Comic-Con@Home Panel Plumbs the Depths of Shooting Underwater in ‘Deep Blue Sea 3’

There were several challenges when making the third installment in the “Deep Blue Sea” feature franchise, including overcoming the usual difficulties with shooting on water (a la Steven Spielberg’s legendary struggles with Jaws) and coming up with a new premise that didn’t involve an underwater lab, as the two previous movies had.

Global warming came to the rescue on the script. Screenwriter Dirk Blackman did some research on small islands sinking as the oceans rise and had a moment of inspiration.

“I thought, ‘Let’s sink the town,’” he said during a July 24 online panel at Comic-Con@Home for the July 28 digital and Aug. 25 Blu-ray combo pack and DVD release of Deep Blue Sea 3 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film follows Dr. Emma Collins and her team, who are spending the summer on a sinking island studying the effect of climate change on great white sharks. Their routine is disrupted when a team led by her ex-boyfriend and marine biologist Richard shows up looking for three rogue bull sharks.

Director John Pogue discussed the logistics of shooting four major underwater action sequences at the South African location.

“We figured out a way to be 360 with our water set so that we could have all of the sets gathered around this cove and most of the rest of everything else was made up digitally,” he said.

The underwater scenes got an assist from some professionals.

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“There are so many additional safely issues with shooting around water, from what can happen with electricity to people falling in, so safety was paramount,” Pogue said. “We were very fortunate in that we had this incredible South African team called the Frog Squad that do underwater projects all over the world. They are essentially South African SEALs that also make movies.”

The actors spent time training and getting scuba certified before the shoot, noted Emerson Brooks, who plays Shaw, a sort of brother/father figure for Emma.

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“I think all the training that we did, all the real underwater experience … that really added to it, that put you in it, certainly,” added Tania Raymonde (Emma).

The water in the winter in South Africa was cold, and “we were always wet, always wet,” she recalled.

Shooting in water posed challenges for the director as well.

“I think about 30 % of the time it went as planned— so many things would break,” Pogue said. “The communication underwater is super challenging. You’re basically talking to 20 people with a giant underwater megaphone that no one can really understand.”

Mumbling like the teacher a “Charlie Brown” special, Nathaniel Buzolic (Richard) demonstrated what the actors could hear underwater.

“There was this underwater megaphone that looked like something from the Victorian era, which is like a box with a string on it that was threaded all the way down into the water,” added Raymonde. “Once you suit up and you’ve got your regulator and they make sure you’ve got air in the tank and check all your levels and you’ve got everything on and you go under, it’s kind of a pain to get back up to the surface, take everything off, go get notes from John and come back in. So once we were in the tank and underwater, we were pretty much underwater and stuck and that was it. … And when you’re under there, you don’t hear anything because your regulator is so loud. Every time you take a breath there are bubbles everywhere, you can’t hear anything.”

The Frog Squad helped interpret by using a sort of “sign language,” she said.

“[The process] definitely influenced the tone of the movie in that there’s a more realistic as opposed to a controlled, stylized feel to the movie, where we’re trying to sort of use those happy accidents that happen as a result of this chaos,” Pogue said.

He credited the cast for being game to go the extra mile in shooting the action sequences.

“During the casting process, one of the things that we talked about was, given the resources that we’ve got, that you’re going to have to do your own diving and your own stunts,” he recalled. Deep Blue Sea 3 wasn’t “one of those movies where we just sort of stop everything and bring in your double,” he said.

“In many of the key sequences, it was very important that we see your faces, we see you experiencing what’s happening in the action,” he said.

Bren Foster, a martial arts expert who plays Lucas, noted the action on land was equally intense.

“You kind of bring it above the water, and all hell breaks loose,” he said.

Inspired by another shark movie The Deep, screenwriter Blackman added a fight.

“I don’t expect to see a fight, necessarily, in a shark movie, so we have a fight,” he said.

Comic-Con@Home Panel Discusses Bugs Bunny’s History, 80th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection and New HBO Max Series

Three voices of Bugs Bunny — Billy West, Jeff Bergman and Eric Bauza — joined “Looney Tunes Cartoons” executive producer Pete Browngardt, movie historian/author/TV personality Leonard Maltin, animation historian/author Jerry Beck, and George Feltenstein, SVP, theatrical catalog, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, for a Comic-Con@Home panel July 23 to discuss Bugs Bunny’s history, the new HBO Max series “Looney Toons Cartoons” and the character’s upcoming Blu-ray collection.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Nov. 3 will release the “Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection,” featuring 60 remastered cartoons starring the wily rabbit.

