efficiently and it was only a minor problem.

Considering just how massive Rise of the Resistance actually is and how much is going on it’s honestly more than a bit shocking that the first day jitters weren’t a bit worse. Hell, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is still dealing with semi-regular downtime problems several months after opening, also bees.

The bigger issue with Rise of the Resistance may be that it’s too popular. Reports are that virtual queue boarding passes for Rise were gone within only a couple of hours again this morning, and that the park opened early, but wasn’t publicly advertised to be opening early. This means that a lot of people who may have planned vacations around the new attraction may be missing out. Even those willing to stand in line for hours simply don’t have that option.

If nothing else, it seems that anybody who thought that not enough people were interested in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge may have to reevaluate their position. While it’s hard to tell just how long crowds will be like this, what seems clear is that if crowds were small during the land’s initial opening, it may very well have been because those planning big vacations to Walt Disney World decided to hold off and wait for the entire land to be complete, which was one of the reasons suggested for the early lax attendance.

Disneyland is likely taking notes. Rise of the Resistance will open there next month, and we’ll likely see a repeat of what’s going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios there.

How Frozen 2’s Outtake Songs Would Have Changed The Movie

Spoilers Ahead! If you have yet to see Frozen II, freeze where you’re reading and come back after you’ve checked it out!

After six years of waiting and anticipating, the sequel to Frozen is finally here! Walt Disney Animation Studio’s latest epic continues the story of the sisters of Arendelle as Elsa answers the call to learn more about her mysterious ice powers that once drew her and Anna apart as children. Given its reception and sweeping box office numbers the past couple of weeks, Frozen II is another certifiable hit for the studio. But, listen – did anyone else feel like there were some missing pieces to Frozen II?

The sequel is breathtakingly beautiful, its songs are impressive, and it’s fun to come back to these iconic characters after a few years have gone by. But, Frozen II is also veiled in a convoluted plot that isn’t easy to see through completely. Sure, there are some big ideas being explored and the main characters’ emotional journeys are nothing short of epic, but it felt like there were some chunks of the movie that were deserted amidst production.

That in mind, it’s interesting to note that there are four outtakes released on the Frozen II Soundtrack that seem to offer some insight into a more complete version of the movie. Each song explains a bit more of the film that may have helped some movie-goers fill in the gaps they may have left the theater questioning as the catchy “Into the Unknown” fogged memories. Let’s talk them through:

“Home”

Frozen II as it is greatly ignores Anna’s character arc until the second half of the film. For much of the movie, the story focuses on Anna being at Elsa’s side as she answers the call “Into the Unknown” and Kristoff tries to figure out how to propose to her. We don’t really know what’s going through her head until we reach the last third of the film. When Anna becomes queen of Arendelle and accepts Kristoff’s proposal at the end of the film, it makes sense. But, “Home” gives the film insight into her own character’s journey and how it is warranted when it’s later fulfilled.

The first outtake on the soundtrack is a solo from Kristen Bell’s Anna called “Home.” The sweet track seems to have been meant for early in Frozen II as the princess thinks over her love for her kingdom and desire to give more back to it. She sings “somewhere in my heart I feel I’ve not done enough” as she expresses how grateful she is for the people in her life and her “home.” The song was likely cut because Anna already has a solo at in the third act with “The Next Right Thing,” but this would have been a great addition to the film.

“I Seek The Truth”

This outtake is an incredible duet between Elsa and Anna (although it was never recorded by Idina Menzel or Kristen Bell). Based on the lyrics, it seems like it would have been performed at the point of the film when the sisters have discovered the ship their parents were on when they died was en route to the Dark Sea. Because Elsa feels responsible for the shipwreck and doesn’t want to see her sister in danger, the ice queen goes off on her own to “seek the truth.” The song touches upon the sisters’ relationship with their mother as they attempt to decipher the secrets they have kept from them.

“I Seek The Truth” would have been absolutely epic to witness on the big screen in Frozen II. It’s a catchy track but it also offers up the kind of intensity a musical such as this can never have enough of. It’s comparable to the “First Time in Forever” reprise in the ice castle that was a pivotal moment in the first Frozen. The song unites the sisters with a common goal of wanting to figure out their places in Arendelle, and the “truth” that’s been hidden from them.

“Unmeltable Me”

Josh Gad’s Olaf has a great song in Frozen II called “When I Am Older” that tracks the adorable snowman maturing as a magical being. The movie already has a lot of attention placed on him from the very beginning to the end. His story is a relatable one about growing up and realizing the strange truths of the world. But, this additional outtake does answer a few questions some audiences may have been left with while watching Frozen II.

“Unmeltable Me” explains the nature of how Olaf cannot melt and no longer needs the “flurry” Elsa rewards him with at the end of Frozen. He talks out his “self-refrigeration” thanks to Elsa’s magic. This information later comes in handy when Olaf briefly dies because Elsa no longer has access to her powers for a moment. It is explained in the movie just as Olaf is about to perish. “Unmeltable Me” is the most understandable cut from these outtakes, but it may have cleared up a couple things!

