The teaser trailer for "Django Unchained" has been released, offering a first glimpse of Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film about a freed slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) trying to save his wife from a vicious plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
True to Tarantino's genre-bending tendencies, the film is styled as a sort of "spaghetti Southern," a revenge tale set in the Deep South but inspired by the westerns of Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci (the latter directed 1966's "Django"). From the looks of the teaser, the film promises heaps of violence, striking set pieces and snappy wordplay.
At one point Foxx, taking up the lead role Will Smith reportedly passed on, spouts a catchphrase that's sure to blow up on Twitter: "The D is silent." He's joined by "Inglourious Basterds" star Christoph Waltz, who plays the German doctor responsible for buying Django's freedom and mentoring him in his new line of work. ("How do you like the bounty-hunting business?" Django is asked at one point. "Kill white folks and they pay you for it? What's not to like?" he replies.)
As with "Basterds," "Django" demonstrates that Tarantino isn't afraid to play in the darker corners of history. Neither, it appears, is DiCaprio. His character, the villain Calvin Candie, is said to be a truly despicable one who gets a kick out of watching slaves fight to the death. Viewers who think of DiCaprio primarily as a heartthrob might be in for a surprise, but his talent could go a long way toward making a vile character compelling.
The film, which opens Christmas Day, also stars Kerry Washington, Don Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson.
This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.
The first trailer for Baz Luhrmann's star-studded adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" has been released, and it features many of the Australian filmmaker's hallmarks, including spectacular visuals (the film will be in 3-D), modern music in an anachronistic setting and a lead performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.
The trailer opens with a voice-over setting the scene ("New York, 1922") and a Jay-Z and Kanye West song setting the mood ("No Church in the Wild," from the duo's "Watch the Throne" album). The Roaring '20s are in full swing, with flappers in sparkling dresses and gents in sharp tuxedos spilling champagne and dancing under falling confetti.
A quick montage of people asking about DiCaprio's mysterious title character sets up one of the story's central questions: Who is Jay Gatsby? Among those who want to know are Tobey Maguire, playing Nick Carraway (the book's narrator); and Carey Mulligan, playing Gatsby's star-crossed love interest Daisy Buchanan.
Other actors glimpsed in the trailer include Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan as the shady businessman Meyer Wolfsheim, Australian actor Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan (Daisy's husband) and newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker (Nick's love interest).
Luhrmann's eye for visual flair seems well-suited to the gilded glamour of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, and fans of the book will recognize a few landmarks, including Gatsby's well-manicured lawn, a "valley of ashes" and an ophthalmologist's billboard.
View the full trailer below.
For the record, 10:30 p.m. May 23: A previous version of this post referred to Tom Buchanan as Daisy's wife instead of Daisy's husband, and described the voice over as being by DiCaprio. It is by Maguire.
James Bond may be used to action. Director Sam Mendes is rather new to the game.
But Monday's first teaser trailer for the long-delayed "Skyfall," in which Mendes ("American Beauty," "Road to Perdition") takes on a huge Hollywood franchise for the first time, does not spare the kind of pyrotechnics that Bond fans expect their 007 movies to have.
"Skyfall" stars Daniel Craig, coming off "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and the flops "Dream House" and "Cowboys & Aliens." It's his third Bond film and the first since 2008's tongue-twister "The Quantum of Solace," which grossed $586.1 million globally, about on par with 2006's "Casino Royale." Plot details are not clearly spelled out in the trailer, but it does suggest that Bond is on the wrong side of the glass in an interrogation scene. It's unclear why the word "Skyfall" triggers bad memories when Bond is asked about it, but it appears to be a mission that didn't go that well.
There are fleeting glimpses of Judi Dench's M, and Bond girls Bérénice Marlohe and Naomie Harris. As for memorable dialogue (the screenplay credit is likely to be shared, but "Gladiator's" John Logan did extensive work on the project), it's pretty slim pickings, the best being Bond saying in what sounds like a Hemingway parody, "Some men are coming to kill us. We're going to kill them first."
I’ve heard lots of talk in the past few years that movie stars don’t really matter anymore. But nothing made the point in such dramatic fashion as the reaction I got from 11 teenagers after they watched the trailer for “Total Recall,” Sony’s upcoming remake of Paul Verhoeven’s classic 1990 sci-fi thriller.
This marks the 11th year that I’ve tried to make sense of the summer movies by showing their trailers to a group of teens, known as the Summer Movie Posse. This year’s group, assembled by 15-year-old Mica Nafshun-Bone from friends who attend New Roads School and Santa Monica High, graded and critiqued 14 trailers from the most anticipated summer films, offering both wildly enthusiastic approval and witheringly blunt dismissals of the new crop of films.
It’s no big surprise that they were dazzled by the trailer for “The Dark Knight.” It wasn’t a shock to see them left cold by “Men in Black 3,” whose trailer hasn’t been getting raves among older fans, either. But what was so surprising about their reaction to “Total Recall” was their complete obliviousness to its cast of well-known actors.
