Toy Story 4 is finally heading into theaters this weekend, giving families with kids at home an alternative to The Secret Life of Pets 2. As the new movie heads closer to release, we’ve learned a few more amazing facts about the movie, including that writer Andrew Stanton worked on the title in secret for a long time at Pixar before revealing his work to his peers.
However, while that “secret” draft of Toy Story 4 was coming together, Josh Cooley says the idea to bring Annie Pott’s Bo Peep back into the fold was always present. The story behind the making of Toy Story 4 is a lovely one and you can take a look at what director Josh Cooley, producer Mark Nielsen, and (later) Annie Potts have to say in exclusive interview footage below.
Toy Story 3 was an animated flick that didn’t include Bo Peep and that riled up some fans thanks to her being missing from the otherwise likable plot. Theories have abounded about what happened to Bo Peep in the time since, and it’s super cool that Andrew Stanton really kept that idea as a focal point when he was crafting the script for Toy Story 4.
In that way, the fact the Toy Story franchise didn’t end with the third movie is actually a great thing, because it allowed the writers and creative team to answer a question a lot of fans had. Although Josh Cooley has previously spoken out about why the fourth movie came about and why his team decided to ultimately tell this story.
No matter how the script for Toy Story 4 changed – and it did change, losing characters like a “crowd pleaser” Dancing Santa and more – Bo Peep was always at the heart of the narrative.
That likely would be a tall task for any actor or actress to come into, but Bo Peep actress Annie Potts seems pleased about the outcome. During a press day in Orlando, it was revealed to CinemaBlend and other outlets that Potts was able to do some of the voice work for the film alongside Tom Hanks, who famously plays Woody — a character who just so happens to be Bo’s love interest.
But while the old Bo Peep and Woody dynamic is still very familiar, Bo Peep has changed a lot since she left the playroom. In an exclusive interview, Annie Potts also shared why she was happy to bring Bo Peep back into the Toy Story fold and what she was most excited to share with audiences about the character during the events of Toy Story 4.
She told CinemaBlend that she loved Bo Peep’s “survivorship,” noting,
The actress compares her character to the famous “Unsinkable Molly Brown” and once you see Toy Story 4, hopefully, you’ll see where she’s coming from.
Luckily, you don’t have too much longer to wait. The flick has early previews tonight and will be around in theaters all weekend. But if animation isn’t your jam, be sure to check out our full summer release schedule to see what competition is coming next.
We’re used to seeing people be the victim of violent attacks on the big screen, but on the set of Anne Hathaway‘s new movie the violence took place off screen as one member of the crew of The Witches was arrested for stabbing another one in the neck.
The attack took place at the Warner Bros. studio located in Leavesden, Hertfordshire where the remake of The Witches, based on the book by Roald Dahl, is currently shooting. Yesterday afternoon a stagehand was allegedly stabbed in the neck by a rigger. The motive, according to the Daily Mail, may have been that one of the men stole a teabag belonging to another. Although, the two men had apparently worked with each other previously, so there may also be history there.
The exact details of the stabbing have not been determined. Whether the attack came out of the blue or as part of a larger fight between the two is not entirely clear, though the weapon was reportedly a Stanley knife.
While being stabbed in the neck is potentially dangerous business, the wound does not appear to have been too serious. The victim was taken to the hospital and following treatment was released that evening. The alleged attacker was arrested and charged with “intent to do grievous bodily harm” and released on bail.
It should be said that a stabbing over a teabag is the most British motive for a violent outburst one can possibly imagine. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there’s more to the story here than a swiped teabag, though, I suppose if the attacker was really looking forward to that cup of tea, anything is possible.
It’s unclear if Anne Hathaway or any of her co-stars in The Witches, which include Chris Rock, and Octavia Spencer, were on set when the attack occurred. Production on the film is suspended today as the attack is further investigated.