“Get This Right”

The last major plot point explored in the song outtakes is Kristoff’s struggle to propose to Anna throughout Frozen II. Of course we get the incredible ‘80s ballad “Lost in the Woods” in the final movie, but was anyone else hoping for a duet between these two? It’s the kind of things us Disney fans demand and expect from a cute animated couple. “Get This Right” is a fun love song about Kristoff trying to find the right way to Anna but it never being the right time!

In the song, Jonathan Groff’s character sings about never being in love before meeting Anna and not knowing what he’s doing. He is trying to “be the opposite of me” in order to win her hand but he’s down on himself for not being able to pull the trigger. The song ends with Anna proposing to Kristoff instead, which honestly makes so much sense considering she is the more outgoing of the two. How adorable! Why wasn’t this in the movie?!!

It’s safe to say Frozen II would have been a more complete movie if these songs were kept in… although it would have been a bit longer! What do you think? Would you have liked to see these songs in Frozen II? Comment and participate in our poll below!

If you could only pick one, which Frozen II song do you wish was in the movie?

Disneyland At Christmas: Best Tips and Tricks For Visiting During The Holiday

Mickey and Minnie Characters in front of Christmas tree

There’s never a bad time to visit Disneyland; it is the happiest place on Earth, after all, but if there’s a best time to visit Disneyland, it might be right now. Disneyland is a place that makes you feel like a kid again, and there’s no better time to be a kid than during the Christmas holiday season. Put the two together, and you have double the magic.

However, like with any Disneyland vacation there’s a lot to do, and a limited time to do it all in. So, what all is there to do during the holidays that you don’t want to miss and what’s the best way to make sure you see it all? Good news, we can answer those questions. Here are a few thoughts on things you’ll want to check out, and the best way to handle them.

Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house

Disneyland’s Holiday Themed Attractions

The biggest reason to visit Disneyland Resort is, of course, all the attractions. The Christmas season tends to be a busy time at Disneyland, but the up side of that is that there is rarely any maintenance scheduled during the period, so all the rides you want to ride should be up and running. However, there are a number of special attractions only available during the holiday season that you won’t want to miss.

First and foremost, you have the Haunted Mansion Holiday. The classic Haunted Mansion is given a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay that starts with the Halloween season celebration and lasts through Christmas. This is probably the most popular attraction in the park that has a special holiday theme, so it’s probably worth hitting, or at least grabbing a FastPass, early. If you’re there at rope drop, go there first. As always, the highlight is the gingerbread house that is built from scratch every year. This year, it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion.

It’s A Small World also gets a holiday overlay, which includes a holiday version of the classic song, which might drive you a little less to distraction if you’re not a fan of the original Sherman Brothers classic. Although, if that’s the case, we need to talk.

Candy canes

Hand Puffed Candy Canes

While the attractions are pretty well known and are obviously going to be well-publicized, not everything special at Disneyland during the holiday is going to be broadcast everywhere. One item that many Disney fans know, but the general public might be less in-the-know about, are the special handmade candy canes you can only get this time of year.

Only a limited number of the special sweets are made each day and they’re only available certain days, so if you want one, you have to work for it. The candy canes are available at either Disneyland’s Candy Palace or Disney California Adventure’s Trolly Treats, depending on the day.

You’re going to have to head straight to the appropriate location as soon as the gates open, which means you may want to get the park as early as an hour before Disneyland opens in order to be sure you’re one of the first inside. Head over to the shop as fast as you can and get in line. From there, wristbands will be handed out which will give you a return time. Then you can go about your day and simply return at the right time to get this unique and limited item.

Here’s the 2019 schedule

Candy Palace at Disneyland

November 29; December 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, and 24

Trolley Treats at California Adventure

November 30; December 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, and 25

Candy Cane Churro

Disneyland’s Holiday Food Is Not To Miss

Attractions may be where we spend most of our time at Disneyland, but the second most fun thing to do in the park is, without question, eat. There are so many good food items to eat — whether it’s from a cart or a table service restaurant — that it’s essentially impossible to eat everything you want during a normal vacation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Personally, if I’m getting breakfast in the park, I always head over to New Orleans Square and hit the Mint Julep Bar for a bag of Mickey beignets. They’re always good, but during the holidays you can get candy cane beignets there, and that’s even better. Grab some before hitting the Haunted Mansion, as it makes the wait much more bearable. Basically every place you can get food at either park is going to have something new to try, so be sure to check out as much as you can. There’s a whole collection of unique churros you’ll only find in specific locations. You can basically churro your way all across the Disneyland Resort and never eat the same flavor twice.