The film is populated with prominent names, notably Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston. But of the 11 members of the posse, only two knew anyone who was in the film (both of them pinpointing Farrell). Their perspective is strikingly youth-o-centric. Everyone instantly recognized “Snow White and the Huntsman’s” Kristen Stewart, who was the subject of a lively debate over her bona fides, including why her eyes are brown in the “Twilight” films but appear green in “Snow White.”
But Stewart was really the only dramatic actor whose presence mattered. There was a little buzz for Mila Kunis, who costars in “Ted,” and some genuine respect for “Dark Shadows’” Johnny Depp, whose puckishness makes him a perennial favorite with teens. But even such top-tier stars as Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr. and Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson barely registered — and not always in a positive fashion. When discussing “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Max Nath, 16, could characterize Charlize Theron only as “that other woman.”
From the orchestra that backs the Starship Enterprise to the choirs that follow Spider-Man swinging through New York City, music for trailers has drawn a larger public spotlight in recent years with the releases of previews becoming higher-profile events.
In Sunday's Calendar section, we explore the fact that much of the music featured in advertising for movies is produced by trailer music libraries. These companies compose music (typically one- to three-minute tracks) for clients at studios and trailer editing houses, who then select pieces from the libraries’ albums to license for use in previews.
Here are the stories of how some of that music attracted fan followings for four of those libraries.
“Star Trek” (Trailer music library: Two Steps From Hell) The third trailer for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” set records, as it was viewed more than 1.8 million times during its first 24 hours on apple.com in March 2009. Featuring the track “Freedom Fighters” by Two Steps From Hell, the preview put the Los Angeles-based trailer music library on the map.
In a deviation from most trailers that include multiple cues of music, the majestic yet ethereal track plays throughout the preview. “That gave people some time to latch onto the music,” said Thomas Bergersen, co-founder of Two Steps From Hell.
“Avatar” (Trailer music library: Audiomachine) Later in 2009, “Avatar” broke “Star Trek’s” record with the teaser trailer for the soon-to-be box office king. It was viewed more than 4 million times during its first day on apple.com. So the rest of its marketing campaign had a lot of early hype to live up to. Twentieth Century Fox hired several trailer editing houses to try their hand at cutting advertising for the film before the studio decided on Culver City-based company Wild Card.
“When we were dealing with something that was as out of the box as 'Avatar,' it's often great to have multiple sets of eyes and different perspectives looking at it because there are many ways to attack it,” said “Avatar” producer Jon Landau. “By going out to a couple different trailer companies, we were able to see how different people looked at the material, which was very helpful.”
The first full-length trailer for “Avatar” featured the tracks “Akkadian Empire” and “Guardians at the Gate,” both by Beverly Hills-based library Audiomachine. Nick Temple, owner of Wild Card, said of the latter track, “While it was still big and felt like it was a huge ride, there was still an emotional sense to it.”
Watch the trailer below, where “Akkadian Empire” begins one minute and six seconds in, followed by “Guardians at the Gate,” which plays through the end. (The first music cue is from the score for Michael Bay’s “The Island.”)
“Spider-Man 2” (Trailer music library: Immediate Music) In 2004, the marketing for Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” pushed Immediate Music (one of the first trailer music libraries, founded in 1993) into a bigger public spotlight. Their track “Lacrimosa Dominae” plays from 1:50 to the end of the trailer below.
“The last 45 seconds of the trailer, they blasted the music –- there were no sound effects… no dialog, no narration,” said Yoav Goren, president of Immediate. “So it was really one of the first times you could really hear a trailer track on its own. And I think that also spurred people wanting to buy this stuff.”
The track is on one of Immediate’s public release albums, “Trailerhead.”
“How to Train Your Dragon” (Trailer music library: Future World Music) Future World Music’s rousing and adventure-ready track “Dream Chasers” fueled the second half of the trailer for “How to Train Your Dragon.” The track runs from 1:09 to 1:57 in the video below.
“That was one of the big campaigns that I think really blew the door off for us,” said Future World owner Armen Hambar. “We just couldn’t believe how much of a response we got.”
Photo: Trailers for J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek," "Spider-Man 2" and "Avatar" have featured music composed by trailer music libraries. Credits: (from left) Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox.
After several months of building buzz, "The Hunger Games" hits theaters today. If you're a fan who's been watching the trailers for months while biding your time for the film, you may be wondering about the preview's powerful music.
The track used in the trailer (the first full-length one released for the movie) is "Deep Shadow," written by T.T.L. (a.k.a. Through The Lens), a collaboration of new-wave Italian musician Tying Tiffany and her producer, Lorenzo Montana. Inspired by industrial and electronic music, the duo started the T.T.L. collaboration to write more music for movies and television. They also composed a track in the trailer for Ralph Fiennes' "Coriolanus," called "It's Here."
A portion of "Deep Shadow" begins one minute and 16 seconds into the "Hunger Games" trailer, and the full track is available for download on the website of the duo's label, ZerOKilled Music.
