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After collaborating with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg on 2016 animated comedy Sausage Party, Conrad Vernon got a chance to pitch his unique take on The Addams Family, a classic property which he had a strong personal affinity for, ever since childhood.
Reteaming with director Greg Tiernan on the project, Vernon knew going in that The Addams Family had been adapted many times before, for various mediums. Based on characters introduced by American cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938, The Addams Family had been brought to the big screen with three live-action films, beginning in 1991, and had also appeared on television in four separate series.
Looking to make his own contribution to the Addams Family canon with an animated feature, Vernon took this family of gothic oddballs and introduced them to the modern era—a moment in which people have become consumed with social media and screens of all shapes and sizes. Tackling such timely topics as mob mentality and cancel culture, while “introducing a brand new generation to this family,” Vernon's goal with the feature was to shine a light on aspects to the Addams's origins that no prior iteration of their story had explored.
“Mainly, the challenges were, just story-wise, what did we want to see, as far as the origins were concerned, before we got into the actual story of it all,” the director says.
DEADLINE: How did this latest take on The Addams Family come together? Why was this film one you had to make?
CONRAD VERNON: It came together when Gail Berman called me. She had the rights to this property, and had been to a few studios to try and sell it. She was over at MGM and called me to come in and pitch on it, and I went ahead and started developing it with a few artists and a writer, Matt Lieberman—not with the intention of directing but, but just to get it ready, so that MGM and Gail had a package to take to another filmmaker or studio. I didn't know what my next project was going to be, but as so often happens, once you get involved and stuck in with something, I just kind of fell in love with the [possibilities].
DEADLINE: How would you define the relationship you had to the Addams Family canon prior to coming aboard this feature?
VERNON: I used to watch the TV show when I was a kid. I'd come home from school and it would be on afternoon TV. I was watching Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island and cartoons and stuff, and this was the only TV show [where] it was kind of like Halloween, all year round. That's the way I looked at it. It was like, “Oh, this is really cool, that there's scary stuff on TV in the middle of the afternoon, but it's funny as well.” So, I was a real, huge fan of the TV show. Then later on, when I was in junior high, I got to know the books, and that's when I got...
Legendary actor John Astin has just turned 90 years old, and fans of all generations are celebrating the beloved performer's career on his special day. Of course, Astin is very well-known for his breakout role as Gomez Addams in the original black-and-white version of The Addams Family, though the actor's biggest fans also remember him from a variety of other unforgettable movie and television roles. Now, as the actor enters his 90s, his fans are taking to social media to speak about their most favorite performances we've seen from Astin over the past several decades.
Of course, there are countless mentions online of Astin's memorable role as Gomez Addams. After starring alongside Carolyn Jones as Morticia in The Addams Family in the 1960's, Astin reprised the role for the 1977 television movie Halloween with the New Addams Family. In the early '90s, Astin would play Gomez once again when he voiced the character for the animated series adaptation, and a few years later, he'd play another Addams when he appeared as Grampapa Addams on the reboot sitcom The New Addams Family. Needless to say, his name is synonymous with the franchise, and fans will always remember his take on Gomez.
We would be remiss if we didn't also touch on the many, many other memorable performances Astin turned in over the course of his career. He is revered for his memorable roles as the Riddler in Adam West's Batman series, filling in for Frank Gorshin for the show's second season. Astin also memorably played a former mental patient on Night Court, submarine commander Matthew Sherman on Operation Petticoat, and Ed LaSalle on Mary Tyler Moore's sitcom Mary. For his voice work on the Addams Family cartoon, Astin was nominated for an Emmy Award and was also nominated for an Ace Award for his appearance on Tales from the Crypt.
In addition to his movie and television work, Astin made several memorable movie appearances. Humorously, Astin also played a security guard in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, with Gizmo even muttering the name 'Gomez' when he sees him. He had highly memorable roles in movies like West Side Story, Freaky Friday, and National Lampoon's European Vacation. Astin fans also love his unforgettable roles as Professor Gangreen in the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes franchise, the ghastly Judge in the Michael J. Fox movie The Frighteners, and as Dean Dunn in the Teen Wolf sequel, Teen Wolf Too. These all just scratch the surface of a truly remarkable career, making it nearly impossible to choose one favorite role of Astin's - or even a top three.
Two of Astin's five children have since been following in his footsteps with successful acting careers of their own. This includes The Goonies and The Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin, and The Facts of Life and The Magicians star Mackenzie Astin. The latter has wished a happy birthday to his father on Twitter as well, posting a series of photos of Astin in a Twitter thread. 'Happy...
