Stars of NBC’s ‘This Is Us’ hit red carpet for SXSW screening of season finale

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We promise: WE WILL NOT SPOIL THE SEASON FINALE OF “THIS IS US.”

The finale, which screened Monday afternoon during the South by Southwest Film Festival, offered plenty of tears and plenty of laughs, too, to a packed audience at the Paramount Theatre. It airs Tuesday night on NBC.

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Mandy Moore, who plays Rebecca Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW on March 12. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Before the screening, the audience heeded a call from actor Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack Pearson on the NBC drama, to put their phones down. When one of America’s favorite TV dads speaks, the audience listens.

RELATED: Keep up with all SXSW happenings at Austin360.com. 

Ventimiglia joined costars Mandy Moore, who plays his TV wife, Rebecca Pearson, and Justin Hartley, who plays his adult son, Kevin Pearson, on the red carpet prior to the screening.

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Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW March 12. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

“The show is emotional, but it’s ‘hopefully emotional,’” Ventimiglia told Austin360. “I think that’s something that kind of makes up for how many tears you cry, you know, because it’s one of those feel-good cries.”

The show has struck a chord with viewers in part because it touches on a variety of important themes including adoption, foster care, obesity and addiction.

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Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre March 12. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

“For me if we can get one person to make a phone call that maybe they would not have made, if it helps them, then we’ve done our job,” said Hartley, whose character battled alcohol and prescription drug addiction this season. “I was proud of the way that we told that story.”

Ventimiglia, Moore and Hartley will also speak as part of the ‘This Is Us’ SXSW cast panel on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D.

I watched the ‘Christian Netflix’ for a week. Here’s what I learned.

 

 

Almost three years ago, a little $2 million movie named “God’s Not Dead” opened in theaters. The story of a Christian college student who challenges his atheist philosophy professor’s assertion that “God is dead,” it made back four times its budget in its opening weekend and went on to make a little more than $62.5 million worldwide.

The sequel, “God’s Not Dead 2,” about a fictional legal case involving separation of church and state in schools, came out two years later, again in the spring and again on a shoestring budget. It cost $5 million to make and easily earned that back and then some on its opening weekend, going on to earn almost $21 million worldwide. A third movie in the series is in the works.

The common factor between the two films (besides plots, budgets and profitable box office receipts) is a production studio: Pure Flix Films.

The Scottsdale, Ariz.-headquartered Christian film production and distribution company was founded in 2003 by David A.R. White and Russell Wolfe. The studio’s credits include the “God’s Not Dead” franchise, “Do You Believe?” and the 1970s-era high school football movie “Woodlawn.” Upcoming releases include the Lee Strobel biopic “The Case For Christ” and October’s “Same Kind of Different As Me,” a true story about a Fort Worth art dealer, his wife and the homeless man they befriend.

The company recently got in the streaming business. The Pure Flix app was released in 2015 and is available on Android, iPhone, Roku and Amazon and can be used via Apple TV or Google Chromecast. The streaming service itself is free for one month, then jumps to $7.99 after that. As of this writing, there’s almost 6,000 titles available on the site, all of which boast “no language, sex or violence surprises.” The selection includes most of Pure Flix’s catalog, as well as other faith-based films, TV series, documentaries, sermons, Bible studies and home-schooling materials.

“It’s all based on what the consumers respond to, and it’s all about what we can bring to them through all the different formats,” Pure Flix Digital CEO Greg Gudorf said. “Actually, one of the strongest markets we have is Houston, and Dallas is one of our biggest home-school material markets.”

Last year, faith-based films made almost $137 million worldwide, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Like the horror film genre, the Christian film genre has proven a lucrative formula: Built-in loyal fan base + small budget + reaffirming stories – sex, language and violence = profit.

And this year will see the release of “God’s Not Dead 3” as well as a smattering of other faith-based entertainment. “The Shack” opened at No. 3 last weekend to the tune of $16 million. “The Case For Christ” opens April 7 and is poised to further help Pure Flix’s brand. But what about their streaming service? Is it any good?

The Pure Flix home page on March 2, 2017.

I have watched a pretty steady diet of Christian media along with secular media all my life. I was raised on stuff like “McGee and Me,” “Adventures in Odyssey” and “Psalty the Psalm Book” as well as Disney movies and any action or comedy film I could get my hands on. And I’ve always been fascinated by the divide between secular and Christian media, and why both seem to be diametrically opposed to one another. Is it possible to make good Christian entertainment that appeals to everyone, not just Christians?

I set out to find an answer to this question last week when I picked seven pieces of content from Pure Flix’s streaming service to watch. Some were great, most were OK, and some were really bad — just like any streaming service. A majority of the films and TV shows I watched were produced by Pure Flix, but most of the content on the site is licensed content from other studios.

I live-tweeted my experience @jakeharris4 every night, and I detailed the first night of my #PureFlixWeek in a previous blog post. “New World Order: The End Has Come,” the first film I watched, was a low-rent “Left Behind”-type film rife with inconsistencies and a blindsiding ending. It’s in the “most-watched” category, and it was not made in association with Pure Flix. Its “most-watched” status leads me to wonder if the target audience is indeed preparing for the end times. If so, they would be better off reading the Bible than watching this film, which implies that the Mark of the Beast will look like the Wu-Tang symbol and the Antichrist will be Hispanic.

More: Is Pure Flix, the ‘Christian Netflix,’ any good? I’m about to find out

About that target audience — Gudorf told me the company’s main audience is evangelical Christian-focused.

