Robert Rodriguez’s VR Film ‘The Limit’ Debuts Across Major Headsets

Will Hollywood star power get consumers to open their wallets for virtual reality (VR)? We may soon find out, thanks to “The Limit,” a new VR featurette from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez that was released for major VR headsets Tuesday. Starri…

Will Hollywood star power get consumers to open their wallets for virtual reality (VR)? We may soon find out, thanks to “The Limit,” a new VR featurette from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez that was released for major VR headsets Tuesday. Starring Michelle Rodriguez and featuring “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus, “The Limit” is a 20-minute […]

Robert Rodriguez Launches VR Action Film ‘The Limit’ Starring Michelle Rodriguez

STXsurreal, the VR studio for Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment, announced on Tuesday the launch of “The Limit,” a new VR film from director Robert Rodriguez.
Michelle Rodriguez, Norman Reedus “and YOU” star in the immersi…

STXsurreal, the VR studio for Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment, announced on Tuesday the launch of “The Limit,” a new VR film from director Robert Rodriguez.

Michelle Rodriguez, Norman Reedus “and YOU” star in the immersive new story from Rodriguez, a 20-minute action movie captured in a new VR format that stretches wider than 180 degrees. It’s designed to bridge the gap between traditional, large-format filmmaking and newer 360-degree video.

“The launch of ‘The Limit’ is a watershed moment in VR, and gives fans of premium scripted entertainment a compelling reason put their headsets back on,” Andy Vick and Rick Rey, co-presidents of Virtual Reality & Immersive Entertainment at STXsurreal, said in a statement. “In keeping with STX’s talent-driven model, we enlisted Robert, Michelle and Norman, who collectively have millions of passionate fans across the globe, to break new ground and bring this category-busting cinematic VR film to life.”

In “The Limit,” you, the viewer, play a rogue agent with a mysterious past who enlists the help of enhanced super-assassin M-13 (Michelle Rodriguez) to retrieve your identity and strike against the deadly organization that created you.

STXsurreal also partnered with Academy Award-winning visual effects company DNEG. This is the first in a series of upcoming live-action VR projects from the studio. Other in-development projects include a Jay and Silent Bob project from writer and director Kevin Smith, a crime-thriller from director Christian Gudegast, an untitled Dave Bautista action-comedy, and an underwater sci-fi-thriller from Johannes Roberts.

Robert Rodriguez will participate in a fireside chat on the Oculus Venues live event platform on Friday, Nov. 23 to discuss “The Limit” and show clips from the VR film. Audiences can tune-in on Oculus Go and Gear VR. You can also purchase and download “The Limit” as an app now on major VR Platforms, including Oculus, Steam, Samsung VR, Viveport, Google Daydream, Google Play and Apple iOS.

Watch the trailer for the film above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Robert Rodriguez Denies 'Mind Games' With Rose McGowan – Here's His Full Statement

Robert Rodriguez to Write and Direct 'Ugly Dolls' Animated Film

Robert Rodriguez to Direct 'Escape From New York' Remake

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Preview: How Weta Escaped from the Uncanny Valley

IndieWire went to Wellywood to preview Weta’s latest facial capture advances on Robert Rodriguez’s sci-fi epic from James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment.

The wizards of Weta have taken facial capture to the next level with “Alita: Battle Angel,” the manga-inspired sci-fi adventure directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau. Check out the new Fox trailer below for the movie which opens February 14, 2019.

IndieWire got a sneak peek of exclusive footage at Weta in Wellington, New Zealand. Like moviegoers who finally embraced the blue Na’vi once they saw them in Cameron’s “Avatar,” there’s nothing creepy about Alita, the doll-like cyborg with big eyes (performance-captured by Rosa Salazar). In fact, when she wakes up in a morning bathed in sunlight without any memory of her former existence as a badass warrior, it’s hard to believe that she’s totally CG.

Read More: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Team Promises Manga Adaptation Is ‘Not Whitewashing’ Like ‘Ghost In the Shell’

“Alita: Battle Angel”

Fox

“I feel more like an audience member on this than any other movie,” said Rodriguez, who took over for Cameron when he committed to helming four “Avatar” sequels, tackling his first big-budget Hollywood movie. “I hadn’t done this process before, so a lot of it’s just intuition. But I’m stunned at how the shots come in. It’s like dream imagery but photo-real, so you can see why Jim makes movies at that level now. And when Rosa walked in the room [for the audition], I knew she was the girl. She’s so expressive, and I knew the animators were going to have a ball bringing this to life with so much to work with.”

Indeed, whether Alita’s battling a host of scary cyborgs with surprising force and finesse, or playing the gladiator-style Motorball, or falling in love with street-smart Hugo (Keean Johnson), she’s anything but stoic in the manga tradition.

“I took to the suit and loved it,” said Salazar. “I liked the process, I liked the head rig. I liked innovating from that place as an actor and being on the cutting edge, to play a role I otherwise couldn’t play as a 30-year-old. It was fun for me to be the walking piece of technology. What’s nice is they kept the proportions of an actual woman and didn’t over sexualize or infantilize the character.”

ABA_096_CWS_0490_v0407.87435 – Rosa Salazar stars as Alita in Twentieth Century Fox’s ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Alita: Battle Angel”

Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth

The big advancement was animating a humanoid character in the style of Yukito Kishiro’s popular manga “Battle Angel Alita.” “It’s trying to get a character that’s humanoid, and bringing the subtleties of Rosa and the imperfections of Rosa — her wrinkles, her stars — into our character so that we don’t go anywhere near the Uncanny Valley,” said Weta VFX supervisor Eric Saindon.

Added producer Landau: “You can’t hide behind the blue skin [of ‘Avatar’] or an ape’s face. Yet she’s a cyborg. We’re not saying she’s a human; we have that little bit of wiggle room. I think Weta really applied everything they’ve learned the last 20 years. It’s a process of layering. And Rosa has unusual idiosyncrasies that her face does, which convey emotion, where the eyebrow goes up and the mouth goes down. But I believe, whether it’s five minutes in or 10 minutes in, you’re going to realize she’s that character.”

Like the “Planet of the Apes” sequels, Weta shot Salazar’s performance capture on location. In this case, a 90,000 square foot set of the dystopian Iron City on the backlot of Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin. However, Weta implemented two lightweight HD head cams for the first time to capture greater detail. “It gives more information for reconstructing the face,” said Joe Letteri, Weta’s senior VFX supervisor and four-time Oscar winner. “The extra care helps you get more dimensionality and better understand what the actor’s movement is.”

“Alita: Battle Angel”

Weta also advanced its facial capture system by using two CG puppets (one for the actress and one for the character), re-targeting one onto the other to achieve closer unity.

But Alita’s face is wider than Rosa’s, and her eyes are twice as large, which changed the perspective. It took a year to work on the eyes alone and then another four months of refinement. The eyes actually contained more detail than all of Gollum, with Weta doing simulation of fibers for the first time taken from a baby’s eyes.

“We tried many different variations,” Saindon said. “We tried scaling the eyes from the center, we scaled the eyes out wider and they were really creepy. She looked like an ogre. So we did a lot of moving around and positioning and we realized in a conversation with Jim one day that it wasn’t the eyes as much as the irises. We were scaling up the eyes and irises the same amount and the whites under the eyes made it creepy.

“Jim suggested scaling up the irises and pupils another 15 percent on top of the eyes. Once we did that, you started seeing the shape of her eyes and they actually matched Rosa’s better.”

