Bryan Singer

3.3747276688516 (1377)
Posted by bender 03/06/2009 @ 22:09

Tags : bryan singer, directors, cinema, entertainment

News headlines
Pop Top: Cruise slips into German uniform for 'Valkyrie - Salt Lake Tribune
"Valkyrie" (rated PG-13) is competently directed by "X-Men" helmer Bryan Singer, and Cruise is sleek and cool as the German hero Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, even if the story is a bit slight as a spy/war movie. The two-disc DVD offers commentary...
EXCLUSIVE: Christopher McQuarrie Delves Into History with Valkyrie - MovieWeb
It didn't take long for high school buddies Christopher McQuarrie and Bryan Singer to make an indelible stamp on the Hollywood scene. After their film debuts, with McQuarrie writing and Singer directing Public Access, their next collaboration really...
'Valkyrie' a solid, if not great, historical film - Visalia Times-Delta
Director Bryan Singer and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander include fascinating details about how things as seemingly inconsequential as a telephone switchboard were critical to the assassination plot....
American Idol - The Finals: Adam Will Win It All - Huffington Post
Kris gives it a sort of Bryan Adams feel which is a good call. After being flat at the start, he gets into a groove. But this is still a much better fit with Adam. Ultimately, Kris's three tunes blended together, each one ending on a fairly mellow note...
McG, the machine behind 'Terminator Salvation' - Los Angeles Times
His intense fear of flying kept him on the ground that day, and the Superman franchise instead took flight with director Bryan Singer. Bruised and widely ridiculed, McG sought medical help at UCLA to overcome his intense phobia....
The Bachelorette - Episode 1 Recap - Realitywanted
Wes (the country singer) also gets a rose, as does Matheu (the personal trainer). Michael (the break dancer), Robert, Ed and Reed also all get roses. The next rose is given to Simon (the Englishman), then Kiptyn, Mike, Brian D., Sasha (the Serbian) and...
X2: X-Men United - Elites TV
The sequel reunited most of the original film's cast along with director Bryan Singer. Where “X-Men” introduced us to the world of these warring mutants, “X2: X-Men United” blew that world wide open, and delivered to audiences a sequel easily superior...
This Week in DVD: Valkyrie, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, My Bloody ... - /FILM
That said, I'ma big supporter of Bryan Singer's work, and the film has been said to be serviceably entertaining, so I'll be sure to give it a fair shake just as soon as I learn to stop whining about those aforementioned minor issues....
There Is Every Possibility That This May Be A Disaster - io9
Not sure exactly what these are but I think they must tie in with the new "reboot" from Bryan Singer. Guy doesn't know when to leave well enough alone huh? Everyone wants to know who they'll battle next. How about the most dangerous, deplorable,...
DVDs on shelves: First season of 'True Blood,' Cruise's 'Valkyrie' - Hub
Director Bryan Singer's take on the July 20, 1944, assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler is a workmanlike, if unremarkable, historical drama. Tom Cruise stars as Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, one of several German military officers who plotted to kill...

Valkyrie (film)

German World War II Colonel Von Stauffenberg (left) and actor Tom Cruise (right). Cruise was attracted to the role based on the resemblance of his profile to the colonel's.[2]

Valkyrie is a 2008 historical thriller film set in Nazi Germany during World War II. The film depicts the July 20, 1944 plot by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler and to use the Operation Valkyrie national emergency plan to take control of the country. Valkyrie was directed by Bryan Singer under the American studio United Artists, and the film stars Tom Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, one of the key plotters. Bill Nighy, Eddie Izzard, Terence Stamp and Tom Wilkinson are also featured as fellow plotters.

Cruise's casting caused controversy among German politicians and members of von Stauffenberg's family because of the actor's practice of Scientology, which is considered a totalitarian organization in the country. German newspapers and filmmakers supported the film to spread global awareness of von Stauffenberg's plot. The filmmakers initially had difficulty setting up filming locations in Germany due to the controversy, but they were later given leeway to film in locations pertaining to the film's story, such as Berlin's historic Bendlerblock.

The film changed release dates several times, from as early as June 27, 2008 to as late as February 14, 2009. The changing calendar and poor response to United Artists's initial marketing campaign drew criticism about the studio's viability. After a positive test screening, Valkyrie's release in North America was ultimately changed to December 25, 2008. United Artists renewed its marketing campaign to reduce its focus on Cruise and to highlight Singer's credentials. The film has received mixed reviews in the United States. It opened commercially in Germany on January 22, 2009, where reports were mixed about the German reception of the film. To date, Valkyrie has grossed over $80 million in the United States and Canada, adding to a total of over $175 million worldwide.

During World War II, Wehrmacht Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) is severely wounded in Tunisia, and is evacuated home to Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, Major General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler by smuggling a bomb aboard the Führer's private airplane. The bomb, however, fails to detonate and Tresckow safely retrieves it to conceal his intentions. After learning that the Gestapo has arrested Major Hans Oster, he orders General Olbricht (Nighy) to find a replacement. After recruiting von Stauffenberg into the German Resistance, Olbricht delivers von Stauffenberg to a meeting of the secret committee which has coordinated previous attempts on Hitler's life. The members include General Ludwig Beck (Stamp), Dr. Carl Goerdeler (McNally), and Erwin von Witzleben (Schofield). The Colonel is stunned to learn that no plans exist for after Hitler's assassination.

After a bombing raid on Berlin, he lights upon using the plan Operation Valkyrie, which involves the deployment of the Reserve Army to maintain order in the event of a national emergency. The plotters carefully redraft the plan so that they can dismantle the Nazi regime after assassinating Hitler. Realizing that only General Fromm (Wilkinson), the head of the Reserve Army, can initiate Valkyrie, they offer him a position as head of the Wehrmacht in a Post-Nazi Germany and recruit him into the fold. With the rewritten plan needing to be signed off by Hitler (Bamber), von Stauffenberg visits the Führer at his Berghof estate in Bavaria. In the presence of his inner circle, Hitler praises von Stauffenberg's heroism in North Africa and signs off on the plan without fully examining the modifications.

At Goerdeler's insistence, von Stauffenberg is ordered to assassinate both Hitler and SS head Himmler at the bunker Wolf's Lair. At a final briefing, Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim (Berkel) instructs the committee members in how to use pencil detonators. von Stauffenberg also reaches out to General Fellgiebel (Izzard), who controls all communications at Wolf's Lair, to cut off communications after the bomb blast. On July 15, 1944, von Stauffenberg attends a strategy meeting at Wolf's Lair with the bomb in his briefcase, but with Himmler not present at the meeting, von Stauffenberg does not get the go-ahead from the committee leaders until the meeting is over. Meanwhile, the Reserve Army is mobilized by Olbricht, unbeknownst to Fromm, to stand by. With no action taken, von Stauffenberg safely extracts himself and the bomb from the bunker, and the Reserve Army is ordered to stand down, believing that the mobilization was training. Enraged, von Stauffenberg goes to the committee to protest the indecisiveness and blames the bungling of Goerdeler, who has been selected to be chancellor after the coup. When Goerdeler demands that von Stauffenberg be relieved, Beck informs him that the SS is searching for him and implores him to leave the country immediately.

On July 20, 1944, von Stauffenberg and his adjutant Lieutenant Haeften (Parker) return to the Wolf's Lair. To von Stauffenberg's dismay, he discovers that the conference is being held in an open-window summer barrack, whereas the plotters had intended to detonate the bomb within the walls of the bunker for maximum damage. While his adjuntant waits with a getaway car, von Stauffenberg leaves the briefcase at the meeting. With the bomb armed, von Stauffenberg leaves the barrack for the getaway car. When the bomb explodes, von Stauffenberg is certain that Hitler is dead and flees the Wolf's Lair. Before shutting down communications, Fellgiebel calls Mertz about the explosion but cannot clearly convey whether or not the Führer is dead.

As von Stauffenberg flies back to Berlin, Olbricht refuses to mobilize the Reserve Army until he knows without a doubt that Hitler is dead. Behind Olbricht's back, Mertz forges his signature and issues the orders anyway. With Operation Valkyrie underway, von Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters order the arrest of Nazi party leaders and SS officers and begin to take control of Berlin's government quarter, which will allow them to command the entire Reich. Rumors reach Berlin that Hitler survived the blast, but von Stauffenberg dismisses them as SS propaganda. Meanwhile, Fromm learns from Field Marshal Keitel that Hitler is still alive. The General refuses to join the plotters, resulting in his arrest. When Hitler reaches the Reserve Army by telephone, the SS officers are released and the plotters in turn are besieged inside the Bendlerblock. The headquarters staff flees, but the ringleaders are arrested. Most are eventually tried and executed, while some commit suicide. Von Stauffenberg shouts "Long live sacred Germany!" before being executed by a firing squad.

Tom Cruise stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the Wehrmacht Colonel who was instrumental in the conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bryan Singer saw von Stauffenberg as "very much a humanist", saying, "He understood his role as a colonel, but he also understood that the Nazis were doing terrible, terrible, terrible things." Having directed Superman Returns, Singer compared von Stauffenberg's dual identity as loyal colonel and conspirator to Superman and his civilian identity Clark Kent. Cruise wanted to work with Singer since they met at the premiere for Mission: Impossible, and the actor was enticed by the script's background, the truth of which struck him as a surprise. The actor described von Stauffenberg's heroism, "I thought of it in terms of what Stauffenberg represents. He was someone who realized that he had to take the steps that ultimately cost him his life... He recognized what was at stake." Cruise felt von Stauffenberg did not think of himself as a hero. The actor prepared for the role for eight months by hiring a researcher, studying history books, and speaking with some of von Stauffenberg's family. Since von Stauffenberg lost his left eye, right hand and two fingers on his left hand in an Allied attack in Tunisia, Cruise affected the same disabilities to practice dressing, moving items and writing. Cruise initially found the eyepatch difficult to work with but acknowledged that von Stauffenberg had to live with this discomfort.

Other portrayals of Nazis included Gerhard Haase-Hindenberg as Hermann Göring, Anton Algrang as Albert Speer, Werner Daehn as Major Ernst John von Freyend, Waldemar Kobus as Wolf-Heinrich Graf von Helldorf, Tom Hollander as Colonel Heinz Brandt, Helmut Stauss as Dr. Roland Freisler, and Matthew Burton as Lieutenant-General Adolf Heusinger. Patrick Wilson was originally cast in Valkyrie, but he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts and other unspecified reasons. Stephen Fry was also offered a role in the film but was unable to participate.

Some of the non-German actors initially experimented with German accents, but Singer discarded the idea, instead instructing them to adopt neutral accents that " distract from the story". Singer added he was not making a docu-drama and wanted to make the story engaging.

In 2002, Christopher McQuarrie visited Berlin while researching another project and visited the memorial to von Stauffenberg at the Bendlerblock. Researching the July 20 plot, he was moved and fascinated by the fact that the conspirators were fully aware of what would happen if they failed their assassination attempt, and he wanted to make their story more well-known. He approached Nathan Alexander to co-write the film, and Alexander began researching the project. McQuarrie sought to model the story after the 2001 TV film Conspiracy, which depicted the Wannsee Conference at which the Nazis planned the Final Solution. He also sought to direct the film, until he realized that adequate financing would only be secured with Bryan Singer directing.

McQuarrie suggested they bring the project to United Artists partners Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise, who immediately agreed to finance the film in March 2007. Singer invited Tom Cruise to take the lead role, which Cruise accepted. Cruise had been provided a picture of von Stauffenberg, in which the actor noticed a similarity in his profile with the German colonel, drawing him to the role. The director and the screenwriter initially anticipated Valkyrie as a "small" film with a budget of under US$20 million and to be completed within several months, but Cruise's interest in playing von Stauffenberg made Singer realize his involvement could broaden the film's publicity and therefore its budget. The film's budget was then raised to $60 million. The director considered calling the film Operation Valkyrie, not wanting to use a generic action film title. The film's English-language title was ultimately titled Valkyrie because Singer felt that the film was about more than the operation and liked its connection to Wagner's music.

