Post-blockbuster Summer Movie Guide

Now that all of those gigantic blockbuster movies are out of the way, let's relax and enjoy some late-summer films. One of these may be the next sleeper hit like "Darkman," "Bring It On" or "The Iron Giant."

Candidates for late-summer surprises include: Michael Mann's "Miami Vice," starring Jamie Foxx; "Snakes on a Plane," with Samuel L. Jackson; and Will Farrell's NASCAR romp "Talladega Nights" all promise to make the summer's end just as exciting and fun as its beginning.

Instead of the usual cast, synopsis and release date list you may be used to seeing in other movie guides, we'll giving you the info about these movies in bite-sized pieces of trivia. It's always good to know even more useless information about the movie that you're watching, right?

A Scanner Darkly

"A Scanner Darkly"
"A Scanner Darkly"
Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
  1. According to his Web site, Philip K. Dick is now "the most adapted SF author in the history of film." Other novels by Dick that have been made into successful movies throughout the years include "Bladerunner," "Imposter," "Minority Report," "Paycheck" and "Total Recall." "A Scanner Darkly" and "Bladerunner" are the only American-made films based on full novels rather than short stories.
  2. The novel "A Scanner Darkly" was based on Phillip K. Dick's personal problems with drugs and addiction. It is set in the near future, where surveillance is pervasive. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, a secret agent trying to uncover a drug ring.
  3. Both Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder accepted the Screen Actor's Guild minimum payment for the film: $72,000.
  4. The total budget for the film was $8 million.
  5. The film uses a method of animation known as interpolated rotoscoping, which lays animation directly over the real film. This technique was first pioneered in Linklater's "Waking Life." Rotoscoping is simply animation traced over each frame of film. Interpolated rotoscoping, however, uses vector keyframes and other advances in computer graphics to create a very distinctive look.
  6. To make "A Scanner Darkly" look even more unique, comic book artists provided the illustrations instead of traditional animators.
  7. Despite the low budget, the film boasted a large animation department, using five teams of ten animators to complete the interpolated rotoscoping process. One of those teams works only on Keanu's "scramble suit," which his character uses to evade detection. The "scramble suit" is a mask that generates an array of human faces of every age and race.
  8. Many rumors surrounded the film, with one of the most popular concerning the movie's soundtrack. British alternative rock band Radiohead was supposedly composing the score. The rumors turned out to be false, although Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's song "Black Swan" is featured in the credits.
  9. An official "A Scanner Darkly" trailer remix contest was held by RES Media Group and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Fans were given the challenge of taking the official movie trailer and, using software from the RES Web site, recut a new trailer from the material. Members of the movie's creative team judged the contest, which ended June 7 (one month before the movie's release). The winner received a trip for two to the U.S. premiere of the movie, plus a Microsoft Windows video editing workstation. Fans can view all of the submitted remixed trailers here.
  10. San Diego's 2005 Comic Con included a panel on "A Scanner Darkly" featuring producer Tommy Pallotta, four of the film's animators, and an animatronic robot of Phillip K. Dick. The robot, modeled after the late writer, looked and sounded like Dick and was even able to respond to simple questions asked by attendees using a special microphone. One of the audience members went up to the mic and asked Dick if he dreamed of electric sheep. After asking the article again, Dick went on a 90 second monologue about the differences between Ridley Scott's "Bladerunner" and his original book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Opens on July 7, 2006