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‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Trailer: Bringing Iron City And Manga To Life

Alita: Battle Angel opens in theaters on St. Valentine’s Day, which is fitting — the $200 million film represents a long romance between producer James Cameron and the source material, the cyberpunk saga created by Yukito Kishiro in the 199…

Alita: Battle Angel opens in theaters on St. Valentine’s Day, which is fitting — the $200 million film represents a long romance between producer James Cameron and the source material, the cyberpunk saga created by Yukito Kishiro in the 1990s. Cameron flirted with making it into a movie in the mid-2000s (and even wrote a 180-page script for the adaptation) but then set it aside in favor of making a different sci-fi epic: Avatar, the 2009 alien adventure that stands as the…

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ Director Chris McKay to Direct ‘Jonny Quest’ for Warner Bros (Exclusive)

“The Lego Batman Movie” director Chris McKay will direct “Jonny Quest” for Warner Bros., individuals with knowledge of the project exclusively tell TheWrap.

Rideback’s Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich along with Adrian Askarieh of Prime Universe are producing the action-adventure movie. Daniel Alter will executive produce.

The film will be based on the popular Hanna-Barbera primetime animated series created by Doug Wildey in the mid-1960s. The story centers on the adventurous boy hero Jonny Quest who travels with his scientist father, his adopted brother Hadji, and their former secret agent bodyguard, Race Bannon, around the world to solve world-threatening mysteries. An individual with knowledge with of the project also tells TheWrap that a major movie star is being eyed to play Race Bannon.

Also Read: Chris McKay in Talks to Direct Batman Spinoff ‘Nightwing’ for Warner Bros

Jonny Quest has been one of last remaining biggest pop culture brands that hasn’t had a feature films franchise. In addition to the feature film, DC Comics recent reboot of “Future Quest” has been a sell-out success and Warner Archives will release the entire Jonny Quest animated collection on Blu-ray for the first time by 2020.

Robert Rodriguez was previously attached to direct. Terry Rossio and Dan Mazeau wrote previous drafts of the screenplay.

McKay is also attached to direct the live-action “Nightwing” for the studio based on the DC character Dick Grayson. Next up, McKay will direct “Dungeons & Dragons” for Paramount Pictures.

McKay is repped by UTA and Rise Management.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Netflix Sets Meg LeFauve, Alex Woo, Jorge Gutierrez Animated Projects

You Can Be the Next Lana Condor: Netflix Widens Search for Star of High School Movie ‘Tall Girl’

Netflix’s ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ Trailer: Kurt Russell Will Make You Believe in Santa Claus (Video)

“The Lego Batman Movie” director Chris McKay will direct “Jonny Quest” for Warner Bros., individuals with knowledge of the project exclusively tell TheWrap.

Rideback’s Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich along with Adrian Askarieh of Prime Universe are producing the action-adventure movie. Daniel Alter will executive produce.

The film will be based on the popular Hanna-Barbera primetime animated series created by Doug Wildey in the mid-1960s. The story centers on the adventurous boy hero Jonny Quest who travels with his scientist father, his adopted brother Hadji, and their former secret agent bodyguard, Race Bannon, around the world to solve world-threatening mysteries. An individual with knowledge with of the project also tells TheWrap that a major movie star is being eyed to play Race Bannon.

Jonny Quest has been one of last remaining biggest pop culture brands that hasn’t had a feature films franchise. In addition to the feature film, DC Comics recent reboot of “Future Quest” has been a sell-out success and Warner Archives will release the entire Jonny Quest animated collection on Blu-ray for the first time by 2020.

Robert Rodriguez was previously attached to direct. Terry Rossio and Dan Mazeau wrote previous drafts of the screenplay.

McKay is also attached to direct the live-action “Nightwing” for the studio based on the DC character Dick Grayson. Next up, McKay will direct “Dungeons & Dragons” for Paramount Pictures.

McKay is repped by UTA and Rise Management.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Netflix Sets Meg LeFauve, Alex Woo, Jorge Gutierrez Animated Projects

You Can Be the Next Lana Condor: Netflix Widens Search for Star of High School Movie 'Tall Girl'

Netflix's 'The Christmas Chronicles' Trailer: Kurt Russell Will Make You Believe in Santa Claus (Video)

El Rey Network Taps Mauricio Rios As Programming And Acquisitions VP

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network has named Mauricio Rios, a veteran executive most recently at Telemundo’s Universo Channel, as its VP programming and acquisitions.
Before his three-year stint at Universo, where he was director …

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network has named Mauricio Rios, a veteran executive most recently at Telemundo’s Universo Channel, as its VP programming and acquisitions. Before his three-year stint at Universo, where he was director of programming and scheduling, Rios had exec stints at NBCUniversal and Fox Latin America Channels. Rios replaces Dan Kozlowski, who was director of programming and acquisitions for four years. Since its founding in 2013, El Rey has…

11 Riskiest, Priciest Movie Gambles This Fall, From ‘Venom’ to ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

For most, the only risks of the Fall season involve excess layering and holiday food binging.

But in Hollywood, it’s a critical time to launch awards films, take audiences back to school after the mindless fun of summer blockbuster season and hope to win the Christmas-corridor box office race.

All the major studios — Disney, Fox, Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount and Universal — as well as mini-majors like Lionsgate have skin in the game. Here’s who stands to win or lose big:

Also Read: 10 LGBT-Themed Movies We’re Dying to See This Fall, From ‘Colette’ to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Photos)

“Venom” (Sony/Columbia, October 5)

Sony Pictures is dipping two toes into the Spiderverse this fall as it looks to expand its Marvel IP beyond the world of Peter Parker. First up is “Venom,” which takes place in the same Marvel universe as the mighty “Avengers” franchise and, of course, Sony’s own hot Spidey property fronted by Tom Holland.

Tom Hardy plays  journalist Eddie Brock, who gets entangled with an alien symbiote that gives him special powers as long as they share the same body. Hardy’s turbulent genius has been largely reserved for prestige films and period dramas — aside from mumble-mouthed turns in blockbusters like “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Leading lady Michelle Williams and antagonist Riz Ahmed should help pull in some unexpected demos, but this is purely a dice-roll for Hardy and Sony as it seeks to leverage its slice of the Marvelverse.

“A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros., October 5)

Leading man Bradley Cooper and global superstar Lady Gaga seem like a perfect match for this long-gestating musical reboot, territory where both Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand have tread before.

If only it were that easy. Cooper is a first-time director who wanted to shoot on location at live musical festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury. And Gaga is untested as a dramatic actress — despite a Golden Globe win for her uber-camp turn in “American Horror Story: Hotel.”

They’ll have to harmonize not only as artistic and credible voices, but also as two real stars playing two fictional stars without coming off like caricatures. Early indication is that Cooper pulled it off — on no less than the third time this movie has been made.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Fox, November 2)

Legendary rocker biopics are usually safe bets, as long they include a given artist’s music catalog and plenty of fast-paced montages of glam and excess. Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) takes up the mantle of Freddie Mercury, and looks so convincing in the role it sparked a social media sensation earlier this year.

Let’s not forsake the eight years of development hell this project languished in, which saw numerous stars (including Sacha Baron Cohen) attached to play the Queen rocker and as many directors floated to handle the movie.

Then there was the rare public firing of Bryan Singer, who directed most of “Bohemian” before Fox yanked him from the project over a dispute over his work performance, TheWrap reported. Dexter Fletcher stepped in and finished the shoot — but the first trailer in May prompted a social-media storm about suggestions of a heterosexual love story for the gay icon and a failure to mention his AIDS diagnosis.

