Pixar Grabs Chris Pratt, Tom Holland And More For Its Next Movie Onward

After Toy Story 4 arrives next year, Pixar is pressing pause on sequels and delivering another original movie to the masses. It was announced at D23 last year that the studio is making a fantasy movie taking place in a modern suburban setting. Today, not only has it been announced that this project is called Onward, the main cast has also been unveiled, starting with Tom Holland.

While he’s unquestionably best known for playing Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tom Holland‘s other credits include In the Heart of the Sea, Edge of Winter and The Lost City of Z. Along with Onward, his upcoming, non-Marvel-related projects include Chaos Walking and The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, the latter of which will also be a family friendly offering. So in addition to playing Spider-Man, he’s taking on other roles to establish himself with younger moviegoers.

Next we have another MCU star, Chris Pratt. He’s been playing Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord, since Guardians of the Galaxy. While some people might have already been familiar with Pratt from Parks & Recreation, within the major Hollywood productions space, he’s also built a name for himself with The LEGO Movie (and its upcoming sequel), the Jurassic World movies and Passengers.

Third on the Onward casting list is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. While many know her best as Elaine on Seinfeld, in recent years she’s drawn acclaim for playing Selina Meyer on Veep, and she also starred in The New Adventures of Old Christine. This also won’t be Dreyfus’ first time participating in a Pixar movie, as she previously voiced Princess Atta in A Bug’s Life.

Finally, Octavia Spencer rounds out the Onward cast. Her notable credits over the last couple years have included Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water, the latter two Divergent movies and Red Band Society. Like Tom Holland, she’ll also be starring in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, so Onward marks their second collaboration together.

As you can see, none of these actors’ characters were identified, so we’ll have to keep waiting to learn who they’re respectively portraying in Onward. It also goes without saying that there will be more cast members eventually announced, but for now, this is a solid start.

Shortly after this Onward casting announcement came out, Tom Holland posted an Instagram video about his involvement with the movie and his costars, which you can watch below.

Looking at Onward‘s overall premise, the movie will follow two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left in the world. At last year’s D23 panel, it was revealed that in this fictional world, after magic became too hard to conjure, it was replaced by technology. Hence why this world looks a lot like ours, only instead of it being populated by humans, it’s filled with elves, trolls, sprites and other mystical creatures. There are also unicorns, although they’re considered to be pests. Some Onward concept art shown at D23 depicted a town with a water tower and a dragon flying over it.

As far as these elf brothers are concerned, assuming the story is the same as it was envisioned last year, their search for some leftover magic is happening because they want to spend one last “magical” day with their father, who sounds to have passed away. Onward is being produced by Kori Rae and directed by Monsters University‘s Dan Scanlon, the latter of whom noted that this story is incredibly personal to him, saying in the press release:

At Pixar we try to create stories that come from some kind of personal truth. This film was inspired by my own relationship with my brother.

Pixar’s movies have had a lot of unusual premises, and while 2012’s Brave did delve into magic, this is arguably the first of the studio’s movies that’s set within a fully fleshed out fantasy setting. Throw in how much this story means to Dan Scanlon (he recalled last year about how discovering an audio tape of his late father’s voice played into him conceiving Onward), and this movie sounds like it could be one of Pixar’s most unique offerings yet, which is saying a lot for a studio that’s given us talking toys, cars, fish and emotions, among many other things.

Having Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer as the lead actors certainly gets this production off to a strong start. Each actors, whether they’ve only been famous for a couple years or several decades, are talented in their own special ways, and lending their vocal talents to a Pixar movie will almost certainly boost their profiles up even higher.

Those who follow Pixar’s film slate closely also know that the studio has tried its best to balance releasing sequels and original stories in the recent past. Coco was the last of the latter kinds of movies, but this past June marked the release of Incredibles 2, following 14 years after its predecessor. Then next summer, Toy Story 4 will reunite us with Woody, Buzz and the gang nearly a decade after Toy Story 3. The characters will embark on a road trip that will include new faces like Forky, Ducky and Bunny, as well as the return of Bo Peep, who hasn’t been seen since Toy Story 2. So by the time Onward comes out, it will have been three years since Pixar gave audiences an original story.

While there are undoubtedly plenty of fans who enjoy Pixar keeping their respective franchises going past one movie, it is nice when the studio delivers a new mythology to its ever-growing slate. It remains to be seen how Onward will ultimately perform, but at least on the actors side of things, Onward has gathered together some top-notch talent.

Onward will be released in theaters on March 6, 2020, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage on its development, including who else will be brought on to the cast and when the first pictures/footage drop. In the meantime, to find out about movies that are arriving a little sooner, head to our 2019 release schedule.

