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Rakuten TV Empire Awards 2018: Star Wars: The Last Jedi wins big

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Story by Jack Foley

STAR Wars: The Last Jedi proved to be the biggest winner at the Rakuten TV Empire Awards 2018, picking up several prizes including Best Film, best director and best actress.

The film triumphed in the main category ahead of the likes of Get Out and Wonder Woman, having been voted for by readers of the magazine. It prompted filmmaker Rian Johnson, who also took best director, to exclaim: “What an incredible year for movies, just absolutely amazing… We made the film here, with a UK crew and largely UK cast. It feels like a British film.”

Earlier, Johnson, who also wrote the film, said of his best director prize: “Thank you so much. I want to thank Empire… you guys have been so supportive going right back to Brick.”

He also thanked the readers and fans who voted, saying: “We’re all fans ourselves. It means everything.”

Daisy Ridley was crowned best actress, while Star Wars legend Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, took home the Empire Icon. After initially joking about not being particularly articulate, Hamill said: “<>Empire I think of as a magazine written by fans, for fans. First and foremost, that describes me, and I think the fans realise that — I’m one of them.”

He concluded by saying: “I share this with all of you, and with the fans. Without them, I certainly wouldn’t be standing here.”

Of the night’s other big winners, R-rated superhero flick Logan, which marked Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine, picked up two prizes, including the surprise of the night: best actor for Jackman.

Going into the ceremony, the favourites had been either Gary Oldman, who had won an Oscar and a BAFTA for his portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, or John Boyega, who was up for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

But Jackman triumphed, to his obvious delight. Taking to the stage to The Foo Fighters’ My Hero, the actor said: “When we started making this movie, every single email I wrote had the heading ‘Utopia’. We wanted to make something that was our dream project for this character.

“We could not have achieved that without this incredible team… In the last 20 years I have learned a lot about this character. There are 20 million people out there who still know a hell of a lot more about this character than me. This award and this movie is for those people.”

Earlier in the evening, his teenage co-star Dafne Keen took the award for best female newcomer for her performance as fellow Mutant X23 in the movie. She thanked Empire and director James Mangold for being there for us and helping us and being nice and everything”.

And she also praised both Patrick Stewart for “being so nice, always, at all times” and Jackman himself for being “best fictional dad”.

British romance God’s Own Country, which chronicles a gay relationship, also won two awards on the night, including Best British film and best male newcomer for Josh O’Connor, who triumphed ahead of the likes of Dunkirk‘s Fionn Whitehead, Baby Driver‘s Ansel Elgort, Get Out‘s Daniel Kaluuya and Call Me By Your Name‘s Timothée Chalamet.

Further awards on the night went to Get Out, which was named best horror, Wonder Woman, which won in the best sci-fi/fantasy category, Netflix’s royal drama The Crown, which was crowned best TV show, and The Death of Stalin, which was named best comedy.

The star-studded event was held at The Roundhouse in Camden, London. It was concluded with iconic director Steven Spielberg being presented with the Legend in our Lifetime award.

The main winners (and nominees) at a glance (winners appear in bold)…

Best Film presented by Sky Cinema
Get Out
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Call Me By Your Name
Thor: Ragnarok
Wonder Woman

Best Director presented by Vue Entertainment
Rian Johnson – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Edgar Wright – Baby Driver
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Patty Jenkins – Wonder Woman
Taika Waititi – Thor: Ragnarok

Best Male Newcomer
Josh O’Connor — God’s Own Country
Fionn Whitehead – Dunkirk
Ansel Elgort – Baby Driver
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Timothée Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name

Best Female Newcomer
Dafne Keen – Logan
Emily Beecham – Daphne
Florence Pugh – Lady Macbeth
Tessa Thompson – Thor: Ragnarok
Kelly Marie Tran – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Actress
Gal Gadot – Wonder Woman
Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Tiffany Haddish – Girls Trip
Emma Watson – Beauty And The Beast

Best Actor
John Boyega – Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Hugh Jackman – Logan
Andy Serkis — War For The Planet Of The Apes
Armie Hammer – Call Me By Your Name
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

Best Screenplay
God’s Own Country
Call Me By Your Name
The Death Of Stalin
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Get Out

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Wonder Woman
Thor: Ragnarok
Blade Runner 2049

Best British Film presented by The Hollywood Reporter
God’s Own Country
The Death Of Stalin
The Darkest Hour
Paddington 2

