Hollywood Shuffle


Something you might hear mentioned from time-to-time during Now Playing Podcast episodes is the hectic show schedule. While most tentpole flicks (especially superhero flicks) are given a release date years in advance, that’s not the case for every film. So when Now Playing is set to review a movie and suddenly the release date shifts, that can throw everything into chaos.

For instance, imagine if Universal had pulled Furious 7 at the last minute and released it in July instead of April. Now Playing Podcast would have had to scramble to fill seven weeks of programming. It’s not like there are backup shows ready to air.

So I grabbed host Stuart Atkinson for a few minutes and asked him about his role as Now Playing’s schedule-maker, what kind of surprises he’s dealt with in the past, and how Mission Impossible wound up on this week’s calendar.

You can read the story at the Venganza Media website.


Tale of two trailers

I wonder how much productivity was killed this week by the arrival of the Batman v Superman and Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers?

In my office, where we have desk space reserved for action figure battles, everything came to a halt on Thursday when the latter was streamed online during Star Wars Celebration. I saw tweets from people I follow who said they’d put the trailer on repeat and spent the afternoon breaking down every frame. Ain’t nothin wrong with that.

The money shot from the "Force Awakens" trailer.
The money shot from the “Force Awakens” trailer.

But for me, Star Wars was just the appetizer. Although I got goose bumps during the trailer, I’m still having trouble channeling my inner Jedi. I loved the first trilogy as a kid, and got into the books in the 90s, but I’ve never been a die-hard devotee. The last trilogy may have cut me too deep. I have no doubt The Force Awakens will be a return to greatness, but some memories are hard to flush out of your mind. Perhaps it’s still too early. I haven’t even gone full Avengers mode yet, as I’m still coming down from my Furious 7 cloud.

It’s not too early, however, for me to freak out over Batman v Superman. That teaser wasn’t supposed to debut until early next week – a fact that I kept trying to erase from my brain so the wait wouldn’t bother me so much.

Batman revealed.
Batman revealed.

I’m sure a lot of people weren’t surprised when that bootlegged, subtitled version wound up online late Thursday night. I was surprised, however, by the amount of negativity thrown its way. Nobody can even see the thing and they’re hating all over it.

The blurry version was posted to the Now Playing Podcast page on Friday morning, igniting a daylong debate over whether the finished film is garbage. Fans who felt they were burned by Man of Steel are ready to hate Batman v Superman, and not being able to see the teaser in full context just gave them more (imaginary) ammunition.

That’s why it was even less of a surprise to see director Zack Snyder tweet a polished version of the teaser Friday afternoon, days ahead of a planned theatrical debut event. I can’t imagine how many studio, theater, marketing, and public relations folks are furious the event got spoiled. Hopefully, Warner Bros can make the same move Marvel did when the Age of Ultron trailer leaked, and release another trailer with additional footage in the coming weeks.

Although I had the same issues everyone else did with Man of Steel, I’m all in for this sequel, because it’s all about Batman. I can’t believe we have to wait another year for this flick.

Affleck. Unblurred.
Affleck. Unblurred.

Everything stopped in my office again when the teaser was released Friday afternoon, but this time the reaction was different. Some of my co-workers just gave it a “meh” and said Star Wars did it better.

I say they’re two different flicks. One is full of hope and nostalgia; the other is dark and ominous. They’re not selling the same movie, that’s why I don’t think you need to poll the public on which one is better, as if they were going head-to-head the same weekend.

Since I brought it up, a glance at Wikipedia’s 2016 in Film calendar shows Batman v Superman opening March 25 against a Beverly Hills Cop sequel that I can’t ever see happening. And if it does happen, it’s not getting released that same weekend.

That means a clear field until May 6, when Captain America: Civil War hits. I gotta start getting excited for that one too.

Around the Web:

io9 breaks down Every Key Detail and Killer Moment from the Batman v Superman teaser.

