Kevin Smith pays Captain Marvel back for that meta Stan Lee cameo 

Read on: The A.V. Club.

As we noted earlier this month, Captain Marvel features a Stan Lee cameo that is more reality-breaking than the average Stan Lee cameo (even the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 one that implied every character he played was actually the same person or t…

‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Us’ Have Pushed ‘The Right Stuff’ Back Into the Spotlight

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Over the past three weeks, moviegoers have flocked to see “Captain Marvel,” and this past weekend, many of them came back to theaters to see Jordan Peele’s acclaimed horror film “Us.” By sheer coincidence, both of these very different films make reference to the same classic 1980s film: “The Right Stuff.”

In “Captain Marvel,” the nod to the Best Picture Oscar nominee comes when Vers — a.k.a. Carol Danvers — crash lands on Earth and finds herself in a Blockbuster Video. As she looks around, she picks up a VHS copy of “The Right Stuff,” which was one of the inspirations behind the film.

Also Read: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’: All the Horror References We Found So Far (Photos)

“The Right Stuff” tells the true story of the seven military pilots who were selected for the NASA project to launch the first ever manned spaceflight. In a similar way, Carol, an Air Force test pilot, ends up soaring farther than she could have ever expected when she travels into space and becomes a member of the Kree and, later, one of Earth’s superheroes.

In “Us,” that same VHS tape is much easier to miss, and is used in a possibly more ironic and darker context. You can find “The Right Stuff” among the VHS tapes that flank the TV displaying the Hands Across America commercial in the opening scene.

In this case, the can-do spirit honored by “The Right Stuff” and which Hands Across America tried to appeal to is twisted by the horrific doppelganger tale that unfolds. “The Right Stuff,” as well as NASA’s achievements in general, became fuel in pop culture for a paean to unity. In spite of many individual and institutional flaws, the pilots and NASA are able to come together and push the boundaries of human achievement.

Also Read: Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’: Are There Really Thousand of Miles of Hidden Tunnels All Across the Country?

But “Us” turns that on its head, suggesting that those flaws and failures tend to win over unity and can-do spirit more often than many of us care to admit. Ironically, the instances in which we do see some unity between the characters in Peele’s film are when it is done in the name of violently defeating a perceived enemy, such as when Hands Across America becomes the inspiration for the Tethered’s bloody uprising against their above-ground counterparts. And the Wilsons, in turn, are only able to briefly put aside their petty squabbles when their doppelgangers force them into a kill-or-be-killed situation to survive.

Two films currently in theaters with two very different takes on one of the most acclaimed space films of all time: one that openly embraces its optimistic tone and another that completely subverts it.

Side by side, they shine light on the ongoing battle between our better selves and our darkest impulses, while also just happening to push Philip Kaufman’s magnum opus back into the mainstream.

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‘Captain Marvel’ Wings To $910M+ Global, Becomes #10 Superhero Pic Offshore & WW – International Box Office

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Refresh for latest…: Captain Marvel remained at the helm this weekend overseas, adding $52.1M in her third frame. The Disney/Marvel title has now grossed $588.8M at the international box office for $910.3M worldwide. The scores for Carol Danvers …

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Breaks Original Horror Film Record With $70 Million Opening

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Universal/Monkeypaw’s “Us” has set a new opening weekend record for original horror films, earning a $70.2 million launch from 3,741 screens. This total for Jordan Peele’s latest film blows by the original horror movie opening record of $50.2 million set by “A Quiet Place” last year.

“Us” has also more than doubled the opening weekend earned by Peele’s previous film, “Get Out,” which opened to $33.3 million in February 2017. When ranked among all horror films, including franchise titles and remakes, “Us” sits third on the genre’s opening weekend charts, sitting behind the $123 million opening for 2017’s “It” remake and the $76 million opening for last year’s “Halloween.”

Also Read: The Strange Story Behind ‘I Got 5 on It,’ the Secret Weapon of Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’

Peele and “Us” were able to successfully ride the critical acclaim from its SXSW premiere two weeks ago and its 94 percent Rotten Tomatoes score to one of the biggest openings for any horror film, adding $16.7 million from 47 overseas markets to earn an $86.9 million worldwide launch against a $20 million budget.