Over at Disney California Adventure, in addition to all the extra food at the normal restaurants, you’ll find pop-up locations throughout the park with all kinds of festive foods and drinks to enjoy. Consider picking up the Sip and Savor Pass, which will allow you to try several of these offerings of your choice for a fixed price.

Grand Californian gingerbread house

The Grand Californian Gingerbread House

The Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house is a must-see creation, but it’s not the only gingerbread house of note within the Disneyland Resort. There is another, and you won’t find it inside either of the parks. Whether or not you’re staying at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa or not, make a point to head through Downtown Disney and visit the place.

It’s a beautiful hotel that also houses the Napa Rose, the best restaurant in the resort, so you’ve got enough of a reason to go there anyway, but make sure to stop off in the lobby and check out the gingerbread house on display. You can get much closer to this one than you can the one in the Haunted Mansion.

Sleeping Beauty Castle dressed up for the holidays

Nighttime Viewing at the Disneyland Resort

No matter where you are, among the best parts of the holiday season at Disneyland and California Adventure are the decorations and specifically, the lights. Disneyland Resort is certainly no different, and if you’re the kind that likes to cruise around your neighborhood and look at the lights on the houses, you’ll want to do the same and cruise Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to see everything there is to see there.

Even if you don’t want to go inside It’s a Small World, make a point to visit the exterior after dark, as it is lit up beautifully every year. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is, of course, impossible to miss, especially when it’s done up for the holidays. One final place you’ll want to be sure you don’t miss is Cars Land over in Disney’s California Adventure. The neon lights are worth checking out year round, but during the holidays there’s a special glow to everything.

Of course, both parks have special holiday nighttime shows worth checking out as well. Disneyland’s Believe… In Holiday Magic, Fireworks Show and Disney California Adventure’s World of Color – Season Of Light are both must see events. For World of Color, considering making reservations at one of the restaurants that includes preferred viewing area space. You have to eat anyway, right? This way you’re guaranteed a decent spot, and also a good meal.

Neil Patrick Harris at Walt Disney World's Candlelight Processional screenshot

Disneyland’s Candlelight Processional

This one is only relevant to your trip if you’re going on certain days, and those days are coming up soon, the Disneyland Candlelight Processional, an event that was started by Walt Disney himself, will be taking place at the park on December 7th and 8th. A stage is constructed at the end of Main Street U.S.A. opposite the castle, and guests are treated to music and stories of the season.

The narrator of the event this year has not been revealed. It will likely be a surprise, but it’s almost always a significant celebrity and somebody with a strong Disney connection. Past narrators have included Chris Hemsworth, Dick Van Dyke, and Warwick Davis among many, many others. It’s a standing room only event and it will be crowded, but sometimes you just have to deal with that to experience something special.

There’s so much to do at Disneyland during the holidays. This is far from everything being offered by the veteran theme park, but it will certainly get you started and get you in the spirit of the season. If you can’t make it before Christmas, don’t worry, all of these holiday festivities actually last into the new year, and won’t actually end until January 6, 2020.

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Leia’s Role In The Rise Of Skywalker Is As Profound As Han In Force Awakens And Luke In Last Jedi, According To J.J. Abrams

General Leia Organa In Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker

While the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy has done an amazing job establishing its new generation of heroes – Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, and BB-8 – it’s also done a fascinating job weaving in its key legacy characters. Harrison Ford’s Han Solo got to play a significant role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, helping to shepherd Rey, Finn, and BB-8 to the Resistance in the Millennium Falcon, and then Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker was a central figure in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, reluctantly training Rey in the ways of the Force.

This has left an interesting question up in the air in regards to the role of Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. The pattern would suggest that the upcoming blockbuster would be the beloved character’s opportunity to take center stage, however, the actress passed away unexpectedly months before the start of production.

Given the circumstances, you might presume that the idea of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker having Leia as its central figure might not be feasible, but I learned from director J.J. Abrams this week that he feels that Leia’s role in the movie is just as “profound” as those played by Han and Luke in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, respectively.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the director yesterday during the Los Angeles press day for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, and directly asked him about the aforementioned pattern. In discussing how the production found the right way to include General Leia Organa in the story, he explained that the character’s presence in the film is far more significant than you might think:

Clearly we would have done other things had Carrie, been around, but I will say despite her not being with us anymore, her presence in the movie is not inconsequential. She’s not being ‘added in’ so that she’s in the movie. And I would say that her story, her role, the importance of Leia, I would argue is as profound as what you’re saying even though she wasn’t here.

In a macro examination of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa was positioned by the story at the center of everything from the get go. In addition to being the leader of the Resistance against the First Order, she was also made to be the mother of the central antagonist, Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo, while also being the ex-wife of Han Solo, and the sister of the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker. Every aspect of the narrative was built to lead back to her.