“This is gonna be something that fans have wanted for a very long time,” Feltenstein said. “It’s been many years since the company has put together a collection on Blu-ray Disc dedicated to what I consider to be one of the most popular Warner Bros. cartoon stars, Bugs Bunny. He’s right up there with Bette Davis and [Humphrey] Bogart, who created the DNA of the studio’s history. What we meant to do here is have 20 cartoons that had been out before, but that are basically essential, and then have 40 cartoons that either had never been on Blu-ray or never been remastered at all or they were not released in the proper aspect ratio. … It goes from the great classic early cartoons to the very end of Bugs’ tenure [in the mid-60s].”

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The collection includes some titles not available previously, including “Racketeer Rabbit” (1946), “Rabbit Every Monday” (1951), “Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk” (1943) and “What’s Cookin’, Doc?” (1944).

“If you’re collecting Bugs Bunny, as you should be on video, I can’t say you’re going to complete the collection, but you’re going to have literally most — 90% or more — of all the Bugs Bunnys when you get this set,” added Beck.

Panelists mused about the lasting appeal of the cartoons, which were designed as mere amusing precursors to the main feature.

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“These cartoons were considered throwaways as far as the industry at large,” said West (Space Jam, “Futurama,” “Doug”). “While people were getting popcorn and Coca-Colas, that was what was playing on the screen. … They’re more famous and more well-known than any of the movies they opened up for.”

“If something is great entertainment, it will transcend time,” Feltenstein said.

The online panel screened “A Wild Hare,” considered the first official appearance of Bugs Bunny, supervised by Tex Avery.

“When Tex Avery arrived on the scene … he started pushing the cartoons toward wackier, crazier gags,” noted Maltin.

It’s those early Bugs iterations that inspired the new “Looney Toons Cartoons” on HBO Max, said executive producer Browngardt.

“We kind of tried to go back in time to a Bugs that was sort of before the [director Chuck] Jones Bugs had sort of taken over,” he said. “We felt like the character was a little bit more dynamic then. He had flaws. He would actually lose from time to time in a few cartoons and was a little bit surreal at times as well. We purposefully went back to that.”

They gave the character yellow gloves, which created controversy on the web, but helped differentiate the new Bugs. Bugs also got an updated vocabulary, saying things such as “fake news” and “Is that organic, Doc?”

“’Looney Toons Cartoons’ was definitely a different direction as far as getting out of the half-lidded, sarcastic Bugs from the Jones era and into more of the manic, unhinged energy that [voice actor] Mel Blanc had,” added Bouza, the voice of Bugs in the new series.

Each discussed their favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons, the many adversaries he has faced over the years and what they liked about the character.

“He’s a genuine, great hero,” Browngardt said. “He stands up for the little guy when he’s put upon. We all wish we could be the smartest guy in the room, wish we could take on every bully and not be cut down to size.”

“We all want to be Bugs Bunny, but we’re stuck with Daffy Duck is who we are,” added Bergman (“Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Our Cartoon President”).

Feltenstein credited Warner Bros. for taking care of these gems of cartoon history.

“I’m so grateful to our company that we have a preservation program that will see to it that they will remain available for people to see for years to come,” he said.

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Getting Simultaneous VOD and Theatrical Release Sept. 1

Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third installment in the “Bill & Ted” franchise, is heading to VOD Sept. 1 on the same day it hits theaters (that are open).

In the Orion Pictures film, the stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves). To fulfill their rock and roll destiny, the now middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it. Along the way, they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of historical figures, and a few music legends to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music is directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), from a screenplay by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (Bill & Ted’s Excellent AdventureBill & Ted’s Bogus Journey).

The news came as Orion released the official poster and trailer during the online Comic-Con@Home.

Disney+ to Join Virtual Comic-Con

Disney+ July 1 announced that it will join Comic-Con@Home, the virtual confab put on by the organizers of San Diego Comic-Con, the annual pop culture fest that was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Walt Disney Co.’s streaming service will present virtual panels for three of its upcoming original titles. Disney+ will feature the animated movie Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe, the anthology docuseries “Marvel’s 616,” and the service’s first scripted series from National Geographic, “The Right Stuff.”