The line at Fox has largely been to ignore controversy and build anticipation for the finished product. Will it rock you? TBD.

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (Disney, November 2)

Disney developed a film version of the beloved holiday ballet — first staged in 1892 — and it seemed like a slam-dunk visual feast from director Lasse Hallström, goosed by an all-star cast (including Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Morgan Freeman) and the screen debut of African American prima ballerina Misty Copeland.

But the release was pushed back from 2017 — and the studio hired Joe Johnston to oversee a massive 32-day reshoot that raised eyebrows around town (Hallström was said to have scheduling conflicts — though he was not attached to any other projects).

Not only is this public-domain IP of the sort that Disney often avoids these days, but the studio now faces the additional challenge of determining whether and how the promotional campaign should use Freeman, accused of sexual misconduct and harassment in May. (The actor has vehemently denied any misconduct.)

“The Grinch” (Universal, November 9)

More hallowed than “The Nutracker,” Dr. Seuss’ perennial mean one — Mr. Grinch — is getting a dust-off and CGI facelift from Universal and Illumination. The last time the studio touched the property was in 2000, with Ron Howard’s live-action film starring rubber-faced Jim Carrey — which grossed just over $345 million worldwide.

Now the film will seek to reengage a youth audience whose viewing habits are guided by parents in love with the original animated TV special. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the green antihero, and an early trailer shows a more modern take (he spies on Whoville with drones).

Sony

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (Sony/Columbia, November 9)

Seven years after David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” sputtered to $102 million domestically, Sony is attempting to reboot the franchise based on Stieg Larsson’s best-selling thrillers about a goth hacker named Lisbeth Salander.

But the studio is starting mostly from scratch — skipping the second and third novels in the late Swedish author’s trilogy and instead jumping to the first novel written by his authorized successor, Swedish crime journalist David Lagercrantz.

And “The Crown” star Claire Foy is stepping in for Rooney Mara as Salander — with Daniel Craig’s journalist hero replaced by Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason (“Borg vs. McEnroe”). Will fans still go for a long-dormant franchise with a less starry cast?

“Robin Hood” (Lionsgate, November 21)

Did anyone ask for another Robin Hood movie? Granted, this is public-domain IP. But this is also the third studio adaptation since Warner Bros.’ 1991 “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” (Does anyone even remember Universal’s 2010 attempt with Russell Crowe?)

Now Lionsgate is taking a swing with Jamie Foxx teaching Taron Egerton’s Robin of Loxley how to plunder. The film, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, was announced in 2015 with a script written by “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” scribe Joby Harold. We all know how that film performed.

Adding to the film’s risk profile is Otto Bathurst, who is getting his feature directorial debut.

Getty Images

“Mary Poppins Returns” (Disney, December 19)

There are two big challenges here for Disney. The first is for Emily Blunt, who proved she can sing in “Into the Woods” but must live up to a role of the magical nanny created by the beloved Julie Andrews.

Second, the filmmakers must both justify the need for a sequel arriving 54 years after the original — and educate younger audiences who (gasp) may not be familiar with the story or the characters.

On the plus side, “Hamilton” star and creator Lin Manuel-Miranda co-stars here — though the new tunes are supplied by “Hairspray” composer Marc Shaiman and lyricist Scott Wittman.

“Alita: Battle Angel” (Fox, December 21)

Fox is betting big on this cyberpunk action adventure from producer-screenwriter James Cameron. $200 million big.

Robert Rodriguez (“Spy Kids”) directs the film, based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga, with an “Avatar”-like mix of CG and human characters whose trailer suggests a definite uncanny-valley vibe.

Rosa Salazar (“Maze Runner” series) stars as Alita, a kickass cyborg who awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize. The film also stars Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali — who are, shall we say, untested as box office draws.

“Aquaman” (Warner Bros., December 21)

The good news is Jason Mamoa looks great as the heir to the throne of Atlantis.

The bad news is the last time we saw him was in “Justice League,” which grossed a decent but not spectacular $209 million last year and continued to raise doubts among fans that Warner Bros. has a handle on its DC Extended Universe — aside from the unreserved success of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” (and Gal Gadot’s charming and badass portrayal of that heroine.)

Warner hopes it can launch a new hero (and franchise) just like “Wonder Woman” with “Aquaman,” which has a $160 million production budget. And the studio tapped a proven hit maker in directed James Wan, who launched both the “Insidious” and “Conjuring” franchises and directed the 2015 action mega-hit “Furious 7,” which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide.

Paramount

“Bumblebee” (Paramount Pictures, December 21)

Paramount has seen diminishing returns for its “Transformers” franchise — last year’s “The Last Knight” eked out a series-low $130 million domestically.

But with little other IP in its cupboard aside from “Mission: Impossible” and the also declining “Star Trek,” the studio hopes to reboot the “Transformers” franchise with a spinoff prequel focusing on the origin story of one of the fan-favorite characters.

Paramount new boss Jim Gianopulos is hedging his bets by slashing the usual blow-out budget to a leaner $100 million. That means trading the pricey auteur Michael Bay for first-time live-action director Travis Knight (“Kubo and the Two Strings”), and filling out the cast with stars like Hailee Steinfeld instead of Mark Wahlberg.

But will a leaner “Transformers” provide more than meets the eye to moviegoers?

Related stories from TheWrap:

37 Fall Movies to Obsess Over, From ‘Halloween’ to ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ (Photos)

‘First Man’ Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

Before ‘Operation Finale,’ Check Out This Award-Winning Short Film

For most, the only risks of the Fall season involve excess layering and holiday food binging.

But in Hollywood, it’s a critical time to launch awards films, take audiences back to school after the mindless fun of summer blockbuster season and hope to win the Christmas-corridor box office race.

All the major studios — Disney, Fox, Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount and Universal — as well as mini-majors like Lionsgate have skin in the game. Here’s who stands to win or lose big:

“Venom” (Sony/Columbia, October 5)

Sony Pictures is dipping two toes into the Spiderverse this fall as it looks to expand its Marvel IP beyond the world of Peter Parker. First up is “Venom,” which takes place in the same Marvel universe as the mighty “Avengers” franchise and, of course, Sony’s own hot Spidey property fronted by Tom Holland.

Tom Hardy plays  journalist Eddie Brock, who gets entangled with an alien symbiote that gives him special powers as long as they share the same body. Hardy’s turbulent genius has been largely reserved for prestige films and period dramas — aside from mumble-mouthed turns in blockbusters like “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Leading lady Michelle Williams and antagonist Riz Ahmed should help pull in some unexpected demos, but this is purely a dice-roll for Hardy and Sony as it seeks to leverage its slice of the Marvelverse.

“A Star Is Born” (Warner Bros., October 5)

Leading man Bradley Cooper and global superstar Lady Gaga seem like a perfect match for this long-gestating musical reboot, territory where both Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand have tread before.

If only it were that easy. Cooper is a first-time director who wanted to shoot on location at live musical festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury. And Gaga is untested as a dramatic actress — despite a Golden Globe win for her uber-camp turn in “American Horror Story: Hotel.”

They’ll have to harmonize not only as artistic and credible voices, but also as two real stars playing two fictional stars without coming off like caricatures. Early indication is that Cooper pulled it off — on no less than the third time this movie has been made.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Fox, November 2)

Legendary rocker biopics are usually safe bets, as long they include a given artist’s music catalog and plenty of fast-paced montages of glam and excess. Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) takes up the mantle of Freddie Mercury, and looks so convincing in the role it sparked a social media sensation earlier this year.