Blurry or unblurred, some Now Playing Podcast fans still split on Affleck.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Graeme McMillan wonders where to start with the new Star Wars trailer.

McMillan also penned this piece on fan reaction to the leaked Batman v Superman teaser.

Everyone picked up on the “My father has it” line from the Force Awakens trailer, and here Entertainment Weekly looks for signs that Darth Vader is still alive.

And, Furious 7 is the fastest film ever to $1 billion. Awesome.

Catching up

Easter weekend is winding down and Opening Day is tomorrow, so I wanted to get a quick post in before I’m completely consumed by work and baseball. At least until next month when I’ll be completely consumed by Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Snip20150405_111) Now Playing Podcast

This weekend I posted a brief Q&A with the hosts of Now Playing Podcast. We talked about the upcoming Spring Donation Drive, which will finally see the hosts cover the Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park films. There will be a few other surprises mixed in there, you can find all the details in the article.


Snip20150405_122) Furious 7

I thought about writing a longer post with all of my thoughts on Furious 7. After seeing it for a second time this morning, I decided to just put down some brief thoughts here. It’s not the best entry in the series, but it’s still a great flick, and if you’re a fan, you’ll get real emotional at the end. I’m not gonna say I didn’t cry like that time when Bruce Willis pushed Ben Affleck back onto the space shuttle in Armageddon, cause that would be a lie.

3) Furious 7 and Now Playing Podcast

Don’t forget that the final entry in Now Playing’s Fast & Furious retrospective will be released on Tuesday. Also, on the Now Playing Facebook page, I’ll be posting a link to my F&F Spotify playlist. I’ve been asking fans to name their favorite songs from the flicks and help me put together the ultimate playlist, so that’s something to look forward to.

Ride out

“The Fast and the Furious” retrospective starts Feb. 24.

In what might be the greatest honor bestowed upon me as a member of the Now Playing Podcast team, I just posted the cover art for the Fast & Furious retrospective to social media and the Venganza Media website.

It’s a series I’ve been waiting three years to hear, and I cannot wait for things to get started when the first review of 2001’s The Fast and the Furious goes online tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’m becoming more than a little obsessed with the single “Ride Out” from the Furious 7 soundtrack. It’s got that great anthem feeling like I got from We Own It on the Fast and Furious 6 soundtrack.

Catching up

It’s been a ridiculously busy week, I realized today I’ve been on every site in my network except for this one. So maybe I’ll just post some highlights of everything that’s happening:

1) Now Playing “Pick a Podcast” Poll

Over at the Now Playing Podcast website, we’re running a poll where you can choose one of five films for an upcoming review. The contenders are Babadook (haven’t seen it), Wes Craven’s Shocker (legendary horror bomb), Sinister (haven’t seen that either), John Carpenter’s They Live (a classic), and The Usual Suspects (another classic).


The poll closes Feb. 27, so there’s still time to cast your vote. I’m backing They Live, because I think it’s the last really great John Carpenter film, and I loved it as a kid.

The winner of the poll will be announced during the March 3 review of 2 Fast 2 Furious.

2) Preview of Furious 7 soundtrack

Speaking of The Fast and the Furious franchise (because that’s something I never write about), two tracks from the Furious 7 soundtrack are online now, and more will be coming ahead of the films April 3 release.


I’ve been thinking about writing some articles about the F&F soundtracks, going back to the first film, which was heavy on Ja Rule, back when he and Limp Bizkit were still popular.

I listened to one track from Furious 7, “Ride Out” by Kid Ink, Tyga, Wale, YG, and Rich Homie Quan. It was pretty good. By the way, writing all of those names made me feel very old.

3) The campaign has begun

Tuesday night’s live Now Playing Podcast review of Kingsman: The Secret Service was such a blast. It was great fun interacting with all of the listeners in the chat room and on Twitter.