Germany's Finance Ministry had originally denied the producers the right to film at Bendlerblock, explaining that the site should be treated as a "place of remembrance and mourning" which would "lose dignity if we were to exploit it as a film set". The producers were also denied a request to film at a Berlin police station by the department, citing adverse impact to the facility. The German government eventually had a change of heart concerning the Bendlerblock site and gave permission for filmmakers to shoot there. A United Artists spokesman said that they were "very grateful" for the decision, saying that the site " always been important to us symbolically, creatively and for the sake of historical authenticity" and that the company had been in continuous talks with the German government in order to clear up any misconceptions about the nature of the film. The Memorial to the German Resistance also helped filmmakers by permitting them access to their materials and documents. German military pageantry was shaped by referring to the recorded material and input from military advisers.

McQuarrie and Alexander researched first-hand accounts, photos, newsreels and texts. They also examined Gestapo and SS records, as the organizations had been meticulous in reconstructing the events of the conspiracy in its aftermath. A timeline of events was created, from which McQuarrie and Alexander shaped the script. After production began in Berlin, the writers were able to visit locations and meet with relatives of the conspirators; these meetings informed changes made to the script during filming.

The initial scenes of von Stauffenberg in Tunisia were written to provide historical context to the rest of the film. The scenes were written with the intention of communicating the complexity of the situation—including references to the Holocaust—without being too obvious. The writers also wanted to evoke the spirit of the resistance and convey the ongoing disgust of the German officers. McQuarrie and Alexander found the most difficult task was in conveying the motives of the conspirators; von Stauffenberg especially remained an enigma, though the writers believed he and the other resistance members to be propelled by their moral outrage. McQuarrie and Alexander attempted to include a scene of von Stauffenberg's witnessing an atrocity, but because he was a supply officer he had little exposure to many of those that occurred. Though he witnessed some—such as the starvation of the Russians—they believed it difficult to dramatize von Stauffenberg's being compelled to action by "field reports". They also had difficulties with Hitler's portrayal; in researching his speeches, they struggled to find one in which he said overtly villainous things.

Filming began on July 18, 2007 in Berlin. Production of Valkyrie was then estimated to have a budget of US$80 million, with two-thirds to be spent in Germany. The German Federal Film Fund issued €4.8 million (US$6.64 million) to United Artists to assist with production. The filmmakers received permission to film at Tempelhof International Airport's Columbia Haus, a former Nazi jail for political prisoners. Production also involved World War II planes with swastikas painted on the sides, practicing in the airspace above Brandenburg. Around 70 sets were built for the film. The filmmakers also shot on location at the former Reich Air Ministry Building and the exterior of the house at which von Stauffenberg stayed with his brother.

A replica set of Hitler's Eastern Front Headquarters Wolf's Lair was constructed 60 kilometers south of Berlin, though the headquarters' actual location was in modern-day Poland. It took twelve weeks to build. Filming also took place in some of the houses which were used to hide the bombs in 1944. The interior of Hitler's Bavarian residence Berghof was also replicated using film shot by Hitler's consort Eva Braun and designing models of furniture possessed by secretive collectors. The production also made use of surviving Nazi relics, including furniture used by the Reich Ministry and objects that once adorned Hitler's desk. Nazi symbols, the display of which is heavily restricted in Germany, were also used at several locations, and while the filmmakers gave forewarnings to local residents, a passerby witnessing the use of swastikas during filming in Berlin filed an official complaint with the city. Similar charges have also been filed against the owners of sites set up to show Nazi displays for the film's production. Filming also took place at Babelsberg Studios. During filming on August 19, 2007, eleven people were hurt when the side panel of a truck they were riding broke, with one person requiring hospitalization. They demanded $11 million in compensation, rejecting a settlement offered by the studio.

Before filming the scene of von Stauffenberg's execution at Bendlerblock, Tom Cruise led the cast and crew in holding a moment of silence, "out of respect for the place and out of respect for the life achievement of these people who were executed there," according to actor Christian Berkel. After filming of the scene was completed, the footage was sent to be developed for the post-production process at a processing plant in Germany. The wrong chemical was accidentally used in development, damaging the film and requiring the crew to seek permission from the government to re-shoot the scenes. Permission was granted and a spokesman for the film indicated the schedule and budget had not been affected.

Singer and cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel chose different styles for the separate halves of the film. Elegant camerawork such as cranes were used as the plot builds to the attempt on Hitler's life, and the second half is frantic with handheld cinematography as the plotters are hunted down. The colors in the film also become more intense as the story continues. Sigel focused on red, the color of the Nazi flag, which he felt represented the violence of their ideology. Singer looked towards thrillers of the 1940s and home movies shot by Eva Braun for inspiration. Shooting scenes at night was difficult because presenting historical accuracy of the era required blackouts. Sigel noted in real life, car headlights were used for the firing squad to aim at and execute the plotters in the Bendlerblock. Singer chose to shoot in 1:85 aspect ratio, and since filming took place in Germany, the director used Arriflex cameras with Zeiss lenses.

The Tunisia battle sequence that opened the film was the last major sequence filmed. The filmmakers wanted to avoid the appearance that von Stauffenberg wanted to kill Hitler because of the injuries he suffered in the battle. They began a rough cut in October 2007, and between then and June 2008, there were several test screenings without the battle sequence. By June 2008, the filmmakers felt that they knew how to adequately frame the characters when filming the battle sequence. Singer scouted Jordan and Spain for locations, but the candidates did not meet the aesthetic and economic criteria. The Cougar Buttes desert in California was ultimately chosen to represent Tunisia. Since the production budget was adjusted to provide visual effects to make von Stauffenberg's injuries realistic, not enough was left for solely computer-generated fighter planes. Singer instead used two P-40 Warhawks in the battle sequence. The budget increased in the course of production due to the filming in Germany, the rebuilding of sets, and lost shooting days, but German tax rebates tempered the growth. The studio reported its final production budget to be $75 million, but competing studios believed it to be closer to $90 million.

For the battle sequence in North Africa, the two actual P-40 Warhawks used were accompanied by cloned images of them or by computer-generated planes. In scenes showing squadrons of soldiers, digital extras were not used; instead, photography of real squadrons was cloned. Sony Pictures Imageworks also digitally expanded details on stage locations and at practical locations. The exterior of Hitler's Bavarian residence Berghof was digitally created, since little was left of the original structure, and the creation was superimposed on a shot of a ski area in Austria. In Berlin itself, city officials helped reduce the need for visual effects by removing power poles and modern lighting over the weekend when filming took place and restoring the equipment by the start of the new week.

As with his previous collaborations with Bryan Singer on The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns and X2, editor and composer John Ottman edited the film without a temp track, noting if the film was working well without music, it was becoming a strong product. Since Valkyrie drew its inspirations from previous World War II films like The Great Escape (1963), Where Eagles Dare (1968), Patton (1970), and Midway (1976), filmmakers initially had a cut where title cards introduced characters and their roles. When the cut was test screened with an American audience, the title cards were removed due to complaints that there were too many characters to follow.

Ottman said the challenge on Valkyrie was to create tension from dialogue scenes, and he often reshaped scenes to do this: moments rather than whole scenes were cut from the film. Being historically accurate meant Ottman was more restricted in reorganizing scenes, but he was able to choose what lines and close-ups he could focus on. Ottman said the scene he was most saddened to delete was a scene where von Stauffenberg dances with his wife because he had been looking forward to scoring it.

Ottman originally planned to compose a minimal score to Valkyrie, but found that despite the film's dialogue-heavy nature, the film needed music to create a thriller atmosphere. Ottman described the new approach, "It's very much like Usual Suspects – in order to keep the tension going in a scene where there's really a lot of dialogue, we had to rely on a lot of score. But the score is done in a very sort of pulsating, subliminal way. It's not an expository score, it's more like a running pulse going through the movie." Singer applied an imaginary metronome, "which only began clicking" when he watched scenes where the pace was becoming faster. He had a specific theme he wanted for the film, which was more modern than the "The Winds of War"-type score he expected Ottman to do. Another challenge in composing thriller music was that the score needed to "slowly lapse" into the tragedy of the film's ending. The finished score has some percussion instruments and few brass, but no snare drums or trumpets, which were the conventions Singer and Ottman avoided.

Ottman had to compose music for the North African battle before the scene was shot, because booking space to record film music is difficult. Although he found that composing music based on the script results in overlong pieces, he felt the music worked out fine for the sequence. The film's end credits piece, "They'll Remember You", is an original composition, but the lyrics were based on the poem Wanderer's Nightsong by German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. An end piece entitled "Long Live Sacred Germany" was inspired by Adagio for Strings, in the sense it would not feel like film music tailored to every moment in the scene, but still fit with what was going on. Ottman described the original version of the track as a "three minute drone that I slowed down with these two Tuvan throat singers, the whole thing was this horribly dark, morbid piece left you cold." Ottman composed a metallic motif for Hitler, which was formed by low strings and a piano cluster.

In June 2007, prior to production, a German Defense Ministry spokesperson said that filming of Valkyrie would not be allowed at the country's military sites if protagonist Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was portrayed by Tom Cruise, due to the actor's adherence to Scientology, which is regarded as a dangerous cult by the German authorities. The spokesperson further indicated that the ministry had not at that time received official filming requests from Valkyrie's producers. Colonel von Stauffenberg's son also voiced concerns over Cruise's portrayal of his father, saying that he would not oppose the film's production, but hoped that Cruise would drop the role. "I fear that only terrible kitsch will come out of the project. It's bound to be rubbish," Berthold Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg said. "Cruise should keep his hands off my father." Later in the month, the ministry reversed its stance and welcomed production of Valkyrie. The initial controversy reportedly stemmed from German member of parliament Antje Blumenthal, an authority on cults for the Christian Democratic Union and well-known opponent of Scientology, who had claimed that the German Defense Minister had assured her that the film would not be shot in the country. In addition, Cruise was attacked by junior politicians such as Rudolf Köberle, the state secretary for interior issues in the state of Baden-Württemberg, who also cited Cruise's affiliation with Scientology. Thomas Gandow, a spokesperson for the German Protestant Church, said Cruise's involvement in the film would "have the same propaganda advantages for Scientology as the 1936 Olympics had for the Nazis" and compared the actor to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

A spokesperson for Scientology in Berlin, Sabine Weber, said in August 2007 that she was "shocked" by German politicians' criticisms, adding that it was a "call to discrimination" against someone based on their religious beliefs. In the same month, Cruise suggested to his critics that they see the film before denouncing it. In October 2007, fellow Valkyrie actor Kenneth Branagh said that the issue had been "largely exaggerated" and that the German official who initially incited the complaints contacted the production one week into filming to apologize, after reading the script and realizing he had misinterpreted the film's plot.

In November 2007, the head of the German Resistance Memorial Center warned against any potential "myth formation" around von Stauffenberg as a result of the film, urging that any understanding of the Colonel must also be informed by the fact that he had been loyal to the Nazi cause for most of his military career. In the same month Cruise was given a Bambi courage award, presented by German media company Hubert Burda Media, "for tackling a story that had never been covered by Hollywood before".

Valkyrie was intended to be a high-profile film that would jump-start United Artists, the host studio partly owned by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. Pressure was placed on Valkyrie to do well since an earlier United Artists film featuring Cruise, Lions for Lambs, performed poorly in the box office, and the studio's planned production of Oliver Stone's Pinkville was canceled. The film changed release dates multiple times. It was originally slated to be released in August 8, 2008, then moved up earlier to June 27, 2008. The film was then held off to October 3, 2008 to avoid competition from WALL-E and Wanted, and to enable the late filming of the North African battle sequence. The October date was also originally chosen to increase the film's chances of awards success. In April 2008, the release date was pushed back to February 13, 2009, with the studio citing the early fall schedule as too crowded with Academy Award prospects. Valkyrie would have taken advantage of the lucrative President's Day weekend, after The Wolfman and The Pink Panther 2 were moved from this date.

