Dune is a legendary sci-fi/fantasy novel that has just been waiting for the right filmmaker to bring it to life (much like The Lord of the Rings). Many have tried. All have failed (sorry, David Lynch). Frank Herbert’s novel built a rich world with fascinating characters but — for modern readers who have honed their tastes on Patrick Rothfuss and even Orson Scott Card — Dune is boring dense, yo.
And I’ll just say it. The Lord of the Rings was dense, too. The pacing of these novels do not hold up for readers — but, as Peter Jackson proved, they can still make for epic films.
Enter Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049). The Oscar nominee will direct the latest adaptation of the iconic film — and I gotta say, based on the trailer, I’m feeling hopeful:
Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides (played by Little Women’s Timothée Chalamet), a young man destined to rule the most dangerous planet in the universe, where forces battle over a substance with the ability to unlock humanity’s greatest potential. When betrayal leaves him and his gifted mother exiled in the unforgiving sands of Arrakis, only their unique powers — and their mastery over the mind-killer — can save them.
Villaneuve set himself up for success with an absolutely killer cast: obviously, Chalamet is super hot right now, as are Zendaya (Euphoria, Spider-Man: Homecoming), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars Episodes VII-IX), Marvel alumni Josh Brolin and Stellan Skarsgård, and Rebecca Ferguson (Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Mission: Impossible – Fallout).
Hebert’s book is so detailed that the film will be told in two parts, with the first set to release December 18, 2020 (if humans can survive that long). Villaneuve’s adaptation has been a massive undertaking — he spent a year on the design of the iconic sandworms alone.
“We talked about every little detail that would make such a beast possible, from the texture of the skin, to the way the mouth opens, to the system to eat its food in the sand,” the director told Empire magazine for the publication’s Summer 2020 issue. “It was a year of work to design and to find the perfect shape that looked prehistoric enough.”
Check out the trailer above to see one in action and to behold the glory of Arrakis.
Joe Avella: In the span of three movies the “John Wick” films have racked up a body count of nearly 300. And to do that, you need guns.
John Wick: Lots of guns.
Joe: Meet Taran Butler. He’s a world champion competitive shooter. He’s also the owner of Taran Tactical. They’re responsible for teaching some of Hollywood’s top action stars how to handle firearms for film and television. Today, for the first time ever, I’ll be shooting a pistol, a shotgun, and an assault rifle just to see how Keanu learned to look like an expert marksman for the big screen. What’s the worst that could happen?
Could you imagine if we were doing this with the loaded guns? I would’ve shot all my feet off.
First, the stars of “John Wick” had to learn some basics before they could start shooting like international assassins.
Jade Struck: So we have this thing called 180-degree line. So when you’re the shooter on the firing line, think of it like there’s a force field pulling your muzzle downrange. Never bring the muzzle back past the 180-degree line. Finger off the trigger, unless you’re shooting. And always treat every gun as if though it’s loaded. I’m gonna teach you how to check to make sure that they’re not.
Joe: After getting a feel for the pistol, it was time for the real deal.
How Keanu Reeves Learned To Shoot Guns For ‘John Wick’ | Movies Insider
Taran Butler: So we’ve got the three primary pistols of “John Wick” two and three. This is the gun you were training with with Jade. The gun that you see Keanu training with here on the range with a lot. In “John Wick 3,” Charon suggests, he goes, “John, since you’ve been gone something new has come out. The 2011 Combat Master. Loaded in 9 millimeter major, 125 grain bullet, major business.” So both guns shoot 9 millimeter.
Taran: The difference is, is this gun here can shoot 9 millimeter major. This is the 9 millimeter major, it’s a lot taller ’cause it’s got a lot more powder in it. The only difference is more powder. So, regular 9 millimeter on the left, 9 major on the right.
Joe: Yeah, that was awesome.
Taran: This gun here is Halle Berry’s Glock 19 from “John Wick 3.” So when the shoot-out takes place, she grabs this gun off one of the bad guys. She enjoyed the hard work and training. She had three broken ribs through most of the training here. So she wasn’t at her top. Same with Keanu, getting beat up on the horses. But she just got really good at it, and I’d say, hands down, she’s the best female weapons handler in Hollywood.
Joe: Taran has Hollywood’s action stars start with a small firearm and a simple combo.
Taran: Let’s do something fun and fast first. First off, no surfing, you were laid back like Jeff Spicoli. OK, start on this guy, easiest guy in the world. I’m gonna say, “Shooter ready, stand by.” When you hear the beep, you’re gonna come up, two to the body, one to the head. It’s called the Mozambique.
