The Rock Movies: A List Of Upcoming Films Starring Dwayne Johnson

What’s the next step up from “movie star”? Because that’s where we need to classify Dwayne Johnson. The man isn’t just blowing up at the multiplex. He’s capturing the explosion in a headlock, pile-driving it into the ground, cracking a joke as he does so, then finishing us off with his trademark, 1,000-watt mega-smile. If we’re lucky, he’ll even arch an eyebrow, just to remind us that this is The Rock’s world. We’re only renting space for a limited time.

The Rock has numerous movies heading to theaters in the near future. Beyond that, he has attached his name to various projects, all of which sound like they will keep the one-time wrestler and current big-screen phenom in the blockbuster business for years. Because we know that you love The Rock as much as we love The Rock, we’ve documented the actor’s next films… even the ones that have just been announced and are still wading though different forms of development. Which of these are you most interested in seeing? Yes you can answer “all of them” if you so choose.

Fighting With My Family

This one flew under the radar for some time (outside of The Rock’s social promotion of it), though it’s a surprise because it’s right in The Rock’s wheelhouse. From what we can tell, Dwayne Johnson will be playing a former wrestler who still tours to small venues and keeps his name in the lights. Now, though, his daughter has her own dreams of fighting in the big leagues, leading to comedic and dramatic developments. Stephen Merchant is writing and directing this one, with Kim Matula, Lena Heady and Vince Vaughn along for the ride.

Release date: February 14, 2019

Hobbs and Shaw

The Rock might not be back for Fast and Furious 9 — whatever it ends up being titled — because he and Vin Diesel still have beef, AND because he’s cultivating a spinoff with Jason Statham that would follow their feuding characters on some type of adventure. There’s no question that the chemistry between these two action-movie icons was the key takeaway from the last two Furious movies. And, while it would have seemed to be a scheduling nightmare to try and find a time when these two extremely busy dudes could find time to bang out a team-up film, they are currently doing just that and have brought Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby along for the ride. There IS a release date, so everything’s on track for Universal to stick that landing.

Release date: July 26, 2019

Jumanji 3

Even The Rock — who is used to silver screen success — had to be surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. A huge part of that success had to do with the chemistry of the ensemble, which included Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart. Now, Sony is saying that they want to get everyone back together for a sequel (the studio needs reliable franchises, so I’m not that stunned), but it’s a matter of finding time in Dwayne Johnson’s packed schedule. There was talk that Jumanji 3 would target a December 2019 release date, where it would go toe-to-toe with Star Wars: Episode IX. But, seeing as how it held its own against Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there’s no real reason for The Rock and his crew to back down now, and the current release date will give the film a week long head start on the latest Star Wars film.

Release date: December 13, 2019

San Andreas 2

After the above titles, we start to get speculative, as nothing else on The Rock’s calendar has an actual release date… just a lot of chatter, and updates from the actor’s camp on project possibilities. San Andreas 2 is a no-brainer, as the first movie earned a whopping $473 million in global ticket sales. Rumors at the time of announcement had Dwayne Johnson’s character — an LAFD search-and-rescue helicopter pilot — going up against the Ring of Fire… which means The Rock is going to punch a volcano. No release date yet, but seeing as how Rock loves working with Alexandra Daddario, we think this one’s destined to happen.

Doc Savage

Shane Black returned to theaters with his ’70s detective noir The Nice Guys, and while he was on the publicity circuit, he talked about projects from his past, and his hopeful future. The writer/director most recently finished The Predator, a reboot of that popular franchise which debuted on September 14, 2018, and is now taking a stab at Doc Savage, a pulp magazine character. Shortly after the Doc Savage news broke, The Rock teased a collaboration with Black that he would film in 2017. While some rights issues have stopped the film from getting underway as quickly as Black and Dwayne Johnson had hoped, The Rock did confirm in early 2018 that they’re still working on the project. The story would focus on a heroic character who’s damn near perfect in every way… sounds exactly like Dwayne Johnson! Look for more news on this one soon.