The significance of Leia’s position in the universe meant that the Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker filmmakers couldn’t just write her death into the opening scroll, or take her out of the story completely. J.J. Abrams explained that they knew there were certain avenues that weren’t available to them, and that it took a lot of work to find the right way to do things:

There was no way, as I’ve said before, to tell the story without Leia. She’s too important. It’s Skywalker saga. She is the living Skywalker in our story. You don’t want to start the story and say something happened to her in between movies. It didn’t feel right. We’d never recast it. A digital Leia wouldn’t work. There was no way to do it.

There was no real way to generate significant new footage featuring Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, but that’s when it donned on the filmmakers to look back at material that was previously relegated to the cutting room floor. J.J. Abrams himself shot extra scenes with Fisher that didn’t make it into the final cut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and there was a realization among the Rise of Skywalker team that the material could be repurposed as part of the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga.

While we won’t know exactly what this footage contains until we’re actually watching Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker later this month, the material caused the metaphorical light bulb to turn on in J.J. Abrams his head as he realized how it could be used for his new movie. Said the writer/director,

When we looked at the footage from Force Awakens, which I was obviously very familiar with, and realized we had a number of scenes we could use, and, and write scenes around, it was suddenly like, ‘Oh my God, we could tell the story with Leia in the film.’

At the end of the day, the circumstances facing the team behind Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker weren’t obviously not ideal, and in a perfect world Carrie Fisher would have been alive to perform new scenes as Leia. But J.J. Abrams feels not only that he did everything he could to make Fisher’s role in the movie work, but also lucky that he was able to give her a part to play and honor her memory:

Obviously we did everything we could with the material that we had. I would have loved to have done other things too, but I feel lucky that we got to do what we could.

The role played by Leia Organa in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker has long been one of the most anticipated elements of the new movie, but learning J.J. Abrams’ feelings in regards to the way the role parallels those played by Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in the big picture makes it even more exciting. And now the countdown stands at just 15 days.

Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for a whole lot more of our Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker coverage both before and after the release of the film – including more from my interviews with not only with J.J. Abrams, but also stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Billy Dee Williams.

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Colin Trevorrow Shuts Down Latest Rise Of Skywalker Rumors

Star Wars has a tremendously active fanbase, and what comes part and parcel with that is a lot of rumor and speculation. There are many people in the world who are hungry for all of the latest inside information and behind-the-scenes talk that the smallest tidbits can snowball, and in combination with what turn out to be poor sources it can ultimately become misinformation.

That seems to be the case with a new report that popped up today regarding writer/director Colin Trevorrow’s vision for the film that became Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. The filmmaker took to Twitter today to shut down the story, saying that he only decided to do so because all of the details were completely untrue:

Nothing is officially known about the details of the drafts Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly put together, as Lucasfilm keeps those kinds of things very secret, but a report suggested possession of inside information about the script. I say “suggested” in the case, because Trevorrow very flatly refutes all of it as bunk.

This is very much a case of the accessibility of filmmakers on social media being a good thing, as it helps to have word from the official source that information being spread around is false. As everyone is well aware, rumors can spread like wildfire on the internet, and while it’s unfair to expect any artist to police every single rumor that emerges about their work, it is nice when a bit of confirmation is available in a world full of speculation.

For now we neither know much about Colin Trevorrow’s vision for Star Wars: Episode IX, nor really J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – but at least the latter has a ticking clock on it. We are now just a little over two weeks away from the blockbuster’s release in theaters around the globe, and expectations and anticipation is through the roof for what is heralded as the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga.

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker will be arriving in theaters everywhere on December 20th – and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for a whole lot of our content, including interviews with J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Billy Dee Williams in the coming days and weeks!

Black Widow: 5 Confirmed Theories For The Next Marvel Movie

Natasha Romanoff is back from the dead (but not really) in the upcoming Black Widow

WARNING: this article contains some crucial spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. If, for some reason, you have not seen it, proceed with caution!

On December 3, 2019, fans finally got to catch a glimpse of Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff leading her own movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first trailer for Black Widow. Marvel fans have been wanting to see Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff headline her own solo Black Widow film since she first exploded into the MCU in 2010’s Iron Man 2.

The film’s mysterious plot, in typical MCU fashion, has garnered much speculation since it was first announced. Is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? Is a sequel possible after that tragic moment in Avengers: Endgame?

There is still much left to learn about Black Widow until the film opens Phase Four of the MCU in May 2020, but, as of now, there are a few things that we know for sure. Such as…

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow ponders her future... or her past

Black Widow Will Take Place Between Civil War And Infinity War

As previously mentioned, excitement for Black Widow’s solo film was soon met with confusion after Avengers: Endgame saw the tragic death of Natasha Romanoff, sacrificing herself in return for the Soul Stone.