Movie production can certainly be a stressful job and tension can certainly run high. Still, we rarely hear about things reaching quite this level of violence. Usually the worst thing we hear about is an actor screaming in frustration or that somebody considered violence without resorting to it.
The current production of The Witches is the second film adaptation of the Roald Dahl story. The movie was first made in 1990 and starred Angelica Huston as the leader of a coven of witches bent on killing children. Anne Hathaway will be playing the same role in the new film being directed by Robert Zemeckis.
It’s a good thing that nobody was more seriously hurt in suck an attack. One would expect production on The Witches will pick back up fairly soon. The film is currently scheduled for an October 2020 release.
Making movies can be an arduous process, which explains why you often hear about actors getting together on a set to blow off some steam. Sometimes folks just enjoy hanging out, others like to play games, and occasionally the tone or subject of a film can influence the entertainment. For example, I recently learned that the production of Lars Klevberg’s Child’s Play falls into that third category, as the stars of the horror flick regularly attempted to scare the hell out of their co-stars.
I had the chance to sit down with Child’s Play stars Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, and Brian Tyree Henry earlier this month during the movie’s Los Angeles press day, and I learned some great stuff when asking them about the atmosphere on the set. To borrow Henry’s phrasing, the ensemble acted like “jackasses” during filming, and Plaza and Bateman even had an escalating prank war. You can watch them all discuss it by clicking play on the video below.
Aubrey Plaza and Gabriel Bateman may play mother and son in Child’s Play, but their relationship on set was more like sister and brother. And while you might expect that it would be the younger of the two who initiated the back-and-forth scaring, Plaza admitted that the whole thing was really her fault.
It was the actress who made the first move by hiding in her co-star’s set transport van on the first day of set – apparently waking up at 5:00am in order to do so – and things got bigger from there. It got to the point where Aubrey Plaza was crawling under cars in an attempt to scare Bateman; and Bateman even got in trouble for locking Plaza in her trailer. But it was all in the name of fun, and it was clear that the two got along swimmingly during filming.
Being a big horror fan, Brian Tyree Henry had a blast on the Child’s Play set, and appreciated the opportunity to put a fun scare into some of his co-workers. As he explained, it was in a way his attempt to live in the moment given that you never know when an on set prop might start going on a murderous rampage:
Also starring Mark Hamill, Tim Metheson, David Lewis, Beatrice Kitsos, and Ty Consiglio, Child’s Play is a brand new take on the classic horror franchise – hybridizing Chucky, the killer doll, with modern smart-home technology – and it will be arriving in theaters everywhere this Friday, June 21st. Be now and next week be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interviews with the stars, as well as more of our coverage of the film.
Just like his famous John Wick character, Keanu Reeves just can’t quit making the hit list these days… in Hollywood anyway. The actor has quickly become 2019’s infatuation, considering all the projects he’s recently been a part of.
Keanu Reeves has also caught the eye of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who just confirmed that he’s had conversations with the actor about joining his behemoth franchise. In Feige’s words:
Well this is awesome. Marvel loves Keanu Reeves as much as we do and it really wants him to join the Marvel family. But as Kevin Feige told Comicbook.com, he wants to do it right. Feige compared Marvel’s interest in Reeves to Jake Gyllenhaal, who Feige said he talked to “multiple times” before Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home became the perfect fit for him.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of Keanu Reeves’ attachment to the MCU. He reportedly was up for the role of Yon-Rogg in Captain Marveluntil scheduling conflicts with John Wick 3 lead him to drop out and Jude Law to take on the role.
Rumors of Keanu Reeves’ potential casting in The Eternals alongside Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Kumail Nanjiani also surfaced a couple weeks ago, and he has been vocal about his interest in playing the next Wolverine. Kevin Feige’s comments certainly make his involvement in The Eternals more of a solid possibility now! That is, if Reeves can pencil it in between his other upcoming projects.
