Last year when Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker teamed up, it resulted in one of the best films of the year: Lee Daniels' The Butler. This year the two are working together on a new project, and we have a number of reasons to get excited about it. Whitaker is rumored to be the director of the highly-anticipated adaptation of The Shack, a book that had some controversial plot points when it first came out back in 2007. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but according to reports he has plans to write, direct, and star in the movie. The great Idris Elba is rumored to have been cast in a lead role, so we also have that to look forward to. And if you haven't read the book yet, Indiewire's Shadow & Act shared this bit about William Paul Young's novel:
... a Christian-themed novel about a character by the name of Mackenzie Allen Philips, whose youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and may have been brutally murdered. Four years later, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God (the above-mentioned jolly African American woman), inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.
The book went on to become a bestseller, but it's going to be interesting to see how people react to the movie — especially considering the fact that Winfrey is most likely playing the role of God. When issues of race and gender intersect with Christianity and Christian beliefs, controversy almost always ensues. We saw strong reactions to Darren Aronofsky's Noah (which people felt deviated too far from the Bible, while others argued that there should have been people of color in the film), and people will surely raise objections about a black woman playing God.
So, how controversial is Oprah's new movie? Well, not controversial at all if you think God could (or even should) be played by a woman of color. And if you loved Winfrey's performance in The Butler, then this is definitely exciting casting news.
But if you believe God either looks like some variation of a.) Gandalf, b.) Morgan Freeman, or c.) Will Ferrell then this movie might be problematic for you.
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Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones showed off a united front at the Super Bowl on Sunday (02Feb14) - the Hollywood couple was briefly spotted together at the big game. Reports initially suggested Douglas was at the game with the couple's son Dylan, but now there's photo evidence that his wife was there too - further proving that the pair is working on its problems following a much-publicised separation which began last year (13).
Wrapped up in a red shawl, a smiling Zeta-Jones was spotted with her husband and son as opera star Renee Fleming belted out the National Anthem just before the start of the game.
The Douglases were among the many stars who were at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the Super Bowl - Hugh Jackman took his brother, John Travolta, Sir Paul McCartney and Kevin Costner treated their wives to an evening out and celebrity suites were packed with famous faces like Beyonce and Jay Z, Forest Whitaker, Whoopi Goldberg, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Jennifer Garner and supermodels Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio.
Oscar winner Forest Whitaker is in negotiations to write, direct and star in a big screen adaptation of bestselling novel The Shack. Movie executives at Summit Entertainment acquired the film rights to William Paul Young's spiritual book last year (13) and now they are keen to bring the Lee Daniels' The Butler star onboard to take charge of the project.
The 2007 release follows the story of a man who receives a note, seemingly from God, four years after his daughter is abducted while on a family vacation.
If Whitaker signs on, The Shack will become the first film he both directs and appears in.
He previously stepped behind the camera for the movie adaptation of Waiting to Exhale in 1995, 1998 romantic drama Hope Floats and 2004's First Daughter.
It's shaping up to be a busy year (14) for Whitaker - he is also in talks to join Liam Neeson in a third instalment of his hit action franchise Taken, while he will receive the Chairman's Award for his humanitarian work at the 45th annual NAACP Image Awards next month (Feb14).
Before The Butler has even had the chance to properly enter the Oscar race, Forest Whitaker has signed on to star in yet another film set in the heart of D.C.. He's set to play Colin Powell in an upcoming film about the former Secretary of State — titled Powell, of course — which will take place in the run-up to the War in Iraq, and focus on the famous speech that Powell made to the U.N. suggesting the presence of weapons of mass destruction and advocating for the war. According to screenwriter Ed Whitworth, Powell will be a tragedy where the main character "ended up doing this thing that he now seemingly regrets and was clearly a huge mistake."
Biopics are somewhat of Whitaker's speciality: in addition to The Butler, he won an Oscar for 2006's The Last King of Scotland, where he played Idi Amin, and has been tapped to play Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Paul Greengrass' upcoming film Memphis, although the project has been stuck in development for some time. He even produced this summer's Fruitvale Station, which starred Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant, a young man who was shot and killed in an act of police brutality in 2009. And since there's very little that the Academy loves more than a moving biopic, it's safe to say that Whitaker should probably start getting a speech ready.
