Condorito: La Película

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Darle voz al pequeño cóndor más popular de Latinoamérica fue un reto para el actor mexicano Omar Chaparro.“Tenía mis reservas y me dio un poquito de nervio darle voz a un personaje de más de 60 años y tan icónico”, explicó Chaparro quien da vida a la voz del pajarraco en Condorito: la película. El nuevo filme animado en 3D se estrenará en el Norte de Texas el viernes 12 de enero.

Parte del nervio fue porque nadie le había dado voz al personaje chileno anteriormente, explicó. El actor duró dos días en lograr la voz de Condorito que cambió de un tono infantil a uno neutral, “honesto y más puro”, aseguró.En la cinta, Condorito tendrá la misión de rescatar a su futura suegra, doña Tremebunda (voz de la chilena Coco Legrand), de un grupo de alienígenas, y salvar al planeta Tierra.Otros personajes que también formarán parte del filme y de la ciudad de Pelotillehue incluyen a su enamorada Yayita (voz de la colombiana Jessica Cediel), y su rival en el amor, Pepe Cortisona (voz del chileno Cristián de la Fuente).Chaparro ha prestado su voz a filmes animados anteriormente para el doblaje al español de The Incredibles y Kung Fu Panda, y al enterarse de su posible participación en Condorito, no lo pensó mucho.

“Inmediatamente ubiqué a Condorito, me trajo a mis memorias, (cuando estaba) en primaria y siempre compraba la historieta”, comentó Chaparro, de 43 años.

La película de Condorito está basada en las historietas de René Ríos Boettiger, un caricaturista chileno más conocido como Pepo, que creó el personaje en los años 40.

Existen dos versiones de Condorito: la película. Una con voces con acento chileno, y otra con voces hechas en México para audiencias latinoamericanas fuera de Chile. De todos los actores, De la Fuente y Legrand son los únicos que interpretan sus respectivos personajes en ambas versiones de la película.

Chaparro no sabe por qué Condorito, un personaje tan icónico y representativo para los latinoamericanos, tardó tanto tiempo en llegar a la pantalla grande. Pero la idea de presentarlo a las nuevas generaciones “lo emocionó”.

A Chaparro también le agrada que haya más audiencia estadounidense conociendo la cultura latinoamericana a través de películas cómo Coco y Condorito.

“Nuestra cultura latinoamericana, esa minoría en este país, cada vez es mas grande… hacemos más ruido, tenemos más orgullo por lo que somos, por lo que hacemos. Es inevitable, cada vez brillamos más, La gente no solo nos voltean a ver, si no que nos admiran, quieren ser como nosotros, quieren adoptarnos”.

La película dirigida por Eduardo Schuldt y Alex Orrelle se estrenó en México el 12 de octubre. En Dallas, Condorito: la película se presentará desde este viernes en español con subtítulos en inglés.There was a point in time when the first weekend of the year was a dead zone for any wide releases. But then 12 years ago, Lionsgate’s Hostel broke through with a $19.6M start, opening the doors to a solid, devoted young audience following the holiday movie onslaught. Such is the case again this weekend as Universal/Blumhouse’s fourth-quel Insidious: The Last Key looks to take in $20M-$22M at 3,000-plus theaters. The Leigh Whannell-scripted and produced PG-13 feature isn’t expected to notch No. 1, but it’s going to put up a solid result. Jason Blum, Oren Peli and co-creator James Wan return as producers with the movie directed by series newcomer Adam Robitel. Through three movies, the Insidious brand has grossed closed to $372M at the global B.O. Previews start tomorrow night at 7PM.

Proud Mary

 

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Taraji P. Henson spent six weeks in Lowell last spring filming “Proud Mary” — but she wasn’t just making a movie. “Proud Mary,” the Oscar-nominated Henson said, is appealing in its dramatic story of a Boston hitwoman’s life being changed when she protects an orphan.

“That is the obvious thing for the audience, but, more importantly, you have not seen an African-American woman named above the title in an action movie since the ’70s.”That was the Blaxploitation era, with action movies led by Pam “Foxy Brown” Grier and Tamara “Cleopatra Jones” Dobson. Is “Proud Mary” a return to blaxploitation?

“Nothing to exploit here. But it’s definitely a reminder that women can do these roles at any age, just like men.”Mary is one cool killer and the 47-year-old actress didn’t need any arms training to step into her homicidal heels.