Theories surrounding the plot of Black Widow erupted every which way, with fans asking if Natasha Romanoff had really died, if Captain America brought her back to life when he returned the Infinity Stones, or if her soul was trapped in an alternate dimension in which the film takes place. Fans also discussed the more logical concept of Black Widow being a prequel that would offer a deeper explanation to the Marvel heroine’s origins of espionage.

Well, as the film’s trailer and IMBb description have made clear, Black Widow will take place in between the events of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Therefore, two things are for sure: Black Widow is both prequel and sequel, and, as Scarlett Johansson is certain of, Natasha Romanoff is dead. But at least we will get to see her in action one last time.

The Black Widow teaser depicts an unseen (only heard) conversation between Natasha Romanoff what appears to be William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (and more on him later), in which he tells her that he heard she “had to leave in a hurry,” echoing the events that occur with her toward the end of Captain America: Civil War where Tony Stark warns her that people will be coming for her. It quickly becomes apparent that, while in hiding, Natasha chose to return to Europe.

Could there be a chance that we’ll see a cameo from Chris Evans as Steve Rogers and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson before the blacklisted trio break off onto separate paths? Or Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark? Maybe we will also catch a glimpse of Natasha Romanoff’s transition from redhead to blonde. Perhaps we may learn more about Black Widow than we are even ready for.

David Harbour as the Soviet Captain America, Red Guardian

David Harbour Will Be Starring As Red Guardian In Black Widow

Since starring as Hawkins Police Chief Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, David Harbour’s career has consistently been on the up and up, landing bigger and bigger roles. For his second attempt at bringing a comic book character to life after 2019’s Hellboy reboot, the 44-year-old actor will appear in Black Widow as Alexei Shostakov, otherwise known as Red Guardian.

Red Guardian made his first appearance in Marvel comics in 1967. As one could tell from his battle helmet and the star embroidered on his chest, the character was essentially created as a Soviet equivalent to Captain America, complemented with a bright red shield to cement the resemblance.

Alexei Shostakov was originally depicted in the comics as a fighter pilot for Soviet Union during World War II before becoming the second of many to wear the Red Guardian mantle, as well as being the husband of Natasha Romanoff. While it is not clear what David Harbour’s iteration of Shostakov will be in relation to Scarlett Johansson’s character in Black Widow, there is no denying the “dad vibes” he gives off in the trailer.

William Hurt's Thunderbolt Ross looks to have shed off a few years for Black Widow

William Hurt Will Reprise His Role As Thunderbolt Ross In Black Widow

As previously mentioned, the Black Widow trailer sports an appearance by an old friend of the Avengers: Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Played by William Hurt, the Army general with an ongoing love-hate relationship with the Marvel heroes since his introduction to the MCU in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk is heard in the trailer speaking to Natasha Romanoff about how she “had to leave in a hurry,” which it seems safe to say is a reference to her evading capture at the end of Captain America: Civil War.

The only reason I say it “seems” that way is because, in the brief shot of Thunderbolt Ross in the Black Widow trailer, he looks far younger than he looked in Captain America: Civil War. It appears that Marvel has given William Hurt the digital de-aging special, following a trend that the studio has arguably perfected.

The use of this CGI trickery raises speculation that Black Widow might end up delving deeper into Natasha Romanoff’s history before joining the Avengers and it seems that Thunderbolt Ross is connected to her past.

Florence Pugh is Black Widow's sister?

Florence Pugh Will Appear As Black Widow’s “Sister,” Yelena Belova

One of the most exciting moments of the Black Widow trailer sees Natasha Romanoff in a brutal face-off with a Russian-accented blonde woman. The fight concludes with Romanoff telling her opponent, “It’s good to see you too, sis.”

The “sister” in question is Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh – though it’s not entirely clear if she is a blood relative sister, or simply a colleague and/or friend who is sisterly. The British actress, who garnered attention for her skin crawling performance in Ari Aster’s slow-burn horror masterpiece Midsommar, is seen in the trailer joining forces with Natasha Romanoff for more than just a “family reunion.”

Yelena Belova’s comic book counterpart, first introduced to Marvel comics in 1999, is Russian spy and assassin trained by the Red Room, the same organization known for training Natasha Romanoff, and would eventually succeed her as the second person to honor the Black Widow title. Along with Red Guardian a supposed father figure, the sisterly relationship makes Black Widow look to be quite the family affair.

Taskmaster has changed his look quite a bit for Black Widow, too

Taskmaster Will Be The Main Villain In Black Widow

The Black Widow trailer confirms talk that the film will mark the first appearance of Marvel antagonist Taskmaster. However, the villain’s spot in the trailer has also sparked some controversy.

Taskmaster is seen in the teaser showing some mad archery skills and donning a helmet sporting a wicked mouth guard resembling the bottom half of a skull. The thing is, that is not the look the original concept art promised.

Fans voiced their disappointment that this iteration of Taskmaster is a far cry from the appearance of his comic book counterpart, a mercenary Anthony “Tony” Masters with incredible abilities in mimicry who was first introduced in 1980. Some have joked he shares a stronger resemblance to a Power Rangers villain.

