Josh Rottenberg

April 24, 2015 | 8:00 a.m.

With Arnold on board, ‘Terminator Genisys’ aims to freshen the franchise

"Terminator Genisys" actors Jai Courtney, left, Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Clarke are photographed at The London in West Hollywood on March 22, 2015. (Christina House / For The Times)
Emilia Clarke wasn’t even born when “The Terminator” came out in 1984. Nor, for that matter, was Jai Courtney. Jason Clarke was a 15-year-old high schooler in Australia, a world away from Hollywood but the ideal age to have his mind blown by director James Cameron’s story of a murderous cyborg from the future. As for Arnold Schwarzenegger, well, he was the Terminator — and he warned us from the start that he’d be back. FULL COVERAGE: Summer Movie Sneaks The four lead actors in Paramount Pictures’ summer release “Terminator Genisys” came to the project from vastly different backgrounds. But each signed on knowing they were assuming the mantle of one of the most venerable science-fiction franchises in film history, a series that, like the Terminator himself, has taken a licking and kept on ticking over three decades and four films, […]
April 20, 2015 | 4:30 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration shows the Force remains irresistible

Star Wars fans gather in costume for photos during the Star Wars Celebration held April 16-19 at the Anaheim Convention. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Some came dressed as Stormtroopers. Some got R2-D2 tattoos. Some underwent Jedi training or stood in long lines for autographs ($125 for Mark Hamill but just $50 for Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca). But like the Millennium Falcon in the grip of the Death Star tractor beam, the estimated 60,000 fans who attended the four-day Star Wars Celebration that ended Sunday were inexorably drawn to the Anaheim Convention Center for the same purpose: to share their passion for all things “Star Wars” and catch an early glimpse of the franchise’s next chapter. Before the event, “Star Wars” fans had many more questions than answers about the future of the nearly 40-year-old franchise, with the first new “Star Wars” film in a decade, “Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” due in theaters Dec. 18. “We’re really in uncharted waters,” said Eric Geller, […]
April 19, 2015 | 8:52 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Billy Dee Williams insists he’s no smooth operator

Billy Deel Willaims, who played Lando Calrissian in the original "Star Wars" trilogy," spoke on the final day of Star Wars Celebration. Above, the actor is seen in 2001. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
For his panel Sunday afternoon at Star Wars Celebration, Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back” and 1983’s “Return of the Jedi,” was billed as the “Baron of Smooth.” But as he took the stage at the Anaheim Convention Center on the final day of the fan expo, the actor insisted that – notwithstanding Calrissian’s undeniable suaveness and those old Colt 45 commercials – his reputation for smoothness was overstated. “I don’t know why everybody thinks I’m smooth,” said Williams, who turned 78 this month. “I think I’m just a pretty silly person, really.” Fans listened respectfully throughout an hourlong conversation as Williams talked about his early roles in films such as “Brian’s Song” and “Lady Sings the Blues,” his more recent stint on “Dancing With the Stars” and his love of painting. But […]
April 19, 2015 | 1:17 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Gareth Edwards reveals ‘Rogue One’ plot details

Director Gareth Edwards discussed "Star Wars: Rogue One" on the final day of Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
Just days after releasing the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Lucasfilm pulled back the curtain a little more on the future of the franchise at a Sunday morning panel at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, offering a sneak peek at the first of a series of spinoff films, “Star Wars: Rogue One.” While details were scant — the film is still in pre-production and isn’t due in theaters until December 2016 — director Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”), joined onstage by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, revealed that the plot centers on a small band of rebel soldiers (including actress Felicity Jones) who unite on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The film is set between the last of the prequels, “Revenge of the Sith,” and the original 1977 “Star Wars,” making it essentially “Episode 3.5” […]
April 17, 2015 | 7:53 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Emperor Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid recalls ‘Return of the Jedi’

"Star Wars" actor Ian McDiarmid, pictured at Skywalker Ranch in San Rafael, Calif., on May 4, 2005. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
“And I thought you hated me,” actor Ian McDiarmid quipped as he took the stage to raucous applause for a Q&A at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention Thursday in Anaheim. Granted, McDiarmid played the most purely evil character in the entire “Star Wars” universe: Emperor Palpatine, the gravelly voiced Sith lord who corrupted Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker and turned him to the dark side of the Force. But at a love-fest like Celebration, all is forgiven, and fans were happy to hear the 70-year-old McDiarmid reminisce for an hour about his work on 1983’s “The Return of the Jedi” and the three prequels that later followed. The Scottish McDiarmid, who has spent the greater portion of his career acting on the stage, recounted the story of how he was first cast in the role more than 30 years ago. […]
April 17, 2015 | 4:30 a.m.