In July 2008, United Artists president of worldwide marketing Dennis Rice was replaced by Michael Vollman, who was tasked to develop a marketing strategy for the "troubled" Valkyrie, which had been "battered by constant media sniping". Under Vollman, by August 2008, the release date was changed to December 26, 2008 with reports citing commercial reasons for the move after a successful test screening. (The film was ultimately released on Christmas Day, December 25, 2008.) The release date was before the end of December, which "crucially" helped the film with a home distribution deal with the subscription channel Showtime. In the same month of August, Paula Wagner left her position with the studio during the film's post-production. The changing release date for Valkyrie drew criticism about the viability of United Artists, and the studio aimed to combat the criticism leading up to the film's eventual release. In addition, the first theatrical trailer, released early in 2008, received "mixed buzz" over Tom Cruise's portraying von Stauffenberg with an American accent. The trade paper Variety described the trailer as "dour and ... like it was selling a talky stage play with a cast of old British actors". Images of Tom Cruise as Colonel von Stauffenberg that surfaced during filming were widely ridiculed. Terry Press, a marketing consultant with the studio, said that Valkyrie had been wrongly labeled as "the Tom Cruise eye-patch movie".

As the December release date approached, United Artists launched a campaign to reform public perception of the film, downplaying the role of Tom Cruise as a German war hero and instead pitching Valkyrie as "a character-driven suspense thriller". The new campaign also played up the reputation of director Bryan Singer, who had directed the thrillers The Usual Suspects (1995) and Apt Pupil (1998). Terry Press urged foregoing an awards campaign for the film; Cruise agreed with the consultant, while Singer was disappointed about the decision. Instead, the studio focused on audience appeal in a competitive time frame in late December. A second theatrical trailer and a new poster were unveiled in October 2008 by United Artists to renew Valkyrie's viability with audiences and accolades. The poster was designed to have flashy graphics and to emulate the posters from the war films The Great Escape (1963) and The Dirty Dozen (1967) in having a team as a central visual. The team element was based on market research from the studio's focus groups who indicated that they liked Cruise as "a character leading a group of people toward solving a problem". The new trailer accentuated action, and was widely considered an improvement over the first trailer. An internal MGM memo reported the reception of the trailer by online communities to be "significantly favorable" compared to the previous trailer. The studio sought two demographic quadrants: males over 35 years old as well as younger males. Since United Artists reported that the film cost $75 million to make and that $60 million was spent on marketing, the studio faced high financial stakes. The film also tested the determination of its distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the mettle of Cruise as a superstar.

Valkyrie opened on Christmas Day, December 25, 2008 in 2,711 theaters in the United States and Canada. The film grossed an estimated $8.5 million for the opening day. In the four-day holiday weekend, Valkyrie grossed an estimated $30 million, ranking fourth at the box office with $7,942 per theater. Pamela McClintock of Variety cited the weekend performance as "a victory for United Artists and MGM"; Gitesh Pandya of Rotten Tomatoes said the haul represented a "big hit" for the studio. Studio research revealed that audiences averaged 55% male and 66% over 25. Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers, said that the weekend gross "totally robs the nay-sayers of their ability to deem it a flop", believing that Cruise's comic performance in the previous summer's Tropic Thunder helped audiences embrace the star again. Dergarabedian also ascribed the better-than-expected performance to the studio's marketing of Valkyrie as a thriller film. Since Cruise was collecting a salary of $20 million against 20% of the backend (revenue gathered after the completion of a film) and MGM/UA investment was capped at $60 million, United Artists sold the film to several foreign territories to make money back.

The European premiere was held at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin on January 20, 2009. Valkyrie commercially opened in over a dozen territories outside the United States and Canada on the weekend of January 23, 2009, including a premiere in Germany on January 22. The film ranked first in the international box office, grossing over $13 million. It placed first in Germany, Australia, and Holland and placed second in the United Kingdom, Austria and South Korea. Valkyrie's highest-grossing territory was Germany, where it earned $3.7 million from 689 locations, averaging $5,311 per screen. The German opening was considered "a chart-topping yet unspectacular start", barely edging out Twilight, which opened three weeks before. BBC News reported that the premiere of the film has renewed the topic of the German Resistance among the German populace.

The film opened in 13 additional territories on the weekend of January 30, including Russia and Spain. With 3,600 screenings in 26 markets, the film grossed $18.6 million to maintain its top placement at the international box office for a second weekend in a row. Spain was its highest-grossing territory with $2.8 million, followed by Germany with $2.3 million, the United Kingdom with $2 million, and $1.9 million in Italy. As of February 3, 2009, the film has grossed $82,631,416 in the United States and Canada and an estimated $93,200,000 in other territories for a worldwide gross of $175,831,416.

Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that Valkyrie "has visual splendor galore, but is a cold work lacking in the requisite tension and suspense". McCarthy considered Cruise as "a bit stiff but still adequate" as von Stauffenberg. The critic believed that McQuarrie's script was well-carpentered but felt that compressing and streamlining the events to make a known failed plot more thrilling lacked a "sufficient sizzle into the dialogue or individuality into the characters". McCarthy missed "many of the interesting personal and political nuances pertaining to these men" that were not detailed. He thought that the production design by Lilly Kilvert and Patrick Lumb stood out, that Newton Thomas Sigel's cinematography had a "restrained elegance", and that John Ottman performed well in his dual role as editor and composer.

Other critics asserted that Tom Cruise did not "make the grade" as a German war hero. The film critic for Der Tagesspiegel wrote, " image as an actor has been finally ruined by Valkyrie... doesn't dare to be popcorn cinema and at the same time lacks any conceptual brilliance." Hanns-Georg Rodek of Die Welt reported of Cruise's performance, "He comes over best as an American hero, someone who battles for respect with aggression and energy. But Stauffenberg was a German hero, with aristocratic bearing, and Cruise cannot carry that off." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said Cruise's performance was "credible", and reserved praise for the authenticity of the dubbed German-language version of the film over the original.

While von Stauffenberg listens to Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" in the film, in reality the colonel hated Wagner. In addition, von Stauffenberg's elder brother Berthold was also omitted from the film. Bryan Singer purposely left out some of von Stauffenberg's "macho" moments in writing the character, such as the colonel's refusal of morphine to avoid addiction. He explained the removals, "There were things I actually left out because I knew people would think we were making them up... imagine Tom Cruise saying 'No morphine!' People would think it's a contrivance." In the film, von Haeften steps out in front of von Stauffenberg at the firing range, but when filmmakers attempted to reconstruct the scene based on eyewitness testimony and photographs, they discovered that the shots that killed von Haeften would also have killed von Stauffenberg, who was actually shot shortly after. Another alteration was to the portrayal of Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, played in the film by Kevin McNally. Goerdeler was written in the film to be antagonistic, dramatically representing the friction and conflict that existed within the conspiracy, though filmmakers considered him a "much more moral character" in reality.

British novelist Justin Cartwright, who authored the book The Song Before It Is Sung about one of the plot's conspirators, wrote, "The film is true to most of the facts of the plot, but fails to convey any sense of the catastrophic moral and political vortex into which Germans were being drawn." Though not depicted in the film, von Stauffenberg was persuaded to become involved in the plot by his uncle, Nikolaus Graf von Üxküll, who was disenchanted with the Nazis. The film also did not explore von Stauffenberg's philosophy and background, which Cartwright felt fit the German tradition of Dichter und Helden ("poets and heroes"). Cartwright described how von Stauffenberg was an appropriate leader for the plot: "He was the man who unmistakably wore the mantle of a near-mystic German past, a warrior Germany, a noble Germany, a poetic Germany, a Germany of myth and longing." The novelist felt that Cruise's portrayal was more akin to one as a "troublesome cop". Cartwright also noted that the film did not raise the question of what kind of Germany von Stauffenberg had in mind if the plot succeeded.

To the top



The Usual Suspects

Usual suspects ver1.jpg

The Usual Suspects is a 1995 American neo-noir film written by Christopher McQuarrie and directed by Bryan Singer. The film tells the story of Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey), a small-time con man who is the subject of a police interrogation. He tells his interrogator, U.S. Customs Agent David Kujan (Chazz Palminteri), a convoluted story about events leading to a massacre and massive fire that have just taken place on a ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro Bay. Using flashback and narration, Verbal's story becomes increasingly complex as he tries to explain why he and his partners-in-crime were on the boat.

The film, shot on a $6 million budget, originally began as a title taken from a column in Spy magazine called "The Usual Suspects", after Claude Rains' line in Casablanca. Singer thought that it would be a good title for a film, the poster for which he and McQuarrie had developed as the first visual idea.

The Usual Suspects was shown out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, and then initially released in few theaters. It received favorable reviews, and was eventually given a wider release. McQuarrie won an Academy Award for the screenplay and Spacey won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance.

Five criminals are brought together in a police lineup—Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) is a corrupt former police officer who has apparently given up his life of crime; Michael McManus (Stephen Baldwin) is a crack shot with a temper and a wild streak; Fred Fenster (Benicio Del Toro) is McManus' partner who speaks in mangled English; Todd Hockney (Kevin Pollack) is a hijacker who forms an instant rivalry with McManus; and Verbal himself is a con artist with cerebral palsy.

While in holding, McManus convinces the others to join forces to commit a robbery targeting corrupt NYPD police officers who escort smugglers to their destinations around the city. After the successful robbery, the quintet travel to California to sell their loot to McManus' fence, "Redfoot" (Peter Greene). Redfoot talks them into another job: robbing a purported jewel smuggler. Instead of jewels or money, as they were told he was carrying, the smuggler had cocaine. An angry confrontation between the thieves and Redfoot reveals that the job came from a lawyer named Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite). The thieves later meet with Kobayashi, who claims to work for Keyser Söze and blackmails them into attacking a ship at San Pedro harbor. Kobayashi describes the boat as smuggling $91 million worth of cocaine, to be purchased by rivals of Söze. The thieves are to destroy the drugs and, if they choose to wait until the buyers arrive, can split the cash as they choose.

In the present, Verbal tells Kujan the story of Keyser Söze as he apparently heard it from Keaton and the others. Verbal's flashback described Söze, a "small-time" but respected Turkish criminal, being harassed by a rival Hungarian gang in Turkey and, rather than have his wife and children used as hostages, Söze killed them himself, then went on a murderous vendetta against all those involved, even indirectly. Afterward, he apparently disappeared (Verbal: "And like that... he's gone"). With time, Söze's story took on mythic stature, with most people either doubting his existence or disbelieving it entirely. Kujan, previously unfamiliar with Söze, asks Baer about him. Baer admits no direct knowledge but has heard rumors for years about Söze insulating himself behind layers of minions who don't know who they're working for.

Verbal also describes Fenster's attempt to run away, ending with him being killed by Kobayashi. The remaining thieves kidnap Kobayashi, believing Söze to be a cover for his own activities, intending to kill him if he does not agree to leave them alone. Kobayashi is uncowed and McManus is on the verge of executing him when Kobayashi reveals that lawyer Edie Finneran (Suzy Amis), Keaton's girlfriend, is in his office. Kobayashi also says that she and other loved ones of the thieves will be maimed or killed by various henchmen of Söze (who "is very real, and very determined") if they do not carry out the job.

On the night of the cocaine deal, the sellers—a group of Argentine mobsters—are on the dock, as are the buyers—a group of Hungarian mobsters. Keaton tells Verbal to stay back, and to take the money to Edie if the plan goes awry so she can pursue Kobayashi "her way" and to convey Keaton's regret that he couldn't go straight, as she wanted him to ("Tell her... I tried"). Verbal reluctantly agrees. He watches the boat from a distance, in hiding, as Keaton, McManus and Hockney attack the men at the pier. Hockney is killed as Keaton and McManus discover separately that there is no cocaine on the boat. Meanwhile, Hungarians, yet untouched by the thieves, are being killed, and a closely-guarded Argentine passenger is killed by an unseen assailant. McManus is killed with a knife to the back of his neck, and Keaton, turning away to leave, is shot in the back. A figure in a dark coat appears, presumably Keyser Söze, and lights a cigarette with a gold lighter. He appears to speak briefly with Keaton before apparently shooting him (the scene which began the film in medias res).

In the present, with Verbal's story finished, Kujan reveals what he has deduced, with the aide of Baer: The boat hijacking was not about cocaine, but rather to ensure that one man aboard the ship—the Argentine passenger, one of the few individuals alive who could positively identify Söze—is killed. After Söze presumably killed the man, he eliminated everyone else on the ship and set it ablaze; Kujan also reveals that Edie has been killed. He has concluded that Keaton was Keyser Söze. Kujan's ongoing investigation of Keaton is what initially involved him in the case, and Kujan is convinced that Keaton has faked his death (as he had briefly done some years earlier during another investigation) and deliberately left Verbal as a witness.