The show kicked off Venganza Media’s first Kickstarter campaign to fund “Underrated Movies We Recommend.” The listeners have been incredibly generous so far, and $23,000 was raised within the first 24 hours.

The campaign runs until March 19.


7 thoughts on ‘Furious7’ Super Bowl spot

The second teaser trailer for Furious 7 aired during the second quarter of Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, and although it was about one minute shorter than the trailer that premiered in November, it gave fans a look at several new scenes.

Here are seven takeaways:

Not the house!


After just settling back into their L.A. home at the end of Fast and Furious 6, Vin Diesel sees it go boom in the first 20 seconds of the trailer.

Car fight!


Everyone is anticipating the Vin Diesel vs. Jason Statham fight, and it apparently includes a car chase that ends in a head-on collision. But $5 says they both step out without a scratch, or at least without any broken bones.

Rousey vs. Rodriguez!


After taking on (and finishing off) Gina Carano in the sixth film, Michelle Rodriguez will go toe-to-toe with MMA star Ronda Rousey. Should be good.

Then there’s this…


And this…


Also this…


Which leads to this…


Seriously Furious 7, take my money!!!

Are you getting tired of tease teasing?

"Halloween 6" star Paul Rudd in the trailer for the trailer for "Ant-Man."
“Halloween 6” star Paul Rudd in the trailer for the trailer for “Ant-Man.”

I’m an admitted trailer junkie. Back in the days when I used to watch E! I was all about that show Coming Attractions with future Vegas Price is Right Live! host Todd Newton. When we had dial-up I used to wait at my computer for hours while downloading trailers and then I freaked out when the phone rang and stopped me from seeing 2 minutes of The Big Hit.

These days I’ll sit in front of my laptop for an hour watching the “red carpet premiere” for the Furious 7 trailer, knowing the whole time that I can do the laundry or practice juggling or run a couple miles and come back in 60 minutes to watch the thing.

I’m just kidding, I don’t run.

If you’ve ever watched Entertainment Tonight you know how they tease their viewers. You get a 30-second clip promoting some story about some reality TV person at the beginning of the show, then you get the same clip every five minutes until you finally get to the end of the show and the actual story is about 10 seconds long and told you something you already read on Twitter three days ago.

That’s what I started thinking about when Marvel’s “human-sized” Ant-Man tease showed up on YouTube today. It was a version of the 17-second clip that you could actually see, as opposed to the miniaturized (and from a marketing standpoint, very clever) clip that went online a day ago.

I wondered, “Have we gotten to the point where ‘teasing the tease’ is the norm?” In Marvel’s case, it’s actually teasing the tease of a tease with a miniaturized tease.

Marvel is promising the full trailer (if it doesn’t leak first) during Tuesday’s premiere of its Agent Carter series. And you know it won’t come during the first act. In all likelihood you’ll have to wait until the second hour and then Ryan Seacrest will have to read the results of something and there will be five more commercial breaks and then the trailer will be over before you know it.

When I posted the new Ant-Man clip to the Now Playing Podcast Facebook page it sparked a discussion on this topic, with a lot of fans annoyed by the new strategy.

Tonight I added this Hollywood Reporter piece to the thread. I think it sheds some light on the “why” question. The most-watched trailer of the year was the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer, with 93 million views.

So there’s your answer. It’s not just about getting people to watch Agent Carter.

I’m curious to hear anyone’s thoughts on the “teasing a tease” strategy. My guess is it won’t hurt Ant-Man’s box office.

It’s happening

Snip20141229_9I’ll be writing more extensively about the 2015 Now Playing Podcast calendar in the coming days, but I wanted to get a little bit online right away.

That’s because it’s finally official: Now Playing is reviewing the Fast & Furious franchise.

I’ve known about it for some time now, but didn’t want to write about it until the schedule was posted at the (all new) Now Playing Podcast website. The series starts February 24 and will lead into the release of Furious 7 in April.