Of course, some have speculated that, in the frequent tradition of altering character history, this iteration of Taskmaster may not be Tony Masters, but another familiar MCU character who knows his way around a bow and arrow. Additionally, no actor is currently credited in the role, so could this be Marvel’s method of hiding the fact that Taskmaster is really Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye?

That might be a bit of a stretch considering the fact that the story takes place after Captain America: Civil War, where they were last on the same side, so we’ll just chalk that up to one of the many mysteries soon to be revealed when Black Widow hits theaters May 1, 2020. Be sure to check back for more updates on Scarlett Johansson’s solo Marvel outing here on CinemaBlend.

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The Big Venom Lesson That The Producer Says Is Informing Venom 2

With any franchise, there are always lessons to be learned from the first film, about what worked and what didn’t that can be used to make an even better movie the second time around. According to the producer of Sony’s 2018 surprise smash hit Venom, there is one big lesson in particular that will be informing next year’s sequel Venom 2. In an exclusive interview with CinemaBlend, producer Matt Tolmach explained what they took from the reaction to the first film, saying:

Sometimes the biggest lesson about a film isn’t what didn’t work but what did, and for Venom what worked was the central relationship between Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock and the symbiote Venom, also voiced by Tom Hardy. This is the thing that Venom producer Matt Tolmach has heard the most about the anti-hero’s solo film and the big lesson that will be informing Venom 2. Audiences want more of Eddie Brock and Venom interacting with one another.

Venom and Eddie bantering back and forth, insulting one another, fighting and ultimately learning that they are better together than they are apart was a true highlight of the first film. And that has been further reinforced by the feedback the filmmakers have received. In Matt Tolmach’s mind, the dynamic between the symbiote and his host that proved so appealing in Venom is all due to the performance of Tom Hardy.

The producer and the filmmakers behind Venom 2 recognize the strength of that performance and the Venom-Eddie relationship and how much audiences appreciated that element of Venom. That is a lesson they can and are taking into the creation of the sequel, which will presumably lean into that relationship.

The love for the Eddie/Venom dynamic is incredibly encouraging because as Matt Tolmach notes, it is testament to the strength of the characters. Eddie Brock and Venom are the central relationship at the heart of the Venom franchise and if those characters and that relationship don’t work you have nothing. But since the relationship does work and not only does it work, but people want more of it, you have a solid foundation on which to build and that will continue and grow in Venom 2.

As the big lesson Matt Tolmach took from Venom, it sounds like we can expect a lot more of fun interactions between Tom Hardy’s dual identities in Venom 2. The film should provide ample time to hit the ground running on that front too since Eddie and Venom will presumably still be together at the start of the film, so the insults and tater tots and lobster baths can start right away.

With the big lesson from Venom being the strength of the relationship between Eddie and Venom, you can understand one of the reasons why Andy Serkis might have been tapped to direct the sequel. Eddie and Venom have a real Gollum and Sméagol dynamic and you’ve got to imagine Andy Serkis can have some real fun with that and let Tom Hardy really cut loose and try some things out. We’ve already heard that the actor and director have great chemistry.

Venom 2 is currently filming and is set for an October 2, 2020 release date. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see all of the big movies headed to theaters next year.

Adam Driver Says Every Scene Of New Netflix Movie Marriage Story Was ‘Tough’ To Shoot

Talking about a movie as emotionally intense as writer/director Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story almost always leads to the question of just which scene was the toughest to shoot. Be it a test of technical mastery, or a moment of peril, there’s always that one day on set that manages to be a squeaker. Only, in the case of actor Adam Driver’s time on Baumbach’s latest film, every day felt pretty tough to him.

At a recent roundtable interview, Driver laid out his thinking in these terms:

The tale of a couple going through a taxing divorce, Marriage Story sees Adam Driver and co-star Scarlett Johansson through various phases of their character’s ultimately doomed coupling. The concept of this film alone feels like it’s a rough one to get through, no matter if it’s merely reading its script or actually watching it. But to have to live through those moments on set, as opposed to similar but more blockbuster moments on a set like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, has to be the greatest challenge of all. And Driver is no stranger to that hypothesis.

This whole line of thought stemmed from a question from the moderator of THR’s Actor Roundtable, one where Adam Driver was asked about which scene was the toughest in the entirety of Marriage Story’s production to engage with. And just as you see above, plus in remarks made by Driver earlier in that conversation, the uniformly difficult nature of this very emotional story ran consistently through the entire production. Something that the actor attributes to the “good writing” that Noah Baumbach put into this very personal tale.