“There were two guns that she used. I’m very good with a Glock. Every cop I’ve played used a Glock. The big gun was the M5 and once you get the mechanisms of aim, shoot — I knew how to work it.“What was daunting,” she said, “was the hand-to-hand combat. I’d never done that before and I had to think about it as a dance routine. It’s choreographed, so the stunt coordinator was blown away by how fast I picked it up.

“The first stunt was where I throw the guy through the glass — that’s in the trailer. He taught me that in 20 minutes.“The dangerous stunts, like jumping out of a moving car, they had the stunt double. For the most part, all the fighting hand-to-hand is me.”

Henson scored with “Hidden Figures,” her 2016 sleeper hit that was Oscar-nominated for best picture, and with Cookie Lyon on TV’s “Empire,” but she’s not about to rest.“Obviously I feel I have a lot of stuff to prove and I’m not going to stop until people get it. I’m not going to stop! Stop telling me my movies won’t sell overseas! Take me overseas and prove me wrong.”She laughed, saying, “That’s the only way you’re going to shut me up.”Her two other films this year include Tyler Perry’s “Acrimony” in March, followed by “The Best of Enemies,” the true story of a black woman who stood up to North Carolina’s Ku Klux Klan in 1971.

“The Commuter”: If you’re stoked about seeing Liam Neeson in action movies directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, you’ll be happy to know that “The Commuter” is their fourth time working together in the past seven years. Unrelated to any of their previous films, this one finds Neeson aboard a passenger train with Vera Farmiga (“Bates Motel”) as they race against time to solve a deadly conspiracy. 1 hr. 45; PG-13.

“Paddington 2”: With its careful balance of rude humor and well-paced adventure, 2014’s “Paddington” preserved the dignity of Michael Bond’s beloved character (voiced by Ben Whishaw) while updating it for modern audiences. With most of the main cast returning, the new films sends the CGI animated bear off to prison after a case of mistaken identity involving a stolen book. 1 hr. 43; PG.

“I, Tonya”: Equal parts “Boogie Nights” and “Best In Show,” this darkly comedic mockumentary dramatizes the life of U.S. figure skating champion Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie, “Suicide Squad”), who was implicated in a 1994 scandal involving a physical assault on her Olympic teammate Nancy Kerrigan (Cailin Carver, “Paper Towns”). Allison Janney and Sebastian Stan co-star. 2 hr.; R.

“The Post”: Director Steven Spielberg rides the coattails of the 2015 Oscar-winning newspaper drama “Spotlight” with this political thriller detailing the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers by the Washington Post, and the ensuing government opposition. Meryl Streep stars as publisher Katharine Graham opposite Tom Hanks as executive editor Ben Bradlee. 1 hr. 55; PG-13.“Proud Mary”: The ad campaign for this action thriller from “London Has Fallen” director Babak Najafi pushes “Hidden Figures” star Taraji P. Henson as the heir to the throne of Pam Grier by using the same typeface as the classic “Foxy Brown” posters and showing off Henson looking cool with a variety of firearms as the title character, a professional hitwoman with a tragic past. 1 hr. 28; R.

Thor: Ragnarok

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Remember a year ago, when the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok hit and we all laughed at the scene where Thor calls Hulk “a friend from work”? And remember when the movie actually came out and it was still just as funny? Well, prepare to laugh for the third time, because now you can enjoy the whole scene in full for free on YouTube.

In anticipation of the home release of Thor: Ragnarok, which will hit digital storefronts on February 20 and physical media (Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray) on March 6, Marvel Studios has unleashed the whole prelude to Hulk and Thor’s gladiator match, including the “We know each other!” bit, on YouTube. Of course, you’ll have to buy the movie when it comes out to see Hulk actually smush puny Thor, but for now, you can witness the warm up.

The scene, if you recall, has Thor (Chris Hemsworth) — who has lost the powers of his mighty hammer Mjolnir — fighting as a gladiator slave for the enigmatic Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Unbeknownst to the ancient elder, his mightiest champion, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is a colleague of his newest prisoner. But that doesn’t stop the Incredible Hulk and the Mighty Thor from trading blows like they’re the galactic Ali and Frazier.