Best Horror
The Autopsy Of Jane Doe
Get Out

Best Comedy presented by Monkey Shoulder
Toni Erdmann
The Death Of Stalin
The Big Sick
The Disaster Artist
Girls Trip

Best Thriller presented by Absolute Radio
Baby Driver
John Wick: Chapter 2
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Handmaiden
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best TV Series
The Handmaid’s Tale
Big Little Lies
Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series
The Crown
Stranger Things 2

Empire Visionary Award
Edgar Wright

Empire Inspiration
Amma Asante

Empire Icon
Mark Hamill

Legend of our Lifetime
Steven Spielberg

Black Panther beats Tomb Raider to US top spot

Black Panther

Story by Jack Foley

MARVEL’S Black Panther has defied the odds once more to hold onto top spot at the US box office for a fifth successive week with $27 million.

In doing so, the superhero movie buried its closest rival, the Alicia Vikander-starring Tomb Raider reboot, as well as becoming only the seventh film ever to cross the $600 million mark in the US alone.

It is also the first film since Avatar eight years ago to top the chart for five consecutive weekends, and only the third film to do so in 19 years after Avatar and The Sixth Sense.

The Disney and Marvel juggernaut finished Sunday with a US total of $605.4 million and a global haul of $1.182 billion.

Back in the US, it is only days away from overtaking fellow Marvel title The Avengers ($623 million) to become the top-grossing superhero film of all time, unadjusted for inflation.

With the next Avengers film, Infinity War, just weeks away, don’t expect these new records to come tumbling once again, as early 2017 cinema-going belongs firmly to Marvel.

Tomb Raider took $23.5 million in its debut outing, a disappointment for Warner Bros and MGM, which partnered in rebooting the female-led franchise that is based on the videogame.

In the early 2000s, the Tomb Raider film series — starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft — beat the curse that continues to haunt most videogame adaptations.

This time around, Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug (The Wave) directs Vikander opposite Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas. The $90 million movie has high hopes of kick-starting a new franchise and will have to hope for good word of mouth and strong global figures to see that happen.

It did start well internationally, however, topping the foreign weekend chart with $84.5 million from 65 markets for an overseas tally of $102.5 million and $126 million globally. That includes a first-place finish in China with $41.1 million.

Warners domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein commented: “I really hoped we would do more than $25 million domestically, but the fact that we were No. 1 globally is terrific news. We always viewed this as an international play.”

The other big headline of the weekend was the over-performance of faith-based film I Can Only Imagine, which debuted to $17.1 million to defeat Disney’s A Wrinkle of Time and Love, Simon, the first film from a major Hollywood studio featuring a gay teen protagonist.

The religious drama stars J. Michael Finley as Bart Millard, the lead singer of the Christian band MercyMe, who wrote I Can Only Imagine, the best-selling Christian single of all time. It chronicles his complicated relationship with his abusive dad (played by Dennis Quaid).

Ava DuVernay’s fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time had to settle for fourth spot in its second weekend, grossing $16.6 million for a US total of $61.1 million – this despite costing over $100 million.

And Young Adult adaptation Love, Simon also disappointed in its opening, taking fifth spot with $11.5 million. Greg Berlanti directed the dramedy, which stars Nick Robinson as Simon Spier, a closeted high schooler who tries to find out the identity of an anonymous classmate he’s fallen in love with online.

Matt Dillon and Linda Cardellini join Tom Hardy's Al Capone biopic Fonzo

Thandie Newton and Matt Dillon in Crash

Story by Jack Foley

MATT Dillon, Linda Cardellini and Kyle MacLachlan have joined the cast of Tom Hardy’s Al Capone biopic Fonzo.

Writer-director Josh Trank (Chronicle/Fantastic Four) is helming the project, which will begin principal photography next month in New Orleans.

The film will focus on the ruthless Mob boss who ruled Chicago with an iron fist during the Prohibition era.

However, the story will Capone at the age of 47, when following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots his mind, and his past becomes present as harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life.

Cardellini will play Capone’s long-suffering wife, Mae, with Dillon set to play his closest friend, Johnny.

MacLachlan will play the mobster’s doctor, Karlock, and Katherine Narducci will play Rosie, one of Capone’s sisters.

Alex Walton, of Bloom (which is handling international sales on the project), has previously commented: “Fonzo brings together the myth and lore of notorious American gangster Al Capone, with the undeniable talent of Tom Hardy and Josh Trank.”