According to CinemaScore audience data, African-American moviegoers overindexed and comprised of 30 percent of the entire audience. By comparison, Caucasians sat at 36 percent, with Hispanic/Latinos at 21 percent and Asians at 7 percent. While “Get Out” was a hit with audiences with an A- on CinemaScore, “Us” was more consistent with most horror titles with a B.

Taking second is “Captain Marvel,” which dropped 50 percent for a $35 million total in its third weekend. It also grossed $52 million overseas for an $87 million global weekend total. That pushes the latest Marvel film past the domestic total of “Thor: Ragnarok” with $320 million, and past the global total of “Wonder Woman,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and “Batman v Superman” with $910 million after 19 days in theaters around the world.

Also Read: ‘Us’ Film Review: Jordan Peele Terrifies Again With a Chilling Examination of Duality

Taking third is Paramount’s “Wonder Park” with $8.8 million, a 44 percent drop that brings its 10-day total to $29.2 million and $39.7 million worldwide, with $5 million grossed this weekend from 24 markets overseas.

CBS Films/Lionsgate’s “Five Feet Apart” sits just behind it with $8.5 million for a 35 percent drop and a $26.2 million 10-day domestic total and a $32.8 million total against a $7 million budget. Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” completes the top five with $6.5 million for a domestic total of $145 million and a global total of $488 million after five weekends.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’: Are There Really Thousand of Miles of Hidden Tunnels All Across the Country?

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ on Pace for $67 Million Opening, Double ‘Get Out’ Debut

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Universal/Monkeypaw’s “Us” is blowing by all analysts’ expectations. On the back of strong pre-release buzz and an opening day total of $29 million, Jordan Peele’s second film is estimated to gross $67 million from 3,741 screens this weekend.

If that estimate holds, not only will “Us” have doubled the opening weekend of Peele’s debut film “Get Out” ($33.3 million), it will set a new opening weekend record for original horror films, beating the $50.2 million of last year’s “A Quiet Place.” It’s also a record for any original film released in March.

Also Read: The Strange Story Behind ‘I Got 5 on It,’ the Secret Weapon of Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’

The one somewhat bad note for “Us” is that while critics have been raving about the film with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 95 percent, audiences aren’t quite as enthused as they were for “Get Out.” While that film earned an A on CinemaScore, “Us,” with its more opaque theming and twist ending, has received a B from opening night audiences, which is typical for what horror films tend to receive from the audience poll.

Postrak demographic data shows that Friday night’s audience was 31 percent African-American, compared to 34 percent Caucasians, 22 percent Hispanic/Latino, and 13 percent Asian/Other.

Also Read: Here’s All the Horror Movie References We Found in ‘Us’ So Far (Photos)

“Captain Marvel” will settle for the No. 2 spot in its third weekend, though it is still continuing its torrid pace, as it will pass the $315 million domestic total for “Thor: Ragnarok” by Sunday’s end. The Marvel movie is set to make $34.6 million in its third weekend, bringing its domestic total to $321 million and, depending on overseas results, possibly push its global total past the $1 billion mark.

CBS Films/Lionsgate’s “Five Feet Apart” takes third place with an estimated $8.6 million, dropping 34 percent from its $13.1 million opening. Paramount’s “Wonder Park” is fourth, dropping 50 percent for a $7.8 million opening. “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” completes the top five with $6.7 million in its fifth weekend.

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The Strange Story Behind ‘I Got 5 on It,’ the Secret Weapon of Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’: Yes, Hands Across America Was a Real Thing in the ’80s

Here’s All the Horror Movie References We Found in ‘Us’ So Far (Photos)

Here’s Why ‘Pulp Fiction’ Wasn’t Used When De-Aging Samuel L Jackson in ‘Captain Marvel’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

In capturing a young, mid-’90s era Samuel L. Jackson for “Captain Marvel,” the team at Lola VFX started by watching his classics of that time: “Jurassic Park,” “Die Hard: With a Vengeance,” and most notably, “Pulp Fiction.”

Even though Quentin Tarantino’s film came out in 1994, just a year before when “Captain Marvel” is set, the de-aged Nick Fury is not based on Jackson’s look as Jules Winnfield, and there’s a good reason why.

