Shazam!’s Zachary Levi Is Still Hoping To Join The Justice League

The DC live-action universe is an unpredictable place, with a history featuring both peaks and valleys. But things are currently looking up, as Warner Bros. is surfing on the massive critical and box office success of James Wan’s Aquaman. There are some very exciting projects coming down the pipeline, including Birds of Prey, Joker, and Matt Reeves’ The Batman. But before any of those blockbusters arrive in theaters, Andy F. Sandberg will expand the shared universe with Shazam!, and focus in on kids living in a superpowered world.

Zachary Levi is playing the title character in Shazam!, or at least the super hero version of Billy Batson. The pressure is on for Levi to inhabit the character for the first time in live-action, and bring his naivety and awesome superpowers to the silver screen. DC fans were hoping that Shazam would join the Justice League, although now it appears that there’s no concrete plans to bring that team of heroes back to theaters. But Levi is still holding out hope, recently saying:

Despite DC losing Ben Affleck as Batman and suffering a serious setback with the mediocre performance of Justice League, Zachary Levi is still hoping to be inducted into the League of heroes eventually. But since Warner Bros. doesn’t release massive slates of films like the MCU, the studio’s plans for that franchise are a complete mystery to the general public.

Zachary Levi’s comments to Empire Magazine (via CBR) show how excited the Thor alum is for his upcoming role in the DC Universe. Much like his character Billy Batson, there’s a level of optimism that is in juxtaposition to the fate of movies like Justice League and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But the DC fandom waited decades to see The League assemble, so it would no doubt delight the generations of moviegoers if Warner Bros. took another shot at it.

Anticipation for Justice League was sky high, as the titular group of heroes were being adapted into live-action for the very first time. Unfortunately, the final product left much to be desired. Director Zack Snyder departed the project after a family tragedy, with The Avengers and Buffy‘s Joss Whedon helping to complete the project for its intended release date. But when Whedon tried to make drastic changes to the film’s content and tone, the final result was a frankenstein film, as both director’s visions clashed before moviegoers’ eyes.

But the DC Universe looks like it’s doing some course correction, with the next few releases focusing on capsulated stories, rather than crossovers and serialized storytelling. It worked for Aquaman, and anticipation for Shazam! is at a fever pitch.

Shazam! will arrive in theaters on April 5th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

New Ghostbusters Director Apologizes For Comments About All-Female Sequel

Recently, Jason Reitman, who is getting ready to direct a brand new Ghostbusters movie, spoke a bit about his upcoming project, but in doing so, appears to have put his foot squarely in his mouth. Some of the director’s comments have been taken to be critical of the 2016 female-led Ghostbusters reboot, and Reitman has now taken to social media to insist that he never meant any insult. According to Reitman…

Earlier this week, Reitman appeared on Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast and spoke a bit about the history of the Ghostbusters franchise, his own place in it, as the son of director Ivan Reitman who helmed the first two movies, and teased his upcoming film, which will take the movies back to the universe of the first two films. He spoke about how the teaser for his new film was produced using similar techniques to the original movie, but then followed that up by saying the new film would “hand the movie back to the fans.”

The idea that the new movie would hand the films back to the fans would seem to imply that at some point the franchise had been taken away from the fans, leading many to be critical of Jason Reitman’s comments, as they seemed to be a shot at the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot directed by Paul Feig and starring Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones.

That movie was itself dealing with controversy as a vocal contingent of fans attacked the production before it ever got started for making the decision to cast four women as the Ghostbusters team rather than bringing back the original cast. Jason Reitman’s movie is expected to bring the original cast back, though exactly how they will fit into the story has not been revealed.

Reitman now says his comments were not meant to be critical of that film, he goes so far as to call it an amazing movie.

All of this certainly does show that the Ghostbusters fan situation isn’t going to be calming down anytime soon. Many that liked the Ghostbusters reboot are looking toward the newly announced film with the same skepticism that the reboot was treated to by fans of the original movies. Leslie Jones herself has called the move to make this new movie so soon after the reboot “insulting.”

