Paramount

Office Christmas Party Starts Strong Behind Critical Praise

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Office Christmas Party is already burning the ho-ho-house down.

Fans love it, with a social media following of nearly 40 million. This early interest led to a tidy opening – it made almost a million dollars last night alone.

Critics love it too. Forbes Scott Mendelson writes, “Office Christmas Party is exactly what it promises, and delivers it in spades. … It is filled to the brim with funny men and women being allowed to be funny in both expected and surprising ways, in a story which respects the inherent drama of its story without drowning in schmaltz. The characters are funny, the situations are funny and the film just plain works.”

It’s easy to see why the consensus is so favorable: a raucous, feel-good holiday flick filled with Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon and more at their very funniest.

Office Christmas Party is just one entry in a strong late-year slate for Paramount, which also includes the acclaimed Arrival and the powerful Allied, and will soon add Martin Scorsese’s Silence (Dec. 23) and Denzel Washington’s reprisal of Fences (Dec. 25), both of which are riding critical praise and awards buzz.

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Paramount Secures 23 Critics’ Choice Nominations, Led by Arrival, Fences

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Paramount has stormed theaters this year with a slate of critically acclaimed films, from the cerebral alien invasion flick Arrival to the buoyant Florence Foster Jenkins to the explosively powerful Star Trek Beyond, with Martin Scorsese’s Silence dropping Dec. 23 and a highly anticipated reprisal of August Wilson’s Fences due on Christmas Day. With this sort of high-caliber film drumming regularly from the lot, it is no surprise that, when the Critics’ Choice Awards announced their 2016 nominations this week, Paramount secured a total of 23 nominations.

Arrival leads with 10 nominations, second only to La La Land and tied with Moonlight. Fences follows with six nominations, two for actor and director Denzel Washington. And fully half of the Best Sci-Fi/Horror nominations belong to Paramount, with 10 Cloverfield Lane, Arrival, and Star Trek Beyond all vying for the honors.

Check out all of Paramount’s nominations, as well as a peak at each film, below. The 22nd Critics’ Choice Awards air Sunday, Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. on A&E.

Arrival – 10 Nominations

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Denis Villeneuve)
  • Best Actress (Amy Adams)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Heisserer)
  • Best Cinematography (Brandon Young)
  • Best Editing (Joe Walker)
  • Best Production Design (Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte, André Valade)
  • Best Score (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie

Fences – 6 Nominations

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Denzel Washington)
  • Best Actor (Denzel Washington)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (August Wilson)
  • Best Acting Ensemble

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100 Billion Trillion Planets in the Cosmos – Why Do They Keep Coming Here? First Look at Transformers: The Last Knight

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

We see explosions and mayhem across human epochs, from hordes of charging armored knights to Old World plazas festooned with Nazi flags to back-packed youngsters gazing awestruck at aerial wreckage pocking a modern football stadium. We do not see exactly who the humans are fighting, but the narration clues us in: “Two species at war. One flesh. One metal.”

What is certain is that Transformers: The Last Knight is going to transport us to battlefields we have not seen before. We have a long wait to see exactly what’s coming – the movie won’t drop until June 23 of next year – but the teaser trailer gives us an inkling of what director Michael Bay will deliver in the latest installment of the explosive franchise, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel,Laura Haddock, Jerrod Carmichael and Isabela Moner.

This will be Paramount’s fifth Transformers movie, and more are planned, including a Bumblebee spin-off in 2018. Take a look back at the first four below.

Transformers: Age of Extinction – 2014

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Paramount Invites Local Schoolchildren for Halloween Screening of Charlotte’s Web

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
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Each year, Paramount hosts a Halloween screening of its classic, Charlotte’s Web, for pajama-clad local schoolkids. This year, 1,500 children journeyed from the Santa Monica Blvd Community Charter School and the Van Ness Blend Elementary School to watch the film at the Paramount Theatre.

Paramount has actually distributed two versions of Charlotte’s Web over the decades: the first a fully animated 1973 film; the second a live-action 2006 version produced in part by Nickelodeon Movies. Take a journey back with the trailers below.

2006

1973

Scarlett Johansson Soars in First Trailer for Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Scarlett Johansson comes tearing from the mid-21st century fantasia of a thrumming Japanese megalopolis in this film adaption of the highly regarded Ghost in the Shell anime franchise. Amid this frantic shadowy world of towering buildings and physics-defying tech laboratories, she roars as the pistol-wielding Major, the cyborg leader of the elite Section 9 task force, as she infiltrates criminal dens and tries to decode the mystery of her own identiy out of the pedestrian world around her.

The trailer above is the first for the film, which Paramount will release on March 31, 2017. The Rupert Sanders-directed thriller also stars Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche and Michael Pitt.

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Critics “Spellbound” With “Beautiful and Thought-Provoking” Arrival

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
A scene from the film ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

A scene from the film Arrival by Paramount Pictures

We don’t really know if or when space aliens will drop out of the sky, or whether they’ll come bearing the secrets of interstellar travel or a boring machine to hallow out Earth’s core. But we do know this: when Denis Villeneuve-directed Arrival invades theaters tomorrow, we’re going to collectively witness one of the most well-crafted guesses yet as to how the encounter between earthlings and interstellar guests could go.

