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Universal Pictures Sued for Sending Unsolicited Warcraft Texts, Together Humans and Orcs Must Unite Against Spam

This Thursday, a lawsuit was filed in Florida federal court against Universal Pictures. The plaintiff?  One Charlie Fitzgerald III, who received an unsolicited text from the studio, inviting Fitzgerald and fellow moviegoers to "join the fight" to "lead the Horde or Alliance to Victory," with a link to Warcraft's Fandango page. Fitzgerald presumably has no vested interest in the human-orc conflict, but he's absolutely willing to lead the charge in the War Against Spam. Fitzgerald has brought a proposed class action suit against Universal, claiming that the studio violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act  by sending him unsolicited text messages. The class, if it goes forward, will include anyone who received one or more unsolicited promotional texts from Universal Pictures between June 24th, 2012 and the certification of the class. Fitzgerald is seeking $500 in damages per violation for himself and each class member, an amount that will triple if the violation is found to be willful, not negligent. As of this writing, Warcraft has grossed $413 million worldwide, blowing past Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time to become the highest-grossing big-screen video-game adaptation of all time. All thanks to a bunch of spam. Kidding, kidding.

As of this writing, Universal has yet to respond to the lawsuit.

8 Movies to See (or Not) This Fourth of July Weekend

Fourth of July celebrations aren't for everyone — it's hot, barbecue smoke stings the eyes, and you can only hear the same summer songs so many times. If you would rather celebrate America's independence by finding some of your own, perhaps in a cool, dark theater, know that there are many movies of varying genres currently available to watch on the big screen. Below, we listed eight films recently reviewed by our film critic, David Edelstein, and noted what he had to say about them. (And for even more movie ideas and recommendations, check out our streaming hub, too.) Just don't try to sneak some sparklers into the cinema, okay?

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  • Posted 7/1/16 at 12:41 PM
  • Movies

A History of Everyone Freaking Out Over Renée Zellweger’s Face

More than any other actress of her generation, Renée Zellweger's face has been used as shorthand for her career. In an industry where every female star's face is fodder for public comment, Zellweger has undergone the worst of it — ever since she gained weight for Bridget Jones's Diary (and lost it for Chicago), Zellweger's been too fat, too thin, too Botoxed, too something. On the occasion of the latest controversy, let's take a look back at all the ways Zellweger's features have disappointed her ostensible fans.

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The Legend of Tarzan Falls Well Short of the Treetops

Why do filmmakers always louse up Tarzan? The 1914 Edgar Rice Burroughs book has a sensational first half, before the inevitable Victorian-Edwardian–era corniness and cultural supremacy kick in. Raised by apes, the child of shipwrecked English aristocrats doesn’t turn out a dearie like Mowgli in The Jungle Book but a badass killer who swings soundlessly through trees and drops nooses on his foes (human and animal). He also finds his dead parents’ treehouse (still with their skeletons) and teaches himself to read (though he has no idea how the words actually sound — or that the skeletons are his parents). The old Johnny Weissmuller pictures dumbed Tarzan down, but he and Maureen O’Sullivan looked scrumptious in their skimpy loincloths (at least before the Hayes Office came along and covered them up). Fifty years later, Robert Towne wrote a script that honored its source, but it was so mucked-up by English director Hugh Hudson that Towne gave the credit to his dog.

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New Bad Moms Trailer: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, and Kristen Bell Aren’t Bad, They’re Just Misunderstood

"I'm so tired of trying to be this perfect mom," Mila Kunis's character tells her fellow bad-moms-in-training in the new trailer for, yup, Bad Moms. "We all work too damn hard trying to make our kids' lives amazing and magical." That's why Kunis, along with Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell, will make redefining suburban motherhood and taking down flawless PTA despot Christina Applegate their top priorities for the summer. Are these the three new best friends that anybody could have? Decide for yourself — catch the new trailer above and the original trailer below for a preview. The comedy, coming from Hangover scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, unspools July 29.

Vinnie Jones Joins the Cast of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, in What Should Definitely Be a Cheery, Totally Non-Menacing Role

How many A-listers are hopping on the Kingsman train for the sequel, The Golden Circle, you may ask? Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and Julianne Moore are all confirmed for the action-spy caper — Colin Firth's character is even coming back from a seemingly apparent death! — and now Vinnie Jones is getting in on the action. The British actor has signed on for a not-yet-revealed role, posting numerous on-set photos to his Twitter account in a dapper bespoke suit. (From Savile Row, we're assuming?) Directed by Matthew Vaughn — who, coincidentally, produced Jones in his first film following his successful career as a footballer soccer player — The Golden Circle's current release date is set for June 16, 2017.