The new Ghostbusters will start filming later this year with plans to release the film in the summer of 2020. You can be sure interest in this one will remain high, and probably at least slightly controversial.

Apparently Stephen King Is Okay With Pet Sematary’s Big Change

Earlier this month, Warner Bros released a new trailer for Pet Sematary that revealed a key change from the source material. Unlike in the original Stephen King novel, where toddler Gage Creed is the one who’s killed and later resurrected in the eponymous graveyard, the remake is having Gage’s sister, Ellie, take his place in the truck accident. Needless to say this change has generated a lot of chatter amongst Pet Sematary fans, but according to Jason Clarke, who’s playing patriarch Louis Creed in the latest adaptation, King is okay with this particular creative liberty being taken. As Clarke put it:

It goes without saying that when adapting a book into a movie, there are going to be changes to the narrative not only so it can fit within a certain runtime, but also stand out from the source material. This latest Pet Sematary movie also needs to differentiate itself from the previous one that came out in 1989, and killing Ellie Creed instead of Gage Creed is one of the ways it will do so. Stephen King hasn’t always approved of changes made to his tales, as evidenced by how he feels about Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, but according to Jason Clarke, he doesn’t have an issue with Pet Sematary killing off the other Creed child.

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura previously noted that Pet Sematary directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer were “nervous” about making this change to Stephen King’s story, but decided to move forward with it because they felt it was too difficult to get the three-year-old actors playing Gage Creed (Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie) to do what that kid is doing in the original book. Clearly Jason Clarke agrees with this decision, saying later in his interview with Flickering Myth:

We’ll have to wait and see just how many other changes are in store for the new Pet Sematary movie, but considering that there’s been a Stephen King-aissance unfolding over the last several years with movies like IT and TV shows like Castle Rock, there’ll probably be a fair amount of folks who check out Pet Sematary either to watch the tale unfold for the first time or to compare this adaptation to the original version. Along with the previously mentioned actors, Pet Sematary stars Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed, Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed, John Lithgow as Jud Crandall, Obssa Ahmed as Victor Pascow and Alyssa Brooke Levine as Zelda Goldman.

Pet Sematary scares its way into theaters on April 5. Don’t forget to look through our 2019 release schedule to find out what other movies are opening later this year.

James Wan Gave Shazam!’s Director Advice On How To Deal With Trailer Backlash

Warner Bros dropped the first trailer for Shazam! last year at San Diego Comic-Con. In the last month, we’ve also been treated a nearly-minute long preview and a behind-the-scenes featurette incorporating existing footage, but many fans are clamoring for another full-length trailer to be released before Shazam! arrives in the spring. Not being a stranger to the reactions of comic book movie fans, Aquaman director James Wan gave Shazam! director David F. Sandberg some advice on how to handle the backlash online. He wrote:

James Wan provided this advice after David F. Sandberg said on Twitter that there weren’t any specific updates on the next Shazam! trailer he could provide, though because the movie is coming out in less than two months, obviously there won’t be any shortage of marketing for the World’s Mightiest Mortal’s first theatrical movie in these coming weeks. In any case, Wan offered his two cents on how to deal with fan concerns and complaints, from some fans being upset about the Aquaman trailer taking so long to arrive to other fans being displeased with how much footage the later previews were showing. Whatever flews his way, Wan stayed focused on Aquaman and ignored folks complaining on social media.

That’s good advice for David F. Sandberg to consider, especially with Shazam! so close to hitting the big screen. Having made over $1.1 billion worldwide, clearly tuning out the noise and distraction worked for James Wan on Aquaman. Whether or not Shazam! comes anywhere close to hitting Aquaman’s level of commercial success, judging by what he initially posted, Sandberg already knows to make sure the final product turns out well and to just have fun with all the demands for the next Shazam! trailer, like turning Mark Strong’s Thaddeus Sivana blue to poke fun at the Aladdin Genie controversy.