Joe: Two to the body, one to the head.
Taran: Yeah. Shooter ready, stand by.
Joe: Did I get him? Taran: You got in the head, it counts. Pop the safety on when you’re done. Finger off the trigger. OK, that’s 4:41, let’s destroy that time. Just do one more clean one, no box-offices fiascos. Shooter ready, stand by. Good, OK, that was 1:63.
Joe: Hey, all right!
Taran: You went from 4:41 to 1:63 in a couple rounds.
Joe: Booyah. It’s easy.
The next level is rifle handling. Placement is key, as is learning how to smoothly replace your ammo.
John Wick: I need something robust, precise.
Sommelier: Robust, precise. AR-15. 11.5 inch, compensated with an iron-bonded bolt carrier.
Joe: All right, so it’s, like, here?
Jade: Left hand out farther. Boom boom boom, drop. Yep, you’re good, keep it going.
Joe: As I’m going.
Jade: Watch it go in. Button. Paddle.
Joe: What button?
Jade: It’s this paddle right there.
Joe: Oh, why do I…? Oh, Jesus!
Jade: So, drop the bolt. Drop the bolt, and then you’re back on.
Joe: Gotcha. Boom boom, boom boom. Oh no, I’m out.
Jade: Feed, button, on. Good! We’re learning how to manipulate our weapons without ammunition in them so we know all of the functions.
Joe: Could you imagine if we were doing this with the loaded guns? I would’ve shot all my feet off.
Jade: Oh, goodness.
Joe: The true test was a more complicated combo. One similar to the kind Keanu and Halle had to master before hitting the set.
Taran: The director, Chad Stahelski, he wanted everything. He wanted three-gun loading, he wanted all kinds of ways to load the shotgun, all kinds of pistol reload, transitions, rifle, shotgun, pistol, everything.
Boom boom boom, boom boom, boom boom, ding. That’s it.
Joe: All right, this might take a while.
Taran: You can do it, Mr. Wick. Shooter ready, stand by. Faster. Little guy. Good!
Joe: All right.
Taran: Safety on? Joe: Yes, sir.
Taran: You’re at 13:67, a lot better than 27 seconds. You want to do it again?
Joe: Yeah, of course.
Taran: Are you sure you’re not bored yet?
Joe: Yeah, this is awesome.
Taran: Let me fix that one plate so it’s not in your way this time.
Joe: It’s funny, he’s so good with guns, he’s just like, “Let me move that for you,” ba-bam. Now, it was Taran’s turn. Shooter ready, stand by. 5.17, that’s ridiculous. Last but not least, it was time to try out a “John Wick” fan favorite.
Sommelier: May I suggest the Benelli M4? An Italian classic.
Taran: In “John Wick 3,” by far the coolest part was the quad loading with the shotgun. That’s something, no movie would ever have done that. Quad loading is a very difficult thing to learn, and only a few people can do it really good. So we got that going, and towards the end he did amazing.
Joe: Is this thing gonna, like, have a real big kick that’s gonna hurt?
Taran: No, there’s no recoil at all on this one. Good, that guy. Little guy.
Jade: Lean into it.
Joe: Ah, I think I’m out.
Taran: Oh, match saver! Ah, “You set me up!” All right.
Joe: Oh, that’s what that last one was for.
Taran: Yeah, the match saver.
Jade: Good job!
Joe: Thank you very much.
Joe: How come those guys didn’t fall down?
Taran: They did, but they came back up.
Joe: Oh, OK. Thank God.
Taran: I’ll finish them off.
Joe: I love this habit you have of being like, “Let me take care of that,” bang. Are you walking around the house like, “Let me get the lights,” pow pow?
Taran: Pretty much.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
A new HBO documentary premiering this month claims the United States, desperate to beat the Soviet Union to the moon, purchased space technology from former Yugoslavia.
But how could an Eastern European Communist country defy the Soviets without their knowledge? The answer starts with Yugoslavia’s longtime leader, Josip Broz Tito.
Tito was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army during WWI, becoming Austria-Hungary’s youngest Sergeant Major ever. He was captured by the Russians and helped the Red Guard take down the last Czar during the October Revolution. He would later become the leader of the most effective World War II resistance forces fighting Nazi occupation in Yugoslavia. After the war, he became a Communist dictator, but the only one free of Soviet influence.
Very adept at handling the Russians, Tito once wrote to Stalin: “Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle. If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.”
In the early days of the Space Race, capturing the technology took money, power, and meant a large return for the ideology that got to the moon first. Once the USSR put the first satellite and then the man in space, the U.S. felt the sting of that early defeat.