The line, “We know each other! He’s a friend from work” actually has really adorable origins. The line was improvised on set — a signature of director Taika Waititi — by a visiting Make-a-Wish kid, whose wish was to meet Chris Hemsworth and hang out on the set of Ragnarok. Hemsworth told Entertainment Weekly during San Diego Comic-Con: “[i]n between the takes I was talking with him, and he goes, ‘You know, you should say, “He’s a friend from work!”‘“

This isn’t the first time Marvel has unleashed a whole clip from a movie to promote the home video release. Last year, to promote Spider-Man: Homecoming on Blu-ray, Marvel uploaded the first ten minutes on YouTube, which not only contains Adrian Toomes’s eerie introduction but also Peter Parker’s homemade documentary about his trip to Germany, set during the events of Captain America: Civil War.

Pitch Perfect 3

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For a film series that began with a classic message about finding oneself in college and learning to make the most of your talents, it’s disconcerting to say the least that the final film in the trilogy begins not just with the obligatory song and dance, but also with an exploding yacht. It seems unlikely that there are many “Pitch Perfect” fans that wanted to see their favorite fictional a cappella group in the plot of a bad James Bond movie, and audience members that weren’t on board with the franchise thus far will hardly be convinced by the new direction.  “Pitch Perfect 3,” directed by Trish Sie (“Step Up: All In”) and featuring returning stars Anna Kendrick (“Trolls”), Rebel Wilson (“Bridesmaids”) and Hailee Steinfeld (“The Edge of Seventeen”), spends its two-hour runtime destroying any sense of goodwill the audience may have had for these characters and solidifies the series’ fate as a forgotten relic that remains at the bottom of the five dollar Walmart bin.

From the opening sequence that seemingly trades in musical hijinks for low-budget spy parody, the film rapidly descends into a mockery of itself. The plot (so much as there is one) revolves around the Barton Bellas’s trip across Europe while performing at United States army bases in an attempt to convince DJ Khaled to make them the opening act of his next show. If that premise sounds silly on paper, it’s even more preposterous on screen, with Khaled strolling through the picture for a number of cameos that feel not only tacked on, but also like they were filmed in the span of a day or two. While the audience is continually reminded by the script every few minutes that almost all of the Bellas have romantic interests in someone in another band, the film stumbles and trips through these storylines in a fashion reminiscent of a poor game of darts. There’s a lot being thrown at the wall here, but almost none of it sticks.

For what it’s worth, Kendrick is still the highlight of these movies, and her arc, although incredibly similar to her storyline from “Pitch Perfect 2,” is in fact the only part of the movie with any kind of emotional resonance whatsoever. Even the most coldhearted of individuals will find it hard not to smile when the gang at last gets their big reunion song on stage at the end. It doesn’t strike nearly as strong a chord as it might have if the movie was actually a good or even decent meditation on leaving your college friends and safe life on campus behind yet still trying desperately to keep in touch with that part of yourself, but “Pitch Perfect 3” simply isn’t up to that challenge. Even the once-exciting a cappella numbers feel forced here, serving only to remind the audience of better scenes in better films. The film overall suffers from the feeling that it was totally and completely unnecessary. There isn’t really much of a story left to tell for the Bellas, and it shows here, with the movie falling quickly into the kind of hollow narrative structure that reeks of late ’90s sequels. An early rendition of the riff-off competition (one of the highlights of the first two films) feels completely lifeless and perfunctory here. It’s easy to see that scene as a metaphor for the film as a whole. The Bellas fall totally flat against the competition. Like the “Pitch Perfect” film franchise, all of their best days are behind them.

I’m not referring to the general public’s indulgence of their on-screen hijinks (although that does befuddle me). No, I’m more concerned with why anyone in the Pitch Perfect-verse (do I have to call it that?) puts up with them. Over three increasingly less-entertaining movies, why do a bevy of supporting characters swoon over them while their rivals eventually admit a grudging respect for them? Why are they treated like goofy, but ultimately good-hearted people? Why are we expected to like them?

Because, quite frankly, the Barden Bellas are the worst. They’re selfish, they’re spoiled, they’re rude to strangers and each other, they seem to have no skills, interests, or lives outside of a capella singing, and they’re all quite dim. They spend most of their time complaining, starting fights, and bickering with one another. Spending any longer than an hour with these craven monsters would probably constitute inhuman treatment under the Geneva Convention. I mean, in Pitch Perfect 3, one of them is revealed to be literally possessed by a demon.