I’m thinking back to the first conversation I ever had with host Arnie Carvalho, back when I interviewed him for a story for FOX5. I figured he was constantly bombarded by questions about which films would be reviewed, but I had to ask him about Fast & Furious.

“We’ll get there,” he said.



Snip20141101_21That’s the first word that came to mind after seeing the Furious 7 trailer this afternoon.

The event, streamed online and presented by E!, featured the first footage from the film and capped a weeklong promotional event Universal dubbed, “The Road to Furious 7.”

As I did with the Super Bowl release of the first Fast and Furious 6 trailer, here some quick thoughts — seven of them:

1) Paul Walker will be front-and-center in the sequelSnip20141101_20

It doesn’t appear the actor’s role will be reduced following his death last year. Walker is featured heavily in the trailer, especially in the first stunt…

2) The franchise will continue to defy the laws of physicsSnip20141101_19

And I will love it. To think that at one time it bothered me to see Walker jump his car over a competitor as they raced across a rising bridge.

The Fast franchise has gotten more ridiculous with each sequel, and the Furious 7 trailer starts with cars parachuting out of a plane, segueing into the image above; Walker racing  to jump from a bus falling off a cliff.

3) Let’s hope there’s better dialogue than thisSnip20141101_21

“It’s like the sins of London have followed us home,” Diesel says during the trailer.

Come on. This isn’t 2 Fast 2 Furious anymore. I know the franchise isn’t going to win any Best Screenplay awards — and that’s not why I’m a fan — but that one was a real groaner.

4) I’m loving that the franchise continues to think globalSnip20141101_22

This series is going Mission Impossible in terms of its foreign locales. The first trailer gives a glimpse of the glamorous Abu Dhabi scenes, with Diesel trading in his sleeveless shirts for a tux. Very James Bond-ian.

5) The Rock is backSnip20141101_23

Not only does he get to wield a minigun like Jesse Ventura in Predator, but we see a wounded Hobbs break himself free of a seriously huge cast in order to get back in the action.

6) Welcome Kurt RussellSnip20141101_24

We knew he had a role in the film, we still don’t know what it is. But it’s an awesome treat to have Snake Plissken and “Stuntman” Mike McKay on board.

 7) Did I mention the leaping?Snip20141101_25

Diesel and villain Jason Statham are presented here — in what I presume is their final fight — in mid-leap. There’s going to be a lot in this movie that’s not possible without special effects. I’m going with it.

Ready… steady

furious7I was just thinking last week, during the hoopla over the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, that a trailer for Fast and Furious 7 should be arriving soon.

Not only did we get confirmation today that a trailer would premiere Nov. 1, but Universal also announced the sequel was officially titled Furious 7, and the banner posted above was also released online.

The studio is putting a lot of effort behind the trailer release; it will be hyped relentlessly on social media in the coming days, and there is a launch event scheduled for Saturday where stars from the franchise will answer fan questions during a live stream/broadcast.

It’s a smart marketing move and should pay off in hype. As a fan of the films, I’m hoping it will also pay off at the box office. But Furious 7 will have to bank a lot of money in its first few weeks if it has a chance of topping the $788M its predecessor brought in a year-and-a-half ago.

Today’s “preview of the preview” gives you a glimpse at what we can expect from the sequel. The seven stars pictured side-by-side obviously represent the “Furious 7” who will be taking on villain Jason Statham following the death of Sung Kang’s Han in the last film. That lines up with everything director James Wan has said about the film being a “gritty 70s revenge thriller.”

Obviously, Wan can’t push the franchise further into the realms of absurdity — how could he possibly top the action highlights of the previous film? I’m just worried about how “gritty” he’s going to make his film, and how audiences who enjoy the escapism of the franchise will react to his vision.

But I really shouldn’t worry this much. Fast and Furious is Universal’s biggest franchise. They’ll take care of it.

I’m wondering if I should live-tweet next weekend’s trailer launch event. Hmmmmmm.