Black Adam / Suicide Squad 2

DC and Warner Bros. locked up The Rock in the role of Black Adam in a Shazam movie several years ago, and while we’ve all just been waiting for that dream to become a reality, it looks like several things have changed behind the scenes. Stay with us here, as this gets kinda confusing. Originally, the plan was for Johnson to play the bad guy/anti-hero in Shazam’s big screen debut, but in January 2017 it was revealed that there was a new plan, one that would see Black Adam get his own movie and not appear in Shazam! at all. Then, at San Diego Comic-Con in July, DC showed off their upcoming slate of movies, but guess what was missing? Black Adam. So, we now have no idea when this movie will happen, or why it doesn’t appear on DC’s latest film slate, but we do still have confirmation from DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns that the film is, supposedly, happening. So, I guess we’ll see!

The Robert Ludlum Universe

This one might be the most recent addition to The Rock’s calendar… because the man clearly isn’t satisfied unless he has double-digit projects on his cinematic To-Do list. The late Robert Ludlum wrote thrillers and espionage stories (the Bourne series drew inspiration from Ludlum’s stories), and Dwayne Johnson recently broke the news that he would be backing an adaptation of the author’s The Janson Directive, which would cast The Rock as an ex-Navy SEAL who gets caught up in a far-reaching government conspiracy that has him hunted by assassins from the Consular Operations. Naturally, if this hits, The Rock could have another franchise on his hands. Because the only thing The Rock likes more than kicking ass if having a new franchise to his name.

Big Trouble in Little China

Truthfully, we were hoping this one would fade away. But The Rock recently reaffirmed plans to make a new version of John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. And he’s saying all the right things about respecting the source material, and honoring the work of both Carpenter and the legendary Kurt Russell, neither of whom are totally cool with the idea of the film being remade. And, that’s why it’s good that Hiram Garcia, who’s producing the new film, came out recently to let everyone know that this isn’t actually being planned as a remake, but a follow-up. I love The Rock. But, I also love this movie. Because of that, I can freely admit that when plans were announced for Big Trouble to come back to the big screen, I wished The Rock would do something different, and leave this movie alone. Now that I know that it’s more of a sequel, though, am I more on board with the potential? Sure. I’ll probably be there on opening day, hoping with all my heart that they did the world of Big Trouble in Little China justice.

Recently Released

Central Intelligence

Let’s start with the movie that we’ll be able to see next month. From the director of We’re the Millers, Central Intelligence casts The Rock and Kevin Hart as former high-school classmates who reunite years later, with one being in the CIA (Johnson) and the other reluctantly helping him crack a difficult case. Not surprisingly, Rock and Hart seem to have incredible chemistry with each other, and the trailers for Central Intelligence had a ton of authentic laughs… many coming from the Rock shower scene that involves some incredible prosthetics (pictured above).

Release date: June 17, 2016

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We won’t see The Rock in Disney’s animated Moana, but we’re bound to hear him when the film opens over the Thanksgiving holiday. Set in the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana will follow a young woman and skilled navigator who sets sail on a thrilling adventure to find a fabled island. Johnson isn’t voicing Moana. Instead, he’ll lend his pipes to Maui, a demi-god who helps Moana on her journey… especially when she starts to encounter sea creatures and legendary oceanic obstacles.

Release date: November 23, 2016

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The Fate of the Furious

You can’t keep a good franchise down, and so — even though they lost one of their founding fathers in Paul Walker — the eighth Fast & Furious film is racing into theaters in April, with new locations (New York City, Iceland and Cuba) and a new villain in Charlize Theron. Still, the F&F series is about family, and The Rock has been part of the crew since Fast Five (still the highwater mark, in my opinion, of this wildly entertaining series). What will Hobbs be doing in The Fate of the Furious? He’ll be holding the “family” together, because “Evil” Vin Diesel wants to tear it apart.

Release date: April 14, 2017

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After pounding bad guys as part of his Fast series, it’s back to the beach for Dwayne Johnson as he heads up a remake of the classic TV show Baywatch. Only, from everything we have been hearing, this one is NOT television friendly. Co-starring Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra and several members of the original Baywatch cast, this new comedy is going to be pushing the hard-R rating… which can come from violence (it’s going to have a criminal element to it) but likely will come from the language and humor. So long as it’s funny, and given the Rock’s increasing sense of humor and confidence as an on-screen comedian, we’re feeling optimistic.

