Ethan Hunt Begins His Next Impossible Mission

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Director Christopher McQuarrie dropped the clapper on production of the next Mission: Impossible movie via Twitter over the weekend:

Tom Cruise will zoom back for a sixth appearance as Ethan Hunt, following 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, which McQuarrie also directed. The film, which also start Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirky and Alec Baldwin, is slated to open in July 2018.

While it’s way too early for a trailer, you can get ready for the next mission by checking out promos for the first five impossible adventures:

Mission: Impossible – 1996

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IMAX Delivers a Decade of Metal-Crushing Transformers Battles

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

When Transformers: The Last Knight drops on June 23, it will mark the fifth installment in the franchise from Paramount, a legacy that stretches back a decade. From the day Transformers hit theaters on that July day in 2007, the franchise has delivered an explosive visual experience as oversized as the robots that it stars.

And those visuals really rip on Imax, a platform that seems custom cut to hold the building-crushing, metal-banging, guns-blazing world of Autobots and Decepticons. This little featurette distills the relationship between IMAX and Transformers, narrating how each helped the other surge:

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A Devine Choice to Host MTV Movie & TV Awards, Nominees Announced

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

MTV has woven the film, TV and digital realms into one broad content domain that houses the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees. The net – which for the first time is expanding the iconic show outside the cinema – also announced that the star of the long-running Comedy Central hit Workaholics Adam Devine will host the May 7 spectacular.

Devine is a veteran of the Golden Popcorn spotlight, having won an award for Best Kiss with Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect 2 last year. He is also nominated for Best Comedic Performance for his role on the seventh and final season of Workaholics.

via GIPHY

The platform-agnostic categories include a few additions and some tweaks of long-running show standards. “Best Fight” is now “Best Fight the System” – to acknowledge social justice activism – while “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” have ditched their gender designations to morph into “Best Actor in a Movie” and “Best Actor in a Show.” New categories include “Best American Story,” “Tearjerker,” “Best Host,” “Best Reality Competition” and “Next Generation.”

Nominated Viacom brands include VH1 for RuPaul’s Drag Race – which earned nominations for Best Host and Best Reality Competition – and for Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party (best duo). Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah is also competing for Best Host, while Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson of Broad City are nominated alongside Devine for Best Comedic Performance. Spike’s TIME: The Kalief Browder Story is in the running for Best Documentary.

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Spike Continues Documentary Excellence With Story of Heath Ledger

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

In the wake of its powerful six-part Time: The Kalief Browder Story docu-series scorching the American prison system, Spike is returning with another riveting documentary.

I Am Heath Ledger explores the life and tragic death of a rising Hollywood talent. The film, produced and directed by Derik Murray, is an astonishing posthumous profile of the fiercely talented and energetic actor stitched together from previously unseen footage shot from Ledger’s own cameras.

The actor died in 2008, long before the rise of the smartphone dropped a camera in everyone’s pocket, yet the film underscores the centrality of the device to Ledger’s life.

“There were always cameras around,” said model Christina Cauchi – one of many friends, family, and industry peers interviewed for the documentary – in the recently released trailer. “A videocamera or a Polaroid camera or the film camera. That’s the only way that I think of him, with the camera in his hand.”

“He was always a director,” said musician Ben Harper in the same video. “Acting was just a way to get there.”

Watch the full trailer below:

Ledger’s talents as an actor were considerable, however, and included the role of gay cowboy Ennis in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and an Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

“Before Brokeback Mountain came out, it would have been unthinkable to have romantic tragedy involving two gay cowboys,” said actor Ben Mendelsohn. “This is one of the biggest heartthrobs on Earth taking on that character. That’s an artist.”

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Critics Explore Rich Future World of Ghost in the Shell and Like What They Find

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

There is almost nothing in the steampunk urban wilds of Ghost in the Shell that does not invite further exploration, so completely is the film’s cyber-enhanced near future stretched over the geometry of a recognizable city and society. Major (Scarlett Johansson), a cyber-enhanced, terrorist-thumping soldier roams a world where everything is at once fantastical and completely plausible, a realm where even the workaday infrastructure of normal living seems exotic and alien.

For example, her apartment:

Her crew:

Her suit:

And what is lurking in her brain:

On every detail, the film, which opens today, executes flawlessly, seeding these elements in a holograph-laced live-action dimension as dazzling as the anime that inspired it.

“Visually, it resembles nothing else in theaters,” writes AV Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. “…It is in its designs … that this new Ghost In The Shell finds tantalizing expressions of theme: the faces and limbs of hacked androids breaking up into insect-like forms as they attack; the lonely, recessed spaces of futuristic sleeping quarters; the grotesquerie of cybernetic enhancements; red light districts where human prostitutes dress like sex-bots to attract clientele. Johansson’s Kubrickian performance and the technical precision of the camera make its artifice seem almost haunting.”