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Tim Burton Almost Produced A Goosebumps Movie In The ’90s

After being a massively successful book series and even a television show, Goosebumps finally got the movie treatment in 2015, bringing the work of author R.L. Stine to life on the big screen for the first time. It was a big hit that spawned a sequel earlier this fall — but what you may not know is that it was an adaptation that nearly came together more than 20 years ago, with Tim Burton serving as a producer. Stine recently revealed,

We had a movie deal to do a Goosebumps movie, and I can’t tell you what year it was. It was like at the height of Goosebumps, back in ’94, ’95, around there, and we actually had a deal with Fox to do a movie, and Tim Burton who was going to be the producer. We had a big meeting, and I thought, ‘Oh, that’ll be great. Tim Burton and Goosebumps. It’ll be great.’ And we had a nice meeting with him, and we had a great time and we talked about what we should do, and then nothing happened. Sort of a typical story out there, right?

With Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween set to arrive on home video in just a few weeks, I had the wonderful opportunity to hop on the phone with R.L. Stine yesterday and discuss the legacy of his beloved franchise. One of my first questions for the author was about developments for features that never came together, and in his response he revealed that we almost got a Tim Burton-produced Goosebumps feature back in the mid-90s.

As R.L. Stine noted, projects starting to formulate and then never coming together is something that happens all the time in Hollywood, but it seems that there was a specific reason why the film never got made. According to the author, Tim Burton got a bit distracted by a certain DC Comics feature that he was developing, and he never came back to the table for Goosebumps. Stine explained,

He got involved in some Superman project that also never happened. He was going to do Superman, and then we never heard from him again. That was the end of it. And 20 years later we got a movie.

What R.L. Stine is referring to, of course, is Superman Lives, a feature reboot for the Man Of Steel that was going to star Nicolas Cage as the titular hero. That project did get a bit further along than the ’90s version of Goosebumps, notably getting to a point where Cage actually did tests in the costume, but it was ultimately a film that never got made and Supes ended up waiting more than a decade after that to return to the big screen.

So what would this Goosebumps film have been about? Would it have been a straight adaptation of one of R.L. Stine’s books in the series, or an original creation? Obviously things didn’t really get that far, but evidently the strategy was going to be a mix of the two with an emphasis on the latter. Said the author,

I think we were going to do a new story, but use some of the elements. But we never got that far, you know? It’s very strange. I don’t know. People couldn’t figure out for a long time which story to do, what should we do. And then Goosebumps wasn’t as popular, and then it came back.

The good news was that the Goosebumps TV show started up in 1995, offering audiences live-action adaptations of R.L. Stine’s books on Fox, but it would be 20 more years before Jack Black would play the author in Rob Letterman’s movie. Now, however, the franchise is a major one for Sony, with Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween having combined earned nearly $250 million at the global box office.

Audiences can now enjoy the first Goosebumps movie at home, but soon they will be able to watch the sequel the same way. Following its theatrical release this fall, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween will soon be arriving on digital December 25th, and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD January 15th. Be on the lookout in stores, and we’ll have more from my interview with R.L. Stine coming your way in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

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Angela Bassett Feels Like Black Panther Already Has An Oscar

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Black Panther will nab some Oscar nominations and subsequent wins, including in the Best Picture category, which has upped the number of nominated movies in recent years. The Oscar nominations won’t be announced until Tuesday, January 22, but that hasn’t stopped people from assuming the Marvel flick will get noms.

In fact, if you ask Black Panther actress Angela Bassett, the movie is going to nab the Best Picture Oscar. In her head, it’s won already. She said:

Angela Bassett was lucky enough to be a part of the little Marvel movie that could. Black Panther was released way back in February of this year. The flick was about a Marvel character that had previously been introduced but was still a lesser known Marvel character, somewhat like Iron Man or the Guardians of the Galaxy originally had been.

The movie went on to dominate the box office for some time, grossing over $1.3 billion worldwide. Obviously, how much money a project has made doesn’t necessarily say anything about quality.

Still, what Angela Bassett is saying to TooFab sort of is indicative of the feeling surrounding Black Panther. It wasn’t just a movie, it was a piece of cultural connective tissue that really resonated around a lot of people and proved that a black ensemble cast could make over a billion worldwide, endearing itself to audiences from many different backgrounds and cultures.

To Bassett, that basically seems to be winning Best Picture. To Disney, that’s enough of a reason to push Black Panther in numerous categories, including the splashy Best Picture. You can take a look at the full list Disney is pushing for, as well.

There is some precedent for Black Panther to at least earn a Best Picture nomination. The Golden Globes nominations are already out, and Black Panther isup for several categories, including Best Motion Picture, Drama. It is also up for Best Original Song and Best Score. That’s a huge boost in the movie’s profile ahead of Oscars voting, which kicks off in January.