Gemini Man, in which Will Smith comes face to face with a de-aged clone of himself, was made from a ’90s script originally meant for Tony Scott. At some point, it was saddled with mid-2000s military politics and anxieties — a la the Bourne films — until eventually, Ang Lee got his hands on it, turning it into a futuristic visual experiment. Like Lee’s previous film, the contained war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk 2016, Gemini Man was shot at 120 frames per second, and was projected as such on the handful of screens that could accommodate it.
Unfortunately, not a single screen could show the film exactly as Lee had intended — at 120fps, in 3D, and at a 4K resolution — which is a shame, given that Lee is one of the most visually interesting filmmakers working in Hollywood. But does his use of “HFR” High Frame Rate actually work? Well, not exactly. I’m not sure a narrative film shot at 120fps can work, barring very specific circumstances. However, the conversation about Lee’s use of technology, and the kinds of stories he applies them to, is worth having.
First, a brief primer: What does 120fps mean?
Movies are generally shot and projected at 24 fps at least on film; it’s 23.976 on most digital cameras, which means ~24 still images are projected in quick succession, within the span of a second, to create the illusion of one continuous moving picture. At five times the frame rate, you lose the motion blur between frames, which helps approximate the vision of the human eye. Without it, things begin to look a little too smooth, almost like they’ve been sped up. You may have seen this effect on televisions in shop windows, which are usually calibrated to show off their sharpness. You can probably experiment with a similar effect at home by turning the “motion smooth” option on your TV on and off things not shot at higher frame rates will have the gaps filled by “guess frames”.
Most people’s first exposure to any HFR footage was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012. Even its mere 48fps was enough to occasionally expose the seams of the makeup, sets and costumes; generally, HFR has the effect of exposing the artifice of cinema. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many side-by-side comparisons of 120fps video on the internet; if you’re reading this on a phone or laptop, your screen probably can’t handle more than 60fps, and neither can YouTube. Most HFR showings of Gemini Man were in 60fps to begin with only fourteen screens across the U.S. played it at the full 120fps; for a comparison of different viewing experiences, do read Bilge Ebiri.
So, to illustrate just some the effect created by HFR, here’s the trailer for Gemini Man in 24fps, followed by the same trailer at 60fps:
Can you spot the difference? The 120fps version of the...
Week three of no theatrical releases. That will technically change soon — Universal’s premium VOD-opening “Trolls World Tour” has a handful of still-open drive-ins to play don’t expect any grosses reported. But it was a week full of important stories, with particular interest in a series of release date adjustments. However, no date can be realized if theaters aren’t open, and nobody knows when that will be.
• Exhibitor trade organization NATO held a webinar Friday. President John Fifthian raised hope that some theaters might be open by late May or early June. AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron, who oversees the most screens in North America reiterated his hopes for mid-June.
• With the COVID-19 still in its early stages of national spread, uncertainty about the curve flattening, and signs that in China, which had the earliest outbreaks three months ago, that viral decline doesn’t equal viral defeat, the reality is it could be weeks before anyone can make a reasonable assessment on reopening.
• Countering industry optimism that after weeks indoors, people will flock to theaters is a survey by Performance Research about public attitudes on return to public events. It saw 49 percent of respondents saying feeling safe about returning to theaters ranged from in a few months to never, with 28 percent saying if they do return, it will be less often. That said: This is a snapshot taken nearly two weeks ago, and shouldn’t be considered predictive. It showed similar or worse results for sporting events, concerts, and theme parks.
• Sports league executives spoke with President Trump, who urged resumption as soon as possible. However, Dr. Alan Sills, chief medical officer for the NFL, cautioned it is premature to believe that football can return this fall. Governors in some states that aren’t fully shut down, like Nebraska, encouraged voluntary compliance — with the threat that if the virus isn’t contained, their ardent fans might not have a season. Sports, of course, demand close player and spectator contact, and are more vulnerable even than theaters to the ongoing threat of contagion. But the idea that it is conceivable the country could have a year with no more sports is even more shocking than disruption to theaters.
• The key takeaway from multiple studio release schedule changes is, in re-dating titles, they don’t expect theaters to be fully operational until July at the earliest. Though key June and July titles like Pixar’s “Soul” and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” remain in those months, “Mulan” on July 24 is the earliest rescheduled date for any major title. Other date changes act as a diversion while theaters are closed, but the reality is everything is written in pencil, not pen.