Dark Shadows poster

The first trailer for Dark Shadows, the big-screen adaptation of the 1970s campy cult gothic soap opera was released this weekend by Warner Bros. The movie is set to open in the U.S. on May 11.

Johnny Depp has coveted playing the role of the romantically doomed vampire Barnabas Collins for years and used his considerable Hollywood heft to get this project green lighted.

A collaboration of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, the film is a period comedy set in 1972 – equal parts Beetlejuice and Austin Powers, it’s 100% campy comedy.

Joining Depp in starring roles are Eva Green (The Golden Compass, Casino Royale, Camelot) as the witch, Angelique Bouchard, Michelle Pfeiffer (Stardust, Witches of Eastwick, Wolf) as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Jonny Lee Miller (Æon Flux, Eli Stone, Dexter) as Roger Collins, Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter series, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeny Todd) as Dr. Julia Hoffman, and Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Shutter Island) as Willie Loomis.

Actors with Cameo parts in the film include Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper.


Press release from the studio below:


In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family.

Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet–or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine.

The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green).

A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972.

He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.

Also residing in the manor is Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins, (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath).

The mystery extends beyond the family, to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.

Created in 2010 by co-directors Kimberly Knoll and YungHan Chang, two students at San Jose State university, the short animated film No Robots (the full video included below) is such high-quality visual storytelling, it’s hard to believe it was made by students.

No Robots

“This is my first animation project,” YungHan Chang said in a blog post. The native of Taiwan is studying film and animation at SJSU.

“We gathered a big group of our friends at San Jose State, and together we made this film happen,” Knoll said on her own blog. “It took 6 months to complete.”

Although a director on this piece, her passion lies in drawing the background settings in animated stories – creating the rooms that are filled by the story. “ Unfortunately as a director, I didn’t have much time to contribute much artwork for the movie,” she said.

The one scene she did create was the scene before the final credits. “This scene was the most difficult to color, because I had to make it warm and inviting while sticking with the overall color scheme of the film, green. I decided to go for the blue-green light of the exterior and split compliment for the interior,” she said.

One of the artists who worked with Knoll on the backgrounds was fellow student, Joe Tirasuwan. “ I had a chance to work on the backgrounds of the film. Pencil and painted by myself,” he said, using colors as decided by Knoll. His work, and others’, is included in the gallery at the bottom of this article.

“I was in charge of color and lighting, and leading the over all look of the animation, along with the production designers Tim Tang and Corwin Herse-Woo,” Knoll said. “This was the first time Corwin (production designer) and I had ever done a color script and it was one of the most challenging aspects of the film.”

Being an artist and coordinating a team of other artists presented unexpected challenges for Knoll.

“We created the rough color guides on the top left, and as production began, we realized that the color guides were not clear enough for the background artists. Since we had a few artists for each act, the color between shots were not congruent,” She said. “To tie all the shots together, I painted over each background to clearly define the pattern of the colors and the light.”

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Paul Newman died today from complications of cancer. He was 83. He also was an Oscar-winning actor, a philanthropist, a Democrat (he was a delegate to the 1968 convention in Chicago) and a Grade-A Hollywood Hunk.

This past summer one of the classic movie channel was playing the 1958 film Long Hot Summer while I was reading a book. I looked up and saw one of the most gorgeous men I’ve ever seen. Of course it was 33-year-old Paul Newman oozing sex appeal right out of the big-screen TV.

Most of us alive today – if we know him – only know him as an elderly actor or as the guy who sells salad dressing at the local Safeway or Kroger store.

But, as attested by the photos below. He also was a hottie in his day.

A trip to Target the weekend before Halloween to get cat food and shampoo ended up with Rich and me spending close to PlanetTerrorExtendedAndU12569_f$200 in a mini-shopping spree – including two more DVDs to add to our collection of more than 700 discs. We each picked one movie.


The first was my pick: Planet Terror, directed by Robert Rodriguez. I love most of his films – and thing that Sin City was a masterpiece, about as perfect a comic-to-film movie as has ever been made. It’s a campy zombie film that parodies 1970s exploitation flicks. The star, Rose McGowan is hilarious and very good. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen a bad Rose McGowan film. I love this gory, witty and wry movie.



The second film was Rich’s choice: Transformers, directed by Michael Bay. His films are hit-and-miss, although I really enjoyed The Island more than I though I would. We bought it and until tonight we had not popped it into the DVD player. I was too old to be taken in by the Transformers toy allure in the 1980s, and this film was always a sort of, “ehh…” for me when it came out. But then, again it co-stars Josh Duhamel; both Rich and I are big fans of his.