So far, the flick has won some MTV Movie & TV Awards, but most of the major movie awards ceremonies — stuff like The Golden Globes, The SAG awards, The BAFTAS, The Critics Choice awards and The Oscars — have yet to happen. Some have announced nominations and some we are still waiting on, as well.

As for the Oscars, nominations are at the end of January and the official ceremony will air on Sunday, February 24, 2019. At the time of this writing, a host has yet to be announced to replace Kevin Hart. We’ll have to wait and see how awards season pans out this year, but there are certainly a lot of interesting prospects. Check out what has yet to hit theaters with our full schedule.

John Cena Apologizes For Beef With The Rock Now That He’s Working On Movies

Nobody has had more success in making the transition from the WWE ring to the big screen than Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson. He hasn’t simply built a successful career but he’s one of the highest paid actors in the world and one of the most in-demand names in the industry. A few years ago, The Rock made a brief return to the WWE where he went head-to-head with the company’s current big star John Cena, who was quite critical of the man who had left WWE for greener pastures. Now that Cena is making more movies himself, he now admits he was out of line being critical of Johnson, as he now understands just what goes into making a movie. Because it isn’t all about the actor. According to Cena…

From a genuine standpoint, if you’re taking it from more than entertainment, if you’re taking it for ‘okay, what you said was absolutely personal,’ I’m sorry, I was wrong, and I spoke out of ignorance. When you do a movie you are not allowed to do anything else. Because if I go do Monday Night Raw and Seth Rollins puts my nose over here, that messes up the movie. And not just like ‘well, you’ve messed up the movie.’ People don’t understand, there are 150 people on a movie set who are financially dependent on that movie getting done on time, that movie moving costs everybody money and sets the movie up to fail, which means we don’t get to do another movie, which means these people don’t get to make money. This is their livelihood.

As far back as 2008, John Cena had made public comments where he called out Dwayne Johnson for the way in which he had distanced himself from the WWE as his Hollywood career began to take off. In 2011, when The Rock made his return to WWE and began a two-year long program with John Cena, those words returned as well and became the backbone of the feud between the two. John Cena was set up as the current star who was the WWE mainstay, who claimed he would never leave, representing those that loved WWE. The Rock was the Hollywood star who had done it all, coming back to prove he still had it.

While this was, to be clear, a WWE storyline more than anything, it’s also clear that the storyline was based on a real conflict between the two superstars. Both sides have said before that they’ve put it all behind them, but for a while there, things were a bit heated. For what it’s worth, it made for compelling WWE TV since both superstars truly felt passionate about what they were saying.

However, John Cena now realizes that making movies is a very different situation than performing in the WWE. He makes reference to the time he got his nose broken by Seth Rollins in a match not that long ago. The injury caused issues with Cena’s wrestling and was certainly inconvenient for him, but the show simply changed up the storyline and continued forward. The WWE didn’t have to postpone its entire schedule because of the injury.

If Cena had been making a movie at the time, it would have been a much bigger issue. Schedules would have needed to change, which would have impacted budgets. In a worst-case scenario, the film could have been entirely rescheduled or canceled, which would have been a financial hit to everybody involved in the movie.

Ironically, exactly this nearly happened during the Cena-Rock feud. During the second Wrestlemania main event between the two, Dwayne Johnson tore two tendons in his pelvis, an injury which very nearly impacted the filming of Hercules. While The Rock has made the occasional appearance in the WWE since then, he has not competed in a significant match since, likely because of the potential for injury and how that could cause problems not only for his own career, but as John Cena points out, the careers of many others as well.

Now that John Cena is spending more time making movies than he is wrestling, he has a better understanding of what the Rock was going through back then. He says he’s apologized to the Rock for his comments, as he understands that he has now become the thing he attacked the Rock for becoming, an actor who occasionally wrestles.

He’s always been genuine, he’s always shot straight — and that’s on TV and off TV. We have a very good rapport with each other and I can… I’ve told this to him that I’m sorry, and I can tell it to you, and I can tell it to you: I spoke out of ignorance, I was wrong, and I’m sorry. So for any WWE person right now saying ‘you’re a part timer, you’re going to Hollywood,’ you’re absolutely right. And if they can’t see why I’m making those moves, I don’t expect them to. I don’t expect to change their mind.

At the end of the day, wrestling takes a physical toll on a person and you just can’t do it forever. However, since performers are still fairly young when wrestling comes to an end, there’s a lot more they can do. Since making movies is really just a different sort of performance and storytelling, it makes sense that it would be a place for sports entertainers to go.

John Cena credits Dwayne Johnson when speaking to Chris Van Vliet, saying that Johnson paved the way both inside the WWE and in Hollywood, allowing Cena to have the success that he had in both places. While Cena hasn’t become the massive action star that Johnson is yet, he’s done well with high-profile supporting roles in comedies and leading roles in smaller action films. Cena’s biggest role to date is on the way, with his performance in the new Transformers movie Bumblebee, which arrives in theaters December 21.