Partially adapted from the character’s New 52 origin story, but also bringing in other elements from his decades-long comic book history, Shazam! will see the adolescent Billy Batson meeting the mysterious Wizard and being given the ability to turn into a mighty, adult superheroes. With the help of his foster brother Freddie, Billy will have to get the hang of his new powers quickly, as he’ll eventually clash with Dr. Sivana, a scientist whose unlocked the secrets of magic after not being chosen as the Wizard’s champion when he was a child.

Shazam! will work its magic in theaters on April 5, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. Aquaman is wrapping up its time on the big screen, but you’ll be able to watch the movie in the comfort of your own home when it comes on Digital HD March 5, with the Blu-ray and DVD copies following on March 26.

Chris Hemsworth Is The Perfect Choice To Play Hulk Hogan But We Do Have Major Concerns

As I even just begin to type these words it has just been revealed that Chris Hemsworth has been cast to play the Immortal Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) in a brand new biopic for Netflix. It’s just about the best possible timing as we sit on the eve of the wide release of what is probably the biggest movie about professional wrestling ever made, Fighting with My Family, ( a small movie by blockbuster standards, but still a wide release film with major names, like former wrestler Dwayne Johnson attached) that we learn that one of the biggest names the industry has ever seen will get his own movie. And the choice of Chris Hemsworth to play the part seems like the best possible choice one could make. He’s played Thor in the marvel Cinematic Universe, and what is Hulk Hogan if not a comic book character brought to life? At the same time, I’m not sure any living person will be able to quite do justice to the over-the-top personality that is Hulk Hogan.

While the question of who is the best professional wrestler ever is a hotly debated topic, Hulk Hogan is part of any conversation. While Hogan was never the best technical performer in the ring, he is almost certainly the biggest name the industry has ever seen. His personality transcended wrestling. He was able to become the biggest name the industry had ever seen despite any in-ring shortcomings because he could sell a match on the mic alone. You didn’t have to know anything about the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) to know the name Hulk Hogan.

Chris Hemsworth may not be quite the star in Hollywood that Hulk Hogan was in his wrestling heyday, but he’s a major name and getting him to play the role is a major get. Hemsworth is 6’3″, slightly shorter than Hogan, but we know he can put on serious muscle. The same workout plan that turns Hemsworth into Thor will be perfect to turn him into Hulk Hogan. Hemsworth is also 35-years-old, the same age Hogan was in the late 1980s, when he was at the height of his wrestling career.

At the same time, trying to picture Chris Hemsworth as Hulk Hogan isn’t easy. Picturing Thor, but with a blonde handlebar mustache and a (balding) mullet feels almost cartoonish. Hulk Hogan’s look was something I’m not sure anybody else could actually pull off and keep a straight face.

Beyond the look though, is the performance. We’ve never seen Chris Hemswrth play a character with quite the energy of Hulk Hogan. Even when he’s playing a more comedic version of Thor, he tends to be more grounded than many of those he plays against. Hemsworth’s characters tend to be serious and reserved. That’s not Hulk Hogan.

Hulk Hogan was at the top of professional wrestling during an era when keyfabe, the attempt to portray wrestling as real, even outside of the ring, was in full effect. While the biopic will certainly endeavor to still show the “real” Hulk Hogan, every time we see Chris Hemsworth in a public setting, he’ll be performing as the Hulkster. And the Hulkster was unlike anybody else. Can you imagine Chris Hemsworth trying to pull off the wrestling promo below.

Sure, Chris Hemsworth is an actor and if one man can do it, any actor can certainly try to imitate, and no portrayal of a real person is ever exactly right, that’s essentially impossible. Still, what made Hulk Hogan so memorable wasn’t simply the way he carried himself, it was that you bought every second of it. The wrestling promo above, while ridiculous, still works because you can believe that the guy saying it believes every word of it. I feel like that combination will be difficult for any actor to put together in just the right way the way Hogan did.