Then we watched it. It was horrible. Duhamel was OK – actually he was quite good, but he scenes he was in looked like they were from a different film than the rest of this god awful movie. Something tells me this DVD will be quickly heading to the trade-in bin at my local used book store.

For this week of 2005 film making, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper review the following films new to U.S. and Canadian theatres:

  • In Her Shoes, directed by Curtis Hansen and starring Cameron Diaz, Shirley MacLaine and Toni Collete
  • Waiting …, written and directed by Rob McKittrick and starring Ryan Reynolds and Justin Long
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, claymation animated
  • Good Night, and Good Luck, written and directed by George Clooney and starring David Strathairn and Robert Downey Jr.
  • Two for the Money, directed by D.J. Caruso and starring Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey.
  • The Gospel, written and directed by Rob Hardy and starring Clifton Powell.

Synopsis of their thoughts:

In Her Shoes – Ebert: Thumbs up; Roeper: Thumbs up
Ebert: Says the film is “very, very well made.” The first actor he notes is Shirley MacLaine, who gives a “wonderful” performance as the grandmother to Diaz and Collette, who he said also turn in strong performances. Ebert also likes how the film didn’t sentimentalize old people, but treated them like fully fleshed out individuals.
Roeper: Great performance from Diaz who has developed a recent habit of overplaying her persona on screen. “It’s great film; it’s well done.” He said all of the subplots of the film are just as believable as the main thread of the story.

Waiting… – Ebert: Thumbs Down; Roeper: Thumbs down
Roeper: Said he was “waiting for this alleged comedy to end” so he could get on with his life. Says Reynolds was in his “Chevy Case-lite” mode (think Van Wilder). He says writer/director Rob McKittrick is obsessed with homophobic jokes. He said the really offensive part of that is that his jokes aren’t even funny.
Ebert: Says this film lends credence to his theory that any film with “three dots in the title usually aren’t very good.” He didn’t have much else to say about the film.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – Ebert: Thumbs up; Roeper: Thumbs down
Ebert: He called it “gentle, whimsical, funny and endlessly inventive” and went on to say it was as much fun for gownups as for children.
Roeper: In the first tiff with Ebert of the show, Roeper says “right here baby” and gives the claymation tale bad rating. He basically said the premise is better as a short, but as a feature lenghth product it bored him, calling it “slightly amusing.” But says to catch it on video on on pay TV, but don’t waste $10 to see it in a theatre.

Good Night, and Good Luck – Ebert: Thumbs up, Roeper: Thumbs up
Roeper: Called it one of the most insightful and intelligent movies made about the television news business. Says Straithern gave the performance of his career, portaying Edward R. Murrow. He called Clooney’s direction and set choices perfect for portraying the time in which the film is set.
Ebert: Agreed with a big thumbs up. Said the film did not get bogged down in side stories and rightfully focusing on Murrow verses McCarthyism.

Two for the Money – Ebert: Thumbs up, Roeper: Thumbs up
Ebert: “Al Pacino at the top of his form … he commands the screen with an intense and fascinating character.” He said the film works as a thriller and a portrait of three complicated and colorful people.
Roeper: Called the film note-perfect in getting the tone of hype-type cable TV shows.

The Gospel – Ebert: Thumbs up, Roeper: Thumbs down
Roeper: Said he really wished he could give the film a thumbs up for the music, but noted to many “sub-professional” touches to get a reccomendation.
Ebert: Although it is flawed, it deals with the role of the Church in African American families. “The movie as a movie shouldn’t get a thumbs up, but it gets a thumbs uo for what it represents.”

Although Sunday is not over, the major studios already have released box
office estimates to news organization for the full weekend based on Friday
and Saturday numbers. Final Numbers will be released Monday afternoon:

# / Title Weekend $ / #Theatres / Per Showing

1 / Flightplan / $15,038,000 / 3,424 / $4,391

2 / Serenity / $10,141,000 / 2,188 / $4,634

3 / Corpse Bride / $9,755,000 / 3,204 / $3,044

4 / History of Violence / $8,200,000 / 1,340 / $6,119

5 / Into the Blue / $7,000,000 / 2,509 / $2,509

6 / Just Like Heaven / $6,100,000 / 3,543 / $1,721

7 / Exorcism of Emily / $4,400,000 / 3,004 / $1,464

8 / Roll Bounce / $4,025,000 / 1,661 / $2,423

9 / Greatest Game Ever / $3,749,000 / 1,014 / $3,697

10 / 40-Year-Old Virgin / $3,110,000 / 2,152 / $1,445

Films usually make 3 to 5 times the opening weekend – which puts serenity in
the $30 million to $50 million range (worldwide grosses are usually double –
making the probable gross $60 million to $100 million worldwide.)