A new film, called “Houston, We Have A Problem” alleges that the former Yugoslavia was a secret third player in the Space Race. The Yugoslavians made great technological leaps, based on the 1929 writings of Slovenian Rocket Engineer Herman Potočnik, whose book “The Problems of Space Travel” marked the first discussion of long-term human habitation in space, the first designs for space stations, and the importance of geostationary orbit. The documentary alleges Werner von Braun, the Nazi inventor of the V-2 Rocket and later the Saturn V Rocket for the United States, which carried the Apollo Program to the moon, received unpublished Potočnik diaries captured by Tito after Potočnik’s death.
Tito found the diaries in 1947. After conflicts with Stalin in 1948 where Tito asserted Yugoslav independence, Tito implemented the Yugoslav Space Program. By 1960, the film alleges, the CIA determined that Yugoslavia had developed operation space flight technology based on these writings. In March 1961, the film says Yugoslavia sold its complete space program to the United States. Just two months later, President John F. Kennedy gave the speech that announce the U.S. goal of reaching the moon within the coming decade.
The burst of growth in Yugoslavia following the 1960’s is supposed to be (from the filmmakers’ points of view) a result of the influx of currency from the sale of the space race technology. There could be other mitigating circumstances behind that rapid growth. One Canadian researcher believes that growth came the $47 billion in war reparations Yugoslavia received from the former Axis powers. The questions don’t stop there, however.
“The trailer draws a lot of links between events that may or may not have happened in some cases and connects the dots between a number of things that aren’t necessarily connected whatsoever,” Bill Barry, NASA’s Chief Historian, told Radio Free Europe. “There’s a lot of coincidence in time, but just because two things sort of happened one after the other does not necessarily mean that there’s causation involved. There’s a very big stretch involved here.” Barry does acknowledge the influence of Potočnik and his work, however.
The film’s evidence also centers around “Object 505,” a secret Yugoslav Army post on the Croatia-Bosnian border that was Top Secret and inaccessible, even to the top Yugoslav Army brass. The film’s crew visits the still-mysterious installation in the film.
“It was very mysterious and one couldn’t enter it easily,” former Yugoslav Army officer and aviation Lieutenant Ivan Prsa told Radio Free Europe. “Only selected people could enter this underground facility and that’s why it is still unknown to the public.”
This is the director’s original trailer:
In an interview with Radio Free Europe’s Balkan Service, the film’s director, Ziga Virc, tried to downplay some of the more incredulous claims that made his film’s trailer an internet sensation.
“We are in the phase of gathering all the facts, but we still need a lot, a lot of confirmation. We still need a lot of documents and archive-gathering so we can confirm,” Virc said. “I would not like to be too sensational about this topic.”
“Houston, We Have a Problem” is listed by HBO as “docufiction… exploring the myth of the secret multi-billion-dollar deal behind America’s purchase of Yugoslavia’s clandestine space program in the early 1960s.” The film was screened at 2016’s TriBeCa film Festival and will be in select theaters in May 2016.
Army Game Studio developer, TheTots, explained on the forum for America’s Army that the new game be used by both players and developers to test out the new capabilities for the Army. The game will feature new concept vehicles ranging from tanks to deployable UAVs.
Players can also customize new vehicles and test them in a no-stress situation that could one day be developed into actual combat vehicles.
The Army Capabilities Integration Center’s Lt. Col. Brian Vogt said, “Gaming is a tremendous medium to connect soldiers to the concept. Gaming is not just for entertainment anymore, now it is for experimenting.”
There is a precedent for gamers being used to improve complex research and development projects like this.
Back in 2008, scientists were trying to figure out the detailed molecular structure of a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus found on monkeys. It stumped molecular biologists for years.
After the game Foldit (a collaborative online game to solve this exact issue) came out, gamers solved it in just 10 days.
The best ideas from the game will likely be adopted by Army RDECOM for new weapons platforms, tactics and specs based on the game’s detailed analytics.
The three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris will be playing themselves in the upcoming film “The 15:17 to Paris,” directed by Clint Eastwood.
According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone will be acting alongside Jenna Fischer (The Office), Judy Greer, and Ray Croasini in the film. Eastwood, whose films Sully and American Sniper both garnered Academy Award nominations, is producing the film with Tim Moore, Kristina Rivera and Jessica Meier. According to Variety.com, filming of the project began on Tuesday.
TheTrackingBoard.com had reported that Eastwood had initially wanted to cast Kyle Gallner, Jeremie Harris and Alexander Ludwig as the three heroes in the film, which is based on a book by Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone.