Shia LaBeouf biopic Honey Boy casts Lucas Hedges as LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf in Transformers

Story by Jack Foley

LUCAS Hedges is to play a young Shia LaBeouf in new biopic Honey Boy.

The film is based on a screenplay by LaBeouf himself (using the pseudonym Otis Lort) and will chronicle the actor’s relationship with his father.

LaBeouf, a one-time Steven Spielberg protégé who starred in the Transformers movies, has previously described ping-ponging between 12-step programs with his father, a former clown performer and recovering heroin addict, and the set of the Disney Channel’s Even Stevens. ‘Honey boy’ was the nick name given to him by his father.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, LaBeouf himself will play his dad, with Hedges playing an Even Stevens-era LaBeouf.

Hedges most recently co-starred in the Oscar-winning drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as well as Lady Bird. He was Oscar nominated himself for his work in Manchester By The Sea.

The script for Honey Boy has previously landed on the Black List with the following description: “A child actor and his law-breaking, alcohol-abusing father attempt to mend their contentious relationship over the course of a decade.”

Isle of Dogs - London's The Store X to host exclusive exhibition

Isle of Dogs

Story by Jack Foley

IN celebration of the cinema release of Isle Of Dogs, the new stop-motion animation from Wes Anderson, The Store X, 180 The Strand and Fox Searchlight Pictures present an exclusive exhibition of original sets and puppets from the film, open to the public from Friday, March 23 to Thursday, April 5, 2018.

The film is released in the UK and Ireland on March 30, 2018.

Isle Of Dogs tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by Executive Decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage dump called Trash Island, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots.

There, with the assistance of a pack of newly found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

Set in Japan, 20 years in the future, Isle Of Dogs was largely filmed at 3 Mills Studios in East London. Curated by Wes Anderson and the production team the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see 17 original sets plus many of the puppets and experience the world of this highly acclaimed and masterfully crafted film.

Alongside sets and puppets from the film the exhibition will feature a life-size recreation of one of the sets: a ‘Noodle Bar’ where visitors will be able to enjoy traditional Japanese Ramen, created by acclaimed chef Akira Shimizu – executive chef at Soho’s Engawa restaurant – and Sake cocktails during late night openings Thursday/Friday.

All against a background of the original score by Academy Award®-winning composer Alexandre Desplat plus classic Kurosawa soundtrack music and the psychedelic sounds of The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band from the Isle Of Dogs soundtrack.

With an arts programme curated by The Store X, 180 The Strand is an iconic Brutalist building in the heart of London’s West End that provides a space to house creative industries, where innovative businesses and visionary talents can collaborate.

Principal photography commences on Sam Claflin's The Corrupted

Story by Jack Foley

REP Crime, Eclipse Films and Riverstone Pictures have announced that principal photography has begun on The Corrupted, starring Sam Claflin.

The film will be shooting in various locations around London.

In addition, Noel Clarke (Brotherhood, Mute, Star Trek: Into Darkness) has been added to the cast, which also includes Timothy Spall, Hugh Bonneville and David Hayman (Finding Your Feet, Macbeth, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas).

Rounding out the principal cast are Naomi Ackie (Yardie, Lady Macbeth), Charlie Murphy (Peaky Blinders, ‘71) and Joe Claflin (The Pity of War: The Loves and Lives of the War Poets, Grantchester), with additional cast members Sam Otto (The State, The Boy with the Topknot) and Akbar Kurtha (Mars, 24).

Directed by Ron Scalpello (My Name is Lenny, Bobby) and written by Nick Moorcroft (Finding Your Feet, Urban Hymn), The Corrupted is a strikingly authentic crime-thriller that follows Liam (Claflin), an ex-con determined to win back the love and trust of his family, having lost everything at the hands of a local crime syndicate, run by Clifford Cullen (Spall).

Cullen has since infiltrated the highest levels of politics, finance and the police force.

Despite efforts to rebuild his life, Liam soon finds himself caught up in a web of conspiracy and corruption, fueled by a bloody land grab that occurred across the City of London ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Liam is forced to make the ultimate resolution; confront the past in order to reclaim his future.

Eclipse’s Andrew Berg and John Sachs commented: “We are incredibly confident in Ron’s vision, talent, meticulous preparation and his style of firm but collaborative leadership. We’re equally thrilled to be working with such amazing British acting talent not known for crime thriller, who will bring a cerebral realism to their characters.

