Baywatch is sprinting back up the beach this spring to a Paramount feature film, led by Dwayne Johnson (Mitch Buchannon) and Zac Efron (Matt Brody), the all-business vet and the brash newcomer, whose brewing rivalry is subdued by a joint mission to save the bay from criminal scheming.
There are leaping jetskis, gun fights, and gun fights on leaping jetskis. There are daring rescues and dives from moving motorcycles into the water. There are drugs and dumped bodies and a ruthless ringleader at the head of it all. And there are the humor-laced moments of quirk and vanity that make Baywatch everything fans would expect it to be: Buchannon critiquing a sand-carved effigy of his physique, a drowning woman pummeling would-be rescuer Brody, a lifeguard tryout involving two refrigerators mounted to a carrying pole.
Johnson and Efron bring good company along on the ride: Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach and Ilfenesh Hadera. Baywatch, directed by Seth Gordon, hits theaters on May 26.
Ahead of the film’s wide release next week, Paramount aired the first five minutes of its highly anticipated Ghost in the Shell film adaptation in a Facebook Live stream earlier today. [Slide to 1:30 to begin watching the preview.]
This is our first extended look at Scarlett Johansson as cyber-enhanced asskicker Major, an impossibly fluid super soldier who leaps off skyscrapers and bursts through glass in a terrorist-levelling, guns blazing, ninjitsu-flipping onslaught heavy on violent efficiency and devoid of mercy.
It isn’t clear from this opening scene exactly who dispatched the machine gun-equipped gang that Major pulverizes, although the shadowy Hanka Robotics is mentioned by an expiring kabuki robot. What is clear is the stunning future setting, a towering urban techtopia of building-sized holograms and ubiquitous robots, where wired humans download the entire French language into their brains in a few beats of song and an entire building’s security network can be scanned in moments from a virtual headset.
But that world is a backdrop to the story of Major, a one-time human whose body was so damaged in an accident that it was replaced with her exoskeleton – or so she was told. “Who is the Major is a good question,” says Johansson in the clip below, “and this film is really about the journey of self-discovery for the character.”
The Rupert Sanders-directed film, which costars Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche and Michael Pitt, will open in theaters nationwide on March 31.
Paramount’s Arrival and Fences each won an Oscar last night, capping a torrid award season that firmly established the two films as among the best of 2016.
With a fiery speech that summoned the emotional resonance of the film she appeared in, Viola Davis accepted the prize for best supporting actress for her role in Fences.
“You know, there’s one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered,” Davis said in her acceptance speech. “One place. And that’s the graveyard. … So here’s to August Wilson who exhumed and exhalted the ordinary people.”
The haunting Arrival¸ a gorgeous sci-fi tale of aliens landing, earned top honors for Sound Editing. Sylvain Bellemare, a longtime collaborator with director Denis Villeneuve, led the team that created the film’s auditory component, an immense task given a story that spans civilizations, time periods, and settings from the pedestrian to the otherworldly.
As a boy, Jean de Meuron would rise in the dead of the European night to cheer the Academy Award recipients ascending gilded stages on the far side of the Atlantic. He relished this annual celebration of a world he deeply admired: he was a student of Hollywood history, a fan of Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, a dreamer gripped by the allure of the American entertainment industry.
So here he came, from Switzerland, in 2008, embedding himself in studies at the New York Film Academy, USC, UCLA and the New School; bunking down in internships at the Weinstein Company, MTV, Viacom International Media Networks and Paramount. He would go anywhere – New York City, Los Angeles, Mexico, Buenos Aires – as he produced student films and peppered executives with questions at every stop. He learned about marketing campaigns, about the importance of everything from color schemes to timing to creating effective trailers.
It was an immersive course in filmmaking and marketing, fueled by an unwavering vision of what his life ought to be. It was this resolute focus that led him to the 2012 Basel Gässli Film Festival in his native Switzerland, where he met a young director named Timo von Gunten, a preternatural talent whose work – the editing, framing, storytelling – echoed legendary Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. And it was his partnership with von Gunten, as executive producer (along with Bela Böke) on the short film La Femme et le TGV, that last month opened up the Oscars in a way de Meuron’s boyhood self would not have believed: live, at the event, as a nominee.
Jean de Meuron (right) with La Femme et le TGV producer Giacun Caduff and director Timo von Gunten at a luncheon for Oscar nominees. Photo courtesy of Jean de Meuron.
It would be the culmination of a lifelong ambition, the highest professional acknowledgement in one of the most prominent creative industries in the world. But like an artisan crafting a beautiful piece of furniture, a filmmaker does not spring wholly into the existence with the knowledge of his art, but learns it through a long apprenticeship. For de Meuron, his time at Paramount would prove crucial to plan, produce, edit and promote La Femme et le TGV.