On August 21, 2015, Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guard soldier, Stone, an Airman assigned to the 65th Air Base Group, and Sadler, a high school classmate who was attending college, thwarted an attack being carried out by a “lone wolf” terrorist who had an AKM assault rifle. Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler tackled the gunman, whose rifle had jammed, then Stone, a medic, treated a passenger who had been shot in the neck by the jihadist, despite being wounded himself. Skarlatos received the Soldier’s Medal for his actions that day, while Stone received the Airman’s Medal and Purple Heart. Sadler was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal of Valor.
Master Sgt. Tanya Hubbard, 60th Medical Group, left, and Staff Sgt. Roberto Davila, 60th Medical Group, right, tack staff sergeant stripes on to Spencer Stone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)
The casting of Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler is not the first time a military hero portrayed himself. In 1955, Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy portrayed himself in “To Hell and Back,” based on his 1949 memoirs. It should also be noted that in 2012, the movie Act of Valor starred Navy SEALs as themselves, but in a fictional scenario. The SEALs were not formally credited in the movie directed by Scott Waugh and “Mouse” McCoy.
Let’s be honest: When it was announced that the Space Force was going to be a real thing, it was met with either disdain among those who anticipated a ridiculously high cost for something that doesn’t seem like a big deal or with excitement from those eager to live out all of their sci-fi fantasies.
The truth is that the Space Force is likely going to fall somewhere in the middle, doing logical things like defending military satellites and whatnot — but where are all the fun, sci-fi adventure bits?
Now that we’ve all seen the new trailer for the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, the general public is getting their first taste of the intergalactic team called the Starforce. So, let’s merge our extensive, geeky knowledge of comic books with the real-world military to take a look at what life would be like if the US Space Force were more like Marvel’s Starforce.
Potential spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
I, for one, welcome any opportunity to gain superpowers.
(Marvel’s Captain Marvel vol. 1 #1)
We’d all get superpowers
Each member of the Starforce has some ridiculously awesome superpower. Superhuman strength, flight, and durability all come standard, but each member has their own thing that makes them special, like shooting lasers out of their hands or telepathy.
Members of the Starforce weren’t bit by some radioactive plot device. Instead, they were all sort of given their powers, which would be awesome for Space Force recruits. These powers would make for a pretty great addition to a post-service resume.
(Marvel’s All New Invader vol. 1 #3)
We’d have competent leadership
The team is led by a being called the Supreme Intelligence that is basically a giant amalgamation of the world’s greatest brains — we find it best not to question comic book logic. Anyway, according to comic book lore, the being is said to be one of the smartest things in the galaxy, so there’s that.
Chances are, in the real Space Force, the GT score required to get in will likely bar most of the idiots from joining. Who knows? Maybe it’ll take a masters in astrophysics just to commission.
And it’s kind of confirmed for the film.
We’d all fight intergalactic aliens
The ultimate dream of every Space Force hopeful is to go f*ck up some aliens on some distance planet. In the comics, the Starforce has fought nearly everyone in space in one shape or form.
In the opinion of this writer, conflicts with extraterrestrials is an eventuality once we start turning our eyes outside of our solar system. But there’s a glaring downside to that….
I’m still in, though. You had me at “free superpowers.”
(Marvel’s What If: The Avengers Lost Operation Galactic Storm #1)
…We’d kinda be the bad guys
We said spoiler warning earlier, right?
Well, here’s the thing. The Starforce aren’t actually “heroes,” nor have they ever been. If you know the comics, then it’s kind of obvious what’s going to happen in the film. Captain Marvel, the model airman-turned-superhero, is going to join them very early on — and things will turn sour. Both Korath and Ronan the Accuser are also on the team (as shown in the trailer) and they’ve both proved to be interstellar as*holes in Guardians of the Galaxy. So, infer what you will.
While the good Kree mostly fought with the objectively evil Skrulls, the Starforce fought against the Shi’ar empire — a peaceful race of aliens who just want to learn and study things — and the Avengers.
To be honest, given the amount of hype we’ve seen at the prospect of “f*ckin’ some aliens up,” it’s not too much of a stretch to think that we’d be the ones to fire first in space.
It happens every single time a veteran sits down to watch a movie with friends and family. The civilians grab a bag of popcorn while the veteran starts biting their lower lip. The civilians start to enjoy themselves and the veteran starts offhandedly remarking on how “that’s not how it actually happens.”
Before you know it, the veteran hits pause and proceeds to give a full-length presentation on why the film is a disaster because they put the flag on the wrong side of the soldier’s uniform.