The actor is already set to star in two sequels for the next two summers: Bill and Ted Face the Music in August 2020 and John Wick: Chapter 4 in May 2021. Now we don’t know when The Eternals is going to start filming or be released, but it does look to be a Phase 4 title a bit farther along in the development stages then other expected features.
If The Eternals isn’t the right place for Keanu Reeves, he would be a great choice for Wolverine! Kevin Feige now has the rights to add the X-Men to his MCU roster but there is one problem: Dark Phoenix just flopped. Fox’s last X-Men entry almost guarantees Disney will want to wait before touching the franchise. Not to mention that 2017’s Logan wrapped up the arc for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine quite effectively, so getting more distance from that will help.
Fans will likely get more answers about what’s next for the MCU this summer (at either San Diego Comic Con or D23?). In the meantime, you can get your dose of Keanu Reeves this Friday with his character Duke Caboom in Toy Story 4, or catch John Wick: Chapter 3 before it leaves theaters… or his hilarious role in Always Be My Maybe on Netflix.
Because if they use John Cena appropriately, his sensibilities would be perfect for the franchise — much in the same way that fellow mega-star wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has fit comfortable into the film, particularly with the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw slamming and crashing its way into theaters later this summer. Here are some films that prove John Cena has exactly what it takes to fit into this oversized, over-the-top blockbuster series.
Admittedly, The Marine is not a great movie. As John Cena’s first major acting credit and first lead role, it was an underwhelming experience for both the actor and his eventual star power, and it proved that his magnetic star power wasn’t quite as easily translated to the screen compared to the ring. Yet, for all its faults, there is something to glean in John Cena’s appearance. Even though it’s ultimately one of his weaker movie efforts, it is evident that, even in subpar films such as this one, Cena has movie star screen presence, especially in the action movie world, and he made the most of it.
In the film, it’s apparent that John Cena is not someone you want to mess with. With his bulky muscles, his mean-mugging glare and his desire for vengeance, The Marine did establish that if put into better movies, John Cena would be a legitimately threatening, ready-for-anything action star. And it’s typical of action stars to not get their full due the first time around.
After all, do you remember Arnold Schwarzenegger for Hercules In New York? I didn’t think so. It took a couple films before The Terminator and Conan the Barbarian happened, and the rest is history. Sure enough, John Cena found the films that played to his strengths in due time. The Fast & Furious series is definitely one that’ll let him to flex his muscles — in more ways than one.
Thankfully, while John Cena was trying to prove himself as an action star with underwhelming efforts like The Marine and 12 Rounds, Trainwreck finally gave the wrestler his chance to shine as an actor — albeit in a comedic fashion. In the role of Steven, an extremely muscular, if ultimately awkward, on-and-off boyfriend of Amy Schumer’s Amy, the heavyweight champion proved he had a surprise knack for lighthearted comedy, and his improvisation experience taunting other wrestlers at the WWE proved to be extremely beneficial working on the set of this Judd Apatow rom-com.
While Trainwreck isn’t ultimately a “John Cena movie” per se, with the actor playing a memorable supporting character at most, he did steal the show in the scenes he’s in, and it was clear that Cena had more to give than producers initially gave him credit. With that, it was apparent that Cena needed to expand himself into more comedic roles, and that allowed the actor to appear in comedies such as Sisters, Blockers and Daddy’s Home 1 & 2.
In a similar fashion, it took some time before the Fast & Furious fully embraced its goofiness with a gleeful spirit, and that desire for the cast and crew to own up to the silliness that audiences love will undoubtedly be even bigger and hopefully better with Fast & Furious 9. With that, John Cena made it apparent that in addition to playing up his tough guy side, he could also be a softy with a lot of laughs to provide. That’ll certainly come in handy here.
Having hit a streak of comedies after the success of Trainwreck, Bumblebee allowed John Cena to return to his action movie roots. And this time, it gave John Cena a platform that was way bigger than any of the other films he did before. Playing a critical antagonistic presence inside the world of the Transformers, it is still kinda weird to see John Cena in such a big-time film.