“Our bullseye is typically an evangelical Christian household, yes. But the command we were given was not to just minister to evangelicals; it was to minister to all. And so we have a pretty interesting mix, not just the single view of one particular denomination. And our customer information reflects that kind of broad basis, from people who are Catholic, Protestant, even Jewish. Yes, it’s faith content, but it’s also family content.”

That target audience was clearly in mind for the second film I watched, the Pure Flix produced and distributed “Do You Believe?” In this Christian version of “Crash,” the paths of 12 people all collide together after a pastor meets a sidewalk preacher played by Delroy Lindo (here in the “mystical Negro” trope) who helps him clarify what exactly he believes about Jesus. Other characters include Sean Astin as an atheistic doctor who could have only been written by someone who has only been around angry atheists (“I’m the one who saves people, yet they thank Jesus”), Brian Bosworth as a reformed convict, Lee Majors as a man grieving the loss of his daughter and Shwayze as a gangster trying to do the right thing (side note: there are four black main characters in this movie; half of them begin the film as criminals).

Oh, and if you thought “Crash” didn’t have any subtlety, consider this: Sean Astin’s doctor is named Thomas, as in Doubting Thomas. He refuses to believe it when Bosworth comes back to life after flatlining for eight minutes. And in a movie that insists on spelling out its themes for its viewers, Thomas is the only character left with an ambiguous faith at the end.

That’s not to mention the many ways “Do You Believe?” cribs from the “Crash” playbook, including an end sequence that calls to mind the Matt Dillon/Thandie Newton crash scene from that movie. It’s even worse when you remember that Dillon’s cop sexually assaulted Newton earlier in that film and he’s rescuing her later not out of any compassion but because it’s his job. This theme is handled in “DYB?” by allowing a Christian paramedic to rescue the lawyer who previously prosecuted him for administering the sinner’s prayer to a dying patient instead of any sort of aid.

Lest I sound like I’m relentlessly bashing the film, it did make me think hard about the ways I portray my Christian faith to the world and inspired me to live it better. That’s the point of the film, but I could have gotten that message without seeing multiple characters die simply as a service to the film’s convoluted plot and to the film’s main (Christian, mostly white) characters.

So, as Day 2 of Pure Flix Week came to a close, I was impressed with the app, but I wasn’t feeling too impressed with its content. But then I watched “The Encounter.”

“The Encounter” is one of Pure Flix’s first original series. It’s based on a series of films that share the same name. In them, a mysterious man simply referred to as “The Man” shows up to help people out of whatever bind they may be in. It’s later revealed that the Man is Jesus.

The pilot episode is about an amateur convenience story robbery gone wrong, carried out by two brothers and some friends. “The Man” here appears as the store’s clerk. He helps one of the brothers realize the error of his ways,  and that influence spreads to the rest of the robbery crew. The 30-minute episode ends with one of the brothers preaching about his conversion to Christianity in a prison chapel.

On Day 4 I watched a second episode, “U-Turn,” which established “The Encounter” as an anthology show. In this episode, a high-profile lawyer attempting to leave her small hometown after an argument with her mom at her dad’s funeral ends up on a car ride with the Man and someone who I think the audience is supposed to believe is the devil. During the car ride, the lawyer comes to grips with her father’s loss and her mother’s grief at losing a husband and a daughter (to the big city). It also ends on a happy note, with the lawyer and her mother reconciling.

I found both episodes to be immensely watchable and not too preachy. Despite some casual sexism in the second episode (why is it always female characters who are punished for having jobs “in the big city” in Christian entertainment?), both were well-done and executed their premises in challenging ways. At one point, the Man offers a riff on Mark 8:36, emphasizing the importance of treasuring human relationships.

Both episodes also dealt with the question of “If God is a loving God, then why is there evil in the world?” by emphasizing humanity’s free will.

For Day 5 of Pure Flix Week, I watched a game show. “It Takes a Church” is a Game Show Network-produced series hosted by Christian singer Natalie Grant. Grant travels to different churches across America in search of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. The catch? All of the potential matches for each contestant must come from their church.

I could write an entire thesis on this concept and how, in attempting to create  “‘The Bachelor,’ but for churches!,” the show ends up being no better than the reality TV it’s trying to ape. But I will leave that for another time.

Day 6 saw a sermon from Bayless Conley, a pastor at Cottonwood Church in Orange County, Calif. Pure Flix’s streaming service offers several Bible studies and sermons from a variety of sources. This sermon focused on ways to improve your relationship with God if you feel stuck. It was a great way to start my morning, and I found the message to be inspirational and challenging as well as biblically sound.

I watched that sermon on the Pure Flix iPhone app, which worked better than Netflix’s iPhone app at some points and was extremely user-friendly. That’s thanks to Gudorf, who said the company just revamped the app a few months ago and worked out a lot of bugs.

On Day 7, the final day of my week with Pure Flix, I watched “Woodlawn.” The film was produced and distributed by Pure Flix and brought in a little more than $14 million on a $12 million budget, according to Boxofficemojo.com.

The inspirational sports film centers on the true story of Birmingham, Ala.’s Woodlawn High School in the early 1970s. Integration was just starting to take effect, and head coach Tandy Gerelds is tasked with coaching his first integrated football team. Superstar black tailback Tony Nathan ends up becoming the team’s secret weapon on the field, and Sean Astin’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chaplain becomes the secret weapon off the field. Oh, and Jon Voight shows up as Bear Bryant.