It's a track that stands out from the typical music composed and licensed for trailers -– music driven by big orchestras and rousing choirs. A mysterious and unearthly East European violin runs through "Deep Shadow," driven by booming percussion and culminating with the rich purring of uilleann pipes-inspiredsymph.
"We used a lot of ethnic instruments that we found during our tour," Montana said.
There's a lightness to the opening of the trailer for Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey": a sun-drenched field and a bit of name-themed comedy. It's of a piece with the book, which is deemed just a bit lighter than J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Then, of course, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the "Hobbit" gang get down to more serious business: Questing, sword-fighting and high-stakes intonations ("Can you promise that I will come back?" "No. And if you do, you will not be the same.") All of which will no doubt continue stoking the appetite of "Hobbit" fans, who eagerly await two films that Jackson is shooting back-to-back in New Zealand.
Although the "Hobbit" story takes place about 60 years before the "LOTR" trilogy begins, the trailer also includes the much-discussed Frodo connection, which Jackson has inserted into the "Hobbit" to connect the film to his previous franchise.
"My dear Frodo, you asked me once if I had told you everything there was to know about my adventures," an elderly Baggins tells Elijah Wood's character in the film's frame story. "Well, I can honestly say that I told you the truth. I may not have told you all of it."
The trailer first appeared on Facebook, where Warner Bros. has been making promotional bits available. The movie is scheduled to hit in just about a year.
The Snow White fairy tale has been told and retold since before the days of the Brothers Grimm, and come March 16 director Tarsem Singh will unveil his own version, "Mirror Mirror." Audiences can now get a glimpse of his work, as Relativity Media has released the first full trailer for the film, starring Julia Roberts as the evil queen and Lily Collins ("The Blind Side") as Snow White.
With ornate sets and costumes and sweeping snowy vistas, the trailer hints at the lush visuals Tarsem (as he prefers to be known) has made his trademark. Roberts seems to be having fun playing the catty queen, and Collins shows off some action moves as the leader of a group of bandits — seven diminutive bandits, of course.
The trailer comes on the heels of Tarsem's ancient-Greek action spectacular "Immortals," which opened Friday and dominated the box office over the weekend, and the recently released trailer for that other Snow White vehicle, "Snow White and the Huntsman," which stars "Twilight's" Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron as the evil queen and is set to open June 1.
"Mirror Mirror" also features as its charming prince actor Armie Hammer, who is currently on screen opposite Leonardo Di Caprio in Clint Eastwood's political biopic "J. Edgar."
As the vampire craze starts to quiet down, the fairy-tale one starts to really crank up. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a bridge between the two. Kristen Stewart. The "Twilight" star, who reprises her role as Bella Swan in the upcoming "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I," will follow that next year with her lead role in “Snow White and the Huntsman."
Rupert Sanders’ take on the fairy tale is the second 2012 movie to put a new spin on the Grimm Bros. tale; Tarsem’s “Mirror Mirror” comes out in March.
Playing the Evil Queen in hot pursuit of Snow White, Theron is a convincing villain, especially with her mellifluous-but-lethal voice-over.
In a set of shots that at once evoke a kind of Gothic chic and modern chase movie, Theron’s queen bares her teeth, reveals some insecurity and lays out her plans. (Stewart mostly runs.)
"Lips red as blood, hair black as night, bring me your heart, my dear, dear Snow White," she intones, in a storyline that feels far more coherent than that other costumed fairy-tale update, 2010's "Red Riding Hood." There’s also a surprisingly human element, as Theron describes how it once brought her pain to cause evil, but now, well, she's mostly nourished by the victims' cries.
Female leads in big action movies are rare enough, but it’s even more heartening to see them leavened with some complexity. Or maybe we're just happy to see Stewart not pulling at her hair.
The Navy SEALs certainly have been depicted in any number of films. Charlie Sheen’s turn as Lt. Dale Hawkins in 1990’s “Navy Seals” -- “For God's sake, be careful out there!” -- perhaps being the low point.
But not until next year’s “Act of Valor” have the typically secretive elite warriors played themselves.
In a feature film helmed by the hot Los Angeles commercial directors the Bandito Bros. (Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh), seven active Navy SEALs star in a global thriller about a terrorist plot targeting the United States. “This thing is way bigger than we thought it was,” a voice intones in the new trailer for the film, which opens Feb. 17. “They’re going to hit us at home.”
By working with the Navy, the filmmakers had access not only to lots of hardware (the trailer shows glimpses of a submarine, an aircraft carrier, helicopters, drones, gunships and high-powered sniper rifles) but also to the SEALs themselves, who staged the film’s action scenes. Relativity Media bought domestic rights to the finished film for $13.5 million, a small fortune for an independently financed feature.
“The characters in this film are portrayed by active-duty U.S. Navy SEALs,” the trailer informs us. “The story is fictional, but the weapons and tactics are real.” As the trailer also makes clear, “Act of Valor” could very well be a recruiting tool. Top that, Mr. Sheen.