Day-by Day Estimates by Studios

# / Title / Friday / Saturday / Sunday
1 FLIGHTPLAN / $4,450,000 / $6,600,000 / $3,990,000
2 NEW SERENITY / $3,917,000 / $3,676,000 / $2,548,000
3 CORPSE BRIDE / $2,810,000 / $4,500,000 / $2,500,000
4 HISTORY OF VIOLENCE / $2,500,000 / $3,250,000 / $2,450,000
5 NEW INTO THE BLUE / $2,425,000 / $2,885,000 / $1,690,000
6 JUST LIKE HEAVEN / $1,870,000 / $2,745,000 / $1,485,000
7 EXORCISM OF EMILY / $1,340,000 / $2,000,000 / $1,060,000
8 ROLL BOUNCE / $1,000,000 / $2,000,000 / $1,025,000
9 NEW GREATEST GAME EVER / $1,050,000 / $1,600,000 / $1,100,000
10 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN / $926,000 / $1,442,000 / $742,000

2005 Opening Grosses for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films, by overall rank of all films
released for the year (112 total so far)

# / Title / Opening Gross
1 Revenge of the Sith $108,435,841
2 War of the Worlds $64,878,725
3 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory $56,178,450
4 Fantastic Four $56,061,504
6 Batman Begins $48,745,440
10 Robots $36,045,301
11 The Ring Two $35,065,237
15 The Exorcism of Emily Rose $30,054,300
16 Constantine $29,769,098
17 Sin City $29,120,273
20 White Noise $24,113,565
21 The Amityville Horror (2005) $23,507,007
29 The Hitchhiker’s Guide $21,103,203
32 Bewitched $20,131,130
34 Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride $19,145,480
35 Boogeyman $19,020,655
40 Just Like Heaven $16,408,718
42 The Skeleton Key $16,057,945
43 The Brothers Grimm $15,092,079
48 Stealth $13,251,545
50 Elektra $12,804,793
54 Shark Boy and Lava Girl $12,582,088
55 The Island $12,409,070
58 House of Wax $12,077,236
62 Land of the Dead Uni. $10,221,705
65 Serenity $10,141,000
68 Cursed $9,633,085
78 Son of the Mask $7,511,675
84 The Cave $6,147,294
104 Mindhunters $1,911,358


9 out of 10

Having just seen Serenity, a film that will probably go down as the best science fiction film of 2005 (beating out more-hyped fare such as War of the Worlds), I feel compelled to tell folks they must see this film.

This movie singlehandedly raises the humble space opera up from the paint-by-numbers audience expectations of recent Star Trek fare to an artform – a true opera – in the Wagnerian sense.

Under the direction of Joss Whedon, a story that could have been a run of the mill action-adventure flick tackles some of the grander themes in life; as we face them today. How much say should governments have over our daily lives? Who watches those who watch over us?

Deep themes like these infuse a movie that already works as a kick-’em-hard action thriller. But somehow, one is left with the sense that Whedon duped Hollywood bigshots into making a sci-fi flick with a brain – and a heart.

The script, which Whedon also wrote, is filled with cliche-busting dialogue. Dozens of times the audience laughed with glee as Serenity, which could have easily retread all-to-familiar territory for a spaceship-based film, takes an abrupt and human turn as characters react as only real people would in impossible situations.

I highly encourage all movie fans who feel underwhelmed by the quality of speculative fiction cinema this year to see this film without delay. Not only does Serenity prove science fiction can have brains as well as special effects, the movie also is an uproarious good time.

Some adult themes and violence may be unsuitable for small children, even when accompanied by an adult.

Overall: 9 out of 10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction
Sex: Some sexual situations, nothing graphic no nudity
Violence: Martial arts violence, blood, multiple deaths, reference to rape
Special Effects: Excellent, use of CGI was flawless
Other: Scary subject matter not appropriate for children prone to nightmares

Nathan Fillion … Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds
Gina Torres … Zoe Warren
Alan Tudyk … Hoban “Wash” Washburn
Morena Baccarin … Inara Serra
Adam Baldwin … Jayne Cobb
Jewel Staite … Kaylee Frye
Sean Maher … Simon Tam
Summer Glau … River Tam
Ron Glass … Shepherd Meria Book
Chiwetel Ejiofor … The Operative

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Joss Whedon, the Oscar® – and Emmy – nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family – squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

Neville Hobson at Web Pro News has a nice article here that details how The producers of Serenity are allowing sneak peeks of the film to bloggers.

He talks bout how this could be a turning point when film studios become less reliant upon mainstream media critics.