New stills from Spirit Halloween movie starring Christopher Lloyd and Rachael Leigh Cook
Christopher Lloyd, Rachael Leigh Cook
If you thought the Spirit Halloween movie was some kind of belated April Fool’s joke, think again: it’s really happening, and Variety even has pictures of it. A movie about spirits on Halloween sounds par for the course, but this is actually a movie about Spirit Halloween, the store. Like, the movie is actually set in a Spirit Halloween. For real.
In addition to stills from the film, Variety has new plot details: screen legend Christopher Lloyd plays Alec Windsor, a “wealthy land developer” who “disappeared without a trace” one Halloween night long, long ago. Of course, his spirit (you get it) now haunts the town he left behind for just one hour every October 31. (It’s a tight window, but the Spirit Halloween has to be packed up and moved out by November 1, so Windsor will have to make things quick.)
Rachael Leigh Cook plays Sue, a recently remarried widow whose teenage son Jake decides to camp out at the Spirit Halloween in an abandoned strip mall with his friends on Halloween night. Surprise, surprise: the kids “get more than they bargained for when an angry spirit [possesses] the animatronic characters inside.”
The supporting cast includes Donovan Colan (Zoe), Dylan Martin Frankel (Raven’s Home), Jaiden Smith (Blue Bloods), and Marissa Reyes (Raven’s Home) and Marla Gibbs (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie). Per Variety, Noor Ahmed, Shannon Houchins and Mike Haggerty are producing with executive producer Clay Epstein, president of Film Mode Entertainment.
Epstein described the movie as “the ultimate family/kids adventure film” and claimed “The response from the global marketplace … continues to be positively overwhelming,” which is, perhaps, overstating the hype for the Spirit Halloween movie.
But hey, this is a global marketplace that has already seen two Angry Birds movies. Emily V. Gordon is apparently writing a Play Doh film. The latest Pixar project “is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on.” Nothing is sacred and everything’s on the table. When you think about it, the real surprise about the Spirit Halloween film is that there isn’t a movie set in one already!
, George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing” might have some reservations about the 21st century — the movie often wrestles with the impact that science and technology might have on our ancient sense of wonder — but at the bottom of this tightly bottled epic sits a question that should resonate especially hard with people who have spent too many of the last 3,000 days stuck inside their homes with nothing but “content” to keep them company: Are stories enough to satisfy our lives?
Acclaimed narratologist Dr. Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton, as if “acclaimed narratologist Dr. Alithea Binnie” could possibly be played by anyone else), would like to think so. Once upon a time she was married to a handsome academic, but when that schmuck left her for someone younger, she learned to make peace with her solitude. Being on her own — no partners, no parents, no children — affords a brilliant mind like hers the freedom it needs to flourish (read: travel the planet giving Powerpoint presentations about how the myths once used to contain all of the world’s mystery have so little value that they can now be contained by comic books).
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In fact, Alithea is so content with her situation that she can’t think of anything to ask for when a massive, shirtless Djinn with a long, long, long-standing obsession with fulfilling women’s deepest desires puffs into her Istanbul hotel room — the same Istanbul hotel room where Agatha Christie wrote “Murder on the Orient Express” — and offers her three wishes. Even with an orange-flecked goatee and a pair of pointy elf ears that are always on fire, a half-naked Idris Elba the size of a school bus would probably be enough to leave a lot of people feeling like they only had one wish left. But Alithea is unmoved.
Until, that is, the Djinn starts regaling the skeptical narratologist with floridly wistful stories about the Queen of Sheba, the slave girls of Suleiman the Magnificent, and all of the other beauties who defined his journey through the millennia.
If this all sounds like the stuff of a single-location pandemic movie, don’t fret: George Miller cannot be contained. For one thing, “Three Thousand Years of Longing” is based on an A.S. Byatt short story that Miller has been hoping to adapt since the late ’90s, and the project wasn’t conceived with any COVID parameters in mind.
More to the point, this is still the same guy whose most recent film was “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The same guy who once shot a biodrama about a kid dying from a degenerative brain disorder with the madcap energy of a Ken Russell musical, and made the sequel of a beloved family movie about a talking pig into a magically deranged adventure that starts with Babe almost murdering James Cromwell and then spirits him away to a hostile city pets full of poodle prostitutes, homicidal chimpanzees, and one very deranged Mickey Rooney. George Miller could find more cinema in a single hotel minibar than some contemporary directors could squeeze out of an entire galaxy far, far away, and he manages to do exactly that without unbalancing the delicate soul of the intimate two-hander he wields here.
Maximalist in its mediativeness and meditative in its maximalism, “Three Thousand Years of Longing” might seem to beg for a scale on par with similarly many-splendored epics like “Cloud Atlas” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but Miller’s film can’t afford to grow so vast that its various stories overshadow the purpose of telling them. The result is a movie that splits the difference between “Arabian Nights” and “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” as the script’s frequent (but super economical) asides to the Ifrit-haunted palaces of ancient Yemen or the sable-lined sex prisons of the Ottoman Empire never stray all that far from Tilda Swinton listening along in her terrycloth bathrobe; the movie isn’t necessarily sedate, but it’s always looking for a kind of lasting serenity that Miller’s films have never sought before.
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” - Credit: YouTube
Alithea’s familiarity with classic myths leaves her both refreshingly unfazed by her impromptu date with a Djinn, and also deeply suspicious that he might be a trickster in disguise. After all, what story about free wishes doesn’t turn into a cautionary tale by the end? Her goading uncertainty prompts the Djinn — who’s been so desperate to share his memories with someone, and could never have dreamed of finding such a receptive audience — to regale Alithea with his misfortunes as if doing so might itself be enough to free him from his bottle forever.