And I haven’t even mentioned the queen of odious behaviour: Fat Amy. Played by Rebel Wilson with her typical lack of subtly or nuance, Fat Amy is one of cinema’s greatest villains. A cold-blooded sociopath with no regard for anything but her own insatiable ego, Amy is truly detestable. She’s cruel, stupid, vulgar, crass, annoying, and vapid beyond belief. The fact the she’s meant to be the comic relief for this series is something I can’t wrap my head around. She’s more evil than Emperor Palpatine.

Pitch Perfect 3 (the promised final chapter in this acca-trilogy…oh, no, now I’m doing it) is a textbook example of diminishing returns. The two-dimensional, but fun characters from the first film have now overstayed their welcome in this third entry. They have nothing new to learn, no interesting adventures to go on, and no more depths to explore. But the studio demanded another Pitch Perfect, so the Barden Bellas are dragged through one more intolerable excursion before the ride off into that sweet goodnight. And the filmmakers make the characters and the movie so miserable that not even the most ardent fan will demand a Pitch Perfect 4.

Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy, and all the other characters with interchangeable personalities have been standing around doing nothing since Pitch Perfect 2, so when an opportunity arises to play at a USO show with DJ Khaled (played by famed non-actor DJ Khaled), they jump on it. But, in typical Pitch Perfect fashion, they have to compete with other bands, including an all-girl rock group called EverMoist, because apparently it’s still 1998.

There’s no narrative momentum in P3 (as we cool kids call it). Things just happen without much character or plot motivation. The film is a series of loosely connected incidents that eventually stumble into a limp climax. This movie is a rare case where a subplot complete overtakes the main plot in third act and serves as the grand finale. It’s lazy, uninvolving writing.

There are vague themes of family and growing up, but they don’t connect with anything that actually happens in the story.  It’s just the same surface-level fluff from the last two movies. Cinematic regurgitation.

The gags are limp, mostly based on topical references that will be out of date in a months. Once in a while a joke lands, but they’re few and far between. The a capella singing, the main attraction in these movies, is awful. They cranked the cringe meter to 11 for every song. It’s no longer funny; it’s just annoying.

The cast is low energy and bored. Anna Kendrick is on pure auto-pilot as she cashes one more paycheque. Rebel Wilson solidifies herself as one of the worst actresses in Hollywood today with her abysmal performance. John Lithgow puts on an Australian accent as he sleep walks through a weak villain role. The less said about DJ Khaled’s so-bad-it’s-almost-brilliant performance, the better.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Full Movie

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As a franchise Star Wars is inseparable from John Williams’ dazzling musical tapestry. Many credit the veteran composer with re-igniting the Golden Age orchestral film score with the Oscar-winning A New Hope back in 1977. Forty years later he’s still capable of sustaining the same levels of excitement with his scores for the new Star Wars trilogy.

It’s not hard to see why: the composer weaves together a symphony of action, intrigue, and romance that effortlessly elevates the viewing experience. Here’s our analysis of Williams’ new and pre-existing trilogy themes deployed in The Last Jedi, and their importance to the burgeoning trilogy narrative.

The official Star Wars YouTube channel just posted an awesome video of Lucasfilm Story Group members Leland Chee, Pablo Hidalgo, Matt Martin, and Rayne Roberts talking about a bunch of secrets from The Last Jedi. They cover cameos, hidden references, so much good stuff. It’s well worth a watch in full, which you can do below, but a few things stand out.

First up is Han’s dice. Of course, in The Last Jedi, Luke hands Leia Han Solo’s dice from the Millennium Falcon at the end of the movie in a very touching moment. However, many people were confused as to why these dice, which have been lurking in the series since A New Hope, got such a prominent spotlight.

The reason is The Force Awakens. When Han Solo gets back the Millennium Falcon and returns to the bridge for the first time, J.J. Abrams had originally shot a scene where Han puts the dice back up. Apparently Rian Johnson saw that scene, was inspired by it, and used the dice liberally in The Last Jedi. Unfortunately, Abrams ended up cutting that moment.