Comic-Con@Home will be held on the same dates as the previously canceled Comic-Con, July 22-26, 2020, and online attendees are encouraged to use the official #ComicConAtHome hashtag to be included in the virtual activities.

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Disney+’s virtual Comic-Con@Home panels include:

  • A Look Inside “Marvel’s 616” on Disney+, Thursday, July 23, 1:00 p.m.: “Marvel’s 616” explores how Marvel’s rich legacy of stories, characters and creators exist within the “world outside your window.” Each documentary, helmed by a unique filmmaker, explores the intersections of storytelling, pop culture and fandom within the Marvel Universe. Join directors Gillian Jacobs, Paul Scheer and executive producers Sarah Amos and Jason Sterman as they discuss the making of this Disney+ original anthology series with moderator Angélique Roché.
  • Disney+’s Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,  Saturday, July 25, noon:  Join the creators and executive producers Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, director Bob Bowen and stars Ashley Tisdale, Vincent Martella, Maulik Pancholy and Dee Bradley Baker as they share an exclusive sneak peek of the upcoming film and discuss the origins of this iconic animated series.
  • Blast Off with Disney+’s “The Right Stuff,” Saturday, July 25, 1:00 p.m.: From Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Horizon Scripted Television, “The Right Stuff” is the first scripted Disney+ original series from National Geographic. The series takes a look at the early days of the U.S. space program. The series follows seven of the military’s best pilots as they become astronauts for the newly-formed NASA at the height of the Cold War. Moderated by former NASA Astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, the panel will feature cast members Patrick J. Adams (Major John Glenn), Jake McDorman (Lt. Cmdr. Alan Shepard), Colin O’Donoghue (Capt. Gordon Cooper), Michael Trotter (Gus Grissom), Aaron Staton (Wally Schirra), Micah Stock (Deke Slayton), James Lafferty (Scott Carpenter), Nora Zehetner (Annie Glenn”), Shannon Lucio (Louise Shepard), Eloise Mumford (Trudy Cooper), Eric Ladin (Chris Kraft), and Patrick Fischler (Bob Gilruth”), showrunner and executive producer Mark Lafferty, and executive producer Jennifer Davisson.

The Disney+ panels will join previously announced conversations from Walt Disney Television and Hulu during Comic-Con@Home. Follow Disney+ on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more updates.

 

San Diego Comic-Con Going Virtual

The organizers of the annual San Diego Comic-Con, which was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will instead present the show as an online event called Comic-Con@Home. Dates for the virtual show will be July 22-26, the same dates this year’s convention had been slated to take place at the San Diego Convention Center.

Plans for Comic-Con@Home include an online exhibit hall offering promotions, specials and limited-edition products unique to the celebration. As well, Comic-Con@Home promises exclusive panels and presentations about comics, gaming, television, film, and a wide variety of topics from publishers, studios, and more. Comic-Con@Home will also have a Masquerade, gaming, and many other activities in which fans can participate from their own homes.

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Although Comic-Con@Home will provide badges for fans to print and wear, all aspects of the initiative are free and there are no limits to how many can attend.

“For the first time in our 50-year history, we are happy to welcome virtually anyone from around the globe,” SDCC spokesperson David Glanzer said in a statement. “Though stay-at-home conditions make this a very difficult time, we see this as an opportunity to spread some joy and strengthen our sense of community.”

Virutal events will be announced at Comic-Con.org.

The initiative joins the Comic-Con Museum’s virtual endeavor, Comic-Con Museum@Home, which is already ongoing.

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It remains to be seen how much studios will participate in a virtual Comic-Con as opposed to presenting their own online promotional events. Warner Bros. just announced a virtual event Aug. 22 called DC FanDome to promote movies and TV shows based on DC Comics.

Warner Slates Virtual ‘DC FanDome’ Event for Aug. 22

Warner Bros. June 16 announced a virtual fan event called “DC FanDome” will take place Aug. 22 starting at 10 a.m. PT.

DC FanDome will be accessible around the world for 24 hours at DCFanDome.com, and is touted as the largest virtual gathering of talent announcements and content reveals in the history of DC.

The event will immerse fans into the DC Multiverse, with new content reveals and announcements from WB Games, Film, TV and comics, as well as an opportunity to hear from the casts and creators behind DC Comics-based feature films and TV series.