Most of what makes a military film bad isn’t intentional, of course. No one wants to spend millions on making a bad movie. But when done right, as so many have been before, troops and veterans will keep it on their top ten film list. So, Mr. Hollywood Producer, when you set out to make the next military blockbuster, use the following advice about the five biggest military movie mistakes.
Hire a good military adviser (and listen to them)
This may come as a shock to some veterans, but there are people on film sets whose entire job is to point out what would and wouldn’t happen in the real military. They’re called military advisers. The great military films are made or broken by how much the cast and crew decide listen to said adviser.
On a magnificent film set, like Saving Private Ryan, for example, everyone from Steven Spielberg to the background extras listened to every single word Dale Dye spoke. A good adviser knows they’re not on set to interrupt the creative team’s ideas. If they speak up to say something is wrong, it’s for a good reason.
Writing that reflects reality
When there’s something fundamentally wrong with a film, it can often be traced back to the writer. One of the first things they tell up-and-coming screenwriters is, “you can make a bad movie from a good script, but you can’t make a good movie from a bad script.” And the best writers are those who can make is something feel authentic and realistic, no matter how extraordinary the setting.
Military films are no exception. The fact is, no two troops are the exactly same. This goes for every character in the film. Every character, lead or background, should be fully dimensional and the audience should have a reason to care if they get unexpectedly shot in Act 2B.
Don’t expect a three-act character arc in the matter of one deployment
While we’re still poking fun at writers, let’s talk about the all-too-common problem of trying to turn real stories into scripts by shoehorning their actions into the Aristotelian structure. For those unfamiliar, this is your basic story of a random nobody becoming a legendary hero. Luke Skywalker did it — but it took him three movies, the loss of his mentor, and multiple failures to finally become a Jedi master.
Don’t expect to apply that same structure to a biopic that begins with a troop being a nobody at basic training and ends with them becoming a battlefield legend. In fact, some of the greatest war films rely on something simple, like “we need to go get this guy” to carry the story. A good story doesn’t need to be humongous in scope to be compelling.
Use authentic wardrobe
Despite how it may seem, there is no law that states that you must mess up uniforms if you’re to use them in a film. In fact, there’s actually a Supreme Court ruling that states you can use real uniforms in the arts — so there’s no excuse.
Use a military adviser and give them a say in the wardrobe department. Or, if you want to keep it simple, hire at least one veteran from whichever branch as part of the wardrobe team.
Retell the big scenes with smaller moments
It’s called a “set piece.” It’s the huge, elaborate moment that costs a boat-load of cash to capture. It’s what fits perfectly in the trailers. These are the scenes that action sensations, like The Fast and the Furious films, are known for. And yet, they often leave us feeling like something’s missing when done in military films — the personal touch
And that’s what really makes military movies different — sure, there are explosions in war, but it’s an intensely personal moment for the troops fighting. The gigantic scenes will sell much better if they focus on the fear in someone’s eyes more than flying a telephoto lens over the battlefield.
On Thursday, October 11, more than 14,000 free tickets will be presented to U.S. veterans and active-duty service members for Universal’s First Man — at more than 500 Regal locations nationwide.
Each of the first 25 service members (per location) with valid, government-issued ID who request a ticket will be given free admission to the 7:00 p.m. preview screening (or first show). First Man, from Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling, arrives in theaters nationwide on October 12.
“During his career as a Naval aviator, our dad flew 78 combat missions in the Korean War,” said Mark and Rick Armstrong. “The friendships he forged during those critical years remained deeply important to him all of his days. Freedom — much like landing on the moon — is an achievement that is hard fought and hard won, and it cannot be accomplished without the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their loved ones. We’d like to join Universal and Regal in thanking all our current and past veterans, as well as their families, for their brave service to this great nation.”
“As an Air Force veteran, I am proud to see this historical achievement from other veterans and NASA featured on the big screen. These military heroes are an incredible example of the courage and determination that allowed us to reach new heights in space exploration,” said Ken Thewes, CMO at Regal. “As a tribute to the courageous men and women in the armed forces, we are honored to offer complimentary tickets for active-duty military and veterans to be the first to see First Man at any participating Regal theatres.”
The promotion will be available at all Regal theatres playing First Man. Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and may be picked up at the Regal box office on October 11. Each guest must present a valid government-issued military ID to receive their ticket, with a limit of one free ticket for each military ID presented, while supplies last. This offer is valid for the 7:00 p.m. screening (or first showing) of the film on October 11, only.
“Neil Armstrong represents the best and bravest of humanity, and this film from director Damien Chazelle is stunning,” said Jim Orr, President, Distribution, Universal Pictures. “Early audiences have championed this new masterpiece, and we’re grateful that our partners at Regal have opened their doors to active-duty and retired service members with free tickets. We know these heroes will enjoy First Man, and we’re thrilled they’ll be among the first to experience it.”
