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Since Gwendoline Christie joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII back in June, rumors have leaked that Brienne of Tarth will be going over to the Dark Side. According to Badass Digest, Christie will play an imperial Commander – specifically, the commanding officer who hunts down John Boyega’s character after he deserts his post. But as exciting as the idea of Christie playing the antagonist is, there’s a bit more to this rumor, as the site also posits that her role was originally written for a man.
Send your minds back several months, when casting announcements for the film were just a distant hope and every actor in Hollywood was reportedly in talks for the role. Around that time, Benedict Cumberbatch was one of the names being thrown around for a part, and as Badass Digest says, he was in talks to play an Imperial Officer. According to one of their sources, a major role in the film was re-written from male to female, all of which leads them to believe that Christie’s role is indeed the one that has been gender swapped.
It might just be a rumor, but it’s an exciting one, and outlets and fans have already shown support for director J.J. Abrams’ decision to make such a progressive change to the Star Wars universe. Casting a woman as an authoritative villain isn’t unheard of, but it is rare, and giving the role to someone like Christie over an actor like Cumberbatch is an interesting, unexpected twist on the typical sci-fi archetypes. It’s always a big deal when major blockbusters have better roles for female character than just being the films’ eye candy or damsel in distress, but to have Abrams make such a significant change to this particular universe also helps modernize things a bit. The original films might have had a strong female character in Leia, but she was the only prominent female character; by contrast, Episode VII seems to be lining up several complex, surprising roles for their actresses, including Lupita Nyong’o’s rumored Sith and Daisy Ridley’s alleged Jedi knight.
Whether we like it or not, roles like an Imperial Commander are generally thought of as male ones, and so casting Christie in such a role subverts the typical expectations that the role would be played by the standard “British white guy” that has become the go-to type for blockbuster villains. It opens the door for more women to take on roles like that, ones that we might subconsciously consider to be a manly character, which in turn opens the door for more Hollywood blockbusters and sci-fi projects to diversify their cast lists a bit.
But even though we might automatically consider an Imperial Commander to be a man, it might not have be written that way in the first place. There’s nothing in the character description to suggest that it wasn’t a gender-neutral role all along. It’s entirely possible that the script has always called for a woman to play the part, especially since Cumberbatch was in talks for the film back when they were using a script from Michael Arndt. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan have since taken over as writers, so it’s entirely possible that this Imperial Commander is a completely different one than the character that Cumberbatch was up for.
Still, even if the role was meant for Christie all along, it’s hard not to get excited about seeing such a talented actress get a prominent, compelling role. Her performance as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones has proven that she can be both compelling and compassionate, both of which will likely come into play in her Star Wars role. In fact, she might even be better suited to this role than Cumberbatch would have been, as she has a great deal of experience portraying a character that is often authoritative and intimidating. Whether or not the Imperial Commander role was written for her, it’s hard to imagine anyone, male or female, who could do a better job with it than Christie could.
Besides, if she’s half as good with a light saber as she is with a sword, she’ll have no trouble keeping the entire galaxy in line.
Singer Morrissey was rushed to hospital for treatment after collapsing following a concert in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday (07Jun14). The former The Smiths star cancelled all remaining dates on his U.S. tour on Tuesday (10Jun14) after days of uncertainty and several postponed shows as he battled a virus.
Now it has emerged he decided to scrap the trek on medical advice after collapsing with an "acute fever" in Boston and receiving medical treatment during a trip to Miami, Florida.
He also revealed the reason why his long-term support act Kristeen Young was removed from the tour last week (ends08Jun14) - Morrissey blamed her for giving him a cold.
A statement posted on fansite True-to-you.net reads, "On Saturday, June 7th, following the show at Boston Opera House, Morrissey collapsed and was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital where doctors treated Morrissey for 'acute fever'. Difficulties had arisen on May 31st following Kristeen Young's opening set at the Miami Knight Concert Hall, after which Kristeen confessed to 'a horrendous cold', the symptoms of which were passed on to Morrissey resulting in the cancellation of the next show in Atlanta.
"For the good of all, Kristeen was asked to step down from the immediate upcoming shows, but instead she decided to leave the tour entirely. Morrissey and the band wish her well and hope she is now in good health.
"Morrissey received medical attention in Miami, and once again in Boston, but it was not enough to shake off the virus, the recovery time for which is too lengthy to meet the final 9 shows of the tour."
The news has sparked speculation the 55-year-old Suedehead hitmaker will be forced to retire from touring altogether after cancelling his second U.S. trek in as many years due to ill health. Last year (13) he axed 60 dates across North America after suffering a string of illnesses.
An exhibit based on the Batman film franchise is set to open in California later this month (Jun14). The Batman Exhibit will feature props, costumes, cars and memorabilia from Tim Burton's Batman movies and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
A press release reads, "You'll get see a wide range of authentic costumes including those worn by Poison Ivy, The Riddler, Mr Freeze and Catwoman as well as some infamous prop weapons such as the Joker's cards, Two-Face's coin, Penguin's umbrella and Bane's bomb."