Reading that entire response from Adam Driver not only has me worried about watching Marriage Story this coming weekend, as it debuts on Netflix tomorrow, but it also has me more intrigued to do so. With our own Sean O’Connell giving the film a perfect 5 star review, labeling the film as a “broken relationship, but two of the year’s best performances,” it’s starting to feel like I might not have enough tissues to take this in one sitting.

It’s been an interesting year for Netflix, as they’ve landed several highly acclaimed films that have been released in 2019, and seem to be continuing that trend with Marriage Story. The public will now have their chance to weigh in on just how hard this emotional story hits, as it will be on Netflix’s streaming platform as of tomorrow, and is currently in limited theatrical release. And if you like your Adam Driver a little more upbeat and brooding, you’ll be able to check him out in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which opens in theaters on December 20th.

The 12 Best Christmas Holiday Movies Currently Streaming

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Most holiday traditions involve watching Christmas movies. Prior to streaming services, to view holiday classics, families needed a VHS or DVD player and others a cable subscription. The introduction of constantly-growing streaming platforms have made watching holiday films a lot easier.

We selected these Christmas movies because they are unique holiday films, or only available on their respective streaming service, or are Christmas classics. Additionally, these titles should appeal to a wide range of holiday movie viewers, such as younger viewers, romantic movie fans, and classic film lovers. We also selected these Christmas movies because they are available through a basic subscription package, no additional subscriptions necessary.

Amber and King Richard in A Christmas Prince 3: A Royal Baby

A Christmas Prince 3: A Royal Baby (Netflix)

Netflix returns to Aldovia for the third installment of the A Christmas Prince series. In A Christmas Prince 3: A Royal Baby, Queen Amber (Rose McIver) and King Richard (Ben Lamb) are expecting their first child, but before the baby arrives, the royal family wants to host some distant relatives. Things get out of hand and an ancient curse threatens peace in Aldovia.

Netflix wants these Christmas Prince movies to become required holiday viewing, and it’s kind of working. The films have major plot holes and ridiculous scenarios, but fans continue to watch and repeatedly view the Christmas Prince movies. Sometimes holiday films need to answer deeper questions about life and human kind, but other times they just need to warm your heart and involve a Cinderella-like story with a reporter. Netflix releases A Christmas Prince 3: A Royal Baby on December 5, and fans of the series can probably expect another one next Christmas. Stream it here.

Holly Hunt and Robert Downey Jr in Home for the Holidays

Home For The Holidays (Hulu)

Home for the Holidays stars Holly Hunter and an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes, Dylan McDermott, and Charles Durning. The 1995 film follows recently fired Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) as she returns home from Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family. Jodie Foster directs Home for the Holidays.

Technically, Home for the Holidays is not a Christmas movie, but it offers the same important lessons as any Christmas film, such as that every family is a mess in their own special way. Home for the Holidays reminds viewers that your family may drive you insane, but for better or worse, they’re always going to be important people in your life. Home for the Holidays blends just the right amount of holiday drama, comedy, and romance. Stream it here.

The Snowman 1982

The Snowman (Prime Video)

The Snowman is a short film that follows a young boy on Christmas Eve as he builds a snowman, and then they go on an adventure. This classic animated film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film, and it won a BAFTA TV Award.

Since its 1982 release, The Snowman has become a timeless classic that children and families often watch during the holidays. It’s a simple tale of adventure, loss, and imagination. It’s a beautifully drawn and animated movie that may not be as visually striking as more modern animated features, but the simple graphics are part of The Snowman’s charm. This tale about a snowman coming to life melts the heart of anyone, even a Grinch. Stream it here.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney+)

Tim Burton brings Halloweentown to life in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon) tries to steal Christmas from Santa Claus and the humans. Misguided by the idea of Christmas, Jack brings havoc to the human world, but soon realizes that Halloween is his true love, so he restores order to Christmas.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a tribute to both the love of Halloween and the love of Christmas. Therefore, it works as a multi-holiday movie. Everything about Tim Burton’s holiday classic makes it an unforgettable animated film. The Nightmare Before Christmas helped establish Burton as a master of creating riveting and distinct gothic worlds. Stream it here.

Netflix's Klaus

Klaus (Netflix)

Klaus follows underachieving, spoiled rich Jesper (Jason Schwartzman). Tired of Jesper’s laziness, and angry at the fact that he flunked out of the postman academy, Jesper’s father sends him to a small frozen town in the North called Smeerensburg. Jesper must create a successful functioning postal service in Smeerensburg or lose his inheritance. Quickly, Jesper learns that things won’t be as easy as he thinks. With the help of toymaker Klaus (J. K. Simmons), Jesper changes and inspires the town.

An exciting thing about Klaus’s take on the Santa Claus legend is that it gives the story a more human touch. It reinvents Santa Claus from a magical figure to a normal man who finds a mission bigger than himself. This Netflix original is all about the power of small acts of kindness, and the ways in which they inspire hope, change opinions, and bring some love into lonely and hurt people’s lives. Klaus is not only a heartwarming Christmas tale, but it’s a visually stunning animation. The world of Klaus and Smeerensburg feel fully developed because of the animators. Stream it here.