Scarlett Johansson plays the Major and Pilou Asbaek plays Batou in Ghost in the Shell from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures.

Scarlett Johansson plays the Major and Pilou Asbaek plays Batou in Ghost in the Shell from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures. The spectacular future city rises in the background.

This is a common sentiment – the Telegraph’s Tim Robey writes: “As Blade Runner did before it, this slinky, cyberpunk action flick makes its style the entire statement, pondering a future of human-robot synergy simply by visualising it in as much eye-popping detail as possible.”

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Baywatch Hits the Big Screen with Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

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.

Snowed in? Don’t worry, summer is coming.🔥 #BeBaywatch #Blizzard2017 #SnowDay

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Scarlett Johansson Rocks a Futuristic Dinner Party in the First Five Minutes of Ghost in the Shell

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

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.

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Viacom & Hot Sugar Are Innovating Music With Virtual Reality

Viacom’s newest virtual reality (VR) project is an exploration unlike any other. The Melody of Dust transports you to a castle-like world where every object you encounter (a rose found in a bedroom; a dove descending from the heavens) has a distinct melody to discover and unlock. It blends music, video and gaming into an immersive, interactive experience so groundbreaking that Rolling Stone dubbed it a “new art form.”

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MTV + Movies + Television = The MTV Movie & TV Awards

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Since Demi Moore announced Terminator 2: Judgement Day as Best Movie from a Burbank stage in June of 1992, the MTV Movie Awards have celebrated the best of Hollywood’s explosive, moving, heart-pounding annual slate – with an MTV-appropriate musical touch delivered by the big name performers of the day (that inaugural show included En Vogue, Ugly Kid Joe, and Arrested Development).

After 25 years of Golden Popcorn statues and hijinks that have included Jim Carrey crashing the stage as an anonymous hippie, Rainn Wilson gearing up in nothing but a Teddy bear, and lots of surprise makeout sessions, MTV is taking a great thing and making it even better, with the inclusion of television in its award categories. The network has officially renamed the show the MTV Movie & TV Awards.

MTV Movie and TV Awards

“We’re living in a golden age of content, and great storytelling and characters resonate regardless of whether you’re watching it in a theater or on TV,” said MTV President Chris McCarthy. “The new MTV Movie & TV Awards will celebrate even more of the brightest, bravest, funniest and most shared films and TV shows resonating across youth culture.”

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NASDAQ Bell Ringing Launches VH1’s The Breaks, Nostalgic 1990s Hip-Hop Follow-Up to Hit Movie

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

VH1 rolled out its new series, The Breaks, recently with an adrenaline shot opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange and a ceremonial street renaming in front of Viacom’s Times Square headquarters. The events teed up the premiere of the hip-hop throwback series that followed and directly continued a VH1 movie of the same name that aired early last year, and ended up ranking as the number two cable movie of 2016.

The Breaks movie debuted last year to huge fanfare and really strong ratings, and so it became a no-brainer to take this fabulous movie to series,” said Amy Doyle, general manager of MTV, VH1 and Logo, flanked by the show’s cast and crew at NASDAQ’s opening bell podium. “The buzz on this show is palpable. Essence has deemed it, ‘VH1’s highly anticipated new series,’ and NPR is calling it – my favorite – ‘a hip-hop answer to Mad Men.’”

 

The Breaks NASDAQ - 824

VH1 executives and cast and crew of The Breaks gather at the NASDAQ stock exchange to ring the opening bell on Feb. 17, 2017. Photo by Christopher Galluzzo, Getty Images

Later that morning, this crew gathered again on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 44th Street in Manhattan to temporarily rename the street “The Breaks Way.”

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Atmsphere at the VH1 street renaming "The Breaks Way" for the premiere- Monday, February 20th at 9PM ET/PT. on February 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VH1)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 17: Atmsphere at the VH1 street renaming “The Breaks Way” for the premiere- Monday, February 20th at 9PM ET/PT. on February 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for VH1)

The Breaks rumbles out of the unfiltered New York City of 1990, an ode to hip-hop’s gritty rise that is equal parts historical drama, nostalgia trip, and reminder that there was nothing predestined about the genre’s eventual rise.

A period piece set at a crucial juncture where rap had crept into the zeitgeist but still skirted the mainstream, the series immerses us within a crew of fictional stand-ins who shoulder the mighty task of recreating that frantic era: a wily and determined Nikki Jones (Afton Williamson), her boyfriend and radio station rookie David Aaron (David Call), aspiring producer DeeVee (Tristan “Mack” Wilds), hip-hop manager Barry Fouray (Wood Harris), and drug dealer-cum-rapper Ahm (Antoine Harris).

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