This film could very easily have become a “Remember the Titans”-meets-Christianity mashup (indeed, the similarities between the two films are numerous), but it succeeds because the message that unity through a shared belief in Christ crosses through all color lines is deftly dealt with. It doesn’t preach, and it lets the Christian actions of the characters come naturally through their actions, unlike in “Do You Believe?” And Astin’s chaplain is just as convincing as his atheist doctor.

Throughout this experience, I kept thinking about the Christian music genre in my teenage years. The common refrains of “Oh, if you like Blink-182, you’ll love Relient K,” or “Switchfoot is a great band, but they’re also Christian, so that’s better!” rang hollow to me then, and they still do today. I was always confused: Why can’t we have both/and, not either/or? The divide between secular and Christian media was meant to offer a safe haven from the perils of the world I was supposed to be of, but not in. Instead, it turned many people of my generation away from the saccharine messages of Christian media and caused us to search for something that felt real and not merely an attempt to Christianize what Hollywood was doing.

More: ‘Silence’ scholar: Tough film ‘should challenge Christians’

So, for this experiment, the parallels became clear the more I watched. Do you like “Left Behind” or other post-apocalyptic films? Watch “New World Order.” Did you enjoy “Crash” but don’t want to deal with the racism or the explicit language? Then “Do You Believe?” is right up your alley. Does “The Bachelor” make you squirm, but do you still want to see a representation of what love should be? “It Takes a Church” it is, then.

And yet, there are still great strides being made in Christian media. The primary purpose of films like the ones Pure Flix offers is to be reaffirming to the faithful. And those films are doing that in a number of ways. “Woodlawn” makes a point about sports being a unifier, and “The Encounter” encourages Christians to look in the mirror and confront their own selfish choices. As a streaming service and app, Pure Flix is top notch, and better than its competition in some regards (looking at you, HBO Now app).

But if the film studio is to expand to become one that can minister to non-Christians, the programming must get better at creating its own original stories and stop simply mining secular entertainment to create pale imitations of other films. Christians, especially young ones, can spot that type of in authenticity a mile away. For Christians looking for a service that promises family-friendly entertainment that will lead to conversations, Pure Flix is a great investment. If you’re not in that target market, however, you might not want to wade into these waters. But that’s a shame, too, because there is some genuinely entertainment here. You just have to know where to look. Just like Netflix.

Final rankings:

  1. “Woodlawn”
  2. Bayless Conley sermon
  3. “The Encounter” pilot
  4. “The Encounter” Episode 2
  5. “New World Order: The End Has Come”
  6. “It Takes a Church”
  7. “Do You Believe?”

 

Is Pure Flix, the ‘Christian Netflix,’ any good? I’m about to find out

 

What would Jesus watch? Maybe Pure Flix, dubbed the “Christian Netflix” by many viewers.

The Scottsdale, Ariz.-headquartered Christian film production and distribution company was founded in 2003 by David A.R. White and Russell Wolfe. The company’s biggest hit to date is “God’s Not Dead,” which made almost $61 million on a $2 million budget, according to IMDb.

Pure Flix is also the studio behind that film’s sequel, as well as “Do You Believe?” which could be described as a Christian version of “Crash” starring Sean Astin as a cynical doctor. Upcoming releases include the Lee Strobel biopic “The Case For Christ” and October’s “Same Kind of Different As Me,” a true story about a Fort Worth art dealer, his wife and the homeless man they befriend.

The Pure Flix home page on March 2, 2017.
The Pure Flix home page on March 2, 2017.

Pure Flix also offers a streaming service not unlike Netflix, or Hulu, or HBO NOW. The service is free for one month and then jumps to $7.99 after that. It’s available on Android, the Apple App Store, Roku and Amazon. The site advertises “thousands of titles” with “no language, sex or violence surprises” in any of its content, which includes movies and TV shows in genres like faith, education, shorts, kid’s choice and sermons and ministry. Sample titles include the aforementioned “Do you Believe?,” “Saved By Grace” and “Revelation Road.”

The service allows Christian parents the ability to control what their kids are watching without worry, and that’s a big deal in today’s cord-cutting world where entertainment is available at the click of a button. And for those so inclined, many of the films offer an opportunity to discuss matters of faith with your family.

But many of these films have very low or nonexistent Rotten Tomatoes ratings and (at least in my case Wednesday night,) look to be made on shoestring budgets in an attempt to relate a message that would comfort the intended audience but alienate possible converts. I’m a Christian, and I have always been curious about why there has to be a divide between “Christian” film and “secular” film, and why there’s such a tension between the two.

More: ‘Silence’ scholar: Tough film ‘should challenge Christians’

For a week, I’m going to be watching one movie or TV episode a night from Pure Flix’s streaming service, and will be live-tweeting my experiences on Twitter @jakeharris4. I started my journey last night with a screening of “New World Order: The End Has Come,” a poor man’s “Left Behind.” It was made for $50,000 and wasn’t released in theaters, according to IMDb.

The movie paints a not-very-bleak picture of a post-Rapture America as a place where the Mark of the Beast looks a lot like the Wu-Tang Clan logo, the Antichrist is the only Hispanic man in the film and people pronounce the final book of the Bible as “Revelations” with an “s” (if you’re going to make a movie about the book of the Bible that talks about the end of the world, at least copy edit).

The plot follows young Demi and Christen, two friends who were not raptured with everyone else and are living out the earth’s last days after Supreme Chancellor Lord Aldo Deluca has been Satan-resurrected after he is assassinated while trying to broker a peace treaty in the Middle East. Or something. The movie’s explanation for the Rapture is never too clear, content to throw around words like “Iran” and “assassination-by-hire scheme” to explain why the bad guys are here.