Let’s not forsake the eight years of development hell this project languished in, which saw numerous stars (including Sacha Baron Cohen) attached to play the Queen rocker and as many directors floated to handle the movie.

Then there was the rare public firing of Bryan Singer, who directed most of “Bohemian” before Fox yanked him from the project over a dispute over his work performance, TheWrap reported. Dexter Fletcher stepped in and finished the shoot — but the first trailer in May prompted a social-media storm about suggestions of a heterosexual love story for the gay icon and a failure to mention his AIDS diagnosis.

The line at Fox has largely been to ignore controversy and build anticipation for the finished product. Will it rock you? TBD.

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (Disney, November 2)

Disney developed a film version of the beloved holiday ballet — first staged in 1892 — and it seemed like a slam-dunk visual feast from director Lasse Hallström, goosed by an all-star cast (including Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Morgan Freeman) and the screen debut of African American prima ballerina Misty Copeland.

But the release was pushed back from 2017 — and the studio hired Joe Johnston to oversee a massive 32-day reshoot that raised eyebrows around town (Hallström was said to have scheduling conflicts — though he was not attached to any other projects).

Not only is this public-domain IP of the sort that Disney often avoids these days, but the studio now faces the additional challenge of determining whether and how the promotional campaign should use Freeman, accused of sexual misconduct and harassment in May. (The actor has vehemently denied any misconduct.)

“The Grinch” (Universal, November 9)

More hallowed than “The Nutracker,” Dr. Seuss’ perennial mean one — Mr. Grinch — is getting a dust-off and CGI facelift from Universal and Illumination. The last time the studio touched the property was in 2000, with Ron Howard’s live-action film starring rubber-faced Jim Carrey — which grossed just over $345 million worldwide.

Now the film will seek to reengage a youth audience whose viewing habits are guided by parents in love with the original animated TV special. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the green antihero, and an early trailer shows a more modern take (he spies on Whoville with drones).

Sony

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (Sony/Columbia, November 9)

Seven years after David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” sputtered to $102 million domestically, Sony is attempting to reboot the franchise based on Stieg Larsson’s best-selling thrillers about a goth hacker named Lisbeth Salander.

But the studio is starting mostly from scratch — skipping the second and third novels in the late Swedish author’s trilogy and instead jumping to the first novel written by his authorized successor, Swedish crime journalist David Lagercrantz.

And “The Crown” star Claire Foy is stepping in for Rooney Mara as Salander — with Daniel Craig’s journalist hero replaced by Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason (“Borg vs. McEnroe”). Will fans still go for a long-dormant franchise with a less starry cast?

“Robin Hood” (Lionsgate, November 21)

Did anyone ask for another Robin Hood movie? Granted, this is public-domain IP. But this is also the third studio adaptation since Warner Bros.’ 1991 “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” (Does anyone even remember Universal’s 2010 attempt with Russell Crowe?)

Now Lionsgate is taking a swing with Jamie Foxx teaching Taron Egerton’s Robin of Loxley how to plunder. The film, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, was announced in 2015 with a script written by “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” scribe Joby Harold. We all know how that film performed.

Adding to the film’s risk profile is Otto Bathurst, who is getting his feature directorial debut.

Getty Images

“Mary Poppins Returns” (Disney, December 19)

There are two big challenges here for Disney. The first is for Emily Blunt, who proved she can sing in “Into the Woods” but must live up to a role of the magical nanny created by the beloved Julie Andrews.

Second, the filmmakers must both justify the need for a sequel arriving 54 years after the original — and educate younger audiences who (gasp) may not be familiar with the story or the characters.

On the plus side, “Hamilton” star and creator Lin Manuel-Miranda co-stars here — though the new tunes are supplied by “Hairspray” composer Marc Shaiman and lyricist Scott Wittman.

“Alita: Battle Angel” (Fox, December 21)

Fox is betting big on this cyberpunk action adventure from producer-screenwriter James Cameron. $200 million big.

Robert Rodriguez (“Spy Kids”) directs the film, based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga, with an “Avatar”-like mix of CG and human characters whose trailer suggests a definite uncanny-valley vibe.

Rosa Salazar (“Maze Runner” series) stars as Alita, a kickass cyborg who awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize. The film also stars Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali — who are, shall we say, untested as box office draws.

“Aquaman” (Warner Bros., December 21)

The good news is Jason Mamoa looks great as the heir to the throne of Atlantis.

The bad news is the last time we saw him was in “Justice League,” which grossed a decent but not spectacular $209 million last year and continued to raise doubts among fans that Warner Bros. has a handle on its DC Extended Universe — aside from the unreserved success of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” (and Gal Gadot’s charming and badass portrayal of that heroine.)

Warner hopes it can launch a new hero (and franchise) just like “Wonder Woman” with “Aquaman,” which has a $160 million production budget. And the studio tapped a proven hit maker in directed James Wan, who launched both the “Insidious” and “Conjuring” franchises and directed the 2015 action mega-hit “Furious 7,” which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide.

Paramount

“Bumblebee” (Paramount Pictures, December 21)

Paramount has seen diminishing returns for its “Transformers” franchise — last year’s “The Last Knight” eked out a series-low $130 million domestically.

But with little other IP in its cupboard aside from “Mission: Impossible” and the also declining “Star Trek,” the studio hopes to reboot the “Transformers” franchise with a spinoff prequel focusing on the origin story of one of the fan-favorite characters.

Paramount new boss Jim Gianopulos is hedging his bets by slashing the usual blow-out budget to a leaner $100 million. That means trading the pricey auteur Michael Bay for first-time live-action director Travis Knight (“Kubo and the Two Strings”), and filling out the cast with stars like Hailee Steinfeld instead of Mark Wahlberg.

But will a leaner “Transformers” provide more than meets the eye to moviegoers?

Related stories from TheWrap:

37 Fall Movies to Obsess Over, From 'Halloween' to 'Mary Poppins Returns' (Photos)

'First Man' Film Review: Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

Before 'Operation Finale,' Check Out This Award-Winning Short Film

Director Robert Rodriguez Sued For Cost Overruns On ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’

Producer Sergei Bespalov is suing Robert Rodriguez, accusing the director of causing production delays that led to $20 million in cost overruns on the 2014 film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
The suit, filed Monday in California Superior Court, alleges …

Producer Sergei Bespalov is suing Robert Rodriguez, accusing the director of causing production delays that led to $20 million in cost overruns on the 2014 film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The suit, filed Monday in California Superior Court, alleges a “pattern of misbehavior” that resulted in the film running over budget, and damaged its financial prospects. (Read it here) “When the dust settled, SC2 Productions ended up financing almost $15 million in cost overruns…

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Trailer: Don’t Let Those Doe Eyes Distract You From Her Lethal Skills — Watch

Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, and Mahershala Ali star in the manga adaptation.

As battle angels go, we’ve always considered Alita the best. Robert Rodriguez would appear to agree, as he’s adopted the manga “Alita: Battle Angel” for the silver screen. Rosa Salazar stars as the wide-eyed killer of the title, whose amnesia prevents her from knowing who she is but not, one presumes, from being good at battling. Watch the film’s new trailer below to behold the uncanny valley.

Here’s the unusually long synopsis: “When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past — she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.”