Star Wars Celebration: ‘The Force Awakens’ has fans feeling like kids again

Fans attend Star Wars Celebration 2015 on April 16n Anaheim, California.  (Jesse Grant / Getty Images for Disney)
Thousands of die-hard “Star Wars” fans — more than a few bearing lightsabers and clad in homemade costumes — came into the opening panel at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention in Anaheim with three big questions. Would J.J. Abrams, director of the highly anticipated “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens,” show a new trailer? Would Harrison Ford — still recovering from injuries sustained in a plane crash last month — make his first-ever appearance at a “Star Wars” convention? And would fresh plot details about the new film — not hitting theaters until Dec. 18, an excruciatingly long wait for the faithful — finally be unveiled? The answers were yes, no and, as Yoda might say, “Patience, young Skywalker.” In a presentation Thursday morning at the Anaheim Convention Center that was heavy on nostalgia for the much-loved nearly […]
April 16, 2015 | 4:00 a.m.

Fandom’s force awakens at Star Wars Celebration, and Disney knows it

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas poses with a group of "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters on Aug. 14, 2010 at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida. (Todd Anderson / Getty Images)
“Star Wars,” the space-opera franchise that revolutionized the movie business and spawned a sprawling multi-billion-dollar multimedia empire, is back with a renewed force. “Star Wars Episode VII,” the first new “Star Wars” film in a decade, won’t hit theaters until Dec. 18. But the countdown begins in earnest Thursday, when grown men in Stormtrooper costumes, suburban moms dressed as Princess Leia and kids done up as cuddly Ewoks will descend in droves on the Anaheim Convention Center for the Star Wars Celebration fan convention. It marks a pivotal moment for one of the most lucrative series in film history — and for Walt Disney Co., which paid $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” franchise from creator George Lucas in 2012. Star Wars Celebration: Trailer unveiled | Watch the live stream | Fans gather | Preview Disney is […]
Feb. 11, 2015 | 4:30 a.m.

Spider-Man: Sony deal could reshape Marvel’s cinematic universe

Spider-Man will appear with his Marvel comic book cohorts before beginning a new film franchise. (Niko Tavernise / Columbia Pictures)
Spider-Man first swung into the imaginations of comic book readers more than 50 years ago in the pages of “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15. The character soon became Marvel’s icon of the Silver Age, appearing not only in comics but also on television, video games and even migrating to Broadway. Now, he’s poised for new life on the big screen — and he’s under new management. Under a deal revealed Monday, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will have an opportunity to reframe the iconic character, bringing Spidey into Marvel’s blockbuster cinematic universe before the hero goes spinning back to anchor his own franchise for Sony Pictures, his movie home since 2002. Feige’s expanded involvement in Spider-Man’s movie future might be the best thing to happen to Peter Parker since Mary Jane Watson moved in next door. The architect of Marvel’s movie […]
July 28, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

Comic-Con 2014: Hollywood stirs fan fervor to the very end

If Hollywood seemed a tad quieter than normal this past weekend, there was a good reason: Like moths to a porch light — or Batman to the Bat Signal — film and television creators, executives and stars were drawn en masse to downtown San Diego in an effort to drum up excitement for their upcoming wares at the annual Comic-Con International pop-culture expo. The unveiling of the first footage from the highly anticipated superhero mash-up “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and an extended early glimpse at “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” may have sent the biggest reverberations through the four-day film, television, video-game and comic-book fest. But there was plenty of other news to stir the excitement of the 130,000 or so convention-goers who descended upon the San Diego Convention Center, many decked out in costume, to watch exclusive […]
July 27, 2014 | 10:14 a.m.

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: George Miller on car crashes, Tom Hardy’s animal magnetism

Tom Hardy as Max in a scene from "Mad Max: Fury Road." 
(Jason Boland / Warner Bros)
In the 35 years since Australian director George Miller made his debut with a gritty, high-octane post-apocalyptic action film called “Mad Max,” his road has taken many a twist and turn. The shoestring-budgeted “Mad Max” launched its star, Mel Gibson, to worldwide fame and spawned two hit sequels — 1981’s “The Road Warrior” and 1985’s “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” — and Miller went on to make such varied films as “The Witches of Eastwick,” “Lorenzo’s Oil,” “Babe: Pig in the City” and “Happy Feet.” Now, much to his surprise, Miller’s road has led him back to the “Mad Max” franchise, which he is rebooting with “Mad Max: Fury Road,” starring Tom Hardy — in the role Gibson originated — along with Charlize Theron. Hero Complex caught up with Miller just hours after footage from the film, which opens May 15, 2015, was greeted with raucous applause at Warner Bros.’ Comic-Con International panel. Hero […]
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