“We had to throw out ‘Pulp Fiction’ almost immediately just because of the facial hair,” Trent Claus, the visual effects supervisor at Lola told TheWrap. “It blocked so much of the reference that we needed, it wasn’t very useful.”

Also Read: Jimmy Kimmel Mashes Up ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’ and It’s Great (Video)

In de-aging Jackson for “Captain Marvel,” the VFX team did away with a body double and looked to his vast library of films as a reference point. They’re looking for the subtleties in how his cheek might sag in certain places, how light reflects off certain points or how weight hangs on his jaw. It’s a meticulous process that even with a reference from many films, still requires a lot of guesswork and understanding of the physiology of the human face and body.

“It’s not as helpful as it might seem,” Claus said. “Even though you have lots of angles, it’s rare you find the exact right position and lighting and all those things.”

Claus says the film that helped their cause the most was the smaller budget thriller “One Eight Seven.” Though Jackson guessed that they would’ve modeled his look from “The Negotiator,” Claus says it was slightly beyond the age they were looking for.

Also Read: How Samuel L Jackson’s De-Aging on ‘Captain Marvel’ Cut Shooting Time in Half

The year that the movie was released wasn’t the only thing that they took into consideration.

“If you look at his appearance in say, ‘Jurassic Park,’ which was ’93, compared to his appearance in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ he looks older in ‘Jurassic Park’ than he does in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ just because that’s who his character was,” Claus said. “So we had to factor that in as well. Not only what year was it shot, but what was his character supposed to portray?”

Claus said that for someone who is 70 years old, Jackson has “aged very well.” But that doesn’t always make their job easier.

“That can actually be a double-edged sword. Without the standard wrinkles to remove, that’s kind of the low hanging fruit. If we simply just wipe off the wrinkles from someone, that can immediately take 10, 15 years off them,” Klaus said. “But if you’re working with someone like Sam, who really doesn’t have a whole lot of wrinkles, you really have to rely on physiological changes, changes in structure of musculature, textures of skin, the way the weight hangs on your neck and your jaw, things over time that we’ve studied for so many years now.”

Read more about Samuel L. Jackson’s de-aging process on “Captain Marvel” here.

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Samuel L. Jackson, who is 70 years old, was made to look 25 years younger as Nick Fury for the ’90s throwback movie “Captain Marvel.” And though the studio has previously de-aged Michael Douglas (“Ant-Man” films), Kurt Russell (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”) and Robert Downey Jr. (“Captain America: Civil War”), the work on Jackson is the first time Marvel has done this for a co-lead actor for an entire movie.

De-aging is a meticulous, time-intensive process. Part of that process involves filming a body double that the visual effects artist can use as a reference. In making the leap between a handful to now hundreds of shots, Marvel tasked the company Lola Visual Effects to make some tests to see what Jackson could look like without the aid of a double. The payoff was enormous.

“That process works if you’ve got five, eight, maybe 10 shots. But in a movie like this where we’ve got about 500 shots, there was no way from a production point of view we could do that,” Christopher Townsend, Marvel’s visual effects supervisor on “Captain Marvel,” told TheWrap. “One of the big gains was Lola coming back to us and saying, ‘we don’t need the body double.’ That was huge for us because it cut down our shooting time by at least half.”

Also Read: All 55 Marvel Movies Ranked, Including ‘Captain Marvel’

The end result in “Captain Marvel” is seamless, easily creating the illusion that Fury is far younger than the actor playing him. Townsend said that the goal was to always avoid the “uncanny valley” effect and to make Jackson’s youth look natural and unnoticeable.

“The thing I said to the gang at the beginning is from that first shot you see of Sam, you’ll go ‘Woah! Young Sam!’ But my intention was after that, nobody thinks about it,” Townsend said. “And hopefully that’s what we’ve achieved if we’ve done our job right, and that the audience never questions it and doesn’t even consider it.”

De-aging, or “youthening” as the VFX experts at Marvel also call it, requires repeatedly and painstakingly manipulating an individual frame of a movie to make an actor look younger.