James Cameron produced the film, whose source material was written by Yukito Kishiro. Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, and Jackie Earle Haley co-star in “Alita: Battle Angel,” which 20th Century Fox will release on December 21.

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Trailer: First Look At Manga Movie Jumps Off The Page

20th Century Fox has taken the wraps off the first trailer for Alita: Battle Angel this morning, after first showing it to a crowd at Comic-Con over the weekend where they also screened 18 minutes of the pic based the Gunnm manga series by Yukito Kishi…

20th Century Fox has taken the wraps off the first trailer for Alita: Battle Angel this morning, after first showing it to a crowd at Comic-Con over the weekend where they also screened 18 minutes of the pic based the Gunnm manga series by Yukito Kishiro. Avatar‘s James Cameron and Jon Landau produced the ambitious and long-in-the-works adaptation and put it in the hands of director Robert Rodriguez, with Rosa Salazar starring as Alita, who awakens with no memory of who…

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Brings Manga To Life With Eye-Popping Footage In New Trailer – Comic-Con

20th Century Fox is slowly giving us small tastes of their forthcoming sci-fi fantasy pic Alita: Battle Angel. The highly anticipated movie based on the Manga GUNNM by Yukito Kishiro was pushed from July to December and then they teased us at SXSW with…

20th Century Fox is slowly giving us small tastes of their forthcoming sci-fi fantasy pic Alita: Battle AngelThe highly anticipated movie based on the Manga GUNNM by Yukito Kishiro was pushed from July to December and then they teased us at SXSW with a whole Iron City, came to Cinemacon with some footage and now they fed us more morsels of goodness at San Diego Comic-Con. Creator Kishiro welcomed the special audience, who were winners of a special scavenger hunt, to the…

El Rey Hires Univision Veteran Melissa Maravi As Its New CFO

EXCLUSIVE: El Rey Network has appointed veteran Univision exec Melissa Maravi as its new CFO, reporting to president and GM Daniel Tibbets.
Maravi will oversee all finance functions for the company, which was launched in 2013 by filmmaker Robert Rodriq…

EXCLUSIVE: El Rey Network has appointed veteran Univision exec Melissa Maravi as its new CFO, reporting to president and GM Daniel Tibbets. Maravi will oversee all finance functions for the company, which was launched in 2013 by filmmaker Robert Rodriquez, and liaise with Tibbets and the El Rey board on strategic matters. Before joining El Rey, Maravi spent more than 20 years rising through the ranks at Univision. Her most recent post at the Hispanic media giant was…

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Team Promises Manga Adaptation Is ‘Not Whitewashing’ Like ‘Ghost In the Shell’

Emotion has a lot to do with the difference between the two Hollywood manga adaptations, says director Robert Rodriguez.

Hollywood’s long-running issue with whitewashing was impossible to ignore in the lead up to Paramount’s “Ghost in the Shell.” The studio received severe backlash for casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead role of its Masamune Shirow manga adaptation, with petitions circulating online to remove Johansson. The film became a case study for Hollywood’s whitewashing problem, and the box office tanked as a result.

Director Robert Rodriguez and producer John Landau are the team behind 20th Century Fox’s Christmas tentpole “Alita: Battle Angel,” which is based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga “Battle Angel Alita.” Similar to “Ghost in the Shell,” “Alita” features a non-Japanese actress in the lead cyborg role. Rosa Salazar, a Canadian actress who appeared in the “Divergent” and “Maze Runner” franchises, is playing the titular character, but Landau assures fans “Alita” is not whitewashing.

“The author, Yukito Kishiro, did something very different: He wrote manga that is not set in an Asian world,” Landau told Vulture. “He wrote it set in a place called Iron City, which is a melting pot. He actually set it in Kansas.”

While Kishiro’s “Alita” took place in an altered version of the United States, Rodriguez’s adaptation transplants the action to somewhere in Latin America during the 26th century where characters speak Spanish, Chinese, English, and Portuguese. Landau told Vulture “Ghost in the Shell” and “Alita” are “totally different” stories.

“[‘Ghost in the Shell’ was] set in a very Asian-specific world,” Landau said. “The central character is a very unemotional character from the manga page. This is the exact opposite. This is a character that is all about heart and following the heart and choosing what is right and not right.”

“One of my favorite shots is Alita shedding a tear. It is about emotion,” he continued. “Whether it’s manga or based on a book or an original script, you can fall into the trap of relying on technology instead of humanity. This is not that.”

Rodriguez agreed with his producer and went as far to state that it was the emotional disconnect between the viewers and the characters that killed “Ghost in the Shell” at the box office, not the issue of whitewashing. According to Box Office Mojo, Paramount spent at least $110 million to produce “Ghost in the Shell.” The film did not cross the $170 million mark at the worldwide box office and only made $40 million worldwide.

“It’s not even because of the whitewashing,” Rodriguez said about “Ghost’s” box office failure. “I think it’s because they didn’t connect emotionally. I felt like I was only looking at it; I wasn’t feeling it. Our story and character feel so relatable. That’s why we used real sets. It’s got to be really grounded.”

Rodriguez said that the script, co-written by James Cameron, grounds the film by focusing on the father-daughter relationship between Alita and the scientist who discovers her and takes her home to care for her. Christoph Waltz is playing the paternal figure.

“Alita feeling insignificant, remembering who she was, becoming powerful — it’s all human stuff that an audience will go, ‘I identify with that,’” Rodriguez said.

20th Century Fox will release “Alita: Battle Angel” in theaters nationwide December 21.

Robert Rodriguez Set To Premiere ‘Stand United’ On El Rey Network; Says Diverse Docu Is “Really Necessary Right Now”

EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is known for groundbreaking indie fare like El Mariachi and Desperado as well as fun fanboy/girl action pics like Sin City, Spy Kids, and the forthcoming Alita: Battle Angel. But Rodriguez is switching gears with t…

EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is known for groundbreaking indie fare like El Mariachi and Desperado as well as fun fanboy/girl action pics like Sin City, Spy Kids, and the forthcoming Alita: Battle Angel. But Rodriguez is switching gears with the El Rey Network documentary Stand United, which chronicles the lives of unsung heroes from the backroads of America. The special documentary debuts at 8 PM EST on April 29. Rodriguez, who served as producer of the…

7 Takeaways From CinemaCon 2018: Change Is Everywhere, Movies Endure

The movie exhibition business wrapped its annual CinemaCon

gathering in Las Vegas this week, and there was plenty to learn about the state of the entertainment industry and the change that is convulsing the entertainment business.

One studio had an entirely new executive team, another had to address the elephant in the room — its pending acquisition by another huge conglomerate — and the bar for entertaining the room was raised by a marching band, a video skit starring a studio mogul and … Cher.

One thing I’ll say for the movies overall — the ones coming down the pipeline about music and musicians and their journeys seem the ones with the most heart. Here are my takeaways

Also Read: Lionsgate Trots Out Blake Lively and ‘Blindspotting,’ But Identity Crisis Looms

Marvel Studios

1. Disney is a monster.

There’s no denying the dominance of this content-creating, brand-defining machine led by Bob Iger and Alan Horn on the movie side. Never was the strategic brilliance of Iger in acquiring Marvel and Lucasfilm more clearly on display than at this year’s presentation (last year the studio barely bothered to show, it felt so confident).

Disney consistently leads the Hollywood pack in market share, has had 12 films hit $1 billion at the box office in the last six years, and looks poised to continue to do so with upcoming films including this weekend’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and the new Star Wars installment, “Solo.”