By the end of the movie, Demi and Christen must choose whether to be branded with the Mark of the Beast or be martyred for their beliefs. There’s not a lot of room for subtlety in this movie, so you can guess which one is martyred and which one takes the easy way out. I don’t recommend it unless you want to relive your childhood memories of watching really bad Tribulation-themed movies in Sunday School (or maybe that’s just me, I don’t know). It would make a great candidate for the “How Did This Get Made?” podcast. If you really want to find out what happens, check my Twitter feed.

So while my first viewing experience with Pure Flix wasn’t pleasant, I’m keeping an open mind. I’ll be watching and live-tweeting “Do you Believe?” tonight, using the hashtag #PureFlixWeek. And if you or someone you know uses Pure Flix’s streaming service, send me a message or comment on this article- I’d love to know your thoughts!

‘Silence’ scholar: Tough film ‘should challenge Christians’

“Silence,” Martin Scorsese’s film adaptation of the Japanese novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo, goes in wide release today. Long touted as Scorsese’s most passionate passion project, the nearly three-hour epic finds the director who once considered a life in the priesthood again examining age-old questions of faith and doubt.

The book it’s based on, written in 1966 and translated to English in 1969, is a tale of two Portuguese Jesuits — Sebastião Rodrigues and Francisco Garrpe— who venture to 17th century Japan to find their mentor, Father Cristóvão Ferreira, rumored to have given up the faith under the crushing weight of Japan’s persecution of Christians.

Read our review: “The sometimes brilliant ‘Silence’ can test one’s faith, patience”

The book has been considered a hallmark of religious fiction since its release and has sparked multiple stage and film adaptations besides Scorsese’s.

Darren Middleton, a professor of religion at Texas Christian University, has studied and taught Endo’s “Silence” at the college level for nearly 20 years and also routinely teaches classes on Jesus in fiction and film and theology and literature. When rumors about the long-gestating Scorsese adaptation became reality, he saw the opportunity to comment on a new phase of the novel’s life, and put together an essay anthology. darrenmiddleton

“Approaching Silence: New Perspectives on Shusaku Endo,” edited by Middleton and Mark W. Dennis, was published in 2015 and features works from some of the most prominent scholars on Endo’s work. It even features an afterword from Scorsese.

approachingsilence

“I wrote a book about ‘The Last Temptation of  Christ’ back in 2005 and I got (Scorsese) to do an afterword on that, so I figured he’d want to be involved in this one, too,” Middleton said.

“Endo’s novel confronts the mystery of Christian faith, and by extension the mystery of faith itself,” Scorsese writes in the afterword.

Middleton, himself a recent convert to Catholicism, says he thinks “Silence” continues to strike a chord as a subject because of its importance to Christians who are looking for an outlet that understands their faith as well as their doubt.

A key plot point in “Silence” is Rodrigues’ struggle with whether to renounce his faith and trample on a fumi-e, a bronze icon with the face of Christ or Mary on it, in order to save the lives of his parishioners who are being persecuted by the Japanese government.

“I think it endures because I think thoughtful Christians, those who ponder their faith seriously, can find a series of themes that are rooted in Catholic history but also call out to us from across the centuries, and they have applicability to our lives,” Middleton said. “When I can see a Jesus who is human, and a priest who is human, who is struggling with their faith, it gives me hope for my struggle. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. Now I know it’s OK to struggle with my faith. My faith is not meant to be perfect, and it can’t be this side of the grave.

“At its core, the book and the film are asking the question: What would Jesus do? In some ways, it’s a cliche, like those groovy little WWJD bracelets that people used to wear. But it’s the age-old question, what would Christ do in any given situation? The problem, of course, is that the answer is not clear-cut, and it’s never really been clear-cut.”

Scorsese’s “Silence” is the first film about religion to go into wide release in 2017, a year that will see the release of a film adaptation of “The Shack” and a biopic of famed Christian apologist Lee Strobel, among others. Middleton hasn’t seen the film yet, but he’s excited about what it might do for Christian theatergoers.

“I certainly understand the draw of ‘feel good’ Christian movies,” he said. “They tend toward edification, for the most part, since they appear to give glory to God and because they seek to inspire the faithful.

“But, if Jesus the Christ challenges Christians to take up their cross and follow him, is it not instructive to see what this might look like, in the flesh-and-blood descriptive way that films offer, however arduous or difficult the movie is to watch? I think so.

“It’s important for Christians to see films, and to read novels, that challenge them instead of reinforcing their beliefs. …Try not to settle. Churchy echo chambers serve no one. Not really. And part of loving the Lord with all one’s mind involves considering those questions whose answers do not come easily, if they come at all.”

“Silence” is now in wide release and is playing at Alamo South and Arbor theaters.

 

Which summer movies were box office winners and losers?

Chris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in "Captain America: Civil War." (Photo courtesy Marvel Studios/TNS)
“Captain America: Civil War” dominated the global summer box office. (Contributed by Marvel Studios)

This isn’t news, but it bears repeating: If there is one thing we can learn from looking at summer movies, it’s that absolutely nobody cares what critics have to say about summer movies.

Critics hated some summer movies that did really well and loved others that bombed.

Who had a good summer at the box office? Who wishes that 2016 had never happened? Let’s look at some numbers. All grosses are drawn from the almighty boxofficemojo.com.

This summer’s biggest winner was Disney, by far. Great merciful crap, did Disney have an insane year. The top four movies on the planet were Disney films.