Yet, despite playing the third-lead at most, John Cena makes his presence known in a big way, often playing a time of sullen, menacingly determined figure that can go against the sillier and lighthearted characters he played. As Agent Burns, a government figure seeking revenge against these menacing figures who’ve arrived from the depths of outer space, John Cena plays up the menacing threat that hasn’t been seen in his career since The Marine.
While Bumblebee isn’t a perfect movie, this time around, it proved to be a lot more favorable for Cena than it was the first time. He is given a meatier, more weighted role, and he provides the stakes on a human level that allows people to see how the actor could use that sense of threat in the right context in Fast & Furious, depending on what role he plays in there.
Daddy’s Home 1 & 2
Admittedly, in Daddy’s Home, John Cena only makes a cameo. And in Daddy’s Home 2, his role is still a supporting player. But with both of these comedies, John Cena would showcase a commitment to family in addition to providing the laughs based on his appearance and his surprise knack for quick retorts.
In the role of Roger, a new neighborhood who makes quick an impact, the rising actor wasn’t able to provide his best work in either of these lackluster comedies, but I know speaking for myself when I say that his unfortunately minor appearances in each film are definitely highlights.
There is always something heightened about John Cena’s appearance. When he’s in the room, the stakes are raised and he has the impact to dramatically (or comedically) change the situation in any way he pleases. His taste for lowbrow humor and over-the-top confrontations is definitely seen in these two movies, and they will certainly have a big role to play when he finds himself in the ridiculous, goofy-as-all-hell world of Fast & Furious.
There is a trend that can be found in most of John Cena’s comedies: humor through loyalty. Whether it’s trying to stay committed and true to Amy in Trainwreck, even though she prefers to keep things casual, or his desire to be a dependable, if overprotective, dad in Blockers, it’s clear that John Cena knows how to milk laughs out of playing characters who go out of their way to make themselves silly or possible even embarrass themselves for the people they love. And it’s particularly with his work in Blockers that John Cena showcased his love for staying true to family and playing a big hand in ridiculous, over-the-top comedy.
Playing Mitchell, an overbearing but deeply emotional and caring father who wants to stop his teenage daughter from losing her virginity on prom night, he was quick to make the whole situation even more ridiculous than it already was from the on-sight. There is something about John Cena that is instantly comedic in certain situations. While he would be in good company arm-to-arm with fellow muscular dudes like The Rock and Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious, in the suburban setting found in Blockers, it’s instantly bizarre in just the right way. It’s like Superman walking around in Superbad. It’s just the right amount of ridiculous.
It’s quickly apparent that John Cena is an oversized presence waiting to make an impact, and thankfully he provides big laughs in Blockers. That nice balance of family dedication and boisterous laughs through a complete willingness to commit to the material — no matter how silly it might be, and it will certainly be silly — that would make him absolute perfect for the Fast & Furious movies. At least, that’s how I see it — based on these hit movies.
Through a variety of recent films, John Cena has continued to display a dedication and a commitment to his craft that proves that he’s ready for bigger things. With that, it makes sense that he would set his sights on Fast & Furious 9. And while his presence might seem distracting to some, it is apparent from his last few films alone that he has both the action and the comedy chops to make it work, if given his time to shine.
The actor is prime to put himself into overdrive whenever the motion calls. And when it comes to Fast & Furious 9, he’ll need to put the pedal to the metal more than he ever has before. Given the evidence seen in these movies, however, John Cena should have what it takes to be bigger-than-life in these huge movies.
Ever since Tom Holland debuted as Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, we’ve been treated to a Spider-Man appearance every year in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 2019, however, brings us the Web-Slinger twice, as following his resurrection in Avengers: Endgame, he’s now back for his second standalone MCU movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The public is still two weeks away from getting to see Spider-Man: Far From Home on the big screen, but a select group of reporters, critics and other lucky individuals managed to see it early and have posted their reactions online. Starting off, CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell was effusive in his praise towards Far From Home, particularly the latter half of the movie.