Under Kujan's aggressive questioning, Verbal tearfully admits that the whole affair, from the beginning, was Keaton's idea. His bail having been posted, Verbal retrieves his personal effects from the property officer as Kujan, relaxing in Rabin's office, notices that details and names from Verbal's story are culled from various objects around the room, including Rabin's crowded bulletin board and the "Kobayashi" logo on the bottom of Kujan's coffee cup. Kujan realizes that Verbal made up the entire story. He chases after Verbal, running past a fax machine as it receives the police artist's impression of Keyser Söze's face, which resembles Verbal Kint.

Bryan Singer met Kevin Spacey at a party after a screening of the young filmmaker's first film, Public Access at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Spacey had been encouraged by a number of people he knew who had seen it and was so impressed that he told Singer and McQuarrie that he wanted to be in whatever film they did next. Singer read a column in Spy magazine called "The Usual Suspects" after Claude Rains' line in Casablanca. Singer thought that it would be a good title for a film. When asked what their next film was about by a reporter at Sundance, McQuarrie replied, "I guess it's about a bunch of criminals who meet in a police line-up," which, incidentally, was the first visual idea that he and Singer came up for the poster: "five guys who meet in a line-up," Singer remembers. The director also envisioned a tagline for the poster, "All of you can go to Hell". Singer then asked the question, "What would possibly bring these five felons together in one line-up?" McQuarrie revamped an idea from one of his own unpublished screenplays—the story of a man who murders his own family and walks away, disappearing from view. The writer mixed this with the idea of a team of crooks.

The character of Söze is based on a real-life account of New Jersey's John List, an accountant who murdered his entire family in 1971 and then disappeared for almost two decades, assuming a new identity before he was ultimately apprehended. McQuarrie based the name of Keyser Söze on a boss named Keyser Sume that he had at a Los Angeles law practice he worked for but decided to change the last name because he thought that his former boss would object to how it was used. He found the word söze in his roommate's English-to-Turkish dictionary which meant "talk too much". All of the characters' names are taken from staff members of the law firm at the time of his employment. McQuarrie had also worked for a detective agency, and this influenced the depiction of criminals and law enforcement officials in the script.

Singer described the film as Double Indemnity meets Rashomon, and said that it was made "so you can go back and see all sorts of things you didn't realize were there the first time. You can get it a second time in a way you never could have the first time around." He also compared the film's structure to Citizen Kane (which also contained an interrogator and a subject who is telling a story) and the criminal caper The Anderson Tapes.

McQuarrie wrote nine drafts of his screenplay over the course of five months, sometimes at 14-hour stretches, until Singer felt that it was ready to shop around to the studios. None were interested, except for a European financing company. McQuarrie and Singer had a difficult time getting the film made because of the non-linear story, the large amount of dialogue, and the lack of cast attached to the project. Financiers wanted established stars, and offers for the small role of Redfoot (the L.A. fence who hooks up the five protagonists with Söze) went out to Christopher Walken, Tommy Lee Jones, Jeff Bridges, Charlie Sheen, James Spader, Al Pacino, and Johnny Cash. However, the European money allowed the film's producers to make offers to actors and assemble a cast. They were only able to offer the actors well below their usual pay, but they agreed because of the quality of McQuarrie's script and the chance to work with each other. However, the money fell through, and Singer used the script and the cast to attract Polygram to pick up the film negative.

In casting, Singer took the television pilot approach: "You pick people not for what they are, but what you imagine they can turn into." To research his role, Spacey met with doctors and experts on cerebral palsy and talked with Singer about how it would fit dramatically in the film. They decided that it would only affect one side of his body. According to Byrne, the cast bonded quickly during rehearsals. Del Toro worked with his friend Alan Shaterian to develop Fenster's distinctive, almost unintelligible speech patterns. According to the actor, the source of his character's unusual speech patterns came from the realization that "the purpose of my character was to die". Del Toro talked to Singer and told him, "it really doesn't matter what I say so I can go really far out with this and really make it uncomprehensible".

The budget was set at $5.5 million and the film was shot in 35 days in Los Angeles, San Pedro, and New York City. Spacey said that they shot the interrogation scenes with Palminteri over a span of five to six days. These scenes were also shot before the rest of the film. The police line-up scene ran into scheduling conflicts because the actors kept blowing their lines. Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie would feed the actors questions off-camera and they improvised their lines. When Stephen Baldwin gave his answer, he made the other actors break character. Byrne remembers that they were often laughing between takes and "when they said, 'Action' we'd barely be able to keep it together". Spacey also said that the hardest part was not laughing through takes, with Baldwin and Pollack being the worst culprits. Their goal was to get the usually serious Byrne to crack up. They spent all morning trying to film the scene unsuccessfully. At lunch, a frustrated Singer chewed out the five actors and when they resumed, the cast continued to laugh through each take. Byrne remembers, "Finally, Bryan just used one of the takes where we couldn't stay serious". Singer and editor John Ottman used a combination of takes and kept the humor in to show the characters bonding with one another.

The stolen emeralds were real gemstones on loan for the movie.

Singer spent an 18-hour day shooting the underground parking garage robbery. According to Byrne, by the next day Singer still did not have all of the footage that he wanted, and refused to stop filming in spite of the bonding company's threat to shut down the production.

In the scene in which the crew meets Redfoot after the botched drug deal, Redfoot flicks his cigarette at McManus' face. The scene was originally to have the Redfoot character flick the cigarette at Baldwin's chest, but the actor missed and hit Baldwin's face by accident. Baldwin's reaction in the film is real.

Despite enclosed practical locations and a short shooting schedule, the film's cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, "developed a way of shooting dialogue scenes with a combination of slow, creeping zooms and dolly moves that ended in tight close-ups", to add subtle energy to scenes. This style combined dolly movement with "imperceptible zooms" so that you’d always have a sense of motion in a limited space".

During the editing phase, Singer thought that they had completed the film two weeks early but woke up one morning and realized that they needed that time to put together a sequence that convinced the audience that Dean Keaton was Söze and then do the same for Verbal Kint because the film did not have "the punch that Chris had written so beautifully". According to Ottman, he assembled the footage as a montage but it still did not work until he added an overlapping voiceover montage featuring key dialogue from several characters and have it relate to the images. Early on, executives at Gramercy had problems pronouncing the name Keyser Söze and were worried that audiences would have the same problem. The studio decided to promote the character's name and two weeks before the film debuted in theaters, "Who is Keyser Söze?" posters appeared at bus stops and TV spots told people how to say the character's name.

Singer wanted the music to the boat heist to resemble Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1. The ending's music was based on a K.D. Lang song.

The film was shown out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and was well-received by audiences and critics. The film was then given an exclusive run in Los Angeles, where it took a combined USD $83,513, and New York City, where it made $132,294 on three screens in its opening weekend. The film was then released in 42 theaters where it proceeded to earn $645,363 on its opening weekend. It averaged a strong $4,181 per screen at 517 theaters and the following week added 300 play dates. It eventually made $23.3 million in North America.

The Usual Suspects was well-received by most critics and it has an 89% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 77 metscore on Metacritic. While embraced by most viewers and critics, The Usual Suspects was the subject of harsh derision by some. Roger Ebert, in a review for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four. USA Today gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it, "one of the most densely plotted mysteries in memory - though paradoxically, four-fifths of it is way too easy to predict". However, Rolling Stone magazine praised Spacey, saying his "balls-out brilliant performance is Oscar bait all the way". Hal Hinson, in his review for the Washington Post wrote, "Ultimately, The Usual Suspects may be too clever for its own good. The twist at the end is a corker, but crucial questions remain unanswered. What's interesting, though, is how little this intrudes on our enjoyment. After the movie you're still trying to connect the dots and make it all fit - and these days, how often can we say that?" In her review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin praised the performances of the cast: "Mr. Singer has assembled a fine ensemble cast of actors who can parry such lines, and whose performances mesh effortlessly despite their exaggerated differences in demeanor . . . Without the violence or obvious bravado of Reservoir Dogs, these performers still create strong and fascinatingly ambiguous characters". The Independent praised the film's ending: "The film's coup de grace is as elegant as it is unexpected. The whole movie plays back in your mind in perfect clarity - and turns out to be a completely different movie to the one you've been watching (rather better, in fact)".

Christopher McQuarrie and Kevin Spacey were nominated for Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. They both won and in his acceptance speech, Spacey memorably said, "Well, whoever Keyser Söze is, I can tell you he's going to get gloriously drunk tonight". McQuarrie also won the Best Original Screenplay award at the 1996 British Academy Film Awards. The film was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards—Best Supporting Actor for Benicio Del Toro, Best Screenplay for Christopher McQuarrie, and Newton Thomas Sigel for Best Cinematography. Both Del Toro and McQuarrie won in their categories.

The Usual Suspects was screened at the 1995 Seattle International Film Festival where Bryan Singer was awarded Best Director and Kevin Spacey won for Actor. The Boston Society of Film Critics gave Spacey the Best Supporting Actor award for his work on the film. Spacey went on to win this award with the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review which also gave the film an ensemble acting award to the cast.

On June 17, 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten Top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. The Usual Suspects was acknowledged as the tenth best mystery film. Verbal Kint was voted the #48 villain in the AFI's "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains" in June 2003. Entertainment Weekly cited the film as one of the "13 must-see heist movies". Empire magazine ranked Keyzer Soze #69 in their "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters" poll.

To the top



Superman Returns

The Superman Returns cast with members of the Red Bull Racing team

Superman Returns is a 2006 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman. Directed by Bryan Singer, the film stars Brandon Routh as Superman, as well as Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden and Parker Posey. Superman Returns is a loose continuation of Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980). The film tells the story of Superman returning to Earth after several years of absence. He finds that Lois Lane has moved on with her life and Lex Luthor plotting a scheme that will kill billions of people worldwide.

After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Superman on the screen, Bryan Singer was hired by Warner Bros. to direct and develop Superman Returns in July 2004. The majority of principal photography took place at Fox Studios Australia, while the visual effects sequences were created by Sony Pictures Imageworks. Filming ended in November 2005, which constituted hiring thousands of local workers, and injecting over $100 million into the local New South Wales economy. Superman Returns was released with positive reviews, and grossed $391 million in worldwide box office totals. However, Warner Bros. was somewhat disappointed with the box office return, and the studio has announced their plans to reboot the Superman film series, with a new film released in 2011, although Brandon Routh is still set to return as Superman.

Superman has been missing for several years, having traveled to where astronomers believed they had discovered the remains of Krypton. During his absence, Lex Luthor was released from prison and married a rich widow to obtain her fortune upon her death. Superman returns to Earth and, as Clark Kent, resumes his job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis, and learns that Lois Lane has won the Pulitzer Prize for her article “Why the World Doesn't Need Superman”. Meanwhile, Luthor travels to the Fortress of Solitude and steals Kryptonian crystals. During an experiment with the crystals, Lex causes a worldwide power outage. The power loss interferes with the flight test of a space shuttle attached to a Boeing 777, occupied by Lois Lane who is covering the story. Clark flies into action as Superman and stops the plane from crashing onto a baseball stadium, which is full of spectators.

The world rejoices at Superman's return, but Lois is more concerned with the blackout. Clark later meets her fiance Richard White, nephew of Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White, and their son, Jason. Clark is emotionally hurt when he overhears a conversation between Lois and Richard in which she says she never loved Superman. He then stops a bank heist, and saves Kitty Kowalski, Luthor's co-conspirator. With Superman distracted, Luthor steals Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum of Natural History. Perry assigns Lois to interview Superman while Clark investigates the blackout. That night, Superman arrives at the Daily Planet and takes Lois for a flight, during which he apologizes for leaving her and tells her that, because of his superhuman hearing, he knows the world needs his protection.