Dwayne Johnson will next be seen in the wrestling comedy Fighting with my Family in February.

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Mortal Engines Has A Hidden Machine That Makes Food Out Of Poo

Production design can sometimes be an underappreciated artform. It’s an incredibly detailed part of the filmmaking process, and yet a lot of those bits of minutiae are either relegated to the distant background or never even appear on the big screen at all. As it turns out, the upcoming Mortal Engines is a prime example of this, as actress Hera Hilmar recently revealed that there is one sequence that subtly hides a machine that makes food out of excrement:

Scuttlebutt is one of the mechanized, roaming cities featured in Mortal Engines — one that heroes Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) and Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) find themselves inhabiting toward the middle of the movie. It’s ultimately revealed as a site of some danger and drama for the protagonists, with certain individuals proving to not be super trustworthy, but apparently there is a bit of weirdness going on behind the action as well, as the denizens have evidently figured out a way to recycle their food in the post-apocalyptic world.

It was during the Los Angeles press day for Mortal Engines last week that I found out about this very odd machine, specifically while sitting down with stars Hera Hilmar and Jihae — who plays the helpful fugitive Anna Fang in the feature. Having personally visited the set of the film last year when it was still in production, and seen a lot of the wonderful behind-the-scenes details, I asked the duo if they had a favorite element that audiences may not actually see in the finished movie. Hilmar was quick to point out the food-to-poo device, and made it clear that she is still puzzled by the mind that brought it into existence.

On a practical level, however, one can understand why a machine like this makes at least some sense in the world of Mortal Engines. It’s a society where resources are scarce, and folks have to do what they can in order to survive — even if that means trying to recover any kind of nutritional value they can from waste. It’s absolutely disgusting, sure, but there is a long, long history of people doing anything they can to survive in horrible conditions.

That’s all pretty gross, but Jihae’s contribution to the conversation at the very least introduced some beauty into the mix. Her favorite hidden details can be found in the movie both on her weaponry and her ship, the Jenny Haniver, as they each contain personal elements that she found further tied her to the character:

You can watch Hera Hilmar and Jihae discuss the poop machines and intricate details of Mortal Engines by clicking play on the video below:

Mortal Engines, directed by Christian Rivers and produced by Peter Jackson, also stars Hugo Weaving, Stephen Lang, Colin Salmon, and Leila George, is set to arrive in theaters this Friday, December 14th. Be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

Movies Starring Women Do Better At The Box Office Than Movies Starring Men

For a long time, there has been something of a groupthink mentality that female-led films don’t deliver at the box office. Similar to the ‘boys won’t buy action figures of female characters’ assertion, this view could seemingly be used to financially justify not putting women front and center in movies. Anecdotally, this narrative has been crumbling for years, but now there is hard data that shows that movies starring women actually do better at the box office than movies starring men.

The new study shows that casting women as leads in films provides a boost at the box office over those films lead by males, according to Deadline. Most interestingly is that this wasn’t a case of female-led indie films or blockbusters that outperformed their male-led counterparts throwing off the averages. Female-led movies on average outperformed the guys across the spectrum budget-wise.

The study, from agency CAA and tech firm Shift7, analyzed 350 films released between January 2014 and December 2017 in five budget categories (below $10 million, $10 million to $30 million, $30 million to $50 million, $50 million to $100 million and $100+ million) and found that 105 of them were led by women, based on who was listed first in billing blocks, press notes or final credits.

The difference between female-led movies and male-led movies was the most pronounced among the bigger budgeted films. For movies in the study that cost between $50 million and $100 million, the women-led films averaged $318 million at the worldwide box office, versus $243 million for those led by men. In the $100+ million bracket, the ladies averaged $586 million worldwide, whereas the dudes couldn’t quite match with $514 million.

The research from CAA and Shift7 also looked at how women were depicted in films and if that had any impact on the title’s box office performance. Specifically, it looked at the performance of movies that pass the Bechdel Test. For a film to pass the Bechdel Test, it has to have multiple women who speak to each other about something other than men.

It was found that films that passed the Bechdel Test outperformed those films that did not. Which makes sense, because female-led films should naturally give the female characters more opportunities to talk about something other than men. It is also likely that audiences, particularly women, want to see movies that have fully fleshed out female characters, and they reward those films at the box office. To drive this point home, all of the films that have crossed the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office since 2012 have passed the test.

Anecdotally, it has seemed like the walls have been crumbling around the assumption that female-led films were less successful than male-led ones for a few years now, the same time period of this study, with films like Wonder Woman and already we are seeing that with what projects are being greenlit.

These numbers just back that up, showing that the bottom line is no longer a valid excuse not to put women front and center in movies and give them the same opportunities as the guys have head for decades.

