No More "Pirates" Life for Director Gore Verbinski BUT He'll Still Work with Johnny Depp! 

Batten down the hatches and man the sails, director Gore Verbinski has informed Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer that he will not helm the fourth film of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

The installment is supposed to set in 2010 with Johnny Depp returning as Captain Jack Sparrow.

But Verbinksi is still working with Depp with his animated flick "Rango" for Paramount Pictures. The actor is voicing the title character. The flick will come out on March 2011.

When asked what he really thinks of the $2.6 billion worldwide-grossing "Pirates" franchise? Verbinski revealed:

"I had a fantastic time bringing 'Pirates' to life, and I am eternally grateful to Jerry, Johnny and the rest of the creative and production team," Verbinski said. "I'm looking forward to all of us crossing paths again in the future."

The director will next focus all his energy to adapting the bestselling videogame "Bioshock" for Universal Pictures.

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Universal Enters "The Umbrella Academy" 

Universal Pictures enters a 3-year pact with Dark Horse Comics, and the first project to come out of that union is the planned big-screen adaptation of "The Umbrella Academy."

The plot of the graphic novel is akin to "Watchmen." According to Variety:

"Umbrella Academy," which bowed in 2007 and spawned a second series, revolves around a disbanded group of seven superheroes who reunite after the death of their adoptive father, an alien disguised as a famous entrepreneur, and carry out his plan to save the world.

Universal's successful "Hellboy" franchise was lifted from a Dark Horse Comics series. The script for "The Umbrella Academy" will be written by Mark Bomback, who wrote Disney's "Race to Witch Mountain."

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New "Star Trek" Film Has Been Seen! Word Is...It's Brilliant! 

Oh gosh, the hoopla surrounding the upcoming "Star Trek" is reaching mass hysteria, almost! Some folks in Australia are watching it today, April 7th, and director/producer J.J. Abrams and cast members Eric Bana, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban are going to be presenting the film to 1,600 guests in Sydney Opera House's legendary Concert Hall for the out-of-this-world experience!

But, "Star Trek" was also shown last night at Austin's Alamo Drafthouse! So what did the lucky ones think?

Here's some Twitter reviews from Slash Film:

bosmon: holy sh** we just saw world premiere of new #Star Trek and it’s AWESOME

ColeAbaius: Yes, I’m the guy who’s never seen an episode of ST and got to see Star Trek tonight. As a total ST Virgin - the movie is incredible.

simplygreg: Just finished seeing new Star Trek flick introduced by the writers, Damon Lindelof and, wait for it, Leonard Nimoy! It was amazing!

rejects: Just got super secret clearance to tell you that yes, I saw JJ’s Star Trek. And I was blown away. it is super accessible, in the right ways. Fans at my screening also dug it, so that bodes well.

And over at Cinema Blend, there's even an enthusiastic review!

The new Star Trek movie is amazing- easily the best Trek movie since The Wrath of Khan, and a veritable feast of sight and sound: A captivating adventure that grabs you from the first and doesn't let go. The effects are staggering, finally what the stories have deserved so richly. There are enough huge fireballs, shattering explosions and exciting fights to go around. The movie's first 5-10 minutes are of note I feel: This sequence is brilliant and had me immediately on the edge of my seat.

The movie follows the story of the initial meeting of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, twisting and turning from its original path thanks to a plot of revenge by the 24th century Romulan Captain Nero. The less said about what this entails, and what changes are in store for both the universe and characters- the better. I'm told there are some spoiler-rich reviews out there. Avoid them. This movie packs a lot of adventure and surprises, and is best seen unspoiled, in my humble opinion.

All the adventure is balanced, however, by dead on work by the actors and a generous focus of the story on the characters themselves. All of the main crew get a nice picture of who they are, only Chekov ever feels like window dressing, a problem every previous Trek movie has had (even my beloved Khan) in spades. In particular, I would like to single out McCoy (Karl Urban) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) for being much improved. Not only do the actors completely nail their parts, but both characters are much more interestingly written now.

As great as they are though, the weight of these stories has always been on Kirk and Spock. Both are well executed here, and I can safely say that I already like the new Kirk more than I ever did the old. He's still Kirk, but you understand why he's Kirk, and there's more humanity to him. Old Kirk was sometimes a dick because, well, he was. This Kirk feels a touch more pity, has a touch more pain, and actually goes out of his way to save his crew, which makes him far easier to root for.