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Films include the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, The Batman, The Suicide Squad and Black Adam, plus Aquaman, Shazam! and Justice League: The Snyder Cut. TV shows include “Batwoman,” “Black Lightning,” “DC Super Hero Girls,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “DC’s Stargirl,” “Doom Patrol,” “The Flash,” “Harley Quinn,” “Lucifer,” “Pennyworth,” “Supergirl,” “Superman & Lois,” “Teen Titans Go!,” “Titans,” “Watchmen” and “Young Justice: Outsiders.”

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Content will be virtually housed in six different, fully-programmed areas inside the virtual DC FanDome: “Hall of Heroes” (Main Hall), DC WatchVerse, DC YouVerse, DC KidsVerse, DC InsiderVerse and DC FunVerse. Content will be available in 10 languages including English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazil Portuguese, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. Additionally, content programmed from specific countries will be in their native language.

DC FanDome will help fill the marketing void left by the cancellation of San Diego Comic-Con, one of the year’s biggest events for promoting genre-based entertainment. Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-based content is often a major participant in Comic-Con presentations.

Star Wars Celebration 2020 Canceled

Disney-owned Lucasfilm June 15 announced it has canceled the 2020 Star Wars Celebration confab slated for Aug. 27-30 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., citing the ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

A memo posted at the official Star Wars Celebration website (StarWarsCelebration.com) states “the health and safety of our fans, attendees, exhibitors, guests and staff is always our No. 1 priority. Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 virus and in speaking with local and state authorities on the latest public health guidelines related to indoor conventions, we have made the decision to cancel Star Wars Celebration for 2020.”

The site announced that the next Star Wars Celebration will take place Aug. 18-21, 2022, at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Star Wars Celebration event, which started in 1999, is typically held every couple of years.

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Fans who were planning to attend this year’s Star Wars Celebration may either transfer their current ticket to the new event dates, receive a refund or receive a credit for Star Wars Celebration merchandise. Those who transfer their tickets to 2022 will receive a free exclusive Star Wars Celebration stormtrooper character pin for all transferred tickets.

All information about transferring tickets or requesting a refund can be found at starwarscelebration.com, and ticket holders will receive an e-mail with detailed instructions on submitting a request. Fans who pre-ordered merchandise can opt to still receive their order or request a refund. The exclusive merchandise planned for this year’s show will be available for purchase online at some point in the future.

The ticket refund and merchandise credit request period will open June 22 and must be completed by Aug. 26. Hotel reservations booked through the Star Wars Celebration housing portal will automatically be canceled.

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Star Wars Celebration is the latest high-profile pop culture convention in Southern California to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, following WonderCon slated for the Anaheim Convention Center in April, and San Diego Comic-Con International in July.

Comic-Con Canceled, to Return in 2021

In a widely expected move, organizers of the San Diego Comic Convention, or Comic-Con International, announced that this year’s event has been canceled — for the first time in the pop culture event’s 50-year history.

According to an April 17 press release, “there will be no Comic-Con in 2020. The event will instead return to the San Diego Convention Center from July 22-25, 2021.”

This year’s San Diego Comic-Con International was scheduled for  July 23-26 at the San Diego Convention Center. The event is one of the biggest fan shows in the world and draws more than 130,000 attendees to San Diego each summer.

While the event started in the 1970s as a traditional comic book convention, in the past 20 years the show has become a major hotbed of Hollywood marketing, giving studios an active fanbase to showcase new movies and TV shows. Recent years have seen an increasing emphasis on home entertainment, particularly streaming services.

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Organizers said in the press release that “they had hoped to delay this decision in anticipation that COVID-19 concerns might lessen by summer,” but “continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year.”

Earlier in the week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined steps to get the state up and running again, although he warned it would be a slow go.

He said “the prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine. … Large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers altogether across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.”

A short time after the governor’s remarks, organizers of the annual San Diego County Fair, which was scheduled to begin its month-long run in early June, said the fair would not be held. The fair attracts more than 1 million visitors each year.

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Comic-Con organizers April 17 further announced that plans for a Comic-Con Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park also have been impacted. Renovations to the park’s historic Federal Building, the museum’s future home, are being “rephased,” although organizers insist they “will not scale back the experience to be offered to visitors upon the museum’s grand opening. They anticipate releasing building plans illustrating the Museum’s transformation and sharing more information about those efforts in the coming months.”

The Comic-Con exhibit floor in July 2019.