Whitaker's history of biopics also makes him a perfect match for Whitworth, whose next big project, Reykjavik, will center around the 1986 disarmament talks between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev — in this film, Michael Douglas is set to play Reagan and Christoph Waltz is taking a break from playing gleeful German psychopaths to play Gorbachev. After that, Whitworth will start work on a film about the Arab Spring and an MI6 thriller starring Colin Firth — looks like he should think about getting started on his own acceptance speech.
More: 'The Butler' Stays Entertaining While Telling An Important StoryLee Daniels on 'Butler' Title Change and How It Compares to 'Precious''Fruitvale Station's Terrifc Character Story and Powerful Message Clash
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The Weinstein Co.
The Weinstein Co.'s Lee Daniels' The Butler does it again as the true life drama tops the chart for the second straight week taking in an impressive $17 million against a mere 31% second weekend drop as it crosses the $50 million mark at the domestic box office.
The R-rated comedy We're the Millers from Warner Bros. has become a late summer sensation as it continues to build upon great word-of-mouth with $13.5 million in its third weekend and a minuscule 25% drop and a domestic total approaching $100 million.
Third place goes to the debut of Sony's young adult entry The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones with $14 million since its debut last Wednesday and $9.3 million for the weekend. This is pretty much in line with expectations for the film and is the latest attempt to woo the very fickle young adult audience that has made The Hunger Games and Twilight franchises enormously successful.
Focus Features enlisted the Shawn of the Dead crew to make an end of the world pub crawl gone wrong comedy The World's End and the results were solid. With a modest budget and a loyal following for the filmmakers, $8.9 million was a solid result for this R-rated over the top comedy.
Rounding out the Top 5 is Planes from Disney which remains a late summer family favorite as it earns an estimated $8.6 million in its third weekend and nearly $60 million in North America.
Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine from Sony Pictures Classics jumps into the Top 10 as it adds 1,054 theaters this week and earns $4.3 million and takes its cumulative gross to nearly $15 million in its fifth weekend of release.
One more weekend left in the summer movie season as we remain over 10% ahead of last year and remain on pace to beat 2011's $4.4 billion record summer revenue.
Top Movies for Weekend of August 23 - August 25 (Estimates)Rank Movie Gross Theaters Avg.Per YTD Distributor01 Lee Daniels' The Butler $17.01M 3,110 $5,472 $52.27M TWC02 We're the Millers $13.5M 3,445 $3,919 $91.74M Warner Bros.03 Mortal Instruments: City of Bones $9.3M 3,118 $2,983 $14.05M Sony04 The World's End $8.94M 1,549 $5,773 $8.94M Focus Features05 Planes $8.56M 3,378 $2,536 $59.59M Disney06 Elysium $7.1M 2,913 $2,437 $69.0M Sony/Tri-Star07 You're Next $7.05M 2,437 $2,893 $7.05M Lionsgate08 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters $5.2M 2,730 $1,905 $48.3M Fox09 Blue Jasmine $4.3M 1,283 $3,352 $14.8M SPC10 Kick-Ass 2 $4.27M 2,945 $1,450 $22.42M Universal
More:'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Kicks Ass at the Box Office'Elysium' Leads a Very Crowded August Weekend 'Elysium,' 'Planes,' 'We're the Millers,' 'Percy Jackson' Battle Box Office
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Oprah Winfrey is a marketing machine and the evidence is clear as the true life biopic Lee Daniels' The Butler tops the chart this weekend with an impressive $25.01 million. The film is already generating Oscar buzz with Forest Whitaker's portrayal of a butler who served under numerous U.S. Presidents for 34 years garnering much praise from audiences and critics alike. This is the first number one opening weekend for The Weinstein Co. since 2009's Inglourious Basterds and proves that when Oprah endorses anything, whether a book or a movie, audiences listen.In second place with $17.78 million is Warner Bros.' R-rated comedy We're the Millers which impressively of all the wide release films for this Summer, had the best second weekend at hold at