Another cool tidbit has to do with Luke’s compass. Many fans have already figured out that the compass briefly seen in Luke’s hut in The Last Jedi is the same one he acquires in Battlefront II. But what we didn’t know is the connection came literally days before Johnson shot that scene. The group had the idea; Dave Filoni, executive producer of Star Wars Rebels, designed a compass; the prop department made it; producers approved it; and just like that it was in movie.Months ago we reported that Rian Johnson asked J.J. Abrams for one change in The Force Awakens. That was for R2-D2 to go with Rey and Chewbacca at the end and not BB-8. Well, the reason behind that is because Johnson had the idea to do the scene in The Last Jedi where R2 shows Luke the old footage of Leia. And to do that, he needed R2 on the Falcon.

Following his brief cameo at the end of The Force Awakens, Mark Hamill finally made his full return to the Star Wars franchise last month in The Last Jedi. However, while Luke Skywalker did have a major role in the story, most of his time was spent interacting with Rey on Ahch-To, and the only reason he was able to “see” Leia and Kylo Ren later on was because he used the Force to project himself from Crait, which ultimately exhausted him to death. However, if one of Hamill’s recent tweets is to be believed, there may be a cut scene from The Last Jedi where Luke had some face time with Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

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Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has hit $514 million in worldwide box office grosses after a powerful $70 million foreign weekend.The action-comedy has pushed its international total to $275 million as the film scored first place in 50 markets. The film also saw 10 markets grow over last weekend, including Russia. South Korea debuted with $7.1 million, Brazil posted a $6.8 million opening and “Jumanji” maintained its top spot in Australia with $4.5 million.

The Dwayne Johnson-Kevin Hart sequel led the North American market with $36 million.“Jumanji” will open next weekend in China, where the second weekend of Chinese comedy “The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes” has been dominating for the past two weekends.

“The Ex-File” movie — the third and final title in the series — took in $78.7 million this weekend in China, according to comScore. Starring Han Geng and Ryan Zheng Kai as bachelors who have broken up with their girlfriends, the movie has totaled an impressive $190 million in China.“The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes” dwarfed the China opening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” with $28.7 million. That was a disappointing result for “The Last Jedi” in China,where “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opened with $52 million and $30 million, respectively.

Fox’s musical drama “The Greatest Showman” and its animated comedy “Ferdinand” led the rest of the international pack. “Showman” grossed $24 million in 74 markets, led by a $3.7 million Russian launch and a $3.3 million second weekend in the U.K., for an overseas total of $74.5 million.“Ferdinand” took in $23.3 million in 69 markets, raising the international total to $112.8 million as France led the way with a $4.2 million second weekend.

Sony’s hit “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” will face a trio of newcomers at domestic multiplexes over the four-day Martin Luther King weekend — “Paddington 2,” Liam Neeson’s “The Commuter,” and Taraji P. Henson’s “Proud Mary.”Additionally, Steven Spielberg’s journalism drama “The Post” is going wide on Friday as awards season kicks into high gear. The fifth weekend of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” should still be a competitor, with $577 million already banked domestically, along with the second session of “Insidious: The Last Key.”

Projections place “Jumanji” as the clear leader with a range of $25 million to $30 million over the Friday-Monday period. The top end of forecasts put “Paddington 2,” “The Post,” and “Proud Mary” each in the $23 million to $25 million range, while their respective studios project $15 million to $18 million. “The Commuter” appears to be heading slightly lower.“Jumanji,” which scored an impressive $37.3 million last weekend to win the first 2018 session handily, will probably wind up on Monday with around $290 million — a figure that seemed unthinkable when it opened on Dec. 20, five days after “The Last Jedi.” Its holding power has underlined the marquee value of stars Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.

“Paddington 2” is getting the widest release among the newcomers, with Warner Bros. booking 3,702 venues. The studio acquired North American rights to the family comedy in November from The Weinstein Company in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein. “Paddington 2,” produced by David Heyman and Studio Canal with Ben Whishaw voicing the accident-prone bear, has already earned $125 million internationally.

“Paddington 2” has been embraced by critics and is currently rated at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The original “Paddington” scored $268 million worldwide following its 2014 release.

Sony is launching “Proud Mary” through its Screen Gems label on a somewhat smaller scale at about 2,100 locations. Henson plays a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy when a professional hit goes wrong.“Proud Mary” also stars Billy Brown, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, and Danny Glover. It’s directed by Babak Najafi, and produced by Paul Schiff and Tai Duncan. During the MLK weekend a year ago, Henson’s “Hidden Figures” easily won the box office crown with $27 million in its fourth frame.