Clerks II

Jeff Anderson as "Randal" and Brian O'Halloran as "Dante" in "Clerks II"
Jeff Anderson as "Randal" and Brian O'Halloran as "Dante" in "Clerks II"
Image courtesy View Askew Productions
  1. The original "Clerks" movie was made in 1994 for a little less than $30,000 and was financed with credit cards, money borrowed from family members, the sale of Kevin Smith's beloved comic book collection and an insurance settlement on a car that was damaged by a flood. The music rights to the soundtrack cost more than it cost to shoot and edit the film. To cut costs even further, the movie was filmed at a convenience store in which Kevin Smith worked when the store was closed.
  2. The characters of Jay and Silent Bob have appeared in five of Smith's films: "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy," "Dogma" and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."
  3. Originally, Smith had taken the parts of the script that he intended to be that of "Clerks II" and turned it into "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."
  4. After making "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," Smith had said that he wasn't going to do any more movies featuring those characters. He changed his mind after he worked on the 10-year anniversary disc for the original "Clerks."
  5. Another factor in Smith's decision to make "Clerks II" was his promise to friend Jason Mewes, who is the "Jay" of "Jay and Silent Bob." Smith had promised Mewes that if he were able to stay off drugs then he would let him play "Jay" again.
  6. To help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Kevin Smith decided to auction off a walk on spot in "Clerks II" and promised to match the amount that was paid. The winning bid was for $16,000, and the total amount donated to the Red Cross was $32,000.
  7. In 2000, six years after the release of the original movie, ABC ran an animated version of "Clerks." Six episodes were created, but the show was cancelled after only two aired.
  8. When Smith was attending film school in Vancouver, he met fellow student Scott Mosier. They decided that if Smith made a movie first, Mosier would direct, and vice versa. Mosier began working with Smith on "Clerks" and has been with him on every movie since then as a producer, including "Clerks II."
  9. Kevin Smith's love of comics helped start his career. Now that career has given him an entre into writing mainstream comics, including "Daredevil," "Spider Man" and "Green Arrow."
  10. Smith also owns and operates two comic book stores in New Jersey and Los Angeles, called Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash.
  11. Smith's daughter, Harley Quinn, is named after a character on the animated "Batman" series. Look for plenty of comic book references in "Clerks II."
  12. According to Smith, the character of Jay was inspired by the actor who played him: Jason Mewes. When Miramax gave Smith money to film a second movie that starred Jay, they wanted Mewes to audition for the role. Jason got the part.
  13. "Clerks II" was recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival in France. When it was shown before a crowd at a late-night screening, it received an 8-minute standing ovation from those who attended.

Opens on July 21, 2006

Lady in the Water

Bryce Dallas Howard as the "Lady in the Water"
Bryce Dallas Howard as the "Lady in the Water"
  1. "Lady in the Water" is based on a bedtime story M. Night Shyamalan created for his children. He later wrote a prose version of the story and adapted it into a screenplay.
  2. A hardcover edition of Shyamalan's book will be published with pictures from the movie and more information on the Narfs, the mystical creatures that live under the water.
  3. Shyamalan is preparing to publish another book in conjunction with the release of "Lady in the Water." This one, however, is not a bedtime story. "The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale," recounts Shyamalan's battle with Disney over the film and the events that eventually led to his decision to leave the studio. The book is written unapologetically from Shyamalan's point of view and includes his harsh criticism of Disney and the breaking of several close friendships.
  4. All of Shyamalan's films except for his first one, "Praying with Anger" (1992), have been filmed in Pennsylvania. "Lady in the Water "was shot on a Jacobson Logistics warehouse site, on which the crew build a set of apartments and a half row of houses. Shyamalan lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
  5. The Sci-Fi Channel aired a documentary on Shyamalan that claims that when he was a child, Shyamalan fell into a frozen pond and was clinically dead for a half hour after. It was later revealed that the documentary and all of Shyamalan's very public objections to it were faked as part of a publicity stunt.
  6. Shyamalan is known for including many odd twists or unexpected events in his movies to make audiences gasp. "Lady in the Water" is unique among his films in that it doesn't have a shocking plot twist…that we know of.
  7. Shyamalan has had a small part in each of his films, with the exception of "Wide Awake." He will appear in as a minor character in "Lady in the Water."
  8. When each of his previous films was released on DVD, Shyamalan has included one of his very early short films that was similar in theme or direction. Look for a similar early inspiration when "Lady in the Water" is released on DVD.
  9. Shyamalan's full real name is Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan. While attending New York University, he created the pen name M. Night Shyamalan.
  10. Shyamalan's films tend to have a darker, edgy aspect to them, but few people know that he also worked on the screenplay of "Stuart Little."