Lois focuses her attention on the blackout again and ascertains its origin. Lois and Jason inadvertently board Luthor's ship and are captured. Luthor reveals to them his grand scheme of using one of the stolen Kryptonian crystals to grow a new continental landmass in the Northern Atlantic Ocean that will destroy much of Earth's existing continents, in the process killing billions of people and leaving him as the new landmass' owner. Seeing the effect of a Kryptonite sample on Jason, Luthor asks who Jason's father really is; after Lois asserts that the father is Richard, Luthor leaves to launch the crystal, which he has encased in green Kryptonite, into the sea. Under water, the crystal begins to create Luthor's new landmass. Lois faxes their co-ordinates to The Daily Planet and is attacked by a henchman. The henchman is crushed to death by a piano, which Jason shoves at him. Afterward, Lois and Jason are imprisoned in a kitchen galley. Luthor flies in his helicopter to the still forming continent. Meanwhile, Superman is attempting to minimize the destruction in Metropolis caused by the new landmass' growth when Richard arrives in a sea plane to rescue Lois and Jason. Superman soon arrives to help and then flies off to find Luthor.

Meeting Luthor, Superman discovers the landmass is filled with Kryptonite, which weakens him to the point that Luthor and his henchmen are able to beat him. Superman is stabbed by Luthor with a shard of Kryptonite and falls into the ocean. Lois makes Richard turn back to rescue Superman, whereupon she removes the Kryptonite from his back. Superman, after regaining his strength from the sun, lifts the landmass after putting layers of earth between him and the Kryptonite. Luthor and Kitty escape in their helicopter; Kitty, unwilling to let billions of people die, tosses away the crystals that Lex stole from the Fortress of Solitude. She and Luthor are stranded on a desert island when their helicopter runs out of fuel. Superman pushes the landmass into space, but is weakened by the Kryptonite and crashes back to Earth. Doctors remove more Kryptonite from Superman's wound, but after it is removed they cannot penetrate his skin with their surgical tools. While Superman remains in a coma, Lois and Jason visit him at the hospital where Lois whispers a secret into Superman's ear and then kisses him. Superman later awakens and flies to visit Jason, reciting Jor-El's last speech to Jason as he sleeps, the way his father did to him. Lois starts writing another article, titled “Why the World Needs Superman”. Superman reassures her that he is now back to stay, and flies off to low orbit, where he gazes down at the world once again.

Marlon Brando reprises his role of Jor-El from the 1978 film with the use of previous footage combined with computer-generated imagery. This required negotiations with Brando's estate for permission to have his footage used. Singer explained, "we had access to all of the Brando footage that was shot. There was unused footage that had Brando reciting poems, trailing off subject and swearing like a sailor." Kal Penn plays a small role of one of Luthor's henchman, Stanford. Jack Larson, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman, makes a cameo appearance as a bartender. Noel Neill, who portrayed Lois Lane in the television series, the 1948 serial and Atom Man vs. Superman, cameos as Gertrude Vanderworth. Richard Branson cameos as the pilot of the Virgin Galactic airship.

Director and producer Bryan Singer conceived the storyline of "Superman returning to Earth after a five year absence" during the filming of X-Men 2 (2003). He presented the idea to Lauren Shuler Donner and her husband Richard Donner, director of Superman (1978). Donner greeted Singer's idea with positive feedback. In March 2004, Warner Bros. was commencing pre-production on Superman: Flyby. McG was signed to direct with a script by J. J. Abrams. A target June 2006 theatrical release date was put in motion. However, McG dropped out in June 2004. Warner Bros. was aware of Singer's interest in making a Superman film. As Singer was preparing to leave for Hawaii on a short vacation with his writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris the same month of McG's departure, Warner Bros. asked him to pitch his idea for Superman Returns. While in Hawaii, Singer, Dougherty and Harris began to outline the film treatment. In July 2004, Singer signed on to direct and develop Superman Returns.

Although he was not a comic book fan, Singer was most impressed with Donner's 1978 film, citing it as an influence of his, Dougherty's and Harris's writing. Superman Returns reboots the Superman film series, but is also a continuation of Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980). With Singer's hiring, he dropped out of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and also had the Logan's Run remake pushed back. Superman Returns was financed 50/50 between Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, and pre-production began in November 2004. By February 2005, Dougherty and Harris had written six drafts of the script. Early versions of the script contained references to the September 11 attacks before they were removed.

Warner Bros. considered shooting Superman Returns at Warner roadshow studios in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. After filming, this could have been used as an attraction for the adjoining Warner Bros. Movie World theme park, but the idea was scrapped for being too expensive. Set construction started in January 2005 at Fox Studios Australia for the film's 60 setpieces, while the start date was pushed back for two weeks. In an attempt to avoid public attention, Superman Returns carried the fake working title of Red Sun during filming. Starting in late March 2005, principal photography lasted until November. Filming of Superman Returns in New South Wales constituted hiring thousands of local workers, generating over $100 million into the local economy. 80% of filming took place at Fox Studios Australia, occupying all nine sound stages. Scenes set in Smallville were shot at Tamworth, while the Australian Museum doubled for the Metropolis Museum of Natural History .

Superman Returns was shot using Panavision's Genesis digital camera. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Headquarters for the design of the Daily Planet. ESC Entertainment was originally set to design the visual effects sequences, but Warner Bros. replaced them with the hiring John Stetson from Sony Pictures Imageworks as the visual effects supervisor. A total of 1,400 visual effects shots were created. The script required a scene of Superman safely delivering a Boeing 777 in a baseball park. This would have been impossible to assemble the number of extras, thus computer-generated imagery was used. A second unit crew traveled to Dodger Stadium to photograph elements that were composited into the final images. Using footage from the original Superman (1978) film as a reference point, Marlon Brando was re-created by Rhythm & Hues using computer-generated imagery. The opening credits for Superman Returns are presented in a deliberate recreation of the style used for Superman, again to the accompaniment of John Williams' theme music.

Singer hired regular collaborator John Ottman as editor and film score composer months before the script was written. Ottman said in past interviews that John Williams, who composed the 1978 film, had influenced his decision to become a musician. He was both cautious and enthusiastic to work on Superman Returns. "Bryan said he wouldn't even greenlight the movie if he couldn't use the John Williams music." Ottman continued, "it was important for me to preserve the Williams theme right down to every single note for the opening titles." Ottman referred to his work on Superman Returns as a homage to, not a ripoff of Williams.

Entertainment Weekly first reported that the budget for Superman Returns was at $204 million. Adding in the financial services and pay or play contracts spent since the film's development from the early 1990s, the budget came to $263 million. Entertainment Weekly then claimed that with worldwide marketing costs, the final budget would come to $350 million. This would have made Superman Returns the most expensive film ever made at the time of its release. Singer later denied this report. In February 2006, Warner Bros. had put the budget at $184 million, "factoring in tax breaks offered in Australia". In a July 2006 interview with Newsweek, Singer quoted the final budget as $204 million. The following October, Warner Bros. placed the cost at $209 million, after factoring in tax rebates and incentives.

Warner Bros. promoted Superman Returns at 2005 San Diego Comic-Con International. Singer and screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris came up with the idea of publishing a prequel limited series, spanning four comic book issues. The stories were written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Marc Andreyko and Justin Gray, with artwork by Karl Kerschl and Matt Haley. During production, a series of "video diaries" on the Internet were released at BlueTights.net, showing behind-the-scenes work being done. After 27 installments, the video diaries stopped for a while shortly before the teaser trailer debuted on November 17, 2005. The main theatrical trailer premiered online on May 2, 2006. The trailer appeared in theatres on May 5, with prints of Mission: Impossible 3, while the international trailer came with prints The Da Vinci Code and X-Men: The Last Stand.

Warner Bros. made tie-in deals with General Mills, Burger King, Duracell, Pepsi, Doritos, Papa John's Pizza, 7-Eleven and Colgate. The film was also advertised with Red Bull Racing Formula One cars for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix; David Coulthard managed to get the team's first podium that day as well. On the podium, Coulthard also wore a Superman cape in celebration of his achievement. NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon also sported the "Man of Steel" look by promoting the movie on his #24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the 2006 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Troy Bayliss appeared in promotional "Superman" leathers and sported a cape on the podium following a win and a 2nd place at the 2006 Brands Hatch Superbike World Championship round on his way to winning that year's championship. The National Geographic Channel released The Science of Superman on June 29, 2006: a television special that studied popular science analogies with the Superman mythos. Singer admitted at 2006 Comic-Con International that was dissatisfied with the marketing and promotion. "A lot of people did their job, and a lot didn't".

Bryan Singer convinced Warner Bros. not to experiment with test screenings. In addition, Singer took out 15 minutes of footage after showing Superman Returns to some of his "trusted associates". The final theatrical time length ran at 154 minutes. To avoid early competition from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Warner Bros. moved the release date from June 30, to June 28. Superman Returns was released on June 28, 2006 in the United States and Canada in 4,065 theaters. The film ranked at the top in its opening weekend, accumulating $52,535,096. Within five days, Superman Returns took in $84.2 million, a new record for Warner Bros., beating out The Matrix Revolutions (2003). This has since been beaten with The Dark Knight (2008).

Superman Returns: An IMAX 3D Experience was released simultaneously in 111 IMAX format theatres worldwide, which included 20 minutes of converted 3-D film material. It was the first Hollywood full length live-action film to be released in this combined format. One of the key scenes Singer took out was "the Return to Krypton sequence". $10 million was spent on this sequence alone, but it was deleted. Singer noted that it could not be released as part of a DVD featurette because it was converted to IMAX 3D. He hoped it could have appeared in a IMAX reissue. The film's second week gross rapidly declined from the first week, due to the presence of Dead Man's Chest and The Devil Wears Prada. Superman Returns went on to gross $200.08 million in North America and $191 million internationally, earning $391.08 million worldwide. Domestically, the film was the sixth-highest grossing film of 2006. In worldwide totals, Superman Returns was ninth-highest.

Based on 249 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 77% of the reviewers enjoyed the film, while the 40 critics in its "Top Critics" group gave a 74% approval rating. By comparison, Metacritic received an average score of 72/100, based on 40 reviews. Richard Corliss of Time praised Superman Returns, calling it one of the best superhero films. He was mostly impressed with Singer's direction and the storyline. Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal also gave a positive review, but observed Routh's and Bosworth's acting was "somewhat dead or super average. Nothing special." Morgenstern believed Lex Luthor's characterization was "well written by the writers and well played by Kevin Spacey". He also praised Newton Thomas Sigel's cinematography and Guy Hendrix Dyas's production design.

However, Roger Ebert argued the film was a "glum, lackluster movie in which even the big effects sequences seem dutiful instead of exhilarating. Brandon Routh lacks charisma as Superman, and was probably cast in the role because he only physically resembles Christopher Reeve. Proof of this is the fact that Routh hardly speaks when donning the costume." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle felt that Warner Bros. should have rebooted the series along the lines of Batman Begins. He also felt Bosworth, at 22-years-old, was too young to portray Lois Lane, and the climax did not "match the potential of the tiring 154 minute long film".

Superman Returns was nominated for both the Academy Award for Visual Effects and BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects, but lost the nominations to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The film was successful at the 33rd Saturn Awards, winning Best Fantasy Film, and categories for Direction (Bryan Singer), Best Actor (Brandon Routh), Writing (Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) and Music (John Ottman). Kate Bosworth, Tristan Lake Leabu, James Marsden, Parker Posey, and the visual effects department were nominated for categories. However, Bosworth was also nominated a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress.

Superman Returns also appeared on Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time where it peaked at number 496.

To the top



Apt Pupil (film)

Aptpupilposter.jpg

Apt Pupil is a 1998 drama film directed by Bryan Singer and starring Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro. The screenplay by Brandon Boyce is adapted from a novella of the same name by Stephen King, originally published in Different Seasons (1982). The endings of the two works differ drastically, however.

In southern California in 1984, high school student Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) discovers that his elderly neighbor, Arthur Denker (Ian McKellen), is in reality a fugitive Nazi war criminal named Kurt Dussander . After threatening to turn him in, Bowden reveals that he is fascinated with the activities of the Nazis in WWII, and blackmails Dussander into entertaining him with gory tales of the death camps. He even orders a detailed replica uniform which he forces Dussander to wear. As he spends more time with the old man, the boy's grades suffer, he loses interest in his girlfriend, and he conceals his bad grades from his parents. In turn, the Nazi blackmails the young boy into studying to restore his grades, with threats to expose the boy's subterfuge and his dalliance with Nazism to his parents. Dussander even pretends to be Todd's grandfather in order to get him special permission to raise his grades. Talking about the war crimes affects both the old man and the young boy, and Dussander seems to gain satisfaction from attempts to kill animals in his gas oven. Dussander even appears to take great pride in Todd's unbelievable turnaround, going from near dropout to straight A's in a matter of weeks.