Lionsgate will open the action-thriller “The Commuter” at around 2,800 North American theaters. Neeson portrays a train passenger who becomes entwined in a murder conspiracy after meeting a mysterious woman. The campaign kicked off in October with a screening and a trailer debut across Fox NFL Sunday games, followed by an ESPN cross-platform partnership featuring NFL star Rob Gronkowski inserted into a scene from the film and a branded app for Amazon Alexa and Google Home speakers with Neeson’s voice.

“The Commuter” also kicks off a long-term partnership between Lionsgate and StudioCanal that will continue with “Early Man” and “Shaun the Sheep Movie 2.” “The Commuter” has a 73% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Paddington 2” and “The Commuter” will begin rolling out with Thursday evening preview showings. “Proud Mary” screenings will start on Friday.“The Post,” starring Tom Hanks as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as publisher Katharine Graham, goes wide from 36 to 2,820 sites on Friday. The National Board of Review named it the best film of 2017, with Hanks and Streep taking the top acting awards. The movie has grossed $4 million in less than three weeks with studio executives asserting that the movie appears to have strong playability to a wider audience. “The Post” has an 89% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.

justice league full movie

According to a screenshot posted by DC Films Universe, Richard Cetrone (who was Ben Affleck’s stunt double on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, as well as David Thewlis’ stunt double on Wonder Woman) not only does he believe that a Zack Snyder cut of Justice League exists, but with enough support from fans, perhaps Warner Bros might be willing to release it. The latter certainly won’t be a problem, as many DCEU fans have expressed enthusiasm for seeing such a version of the movie, with a petition for the Zack Snyder cut being posted online only days after Justice League was released. A small group of fans even stood outside the Warner Bros lot in Burbank, California this past weekend to show their support for this endeavor.

It’s worth noting that this new information conflicts with a previous claim that the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League doesn’t exist. In case you need a refresher, it was announced in May 2017 that Snyder stepped away from the movie due to the tragic death of his daughter, and Joss Whedon, who’d already been brought on to re-write certain scenes, was tapped to helm the reshoots and the rest of post-production. Because of that, a VFX artist who worked on Justice League said that because Snyder hadn’t worked on the DC superhero team-up story for more than half a year, there was no way to assemble a Zack Snyder cut together.

Either way, we shouldn’t discount Warner Bros releasing an extended version of Justice League for Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, etc, even if it’s not this specific Zack Snyder cut. Both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad received such treatments in 2016, and according to one rumor, an extended version of the Justice League theatrical cut will be released to the public, rather than one that shifts the story closer to what was envisioned when Zack Snyder was overseeing things.

Justice League has largely wrapped up its theatrical run, and while a home media release date hasn’t been officially announced yet, I suspect it will arrive within the next month or two, so stay tuned to any updates about an extended cut, Zack Snyder-inspired or otherwise. The next DCEU installment, Aquaman, dives into theaters on December 21.

Coco Full Movie

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“[It] purely had to do with us not having a title yet,” says director Lee Unkrich. “That triggered a bunch of stuff, and it really blew up. It was heartbreaking for me, because we were working so hard to do everything right and respectfully.”

Four years later, nobody is talking about petitions. Indeed, the film, which was released Nov. 22, just passed $300 million at the worldwide box office and is considered a frontrunner for this year’s animation Oscar. “It ended up being kind of a blessing in disguise,” Unkrich says of the early trademark snafu, “because it caused us to really up our game. We had to make sure we were being as respectful as possible.”

Still, there were a few bumps getting to the finish line, including the sudden departure of Pixar’s chief creative force, John Lasseter, who, the day before Coco’s release, said he was taking a leave of absence in the midst of allegations of misconduct.The original idea for the film came to Unkrich, 50, during a 2011 family vacation while visiting the Mexico pavilion at Disney’s Epcot theme park in Florida. “I was riding this boat and we passed a mariachi skeleton band, and that was my trigger moment,” he recalls. “I started to think about the potential of telling a story set against the culture of Mexico. I had never seen a full story told against Dia de los Muertos.”That would change in 2014, when Jorge Gutierrez’s The Book of Life would debut. Meanwhile, Unkrich had been assembling the bones of his story, which would tell the tale of 12-year-old Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez, now 13), who longs to become a musician even though his family has banned music from their home for secret reasons that Miguel will discover when he’s transported to the vibrant Land of the Dead.