Release date: May 19, 2017

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This one, all of a sudden, has been on The Rock’s radar. Johnson’s Central Intelligence co-star Kevin Hart, Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Karen Gillan, and Jack Black will be part of the remake. Rock has even talked about how they have a great tribute to Robin Williams, the original star of Jumanji, planned. It’s not a remake of the original. It’s a sequel, and a continuation, that will use video games to update the story. We shall see soon enough.

Release date: December 22, 2017

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Rampage was an arcade game that had gigantic monsters — a wolf, an ape and a dinosaur/lizard — attacking a city and avoiding the military. Players played as the monsters, though the Rampage movie has The Rock defending the city against this onslaught. Director Brad Peyton has already revealed that the film will be “a lot more emotional, a lot scarier and a lot more real than you’d expect,” so we’ll see how the story for this one evolves as time goes on.

Release date: April 20, 2018

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After Central Intelligence, director Rawson Marshall Thurber mentioned a pitch he had for a Dwayne Johnson action pic that would cast the hulking lead as a retired FBI badass who now assesses security levels in very tall buildings. While on assignment in China, Rock’s character finds himself being framed for a fire set in the skyscraper, and now he has to race time (and overcome obstacles) to free his name and rescue his family. If Skyscraper sounds like The Rock’s Die Hard, well, it is. But Universal believes enough in the concept to give this one a greenlight, and a juicy summer release date.

Release date: July 13, 2018

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Elsa Pataky Is Basically A Mermaid Queen In Netflix’s Dark Tidelands Trailer

There is a new series on the horizon at Netflix! The streaming giant has unveiled the official trailer for its new siren-centered drama, Tidelands. Check out the Fast and Furious franchise’s Elsa Pataky being an absolute mermaid queen in the trailer below:

This trailer has got yours truly super excited. There is no doubt about it. Tidelands is the broody beach retreat we need this winter. The Aussie drama has it all. Romance, suspense and mystery! Is it possible to be hooked before you actually see a show? In this case, it appears to be true.

While the trailer did an excellent job conveying what the series is about, here is the official synopsis. According to Netflix, Tidelands will follow Cal McTeer as she returns to her hometown after serving ten years in juvenile detention. That hometown is Orphelin Bay, and a quick Google search revealed that “orphelin” is the French word for orphan.

Back to the story. Before long, a dead body enters the equation, leading Cal to discover the town’s secrets. Those secrets involve a commune of outcasts, who live in a hidden area of the bay and are known as the Tidelanders.

The series has some True Blood vibes, and it should appeal to fans of any supernatural series. Mermaids have not been as deeply explored as other mythical entities, so this is relatively fresh territory. The Freeform series Siren deals in murderous mermaids, and Australia has previously featured mermaids with the series H20: Just Add Water. Film has also been a fan of the creatures. Besides Ariel, the famous Disney princess, we have had great movies such as the Colin Farrell starrer Ondine.

Tidelands will give viewers the chance to splash around in new waters, though. Elsa Pataky’s Adrielle and Cal seem primed to have their paths eventually converge. If that happens, the lead-up seems destined to elicit a fair share of tension and intrigue.

That is just one piece of suspense in a magnitude of mysteries for the series. To its credit, Tidelands also conjures Netflix’s Bloodlines. So, fans who miss that crime series may also be curious to see what this mermaid drama has in store.

It will be neat to see Elsa Pataky taking a large part in a series. From the trailer alone, you can tell she is going to give an intense performance.

It should also be fun to see how the mermaids will be depicted. At the 29-second mark, you can catch a small glimpse of one. Based on the brief look we got in the trailer, it seems they will be taking a ghostly approach to their appearance in the water. Exciting!

The wait to watch will not last too much longer. Tidelands premieres December 14 on Netflix. The series is one of many shows making their debut this season on the streaming giant and beyond, so be sure to stay up to date on everything coming to the small screen in the next few months.