One night, Dussander tries to kill Archie (Elias Koteas), a hobo who has seen him in the uniform and tried to blackmail him, but he has a heart attack and calls Todd, who finishes the job, cleans up, and calls an ambulance for Dussander. At the hospital, Dussander is recognized by a death camp survivor sharing his room, and is arrested, pending extradition to Israel. Todd graduates valedictorian and gives a speech on the theme of Icarus, with the thesis that "All great achievements arose from dissatisfaction. It is the desire to do better, to dig deeper, that propels civilization to greatness." In a montage, this is juxtaposed with Dussander's home being searched and the hobo's corpse being found in the basement.

Todd is briefly questioned about his relationship with Dussander, but manages to convince the police that he knew nothing of the old man's true identity. At the hospital, Dussander hears a group of Neo-Nazis outside the hospital; realizing his identity has been hopelessly compromised, he commits suicide by giving himself an air embolism.

Todd then proceeds to blackmail his school counselor, French (David Schwimmer), who met Dussander and later learned he was not his grandfather, threatening to accuse him of making inappropriate sexual advances towards him.

Also cast in the film are Bruce Davison as Richard Bowden and Ann Dowd as Monica Bowden, Todd Bowden's parents. Other cast members are Elias Koteas as Archie, Dan Richler as Joe Morton, Isaac Weiskopf as Jan Triska, Ben Kramer as Michael Byrne, Becky Trask as Heather McComb, and Joshua Jackson as Joey. Mickey Cottrell also has an unnamed role as a sociology teacher.

Of the novellas from the collection Different Seasons, Apt Pupil is the antithesis of Stand by Me's hope and The Shawshank Redemption's "triumph of the spirit". Director Bryan Singer described the premise as a "study in cruelty". He referred to how young Todd Bowden's interactions with Nazi war criminal Kurt Dussander start to affect him, "I liked the idea of the infectious nature of evil... The notion that anybody has the capacity within them to be cruel if motivated properly is, I think, a scary concept." The director also perceived the film as not about the Holocaust, believing that the Nazi war criminal could have been replaced by one of Pol Pot's executioners or a mass murderer from Russia. "It wasn't about fascism or National Socialism. It was about cruelty and the ability to do awful deeds, to live with them and be empowered by them," Singer said.

When Stephen King's novella Apt Pupil was published as part of his collection Different Seasons in 1982, producer Richard Kobritz optioned feature film rights to the novella. Kobritz met with actor James Mason to play the novella's war criminal Kurt Dussander, but Mason passed away in July 1984 before production as a result of a heart attack. The producer also approached Richard Burton for the role, but Burton also passed away. By 1987, Nicol Williamson was cast as Dussander, and 17-year-old Rick Schroder was cast as Todd Bowden. In that year, Alan Bridges began direction of the film with a script co-written by Ken Wheat and his brother Jim Wheat. Ten weeks into filming, production suffered from a lack of funds from its production company Granat Releasing, and the film had to be placed on hold. Kubritz sought to revive production, but when the opportunity came a year later, Schroder had aged too considerably for the film to work. Forty minutes of usable footage was abandoned.

When you throw a cat in the oven, it's easy to have someone in the orchestra slam a hammer down on an anvil, scaring the hell out of everyone. The hard part is manipulating the story and accenting the characters. In the beginning, when Todd is laying down the rules, there's a certain repetitive thematic idea you hear. You hear the same music when Dussander is turning the tables on Todd, which makes you remember the first scene... You hope people are subliminally making the connection that the tables are turning back and forth.

Another scene in which Ottman meshed his editing and composing duties was when Dussander wakes up in the hospital with the television show The Jeffersons playing in the background. Ottman explained his intent for the scene, "I used The Jeffersons as this innocuous thing—going between him and the television—so that when he does open his eyes, it scares the hell out of you... I added this deafening Bartok pizz, which is when all the violins pluck their strings really loud and they create this gnarly, unsettling sound." Ottman recorded the film's score with the Seattle Symphony.

Bryan Singer filmed a shower scene at Eliot Middle School in Altadena, California in April 1997 and the young extras alleged that they were forced to become naked for the filming. A lawsuit was filed, and the local news shows and national tabloid programs stirred the controversy. A sexual crimes task force that included local, state, and federal personnel investigated the incident, and the Los Angeles District Attorney's office determined that there was no cause to file charges. The scene was filmed again with adult actors so the film could finish on time.

Bryan Singer previewed Apt Pupil at the Museum of Tolerance's L.A. Holocaust Center to assess feedback from rabbis and others about referencing the Holocaust. With a positive response, the director proceeded with the film's release. Apt Pupil was originally scheduled to be released in February 1998, but the film's distributor moved the release date to autumn, feeling that it belonged "alongside other more serious-minded films". It premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1998. It was then commercially released on October 23, 1998 in 1,448 theaters in the United States and Canada, grossing $3,583,151 on its opening weekend and placing ninth at the weekend box office. The film went on to gross $8,863,193 in the United States and Canada. Apt Pupil was less successful than Singer's previous film The Usual Suspects. The critics' consensus was that Apt Pupil was "a somewhat disturbing movie that works as a suspenseful thriller, yet isn't completely satisfying".

Roger Ebert, reviewing for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote that the film was well-made by Bryan Singer and well-acted, especially by Ian McKellen, but that "the film reveals itself as unworthy of its subject matter". The critic felt that the offensive material lacked a "social message" or an "overarching purpose" and found the film's later scenes to be "exploitative". Janet Maslin of The New York Times applauded the production value of Bryan Singer's direction, liking Newton Thomas Sigel's "handsomely shot" cinematography and John Ottman's "stunningly edited" work. Maslin wrote of McKellen and Renfro's performances, "Both actors play their roles so trickily that tensions escalate until the horror grows unimaginatively gothic." The critic felt that as the film approached the end, "the story's cleverness is noticeably on the wane".

Kathleen Murphy of Film Comment called McKellen and Renfro's performances "skin-crawling" but felt that it did not complete the film. Murphy wrote, " make you wish Apt Pupil had the art and the courage actually to look into evil's awful abyss." The critic perceived that Apt Pupil came off as a conventional horror film, that it had Stephen King's "characteristically unsavory" touches, and that the Singer's "inept" direction "trivialize the characters and the subject matter". Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly saw Apt Pupil as not a "hunted-Nazi thriller" nor a "full-tilt Stephen King thriller", but as a "student-teacher parable" that comes off as "disturbing". Schwarzbaum felt that Singer told "a story with serious moral resonance", though patience was needed to get past Singer's "more baroque cinematic touches" of "visual furbelows... and aural gimmicks" in the film, citing as examples Dussander watching Mr. Magoo on television or the musical piece Liebestod being blared during a bloody scene.

Renfro won the Best Actor award at the Tokyo International Film Festival for his performance in Apt Pupil. Ian McKellen won a Critics' Choice Award for Best Actor and a Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his performance in both Apt Pupil and Gods and Monsters. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films awarded a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor to McKellen for his performance and awarded the film a Saturn Award for Best Horror Film of 1998.

To the top



House (TV series)

HigherResolutionHouseMD.jpg

House, also known as House, M.D., is an American medical drama that debuted on the Fox network on November 16, 2004. The show was created by David Shore and executive produced by Shore and film director Bryan Singer. The show revolves around Dr. Gregory House (British actor Hugh Laurie), a cynical medical genius, who heads a team of diagnosticians at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH).

The show's premise was created by Shore, who got the idea for the curmudgeonly title character from a visit to a teaching hospital. Initially, producer Bryan Singer wanted an American to play House, but British actor Hugh Laurie's audition convinced him that a foreign actor could play the role. Shore wrote House as a character with parallels to Sherlock Holmes; both are drug users, aloof, and largely friendless. The show's producers wanted House disabled in some way, and gave the character a damaged leg arising from an improper diagnosis.

Dr. House often clashes with his boss, hospital administrator and Dean of Medicine, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), because his theories about a patient's illness tend to be based on subtle or controversial insights. House's only true friend is Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), head of the Department of Oncology. House's original diagnostic team consisted of Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer), Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), and Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps). In the fourth season, this team is disbanded and House gradually whittles down a field of forty applicants to a new team consisting of Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley (Olivia Wilde), Dr. Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson), and Dr. Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn). The original doctors still recur throughout the series, with Foreman featured most prominently out of the three.

House has received much critical acclaim and gained high ratings ever since its premiere. During the 2007–08 United States television season, the series was the most-watched scripted program on TV and the third-most-watched program overall, behind American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. The show has also received various awards and nominations, including a Peabody Award, two Golden Globe Awards and three Primetime Emmy Awards. In 2008, Shore announced that a spin-off, centering around a character introduced in House's fifth season will be created. As of 2009, House is in its fifth season.

In 2004 creator David Shore and executive producers Katie Jacobs and Paul Attanasio pitched House to Fox Broadcasting Company ("FOX") as a medical detective show; a hospital whodunit where the doctors would be the sleuths looking for the source of symptoms. FOX bought the show, however, then president Gail Berman stated that she did not "want to see white coats down the hallway". Once the pilot was sold, the idea of Dr. House was added. Shore traced the concept for House to his background as an inexperienced young doctor at a teaching hospital. Shore recalled that "I knew, as soon as I left the room, they would be mocking me relentlessly and I thought that it would be interesting to see a character who actually did that before they left the room." House was created under the working title Chasing Zebras, Circling the Drain. Shore originally intended for the show to be a CSI-type show where the "germs were the suspects", but has since shifted much of the focus to the characters rather than concentrating solely on the environment. A central part of the show's premise was that the main character would be disabled in some way. Initially, House was to be confined to a wheelchair, but FOX turned down this interpretation (for which the crew was later grateful.) The wheelchair became a scar on House's face, which later turned into a bad leg necessitating the use of a cane. Shore's ideas for House are inspired by the writings of Berton Roueché, a The New Yorker staff writer who chronicled intriguing medical cases, between 1940 and 1990.

Similarities between House and the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes appear throughout the series; Shore explained that he was always a Sherlock Holmes fan, and found the character's traits of indifference to his clients unique. The resemblance is evident in various elements of the series' plot, such as House's reliance on psychology to solve a case, his reluctance to accept cases he does not find interesting and House's home address (apartment 221B, the same number as Holmes' home). Other similarities between House and Holmes include the playing of an instrument (Holmes plays the violin, House the piano and guitar), drug addiction (House to Vicodin and Holmes to cocaine) and House's relationship with Dr. James Wilson, who parallels Dr. John Watson. Robert Sean Leonard, who portrays Wilson, has said that House and his character were originally intended to play the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the series although he believes that House's team has assumed the Watson role.

Various characters on the show have names similar to characters from the Sherlock Holmes universe, in the season two finale "No Reason", House is shot by a crazed gunman credited as "Moriarty", which is the same name as Holmes' nemesis. Also, the main patient in the pilot episode is named Rebecca Adler, after Irene Adler, a female character from the first Sherlock Holmes short story. David Shore has said that Dr. House's name is meant as "a subtle homage" to Sherlock Holmes (i.e., homes). In the season four episode "It's a Wonderful Lie", House receives a "second edition Conan Doyle" as a Christmas gift. In the Season 5 episode "Joy to the World", House receives a book by Joseph Bell (who served as inspiration for Sherlock Holmes), as a Christmas present from Wilson, along with a message that says "Greg, It made me think of you", Wilson also mentions a certain Irene Adler as the alleged sender of the present before he took credit for it.

House is a co-production of Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions, and Bad Hat Harry Productions in association with the NBC Universal Television Group for FOX. David Shore, the head of Shore Z Productions, Bryan Singer, the head of Bad Hat Harry Productions and Paul Attanasio and Katie Jacobs, the heads of Heel and Toe Films, serve executive producers for the show, since its first season, as well as Thomas L. Moran, who joined after the initial airing of the pilot episode. Russel Friend and Garret Lerner are executive producers from the second season onwards. As of the start of House's fifth season, lead actor Hugh Laurie also started working as an executive producer for the series. House was inspired by a monthly column called Diagnosis, written by Lisa Sanders, M.D., published in The New York Times Magazine. Sanders, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, was hired as a technical advisor to the show, along with two other technical advisors. Bobbin Bergstrom, who is a registered nurse in real life, works as a medical advisor for the show and has a small recurring role on the series as a nurse.

