Categories Movies

‘Free State of Jones’ Gets New Release Date

Gary Ross’ Civil War drama The Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey, will now hit theaters May 13, instead of March 11.

STX Entertainment announced the shift Thursday. In a twinned move, STX dated The Space Between Us for July 29.

In Free State of Jones, McConaughey plays a soldier for the Confederacy during the Civil War who becomes disillusioned with the South’s cause, flees the battlefield and defiantly declares a safe haven in Jones County, Miss., after marrying a former slave.

The shift to May means that Free State of Jones will open in the high-profile summer corridor, one week after Captain America: Civil War debuts. So far, the only other title slotted to roll out May 13 is Edward Snowden biopic Snowden.

Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mahershala Ali (House of Cards) also star in Ross’ film. Free State of Jones is produced by Scott Stuber, Jon Kilik (The Hunger Games) and Ross. STX co-financed the film with IM Global.


Categories Career Movies

Keri Russell, Mahershala Ali Join Matthew McConaughey in Civil War Drama

Keri Russell and Mahershala Ali, who plays Remy Danton on Netflix’s House of Cards, have nabbed a key roles in The Free State of Jones, the Matthew McConaughey historical drama being directed by Gary Ross.

Robert Simonds’ newly launched film and television studio STX Entertainment is co-financing the project and will distribute. Route One/ Union Investment Partners and Vendian Entertainment are co-financing, with IM Global overseeing international distribution.

The film is currently in pre-production in Louisiana.

McConaughey is portraying Newton Knight, a soldier for the Confederacy during the Civil War who became disillusioned with the South’s cause, fled the battlefield, rallied supporters, and declared a safe haven in Jones County, an area of southeastern Mississippi in opposition to the Confederacy.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is already on board set as a slave who became Knight’s common-law wife.

Russell will play will Knight’s wife who leaves him. When she sees him next, he is married to a slave.

Ali will play a runaway slave whom Knight treats as an equal and who tries to rally black people to register for voting.

Ali, repped by WME, is also inhabiting the character of Boggs in two parts of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

Russell is genereating praise for her TV work on The Americans and last appeared on the big-screen with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. She is also repped by WME.


Categories Movies

Box Office: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Rules With $73 Million

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” swung into theaters and snagged an estimated $73 million domestic debut this weekend from audiences looking for a blockbuster with brains.

The 20th Century Fox release unspooled across 3,967 U.S. theaters and was fueled by a glowing reviews, with many critics calling it the summer’s best popcorn film.

“It’s one of those rare times when critics and audiences agree and the confluence created a perfect storm for a phenomenal opening,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox. “A lot of the movies over the last couple of weeks have been received on the tepid side, shall we say, so the market was ripe for a high quality, visually-stunning film.”

Overseas, the film brought in $31.1 million from 26 markets, most of them smaller territories with the exception of Australia and South Korea.

Its U.S. debut exceeds the $60 million bow that tracking suggested it would hit and eclipses the $54.8 million bow of 2011′s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Audiences were 58% male and 65% were 25 years or older, with the film skewing slightly younger than its predecessor. Roughly 8% of its domestic total came from premium large screen formats.

“With the critical response, we think that the older audience that sustained the first one will turn out and that will help give it legs,” said Aronson.

The studio set production costs at $170 million, a figure that the “Apes” sequel should have no trouble recouping when taking into account its international haul. After this weekend, the more-than-four decade-old “Apes” franchise has passed the $1 billion mark — a just reward for enduring Charlton Heston in a loincloth and Helena Bonham Carter in a monkey suit.

Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) directed the sequel, which swapped the bulk of the cast from the previous film, but kept the post-apocalyptic, Bay Area vibe. The picture finds the human survivors of a global pandemic trying to navigate a world where genetically modified simians have the upper hand. Chernin Entertainment produced the film and Fox financed it.


Categories Articles & Interviews Movies

Keri Russell goes ape over her role in ‘Dawn’

Keri Russell has been working most of her life, but she can’t remember a time when acting was more fun thanks to her work on the FX series “The Americans” and in the big summer blockbuster “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

“I am enjoying acting more now. I feel more comfortable now with acting than I ever have,” Russell says. “It’s really interesting. I love ‘The Americans,’ it’s so bizarre and weird. And, it was so special to get to work with (‘Apes’ director Matt Reeves) again. I just feel like things are getting better. I hope things keep getting better with age.”

Russell, who is 38, seems like she should be older because she started working when she 15 on “The All New Mickey Mouse Club.” She made a huge splash at age 21 as star of the college drama “Felicity,” which was co-created by Reeves and J.J. Abrams.

It wasn’t the special effects and big battles that attracted Russell to “Dawn.” She was more interested in the human drama that she knew Reeves would bring to the story, such as her character being a member of the medical community that couldn’t stop the epidemic that wiped out most of the world’s human population. Russell’s character also deals the death of her daughter and trying to connect with the son of the man she loves.

“That’s what I think is special about this movie. It’s the combination of Matt’s sensibility with an action movie like this,” Russell says. “Matt told me he wanted to make a movie about these people and intimate moments. There are heavy-duty action scenes but the film also has a lot to say about our own tendencies and capacities for empathy for communities that are not our own.”

Russell is always happy to find stories that deal with family relationships.

“The loudest and most profound relationship you are in is usually with your family — either your parents or your kids. Both the cable show and the film have these strong relationships,” Russell says.