There are plenty of female-led movies hoping to further prove what this study has shown hitting theaters next year. Check them out in our 2019 release schedule.

Netflix New Releases: Movies And TV Shows Coming To Netflix Streaming In January 2019

A new year is coming up pretty quickly, and before the holiday merrriment caps off 2018’s fantastic run of Netflix content, it feels like a good time to see what’s ahead. With that in mind, we’re proud to present the rundown of titles of both TV and movies headed to Netflix’s streaming library in January 2019.

So while you’re recovering from the joys of New Year’s Eve and Day celebrations, or just looking for something to occupy your weekends in the slower movie season, you’re pretty covered considering what’s on the horizon. If you want to see last month’s lineup, head over to December’s incoming rundown. Otherwise, get out your noisemakers and prepare to practice, as we’re headed to 2019!

Week of January 1

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 3 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/1/19
Across the Universe – 1/1/19
Babel – 1/1/19
Black Hawk Down – 1/1/19
City of God – 1/1/19
COMEDIANS of the world – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/1/19
Definitely, Maybe – 1/1/19
Godzilla – 1/1/19
Happy Feet – 1/1/19
Hell or High Water – 1/1/19
I Know What You Did Last Summer – 1/1/19
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – 1/1/19
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 1/1/19
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – 1/1/19
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 1/1/19
It Takes Two – 1/1/19
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back – 1/1/19
Jersey Boys – 1/1/19
Mona Lisa Smile – 1/1/19
Mr. Bean’s Holiday – 1/1/19
Pan’s Labyrinth – 1/1/19
Pinky Malinky – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/1/19
Pulp Fiction – 1/1/19
Swingers – 1/1/19
Tears of the Sun – 1/1/19
The Addams Family – 1/1/19
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – 1/1/19
The Dark Knight – 1/1/19
The Departed – 1/1/19
The Mummy – 1/1/19
The Mummy Returns – 1/1/19
The Strangers – 1/1/19
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/1/19
Watchmen – 1/1/19
xXx – 1/1/19
XXX: State of the Union – 1/1/19
Monty Python and the Holy Grail – 1/2/19
And Breathe Normally – NETFLIX FILM – 1/4/19
Call My Agent!: Season 3 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/4/19
El Potro: Unstoppable – NETFLIX FILM – 1/4/19
Lionheart – NETFLIX FILM – 1/4/19

Week of January 6

GODZILLA The Planet Eater – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/9/19
Solo: A Star Wars Story – 1/9/19
When Heroes Fly – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/10/19
Friends from College: Season 2 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/11/19
ReMastered: Massacre at the Stadium – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/11/19
Sex Education – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/11/19
Solo – NETFLIX FILM – 1/11/19
The Last Laugh – NETFLIX FILM – 1/11/19

Week of January 13

Revenger – NETFLIX FILM – 1/15/19
Sebastian Maniscalco: Stay Hungry – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/15/19
American Gangster – 1/16/19
American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace – 1/17/19
Carmen Sandiego – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/18/19
Close – NETFLIX FILM – 1/18/19
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/18/19
Grace and Frankie: Season 5 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/18/19
IO – NETFLIX FILM – 1/18/19
Soni – NETFLIX FILM – 1/18/19
The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes: Season 2 Part B – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/18/19
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/18/19
Trolls: The Beat Goes On!: Season 5 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/18/19

Week of January 20

Justice – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/21/19
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/24/19
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – 1/24/19
Animas – NETFLIX FILM – 1/25/19
Black Earth Rising – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/25/19
Club de Cuervos: Season 4– NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/25/19
Kingdom – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/25/19
Medici: The Magnificent – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/25/19
Polar – NETFLIX FILM – 1/25/19
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4 Part 2 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/25/19

Week of January 27

Z Nation: Season 5 – 1/27/19
Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: One Show Fits All – NETFLIX ORIGINAL – 1/29/19
Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp – 1/29/19
Disney•Pixar’s The Incredibles 2 – 1/30/19

January TBD

Marvel’s The Punisher: Season 2 – NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Holidays are the perfect time for marathons of your favorite movies. With the Indiana Jones quartet heading to Netflix’s library on New Year’s Day, you can get your fix without any commercials. Though if you’re looking for a quick double feature, both The Mummy and xXx have the first two entries in their respective canons ready to go.

Much like that ex who tries to remind you of how good you had it before the break-up, Disney is hammering that content button with three separate films from 2018 landing throughout the month. If you missed Solo: A Star Wars Story in theaters, or purposely waited until this moment to see if it was worth the time, you’ll be well served to log into your Netflix account in January.