“Captain America: Civil War, the most recent entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, grossed $1.152 billion worldwide. “Zootopia” was a sleeper smash with a $1.02 billion gross. “The Jungle Book,” an entirely CGI-affair (save for the lead actor), grossed $961 million. And Pixar’s most recent entry, “Finding Dory,” picked up $930 million worldwide (with $479 million of that in the States; domestically, it’s the year’s most successful picture).

Even with a few flops —The BFG,” directed by Steven Spielberg, earned only $54 million domestically and $160.3 million worldwide against a $140 million budget; “Alice Through the Looking Glass” took $77 million domestically but finished with a decent $295 million worldwide gross; and “Pete’s Dragon” has only made $55 million in about three weeks of release — Disney pretty well owned 2016. Until everyone gets sick of Marvel and Star Wars, this trend may continue. Then again, nothing lasts forever.

That said, superheroes in general had a good year. The critically excoriated “Batman v Superman” grossed $872 million worldwide (though only $330 million of that at home). The critically rebuked “Suicide Squad” made $637.8 million worldwide.

“Deadpool” was the real superhero surprise, grossing $782 million worldwide against a budget of $58 million. Considered a low-budget also-ran, it radically outperformed “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which took in $544 million worldwide but only $155 million domestically, less than half of the $363 million domestic “Deadpool” made. The moral of this story is that absolutely nobody cares what critics have to say about superhero movies, especially audiences in other countries.

You know who also had a good year? People complaining on the internet. Take, for example, “Ghostbusters,” rebooted by Paul Feig with a gender-swapped cast. A certain segment of the internet almost instantly started complaining about the ladies wielding proton packs, keeping up a drumbeat of bafflingly bad buzz that resulted, most recently, in actress Leslie Jones’ website getting hacked. The movie earned a $121.7 million domestic box office (and only a $217.7 million international total), and plans for a sequel seem to have been scrapped. This is very literally why we can’t have nice things.

Then again, sometimes the market and critics march hand in hand. “Free State of Jones,” starring Austin spirit animal Matthew McConaughey, just did not work and made only $20 million, less than half its $50 million budget.

I was one of the very few critics who didn’t absolutely love Austin film godfather Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some,” but it never completely found an audience, grossing only $3 million, making for Linklater’s worst outing since “Me and Orson Welles” in 2009 and doing far, far worse than 2014’s still-incredible “Boyhood.”

But I really enjoyed “Midnight Special,” by Austin director Jeff Nichols, a movie that couldn’t quite find its audience, either — it made only $6 million worldwide. (And also got its tribute-to-’80s-sci-fi-and-fantasy lunch eaten by Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”)

Ultimately, critics enjoyed “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone’s comedic ode to the Biebers of the world.  But it made a dismal $9 million (no budget was released) domestically and has not been released overseas. And the genuinely terrific “Green Room,” a much better horror movie than, say, “Don’t Breathe” or last year’s “It Follows,” has made only $3 million. I suspect both will have a decent life on various streaming services.

 

 

 

‘The Son’ starts shooting in Austin this month, with new star — Pierce Brosnan

 

FILE - 23 OCTOBER 2012: Tonight the twenty-third film in the James Brown series ‘Skyfall’ starring Daniel Craig as 007 will make its red carpet Royal World Premiere at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. Irish actor Pierce Brosnan appearing as British secret service agent James Bond, late 1990s. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Getty Images)

Austin writer Philipp Meyer’s “The Son” is scheduled to start shooting this month in the Austin area, and Pierce Brosnan, the former James Bond, will be replacing Sam Neill as Eli, the patriarch of an oil and ranching family.

The new casting was first reported by Deadline.com, which said Neill dropped out of the project for personal reasons.

theson__140604221005The AMC series is based on the book by Meyer and written by Meyer and fellow Michener Center for Writers grads Lee Shipman and Brain McGreevy.

“The Son,” a 2013 Texas epic about the McCullough family, has been hailed as some of the best fiction to come out of the state in recent years.

It deals with Eli McCullough, who was kidnapped by Comanches as a child and goes on to found an empire. It also follows the fortunes of his children and their heirs.

Besides starring as Bond, Brosnan is also known for the 1980s NBC series “Remington Steele.”

The wonderful world of Disney is finally headed to Netflix

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, file photo, a person displays Netflix on a tablet in North Andover, Mass. Netflix reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, file photo, a person displays Netflix on a tablet in North Andover, Mass. Netflix reports quarterly financial results on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

The time has finally come. Netflix announced Monday that it will become the exclusive U.S. pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar, starting in September.

Though specific films weren’t named, Netflix’s head of content Ted Sarandos listed other new additions coming at users this summer. In June, we can expect sci-fi adventure classics like the first three original “Jurassic Park” films and Oscar-winner “Spotlight.”

July welcomes “The Big Short” and Netflix Original “Brahman Naman” while “The Little Prince” and “The Fast and the Furious” arrives in August.

Basically, if you thought you were going to be active this summer, Netflix is going to shut that dream down pretty quickly. Oh well.

The Paramount Theatre announces Summer Classic Film lineup; goes digital

It’s repertory season, also known as summer, which means the lineup for the 2016 Summer Classic film series at the Paramount and Stateside Theatres is out now.

2016 marks 41 years of Paramount’s signature classic films series, which goes from May 26 through September 4. Film tickets are on sale now at austintheatre.org.

This year, the Paramount unveils a new digital projection system, new sound system and  new screen (they will retain the capacity to screen 35mm and 70mm prints whenever available).

Before the series formally starts, look for the “Bridesmaids” Pub Run May 24. There will be booze and then a screening of Paul Feig’s modern comedy classic.