The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit Of Christmas (Hulu)

Hulu brings viewers The Spirit of Christmas this month. To try to guarantee a promotion, lawyer Kate (Jen Lilley) agrees to go to an old inn to help appraise and sell it. Upon arrival, Kate learns that Daniel (Thomas Beaudo), a ghost that used to own it, doesn’t want it sold. Daniel has a curse that allows him to become human from December 13 to December 24 (the day he died).

Basically, The Spirit of Christmas is the type of romantic holiday film that viewers can find on Lifetime and Hallmark, especially since it features Hallmark movie regular Jen Lilley. However, The Spirit of Christmas at least tries something a little unusual by having her fall for a ghost, not an angel or recent widowed parent. The Spirit of Christmas also seems to understand that the premise doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t try to actually complicate things by explaining how any of this is possible, or offering answers at the end. The Spirit of Christmas delivers all the swoon-worthy moments that romantic holiday movie fans will love. Stream it here.

1979 Jack Frost

Jack Frost (Prime Video)

The 1979 stop motion TV special Jack Frost follows Jack Frost (voiced by Robert Morse), a god-like winter fairy who tries life as a human for the woman he loves. He must use his skills as a fairy and human to save her.

Jack Frost is one of the classic stop motion and animated features that many children grew up watching. This film along with The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town play a part in an animated block of TV specials that trigger Christmas nostalgia. Stream it here.

Miracle on 34th Street

Miracle On 34th Street (Disney+)

Miracle on 34th Street stars John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood. Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) hires Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) to take on the role of Santa Claus at Macy’s. Soon the jolly fellow starts to claim that he is the real Santa Claus. A series of events lead to Kris going on trial to prove that he’s not insane but actually Santa.

Miracle on 34th Street has four remakes, but Disney+ offers the original 1947 version. This version of the film is charming, endearing, sweet, and full of holiday spirit. Miracle on 34th Street gives viewers a wholesome Christmas movie for the entire family. Stream it here.

Santa's Apprentice

Santa’s Apprentice (Netflix)

In the French-Australian animated film Santa’s Apprentice, the Council of Retired Santas tell the current Santa Claus that it’s time for him to begin training an apprentice to take over when he retires. He must search for an orphan pure of heart to become the future Santa. He then meets Nicholas, and they begin his quest to become the next Mr. Claus.

Santa’s Apprentice offers another twist on the story of Santa Claus. This Christmas adventure tale teaches children (and some adults) that being kind and pure of heart can result in gigantic rewards, like getting the same job as your hero. Santa’s Apprentice is also a little more mature than many animated holiday movies as it deals with serious issues like poverty, bullying, and abandonment. Despite the serious subject matters, the film stays cheerful and positive, while giving viewers hope that anything is possible with a dream and a little Christmas magic. Stream it here.

A Very Brady Christmas

A Very Brady Christmas (Hulu)

A Very Brady Christmas is a 1988 TV special that reunites the Brady family for the holidays. A Very Brady Christmas features almost the entire original cast; Susan Olsen who plays Cindy Brady was missing because she was on her honeymoon at the time. The Christmas special aired on CBS on December 18, 1988, and it became the second highest rated TV event of that year.

A Very Brady Christmas aired 14 years after The Brady Brunch ended in 1974. It was a monumental event because it achieved the very difficult task of ensuring that most of the entire cast could appear, which sparked a surge of nostalgia for Brady Bunch fans. The success of A Very Brady Christmas led to a short-lived sitcom called The Bradys. This Brady Bunch special allows fans of the sitcom, or older sitcom fans in general, to return to a time of yesteryears when a lovely lady met a fellow named Brady. The rest is TV history. Stream it here.

It's a Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life (Prime Video)

It’s a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey (James Stewart), a man who after a series of misfortunes considers suicide. His guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) appears to show George how life would be without him.

It’s a Wonderful Life may be the most beloved Christmas/holiday movie of all-time. Luckily, for those who cut the cord, they no longer need to rely on basic cable to view this holiday classic. Prime Video offers It’s a Wonderful Life fans two ways to view it: in black and white or color. Stream it here.

Home Alone

Home Alone (Disney+)

John Hughes and Chris Columbus write and direct Home Alone. The film centers around Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), an eight-year old whose family accidentally leaves him home alone, while they go on a family vacation. Kevin must then fight off two burglars, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern).

At its heart, Home Alone is a movie about appreciating your family. Less sentimentally, it’s a fun comedy about a boy destroying his home and taking down a few criminals. Home Alone is the ultimate kid adventure story, and that makes it a terrific holiday movie. Stream it here.

Each platform offers a wide range of festive films, so start with these Christmas movies, and then let the holiday movie binging begin.

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