There are some ways that the Hulk Hogan movie could deal with these complications. The most obvious is to give the entire film a bit of a comedic edge to it. Lean into the ridiculousness of the whole thing.

While that could work, it’s not the best option the movie could choose. Professional wrestling is home to countless stories that are worthy of their own movies, and it feels like now is the time for those films to maybe be made. Fighting with my Family is one of the first films about professional wrestling that is really going to treat the subject, if you’ll pardon the expression, realistically. Hulk Hogan deserves the same treatment.

The movie could also avoid the issue by simply skipping over that part of the story. However, since the movie reportedly is going to focus on the “rise of Hulkamania” I don’t see how you do that without really showing Hulk Hogan as he really was in front of the camera in the 80s.

Certainly, Chris Hemsworth would not have signed on to play Hulk Hogan if he didn’t think he could do it, and the producers (one of which is Hogan himself, and another is Hogan’s long time friend and business partner Eric Bischoff) would not have have brought him on board if they didn’t believe he was the right man for the job.

I hope this movie turns out great. I would love to see a movie about the life of Hulk Hogan and I would love to see Chris Hemsworth really nail the role. Until I see Hemsworth pull off a full wrestling promo in character (which would make for a fantastic trailer by the way) I won’t be 100% sold on this.

There is, it needs to be said, one other potential problem with this Hulk Hogan biopic. If Hogan himself is acting as a producer and a consultant on the project, what sort of biopic are we really going to get? Will we really see the true story? Even if unintentionally, Hogan will naturally want to be sure he is painted in the best possible light and if you know anything about the career of Hulk Hogan, you’ll know that making sure he came out on top of every story was one thing the former wrestler was incredibly good at.

Biopics don’t need to make their subjects out to be monsters, but they shouldn’t always be the hero either. Every person has both sides to them throughout life and any Hulk Hogan movie needs to show the reality of that as best it can. It’s no accident that the only guy in Bohemian Rhapsody who ever looks like an asshole is the one who’s no longer around to defend himself.

As a fan of professional wrestling since the age of nine, I have high hopes for this brand new project. It could be something really great. Chris Hemsworth has a lot of work ahead of him, and Hulk Hogan needs to make sure he doesn’t get too involved in his own story. If everybody plays their role properly, however, then this could be the movie all the Hulkamaniacs have been waiting for.

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How Hiccup and Astrid’s Relationship Feels Different Then Typical Cartoon Couples

Audiences love a cute couple to root for and through the years animated movies have delivered a lot of memorable couples in all shapes and sizes: Mickey and Minnie, Aladdin and Jasmine, Shrek and Fiona, Wall-E and Eve. Rooting for that final kiss and happily ever after makes for exciting character story arcs but it’s not the only way to do it. As the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy soon closes out with the release of The Hidden World this weekend, audiences will also say goodbye to Hiccup and Astrid, who have shared a romance throughout the series, though the typical clichés have never been a part of the couple’s story.

The How To Train Your Dragon movies incorporated love interests for the main characters, but in a more realistic take on love than what’s typically been shown on screen. The couple don’t deal with unnecessary drama, glitzy gestures or long confessions of love, they just are, plain and simple. Hiccup and Astrid are supportive of one another and look to have a genuine connection.

America Ferrera jumped in, explaining why their unique dynamic over the past three films appeals to her with these words:

Yes!! Here’s to more cartoon couples being cute and making us smile without being contributing to unrealistic movie tropes! Take a look at the How To Train Your Dragon pair talking about their characters from my recent interview below:

How many time have we rewatched our favorite animated couples to find something a bit off about them? Beauty and the Beast only found each other because the Beast kidnapped the Beauty… how romantic? Hiccup and Astrid’s relationship shows a movie can be exciting with the presence of love interests who have a satisfying ending without following the typical formula.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World promises an emotional ending for fans of the franchise, including for Hiccup and Astrid. Many fans have been following the franchise since the first film which came out in 2010 and the voice actors have been living and evolving with their characters since as well.