Although his script was not yet fully formed, Unkrich — who was just coming off an Oscar win for Toy Story 3 — took his idea to Lasseter, who gave it a green light pretty much at hello. “He saw a lot of potential in it to be a colorful, vibrant film with a lot of music and emotion,” says Unkrich. “We felt the family-centric theme was the way to go.”Within a few months, Unkrich embarked on a research trip to Mexico with Pixar head of story Jason Katz, production designer Harley Jessup and Pixar producer Darla K. Anderson, visiting Mexico City, Morelia, Oaxaca and Guanajuato, the last of which turned out to be a special inspiration to Jessup.

“It’s a city of terraced architecture that is going up steep hillsides — very brightly colored and layered,” he says. The world he eventually created for the film’s Land of the Dead incorporated that look, adding huge vertical towers that reflected the “layered history of Mexico,” as Jessup puts it. “At the bottom of each tower are the Aztec and Mayan pyramids; above that, Spanish colonial period buildings; above that are Mexican Revolution era and Victorian era buildings; and then into the 20th century and modern day.”

Meanwhile, Unkrich began assembling more of his team, including a Mexican-American storyboard artist he’d worked with on Toy Story 3, Adrian Molina. “When he found out we were doing a story set against Mexican culture, he really wanted to be a part of it,” says Unkrich. Molina, 32, came aboard as a story artist but didn’t let his title get in the way. When Unkrich hit some roadblocks with his script, Molina volunteered some fresh unsolicited pages. “I submitted them, but I did it very respectfully,” he recalls. “I said, ‘I don’t know if these are helpful to you, but I just need to get them out of my system.’ But the more time we spent of the story, the more time we spent talking about what the film could be, the more we realized we were on the same page.”One of the big challenges with the story was that Dia de los Muertos is such a culturally specific holiday — an autumn celebration featuring parades and colorful costumes honoring the passing of friends and family — that Unkrich worried non-Mexican audiences might not relate. “We had to assume a great percentage of the audience didn’t know what Dia de los Muertos was,” Unkrich says, “so we had to communicate information about the holiday organically, not with a lecture.” Molina’s pages introducing the key concept of “final death” — when a soul disappears forever after he or she is no longer remembered by anyone in the Land of the Living — were particularly helpful. “He nailed it,” says Unkrich. “The [final death] scene [in the film] is very close to what Adrian wrote.”Meanwhile, Benjamin Bratt came on as Ernesto de la Cruz, a larger-than-life musician; Gael Garcia Bernal was cast as Hector, a down-on-his-luck drifter desperately worried about his final death; and Edward James Olmos joined as Chicharron, a grumpy music lover. That left the crucial voice role of Miguel. “At first we were doing temp dialog with a great kid named Emilio Fuentes,” says Unkrich. “He was our Miguel for a couple of years while we were developing [the film]. But then his voice started to change, so I needed to find another voice. He had to be able to act, he had to be able to sing, and he had to sound like he was 12. And it was vitally important that we had a Latino.”That’s when Los Angeles native Gonzalez was hired for temp dialogue, and soon the team realized that they had found their Miguel. “When we told him he was being given the part, he fell to the ground,” says Unkrich. “He was completely overwhelmed.”

Throughout the production, Pixar also worked with a team of cultural advisers, including Marcela Davison Aviles, playwright Octavio Solis and political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz (who happened to be one of the Mexican luminaries who’d been outraged when Disney tried to trademark Dia de los Muertos; he published a cartoon of a rampaging Mickey Mouse skeleton destroying a city, calling it “Muerto Mouse”).”They came to Pixar every three months when we screened the [work in progress],” says Unkrich. “We had never opened up one of our films to outside people like that before, but we thought it was vital. Every time we screened the film, there were a lot of notes. We tried to take that all to heart in a way that supported the story.”

And then there was the title. Given the controversy, Day of the Dead no longer seemed like a viable option. Ultimately, the film ended up being named after Miguel’s great-grandmother (voiced by Ana Ofelia Murguia), who holds the secret to his family’s anti-musical past: Mama Coco.Mama Coco, whom filmmakers imagined as about 97 years old, shares a special relationship with Miguel. Says character supervisor Christian Hoffman: “We kept her wardrobe more traditional. She wears a mandil — or apron — with a dress underneath and sandals.”