Also, if you’re running a Marvel Cinematic Universe refresher marathon, Ant-Man and The Wasp is also coming online, further detailing Scott Lang’s criminal super-hero antics. Finally, if Incredibles 2 is a movie you’ve been hoping to catch up with, or have been meaning to watch yet again, it’s going to be a happy day when your queue shows that film as available for streaming at the end of the month.

Don’t head out the door just yet TV fans, as you’ll be glad to have kept that subscription in January. The Baudelaire children are about to face The End, as A Series of Unfortunate Events debuts its third and final season at the top of the month. Though if you’re looking for something more uplifting, but still allowing for cutting wit to be present, Grace and Frankie return for season 5 of their misadventures.

Even more exciting is the fact that, at some point soon, it looks like Marvel’s The Punisher will be returning to your television screens. There’s no exact date at the moment, but it’s on the to-do list for Netflix’s January release schedule, so it looks as if the program will be coming some time next month. Last, but not least, if you’re a sucker for goodbyes, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is set to close out its four season run with the second half of that finale unfolding.

Netflix is ready to start 2019 in fighting form, and the schedule above is your guide to keep up with it all! Keep in mind, these dates are subject to change, so you’ll want to keep coming back here to see what the latest updates have in store. Have a great holiday season with the joy of Netflix, and may your 2019 start off on the right foot!

Mary Poppins Returns Reviews Are Up, Here’s What Critics Are Saying

Over the past few years, the trend of nostalgia has truly dominated the filmmaking industry. Moviegoers long to return to a simpler time, resulting in plenty of reboots and long awaited sequels. Disney has been cashing in on this trend through live-action remakes of its animated classics, although it’s going the traditional sequel route with Mary Poppins Returns.

Chicago director Rob Marshall is helming a musical blockbuster, which will serve as a direct follow up to the 1964 original. All eyes are on what Emily Blunt will do with the practically perfect title character, and now the first reviews for Mary Poppins Returns have hit the web. They’re generally positive, likely hinting at a strong box office performance for the Holiday season.

CinemaBlend’s own Sarah El-Mahmoud gave the movie one of those positive reviews, as she ultimately scored Mary Poppins Returns with an impressive 4.5 stars out of 5. She particularly praised how the sequel approached a dark subject matter, and made it accessible for all generations of moviegoers, saying:

Mary Poppins Returns tackles some strong themes of loss and what it means to grow up, but not too intensely or maturely. As the original did so gracefully, it’s one of those films that somehow can offer a different message to a range of audiences– it’s not just a ‘kids movie’ or a fix of nostalgia, it’s a radiant timeless tale audiences will long to fly with again and again.

CinemaBlend isn’t the only outlet that appreciated how Mary Poppins Returns broached the serious subject of loss and death in the film. Mary returns when The Banks family is mourning the loss of their wife/mother, and IGN‘s Laura Prudom praised the sequel’s way of telling this story, with:

What stands out most about Mary Poppins Returns is its heart; even more than the original, it opts for sentimentality over subtlety, but much like this year’s equally charming Paddington 2, its earnest intentions never tip it too far into eye-roll territory. Its life lessons may be a bit too on-the-nose for some adults, but it’s clear that now, just as in 1964, Mary Poppins still has plenty to teach us.

Not all reviews for Mary Poppins Returns are quite as glowing, as its getting some criticism for following the outline of the original movie too closely. Slashfilm‘s Josh Spiegel recounted the ways Returns tries to emulate the 1964 classic, with the new material feeling out of place. He said,

The issue is less the cast, which is largely quite good, and more the slavish devotion Marshall and the co-writers have to the original film’s structure without improving upon it. Even Blunt, who’s pretty solid, isn’t playing Mary Poppins as much as she’s playing Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. Miranda, typically so winning (never more so than in his Broadway phenom Hamilton), feels mildly trapped by playing a newer version of the Cockney-accented chimney-sweep from the original. The arguable standout is Whishaw, who sells Michael Banks’ heartbreak at the loss of his wife as well as his desperate terror at losing his old family house. He sells it, in fact, so well that you get cognitive whiplash as the story shifts from Mary Poppins’ goofy nonsense to Michael struggling to be a single father.

There’s a ton of pressure for Mary Poppins Returns to deliver, especially when it comes to its new musical numbers. After all, the soundtrack from the original movie have become iconic in their decades in pop culture. IndieWire‘s David Ehrlich wasn’t a fan of the new songs by Marc Shaiman, saying:

The original Mary Poppins, for all its appeal, isn’t a work of musical genius. Earworms like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” might have trickled down from one generation to the next, but even the most cursed afflictions can be hereditary. Still, Mary Poppins Returns manages to shimmy under the low bar set by its predecessor. While composer Marc Shaiman (who co-wrote the lyrics with Scott Wittman) does a note-perfect job of recapturing the general Poppins vibe, there isn’t a memorable tune in the bunch; for better or worse, you won’t be haunted by these songs.