Comic-Con organizers also announced that individuals who purchased badges for Comic-Con 2020 will have the option to request a refund or transfer their badges to Comic-Con 2021. All 2020 badge holders will receive an email within the next week with instructions on how to request a refund. Exhibitors for Comic-Con 2020 also will have the option to request a refund or transfer their payments to Comic-Con 2021 and will also receive an email within the next week with instructions on how to process their request.

In the next few days onPeak, Comic-Con’s official hotel affiliate, will be canceling all hotel reservations and refunding all deposits made through them.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while we are saddened to take this action, we know it is the right decision,” said David Glanzer, spokesperson for the organization. “We eagerly look forward to the time when we can all meet again and share in the community we all love and enjoy.”

In March, Comic-Con International canceled their WonderCon Anaheim event, which was to have been held April 10-12, 2020. WonderCon will return to the Anaheim Convention Center March 26-28, 2021.

‘Teen Titans’ Talent Reflects on OG, New Series Movie Matchup

It’s a clash between the OG and new superheros in the new animated movie Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans, available on digital Sept. 24, and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Oct. 15 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

The movie had its world premiere July 21 during San Diego Comic-Con International, attended by cast and creators.

The direct-to-video movie is a clash of two superhero universes, pairing the modern-day Teen Titans from the current ‘Go!’ series with their 2003 counterparts from the original in a fight to foil Trigon, Hexago and even Santa Clause to save the multiverse.

“It’s really fun, and fans of the new one will be happy because there are so many funny moments. It’s so comedic. Fans of the original will be happy, too, because the stakes are very high, the danger’s very real, the acting is very authentic,” said voice actress Tara Strong, who plays both versions of Raven. “It’s the perfect dichotomy and both fandoms really get to come together and appreciate each other, and then of course there’s this multiverse of Teen Titans that you never knew.”

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In a way, the movie allows the two fandoms to air their differences, filmmakers said.

“If you’re a fan of the original I feel like the original Titans in this movie are speaking for you because you are seeing the ‘Go’ Titans through their eyes,” said producer/director Jeff Mednikow.

Voiceover stars had to play both the new and old versions of their characters, sometimes having conversations with themselves.

“I think the ones that are furthest apart are probably Robin and Robin,” said co-writer Jeremy Adams.

“I think the new Robin tests the original Robin’s patience,” said Scott Menville, who plays both.

The two Trigons were the “most fun” villains to play against each other, said co-screenwriter Marly Halpern-Graser.

“Switching between Cyborgs is like me with a lot of caffeine versus maybe just a half a cup,” said Khary Payton, who plays both Titans.

“The original Beast Boy is more like a dog, and ‘Teen Titans Go!’ Beast Boy is more like a hyena,” said Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), who brought his canine friend to the screening to emphasize the point.

The cast members are close and have a rapport that informs the project.

“They just know what they’re doing,” said co-writer Adams. “They know it so well.”

“They know these characters better than I ever could,” added co-writer Halpern-Graser.

News of the comeback of the Titans for “Go!” was the “best phone call I’ve ever gotten,” said Hynden Walch, who plays both Starfires.

“We play off of each other a lot,” Walch said, noting that sometimes the script will say “Titans argue” and the actors will improvise.

“We really vibe off of each other a lot,” Payton added, joking that his ad libbing didn’t work as well for his role in “The Walking Dead” and producers asked, “Khari, could you please just stick to the script?”

FandangoNow Creates Playlists for San Diego Comic-Con

With Comic-Con in full swing in San Diego through July 21, FandangoNow, Fandango’s transactional VOD service, is hosting two new playlists devoted to fan favorites and genre films.

Fandango correspondent Alicia Malone, author of the feminist film histories The Female Gaze and Backwards and in Heels, July 19 is moderating a Comic-Con panel entitled “The Future of Film is Female.” The panel on genre films by female filmmakers features Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley, Fast Color director Julia Hart, Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd and Black Panther cinematographer Rachel Morrison.

Malone has curated a FandangoNow playlist of her favorite female-helmed genre films, including Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Mary Harron’s American Psycho, Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, Veronika Franz’s Goodnight Mommy, Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body, Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days, Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact and Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time.

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Also in honor of the convention’s 50th anniversary, Rotten Tomatoes has curated a special playlist of 50 Movies that Defined Comic-Con on FandangoNow, featuring such titles as Iron Man, Twilight and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.