just 33%. The film is just shy of the $70 million mark in North America.Third place goes to Sony's R-rated sci-fi thriller Elysium which in its second weekend blasted up another $13.6 million against a 54% drop after a first place debut last weekend and $55.9 million to date in North America. The Matt Damon film directed by District 9's Neil Blomkamp earned an estimated $22 million overseas this weekend, bringing its cume to $37.7 million internationally and $93.6 million worldwide.Universal's Kick Ass 2 came in much lower than expected for a fourth place debut of $13.568 million, the original Kick Ass opened in April of 2010 with a number one debut of $19.8 million and many were expecting a number in that range for the R-rated action sequel this weekend. Internationally the film fared better opening in 17 territories this weekend and grossed an estimated $6.3M at 1,500 dates.The Top 5 is rounded out by Disney's animated Planes in its second weekend with $13.14 million and $45.09 million to date while Open Road's Steve Jobs biopic Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher in the titular role also opened to a less than expected $6.7 million in seventh place as did the Harrison Ford film Paranoia from Relativity Media in the number 13 spot with $3.5 million.Only two more weekends left in the summer movie season and we are running nearly 11% ahead of the season at the same point last year.Top Movies for Weekend of August 16 - August 18 (Estimates)Rank Movie Gross Theaters Avg.Per YTD Distributor01 Lee Daniel's The Butler $25.01M 2,933 $8,527 $25.01M TWC02 We're the Millers $17.78M 3,325 $5,347 $69.5M Warner Bros.03 Elysium $13.6M 3,284 $4,141 $55.9M Sony/Tri-Star04 Kick-Ass 2 $13.568M 2,940 $4,615 $13.568M Universal05 Planes $13.14M 3,716 $3,536 $45.09M Disney06 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters $8.375M 3,080 $2,719 $38.9M Fox07 Jobs $6.7M 2,381 $2,814 $6.7M Open Road08 2 Guns $5.572M 2,471 $2,255 $59.2M Universal09 The Smurfs 2 $4.6M 2,349 $1,958 $56.9M Sony10 The Wolverine $4.425M 2,058 $2,150 $120.45M Fox
Oscar winner Forest Whitaker has distanced himself from reports suggesting he is set to portray civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. in a new biopic. The Last King of Scotland star had been in talks to tackle the lead role in Paul Greengrass' Memphis, about the final days of the activist's life before he his 1968 assassination, but the actor doubts he will be the one to help bring the project to fruition.
During an interview on U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America on Wednesday (14Aug13), he said, "They spoke to me about it, but it's not anything that's set up for me to be doing.
"I hope that that story gets told, though I'm not sure that it will be me, but I think that it will be great for someone to really let us explore that experience of a great man."
Forest Whitaker has been tipped to play civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. in a new movie. The Oscar-winning actor is said to be in talks to tackle the lead role in Memphis, a new film by Paul Greengrass, the British director responsible for two Bourne films.
The movie will recount the final days of King's life before he was assassinated in 1968 and will be shot in a documentary-style format similar to Greengrass' 9/11 movie United 93.
Whitaker is currently favourite to take the coveted role of King, according to Thewrap.com.
The vegan actress agreed to bare all and have her body painted like planet earth for the edgy new PETA billboard that reads, 'Fight Climate Change With Diet Change. Go Veg'.
The poster debuted above the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles on Thursday (24Jan13) and will stay there for a month.
Maggie Q tells WENN, "There's so many issues tied to the meat industry. I mean, social, environmental, humanitarian - all of them. I know that when I'm eating that I'm not hurting the planet, I'm not hurting other people on this planet, I'm not hurting animals... and I'm not hurting nature."
The star is not the only celebrity backing PETA's meat-free campaign - Alicia Silverstone, Casey Affleck, Sir Paul McCartney, Joaquin Phoenix and Forest Whitaker have also teamed up with the animal rights group to promote vegetarian and vegan eating.
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.