Brandon Davis from Comicbook.com was also a big fan of Spider-Man: Far From Home, noting in follow-up tweets that Mysterio is one of the MCU’s most entertaining characters and that as is the case with every MCU movie, you should stay through all of the credits.
On the more reserved side, Slashfilm’s Ben Pearson found Spider-Man: Far From Home to be one of the more average MCU offerings, though he also acknowledged that the movie does “ an elaborate dance of leaning into and subverting expectations.”
Back to critical acclaim territory, ReelBlend co-host Kevin McCarthy declared that Spider-Man: Far From Home is now his favorite Spider-Man movie and said in another tweet that he hasn’t been this excited to re-watch a movie since Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us.
Germain Lussier from io9 counted himself among Spider-Man: Far From Home’s supporters, saying that it does a good job on building off what Avengers: Endgame delivered.
Mashable’s Angie Han also agreed that Spider-Man: Far From Home was a worthy follow-up to Avengers: Endgame, and while it might not have hit as hard in some areas, it was still an enjoyable watch.
Finally, Kevin Polowy from Yahoo summarized his positive thoughts on Spider-Man: Far From Home thusly:
Spider-Man: Far From Home swings into theaters on July 2, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage.
As fans get emotionally ready for Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker at year’s end, it may soon be time for a movie marathon of the series. And now when you revisit Empire Strikes Back you can point out this deep cut goof that sadly reminds fans of the franchise’s Earthly roots.
Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, who is a creative executive in story development took to Twitter to share his catch during his rewatch of Episode IV. Take a look:
Do you see it? If you look really closely on the left screenshot, you can see an upside down encryption of “New York” on the top of the lightsaber. The empire strikes back indeed… the Empire State Building that is! Why would the prop be made to include this anyway? Does New York even exist in the Star Wars universe? I guess the Big Apple made Luke’s iconic lightsaber! Who knew, right?
The fact that it made the final cut means that the filmmakers probably never noticed it. In fact, no one did! Pablo Hidalgo’s find is the first mention of the goof in the 40 years Empire Strikes Back by the internet’s memory.
The screenshot is from the beginning of the film when Mark Hamill’s Luke is on Hoth, trapped inside the cave of a Wampa. Take a look below:
I’ll never look at that scene the same way again. Or Luke’s lightsaber for that matter. In the current Star Wars timeline Rey will be in the possession of this Lightsaber, which she will apparently repair after it was broken in The Last Jedi. To maintain continuity, maybe “New York” will still be on it? Hidalgo might have contemplated it – part of his job description is to help create and maintain a cohesive canon in the Star Wars universe.
New York just can’t help but make its way into major movie franchise. Between it being a central hub for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and just about every 2000’s rom-com, the city certainly likes the big screen attention. It couldn’t just let Hoth have it’s moment, could it?
These days, it can be easy to forget that Star Wars started as a low budget project. Empire Strikes Back had an initial production budget of $18 million, which was actually 50% more than A New Hope’s. In comparison, The Last Jedi’s budget was between $200 to $317 million. Fun goofs like this allow us to remember this.
Fans can now build their own lightsaber at the newly opened Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Owning your own metal, customizable saber costs $200 for guests, but comes with a 20 minute experience (check out CinemaBlend’s own review of the experience for more information on it).
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.
At this past Saturday’s MTV Movie and TV Awards, Dwayne Johnson received the Generation Award for his contributions to the world of entertainment. It’s just the latest accolade for the man who is one of the industry’s highest paid actors and is probably the biggest movie star in the world. But Dwayne Johnson didn’t find this incredible success in Hollywood from the start. In fact, Dwayne Johnson was originally told to be more like George Clooney or Brad Pitt if he wanted to be successful, as he explained:
It’s strange in this current day to think of The Rock struggling in his career, but it did happen and everyone has to start somewhere. It seems that back before he became a full-fledged movie star, when Dwayne Johnson was still finding his place in Hollywood, the actor was told to model himself and his acting after the biggest stars of the day, specifically George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
The thinking behind trying to get Dwayne Johnson to conform to those two stars was presumably that if he was more like them, he could achieve their levels of success. Dwayne Johnson didn’t dismiss that idea and he was willing to try it to get where he wanted to be. But as he told ET, a few years of trying to be someone he’s not made him miserable and didn’t even achieve the desired effect.