The Women of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie on Killing Kate Moss and Wooing Jon Hamm

When they first stumbled onto British TV screens back in 1992, glasses of Bolly in hand, Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone were a revelation. Spiritual foremothers to the freewheeling women of Girls, Broad City, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Inside Amy Schumer, the women of Absolutely Fabulous pioneered a brand of unruly, reckless femininity unlike anything we’d seen on TV before.

Show creator Jennifer Saunders played Edina (Eddy), a fad-obsessed fashion publicist/fashion victim who oscillated between narcissism and vicious self-loathing; Joanna Lumley was her best friend Patsy, a coke-snorting, Botox-injecting editor with a beehive updo and a blood-alcohol content so high that “the last mosquito that bit [her] had to check into the Betty Ford Clinic.” Together, they created a sensation, spawning five seasons and numerous specials, a devoted American following (despite worries that their humor would be too black for puritan sensibilities across the pond), and the adoration and embrace of the fashion industry that they so mercilessly lampooned.

With the long-awaited Absolutely Fabulous movie premiering July 22, we talked to the British comedy icons about killing Kate Moss, flirting with Jon Hamm, and getting the whole gang together 24 years after their show first premiered. 

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Steven Spielberg’s The BFG Creates a Sublime World, But Gets a Little Lost in It

Based on the classic children’s book by Roald Dahl, Steven Spielberg’s fantasy The BFG is a labor of love that sometimes wears its love too laboriously, but a surfeit of rapture isn’t the worst thing in a movie — especially when its director has a genius for translating emotion into the rising and falling of his camera or laugh-out-loud disjunctions in scale. You shouldn’t look this big friendly giant in the mouth, especially if he has just eaten a snozzcumber.

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Idris Elba, Emma Watson Lead Academy’s Largest and Most Diverse New Class

As part of its efforts to diversify in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has promised to double the number of women and people of color in its ranks. The first step in that plan came Wednesday, when the Academy announced its new class, which is both larger and more diverse than ever before: Of the 683 new members — a list that includes boldfaced names like Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, and Emma Watson — 46 percent are women, and 41 percent are non-white. In a stroke, the Academy as a whole is now 27 percent female and 11 percent people of color — roughly similar to the demographics of an Android-fan convention in Montana.

Theater Accidentally Plays Horny-Sausage Movie Trailer Before Finding Dory

Northern California theatergoers taking their small children to see Finding Dory received a rude surprise earlier this month, when the Brenden Concord 14 cineplex mistakenly played a trailer for the R-rated Sausage Party — an animated movie about a bunch of foul-mouthed anthropomorphic foods — before the Pixar sequel. In a statement to the East Bay Times, the theater's vice president of operations Walter Eichinger apologized for the incident, calling it "a one-time honest mistake by a theater manager" who accidentally started the wrong clip. But until someone can give us definitive proof this wasn't a secret viral-marketing stunt for Sausage Party, that's the theory we're going with.

  • Posted 6/29/16 at 8:30 AM
  • Movies

How Alex Gibney Is Reinventing Documentary Filmmaking

Alex Gibney’s first movie came out 11 years ago. He’s since directed 27 more, which in the slow-burn medium of documentary film might be unprecedented; it beats the average director’s pace by a factor of six or seven. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, the movie that launched his blitzkrieg career, opens with a camera panning up on Enron’s gleaming cylindrical office tower as Tom Waits asks, in a sinister growl, “What’s he building in there? What the hell is he building in there?”

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Daniel Craig, Halle Berry Join L.A. Riots Drama Kings

According to Deadline, both Daniel Craig and Halle Berry have signed up for Kings, a romantic drama set amid the tense atmosphere of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Craig will play a white "loner" who lives in South Central, while Berry's "a tough, protective mother who looks after a group of kids." It'll be the English-language debut for Turkish director Deniz Gamze Erguven, whose Mustang was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars. Kings is the second major L.A. riots movie in the works right now; American Crime's John Ridley is set to write and direct his own film about the riots. Is there room for both? Seeing as 2016 has already seen two critically acclaimed but wildly different O.J. Simpson projects, we'd say yeah, probably.

A Complete Guide to Entertainment’s Busiest Creators

Prolificity: A short series on the methods, meaning and occasional madness of the creatively super-productive.

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The Female Cinematographers of Neon Demon, Creed, and Dope Discuss Their Experiences in a Male-Dominated Field

Over the last year, there have been a number of encouraging conversations about diversity in Hollywood, including one about the dearth of female directors. But even as progress is made regarding the women calling the shots, a remarkable fact still stands: No woman has ever been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The cinematographer — also known as the director of photography, and one of the most important roles in a film's production — remains an overwhelmingly male field, with only 2 percent (!) of the top 250 highest-grossing films of 2013, for instance, featuring female DPs.