A rich, nostalgic world
It helps to understand, first, what they have made, for an Oscar nomination is reserved for those things that are exceptional.
La Femme et le TGV is set in an idyllic mountain landscape pancaked with cliff bands in the green and field-dotted wilderness outside the impossibly quaint town of Monbijou, Switzerland. At the center of this world is Elise Lafontaine (Jane Birkin), and hammering through it in a shimmering streak of steel and noise is the twice-daily TGV high-speed train. Every day for 32 years, at 6:18 a.m. and again at 7:13 p.m. Lafontaine has leaned, Swiss flag waving, from the window for these joyous passings.
The awards keep piling up for Paramount’s Fences, which scooped up four nominations for next month’s Oscars. After Denzel Washington and Viola Davis took Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress honors, respectively, in the Golden Globe Awards, they repeated the feat at last night’s Screen Actors Guild awards.
Denzel Washington earned Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. He cited a thundering canon of playwrights in his acceptance speech, including Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Edward Albee and Fences creator August Wilson. He is contending for best Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars.
In accepting her award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Viola Davis contemplated the significance of Wilson’s achievement. “What August did so beautifully, is he honored the average man, who happened to be a man of color,” she said. “And sometimes we don’t have to shape the world and move the world and create anything that’s going to be in the history book. The fact that we breathe and live a life and was a god to our children – just that means that we have a story and it deserves to be told.”
Paramount took integrated marketing to a new level with an elaborate, terrifying promotional stunt for Rings on Monday, Jan. 23.
The world first met Samara, the eerie young girl with matted hair and a penchant for crawling out of television screens, in 2002 when the first Ring movie premiered. The sequel followed in 2005, freaking out audiences around the world with the potent combination of prophetic phone calls, fuzzy TV screens, and burning trees.
But it’s been over a decade since we last saw Samara, and Paramount wants to make sure we haven’t forgotten her.
There’s a movie about an alien invasion and one about race relations in 1950s Pittsburgh and one about a Manhattan socialite who has everything except for self-awareness. There’s the latest entry into the Star Trek canon and a spy-thriller of a jaunt back to World War II and another journey even further back with religious missionaries in feudal Japan. And there’s a biopic on one of the most persistent stories of our time, the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
These are the seven Paramount movies that secured a total of 18 nominations for the 89th Oscars when the academy released its annual list of nominees on Tuesday morning.
CriticalfavoritesArrival and Fences led with eight and four nominations, respectively, with each earning a shot at Best Picture. Florence Foster Jenkins follows with a pair of nominations, including Actress in a Leading Role for star Meryl Streep. Silence, Allied, Star Trek Beyond and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi each locked down nominations in one category.
An extended member of the Paramount family also racked up his first Oscar nomination – former international marketing division intern Jean de Meuron’s La Femme et la TGV is up in the short film category.
All of nominations are listed below, along with a preview of each film. The show will air on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 on ABC. See the full list of movies in each category here.
It’s officially awards show season. 2017 kicked off with the 47th annual Golden Globe Awards earlier this month, where Paramount’s Fences kept up its momentum as one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year.
Washington’s character, Troy Maxson, is an embittered former baseball player and sanitation worker. Viola Davis plays his wife Rose, who ferociously protects her children, ideals, and convictions—which are challenged by her husband’s ego.
These performances garnered Washington and Davis Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor in a film and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
An Inconvenient Truth came spinning out of Al Gore’s Powerpoint deck 11 years ago this spring, resuscitating a national conversation on global warming on its way to winning a pair of Oscars and Best Documentary honors from more than a dozen film critics associations.
Directed by Davis Guggenheim and distributed by Paramount, the film brought in $50 million and became a vital part of the worldwide climate change dialogue. In a powerful statement of Gore’s total commitment to a cause he has been devoted to since initiating the first congressional hearing on global warming in the early 1980s, he and his wife donated all profits to initiatives that would help educate more people about the dangers and realities of climate change.
A decade later, the issues Gore articulated in the film are as urgent as ever, as newly inaugurated President Donald Trump has suggested he may “cancel” the extraordinary Paris Agreement between 195 countries that is intended to slow and ultimately halt global warming. The timing, then, is optimal for An Inconvenient Sequel, Gore’s follow-up that debuted to a standing ovation last week at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film, which Paramount will release in theaters on July 28, is a wide-ranging examination of the global climate turmoil that threatens to massively disrupt life on Earth. In one compelling scene, Gore outlines how one of his most controversial 2006 predictions – that floodwaters could inundate the September 11 Memorial in lower Manhattan – has already happened:
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 acclaimedArrival andthe 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.