So when that approach failed, Dwayne Johnson took a gamble and gave being himself a shot and the rest as they say is history. The actor hugely undersells it by saying “things worked out” because it’s hard to imagine how much better his career could have gone. When he stopped trying to be Brad Pitt or George Clooney and instead dared to be Dwayne Johnson, his career took off.
This shift, from trying to be someone else and conform to what he’s told he’s supposed to be, is what was truly required for success according to Dwayne Johnson. This speaks to the power and importance of embracing who you are. It’s an inspiring message and one that he has proven works in his own life. The actor also stressed though that authenticity isn’t the only ingredient to success, you also have to be compassionate and work your ass off.
Telling Dwayne Johnson to be more like Brad Pitt or George Clooney sounds positively absurd to hear now. Not that there is anything wrong with being George Clooney or Brad Pitt, they are both awesome. But this is very much the kind of cut-and-paste Hollywood thinking we often see where studios try to duplicate each other’s successes, as if there is a specific equation they can just copy to reproduce the same results. One size does not fit all.
With Dwayne Johnson’s early career, the thought was clearly that if it’s working for Brad Pitt and George Clooney, why wouldn’t it work for you. Except Dwayne Johnson is not George Clooney or Brad Pitt. Dwayne Johnson is Dwayne Johnson, and also the Rock. He doesn’t fit into that box or fulfill those same kinds of roles and it’s unnatural and forced to make him conform in that way. Once he stopped trying to fit into that box he found a niche all his own.
Now Dwayne Johnson’s star couldn’t be brighter and he stands as testament to the power of just having confidence and embracing who you are.
Christopher Nolan is known for reviving the Dark Knight’s cinematic presence with 2005’s Batman Begins. A little known fact has surfaced that he also saved Donnie Darko from a fate of obscurity.
In an interview with The Guardian, Richard Kelly, the writer and director of Donnie Darko, revealed that Christopher Nolan was instrumental in assuring that the 2001 cult classic, which melds John Hughes-style high school satire with dark, peculiar oddities reminiscent of David Lynch, secured a theatrical release. Otherwise, it would have been a (likely) forgotten TV movie.
Why was Donnie Darko burdened with such a troubled beginning and how did Christopher Nolan manage to help Richard Kelly get his film off of the ground? As if the world of Donnie Darko could not get deeper, let’s take a look at the movie from behind the scenes.
Donnie Darko’s Dark Beginnings
Richard Kelly was very early into his 20s when he wrote Donnie Darko in October of 1998, which explains its Halloween setting. Yet, the film’s cloudy philosophical messages and uncomfortable themes is what Hollywood seemingly found scary about it.
Donnie Darko stars a young Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role, a troubled, psychologically disturbed high school student in 1988 who begins to experience life-altering, bizarre occurrences that may or not be just his imagination.
Other than seeing visions of a man in a freakish-looking rabbit costume named Frank who claims the world is coming to an end, Donnie deals with his conservative parents’ conflicting ideologies, teachers threatened by his superior understanding of their own lessons, and a motivational speaker who may not be who he seems. That’s a lot for a teenager to carry on his shoulders.
Although its ambitious material nabbed a few well-known celebrities among its talented cast, including Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, and Drew Barrymore, Donnie Darko premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001 to unimpressive results. Following “boos” at its initial screening, known distributors passed on the film feeling that a dark, violent story about a troubled high school student in a post-Columbine society was a recipe for disaster, as Richard Kelly recalled to The Guardian here:
Darko was a disaster at Sundance too. No one remembers that, but it was. I’m grateful for any rosy glow of hindsight. I remember it took us almost six months to sell the movie. It almost went directly to the Starz network. We had to beg them to put it in theaters.