Following an impressive $175 million debut overseas and positive reviews from critics and early audiences, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will hit theaters this Friday, February 22.

Glenn Close Reveals Plan For Not Flipping Out Ahead Of The 2019 Oscars

At this weekend’s Academy Awards, actress Glenn Close is nominated for Best Actress for her role in The Wife. This is her seventh Oscar nomination and it would be her first win, but she isn’t letting the pressure of the moment get to her. As you might expect for an actor of her caliber, she has a careful plan for not flipping out ahead of Sunday’s ceremony. In her own words:

It’s a pretty simple plan, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective, and it’s not like Glenn Close hasn’t been in this situation before. She’s old hat at this and knows exactly how to maintain her composure in advance of such a huge night. Based on what Glenn Close told ET, it sounds like her plan is to just try to take her mind off the Oscars by thinking about… basically anything else.

The sky and trees are great; they’re also everywhere, which makes them easy to keep at the forefront of your mind. I would think that the attempt to think about anything else other than the awards would make you think about them more, but maybe the calming presence of nature is helping Glenn Close not go into anxiety overdrive at the prospect of winning her first Oscar.

It’s understandable that Glenn Close is making an attempt not to freak out because Oscar night carries with it the potential for a whole range of emotions, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, all hinging on the contents of an envelope. Glenn Close also told ET that the honor of a win would mean a great deal to her, but that fans should not be disappointed if she doesn’t.

Glenn Close faces some stiff competition in the Best Actress category on Sunday night. Opposite her are Yalitza Aparicio for Roma, Olivia Colman for The Favourite, Lady Gaga for A Star is Born and Melissa McCarthy for Can You Ever Forgive Me? Although Lady Gaga seemed like the frontrunner at one point, she has largely been shut out from major wins this awards season. She could come roaring back, but right now it seems like it’s between Glenn Close and Olivia Colman.

I think many would like to see Glenn Close finally take home a statue. She has been nominated six times before in both the leading and supporting categories, but has always come home empty-handed. So a win here would not only honor her role in The Wife, but would also act as something of a lifetime achievement award.

Glenn Close has solid momentum this year too. She won Best Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes and her peers honored her with the win for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role at the SAG awards. The BAFTA went to Olivia Colman for The Favourite. So Glenn Close very well could win, but there are no guarantees and she’s taking the smart approach right now by not flipping out about it.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all your Oscar night coverage and check out our 2019 release schedule for the biggest movies heading to theaters this year.

No, The Avatar Sequels Haven’t Wrapped Filming

It’s been close to a decade since James Cameron’s Avatar hit theaters, shattered box office records and got people talking about the continuation of the franchise. With the second and third Avatar sequels set to be released in 2020 and 2021, the filmmaker has been hard at work on getting them ready for audiences. While a few months ago Cameron himself announced the principal cast finally wrapped filming, apparently, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Here’s what he said:

Whoops! While his own words seemed to indicate Avatar 2 & 3 had finished up principal photography, it looks like James Cameron was only talking about the motion capture portion of the films. Per his recent interview with The Empire Film Podcast, there is still about five months’ worth of action sequences to get cracking on.

Considering Avatar 2 still has almost two years to go before it comes to theaters, it’s not surprising there’s still some work to be done on the big-budget visual spectacle. Since the two sequels are being filmed back-to-back to ensure Avatar 3 can be released one year after Avatar 2, the production work needed is double.

The action sequences will reportedly start filming in April, putting the expected official wrap in August or September and leaving almost another year for post-production to get going.