MPW-11602This year’s series once again kicks-off with Michael Curtiz’s “Casablanca” as the opening night film with screenings May 26 and 27.

The popular Martinis & Manicures event returns July 10 with, as one might imagine, martinis and manicures before a screening of Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike.”

Additionally, Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam (a former Dripping Springs resident who moved to North Carolina in 2014) will return July 22 for a special screening of Austin filmmaker Andrew Bujalski’s”Computer Chess.”

There are a whole mess of anniversary screenings this year.

Look for 75th anniversary presentations of the 1941 classics “The Maltese Falcon” and “Citizen Kane” as well as the 100th anniversary of  D.W. Griffiths’ “Intolerance,” the 80th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s still-perfect “Modern Times,” and the 95th anniversary of Chaplin’s “The Kid,” which screen in a new digital restoration.

Also look for the 50th anniversary of Sergio Leone‘s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and Mike Nichols’ “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” the 20th anniversary of the Coen brothers’ “Fargo” and Baz Luhrmann’s  “Romeo + Juliet.”

The Family Film Festival series kicks off with a double feature of Joe Pytka’s “Space Jam” and Michael Pressman’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” on June 5, and a special 50th anniversary screening of Les Martinson’s “Batman: The Movie” (aka Batman ’66), July 30.

To celebrate the end of primary season, expect the Leo McCarey’s Marx brothers movie “Duck Soup,” Alan J Pakula’s “All the President’s Men,” John Fankenheimer’s “The Manchurian Candidate” and more.

There are musicals and science-fiction, foreign films and  “Grease” sing-along. In late August, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean will be feted with screenings of Howard Hawks’ “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot,” Elia Kazan’s “East of Eden,” Nicholas Ray’s “Rebel Without a Cause” and George Stevens’ “Giant” (the latter turns 60 this year).  The Summer Classic Film Series closes Sept. 4 with “Gone with the Wind.”

There are a couple of ticketing options.

Tickets are available online, by phone, or at Paramount Box Office.  General Admission is  $12, Film Fan Admission is $7. The Film Fan program involves free admission to two member parties, reserved seating, discounted tickets and more. Full details available online at www.austintheatre.org/filmfan.

The Flix Tix program gives you a book of 10 admissions, good in any combination to the Paramount’s Summer Classic Film Series for only $60 ($50 for Film Fans).

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Here is a the full slate.  Films screening at the Paramount will be marked with a (P), while films screening at Stateside will be marked with a (S). DCP means the print is digital.

 

(P) “Casablanca” (1942, 102min/b&w, 35mm)  7pm Thurs 5/26, 9pm Fri 5/27.

(P) “The Maltese Falcon” (1941, 100min/b&w, DCP)  Directed by John Huston. 9pm Thurs 5/26, 7pm Fri 5/27.

(P) “The Third Man” (1949, 104min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Carol Reed. 3pm Sat 5/28, 4:15pm Sun 5/29.

(P) “Citizen Kane” (1941, 119min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Orson Welles. 5pm Sat 5/28, 2pm Sun 5/29.

(P) “The Thin Man” (1934, 93min/b&w, 35mm)  Directed by W.S. Van Dyke. 7pm Tues 5/31.

8be67ff49a859cf843760b167c5b7bc5(P) “Cabaret” (1972, 124min/color, DCP) Directed by Bob Fosse.  8:50pm Tues 5/31.

(P) “Labyrinth” (1986, 102min/color, 35mm) Directed by Jim Henson. 7pm Thurs 6/2.

(P) “Purple Rain” (1984, 111min/color, DCP) Directed by Albert Magnoli. 9pm Thurs 6/2.

(P) “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964, 94min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Stanley Kubrick. 7pm Fri 6/3.

(P) “The Shining” (1980, 144min/color, 35mm) Directed by Stanley Kubrick. 8:55pm Fri 6/3.

(P) “Space Jam” (1996, 88min/color, DCP) Directed by Joe Pytka. 2pm Sun 6/5.

(P) “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” (1991, 90min/color, 35mm) Directed by Michael Pressman. 3:45pm Sun 6/5.

(P) “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939, 129min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Frank Capra. 7pm Tues 6/7, 8:25pm Wed 6/8.

(P) “Duck Soup” (1933, 70min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Leo McCarey. 9:25pm Tues 6/7, 7pm Wed 6/8.duck_soup_xlg

(S) “All the President’s Men” (1976, 139min/color, DCP) Directed by Alan J. Pakula. 7pm Thurs 6/9.

(P) “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962, 126min/b&w, DCP)  2:45pm Sun 6/12.

(P) “The Great Dictator” (1940, 126min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Charlie Chaplin. 5:05pm Sun 6/12.

(P) “Dumbo” (1941, 64min/color, DCP) Directed by Ben Sharpsteen. 1pm Sun 6/12.

(P) “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962, 123min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by John Ford. 7pm Mon 6/13, 9:15pm Tues 6/14.

(P) “The Searchers” (1956, 119min/color, 35mm) Directed by John Ford.  9:20pm Mon 6/13, 7pm Tues 6/14.

(P) “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” (1966, 179min/color, DCP) Directed by Sergio Leone. 7pm Wed 6/15.

(P) “Shane” (1953, 118min/color, DCP) Directed by George Stevens. 7pm Thurs 6/16.

(P) “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969, 110min/color, DCP) Directed by George Roy Hill.  9:15pm Thurs 6/16.