Richard Kelly feared that Donnie Darko, his baby, was destined to be thrown out as a cable movie reject. That was until he got a second chance when Aaron Ryder hosted a screening of the film and invited the up-and-coming director of the last film he produced, Memento, Christoper Nolan, to attend.
Christopher Nolan Raves About Donnie Darko
Christoper Nolan, the man behind acclaimed classics like Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy, had made his U.S. film debut in 2000 with Memento. Like Donnie Darko, the brain-teasing crime thriller had an infamous history at Sundance with no distributor wanting to buy the film — despite winning the festival’s Screenwriting Award that year.
However, Memento did secure distribution from Newmarket, which proved successful for the production company and put Christopher Nolan on the map as a filmmaker to watch. With Nolan having earned Newmarket’s respect, producer Aaron Ryder decided inviting the filmmaker to his screening of Donnie Darko might be the jumpstart the film needed to earn a life on the big screen.
Christopher Nolan responded very enthusiastically to Donnie Darko. The filmmaker knew just who to relay his rave review to, as Richard Kelly has also mentioned:
Christopher Nolan stepped in and convinced Newmarket to put it in theaters.
Newmarket agreed to distribute Donnie Darko theatrically on their own, raising $25 million to put the movie through. It was released on October 26, 2001, to widespread critical success. Yet the movie still dealt with disappointing box office results.
Shown on just 58 screens, Donnie Darko opened at just $110,494, which led to a grand total of $517,375 by the end of its theatrical run in April 2002. Many credit the film’s depiction of a commercial plane crashing into Donnie’s house near the beginning and its release just a month after 9/11 as the ultimate cause of its initial failure.
Fortunately, as one of the philosophical themes within Donnie Darko posits, “destruction is a form of creation.” Out of its supposed destruction in terms of the box office success, DVD sales created new life for Richard Kelly’s masterpiece.
Donnie Darko Becomes A Cult Hit
In a twist of ironic fate, Donnie Darko, a movie that almost went straight-to-video, became a hit on video. The thriller raked in nearly $10 million and piqued the interest of audiences who were fascinated by its inventive imagery, dark subject matter, and intelligent take on existential angst. It’s still available in various home entertainment formats, and even a Director’s Cut.
Donnie Darko is still a widely beloved and deeply analyzed cult hit, having been re-released to theaters twice since its debut, which finally allowed it to surpass its budget. It even spawned a 2009 straight-to-DVD sequel, S. Darko, which focuses on Donnie’s younger sister Samantha (Daveigh Chase), but neither fans nor Richard Kelly, who had no involvement with the follow-up, really prefer to acknowledge its existence.
Richard Kelly was praised as the David Lynch of his time at the time for his work on Donnie Darko. In fact, Donnie Darko, 18 years after its initial release, is still considered his masterpiece, especially since his career has not seen much success outside of it.
Richard Kelly’s follow-up to Donnie Darko came five years later with Southland Tales, an off-putting social satire that, like Donnie Darko, deals with apocalyptic prophecies and focuses on a bizarre cast of characters in perplexing situations. The film failed to match the critical reception, or even box office returns, as Donnie Darko, but has found some new life on video since.
Richard Kelly’s biggest box office success to date with more than $15 million, is 2009’s The Box. Inspired by a short story by Richard Matheson, the thriller stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a desperate couple who will be granted $1 million dollars by the push of a button on a strange-looking box. The catch is that pushing the button will also kill a random stranger.
The Box failed to impress critics and did nothing to help revive Richard Kelly’s reputation in Hollywood. He has not returned to filmmaking since, but is still widely looked up to as the creator of Donnie Darko.