Imagine trying to use Photoshop to make a model look thinner or younger on a magazine cover: you paint out any wrinkles, smooth the skin, fill in pores, bring in a person’s cheeks or chin, etc., but now do that frame by frame across a two-hour movie.

Also Read: Samuel L. Jackson Loves Viral Mashup of ‘Pulp Fiction’ and Brett Kavanaugh

“The real challenge is making it so that there’s continuity from one frame to the next so that it feels smooth, and it never feels like the face is jiggling around or moving,” Townsend said. “It really comes down to the artistry of the person sitting there and trying to maintain as much of the original performance as possible.”

“You want every shot throughout the whole movie to look like Sam, and specifically to look like Sam at that age. So when you’re working with hundreds of shots and dozens of artists, it would be really easy for each of these shots to go off in their own direction and every shot looking like a different person,” Trent Claus, visual effects supervisor with Lola, added. “So you have to be very strict with consistency and internal reviews and things like that to maintain that continuity.”

Claus helped pioneer the de-aging process with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and in creating the “Skinny Steve” effect in the first “Captain America” movie, in which Chris Evans was slimmed down at its start, a precursor to the technique used today. But he said that it’s a “misconception” that the technology itself has changed or evolved drastically in the last 10 years. What has improved is their experience and knowledge of the physiology of the human body and face.

Also Read: ‘Jurassic Park’: Samuel L. Jackson Death Was Supposed to Be on Screen, Actor Says

With the absence of a body double, the visual effects artists looked to ’90s Jackson classics like “The Negotiator,” “Die Hard: With a Vengeance,” “Jurassic Park” and smaller films like “Sphere” and “One Eight Seven.” As VFX artists might also do with a body double, they’re looking for a model for how light reflects on his face or how his cheek might sag when he strikes a similar expression to one used in “Captain Marvel.”

Claus, however, said that the challenge of working with someone who has “aged very well” like Jackson is actually a “double-edged sword.”

“If we simply just wipe off the wrinkles from someone, that can immediately take 10, 15 years off them,” Claus said. “But if you’re working with someone like Sam, who really doesn’t have a whole lot of wrinkles, you really have to rely on physiological changes, changes in structure of musculature, textures of skin, the way the weight hangs on your neck and your jaw, things over time like that we’ve studied for so many years now.”

Also Read: Even Brie Larson Can’t Go on Samuel L Jackson and Magic Johnson’s Italy Vacation (Video)

Townsend said the goal is always to maintain as much of the performance as possible, to manipulate the image without destroying the original photography. Smooth out too much, and you lose the nuances of the actor’s performance but also end up with unnatural, plastic-y looking skin.

And in striving for realism and understanding the human face, Claus says what they do is much more than photoshopping.

“We don’t want to remove all the imperfections. We don’t want to make them look more perfect than an actual human does. We want to keep all of that pore texture, whiskers, and all of those things that it would be easier for us to just eliminate,” Claus said. “It would be far easier for us to just obliterate all the detail on someone’s face. But then you end up with that mannequin, uncanny valley thing that we all try to avoid.”

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The question that remains is how Marvel will use this technology in the future, or what it means for upcoming movies from other filmmakers. Martin Scorsese is planning to de-age Robert De Niro and Al Pacino for “The Irishman,” and Ang Lee is de-aging Will Smith for “Gemini Man.” Claus says that on future projects, using a body double is still ideal. But considering the scope of projects like “The Irishman” and “Gemini Man,” the VFX teams on those films may look to take Lola’s lead.

Townsend isn’t sure of the specific techniques that Scorsese and Netflix are utilizing but says that the process is the same and reiterated that the goal is always to do the most you can to fully capture the actor’s performance and get out of the way of the story.

“De-aging, youthening, any actor that has had a prolific career, brings advantages and disadvantages,” Townsend said. “There is plenty of onscreen reference from which to draw, but equally, there will be many experts out there critiquing the work and comparing it directly with the younger actor.”

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Weekend Box Office: Captain Marvel is still beating the crap out of everyone

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Shocking no one, save for possibly that dummy Yon-Rogg, Captain Marvel maintained its spot atop the box office this weekend, pulling in $69.3 million and demonstrating yet again why it’s generally a good idea to stay out of Marvel’s way when scheduling…