Ryan Reynolds’ Newest Hugh Jackman Troll Is An A+

After spending 17 years as Wolverine in the X-Men films, Hugh Jackman found the perfect opportunity to hang up his claws in 2017’s Logan. The moving send-off brought closure to many fans of his portrayal of the badass character but not everyone will let his Wolverine rest in peace, *cough, cough* Ryan Reynolds. The Deadpool actor has been at maximum effort to pull Wolverine out of retirement but Jackman is a man of his word. Take a look:

Shots fired! Hugh Jackman was of course asked again about the possibility of a Deadpool / Wolverine crossover that Ryan Reynolds has passionately talked up and hide your ears Wade Wilson, it’s not pretty. Jackman stands by his decision to put Wolverine behind him and Reynolds is apparently standing by his role as president of the “Bring Back Wolverine Foundation.” The hilarious actor called out Jackman on Twitter with some fighting words.

The tweet links to an article by Screen Rant about a recent interview with Hugh Jackman where the actor further confirmed his lack of plans to return as Wolverine. Jackman also talked about how “relentless” Ryan Reynolds is in trying to sway him to co-star in a Deadpool movie, and has approached him multiple times. In Reynolds’ defense, a team-up between the two characters would be an entertaining mash up, and considering the actors’ cute relationship, their on-screen chemistry would be off the charts.

Jackman was the butt of a few hilarious jokes in Deadpool and Reynolds has gone so far to even say he’d cast him as himself just for the chance to work with him again. Considering the goofy fourth-wall breaking nature of the franchise, this idea would not only work but may be the best play for Reynolds to pitch to him.

There is something to be said about giving a character the proper send off and letting it stick in service of him, as Hugh Jackman did with Logan. The actor played the character in eight X-Men movies, including cameos for almost two decades; so, maybe Ryan Reynolds should just let old man Logan rest in peace.

With the Disney and Fox merger soon to be in full effect, the Marvel Universe could get a lot more interesting and feature some more crossover opportunities for Deadpool. While we have no idea if the studios will take the plunge and bring the Avengers and X-Men characters together, they technically can now and that opens some doors. Ryan Reynolds’ iconic character is already entering PG-13 territory this holiday season with the special re-release of Deadpool 2.

The film is getting a new title Once Upon a Deadpool and will be framed around a funny callback to The Princess Bride on December 12. Expect a bitter Christmas card, Hugh Jackman.

This Is Us Ratings Hit A Series Low Before Season 3 Fall Finale

This Is Us has had a solid run thus far as one of television’s most popular dramas, but the NBC show’s ratings slumped in the episode ahead of its fall finale. The result was a series low score in the key demo, and also a low in overall viewers. “Six Thanksgivings” only resulted in a rating of 1.8, but there’s reason to believe those numbers could rebound.

This Is Us‘ Thanksgiving-themed episode may have earned the lowest ratings share the series has had in the key demo, but it was still the highest-rated show of the evening. In what appeared to be an off night for NBC, This Is Us still beat out colleagues like The Voice, which also saw a similar drop in the ratings. New Amsterdam had the best showing of the network, with its 1.1 rating staying even with the week prior.

This Is Us may have won in the key demos, but its rivalry for Tuesday night supremacy continued on with NCIS. Deadline reported the crime procedural was down two-tenths with a 1.2 rating, but won the title of the most-watched program of the evening with 11.9 million viewers. Its viewership lead is nearly 4 million above This Is Us, which posted 7.91 million viewers for the November 20 episode. If its ratings fall further, This Is Us could be in danger of dropping its rating title to NCIS or another primetime program.

As for why This Is Us and others may have struggled, Tuesday night was the evening preceding what could be a travel day for viewers. Families traveling out of town may have been in the process of packing, or en route in vehicles that lack the ability to broadcast primetime television. This means by the time the This Is Us midseason finale arrives on November 27, the series may regain a series ratings pull of over 2.0. (That said, This Is Us has aired an episode around Thanksgiving every season so far, so what made this year different?)