Stagecoach_US_half2(S) “Stagecoach” (1939, 96min/b&w, DCP) Directed by John Ford.  7pm Fri 6/17.

(S) “High Noon” (1952, 85min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Fred Zinnemann. 8:55pm Fri 6/17.

(S) “A Little Princess” (1995, 97min/color, digital) Directed by Alfonso Cuaron.  1pm Sat 6/18.

(S) “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975, 133min/color, DCP) Directed by Milos Forman.  3:15pm Sat 6/18, 4:35pm Sun 6/19.

(S) “A Clockwork Orange” (1971, 136min/color, DCP) Directed by Stanley Kubrick.  7pm Sat 6/18, 2pm Sun 6/19.

(P) “All About Eve” (1950, 138min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.   7pm Tues 6/21, 9:05pm Wed 6/22.full.allabouteve-24623__58879.1462509140.360.360

(P) “Double Indemnity” (1944, 107min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Billy Wilder. 9:35pm Tues Tues 6/21, 7pm Wed 6/22.

(S) “Laura” (1944, 88min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Otto Preminger. 7pm Thurs 6/23.

(S) “Fargo” (1996, 98min/color, DCP) Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. 8:45pm Thurs 6/23.

(P) “Blazing Saddles” (1974, 95min/color, DCP) 7pm Fri 6/24.

(P) “This Is Spinal Tap” (1984, 82min/color, DCP) 8:50pm Fri 6/24.

(P) “The Godfather” (1972, 177min/color, DCP)  Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.   3pm Sat 6/25.

Adventures_of_Robin_Hood_(1938) 1xs(P) “The Godfather Part II” (1974, 200min/color, DCP) Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. 7 pm Sat 6/25.

(P) “Ben-Hur” (1959, 212min/color, DCP) Directed by William Wyler.  3:30pm Sun 6/26.

(P) “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938, 102min/color, 35mm) Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley. 1pm Sun 6/26.

(P) “Intolerance” (1916, 170min/b&w/silent w/English intertitles, DCP) Directed by D.W. Griffith. 7pm Tues 6/28.

(P) “Modern Times” (1936, 87min/b&w/silent w/English intertitles, 35mm) Directed by Charlie Chaplin. 7pm Wed 6/29.

(P) “The Kid” (1921, 53min/b&w/silent w/English intertitles, DCP) Directed by Charlie Chaplin. 8:45pm Wed 6/29.

(P) “Oklahoma!” (1955, 145min/color, DCP) Directed by Fred Zinnemann. 7pm Tues 7/5.

(P) “The King and I” (1956, 133min/color, DCP) Directed by Walter Lang. 7pm Wed 7/6.timthumb

(P) “Gigi” (1958, 115min/color, DCP) Directed by Vincente Minnelli. 7pm Thurs 7/7.

(P) “Moulin Rouge!” (2001, 127min/color, DCP) Directed by Baz Luhrmann. 9:15pm Thurs 7/7.

(P) “Dirty Dancing” (1987, 100min/color, DCP) Directed by Emile Ardolino. 7pm Fri 7/8.

(P) “Flashdance” (1983, 95min/color, 35mm) Director by Adrian Lyne 8:55pm Fri 7/8.

(P) “The Sound of Music” (1965, 174min/color, DCP) Directed by Robert Wise. 3pm Sat 7/9.

(P) “Grease” (1978, 110min/color, DCP) Directed by Randal Kleiser. 7pm Sat 7/9.

(P) “Magic Mike” (2012, 110min/color, DCP) Directed by Steven Soderbergh. 2pm, 6pm Sun 7/10.

(P) “Metropolis” (1927, 148min/b&w/silent w/English intertitles, DCP) 7pm Tues 7/12.

ThingPoster(P) “The Thing” (1982, 109min/color, 35mm) Directed by John Carpenter. 7pm Wed 7/13, 9:15pm Thurs 7/14.

(P) “Blade Runner” (1982, 118min/color, DCP) Directed by Ridley Scott. 9:05pm Wed 7/13, 7pm Thurs 7/14.

(P) “The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001, 228min/color, DCP) Directed by Peter Jackson. 7pm Fri 7/15.

(P) “The Two Towers” (2002, 235min/color, DCP) Directed by Peter Jackson. 2pm Sat 7/16.

(P) “The Return of the King” (2003, 263min/color, DCP) Directed by Peter Jackson. 2pm Sun 7/17.

(P) ”Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986, 106min/color, 35mm) Directed by Woody Allen. 7pm Tues 7/19, 8:50pm Wed 7/20.

(P) “Annie Hall” (1977, 93min/color, 35mm) Directed by Woody Allen. 9:05pm Tues 7/19, 7pm Wed 7/20.

(P) “The Graduate” (1967, 106min/color, DCP) Directed by Mike Nichols. 7pm Thurs 7/21.Original_movie_poster_for_the_film_Who's_Afraid_of_Virginia_Woolf-

(P) “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966, 131min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Mike Nichols. 9:05pm Thurs 7/21.

(S) “M*A*S*H” (1970, 116min/color, DCP) Directed by Robert Altman. 2pm Sun 7/24

(S) “Nashville” (1975, 159min/color, DCP) Directed by Robert Altman. 4:15pm Sun 7/24.

(P) “Computer Chess” (2013, 93min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Andrew Bujalski. 7pm Fri 7/22.

(P) “Adaptation” (2002, 115min/color, 35mm) Directed by Spike Jonze. 7pm Tues 7/26.

(P) “BBill_&_Tedarton Fink” (1991, 116min/color, 35mm) Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen  9:10pm Tues 7/26.