Microsoft’s Xbox One is losing to Sony’s PlayStation 4 — badly.
With nearly 80 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the wild, Microsoft’s Xbox One is getting trounced. Estimates put Xbox sales number somewhere in the range of 30 to 50 million — Microsoft stopped reporting hardware sales numbers some time ago.
But don’t count Xbox out just yet.
Between its Netflix-like Game Pass service, the company’s game streaming ambitions, several new studio acquisitions, and the brilliant decision to add backwards compatibility, Microsoft is building a strong foundation for the future.
Here’s a look into the future of Xbox, straight from Microsoft’s Xbox leader Phil Spencer:
1. Creating the Netflix of gaming with Game Pass.
For $10/month, Xbox Game Pass offers access to over 100 games. That includes every first-party game that Microsoft makes, loads of indies, and — as of very recently — some heavy-hitters from third-party publishers like Bethesda Softworks.
Instead of streaming the games, a la Netflix, you download each game to your Xbox console. As long as you’re paying for Game Pass, you keep all the games you download.
Best of all, any new Xbox One games that come out from Microsoft are included with Game Pass.
When “Forza Horizon 4” arrives this fall, you could drop $10 on a Game Pass subscription to download and play the game — a whopping $50 savings over the normal $60 price of a new game. Microsoft’s betting that you’ll like the arrangement so much that you’ll keep paying for the service every month, like Netflix.
“We’re finding people in Game Pass actually play more games,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer told me in an interview in June 2018, at E3, the annual video game trade show in Los Angeles. “And they’re trying some franchises where, if they had to buy the franchise — even if they’re $30, $60, whatever the amount might be — it’s way easier for them to be invested at $10/month.”
In the long term, Spencer said the goal for Game Pass is offer a safe platform for potentially risky, creative games.
“I want it to be a place where creators feel like they can take risks in things that they wanna do, and know that they have an audience of people who are already invested in the service, such that the marginal cost for them to click on the next icon and give it a try is very, very low.”
The comparison to Netflix becomes apt once more. Netflix funds lots of creative, bizarre stuff because it can afford to fail — with millions of paying subscribers, Netflix has a sturdy financial foundation from which to experiment. It also has a large platform to surface content that otherwise might get lost in a digital storefront.
2. Building a platform to let people play games anywhere, whether you own a game console or not.
On a stage in the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles on June 10, 2018, Xbox leader Phil Spencer offered the clearest picture yet into Microsoft’s vision for the future of the Xbox brand.
“Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console-quality gaming on any device,” Spencer said. “Not only that — we are dedicated to perfecting your experience everywhere you want to play. On your Xbox, your PC, or your phone.”
It’s an echo of sentiments he’s expressed previously, but it’s the most definitive testament to Microsoft’s plans for the future of gaming.
“There are 2 billion people who play video games on the planet today. We’re not gonna sell 2 billion consoles,” Spencer told me in an interview following his stage presentation. “Many of those people don’t own a television, many have never owned a PC. For many people on the planet, the phone is their compute device,” he said. “It’s really about reaching a customer wherever they are, on the devices that they have.”
That said, logic dictates that the ability to stream “console-quality gaming on any device” depends on some pretty major upgrades to internet speeds around the world. It also faces hurdles like the uncertain future of net-neutrality laws and consumer internet data caps.
In the meantime, Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform offers an infrastructure that few other companies have. “Fifty data centers in different parts of the planet? Billions of dollars of investment in building that out? It allows us to accelerate our growth in this space,” Spencer told me.
3. Building the next Xbox.
In a surprise move, Spencer outright announced Microsoft’s work on the successor to the Xbox One.
You read that correctly: Microsoft has already announced the next Xbox, after the Xbox One.
“The same team that delivered unprecedented performance with Xbox One X is deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” he said on stage on June 10, 2018. “Where we will once again deliver on our commitment to set the benchmark for console gaming.”
Of note, Spencer said “consoles” — as in Microsoft is apparently working on more than one future console. Perhaps a smaller, less expensive, streaming-focused Xbox, in addition to a more traditional, larger, $300 to $400 Xbox?
Spencer didn’t specify, but did offer more information on the announcement during an interview with Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann in June 2018. “Everybody knows what’s happening,” Spencer said in reference to Sony and Microsoft making new consoles. “It’s this kind of unsaid thing, of, like, ‘Well, they shipped Xbox One X. They didn’t lay off their whole hardware team. What do you think they’re doing?'”