The viewership for the Thanksgiving week episode may be disappointing for This Is Us, as an effort was made to incorporate the holiday into the story. The night featured a look at multiple Thanksgivings for the show’s characters, and a surprise reveal by Randall’s daughter Tess. Tess confided in her aunt Kate that she may want a girlfriend some day — not a boyfriend — and asked Kate to keep her confession a secret from her parents.

Rating slumps in Season 3 have not been uncommon for This Is Us. After record-setting numbers in Season 2, the Season 3 premiere saw a 26% drop in the key demographic. The downward trend could mean the crown is slipping on its primetime supremacy, or just flattening out after a season of big ratings wins due to the mystery of Jack Pearson’s death. The biggest win came with the 2018 Super Bowl Sunday episode, which earned the show 26.97 million viewers and a 9.3 rating.

This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET. For a look at what else is coming to television in the near future, be sure to visit and bookmark our fall and midseason premiere guide.

The Santa Clause Opening Was Originally Way Darker But Disney’s Chairman Said No

If you’re a person of a certain age, you’re probably seen The Santa Clause, and if you’re a person with reasonably good taste, you probably love it. It’s got just the right balance of wholesome holiday fun and David Krumholtz. Turns out, however, that the original movie was apparently supposed to be much darker. Like at the beginning when Santa falls off the roof and dies? Well, in the original script, Scott Calvin was supposed to mistake him for a burglar and shoot him.

Take it from lead actor Tim Allen, who recently told the story during a visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon…

OK. So, let’s start off by addressing that Mufasa-sized accusation at the end. Yeah, a few Disney parents have left us too early. Is it really enough to establish a pattern though? Let’s try to put a real number around this hypothesis. Googling… Well, Mental Floss says 27 key Disney characters have dead mothers. Fine. That’s definitely a lot. Tim Allen clearly has a point here, but it’s definitely worth noting that most, if not all, of these characters weren’t shot during a misunderstanding by another main character. So, I get where Jeffrey Katzenberg was coming from there.

That being said, I think we would all like an alternative universe to exist in which The Santa Clause was a really dark movie. Maybe all the light teasing of Neil goes to a really dangerous place? Maybe Scott Calvin gets a little too into being Santa and starts abusing his power at the North Pole? I’m talking in the same vein as a project like Very Bad Things. Hard R-Rating. At least several deaths. Nudity. Maybe a scene where someone intentionally gets the reindeer drunk. I’m just spitballing here, but honestly, all of it is gold.

If you’d like to check out more from Tim Allen’s interview with Jim Fallon in which he touches on Toy Story 4, you can check out the video below…

This is the part of the story where we’d normally tell you when The Santa Clause is coming to theaters and say something like, “Get excited!”, but The Santa Clause came to theaters twenty-four years ago. Even its less exciting sequels came and went. Yup. We all got old. Deal with it.

Queenie’s’ Crimes Of Grindelwald Twist Was Hard For The Actress To Grasp

Massive spoilers ahead for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Turn away if you haven’t seen it!

David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise recently returned to theaters with The Crimes of Grindelwald, telling a story decidedly more dark and connected to the world of Hogwarts. Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald was a terrifying force in the movie, and gained a ton of power during the film’s third act. He was able to get a ton of followers for his campaign against muggles, including one of the main characters.

Alison Sudol’s Queenie was a quirky supporting character in the first movie, but had a rough go in The Crimes of Grindelwald. After being shamed for her psychic abilities and a breakup with Jacob, Queenie walks through Grindelwald’s fire and joins his army. Sudol recently spoke to her original confusion for this choice, saying:

Per her conversation with EW, it looks like Alison Sudol was just as confused as the fans when Queenie left her no-maj lover and joined Grindelwald’s forces. While seemingly ignorant of the insidious nature of the dark wizard, it’s clear that Queenie and her sister Tina are going to be on different sides when a threequel eventually arrives in theaters.

While Queenie was originally introduced as a quirky and sultry witch, her psychic abilities plagued her more than audiences were originally privy to. It seems reading minds has always made her an outcast, and can overwhelm Queenie in moments of emotional distress. We saw this in Crimes of Grindelwald, where she was incapacitated by the thoughts of others after she and Jacob have an argument.