While there’s some criticism being thrown around about Mary Poppins Returns, for those most part star Emily Blunt has been getting tons of positive attention. THR‘s David Rooney praised Blunt’s Golden Globe nominated performance, as he reported:

That entrance establishes Emily Blunt right off the bat as a worthy successor to Julie Andrews. With her crisp diction, ramrod-straight posture and no-nonsense air, she swiftly dismisses the gawping stares and bewildered questions of her former charges, the now-grownup Banks siblings Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer). There’s preening vanity beneath Blunt’s bossiness, but also unmistakable warmth as she marshals recently widowed Michael’s three children — precocious twins John and Annabel (Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies) and their more impressionable younger brother Georgie (Joel Dawson) — with brisk commands like “Pish-posh,” “Spit-spot” or “Jiggety-jog.”

Mary Poppins Returns seems to be performing well critically, but it also isn’t exactly practically perfect. But considering the franchise’s iconography, the sequel’s cast, and the timing of the release, smart money says Disney has another massive win on their hands.

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

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M. Night Shyamalan Promises Glass Won’t Recap Split And Unbreakable For You

Director M. Night Shyamalan is often associated with his iconic plot twists, and his recent psychological thriller Split was no exception. The 2016 movie told a fascinating story about a character with dissociative identity disorder, although the film’s final moments put the entire movie on its head. It turns out that Split and Shyamalan’s 2000 classic Unbreakable were set in the same universe, and those two movies will collide in the upcoming crossover film Glass.

All eye are on what M. Night Shyamalan will do with Glass, as he puts a wholly unique spin on the popular superhero genre. But the director also has to make a new movie, knowing that not everyone in theaters will have seen and remembered the previous two. But it turns out that he’s not going recap those projects, as he recently revealed:

Talk about a bold choice. Rather than featuring a prologue regarding the events of Split and Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan decided to craft Glass into a story that doesn’t need to be bogged down by exposition. The story should cover the necessary information, while also allowing the new project to stand on its own two feet, sans recap.

M. Night Shyamalan’s comments to Digital Spy may be surprising for moviegoers, especially considering how long ago Unbreakable arrived in theaters. That movie was at the height of Shymalan’s fame, fresh off the wild success of The Sixth Sense. Considering the 18 year gap, it would make sense if those who saw Unbreakable didn’t recall the nuances of David Dunn and Mr. Glass’ relationship.

Split was far more recent, and the plot twist involving Bruce Willis’ David Dunn brought a ton of extra folks to the theaters. M. Night Shyamalan basically created a cinematic universe with that brief scene, and moviegoers have been discussing Split‘s contents since hit theaters two years ago. As such, a recap is probably less necessary.

Still, seeing Split and Unbreakable before Glass arrives would probably be a smart plan. In addition to being reacquainted with David Dunn and Mr. Glass’ complicated relationship in Unbreakable, a rewatch of Split will help moviegoers remember Kevin’s various personalities, as well as how Casey survived her attack.

Glass will arrive in theaters on January 18, 2019. In the meantime check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.

Star Wars: Episode 9 Rumors – Will Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi Show Up?

WARNING: The following is just rumor and speculation, but it could be true from a certain point of view, so if you want to avoid possible SPOILERS for Star Wars: Episode IX, you should jump to hyperspace out of here!

Heading in to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there were countless theories out there to answer the most compelling questions raised by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Since Rian Johnson’s film answered those questions (unsatisfactorily for some), there doesn’t seem to be quite the same level of theorizing for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX.

Nevertheless, as is the case with any property this popular and secretive, there are still plenty of theories and rumors out there about what we could see in this all-important final chapter in the Skywalker Saga. So, grab those saltshakers as we dive into the Bacta tank of rumor and speculation about Star Wars: Episode IX.

Last time, we contemplated just how powerful Luke Skywalker will be in this next film. Like his father before him, Luke is a prodigy, but he didn’t get to where he was all by himself. He had help, and the person who started him on his journey to becoming a Jedi Master was an old hermit by the name of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He just so happens to be the subject of a particularly interesting rumor that came out a while back.

This rumor, which surfaced back in June, was that Ewan McGregor would secretly film scenes for the next Star Wars film, i.e. Episode IX. Six months later, we don’t know much more about J.J. Abrams’ film, so an Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan appearance would seemingly still be possible. So let’s speculate how likely this is to happen and what form such an appearance could take.

First of all, it should probably be said that of all the reasons that Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan might not show up in Episode IX, a lack of interest from the actor is probably not one of them. Ewan McGregor, who was, according to many, the best part of George Lucas’ prequels, has shown continual enthusiasm for the character and the property over the years, so you have to think that if he’s asked to be in Episode IX, he’ll be on board faster than you can say “Hello there.”