He said the announcement was a means of easing potential concerns of longtime console buyers: “It’s not tomorrow, but I didn’t want people to think that we’re walking away from that part of the brand and the business, because it’s really important to us.”
In terms of what that console (or consoles) will actually be, Spencer isn’t offering any major details just yet. From the sound of things, we’re still a few years away from new consoles.
4. Buying several game studios to build new franchises.
If there’s one thing Microsoft is lacking, it’s major first-party game franchises. Even if such franchises existed, Microsoft only owns so many studios capable of producing blockbuster games.
“Halo” and “Forza” and “Gears of War” are all important franchises — to say nothing of “Minecraft,” still one of the biggest games on the planet. With the exception of “Minecraft,” many of these franchises are suffering from franchise fatigue.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s Switch, meanwhile, are getting huge first-party games — games that can only be played on their respective consoles — like “God of War” and “Super Mario Odyssey” that re-invented staid franchises.
And that’s why Microsoft just announced the acquisition of five studios. “We know that we want to create new franchises,” Spencer told me. “We really thought we needed five or six new teams, and products that we really believed in.”
“We are committed to building an industry-leading first-party studios organization,” Spencer said on stage. “And we are making one of our greatest single year investments in teams by adding five new creative studios.”
Why not buy one big publisher, like EA or Activision, with a bunch of major game franchises? It’s complicated, but here’s Spencer’s answer: “I couldn’t find a collection out there in one entity to do it.”
5. Multiplayer gaming that crosses Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC, and mobile platforms.
Microsoft’s been banging the drum for interoperability between competing game consoles for awhile now. Ever since announcing the “Better Together” update for “Minecraft,” which allowed players on all “Minecraft” platforms to play the game together, the entire game industry has begun moving toward cross-platform multiplayer.
It makes a lot of logical sense if you think about it: Games like “Call of Duty,” “Overwatch,” and “Minecraft” are functionally identical across platforms. Why shouldn’t I be able to play “Overwatch” on Xbox One with my friend on PlayStation 4?
The reason, of course, is business.
Sony’s in the lead by a large margin, and has no real incentive — financially — to work with Microsoft on getting cross-platform play working between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That’s become a less defensible position for Sony to take as more and more huge games offer cross-platform play, such as “Fortnite” and “Rocket League.”
In sort, it makes Sony look like the bad guy for not offering players a choice that the competition is championing.
“I just get stuck in who this is helping,” Spencer told me. “It doesn’t help the developer — the developer just wants more people to play their game. It doesn’t help the player — the players just want to play with their friends who also play games on console.”
It’s hard to argue with his logic, even if it is easier for him to say from second place.
It’s the classic battle between masters of the martial arts.
Snipers embody the best of stealth, reconnaissance and camouflage and are at the top of their game when it come to dispatching targets with precision from a great distance.
“One shot, one kill” is no joke.
And when it comes to the best way to combat an enemy sniper, there’s no better weapon than a good guy sniper.
But what happens when the bad guy turns the tables and the good guy becomes the hunted? That’s exactly what happens in the new film from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions titled “The Wall.”
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and WWE superstar John Cena, “The Wall” depicts a sneak attack on a U.S. sniper team in Iraq by a diabolical enemy sharpshooter called “Juba,” played by Laith Nakli. The movie explores the psychological jiujitsu from each side as they try to outmaneuver one another in a battle where moving an inch in the wrong direction could mean certain death.
The enemy sniper from “The Wall” is loosely based on the infamous insurgent sharpshooter with the Juba nom de guerre in Iraq. The real Juba was reportedly killed by ISIS in 2013.
The main trailer for ‘Dunkirk’ is out, and it seems that Christopher Nolan will be telling the amazing story of Operation Dynamo from all angles as weekend sailors, Royal Air Force pilots, nurses, fishermen, and others appear in the footage.
Operation Dynamo, often called “The Miracle at Dunkirk,” was the evacuation of nearly 400,000 British and allied troops from the coast of France in 1940 after the German blitzkrieg cut through Allied defenses much faster than anyone anticipated.
The German invasion was expected to take months, but Nazi forces slashed a corridor through France to the English Channel in just over two weeks before they halted their advance. But the Nazis hadn’t been stopped by force of arms.
Rather, the high command decided that they didn’t want to risk panzers in pitched fighting near Dunkirk. So the German army kept the expeditionary force pinned down on the beach and sent the Luftwaffe to kill British ships in the English channel and strafe and bomb survivors on the beaches.