It’s this outsider identity that Grindelwald was able to tap into, and convince Queenie to leave the Ministry and her family for another cause. Johnny Depp’s villain also used terrifying images of World War II to scare the Wizarding Community, convincing others to join his cause. It’s currently unclear how much Grindelwald was targeting Queenie specifically, but her psychic abilities will no doubt be of interest in Fantastic Beasts 3.

In many ways, The Crimes of Grindelwald provided a ton of exposition and set up for the next three movies. The film’s heroes barely had any contact with the titular villain, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore remained largely on the sidelines. And given the shocking news about Credence’s parentage, it’s clear that J.K. Rowling has big plans for the next set of films.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in theaters now. Be sure to check our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.

The Main Difference Between Taraji P. Henson’s What Men Want And Mel Gibson’s Version

In case you hadn’t heard, the rampant Hollywood trend of remakes isn’t going anywhere. One of which being a new take on 2000’s What Women Want starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. That rom-com followed a misogynist advertising executive who one day gains the ability to hear the thoughts of women. It now serves as an inspiration for the upcoming film What Men What starring Taraji P. Henson, who will be listening in to inner workings of men’s minds this time around.

In anticipation for the film’s release this February, I spoke with What Men What‘s director Adam Shankman about the project. Now I’m no mind reader, but amidst news of films based on another, we often wonder how much will be recycled from what we’ve already seen. Here’s what Shankman said:

Whew! As charming as What Women Want was back in its day, seeing it again, just with the genders flipped isn’t enough to make it worth the revisit. What Men What is using the same “curse” set-up as the Mel Gibson version, with some completely different circumstances surrounding it.

This time Taraji P. Henson will play a sports agent trying to break the glass ceiling in her male dominated office, where she believes she’s earned a promotion. In the comedy, Henson’s character drinks a questionable brew of tea from a psychic and bumps her head at a nightclub, waking up with the thoughts of the men all around inside her head.

Director Adam Shankman did notice a distinct difference between the set ups of What Men Want in comparison to the Mel Gibson movie with the film’s main characters in his interview with CinemaBlend. In his words:

In an age when female actresses are taking roles previously held by men in movies, this example is an interesting one because it shows that the replacement of gender held an importance in how the lead’s story plays out.

While in What Women Want, Mel Gibson’s chauvinistic behaviors were put under the microscope due to his new ability, Taraji P. Henson will learn a common misconception between the two genders: they’re more alike than we think. What Men Want will perhaps combat the cultural construct of the opposite sex being literal opposites, aside from being an entertaining comedy. Not a bad way to do a remake.

What Men Want comes to theaters on February 9, 2019 and stars Aldis Hodge, Tracy Morgan, Pete Davidson and Max Greenfield alongside star Taraji P. Henson.

Connie Britton Open To 9-1-1 Or American Horror Story Return

Connie Britton has starred in some of the best shows on television in the past decade or so. So it’s understandable any series that formerly had her would want her back, given the opportunity. Fortunately, it appears that may actually happen with two shows. Britton indicated she might return to 9-1-1 or American Horror Story at some point in the future.

When it comes to Ryan Murphy, Connie Britton will apparently never shut the door on a return. That much was evident when she reprised her role as Vivien Harmon in Season 8 of American Horror Story. Britton admitted to The Wrap she had yet to see her return to the anthology horror series, mostly due to her busy schedule as of late. Britton also confessed she has trouble watching American Horror Story even when she is free because it’s scary.

Unlike American Horror Story, Connie Britton hasn’t been seen on 9-1-1 since Season 1. Britton exited the first responder drama at the end of the inaugural season. Her exit came after her character Abby was set up for a romance with Buck, but her mother’s death inspired her to take a trip to Ireland. The two parted ways, and Britton’s character was ultimately replaced with a new character played by Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Though Abby is gone from 9-1-1, the story was written in such a way that she could return to the story for an episode or two. Britton has confirmed in the past that she’d be willing to return to Abby at some point in the future, which appears to mean she’s ready to hop back on board for a short run should the stars align in the future.