Swinton, it goes without saying, is peerlessly good at threading the needle between earthy distrust and otherworldly understanding, while Elba (iffy CG smoke-trails and all) manages to draw a tender study of loneliness out of a mythical creature that Hollywood has long reduced to a hoary trope. In fact, the two stars are so sweet and searching together — their characters’ respective power and mutual solitude pulling them together with practical magic — that some of the film’s more spectacular detours seem flimsy by contrast.
With all due respect to Robert Ford’s production design (it’s never a bad thing when a movie’s sets earn comparison to “The Fall”), or the impressive degree of freakiness that Miller and his team are able to stuff into a single image of Solomon wooing Sheba, the Djinn’s tales are always more compelling for his sad and self-deprecating commentary on them than they are for any of their murder hijinks. Miller’s penchant for garish slapstick often strains for laughs in story threads that have more pressing things to do with their time, and his most orgiastic subplot ends with a cheap punchline that hits a bit below the belt. Then again, there’s also a scene where a guy’s head falls off and turns into one of cinema’s gnarliest demon spiders and then explodes into a zillion smaller spiders and it’s hard to complain about any movie that can fit that into a super touching middle-aged romance.
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” - Credit: screenshot
And, despite its excessive use of Papyrus, “Three Thousand Years of Longing” is touching — more so than it seems primed to become for most of its running time, and more so than its disjointed structure seems able to allow. The chemistry between Swinton and Elba grows increasingly potent as the film pivots into its very different third act, and even Miller’s weirdest swings (including a belabored scene built around a metal detector) are supported by their collective suggestion that finding true love isn’t any less fantastical than meeting an immortal Djinn who’s been using his “subtle fire” to give women smoke orgasms for 3,000 years.
Our lives are so embarrassingly replete with wonders that flying through the sky or summoning cars to your door with a piece of magic glass no longer move the needle, but there are still plenty of things that people don’t understand about the world around them, or refuse to understand about the people with whom they share it (as you might glean from the film’s abrupt pivot towards social commentary at the 11th hour). “Three Thousand Years of Longing” finds that even the most ancient tales can prove illuminating about those things if they’re told with enough gusto, but also that it’s so much easier for us to see ourselves in those stories if we have someone to share them with.Grade: B+
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. MGM will release it in theaters on Friday, August 31.
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Zendaya and Tom Holland in "Spider-Man: No Way Home."Sony Pictures
Movies released simultaneously to theaters and streaming services last year were frequently pirated.
Theater execs said that this impacted a movie's box office.
Studios are moving away from the strategy, and piracy isn't rampant during a movie's theatrical run.
Piracy ran rampant last year among some of Hollywood's biggest movie releases as studios debuted many simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services.
Five months into 2022, the major studios have largely moved away from simultaneous releases, and in most cases are reaping the box-office rewards as their movies aren't being aggressively pirated as soon as they hit theaters.
Theatrical industry leaders were adamant that "day-and-date" releases, as the simultaneous release model is called, made it easier for movies to be pirated, and thus ate into a movie's box office earnings.
Some of the most pirated movies last year included:
"Mortal Kombat" — premiered simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. It earned $42 million in the US and $84 million globally.
"Black Widow" — debuted simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access. It grossed $183 million in the US and $378 million worldwide.
"When a movie is released simultaneously to a streaming service, a pristine copy of that movie is made available day one that it's in cinemas," John Fithian, the CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), told Insider during an interview last year.
At last month's CinemaCon, an annual conference where movie studios showcase their upcoming releases to exhibitors, Fithian reiterated this sentiment during a speech, saying that piracy spikes were "most drastic when a movie is first available to watch in the home."
He then declared that day-and-date was "dead as a serious business model."
That doesn't mean that movies aren't still facing piracy. According to Muso, a leading piracy insights company, visits to movie-piracy sites increased 42.5% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. But keep in mind that movie releases were slim in the early months of last year.
Insider analyzed the most pirated movies of the year so far, according to the piracy tracking website Torrent Freak's weekly updates, and it's clear that the movies were pirated more once they were available online, either via streaming services or for digital rental.
These days, that mainly means that movies can be easily pirated much sooner after their theatrical runs than they were before the pandemic. Studios have, for the most part, shortened the exclusive theatrical window. The pre-pandemic window was typically 75 days to 90 days. Now, 45 days is emerging as a new standard, though some movies will have shorter or longer windows than that.
Theater execs Insider has spoken to say that an exclusive theatrical run can build momentum for a movie's eventual streaming debut. The data suggests that's the case for piracy, too, or at least that if a movie is a hit in theaters it could be popular on piracy sites, too.
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" has topped Torrent Freak's weekly list of most pirated movies for four weeks this year, the most of any movie. It was also last year's highest-grossing movie at both the US and global box offices.
After playing only in theaters for three months, the movie was made available on premium video-on-demand platforms like Prime Video and iTunes, at which point it immediately shot to the top of the weekly rankings.
Similarly, "The Batman" increased in piracy once it was made available on HBO Max. During its 45-day theatrical run, it earned $369 million in the US and $768 million globally.
It's not only box-office hits that see piracy spikes once they're available online. Movies like "Moonfall" and "Blacklight," which flopped in theaters, topped Torrent Freak's lists, too, just not as frequently as hits like "No Way Home."
Muso noted in a recent report that its piracy data is "frequently used by customers to uncover hidden gems for content acquisition." In the case of "Blacklight," the report said that its popularity on piracy sites suggests a "bigger audience" for the movie than its box office suggested, making it a "strong acquisition target for VOD platforms."
Read the original article on Business Insider