Producer Bryan Singer originally demanded that an American actor play the role of House; according to Singer, the more foreign actors he watched audition for the part, the more sure he was that an American was needed. At the time of the casting session, actor Hugh Laurie was filming the movie Flight of the Phoenix. He put together an audition tape of his own in a Namibian hotel bathroom, the only place with enough light, and apologized for its appearance (which Singer compared to a "bin Laden video"). Laurie improvised by using an umbrella for a cane. Singer was impressed by Laurie's performance and commented on how well the "American actor" was able to grasp the character, not realizing Laurie is British. After being cast for the part, Laurie, whose father Ran Laurie, was a doctor himself, said he felt guilty for "being paid more to become a fake version of my own father". Laurie later stated that his original impression was that the show was about Dr. James Wilson. The script referred to Wilson as a doctor with "boyish" looks, and Laurie assumed that Wilson was the central character and that House was the "sidekick" (the show was not yet titled House at that point). It was not until he received the full teleplay of the pilot that he realized that House was the protagonist.

Aside from having received the script for House, actor Robert Sean Leonard (Dr. James Wilson), had also received the script for the CBS show Numb3rs. He thought the script was "kind of cool" and planned to audition for the show. However, he changed his mind because the character he would portray, Charlie Eppes, was in too many scenes, as Leonard commented "The less I work, the happier I am". He didn't believe he auditioned well, but that his longtime friendship with Singer helped him get the part. Leonard already knew a lot about doctors, because his father, just like Laurie's father, was a doctor himself. Australian actor Jesse Spencer's agent suggested that Spencer audition for the role of Chase, but he was hesitant, fearing the show might be similar to General Hospital. Once the actor saw the scripts, he changed his mind; Spencer then persuaded the producers to change his character into an Australian. Omar Epps, who plays Dr. Eric Foreman on the show, says that he was inspired by his earlier portrayal of a troubled intern on the NBC medical drama ER.

In the season three finale, "Human Error", House fires Chase, while Foreman and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) both quit their jobs. Following these events, House is required to hire a new diagnostic team out of 40 applicants. As House randomly fires some of them, he narrows the group down to seven applicants; Travis Brennan (Andy Comeau), an epidemiologist, Jeffrey Cole (Edi Gathegi), a geneticist, a former Medical School Admissions Officer named Henry Dobson (Carmen Argenziano), Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn), a sports medicine specialist, Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson), a former plastic surgeon, Remy "Thirteen" Hadley (Olivia Wilde), an Internal medicine specialist and Amber Volakis (Anne Dudek), an interventional radiologist. Producers were originally planning to hire two new players full-time (with Foreman, who returned in "Mirror Mirror", adding the team back up to three members), but instead decided to hire three. The writers of the show fired a character in each episode, resulting in neither the producers nor the cast knowing who was going to be hired until the very last minute. As revealed in the episode "Games", House's new team consists of Dr. Kutner, Dr. Taub and Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley. None of the actors that were not hired have returned on the show since their departure. However, since the crew was so fond of Dudek, they hired her to recur until the season finale by writing Amber into the series as Wilson's girlfriend.

The show's title is shown with Dr. House watching through an MRI (a scene from the first episode of season 1). The opening sequence has a different background for each cast member's name. For instance, Omar Epps's name appears with a rib cage on the background, and Jesse Spencer's name is shown with a drawing of a spine in the background. Executive producer Katie Jacobs explained that the backgrounds don't have any "specific" meaning; however, the last shot, that says "Created by David Shore" on the neck of a body, explains that Shore is "the brain of the show". Originally, the producers of the show wanted to use shots of a cane and of a Vicodin bottle, but FOX did not agree with those, this resulting that, as a replacement, Jennifer Morrison's name has a shot of rowers on a lake in the background.

In North America (and some countries elsewhere) the opening theme of the series is "Teardrop" by Massive Attack. "Teardrop" has lyrics, sung by guest vocalist Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins; however, the version used in the opening credits uses only the beginning and ending sections, which are solely instrumental. The satirical British television show Dead Ringers, which sometimes spoofs House, uses "Teardrop" for the spoof's opening theme. In the fourth-season finale, an acoustic version of "Teardrop" performed by José González (with lyrics) is heard during the episode as part of the background music. The version was later made available as a free download via the music-sharing website Last.fm.

House episodes often use the "walk and talk" filming technique (also called "pedeconferencing") made popular by Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme in television series such as Sports Night and The West Wing. The technique consists of tracking two or more characters backwards as they walk from one location to another, usually discussing the topic of the meeting they are heading to, or in this show's case, the patient's condition, test results, and diagnosis. Executive producer Katie Jacobs said that the crew of House frequently uses the "walk and talk" technique because, as she explained "when you put a scene on the move, it’s a different way of creating an urgency and an intensity".

Exterior shots of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital are actually of Princeton University's Frist Campus Center (which is the University's student center) and the University of Southern California, although episode filming does not take place there. Instead, it takes place on the FOX lot in Century City, with the exception of the pilot episode, which was shot in Canada.

Gregory House, M.D., is an misanthropic medical genius who heads a team of diagnosticians at the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. Most episodes start with a cold open, or in medias res, somewhere outside the hospital, showing the events leading to the onset of symptoms for that episode's main patient. The episode follows the team in their attempts to diagnose and treat the patient's illness but most of the time they do not succeed until the patient is critical. House's world-renowned department typically only sees patients who have failed to receive a correct diagnosis, making the patient cases complex. Furthermore, House resists cases that he does not find interesting.

The team arrives at diagnoses using differential diagnosis, with House guiding the deliberations, using a whiteboard, on which he writes and strikes off possible symptoms and diseases with a marker. House often discounts and challenges the opinions of his team, pointing out that their contributions have missed various relevant factors. The patient is usually misdiagnosed over the course of the episode and treated with medications appropriate to the misdiagnosis. This usually causes further complications in the patient, but in turn helps lead House and his team to the correct diagnosis by using the new symptoms.

Often the ailment cannot be easily deduced because the patient has lied about symptoms and circumstances. House frequently mutters, "Everybody lies", or proclaims during the team's deliberations: "The patient is lying", or "The symptoms never lie". Even when not stated explicitly, this assumption guides House's decisions and diagnoses.

Because House's theories about a patient's illness tend to be based on an epiphany or controversial insights, he often has trouble obtaining permission from his boss, hospital administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy, to perform medical procedures he thinks are necessary, especially when the procedures themselves involve a high degree of risk or are ethically dubious. Often, he has to argue his controversial ideas to his team, specifically Dr. Allison Cameron, whose view in medical ethics are far more established than the rest of them.

Cuddy also requires House to spend time treating patients in the hospital's walk-in clinic so that the interactions will improve his bedside manner. House's grudging fulfillment of this duty or creative methods of avoiding it is a recurring subplot on the show. During clinic duty, House confounds patients with unwelcome insights into their personal lives, eccentric prescriptions and unorthodox treatments, but impresses them with rapid and accurate diagnoses after seemingly not paying attention. Realizations made during some of the simple problems House faces in the clinic often help him solve the main case.

Episodes frequently feature the practice of entering a patient's house with or without the owner's permission in order to search for clues that might suggest a certain pathology. Another large portion of the plot centers on House's abuse of Vicodin to manage pain stemming from an infarction in his quadriceps muscle some years earlier, an injury that forces him to walk with a cane. In the episode "Detox", House admits he is addicted to Vicodin, but says he does not have a problem because, " let me do my job, and they take away my pain." His addiction has led two of his colleagues, doctors James Wilson and Lisa Cuddy, to encourage him to go to drug rehabilitation several times, but no attempts have successfully gotten House off the drug. Sometimes when House does not have access to Vicodin, or when he perceives the Vicodin alone is not enough to relieve his pain, he self-medicates with other narcotic pain relievers such as oxycodone and morphine, and once, methadone.

During the first three seasons, House's Department of Diagnostic Medicine consists of three other doctors: Eric Foreman, Allison Cameron, and Robert Chase. At the end of the third season, Foreman announces his resignation, telling House, "I don't want to turn into you." Soon after, in the season three finale, House fires Chase saying that he has either learned everything he can, or he has not learned anything at all. Cameron subsequently resigns, having developed a soft spot for Chase. This leaves House without a team for the season four premiere.

At the end of the fourth season premiere, House considers forty new doctors for the Department of Diagnostic Medicine, assigning them all numbers from one to forty. Early episodes of season four focus on cases that House uses to narrow the forty applicants down to three new employees. He makes a reality TV-style game out of it using diagnostic cases as contests. He eventually eliminates thirty-seven of them, hiring Chris Taub, Lawrence Kutner, and Remy "Thirteen" Hadley as his new team members. Dr. Foreman rejoins the team after getting fired from a new job at a different hospital. Cuddy rehires Foreman at the same salary after she determines he won't be able to get a job anywhere else because he has become too much like House. Chase and Cameron are still employed at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH) in different departments although Wilson and Cuddy briefly attempt to convince House otherwise.

House's pilot gained various positive reviews, TV Guide's Matt Roush stated House was an "uncommon cure for the common medical drama". Critics of The A.V. Club called House the "nastiest" black comedy from FOX since the 1996's short-lived television series Profit. Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle described the show as a mixture of CSI:Crime Scene Investigation and ER. The New York Magazine called the series "medical TV at its most satisfying and basic", and stated that the cast consisted of " actors playing doctors who come to care about their patients", while The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert appreciated that the episode did not sugarcoat the flaws of the characters to assuage viewers' fears about "HMO factories". In a recap of the show's pilot, Variety's Brian Lowry said that House was a "A well-made medical hour with an intriguing star". Critics considered the series to be a bright spot among FOX's otherwise reality show-based broadcast schedule.

Critics reacted positively to the character of Gregory House. Tom Shales of The Washington Post called him "the most electrifying character to hit television in years". With Barbara Wellner, entertainment vice chair of the Television Academy activities committee, calling him "the most terminally malcontent television doctor since Ben Casey". Critics have compared Dr. House to Adrian Monk, Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe and Perry Cox. In 2005, House was selected as the number 9 primetime show among women; that same year, Laurie appeared on the cover of TV Guide as "TV's Sexiest Man". In 2008, House was voted second sexiest television doctor ever, behind Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney), from ER. Hugh Laurie's performance of the character was praised by critics. San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman said "Laurie is in short, about the only reason to watch House". Gabrielle Donnelly of The Daily Mail said that because of Laurie's complex personality he was "perfectly cast" for the part of House.

Throughout its run, House has been included in various top ten lists, these are listed below in order of rank.

Since its premiere House has been a ratings hit, having an average 13.3 million viewers per episode during its first season. The show had an average 17.3 million viewers during its second season, and had a 19.4 million viewers average for its third season. The show's fourth season was ranked seventh, with an average nielsen rating of 16.2 million viewers per episode. The most-watched episode of House to date is the season four episode "Frozen", the episode that followed Super Bowl XLII. It attracted slightly more than 29 million viewers. It was ranked third for the week, tied with that week's seventh season episode of American Idol (also on FOX) and outranked only by the Super Bowl game and the Super Bowl post-game show.

Below is a table of the seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of House on FOX.

House has received many awards and nominations. The show received a 2005 Peabody Award for what the Peabody board called an "unorthodox lead character – a misanthropic diagnostician" and for "cases fit for a medical Sherlock Holmes," both of which helped make House "the most distinctive new doctor drama in a decade." The American Film Institute (AFI), included House in their 2005 list of 10 Television Programs of the Year. The show has also been nominated for various Golden Globe Awards, Hugh Laurie has received the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama in 2006 and again in 2007. But it was not until 2008, when the show was first nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series - Drama, however, the award was won by Mad Men. House received nominations in the same two categories the following year, but failed to win any.

For the first season episode "Three Stories", creator David Shore won a writing Emmy in 2005 and the Humanitas Prize in 2006. Writer Lawrence Kaplow won a Writers Guild of America Award in 2006 for his season two episode "Autopsy". House was also honoured by the Screen Actors Guild, awarding Laurie the 2007 and 2008 awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series. In 2005, 2007, and 2008, Laurie was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. The Emmy board also nominated House for Outstanding Drama Series in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but the show has not yet won the award.