“Our talented writer Nick, together with Ron, have developed the script to fit the actors’ strengths and characters to make extraordinary protagonists. We all feel we have something really special.

“We have set out to make a wide release film with global appeal and having The Exchange and Nigel Green at EFD on board, we couldn’t be in better hands for worldwide and UK distribution.”

Director Scalpello added: “We have assembled a great cast of amazing actors and Nick Moorcroft’s script dramatically updates the British Crime thriller with a contemporary story that examines the tension between globalized economies and local communities.

“Sam Claflin and Timothy Spall will lock horns in a visceral and emotionally charged action-thriller. This feels special, very special already.”

A Fistful of Dollars - 4k Restoration poster and trailer

A Fistful of Dollars

PARK Circus will be releasing the beautiful 4K restoration of Sergio Leone’s iconic A Fistful of Dollars theatrically from April 13, 2018.

To celebrate the re-release of this landmark Spaghetti Western, a new trailer and poster have been released.

A Fistful of Dollars marks Clint Eastwood’s first outing as the icy ‘Man With No Name’ – a loner who drifts into a town and straight into a war between two rival families.

At first looking to profit for personal gain, The Man With No Name soon finds himself drawn to a woman caught in the middle of the conflict, resolving to help her by turning both families against each other.

Sergio Leone directs A Fistful of Dollars, which was followed by For A Few Dollars More and, finally, the masterpiece The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

Watch the trailer

Avengers: Infinity War - New trailer

Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War releases in UK and Irish cinemas on April 26, 2018. Book your tickets today here

An unprecedented cinematic journey ten years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War brings to the screen the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

The film stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Tom Holland, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Rudd and more.

Avengers: Infinity War is released in cinemas on April 26, 2018.

Watch the new trailer

Watch the first trailer

Ava Duvernay to direct DC's The New Gods

Ava Duvernay

Story by Jack Foley

AVA Duvernay is to direct DC’s latest superhero venture The New Gods.

The creation of the late comic book artist Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America, X-Men and other iconic heroes, The New Gods form part of the so-called ‘Fourth World Saga’, a series of four interconnected comic book series written and drawn by Kirby when he arrived at DC from rival Marvel in the early 1970s.

The stories mix social commentary, mythology and science fiction in a story that focuses on a war between two alien planets – New Genesis and Apokolips.

When Darkseid, the ruler of the dystopian Apokolips, arrives on Earth, he discovers that humanity holds the key to the Anti-Life Equation, which allows its user to control all living beings in existence.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Fourth World Saga has continued through a number of DC comic book series across the past four decades, as well as forming the basis for storylines in animated series and DC’s recent live-action movies.

The villain Steppenwolf and the Mother Box from last year’s Justice League are both Kirby creations from the Fourth World Saga.

Duvernay recently made history by becoming the first African-American woman to direct a movie with a $100 million budget more than $100 million – Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time.

However, the film – which stars Oprah Winfrey and Reece Witherspoon among its ensemble – under-performed at the US box office, earning $33 million in its opening weekend.

Prior to that, however, DuVernay first broke out as the director behind the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. feature Selma, which she then followed up with the Oscar-nominated documentary 13th.

She has dabbled in superhero territory before but passed on directing Marvel’s Black Panther.

Ridley Scott in talks for Queen & Country

Sir Ridley Scott directs Body of Lies

Story by Jack Foley

RIDLEY Scott is in talks to direct the espionage thriller Queen & Country.

Based on the graphic novel, the series from Greg Rucka focuses on a British Secret Intelligence Service operative named Tara Chace, one of a group of three field operatives dedicated to preserving British intelligence internationally, whose identity is compromised following an assassination.

She must therefore find out who is responsible before she is, herself, killed.

The comics are illustrated by a variety of artists including Chris Samnee, Carla Speed McNeil and Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley. They ran for 32 issues from 2001 to 2007, winning an Eisner Award for best new series in 2002.

It is not yet known how the script is shaping up or who is potentially being lined up to star in the film. But at one time, Ellen Page was attached to headline a previous incarnation.

If a deal can be reached with Scott, the veteran filmmaker would also come on board to produce, with Twentieth Century Fox financing and distributing the film.

Scott’s last two films, the Oscar nominated All The Money In The World and Alien: Covenant, were both Fox titles.