Zachary Quinto as Spock, aside from the obvious physical resemblance, also feels right. This movie is more Kirk-centric, I think, but Quinto does a good job conveying the inner turmoil and barely suppressed green-blooded volcano boiling under the character's surface. The only issue I have is that a lot of the character development that took Spock many episodes and movies in the original universe seem to be compressed into a very short time here, and I worry that they may be wrapping all of this up too neatly and cleanly. In one scene, specifically, Spock seems to undergo a complete attitude reversal in the space of about three minutes- Seething with rage and violence one minute then suddenly, after a quick epiphany, positive and collected and ready to help in any way he can the next. It feels cut short, like something got left on the cutting room floor.

And that leads into my issues with the film. There are several bits that feel rushed, from the narrated flashback (forward?) which seems to clip along far too quickly and forces Nimoy to be abbreviated, to the handling of the Vulcans. Sarek is the only performance here I'll single out as being definitely poorer for the reboot. I'm not sure anyone could have filled those shoes, but the dignity and depth that Mark Lenard brought to the role is sorely missed. Otherwise, Chekov's accent, while deliberately pronounced, actually did become a little annoying in several spots, and Eric Bana's villain, while played well, is given a bit short shrift, with only a very brief explanation of who he is and what he wants. This cuts both ways though, as the movie nicely avoids the trap that so many of these films fall into, over-focusing on the main villain to the detriment of the heroes.

Overall- The runtime flies by with very few lulls in the pacing, reinvigorating characters and a universe that had, lets be honest, grown stale and tired. More than anything else, the movie just feels so much more fun than any previous entry. There's more humor, more thrills, far more energy and a much better movie here than anything I've seen from Star Trek* since the 80's. I admit I was skeptical- I was not prepared to care about this universe and these characters again, after the crushing mediocrity that they had become. I can be skeptical no more, though. This is a fantastic movie it's own right, one I would definitely recommend to Trekkie and new fan alike.

"Star Trek" beams into theaters May 8th, so just a few sleeps y'all :happy

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"Wolverine" Leaked Fallout! Fox Columinist Fired, Disney's Dick Cook and Director Steven Soderbergh Speak Out! 

Since the news of "Wolverine's" online leak last week, more stories are developing connected to the piracy. First, longtime Fox News entertainment blogger Roger Friedman has been fired!

Friedman reviewed the leaked film which prompted many folks in the blogosphere to scream blood! What was Friedman thinking? Reviewing an illegal copy of a film that his parent company is releasing!

Then, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, called a hearing to introduce legislation aimed at stopping piracy outside the U.S. A timely meeting in light of the "Wolverine" leak.

Among Hollywood attendees were Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook and director Steven Soderbegh. Cook says:

"A single infringing copy of a movie sourced in one country and placed on the Internet will be translated into mass distribution of counterfeit DVDs within hours. And when it comes to Internet piracy, few if any borders remain."

Soderbergh, meanwhile, called for Hollywood to not rely on the government for help, but to act autonomously in the fight against piracy.

"Litigation is slow and the Internet is fast, so it doesn't make sense to ask the government to be our police," Soderbergh said. "What we would like is to be deputized to solve our own problems, to be granted the kind of pull-down and inspection abilities being proposed in France so we can act swiftly and fairly on our own behalf."

The director even blamed piracy for the poor showing of his film, "Che," at its international release. Soderbergh told Variety:

"Spain's a hotbed of piracy, and the Latin American distributors told us after that 'We're dead,' " he admitted. "It's going to be a problem for films that aren't released day-and-date."

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Christina Ricci to Star in Adam Sandler's Porn-Inspired Comedy! 

The fantastic Christina Ricci has signed on for "Born to Be a Star," the porn-inspired comedy that Adam Sandler co-wrote, and will co-produce. Tom Brady ("The Hot Chick") will direct.

Ricci will play the innocent girlfriend of a "small-town nerd who stumbles upon a family secret: His quiet and demure parents were famous porn stars in the 1970s. This motivates him to leave Northern Iowa for Hollywood, hoping to follow in their footsteps and fulfill his destiny as the biggest adult-film star in the world." (The Hollywood Reporter)

No word yet on whether Sandler is going to star as well, but it's nice to see Ricci in a comedy again.

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