And while Marvel is a hit machine, spinning off one global superhero hit after another, the other pillars of the Disney palace are also incredibly strong – besides the “Star Wars” saga, Pixar with another “Incredibles” franchise coming, traditional animation and a whole lot of interesting realistic computer graphic-drawn movies. The one most intriguing to me is “The Lion King,” with real animals. Any excuse to bring that beloved title and music to the screen seems like a good idea. Things to worry about: what will happen to animation if John Lasseter doesn’t come back?

Also Read: ‘Mowgli’ Director Andy Serkis Promises a Darker, Bloodier ‘Jungle Book’ Sequel

Getty Images

2. Suddenly, Paramount has come back to life.

After years of moribund production and morale-sucking boardroom battles and family strife, this iconic studio finally seems to have some energy, direction and pulse. New CEO and chairman Jim Gianopulos got everybody’s attention by opening with a self-deprecating video skit, in which a “Vegas Air” flight attendant criticized the mogul for having too many vowels in his name and then did her own imitation of “A Quiet Place,” the studio’s stealth horror hit.

It was a savvy way to win over the crowd since a lot of the upcoming films on Paramount’s slate would not be out until 2019 and an entirely new executive team — Wyck Godfrey, Brian Robbins, Mireille Soria — was being introduced. The studio is counting on good will and a little patience but the overall message was clear — Paramount has a plan, is making movies at a steady clip once again and has its head back in the game.

My only real quibble: Tom Cruise spent waaaaay too much time on stage explaining his latest death-defying stunt jumping out of an airplane for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” but that’s because he’s Tom Cruise. At least he didn’t jump on a couch.

Also Read: ‘A Quiet Place’ Sequel in Development at Paramount Pictures

3. Universal brought the delight of movies to the room.

Universal offered a mix of drama (“First Man” is about Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon), horror (“Halloween” with an irrepressible Jamie Lee Curtis), fantasy (Peter Jackson’s “Mortal Engine” is creating new worlds that, he promises, are like nothing we’ve ever seen) and thrillers (M. Night Shyamalan has a new one coming with Bruce Wiillis and Sam Jackson).

But even though he wasn’t in the room, it was Dwayne Johnson’s new action movie, “Skyscraper,” that seemed like something that you need to see on a massive screen, and that is likely to make your heart stop. That guy is a movie star, can we just say that?

Universal ended it all with a surprise live performance by Cher of “Fernando” by ABBA. She plays the grandmother in the sequel to “Mamma Mia.” The original was an unwatchable mess of a movie with the cheesiest performances on the planet that made a bajillion dollars. I’ll probably watch the sequel.

The great @Cher delights us all at #cinemacon with performance of Fernando by ABBA. Here’s a glimpse: @TheWrap pic.twitter.com/nKthcmHPpy

— Sharon Waxman (@sharonwaxman) April 26, 2018

Also Read: James Wan and ‘Aquaman’ Cast Offer First Look at Work-in-Progress Atlantis

4. Warner Bros. needed help, a lot of help.

The studio is in transition, now under former New Line head Toby Emmerich, and his newness showed. The presentation dragged on as one troupe of movie stars followed another, making small talk and pretending to be relaxed around stilted emcee Will Arnett. (Why bring Anne Hathaway on stage for “Ocean’s 8” if you’re not going to talk to her?)

And if “Life of the Party” with Melissa McCarthy seemed like one too many versions of the movie we’ve already seen her do (clueless fish out of water, this time she’s a mom going back to college), the ensemble film “Tag” — drama? comedy?  thriller? mystery? — about a group of friends who play a highly aggressive form of tag for a month every year was simply a hot mess.

“Crazy Rich Asians” looks like it could be a big winner, though the trailer made it hard to tell. But wait! There’s one huge redeeming movie on the Warner slate that made all of it worthwhile. Bradley Cooper brought “A Star Is Born,” his remake of the famed Barbara Streisand – Kris Kristofferson love story. And the trailer unveiled of Cooper and Lady Gaga was a revelation. The film promises a full-on love story with Gaga dropping all the makeup and pretense and bravada. Which brings us to…

Also Read: ‘A Star Is Born’: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Nail High Notes With Trailer Debut

5. Music movies rule. 

There are so many wonderful films this year about music and musicians that it’s worth pointing it out. As mentioned, “A Star Is Born” looks like it will deliver. Cooper learned to play an instrument well enough to perform.

But Fox’s upcoming “Bohemian Rhapsody” appears to be a similarly strong take on the legendary Freddy Mercury, an epic performer and rule-breaker, played by Rami Malek. And did I mention that the “Mamma Mia” sequel has Cher in it?

6. 3-D is dead.

Over four days and dozens of movies that were presented to the exhibitors in Vegas, only one movie — ONE — was in 3-D, a technology that was all the rage four or five years ago. The lone exception was “Alita,” a largely CG action movie by technology diehard James Cameron about a young female cyborg given a superhuman body. (I think that’s what it was about.)

Robert Rodriguez directed it, and I’m not entirely sure if the 3-D adds all that much to the story. But what was once supposed to be the salvation of movie theaters — adding a premium ticket price to their weekend box office haul — has mostly fizzled. Calling Jeffrey Katzenberg, who predicted otherwise.

Also Read: Enter a 3-D Jungle With ‘Jumanji’ in Virtual Reality This December

Getty Images

7. And finally: Fox.

Who knows if the studio will be at CinemaCon next year? If the Disney acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox goes through, it won’t. So studio chief Stacey Snider wisely used the moment to remind the thousands of exhibitors in the room that she knew no more than they did about the future of her studio, but that she was committed to delivering great movies in the meantime.

And she backed it up with an emotional reel of Fox movies over the last 80 years, from “Titanic” to Shirley Temple to “12 Years a Slave,” reminding everyone what a contribution Fox has made to the culture. “Let’s wear our heart on our sleeves,” she urged the packed hall, choking up (and she wasn’t the only one). “Let’s celebrate the humanity that comes from discovering that we are more alike than different.”

Her words managed to overshadow the bravura, hilarious opening of the Fox presentation with Deadpool leading dancers to the song “One” from the Broadway classic “A Chorus Line.” And it was a fitting reminder that if Fox goes away, we may all be the poorer.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Star Is Born’: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Nail High Notes With Trailer Debut

Fox Film CEO Teases Uncertain Future With Looming Disney Acquisition: ‘We Face a New Transition’

Lionsgate Trots Out Blake Lively and ‘Blindspotting,’ But Identity Crisis Looms

The movie exhibition business wrapped its annual CinemaCon

gathering in Las Vegas this week, and there was plenty to learn about the state of the entertainment industry and the change that is convulsing the entertainment business.

One studio had an entirely new executive team, another had to address the elephant in the room — its pending acquisition by another huge conglomerate — and the bar for entertaining the room was raised by a marching band, a video skit starring a studio mogul and … Cher.

One thing I’ll say for the movies overall — the ones coming down the pipeline about music and musicians and their journeys seem the ones with the most heart. Here are my takeaways

Marvel Studios

1. Disney is a monster.

There’s no denying the dominance of this content-creating, brand-defining machine led by Bob Iger and Alan Horn on the movie side. Never was the strategic brilliance of Iger in acquiring Marvel and Lucasfilm more clearly on display than at this year’s presentation (last year the studio barely bothered to show, it felt so confident).