On May 26, the British launched Operation Dynamo, a Hail Mary attempt to rescue those dying troops through Royal Navy assets and, when those proved to be too few, hundreds of small fishing and pleasure boats piloted by civilians. Nearly 340,000 troops were evacuated from May 26 to June 4.
Previous trailers for Nolan’s movie about the event have focused on the plight of soldiers on the beach who waited for days, sometimes in shoulder-deep water while under fire from the Luftwaffe, for rescue. The new trailer shows them, but it also spends a lot of time on a father crossing the channel with his sons, as well as the nurses and pilots who made the mission possible.
It looks like World War II buffs may get to see one of the war’s most miraculous moments played out on the screen through perspectives of everyone who made it possible. Many of the troops rescued from the beaches went on to fight in North Africa, the D-Day landings, and on to Berlin.
Hugh Hefner, the iconic founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy — and one time U.S. Army veteran — is dead at 91.
His military service is a testament to the mentality of vets from the Greatest Generation. Despite an IQ 0f 152, he still opted to join the U.S. Army right out of high school in 1944, a time when victory in Europe wasn’t necessarily assured.
But Hef never made it to Europe. Instead, he was an infantry clerk stationed in Oregon and then Virginia. While he did learn the basics of using the M1 Garand and tossing grenades, he never had to do it on the battlefield. He spent the war drawing cartoons for Army-run newspapers.
He left the military in 1946, honorably discharged and destined for greater things — notably supplying reading material for U.S. troops (and everyone else) for every American war since 1953.
“I came out [of the Army] like a lot of other fellas believing that somehow we had, we had fought in a war, the last really moral war and that we would celebrate that in some form,” Hefner once said in an interview. “I expected something comparable [to the Jazz Age] after world war two and we didn’t get that, all we got was a lot of conformity and conservatism.”
Hefner left the Army to encounter the Cold War as a civilian and he didn’t like what it was doing to American society. He blamed things like Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee as a sign of repression in the U.S.
“When I was in college at the university of Illinois the skirt lengths dropped instead of going up as they had during the roaring twenties and I knew that was a very bad sign,” Hefner said. “It is symbolic and reflective of a very repressive time.”
In Hef’s mind, sexual repression and dictatorship went hand-in-hand, and he opted to do his part. His work helped fuel the sexual revolution of the 1960s — and fight an element of feminism he sees as a “puritan,” “prohibitionist,” and “anti-sexual.” Hefner funded challenges to state regulations that outlawed birth control and he sponsored the court case that would become Roe v. Wade.
“One of the great ironies in our society is that we celebrate freedom and then limit the parts of life where we should be most free,” he told Esquire in 2015.
In that same Esquire interview — at age 76 — he said of his death: “My house is pretty much in order. When it comes, it comes.” But he also said, “I wake up every day and go to bed every night knowing I’m the luckiest guy on the fucking planet.”
Recently, Oliva Wilde shared that she is slated to direct a feature film for Sony Pictures that will take place in the Marvel Universe. While the details are being kept quiet, rumors are that the story will be about Spider-Woman.
Plus, Wilde tweeted a spider emoji and Sony doesn’t have rights to Black Widow, so…
Though recently, and exceptionally, depicted in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Woman has yet to appear in her own film, despite decades of popularity. With Disney’s Marvel films continuing to lead the way in superhero box-office triumphs, it’s never been a better time for Spider-Woman to hit the silver screen.
And Olivia Wilde is the perfect person to lead the charge. Last year, her feature film debut Booksmart delighted audiences and critics alike, thrusting Wilde forward as a powerhouse in her own right. The Independent Spirit Award winning director joins Booksmart writer Katie Silberman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producer Amy Pascal to create the highly-anticipated film.
Wilde will follow in the footsteps of female filmmakers finally getting long overdue opportunities to bring superheroes to life, including Patty Jenkins, Cathy Yan, Chloe Zhao, and Nia DaCosta — as a result, we probably don’t have to worry about another Spider-Woman butt-gate.
Controversial Spider-Woman #1 cover art. (Marvel)
Instead, Wilde and Silberman ought to give us a pretty good time. Whether Wilde’s Spider-Woman will be Gwen Stacy (as she was in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Mary Jane Watson, or the OG Jessica Drew is unknown. And of course, it’s always possible the film could be about another character altogether. Sony had been slated to bring forth a Madame Webb film — and there’s always Silk, the Cindy Moon character who was bit by the same spider and on the same day as Peter Parker but who was then locked in a bunker as a result of her powers (dark, right)?
All we have to go on is a little emoji in a big Twitterverse. And if we think we might be getting any more hints anytime soon, we appear to be, sadly, mistaken.