While the new movie from Nicolas Winding Refn, The Neon Demon, has divided critics (to say the least), the one thing everyone does agree on is the beauty of the visuals, which come courtesy of DP Natasha Braier. Vulture spoke to Braier and two other prominent female DPs, Maryse Alberti (The Wrestler, Creed) and Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, Cake, Dope), about the challenges, opportunities, and absurdity of being a woman in cinematography.

These interviews, which have been condensed and edited, were conducted individually.

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Please Let’s Fantasy Cast This Upcoming Siegfried and Roy Biopic All Day and Every Which Way

Channing Tatum and Matt Bomer? Matt Damon and Michael Douglas? Great, now that we have the tiger casting out of the way, who on God’s glittery gold Earth is going to play magician duo Siegfried and/or Roy in their upcoming biopic? The Physician director Philipp Stölzl and screenwriter Jan Berger have taken up the movie's heavily bejeweled mantel. “The image of Siegfried and Roy floating down onto the stage in their fantastical outfits, landing amidst a pack of snow-white tigers, has been burned into my mind since I was a boy," Stölzl told The Hollywood Reporter in a fantastic statement. "It was truly out of this world. Being able to tell the story of Siegfried and Roy, covering all their successes, desires and dreams, is a wonderful gift that comes with a special set of challenges for me as a director." Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn’s big cat show ran at Las Vegas’ Mirage Resort and Casino from 1990 to 2003 for an estimated audience of 25 million, and ended only when Horn was attacked and injured onstage by a white tiger named Mantecore; everyone mentioned in this sentence can and should be portrayed by a slightly different Ben Stiller character.

  • Posted 6/26/16 at 9:00 PM
  • Movies

Anna Kendrick Is in 6 Movies This Year and She’s Not Totally Sure Why

Prolificity: A short series on the methods, meaning and occasional madness of the creatively super-productive.

Anna Kendrick kept a journal once. She stuck with it for two years, between the ages of 17 and 19, and by her hyperproductive standards it contains a pitiful number of entries. Still, it’s a record of her early days in Los Angeles — after her Tony nomination at age 12 for High Society but before Twilight — when, in the wake of a pilot that never got off the ground, she was auditioning for seemingly every network-television procedural on the air. 

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  • Posted 6/26/16 at 4:55 PM
  • Rihanna

Here to Make Sunday Suck a Little Less Is Rihanna, Teasing Her New Single ‘Sledgehammer’

Rihanna to the rescue, here to make your chronic case of Sunday afternoon ennui a little easier to bear. As RiRi teased earlier today on Instagram, tomorrow she'll drop her new single "Sledgehammer," which will appear on the Star Trek Beyond soundtrack. Fair warning, the Insta is about as teaser-y as teasers get. A handful of musical notes, some Star Trek clips, cover art ... and boom, we're out.

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Some Very Funny People Are Lending Their Voices to The Lego Ninjago Movie

Everything continues to be awesome (hehe) in the Lego cinematic universe. Three films are currently in various stages of development, with The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie, and The Lego Movie 2 slated for respective releases in February 2017, September 2017, and February 2019. Now, in a move perhaps as smooth as Will Arnett's Lego Batman voice, the cast of Ninjago has been announced ... and it's bound to bring on the kid-friendly giggles. Jackie Chan will be voicing leader Master Wu, with Dave Franco, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, and Fred Armisen also signing on as the six core team members. The film will follow "six young ninjas tasked with defending their island home" of Ninjago. By night, "they’re gifted warriors, using their skills and awesome fleet of vehicles to fight villains and monsters," but by day, they’re "ordinary teens struggling against their greatest enemy: high school." Hey, they'll have a great topic to write about for that required Common App essay.

In a Classic Deadpool Move, Deadpool Crashed the Japanese X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer

At the 2:32 mark of the X-Men: Apocalypse Japanese trailer (a.k.a. when the actual trailer is over) Marvel's "newest addition to the super-dysfunctional X-Men family" pops into frame to hold a postmortem on the preview. "Oh hi, Japan! Deadpool here. Surprised?" says Ryan Reynolds in character. "I know what you're thinking, an after-credits scene for a trailer? I thought they only did that for movies? Well, not everyone makes it to the end of Fox movies, so now we're doing it after trailers." Zing.

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Maybe Keep the Lights On While Watching the Trailer for Lights Out

Why, hello there, here are two trailers for a movie that'll probably triple your electric bill. Based on David F. Sandberg's two-minute short film, the supernatural horror film Lights Out centers on a demon that summons its power from darkness to haunt one particular family. The only way to escape it, presumably, would be to find a place where the light never goes out, like Las Vegas, or the surface of the sun — though neither is that hospitable to human life. Starring Teresa Paler and Gabriel Bateman, Lights Out premieres July 22, and you can watch the new (scary) trailer above and original (scarier) trailer below.