Disney consistently leads the Hollywood pack in market share, has had 12 films hit $1 billion at the box office in the last six years, and looks poised to continue to do so with upcoming films including this weekend’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and the new Star Wars installment, “Solo.”

And while Marvel is a hit machine, spinning off one global superhero hit after another, the other pillars of the Disney palace are also incredibly strong – besides the “Star Wars” saga, Pixar with another “Incredibles” franchise coming, traditional animation and a whole lot of interesting realistic computer graphic-drawn movies. The one most intriguing to me is “The Lion King,” with real animals. Any excuse to bring that beloved title and music to the screen seems like a good idea. Things to worry about: what will happen to animation if John Lasseter doesn’t come back?

Getty Images

2. Suddenly, Paramount has come back to life.

After years of moribund production and morale-sucking boardroom battles and family strife, this iconic studio finally seems to have some energy, direction and pulse. New CEO and chairman Jim Gianopulos got everybody’s attention by opening with a self-deprecating video skit, in which a “Vegas Air” flight attendant criticized the mogul for having too many vowels in his name and then did her own imitation of “A Quiet Place,” the studio’s stealth horror hit.

It was a savvy way to win over the crowd since a lot of the upcoming films on Paramount’s slate would not be out until 2019 and an entirely new executive team — Wyck Godfrey, Brian Robbins, Mireille Soria — was being introduced. The studio is counting on good will and a little patience but the overall message was clear — Paramount has a plan, is making movies at a steady clip once again and has its head back in the game.

My only real quibble: Tom Cruise spent waaaaay too much time on stage explaining his latest death-defying stunt jumping out of an airplane for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” but that’s because he’s Tom Cruise. At least he didn’t jump on a couch.

3. Universal brought the delight of movies to the room.

Universal offered a mix of drama (“First Man” is about Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon), horror (“Halloween” with an irrepressible Jamie Lee Curtis), fantasy (Peter Jackson’s “Mortal Engine” is creating new worlds that, he promises, are like nothing we’ve ever seen) and thrillers (M. Night Shyamalan has a new one coming with Bruce Wiillis and Sam Jackson).

But even though he wasn’t in the room, it was Dwayne Johnson’s new action movie, “Skyscraper,” that seemed like something that you need to see on a massive screen, and that is likely to make your heart stop. That guy is a movie star, can we just say that?

Universal ended it all with a surprise live performance by Cher of “Fernando” by ABBA. She plays the grandmother in the sequel to “Mamma Mia.” The original was an unwatchable mess of a movie with the cheesiest performances on the planet that made a bajillion dollars. I’ll probably watch the sequel.

4. Warner Bros. needed help, a lot of help.

The studio is in transition, now under former New Line head Toby Emmerich, and his newness showed. The presentation dragged on as one troupe of movie stars followed another, making small talk and pretending to be relaxed around stilted emcee Will Arnett. (Why bring Anne Hathaway on stage for “Ocean’s 8” if you’re not going to talk to her?)

And if “Life of the Party” with Melissa McCarthy seemed like one too many versions of the movie we’ve already seen her do (clueless fish out of water, this time she’s a mom going back to college), the ensemble film “Tag” — drama? comedy?  thriller? mystery? — about a group of friends who play a highly aggressive form of tag for a month every year was simply a hot mess.

“Crazy Rich Asians” looks like it could be a big winner, though the trailer made it hard to tell. But wait! There’s one huge redeeming movie on the Warner slate that made all of it worthwhile. Bradley Cooper brought “A Star Is Born,” his remake of the famed Barbara Streisand – Kris Kristofferson love story. And the trailer unveiled of Cooper and Lady Gaga was a revelation. The film promises a full-on love story with Gaga dropping all the makeup and pretense and bravada. Which brings us to…

5. Music movies rule. 

There are so many wonderful films this year about music and musicians that it’s worth pointing it out. As mentioned, “A Star Is Born” looks like it will deliver. Cooper learned to play an instrument well enough to perform.

But Fox’s upcoming “Bohemian Rhapsody” appears to be a similarly strong take on the legendary Freddy Mercury, an epic performer and rule-breaker, played by Rami Malek. And did I mention that the “Mamma Mia” sequel has Cher in it?

6. 3-D is dead.

Over four days and dozens of movies that were presented to the exhibitors in Vegas, only one movie — ONE — was in 3-D, a technology that was all the rage four or five years ago. The lone exception was “Alita,” a largely CG action movie by technology diehard James Cameron about a young female cyborg given a superhuman body. (I think that’s what it was about.)

Robert Rodriguez directed it, and I’m not entirely sure if the 3-D adds all that much to the story. But what was once supposed to be the salvation of movie theaters — adding a premium ticket price to their weekend box office haul — has mostly fizzled. Calling Jeffrey Katzenberg, who predicted otherwise.

Getty Images

7. And finally: Fox.

Who knows if the studio will be at CinemaCon next year? If the Disney acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox goes through, it won’t. So studio chief Stacey Snider wisely used the moment to remind the thousands of exhibitors in the room that she knew no more than they did about the future of her studio, but that she was committed to delivering great movies in the meantime.

And she backed it up with an emotional reel of Fox movies over the last 80 years, from “Titanic” to Shirley Temple to “12 Years a Slave,” reminding everyone what a contribution Fox has made to the culture. “Let’s wear our heart on our sleeves,” she urged the packed hall, choking up (and she wasn’t the only one). “Let’s celebrate the humanity that comes from discovering that we are more alike than different.”

Her words managed to overshadow the bravura, hilarious opening of the Fox presentation with Deadpool leading dancers to the song “One” from the Broadway classic “A Chorus Line.” And it was a fitting reminder that if Fox goes away, we may all be the poorer.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'A Star Is Born': Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga Nail High Notes With Trailer Debut

Fox Film CEO Teases Uncertain Future With Looming Disney Acquisition: 'We Face a New Transition'

Lionsgate Trots Out Blake Lively and 'Blindspotting,' But Identity Crisis Looms

‘Sin City’ Director Robert Rodriguez Cooks Up VR Projects After Offering First Look At ‘The Limit’ – Mip TV

From Dusk Til Dawn and Sin City filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is cooking up a raft of virtual reality film projects after revealing the first glimpse of his forthcoming VR action thriller The Limit.
Rodriguez was at Mip TV in Cannes to attend a Deadline-hosted panel session all about the nascent technology and lift the lid on the challenges of producing content for the format.
He gave the audience the first look at the trailer for The Limit, which stars Michelle Rodriguez as…

From Dusk Til Dawn and Sin City filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is cooking up a raft of virtual reality film projects after revealing the first glimpse of his forthcoming VR action thriller The Limit. Rodriguez was at Mip TV in Cannes to attend a Deadline-hosted panel session all about the nascent technology and lift the lid on the challenges of producing content for the format. He gave the audience the first look at the trailer for The Limit, which stars Michelle Rodriguez as…

Robert Rodriguez: The $7,000 Movie Is Now Reality TV on ‘Rebel Without a Crew’

The director spoke with IndieWire at SXSW, where his new show’s cast screened their micro-budget features.

Before Robert Rodriguez created the El Rey Network in 2013, he came up with the contest: He would task burgeoning filmmakers with executing their first features in two weeks for just $7,000, the same limitations that produced his storied debut. (Said Rodriguez: “I thought no one was going to see it; that’s why I spent so little.”) “El Mariachi” secured Columbia Pictures distribution and the Guinness World Record for lowest-budget flick to earn more than $1 million (the same amount the studio reportedly spent on its marketing).

