20th Century Fox Film
The power of YA fiction is undeniable. While not every film becomes a sure-fire hit in cinemas, some do gangbusters. It's a gamble, but one that can pay off extremely well. The last Hunger Games film netted $864 million worldwide, while other films like Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars both did great business that far exceeded their respective budgets. But the thing that all these films have in common are that they're all fronted by female protagonists. Looking on the other side of the coin, YA films with primarily male protagonist tend to not do nearly as well as their counterparts. From I Am Number Four, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, Ender's Game, City of Ember, the two Percy Jackson films, and countless others have all failed to become to next big thing in ya cinema. Outside of Harry Potter (which we're going to call the exception that proves the rule), it's hard to think of a male fronted YA series that has had as big of an impact as something like Twilgiht.
So what chance does The Maze Runner stand? The film, directed by Wes Ball, is only the latest hopeful in the YA film craze, one that shares a ton of themes with huge hits like The Hunger Games and Divergent. This time, dozens of teenage boys are locked in the middle of the glade, a grassy plain enclosed by gigantic maze with seemingly no solution. Each day, a group of boys ventures into the maze to search for clues, but many fall victim to the mysterious creatures that lurk in its passages.
The latest trailer boasts an intriguing premise with a ton of potential mysteries to be explored, but the undeniably male-centric cast might not have the appeal to capture as wide as an audience as a series like The Hunger Games, which has ballooned into a minor phenomenon. Since The Maze Runner is only the first part in a planned series of films, and answers to the mysteries won't likely come until deep into the series. We're hoping that this series goes the distance, but the box office may be a maze to complicated for this film to solve.
Two members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot are taking Russian government officials to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand compensation over their imprisonment.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina spent a total of 21 months behind bars on hooliganism charges following a protest at a church in Moscow in 2012.
They were freed in December (13) as part of a political amnesty, but now the singers are fighting to hold Russian authorities accountable at the ECHR in France over allegations the investigation and prosecution violated their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
They are demanding 120,000 Euros ($161,282/£94,872) each in compensation, plus an additional 10,000 Euros ($13,435/£7,903) for court costs.
Pavel Chikov from the human rights legal group Agora, which is representing the two stars, says, "They didn't get fair trial here in Russia so they want to get it finally in the European court of human rights."
"Plus they want this case to set a precedent that Russians can speak publicly on sensitive political issues, even if this speech is not supported by majority. This is a case about freedom of expression and fair trial first of all."
Rocker Billy Bragg is celebrating after successfully campaigning to overturn a ban on steel-strung guitars in U.K. prisons. Bragg joined forces with fellow rockers Johnny Marr, Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and Philip Selway, and Guy Garvey from Elbow earlier this year (14) as part of an initiative to urge officials to rethink the ruling, which was passed last November (13) as part of the government's changes to the judicial system, which also included new restrictions on books for prisoners.
In an open letter published in April (14), Bragg's all-star group argued that music had "an important role to play in engaging prisoners in the process of rehabilitation", adding, "This ability will be seriously undermined if inmates are unable to practise between group sessions."
Government officials have since agreed to reverse the ban and allow steel-strung guitars back in detention centres and Bragg, who founded the Jail Guitar Doors rehabilitation initiative to provide instruments for inmates, is glad authorities have seen sense.
He says, "As an incentive to engage in rehabilitation, individual access to steel strung guitars can really help the atmosphere on a prison wing. I've had a number of projects involving guitars on hold which now will be able to go ahead, and will allow those using music in prisons to get on with this important work."
Warner Bros. Pictures
The Lord of the Rings movies could be heavy. They could be plenty sincere, rather haunting, and tearfully grave. But they also knew when to play the mood high: to be fun, exciting, and upbeat. After a dismally bland first Hobbit film, The Desolation of Smaug showcased Peter Jackson's knack for good times. The movie gave us a barrel-rolling scene to rival the kinetic fun of Mario Kart, not to mention a sequence featuring some mighty satisfying dragon trickery. That's why we're so surprised to see the final chapter in the Hobbit trilogy, Battle of the Five Armies, shooting for such a somber attitude.
Even in the much improved second Hobbit flick, we weren't quite latching onto the characters, nor embedding so deeply in the film's mythology. What roped us in was the fun. But that fun is nowhere to be found in the first Five Armies trailer. Instead, the clip expects us to hang our heads low for the doom about to befall our heroes, to connect with their heavy hearts as the clouds of tragedy swarm their Tolkienian skies.
Sorry, but no dice. The only figure in this franchise with any semblance of a character arc is Bilbo; the rest are pseudo-anonymous set dressing with funny hair. And we like the hair! We like the funny! We like the barrel-rolling, the dragon-duping, and the riddles of Gollum! So why aren't we seeing more of that in this trailer, Jackson?
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Russian politicians are lobbying officials in Crimea to establish a new body to oversee wine production in the region and name actor Gerard Depardieu head of the group. Members of Russia's parliament have called on Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov to set up a local agency so officials can ensure the maximum growth potential of the area's wine industry in the former Ukrainian territory and they have nominated the Frenchman, who became a Russian citizen last year (13), to take on a key role.