(P) “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975, 91min/color, DCP) Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. 7pm Wed 7/27, 8:45pm Thurs 7/28.

(P) “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989, 90min/color, DCP) Directed by Stephen Herek. 8:50pm Wed 7/27, 7pm Thurs 7/28.

(S) “Hoop Dreams” (1994, 172min/color, DCP) Directed by Steve James. 7pm Fri 7/29.

(P) “Batman: The Movie” (1966, 105min/color, 35mm) Directed by Leslie H. Martinson. 2pm Sat 7/30.

(P) “Goodfellas” (1990, 145min/color, DCP) Directed by Martin Scorsese. 3:30pm Sat 7/30, 6:55pm Sun 7/31.

(P) “Reservoir Dogs” (1992, 99min/color, DCP) Directed by Quentin Tarantino. 6:10pm Sat 7/30, 5pm Sun 7/31.

(P) “The Age of Innocence” (1993, 139min/color, DCP) Directed by Martin Scorsese. 7pm Tues 8/2.

(P) “Romeo + Juliet” (1996, 120min/color, DCP) Directed by Baz Luhrmann. 7pm Wed 8/3.Orlando_film_poster

(P) “Orlando” (1992, 94min/color, 35mm) Directed by Sally Potter. 9:15pm Wed 8/3.

(P) “The Italian Job” (1969, 99min/color, DCP) Directed by Peter Collinson. 7pm Thurs 8/4, 9:20pm Fri 8/5.

(P) “How to Steal a Million” (1966, 123min/color, DCP) Directed by William Wyler. 8:55pm Thurs 8/4, 7pm Fri 8/5.

(P) “Aladdin” (1992, 91min/color, DCP) Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. 1pm Sat 8/6.

(P) “Jaws” (1975, 124min/color, DCP) Directed by Steven Spielberg. 3:15pm Sat 8/6, 4:30pm Sun 8/7.

(P) “Jurassic Park” (1993, 127min/color, DCP) Directed by Steven Spielberg. 5:30pm Sat 8/6, 2pm Sun 8/7.

Persona_Poster(P) “Persona” (1966, 84min/b&w/Swedish w/ English subtitles, 35mm) Directed by Ingmar Bergman. 7pm Tues 8/9.

(P) “Blow-Up” (1966, 110min/color, DCP) Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. 8:40pm Tues 8/9.

(P) ”Beauty and the Beast” (1946, 93min/b&w/French w/ English subtitles, 35mm) Directed by Jean Cocteau.7pm Wed 8/10, 9:30pm Thurs 8/11.

(P) “The Red Shoes” (1948, 133min/color, 35mm) Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. 8:50pm Wed 8/10, 7pm Thurs 8/11.

(S) “Ran” (1985, 162min/color/Japanese w/English subtitles, DCP) Directed by Akira Kurosawa. 3:45pm Sun 8/14.

(P) “Annie” (1982, 128min/color, DCP) Directed by John Huston. 1pm Sun 8/14.

(P) “The 39 Steps” (1935, 86min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 7pm Tues 8/16, 9:15pm Wed 8/17.

(P) “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956, 120min/color, 35mm) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 8:45pm Tues 8/16, 7pm Wed 8/17.

(S) “Notorious” (1946, 101min/b&w, digital) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 7:15pm Tues 8/16, 9:10 pm Wed 8/17.

(S) “The Lady Vanishes” (1938, 97min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 9:15pm Tues 8/16, 7:15 pm Wed 8/17.Strangers_on_a_Train_(film)

(P) “Strangers on a Train” (1951, 101min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 7pm Thurs 8/18, 9 pm Fri 8/19.

(P) “Suspicion” (1941, 99min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. T9:00pm Thurs 8/18, 7pm Fri 8/19.

(P) “Rear Window” (1954, 112min/color, 35mm) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 4pm Sat 8/20, 4pm Sun 8/21.

(P) “Psycho” (1960, 109min/b&w, 35mm) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 6:05pm Sat 8/20, 2pm Sun 8/21.

(P) “Mary PoppinsIndiana_Jones_and_the_Last_Crusade_A” (1964, 140min/color, DCP) Directed by Robert Stevenson. 1pm Sat 8/20.

(P) “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968, 160min/color, 70mm) Directed by Stanley Kubrick. 7pm Tues 8/23, 7pm Wed 8/24.

(P) “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989, 127min/color, 70mm) Directed by Steven Spielberg. 7pm Thurs 8/25, 7pm Fri 8/26.

(P) “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962, 216min/color, 70mm) Directed by David Lean. 3pm Sat 8/27, 2pm Sun 8/28.

(P) “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953, 91min/color, DCP) Directed by Howard Hawks. 7pm Tues 8/30, 9:20pm Wed 8/31.

(P) “Some Like It Hot” (1959, 121min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Billy Wilder. 8:50pm Tues 8/30, 7pm Wed 8/31.

(P) “East of Eden” (1955, 115min/color, DCP) Directed by Elia Kazan.  7pm Thurs 9/1, 9:10pm Fri 9/2.338px-Kingkong33newposter

(P) “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955, 111min/color, DCP)  Directed by Nicholas Ray. 9:10pm Thurs 9/1, 7pm Fri 9/2.

(P) “Giant” (1956, 201min/color, DCP) Directed by George Stevens. 3:30pm Sat 9/3

(P) “King Kong” (1933, 104min/b&w, DCP) Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedstack. 1pm Sat 9/3.

(P) “Gone with the Wind” (1939, 238min/color, 35mm) Directed by Victor Fleming.