The upcoming sequels are said to be standalone films, with their own encompassing adventure that doesn’t demand audiences to see the movie prior and will each wrap up by the end. While James Cameron originally envisioned the Avatar movies to be a trilogy, he has four sequels planned total.

Avatar 4 and 5 have not yet be greenlit (probably to see how moviegoers like the other Avatar movies first), though James Cameron has the scripts ready and are planned to be released in 2024 and 2025.

There hasn’t been much disclosed about what’s in store for Avatar, but we do know the film’s will center on Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana as Neytiri as they build a family. Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Giovanni Ribisi are returning along with Kate Winslet and Edie Falco joining the franchise.

The titles Avatar: The Way of Water, Avatar: The Seed Bearer, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa are reportedly under consideration, though official names have not been given to the action flicks. The first Avatar sequel comes to theaters on December 18, 2020.

Chris Hemsworth Will Play Hulk Hogan In A Biopic By Todd Phillips

A decade ago, Chris Hemsworth was a relatively unknown actor in the United States, but a lot can change in 10 years. Best known for playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’s also made a name for himself with movies like Ghostbusters, 12 Strong and Bad Times at the El Royale. Now Hemsworth is jumping into the biopic realm, as he’s been tapped to play wresting icon Hulk Hogan under the direction of Joker’s Todd Phillips.

Director Todd Phillips is reuniting with writer Scott Silver for a Hulk Hogan biopic, with deals closing for it to screen on Netflix. Rather than try to cover Hogan’s whole life, the movie will focus on his rise in the wrestling world and is described by THR as “an origin story of the Hulkster and Hulkamania.” It is not expected to delve into the more recent events in his life, such as the sex tape scandal that resulted in a lawsuit being filed against the now-defunct Gawker. Hogan, born Terry Gene Bollea, will act as a consultant on the movie and be an executive producer.

How Office Space Coined The Term Ass Clown

One of the running jokes in Mike Judge’s Office Space, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary (how great was 1999?), is that David Herman’s character shares a name with pop rock singer Michael Bolton. The character loathes his more famous namesake, calling him an ‘ass clown’. It’s a hilarious thing to call someone and the story of how Office Space coined the term is actually pretty funny. As stars Ajay Naidu and David Herman tell it:

Although much of Office Space’s hilarity came from the pages of Mike Judge’s script, there was some improvisation as well and the ‘ass clown’ instance was one where that improvisation became necessary. The line as originally written, when Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael (David Herman) are discussing the latter’s name, was that the singer Michael Bolton was a ‘no-singing asshole.’

That line could have been interpreted as implying that Michael Bolton didn’t actually sing his songs. For a man famous for singing, that would be quite the accusation. So rather than open the film up to claims of defamation or libel, the line needed to be changed. David Herman had to improvise on the fly right on set right before action was called for the scene, as he told The Ringer.

Necessity is the mother of invention and not being a devout Michael Bolton fan, David Herman was able to come up with something and thus ‘ass clown’ was born. You can check out the scene as it appears in Office Space in the video below:

Despite the taboo nature of the original line and its potential legal implications, ‘no-singing asshole’ is nowhere near as funny as ‘no-talent ass clown.’ Ass clown is way more original and silly and perfect for a singer who, at the time, seemed to take himself very seriously. For the record, Michael Bolton the singer has a great sense of humor about it now.

The term ass clown is now part of the lexicon and a hilarious insult whenever you hear it. Actor Ajay Naidu, who played Samir Nagheenanajar in Office Space, even got to use David Herman’s Michael Bolton insult when he was in Bad Santa. Check it out:

What a cinematic legacy! This is just an example of the strange alchemy that ultimately resulted in Office Space becoming the cult classic it is today. Mike Judge’s film may have only made $10.8 million at the box office, but it’s impact and cultural penetration is far more than that meager sum would indicate.

Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see the biggest movies you can look forward to this year. For all your movie news and the latest on the cinematic etymology of insults, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.