Politician Igor Zotov is quoted as saying, "Today, Gerard is a symbol of not only French cinema and French charm, but also of the Russian soul's generosity.
"It would be good for the region if Depardieu, a globally known expert on wine production, headed a state agency or a public organization of Crimean winemakers. This would attract the attention of the Russian and global public to Crimean wine, which not only isn't inferior to products of the world's best known wine-making regions, in terms of quality, but is even superior to them in some aspects."
Depardieu, who reportedly purchased some vineyards in Crimea last year (13), has yet to respond to the news.
If he agrees to take on the role, it won't be the Green Card star's first foray into the booze business - he recently announced plans to start his own environmentally-friendly vodka brand in Russia.
Crimea was annexed with Russia following a public vote in March (14), as political unrest in the Eastern European region threatened the stability of the Ukraine.
Australian band 5 Seconds Of Summer surprised fans by personally handing out tickets for their first major U.S. concert. The She Looks So Perfect hitmakers rose to international fame when British boyband One Direction invited them on their worldwide tour last year (13).
5 Seconds of Summer celebrated their first ever U.S. concert headline date by giving fans chance to meet them as they bought their tickets at The Forum venue in Inglewood, California on Saturday (26Jul14).
Drummer Ashton Irwin was excited to meet their U.S. fans but was concerned about counting money during the ticket transactions, telling the Associated Press, "We might lose track of a lot of coins and stuff like that. But we'll work it out. We'll get through it."
The group will play a one-off gig at The Forum in November (14).
Actress Sandra Bullock celebrated her 50th birthday on Thursday (24Jul14) by partying with friends including U.S. chat show host and comedienne Chelsea Handler. The group was spotted having a pre-birthday bash at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and taking in a performance by country group Southern Soul Allstars.
Beyonce helped to lift the spirits of 100 teenagers in her native Texas by inviting them to attend her On The Run tour stop in Dallas.
The superstar donates batches of tickets from each of her shows to local charities which spread positive messages to young people, and one of the organisations chosen last week (ends25Jul14) included Hanna 4 Hope, a non-profit group founded by the parents of schoolgirl Hanna Clark, who took her own life in April, 2013, aged 15, after a bad break-up. The charity is aimed at encouraging youths and parents to discuss the topic of suicide in a bid to prevent another such tragedy.
Beyonce's representatives contacted Hanna's mother, Raina Clark, via email to offer up the free tickets and she admits she initially thought the message was a hoax. She recalls, "When I received it through the website, I was like, 'Is this for real? Is this a joke or a scam?'."
The invite was for real and Clark was able to treat a large group of teens involved in her charity to Beyonce's gig with her rapper husband Jay Z at the AT&T Stadium on Tuesday (22Jul14).
She says, "I mean, we're completely thankful for just having the honour of being invited." Her husband Tim adds, "Every time we look at these teens, it's a representation of Hanna. It touches our hearts. They have a passion for our mission and to see the joy on their faces when they walk in this place, and when they hear Beyonce... it's awesome, just awesome."
Marvel executives have unveiled plans to press ahead with a sequel to Guardians Of The Galaxy, days before the superhero movie even hits cinemas. Director James Gunn and actor Chris Pratt, who stars as lead character Star Lord, shared the news with fans on Saturday (26Jul14) as they attended the Marvel Studios' Comic-Con presentation in San Diego, California.
The announcement comes shortly before the first instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy opens across the world next week (begs28Jul14).
The follow-up film is scheduled for release on 28 July, 2017.
Pratt, who had to bulk up for the role, recently told the New York Post he would jump at the chance to reprise his part as Peter Quill, a mercenary who has to team up with a group of misfits to secure his freedom and save the world after stealing a mysterious orb.
He said, "I'd be thrilled to do (a sequel). I'm just going to sit back and eat chicken and do bench presses and wait by the phone."
The movie also co-stars Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.
Sex Pistols star Glen Matlock has dashed fans' hopes of another reunion by insisting he hasn't had any contact with frontman John Lydon in five years. Fans of the iconic punk group had hoped the stars would regroup for another comeback tour, but bassist Matlock is adamant there is nothing planned and he is no longer in touch with his former bandmate.
He tells Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, "I haven't seen John for five years and I'm quite happy about that. I've had no cause to speak to him. We don't have anything planned. There is nothing I know of in the offing and I'm really not that fussed about it. I have no idea if we will reform but who knows... I wouldn't write new Sex Pistols material, we're fine with the old stuff."
Matlock goes on to reveal he is still in touch with drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones, but their meetings are rare.
He adds, "I see Paul every now and again and I see Steve once in a while, he lives in Los Angeles and I'll look him up. He can be a bit of a miserable sod so I don't always do that."
The Sex Pistols split in 1978 but reunited in 1996 and have toured sporadically since. They last played together onstage in 2008.