Categories Articles & Interviews Movies Videos

Keri Russell Likes ‘The Americans’ Better Than ‘Felicity’

Keri Russell might have recently collaborated with one of the directors behind the show that launched her career, but that doesn’t mean that “Felicity” — or even “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which was helmed by the show’s creator Matt Reeves — was her favorite work experience.

“[With] ‘Felicity’ I was the main person,” she told MTV News. “That was a real grind. I think because Matt and J.J. [Abrams] had never [produced a show] before, and we were creating a really cinematic show for the olden days… we worked a lot of hours.”

Instead, Russell says that it’s her current, critically acclaimed FX drama “The Americans” that’s fueling her creative fire — and giving her a chance to catch up on some family time.

“What I love about ‘The Americans’ is the 13 episodes, which means I can work really hard for four and a half months, and then be with my kids, or go do a movie, do a play,” she continued, adding that the material itself is also a reason to celebrate (we agree).

“Just the quality of working on cable right now is just the best place to work,” she said. “Especially being an actress — it’s tough right now in movies. There are a few, a handful, that I think are great movies. If you win the lottery and get to be the girl in that movie, you have maybe one good scene. You’re usually someone’s girlfriend, or a mom, worried. My show that I get to do is this really rich, in-depth character, and it’s fun. It’s weird, and all of these different things, not just the supporting girlfriend in one scene.”

Preach, sister.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is in theaters nationwide. “The Americans” will return next year for its third season, and you can probably watch reruns of “Felicity” on Netflix or something.

Categories Articles & Interviews Movies

Keri Russell had to catch up for ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

There are times for Keri Russell when that famous line from “Planet of the Apes” runs through her mind: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape.”

Especially while fighting large furry creatures in the forests of Vancouver, where “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was shot. “All of the action scenes were fun because I grew up as a dancer, so I’m very physical,” Russell says. “There’s still something about fighting apes where you want to say, ‘OK, paws off!’ It’s a primal reaction.”

In “Dawn” (opening Friday), the star of FX’s “The Americans” plays Ellie, the wife of Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and a survivor of the ALZ-113 virus. It’s a decade past the events in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011) and the apes of Earth believe the humans have been wiped out and the few humans who remain believe the apes no longer exist. When they encounter each other again, it’s species vs. species.

“It doesn’t exactly bode well for the humans,” hints Russell with a laugh.

Q. What was the biggest hardship filming “Dawn” in the woods?

a. It was great, except there was no cell service. You’d be walking around the woods during breaks and then someone would yell out, “Oh my God, I got cell service! I found a bar!” Between takes, if anyone on this set found any cell service in those trees, the entire cast started scrambling and yelling, “Where, where, where?”

Q. What was the draw of doing this movie?

a. Director Matt Reeves was key. We worked together on “Felicity.” I knew that he had sensitive taste and that he would create intimacy between the characters. I knew wanted to make this an intricate, character-driven piece and show the sensibility of both humans and apes. I also thought that this could be a fun, summer action film and an epic, 3-D summer movie.

Q. Were you surprised when you got the call?

a. I said, “Really? Me? In ‘Planet of the Apes?’ ” I never even saw the original movies as a kid. I had a sense of them. I saw photos of them. So, I had a bit of catching up to do.

Q. How do you describe the new “Apes” film?

a. It’s a survival story. You think that this virus has perhaps wiped out all humans and all that is left is apes. She was helping fight the virus for the humans. She’s incredibly resourceful, but damaged and living in a makeshift family. She’s just trying to rebuild and live. Most of all, she doesn’t want to lose the few people left that she loves. She doesn’t want to let them out of her sight.

Q. How did you prepare for the role?

a. I read about female war journalists who lost so many people they loved due to the war. The woman I play in this new film has also lost a lot of loved ones. Now, she’s just trying to keep alive, but she’s deeply wounded.

Q. “The Americans” is such a huge hit. What do you think is the appeal of playing this KGB spy?

a. It’s been such a great experience. Roles like this aren’t available on film, so I’m so thankful for this exciting job. I love the challenge of playing this woman who becomes so many characters within one show. Thank God, we have the best hair and makeup people because they do a lot of the work.

Q. Don’t you live in Brooklyn right by the set?

a. Yes, I can bike home for lunch, put my baby down for a nap, and go back to spy work. It’s perfect.


Categories Articles & Interviews Movies

Keri Russell on Dawn of the Planet of Apes’ Unlikely Felicity Reunion

If, like me, you were a fan of the WB’s Felicity then it’s very amusing to ponder the fact that the co-creator of that series, Matt Reeves, and the show’s star, Keri Russell are teaming up again on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which Reeves directed. While Russell has worked with Felicity’s other creator — a guy named J.J. Abrams — since Felicity ended (in Mission: Impossible III), Apes marks her first time reuniting with Reeves.

As Russell remarked to me about the experience, “This is not the project I thought we’d be doing together, let’s be honest. He has this most beautiful film, this independent film, that he wrote that I would love to do, and we tried to get money for it a few years ago. It’s so good, and maybe, hopefully soon. But this is not that. [Laughs] This is so crazy and ambitious and epic. I had no idea what I was signing on for. He had a phone conversation with me and just said, ‘Please come do this.’ I said, ‘Matt, I’m finishing this show [The Americans], I’m so tired.’ He said, ‘Just come do this with me,’ and I’m so glad I did.” Continue reading Keri Russell on Dawn of the Planet of Apes’ Unlikely Felicity Reunion