Says who? Well, pretty much everyone:

Arrival is such a beautiful and thought-provoking film that it almost single-handedly makes up for every bad aliens-coming-to-Earth film you’ve ever seen. Yes, even Independence Day: Resurgence. The latest from director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) is a sci-fi movie about life, death and learning a literally alien language on a deadline. Amy Adams turns in one of her best performances, Jeremy Renner shows he’s just as good a math geek as an Avenger, and Villeneuve puts a gorgeous and rich narrative on screen that’s as much about miscommunication among humans as it is communication with extraterrestrials.” – Bill Truitt, USA Today

“The dozen alien vessels in Arrival – stormcloud black, prolate hemispheroids the size of upended airports – aren’t easy to miss. But for sheer neck-craning scale, the film’s ideas and ambitions match them inch for inch. The magnificent new film from Denis Villeneuve is the kind of science fiction picture that hands its audience rocket packs, then goes arcing off into the heavens and dares you to keep up.” – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

Arrival plays like a high-end, handsomely appointed, feature-length version of a classic Twilight Zone episode. Most of the thrills and chills are of the intellectual and philosophical sort, and we’re asked to take a leap of faith when it comes to the time-space continuum, and why not, let’s do it.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times

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Vin Diesel Tries to Look Dope While Kicking Ass on Facebook Live Release of New xXx Trailer

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom


Vin Diesel is exploding back into his role as Xander Cage this January in xXx: Return of Xander Cage. He is skiing into jungles off of cell phone towers and launching fools out the back of airplanes. He’s skateboarding off the sides of buses. He is riding his motorcycle over water. Oh, and he’s also saving the world.

As if the new trailer weren’t cool enough, the way Vin dropped it on the world was even cooler: through a Facebook Live stream that featured cameos from costars Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, Donnie Yen, and others.

Standing on the Paramount Lot in Hollywood, Diesel explained why he decided to deliver the latest promo on Facebook. “Part of the reason I was excited to be doing this with Facebook, is that none other than [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg actually requested me to make another Triple X.”

Vin’s affection for his castmates and the process of making the movie is infectious. “I needed to do a movie where I could smile again,” he says on the stream. “I needed a movie where I enjoyed the laughter, where the laughter would fill me, where the laughter was bursting out. I needed to do a movie where I could get into some of these extreme sports stunts again. I had so much fun just training for these stunts. … When we started filming and I was with this incredible cast, and this atmosphere, and everyone was so excited, everyone was like, ‘Vin, I’ve never seen you so happy.’ I needed it, and you know it.”

It’s easy to see why he’s so excited when you check out the trailer. You can watch the entire Facebook Live stream, in which Vin himself sees the promo for the first time, here:

 

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How Do You Communicate When None of Your Words Is the Same?

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

You don’t share a language or an alphabet. You have never encountered anyone quite like this before. They seem so different from you. But it is imperative that you communicate. How do you do it?

This is the premise of Paramount’s upcoming Arrival, a Denis Villeneuve-directed film in which linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) must decode the intentions of an alien race that just dropped through Earth’s atmosphere and anchored their spherical ships around the planet.

We see glimpses of Adams scratching English words on a whiteboard and frantically decoding the aliens’ scrawled symbols as the world tilts frantically toward violent repulsion of the spacecraft. It is clear that some kind of fuse has been lit, and it may run out before Adams can accomplish this seemingly impossible task.

But Adams’ encounter may not be so alien after all. Human cultures are tremendously diverse, with enormous and complex languages dropping huge barriers to mutual understanding.

Those barriers, it turns out, are not insurmountable. In this touching video from Paramount, we can witness how two people, seemingly irreconcilably split by differences in language and culture, establish common ground by trying all the modes of communication that transcend language and speech. An understanding of how they are similar is established with surprising speed and emotional resonance.

Whether this will give us any hints as to how and if Adams’ character will succeed in establishing a dialogue with our mystery visitors is uncertain. We’ll find out on Nov. 11, when the movie touches down in theaters.

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Words or War: Amy Adams Confronts Alien Invasion in Arrival

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Spherical spacecraft have punctured Earth’s atmosphere and stationed themselves strategically across the planet’s landmasses. Confusion reigns. Riots erupt. Militaries amass at land and sea.

Observers are succinctly ominous: “We’ve got 24 hours, until they start global war.”

Or we can talk to them. A specialized squad led by linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), ascends into one of the towering shuttles to attempt exactly that. As she gingerly decodes their language through an array of sounds, symbols and glimpsed alien body parts, the world teeters toward unhinged reflexive aggression.

This is the final trailer for Arrival before it lands in theaters on Nov. 11. The Denis Villeneuve-directed film also stars Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

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Jack Reacher Comes Back in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Stuart Winchester by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Jack Reacher blew into theaters in 2012, bringing Lee Child’s unbreakable action hero into a whole new dimension. The explosive hunt for a mass-murdering sniper etched Tom Cruise into our collective movie minds as the insuperable live-action version of the formidable ex-MP.

This Friday, Cruise is back, along with costar Cobie Smolders, in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, a sequel directed by Edward Zwick. The costars look pretty good together:

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