Connie Britton may be up for a return to 9-1-1, or another run on American Horror Story, but it’d have to be a deal that accounts for her busy schedule. The world is about to see Britton’s next television adventure in the upcoming Bravo miniseries Dirty John, which premieres Sunday, November 25. Britton will play divorcée Debra Newell in a true crime drama based on a popular podcast.

9-1-1 airs on Fox Mondays at 9 p.m. ET. American Horror Story: Apocalypse Season 8 has already ended, but episodes of FX’s Seasons 1-7 can be binged on Netflix. For a look at what else is coming to television in the near future, be sure to visit our fall and midseason premiere guides.

Rita Ora Addresses Lip Sync Fail From Thanksgiving Parade

What a nightmare this has to be for Rita Ora. Her name was trending Thanksgiving morning, but for all the wrong reasons. The singer was featured in the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and clearly missed her cue to start lip syncing. Fans cringed as she “sang” something very different from what was heard playing at home. Well, both Ora and fellow parade performer John Legend explained why it’s normal for stars to lip sync during the parade:

As John Legend explained, it comes down to technical issues for the moving floats. Parade stars are asked to lip sync in those cases, as opposed to it being some kind of gotcha that they were “caught” lip syncing. It’s standard.

The fact that Rita Ora was lip syncing wasn’t the issue. The issue was a technical mishap, leading her to start lip syncing away from the pre-recorded track. Macy’s apologized for the issues, without specifically naming Ora:

The day before the parade, Macy’s had tweeted a photo of Rita Ora, in honor of Night 2 of rehearsals:

All in all, as much as fans were quick to roast Rita Ora over Thanksgiving, 1) most performers lip sync at this parade, and 2) it wasn’t really her fault there were technical issues. Also, cold weather is rough for singers, especially the bitter cold of this Thanksgiving in New York City.

That said, Kelly Clarkson got props from viewers for appearing to sing live during the frigid parade. She did appear to be on a different kind of float, though:

In addition to Rita Ora’s mishap, the parade featured many other performances and parade floats — including Dragon Ball series hero Goku’s first float. Also, the Macy’s parade showcased its first-ever same-sex kiss when the cast of the Broadway musical The Prom ended their performance with a kiss between leads Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla.

The 2018 parade was up a bit in the ratings for NBC, although only rising 2 percent from 2017. Rita Ora probably wishes fewer people watched, but at least it was an opportunity to educate fans on how parade performances usually work.

Keyforge Fixes The Biggest Problem With Magic: The Gathering

Keyforge is all the rage in tabletop gaming these days due in no small part to the fact that it completely eliminates some of the most intimidating factors seen in almost every other card game. If the idea of buying tons of cards and constructing a deck in games like Magic: The Gathering has you breaking into stress sweats, then you might want to give Keyforge a gander.

It’s worth pointing out right off the bat that both Keyforge and Magic were created by the same guy, Richard Garfield. In fact, Keyforge spawned out of Garfield’s fond memories of playing Magic with friends back in the day, only in a much more limited format.

What sets Keyforge apart from the pack is that it is a “unique deck game.” In short, that means no two decks in the game will ever be the same and, on top of that, the cards in a given deck are set in stone. That means that there is no deckbuilding in Keyforge, so you won’t be buying booster packs of cards in the hopes of pulling something useful or, more likely, spending more money online to get the specific cards you want. Instead, you spend 10 bucks on a deck and you’re ready to play; your deck can’t be altered in any way.

The Problem With Deckbuilding

I fully appreciate the draw of deckbuilding in other card games. I’ve had several multi-year stints in my life where I’ve been pretty dedicated to collectable card games like Magic or living card games like Netrunner (also, oddly enough, designed by Richard Garfield).

In case that terminology is a bit confusing, a trading card game is what most people think of when they envision a couple of players sitting on opposite sides of a table, dueling with decks of cards. These games include Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic, Pokemon and more recent popular titles based on Transformers and Dragon Ball. Expansions for those games come out every few months with constructed decks available, as well as lots and lots of booster packs. A living card game has expansions come out at about the same pace but, instead of your traditional booster packs, those games are augmented with single large packs of cards that have everything you need to keep the action going.