Rumors of a spin-off of the series began in 2008, when TV Guide's Michael Ausiello reported that a private investigator introduced during House's fifth season would be getting his own show if he was "embraced" by the audience. In May that same year, IGN reported that this character would be portrayed by Michael Weston, with The Hollywood Reporter saying that the character would be named Lucas Douglas and would be "as intelligent but not as abrasive as Dr. House". The rumors were confirmed by Entertainment Weekly and Blog Critics. In a late 2008 interview with The Star-Ledger, creator David Shore confirmed plans about the spinoff and said that it would be inspired by The Rockford Files.

House M.D. Original Television Soundtrack was released on September 18, 2007, by Nettwerk. The soundtrack includes full length versions of songs featured in the television series and previously unreleased songs especially recorded for the series. There was also a House game for mobile phones released by Exelweiss, in Spanish and English. American Apparel 100% cotton T-shirts with the phrase "Everybody Lies" printed on them were sold in limited numbers from April 23 to April 30, 2007. The shirts were sold for $19.95 apiece on Housecharitytees.com, and proceeds went to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

To the top



Christopher McQuarrie

Christopher McQuarrie (born 1968) is an Academy Award-winning American screenwriter, producer and director.

McQuarrie was born and raised in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, where he attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South with director Bryan Singer and actor Ethan Hawke. In lieu of college he took a job working as an assistant teacher at a boarding school in Perth, Western Australia, and later hitchhiked around the western half of the continent. Returning to the United States a year later, he went to work for a detective agency in New Jersey for the next four years. In 1992, he applied to the New York City Police Department and was on his way to the academy when former schoolmate Singer offered him the opportunity to write their first feature film, Public Access, winner of the 1993 Sundance Film Festival’s grand jury prize.

Singer and McQuarrie collaborated again on the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, for which McQuarrie received best screenplay awards from Premiere magazine, The Texas Board of Review, and the Chicago Critics as well as the Edgar Award, The Independent Spirit Award, and the British and American Academy Awards. The film was later included on the New York Times list of the 1000 greatest films ever made, and the character Verbal Kint was included on AFI’s list of the 100 greatest Heroes and Villains of all time. In 2006, the Writers Guild of America voted The Usual Suspects #35 on their list of 101 Greatest Screenplays.

McQuarrie also wrote and directed The Way of the Gun, starring Benicio del Toro, Ryan Phillippe, and James Caan. Despite a desire to move away from the crime genre, it was the only arena in which he could find any creative control. He set out to make a crime film about truly "criminal" criminals – a revisionist modern-day Western populated with multi-layered characters whose actions are not motivated by backstories contrived to make them endearing and sympathetic. He also rejected the stylized approach that had come to define the action-crime genre – choosing instead to rely on story and performance. The film failed to live up to the acclaim of McQuarrie’s earlier films.

More recently McQuarrie has developed a script with co-writer Dylan Kussman about the life of John Wilkes Booth, and The Last Mission with co-writer Nathan Alexander detailing the harrowing last hours of WWII in the Pacific.

He wrote and produced Valkyrie, which opened on December 25, 2008. The story is based on the real-life July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The script was co-written with Nathan Alexander. The pair had access to members of the Stauffenberg family as well as a book written by Fabian von Schlabrendorff - a conspirator who survived. While doing research for the screenplay, they also spoke to with Hitler's bodyguard. In an interview, McQuarrie talked about how the plot succeeded in one key respect; despite the conspirators' obvious failure to kill Hitler, one of their objectives was also for history to reflect that they tried so the world would know that not all of Germany or its military was sympathetic to Hitler. The film stars Tom Cruise and is directed by Bryan Singer.

In 2008 he will produce and direct The Stanford Prison Experiment, co-written with Tim Talbott. He is also working with Dylan Kussman on a script about John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln assassination conspiracy.

To the top



X-Men (film series)

XtrilogyDVD.jpg

The X-Men film series is a series of superhero films based on the fictional Marvel Comics team of the same name. The films star an ensemble cast, focusing on Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, as he is drawn into the conflict between Professor Xavier and Magneto, who have opposing views on humanity's relationship with mutants: Xavier believes humanity and mutants can coexist, but Magneto believes a war is coming, and intends to fight. The films also developed subplots based on the comics' Weapon X and Dark Phoenix storylines.

20th Century Fox earned the film rights to the characters in 1994, and after numerous drafts, Bryan Singer was hired to direct X-Men (2000) and returned for X2 (2003). He left a potential third and fourth film to direct Superman Returns, leaving Brett Ratner to direct X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Critics praised Singer's films for their dark, realistic tone, and subtexts dealing with discrimination and intolerance, but Ratner's film was met with mixed reviews. Nonetheless, each film outgrossed the last, and Fox are developing spin-off prequels. The X-Men films are also attributed as leading to a reemergence of superhero films in the 2000s, such as the Spider-Man film series.

In 1994, 20th Century Fox and producer Lauren Shuler Donner bought the film rights to the X-Men. Andrew Kevin Walker was hired to write, and James Cameron expressed interest in directing. Bryan Singer signed on to direct in July 1996. Though not a fan of the comic, he was fascinated by the analogies of prejudice and discrimination offered by it. John Logan, Joss Whedon, Ed Solomon, Christopher McQuarrie and David Hayter wrote the script, with Hayter receiving sole credit. Filming took place from September 22, 1999 to March 3, 2000 in Toronto.

The first X-Men film introduced Wolverine and Rogue into the conflict between Professor Xavier's X-Men, and the Brotherhood of Mutants, led by Magneto. Magneto intends to mutate world leaders at a United Nations summit with a machine he has built, to bring about acceptance of mutantkind, but Xavier realizes this forced mutation will only result in their deaths.

Fox hired David Hayter and Zak Penn to write their own scripts for the sequel which Singer would pick, with an aim to release the film in December 2002. The story was inspired by X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, though the character of Stryker was changed from a reverend to a colonel. Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris were hired to re-write the script in February 2002, writing around 26 drafts and 150 on set. Production began on June 17, 2002 in Vancouver and wrapped by November, with the release moved to May 1, 2003.

In the film, Colonel William Stryker questions the imprisoned Magneto about Professor Xavier's mutant-locating machine, Cerebro. Stryker attacks the X-Mansion, and brainwashes Xavier into locating every mutant on the planet to kill them. The X-Men must team up with the Brotherhood and prevent Stryker's worldwide genocide. Wolverine discovers that Stryker has links to his mysterious past, and was responsible for the bonding of adamantium to his skeleton.

Bryan Singer wanted to shoot the third film back-to-back with a fourth. On July 16, 2004, he left to direct Superman Returns, having only completed a third of a treatment focusing on Phoenix, and introducing Emma Frost, a role intended for Sigourney Weaver. In addition, Singer also wanted to showcase more characterizations of Rogue, Iceman and Pyro. Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn were hired the following month, and a studio executive read Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men story "Gifted", featuring a mutant cure, suggested it be the primary story. Matthew Vaughn came on board as director in February 2005, but left due to the rushed production schedule. Brett Ratner took over in June, and filming began on August 2, 2005.

A pharmaceutical company has developed an antidote to the mutant gene, provoking controversy in the mutant community. Magneto declares war, and has his own weapon: the omnipotent telekinetic and telepathic Phoenix, who is the resurrected former X-Man, Jean Grey. Phoenix kills Cyclops and Xavier, and Wolverine must face being a core member of the X-Men.

Each X-Men film was more expensive than the last, with larger salaries and more spectacular visual effects. Fox chose the "divide and conquer" route for the franchise with multiple spin-off prequels focusing on Wolverine, Magneto, the young X-Men, while director David O. Russell expressed interest in a film about Emma Frost. Vinnie Jones, who played the Juggernaut, has said he would like to reprise his role in a spin-off, as he felt there was too little time in The Last Stand to imbue the character with depth.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine, due for release on May 1, 2009, is directed by Gavin Hood and again stars Jackman as Wolverine. It is a prequel focusing on the character and his time with Team X, before his skeleton was bonded with the indestructible metal adamantium. The film was mostly shot in Australia and New Zealand. David Benioff began writing the film in October 2004. The film also introduces Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) and Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), for whom Fox is developing spin-offs.

In December 2004, 20th Century Fox hired screenwriter Sheldon Turner to draft a spin-off X-Men film, and he chose to write Magneto, pitching it as "The Pianist meets X-Men." In April 2007, David S. Goyer was hired to direct. Turner said the script was set from 1939 to 1955, and it follows Magneto trying to survive in Auschwitz. He meets Xavier, a soldier, during the liberation of the camp. He hunts down the Nazi war criminals who tortured him, and this lust for vengeance turns him and Xavier into enemies.

The film was planned to shoot in Australia for a 2009 release, but it was delayed by the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike. In April 2008, concept art, including one of a younger Beast, was being designed. In June 2008, the X-Men Origins prefix also applied to Wolverine was confirmed, and the project was seeking approval to film in Washington, D.C. By December 2008, Goyer said filming would begin if Wolverine was successful. The story was moved forward to 1961, and involves Xavier and Magneto battling a villain.

In May 2006, Ian McKellen said he would reprise the role using the computer-generated facelift applied to him in the prologue of X-Men: The Last Stand. Lauren Shuler Donner stated that the film would need McKellen to anchor the story, which would take place in flashbacks. With Goyer's hiring in 2007, it was said actors in their twenties would play the characters. McKellen reiterated his hope to open and close the film in July 2008.

In 2007, Zak Penn revealed he was attached to direct a spin-off. He explained, "The original idea was to have me do a young X-Men spin-off, a spin-off of the young X-Men characters. But someone came up with a pretty interesting idea it was this guy who worked with me named Mike Chamoy, he worked a lot with me on X3. He came up with how to do a young X-Men movie which is not what you'd expect." Penn later compared the idea to X-Men: First Class. In May 2008, Josh Schwartz joined the project. Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg will produce. In July, Fox filed the title X-Men: First Class with Production Weekly.

Each of the films set opening records in the United States: X-Men had the highest July opening yet, while X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand earned the fourth highest opening weekends yet. All of these records have since been surpassed. X-Men: The Last Stand and X2 rank as the seventh and eighth most successful superhero films, while X-Men is thirteenth. The third, second and first films are the fifth, sixth and seventh most successful Marvel Comics adaptations, as well as overall the seventh, eighth and fifteenth most successful comic book adaptations. It is Marvel's second most successful film series after the Spider-Man films.

The X-Men films received good reviews from fans of the comic books, but there was criticism of the large cast, and the limited screentime for all of them. Richard George of IGN praised the depictions of Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto, Jean Grey and William Stryker, and was also pleased with the portrayals of Mystique, Beast and Nightcrawler. However, George felt many of the younger X-Men characters, such as Rogue and Iceman, were "adjectiveless teenager", and was disappointed by Cyclops and Storm's characterizations. He observed the filmmakers were "big fans of silent henchmen", due to the small roles of the various villainous mutants; such as Lady Deathstrike. George felt that the success of X-Men "paved the way for other hits like the Spider-Man series, Fantastic Four, V for Vendetta and Singer's own adaptation of Superman." Spider-Man director Sam Raimi said he was a fan of the series, particularly Singer's films. Film historian Kim Newman also tonally compared Batman Begins to Singer's films.

On June 1, 2000, Marvel published a comic book prequel to X-Men, entitled X-Men: Beginnings, revealing the backstories of Magneto, Rogue and Wolverine. There was also an adaptation of the film. Marvel also released an adaptation of X2, which also contained prequels detailing Nightcrawler's backstory and Wolverine's time searching for Alkali Lake. Del Rey Books also published novelizations of the three films. The latter two were written by Chris Claremont. In 2006, X-Men: The Official Game was released, which was set between X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand.

To the top



Lion's Den (film)

Lion's Den is a 1988 short film directed by Bryan Singer, his first film as a director. The film is about five guys meeting up at their old hang-out spot after finishing their first semester of college. The film is 25 minutes in length. Ethan Hawke who had known Bryan Singer as a kid in New Jersey agreed to star in it at the same time he was filming Dad with Jack Lemmon. The film was edited and also co-directed by John Ottman.

To the top



Source : Wikipedia