Donnie Darko is a film of great mystery, but now its greatest mystery is what would this acclaimed hit have become if not for the help of Christopher Nolan — of all people! From Donnie Darko to Batman, I believe it is safe to call Nolan a savior of some of cinema’s most memorable achievements.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that actors are human too. Thanks to the magic of editing, we don’t often see the mistakes they make or the lines they flub. In fact, one of the main reasons why outtakes, gag reels and bloopers are usually so well-liked is because they give us that chance to see actors at their most human. When you have to pull off a tricky stunt in just the right, there are a lot of takes that wind up on the cutting room floor. Such was the case for Tobey Maguire in 2002’s Spider-Man.
As you might recall, in the cafeteria scene early into the film, there is a moment where Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is getting adjusted to his brand new Spidey powers. And he harbors a secret/not-so-secret crush on Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst).
In a moment of vulnerability, Mary Jane slips on some spilled juice (where’s the janitor when you need them?) and she’s about to crash onto the floor and have her lunch fall all over her face. But thankfully, Peter’s Spidey senses are alerted, he catches the girl and, in one fell swoop, catches all the items that were on her tray. He makes it look completely graceful, but that is far from the truth.
As it was noted by The Independent, this scene with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the school cafeteria didn’t come together quite as neatly as it did in the final product. Indeed, it took a lot of takes in order to get it right. And we’re not taking five, or 10, or 20, or even 40. We’re talking David Fincher/Stanley Kubrick-level takes.
That’s right, this memorable scene required 156 takes in total in order for this shot to be wrapped. And the reason is because this special shot was created without any CG effects at all. Yep, it was all real and practical. As you can expect, it’s not-so-easy for a mere mortal like Tobey Maguire to do what Spider-Man can so naturally.
This information was explained on Spider-Man‘s DVD commentary by John Dykstra, the head of the VFX team for the film and a special effects artist. In a pretty cheeky way, Dykstra admitted that it wasn’t ultimately special effects that brought this shot to life. It was Tobey Maguire himself actually catching all the items on the trey, although it didn’t entirely work the first 100-plus times. Here’s how Dykstra explains this shot on the commentary:
This next gag here, where he catches all this stuff, he actually did that. Pretty good. Take 156.
To confirm John Dykstra’s claims, Kirsten Dunst also confirmed this bit of information on her own commentary track, also going into a little more detail about how Tobey Maguire was able to stick all the items onto the tray in just a rapid fashion. You know, after nearly two hundred attempts …
Not CGI by the way, that’s all Tobey, which is pretty impressive. They used sticky glue stuff to stick his hand to the tray.
Alas, as you would expect, the studio — in this case, Sony — wasn’t necessarily jazzed about having this scene in the film in the first place. But Sam Raimi insisted upon it, and while it required a whopping 16-hour day of shooting, they were finally able to pull of this shot. I imagine that after the take they used was finished, there was a lot of clapping and celebrating, because they finally got it.
And it’s a good thing they did too, because it has become one of the most iconic shots from the film. It was seen in all the advertisements, and it is one of the first things you remember about the film and the wizardry that Sam Raimi used in order to bring this story to life on the big screen. It was a simpler time then. Even though we were given the false hope of a potential Spider-Man 4, it turns out that Sam Raimi’s days with Spider-Man are done for good, sadly.
It’s sad to think that a shot like this one will probably never be seen on the big screen again. While there are no shortage of great special effects in movies today, particularly in Spider-Man movies, there are only a few that are as impressive as the one seen in this particular film. The result is an incredible accomplishment. When you know about all the hard work and tenacity that went into this shot to bring it to the screen, it’s hard not to be taken aback by the persistence and the quality filmmaking brought not only by Sam Raimi and the crew, but by Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst too.
But it’s also important to remember that, while some actors can nail a scene in just one or two takes, there are some who need hundreds in order to get exactly what’s needed for the film. After all, actors are human, like you and me. Even when they play larger-than-life superheroes like Spider-Man.