The Batman Tour will launch on 26 June (14) at Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour in Burbank, California to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the comic book hero's debut.
Sting, Patti Labelle and Gladys Knight have been confirmed among the performers at the Tony Awards next month (Jun14). Alan Cumming, Idina Menzel, Neil Patrick Harris and Sutton Foster and the casts of Aladdin and Les Miserables will also take the stage at New York City's Radio City Music Hall on 8 June (14), and the original Wicked cast will regroup for a 10th-anniversary tribute.
Sting will share a song from his upcoming musical, The Last Ship.
The 2014 Tony Awards will be hosted by Hugh Jackman.
Singer Lionel Richie is set to receive the 2014 BET Lifetime Achievement Award next month (Jun14). The Hello hitmaker will be feted at the Nokia Theatre ceremony in Los Angeles on 29 June (14).
He will also perform at the event, which will be hosted by actor/comedian Chris Rock.
Past recipients of the award include soul icons Whitney Houston, James Brown, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight and Diana Ross.
Soul stars Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole are all set to grace the Broadway stage as guest performers this summer (14) in Tony Award-nominated show After Midnight. The musical, which celebrates jazz icon Duke Ellington's years at Harlem, New York's famous Cotton Club, has already featured the likes of k.d. lang, Toni Braxton and Vanessa Williams as guest vocalists, and now another trio of music veterans will be delighting audiences at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
LaBelle, who first saw the show in January (14), will take over from singer Fantasia Barrino from 10 to 29 June (14), while Knight will pick up the mic from 8 July to 3 August, and Cole will appear from 5 to 31 August (14).
After Midnight has proved to be a big hit with fans and critics alike - it scored seven Tony nominations, including a nod for Best Musical, when the shortlist was announced on Tuesday (29Apr14).
The Kinks frontman Ray Davies and Scottish singer Donovan are to be inducted into America's Songwriters Hall of Fame. The class of 2014 will feature the Lola hitmaker and Donovan, who rose to fame in the 1960s with hits like Mellow Yellow and Catch The Wind, alongside British rocker Graham Gouldman of the band 10cc, singer/songwriter Mark James, who penned Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds, and Jim Weatherly, who is known for writing Gladys Knight & The Pips hits Neither One of Us and Midnight Train to Georgia.
The five honourees were selected by museum officials from a list which also included Madonna, Vince Gill, Cyndi Lauper, Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson, Cat Stevens, Linda Perry and Led Zeppelin stars Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
The inductions will take place in New York on 12 June (14).
An arrest warrant has been issued for embattled hip-hop mogul Marion 'Suge' Knight after he failed to show up in court for an alleged driving offence. The co-founder of iconic rap label Death Row Records found himself in legal trouble in September (13) after police pulled him over near Beverly Hills, California and discovered he was a wanted man for skipping two scheduled appearances at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in June (13).
The hearings reportedly relate to incidents in 2011 and 2012, when he was busted on suspicion of driving on a suspended licence.
He was ordered to appear before a judge on Tuesday (21Jan14), but was a no-show again - prompting the judge to sign a bench warrant for his arrest.
His bail will be set at $26,000 (£16,250), reports TMZ.com.
Knight is no stranger to life as a wanted man - two warrants were issued for his arrest last February (13), but they were subsequently resolved.
Embattled rap mogul Marion 'Suge' Knight has been detained by police in California after a judge ordered his arrest over missed court dates. Knight's car was pulled over by cops close to Beverly Hills in the early hours of Wednesday morning (11Sep13) after they reportedly spotted it weaving in and out of the road lanes.
The star passed a breathalyser test, but was taken into custody when the officers saw he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest after failing to appear at two scheduled appearances at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in June (13).
Knight was taken to a local jail and processed, before being released several hours later on $20,000 (£13,333) bail.
His previous court dates reportedly relate to arrests in 2011 and 2012 when he was allegedly caught driving on a suspended licence.
We’re about halfway through a summer movie season that’s seen several blockbusters outperform expectations and a few releases that were DOA on their opening weekends. But SSN is curious to know how the 2013 numbers stack up so far against the monster box office of 2012.
The short answer: The box office is in good shape. How good? Well, if we agree that the start of the season is May 1 (or the first weekend thereafter) and run the numbers through June 27 (which excludes this weekend’s openings), we find that the 2012 domestic box office was just under $1.91 billion. Using the same time frame for 2013, the figure is just a shade under $2.01 billion. That’s a difference of almost $100 million. A notably wide margin.
“It has really been a phenomenal summer,” says Phil Contrino, editor of Boxoffice.com. “We were worried at first, because in 2012, we had The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises, and we were concerned about how you make up for the impact of that, but it hasn’t been a problem at all.