For the film’s quarter-century anniversary, Rodriguez made the competition a reality: Borrowing its name from Rodriguez’s 1995 memoir, “Rebel Without a Crew” began streaming March 19 on go90. He handpicked five directors (who include three women) from a capped pool of more than 2,000 applicants.

Robert RodriguezTribeca Talks Storytellers - Barbra Streisand with Robert Rodriguez, Tribeca Film Festival, New York, USA - 29 Apr 2017

Robert Rodriguez

Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Each contestant had directed only shorts and possessed a completed feature script (or said they did). Rodriguez flew them and their on-set plus-ones into Austin, where they shared a house. While there was no budget increase for inflation ($7,000 in 1992 is about $12,600 today), the cast members could select wardrobe options and seven props apiece from Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios, mentorship from producer Cecilia Conti and production designer Steve Joyner, and camera package consultations.

There were also some reality TV-mandated obstacles, such as allowing the directors only two hours to cast their films, three days of prep, and pressuring them to choose locations sight-unseen, guided only by vaguely worded descriptions. To heighten the stakes, they were also informed that their slapdash projects would screen at SXSW.

When Rodriguez shot “El Mariachi” in Mexico at age 24, he purposely solicited as little help as possible. “If I screw[ed] up, no one’s around to see me screw up,” he said during a “Rebel Without a Crew” press conference at the festival. “Hey, I loaded the film backwards. Big deal! No one’s going to laugh at me and say, ‘Oh, you’re a loser, you screwed up.'” While “Rebel Without a Crew” contenders had advantages unavailable to younger Rodriguez, the presence of a 24/7 camera crew was “not something that I would have welcomed at all back then,” Rodriguez admitted. “I didn’t want any looky-loos watching me just go stumble through this.”

El Rey Network – “Rebel Without a Crew” – Season One Trailer from Kevin Del Colle on Vimeo.

Later, Rodriguez told IndieWire that removing the contestants from their familiar surroundings and communities was meant to make them stronger, more well-rounded filmmakers. “Why would you operate the camera yourself when you know somebody who’s actually a really good cameraman?” Rodriguez said. “I just found it so valuable for my career to have done every job on the movie … There’s a film-school message where they have a DP, and they have a cameraman, they have an editor. They don’t get to do everything themselves. So if we’re forcing them to do it, it’s going to empower them, and magic would happen when you strip away all the resources.”

Ranging in age from 28 to 35, two “Rebel Without a Crew” directors came from Hollywood; others came from cities like Albuquerque and Crystal, Minn. Bola Ogun, a Dallas-based Nigerian-American, worked on sets of “The Dark Knight Rises,” “True Detective,” and “Friday Night Lights,” and is a veteran of Ryan Murphy’s Television HALF Mentorship Program. Her real-life friend, B.K. Ryan, shadowed “True Blood” and “Jessica Jones” directors. Josh Stifter held down a full-time job at a Christian media company while also providing animation for Kevin Smith’s “SModcast” podcast.

Rebel Without a Crew

“Rebel Without a Crew”

Patrick Rusk

Their features were extremely ambitious. Scarlet Moreno’s “Phaedra” is about a disco-loving doll collector who becomes entangled with a cocaine dealer. “Monday,” by Alejandro Montoya, follows a newly fired (and dumped) stoner hired to assassinate his ex’s new love interest. There were also films about a widowed, onetime CIA agent being chased by intergalactic bounty hunters (Ogun’s “On The Run”), a grad student unnerved by her elderly landlady (Ryan’s “Grandma”), and a priest ridding demons from a tumbleweed-strewn B&B (Stifter’s “The Good Exorcist”).

Rodriguez’s next film is the reported $200 million 20th Century Fox production “Alita: Battle Angel,” written and produced with James Cameron (its release date was recently postponed from July to December 2018). However, Rodriguez found himself so inspired by his protégés that he revisited the $7,000 challenge himself: He unearthed a half-finished “El Mariachi”-era script and completed it with his 20-year-old son, Racer (who, at age seven, received his first film credit for story on “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl”). The making of “Red Eleven” — “the shirt color and number I was in the medical research hospital where I sold my body to science to pay for ‘El Mariachi,'” Rodriguez said — will be the subject of its own still-untitled docuseries, set for a June release.

“You and your creativity and your inventiveness, that’s always going to make a movie better,” Rodridguez said. “More than money.”

“Rebel Without a Crew” will air on go90 and Tumblr. All six episodes will be rebroadcast on El Rey Network. Watch the first installment here

Pitbull to star in, write an original song for Robert Rodriguez’s Uglydolls movie

Suggesting he might soon need to change his self-applied nickname to the far catchier“Mr. Worldwide-and-also-he voiced-some-weird-monster-dolls-in-a-Robert-Rodriguez-movie-once,” Deadline reports that rapper Pitbull has signed on for a leading roll in the upcoming Uglydolls movie. Based on the popular toyline of goofy…

Read more…

Suggesting he might soon need to change his self-applied nickname to the far catchier“Mr. Worldwide-and-also-he voiced-some-weird-monster-dolls-in-a-Robert-Rodriguez-movie-once,” Deadline reports that rapper Pitbull has signed on for a leading roll in the upcoming Uglydolls movie. Based on the popular toyline of goofy…

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Robert Rodriguez Welcomes SXSW To ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Set; Cast Explains How The Sci-Fi Movie Empowers Women

The opening night party for SXSW wasn’t your normal festival soiree that’s set in a random club where booze flows like lava whilst a DJ plays ear piercing EDM jams of the “untz-untz” variety. Instead, the Austin-based confab set the film festival bar high with an opening night party on the set of Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming Alita: Battle Angel (opening Dec. 21) based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga. Rodriguez was on hand to celebrate the evening alongside producer Jon Landau

The opening night party for SXSW wasn’t your normal festival soiree that’s set in a random club where booze flows like lava whilst a DJ plays ear piercing EDM jams of the “untz-untz” variety. Instead, the Austin-based confab set the film festival bar high with an opening night party on the set of Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming Alita: Battle Angel (opening Dec. 21) based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga. Rodriguez was on hand to celebrate the evening alongside producer Jon Landau

Michelle Rodriguez to star in Robert Rodriguez’s new VR-only action series

VR continues to be a weird, scary frontier for mainstream media; between the high cost of initial investment, the often-daunting technical requirements, and the tendency to make a non-trivial portion of its install base toss their cookies faster than a rogue Girl Scout on the run from the cops, it’s been a dicey…

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VR continues to be a weird, scary frontier for mainstream media; between the high cost of initial investment, the often-daunting technical requirements, and the tendency to make a non-trivial portion of its install base toss their cookies faster than a rogue Girl Scout on the run from the cops, it’s been a dicey…

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Robert Rodriguez VR Series Starring Michelle Rodriguez to Premiere This Summer

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez has teamed up with actress Michelle Rodriguez on a new VR series dubbed “The Limit” that is set to premiere this summer. STXsurreal, the virtual reality (VR) division of STX Entertainment, announced Wednesday that it had wrapped production on the project. ‘The Limit” is being described as a short-form first-person POV action series. The […]

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez has teamed up with actress Michelle Rodriguez on a new VR series dubbed “The Limit” that is set to premiere this summer. STXsurreal, the virtual reality (VR) division of STX Entertainment, announced Wednesday that it had wrapped production on the project. ‘The Limit” is being described as a short-form first-person POV action series. The […]