Now it is prudent to acknowledge that Ewan McGregor has already had a part in the sequel trilogy, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana, Rey discovered Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber and upon touching it, had a vision. At the end of the vision, Rey heard Obi-Wan Kenobi say “Rey, these are your first steps.”

We know that that line was comprised of audio from Ewan McGregor and the late Sir Alec Guinness. This brief auditory cameo provides perhaps the best support to the possibility that Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi will show up in Episode IX.

We don’t know exactly what J.J. Abrams’ initial vision for this trilogy was and if that line from Obi-Wan was meant to just be a bit of a nod to the past in the nostalgia-driven The Force Awakens. But it certainly seems within the realm of possibility that it was a tease of things to come for the Jedi Master, at least in J.J.’s mind. By returning to the franchise to close it out, J.J. Abrams might want to pick that thread back up and run with it.

Again, we don’t know what that might entail, but being that Obi-Wan is dead, the most obvious way he could show up in Episode IX would be as a Force Ghost. We’ve already seen Yoda’s Force Ghost in this trilogy,- (and likely will again), and Luke Skywalker will presumably be a Force Ghost in the next film, so why not round out the trio with Obi-Wan, who can help Rey with her next steps? If Rey is to rebuild the Jedi or restore balance to the Force, she could seek guidance from multiple generations of Masters, like Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

On the other hand, including Obi-Wan as a Force Ghost, alongside Luke and possibly Yoda could make Star Wars: Episode IX feel a bit crowded and like a movie full of dead characters. It could also be considered a bit too fan service-y, and J.J. Abrams might want to avoid the same critiques that were levied against The Force Awakens.

One option that might satisfy the desire to see Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan and provide a bit of fan service without feeling shoehorned in or being detrimental to the story might just be a simple cameo. If this film gives us a happy ending, we could get a scene reminiscent of the end of Return of the Jedi, where we see the Force Ghosts of all the departed Jedi celebrating peace finally being brought to the galaxy and balance being restored to the Force.

Seeing Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan sharing the screen with Mark Hamill’s Luke, as well as Yoda, would be a cool way to close out this Saga, bringing things full circle with all three trilogies. This seems to be the easiest way Ewan McGregor could appear in the film and perhaps the most likely. Heck, maybe we could get Anakin and Qui-Gon Jinn’s Force Ghosts to show up as well.

All that said, another aspect to the lightsaber vision in The Force Awakens is that it acted as kindling to the ‘Rey is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter‘ theory, one of the more prominent theories about Rey’s parentage before Episode VIII. Now, we won’t go too far down the rabbit hole of Rey’s parents and whether or not J.J. Abrams will retcon what Rian Johnson did, but it does seem like J.J. had someone else in mind than junk traders. If his initial plan was some sort of Kenobi lineage, he could return to that by just making Kylo Ren’s revelation a lie.

If that were to occur, Ewan McGregor could tell Rey this as a Force Ghost, or we could find out via a flashback or another vision. It is hard to say what impact this would have without knowing how it would be done, but it is feasible. If he is in Episode IX, I don’t expect Obi-Wan to have a large role, yet he could still be important in this story, and being related to Rey would certainly fit the bill.

On the other hand, redoing the Rey parentage reveal is a lot of extra weight to lift and time to devote for a film that also has to see the battle between the Resistance and the First Order come to a satisfying conclusion.

The last aspect to this rumor is the specter of the Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff movie. In the initial rumor, which offered little in the way of clarity, it was said that Ewan McGregor’s appearance as Obi-Wan in Episode IX essentially meant that we won’t be getting the long-rumored, but never fully confirmed Obi-Wan spinoff film.

After the financial disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars Story, we don’t really know what the future holds for the spinoff films, but it doesn’t look good with the cancellation of the Boba Fett movie. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get an Obi-Wan movie at some point (maybe sooner rather than later), but Bob Iger has intimated that a Star Wars slowdown is on the way, indicating that Disney is going to be putting the bulk of its focus on the main series of films for now.

I don’t think Lucasfilm would shoehorn Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan into Episode IX to appease fans in lieu of a spinoff film. Such a move would be putting fan service ahead of story. But if J.J. Abrams was planning for Obi-Wan to appear in his film regardless, maybe that would make the parties involved feel better about the Obi-Wan movie being put on the back burner for now. If Ewan McGregor appeared in Episode IX, his appearance could also be used to gauge fan enthusiasm for a Kenobi spinoff film (hint: it’s high).

Ultimately, this is all rumor and speculation, but if I had to put down my galactic credits on whether or not Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi will be in Star Wars: Episode IX, I would guess yes, but only in a small, cameo capacity.

Star Wars: Episode IX blasts into theaters on December 20, 2019. For all of next year’s biggest movies, check out our 2019 release schedule.

Will Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi Show Up In Star Wars: Episode IX?

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