“The thing is, there are a lot of movies over-performing,” he continues. “Iron Man 3, Man of Steel,World War Z, they’ve all been shattering what people thought they were going to do. That kind of strength is heartening, and needed, after a very weak first quarter.”
Indeed, while 2012 is ahead so far in year-to-date numbers (a tad more than $4.5 billion against $4.2 billion for 2013), what’s interesting is the number of hits and misses in the May 1 to June 27 time frame. There were 14 films released on at least 2,000 screens between in that frame in 2012, and 15 this year, which makes the comparison rather easy.
In 2012, the releases The Avengers, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Men In Black 3, Snow White and the Hunstman, and Brave were all unequivocal hits while Battleship, Rock of Ages, That’s My Boy, Chernobyl Diaries and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter were resounding flops. Somewhere in between were Prometheus, Dark Shadows, The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Tallying out the tote board, that’s five hits, five misses and four somewhere in between; pretty much a batting average of .500. Not bad, but not great, especially when you consider that The Avengersaccounted for $600 million of that take while and no other film on the list cleared even $200 million.
Meanwhile, if we consider the box office over that frame for 2013, the totals are surprising.Iron Man 3, Fast and Furious 6, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel, The Great Gatsby, The Hangover Part III, Monsters University, The Purge and This Is The End are all certain hits. While some might quibble aboutGatsby and the final Hangoverflick, the worldwide numbers (both well over $300 million) take care of any doubt about each film’s overall success.
Similarly, while there were no real shockers on the Hit List a year ago, anyone who claims to have predicted that The Purge and This Is The End would post such spectacular numbers (The Purge especially) needs to grab the nearest fire extinguisher and aim it at their pants.
“Actually,” Contrino says with a laugh, “we were really close on This Is The End. We were predicting in the mid-20s, and it came in a little over 30. The Purge, though, we thought it was poised to break out, but not to the degree it did. Honestly, the overall box office numbers have surged because people stayed home in March and April and are coming out in droves in May and June.”
If you’re counting along, that’s nine hits out of 15 releases in our 2013 frame. Granted that Epic andNow You See Me are not quite hits, not quite misses and that it’s still a bit soon to tell about World War Z (though, it too appears destined for the Hit column as its first-week numbers close in on $85 million, and a sequel has already been green lit) that leaves three outright flops: After Earth, The Internship and Tyler Perry Presents Peeples.
Factor in that there are four movies this year that have cleared $200 million domestically (with Iron Man 3 beyond $400 million and more than $1 billion worldwide), and you’ll see that 2013’s batting average is markedly higher than 2012’s.
There are those who consider Star Trek Into Darkness a bit of a disappointment. It reaped had a smaller haul over its opening weekend than its 2009 predecessor. And it’s underperforming domestically: Star Trek finished with $257 million on a $150 million budget while the sequel has only reached $217 million on a $190 million budget after six and a half weeks of release. But the very fact that the second film has cleared $430 million worldwide against the first film’s $386 million puts the kibosh on that argument.
“Star Trek Into Darkness may not have met initial expectations, but it surged,” Contrino explains. “There is a very superficial analysis by the media about box office numbers. The feeling is that it has to do better than its predecessor, but the movie is making a killing overseas—much more than the first film made—and that supercedes what it’s done in North America.”
Another significant factor to take into account is that a year ago, on June 27, major releases like The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Ice Age: Continental Drift, The Campaign, The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy had yet to emerge. And let’s note that Expendables 2 and Legacy were only deemed successful because of their worldwide numbers. Also, like The Purge and This Is the End, surprise smashes like Ted andMagic Mike reminded us never to count out the dark horses.
This summer, we still have this weekend’s The Heat andWhite House Down leading the charge ahead of The Lone Ranger, Despicable Me 2, Pacific Rim, Grown Ups 2, Red 2, R.I.P.D., Turbo, The Conjuring, The Wolverine, Two Guns, The Smurfs 2, Elysium, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Kick-Ass 2 and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, among a host of other potentials.
Now, just as there are surprise hits every summer, it’s certain that a number of the above-mentioned impending releases will fizzle at the box office. But that doesn’t change the developing trend that the 2013 summer movie season has been far more good than bad.
“June is clearly going to finish strong, but I think things will calm down a bit in July,” Contrino says. “There are some sure things in July, like The Wolverine and The Conjuring, but there are question marks too. The Lone Ranger might lose some of its family audience because it’s opening against Despicable Me 2. Warner Bros. has big ambitions for Pacific Rim but launching an original property is tough. Likewise, I’m not sure about R.I.P.D.”
The caveat notwithstanding, Contrino has high hopes for the rest of the summer. “This is a cyclical business,” he says. “Moviegoers are sending a clear message to the studios that the movies … this summer are the kinds of movies that audiences want to see. I think the summer over summer numbers will see 2013 come out ahead.”
With half the summer already behind us, we’ll know soon enough if Contrino’s prediction pans out. Let’s check back around Labor Day to see how this one ends.
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