But whether you’re talking about a trading card game or a living card game, the one thing those types of games typically have in common is deckbuilding. The model relies on players experimenting with the cards, buying more cards, experimenting further and constructing a deck of their own. It can be a heck of a lot of fun, but it’s also why I eventually bounce off of more traditional card games.

Using Magic as an example, I would frequently buy a starter deck for a new expansion and start playing games with it. After a while, I’d learn the deck’s weaknesses and start paying more attention to the other cards available in the expansion to see which ones might make my own deck better. If I couldn’t find the cards I wanted available for purchase on their own, my only option was to turn to booster packs and hope that I got the cards that I wanted. Then I’d typically buy more booster packs. Then more. Then more.

After a while, I’d be sitting on a mountain of cards I never even use, all in order to have a decent enough deck to compete at local tournaments. In the end, though, I’d almost always lose to the guy who looked up the most successful deck from recent major tournaments and then went out and spent hundreds of dollars to build that optimized deck. I’m totally comfortable with taking a loss, but it always leaves a sour taste in my mouth when I lose to a deck that someone found online and then spent an insane amount of money to “build” themselves.

But, again, I get the draw of that type of card game. Tinkering with a deck is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding, but it frequently comes with a high cost and an insane stack of extra cards I have no intention of ever using.

And those are frequently the factors that keep people from even giving traditional card games a shot. The cost is high, building a deck can be intimidating and there’s nothing fun about losing to one of those alpha decks that your opponent didn’t even build themselves.

A Totally Unique Experience

And that is precisely why I, and many others, have fallen head-over-heels in love with Keyforge. When you buy a deck of cards, you’re literally ready to roll and will never need to, or be able to, alter that deck. Every single deck in Keyforge is created by an algorithm to be unique and feature plenty of synergy between the cards. What’s really cool is that, in order to guarantee this uniqueness, all of the decks are given a distinct name and every single card in that deck has the name printed on it. Again, that means there is no deckbuilding in the game.

Sure, you can go out and drop another $10 on another deck if you like, but there’s no reason to assume that new deck is going to be “better” than the one you already have. When you sit down across the table from another player, you know for a fact that their deck was created the same way that yours was and that they didn’t go out and spend a bunch of extra money on cards or simply look up the “best deck” online. Keyforge is a game that pits skill against skill alone, and it’s a breath of fresh air for the genre.

Since I primarily write about video games, this model is especially disorienting to me because it seems to put an emphasis on the game itself rather than “making all of the money in the world.” Deckbuilding games like Magic could probably be considered the first loot boxes, as players spend a few bucks on small packs of cards and never know what they’re actually buying until they open the pack. That sort of gachapon model has been huge in video games in recent years because it has proven to be a massively successful way for developers to keep getting more money out of the same customer for the same game.

By comparison, Keyforge feels like it was designed to be a fun game that cannot keep milking players through a constant stream of booster packs. Sure, some players will go out there and buy a whole bunch of decks, but the average player can simply buy a couple of decks and call it a day. More importantly, those one or two decks they buy are just as viable as any of the decks Gary Moneybags spent hundreds of dollars to pick up.

Richard Garfield himself summed up these differences perfectly. Garfield used to play Magic with his friends in leagues that saw them pulling cards from a limited supply. As Magic moved away from that style of play, he started to miss the days when players had to rely on a more limited set of resources. In Magic, if a card does not help a deck run like a well-oiled machine, it’s quickly tossed into the reject pile.

Garfield compared traditional card games to an amusement park, where players are being told by professionals how to play the game, what the best strategies are and what decks they should be using. Keyforge, by comparison, is the jungle. In Keyforge, you are handed a bag of tools that’s completely unlike any bag of tools being handed to the other players. Your job is to learn how to best use those tools, including the ones that might initially seem less beneficial. Whoever learns to use their tools the best is likely to be the winner.

Keyforge is probably the most consumer friendly card game I’ve ever come across. The game itself is a hell of a lot of fun to play, and I’m seeing more and more people who would not traditionally play these types of card games pick up a deck and give it a try. All of the intimidation factors tied to games like Magic have been thrown out the window, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that resonates with players over time.

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