Opens on July 21, 2006

Monster House

"Monster House"
"Monster House"
  1. The film will also be released in IMAX theaters equipped with stereoscopic projection. While any film can be rendered for IMAX, animated or CGI films like "Monster House" are ideal for stereoscopic projection because the entire movie was created in a virtual 3D world. This means it is very, very easy to change the viewpoint in scenes. If the film had been live-action, the movie would have had to have been filmed from each angle.
  2. The movie's official Web site includes more than just information about the characters. The entire webpage is set up to resemble DJ's desk and notebook. Visitors can also create iron-on transfers of their favorite characters and play "Thou Art Dead," the videogame that Skull plays in the movie.
  3. The trailer of "Monster House" makes extensive use of the music from the movie "Beetlejuice," including the very recognizable main theme. However, the two films are not connected in any way.
  4. Mitchel Musso, who plays DJ in "Monster House," played the role of Aang in the pilot and first few episodes of the anime "Avatar: The Last Airbender." The role was later performed by Zachary Tyler, who stars in another summer movie, "The Ant Bully."
  5. In addition to a novelization of "Monster House" by Tom Hughes, several other books are planned to go along with the movie, including books recreating DJ's notebook and Jenny's diary.
  6. The Streetwise Web site has created a number of different challenges and competitions for fans of "Monster House." Winners receive special movie items. Special media downloads are also available, many of which are exclusive to the site.
  7. "Monster House" is directed by first-timer Gil Kenan. Producer Steven Spielberg is impressed with Kenan's work.
  8. In order to get an idea of what the characters looked like from all angles and to help get the cast and crew in character, artists came in and created sculptures of all of the main characters and the main locations. Director Kenan felt this would help lend more of a human touch to a movie created solely in CGI.
  9. There is a television show called "Monster House," but it has no relation to the film. It focuses instead on remodeling old or poorly-designed houses that are termed "monsters."

Opens July 21, 2006

Miami Vice

  1. Michael Mann directs the film version of the TV hit he created and produced for NBC in 1984.
  2. He sued William Friedkin, claiming that the movie "To Live and Die in LA" stole its concept from the "Miami Vice" series. He lost the lawsuit.
  3. The actor that originally played Lt. Castillo, Edward James Olmos, was offered the chance to play the role again in the movie version, but turned it down. He has said that he didn't really want to do the role in the television series, but that the money was just too good to turn down because "I was the highest-paid actor--per word--in the history of television!"
  4. When filming the movie in the fall of 2005 in the Dominican Republic, an incident caused the crew to halt filming two days due to rioting.
  5. While on the set of the movie Jamie Foxx's stand-in, David Brown, was approached by two crewmembers holding nooses. Foxx and Brown believed that the action was intended as a racist comment about the lynch mobs in the South. The crewmembers later apologized, saying that they had only intended it as a bad joke, but were subsequently dismissed.
  6. The movie was being filmed in Miami in August of 2005 when Katrina, then a category 1 hurricane, swept through Florida and caused the crew to have to take a week or so off in order to regroup before they could begin filming again. The filming was also halted when hurricanes Rita and Wilma came through.
  7. Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx stars as Detective Ricardo Tubbs in the movie. "Miami Vice" is just one of several movies in which he has worked with Mann. Mann also directed both "Ali" and "Collateral." He's also set to star in two of Mann's upcoming films, "Damage Control" and "The Kingdom." Mann will direct "Damage Control," but is only writing on "The Kingdom."
  8. Jamie Foxx's Oscar nominations were actually something of a combined oddity. He was only the second male actor in history to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in the same year, and he was the first African-American actor to accomplish this feat. It was also the sixth time that an actor or actress has won the award for portraying a pianist.
  9. In order to keep the movie as realistic as possible and to help make the scenes as gritty as possible, Mann had both Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx study with highly trained, deep undercover agents with the ATF and the DEA. Mann wanted Crockett and Tubbs to come across as detectives who have to "float in between the lines."
  10. Mann, unlike most directors, likes to operate the camera himself so that he can be sure he's capturing the essence of the film. He has also been known to say that he doesn't like to turn off the camera between takes so that he can get a better feel for the movie.
  11. At the end of the pilot of the original television series a song by Phil Collins, "In the Air Tonight, "played when Crockett and Tubbs were racing through the streets of Miami. A cover of that song will be featured on the soundtrack.

Opens July 28, 2006

The Ant Bully

"The Ant Bully"
"The Ant Bully"
Image courtesy Waner Bros. Entertainment
  1. The movie will also be released in IMAX 3D theaters using the same format that was used to take "The Polar Express" from standard movie to IMAX. "The Ant Bully" will be the third Warner film to be shown in IMAX theaters.
  2. While the dialogue of many animated or CGI movies is recorded with only one or two actors in the studio at once, many of "The Ant Bully"'s cast recorded dialogue together. This allowed them to play off each other instead of reacting to previously recorded lines.
  3. Many of the characters in "The Ant Bully" are voiced by huge Hollywood stars, including Meryl Streep, Bruce Campbell, Julia Roberts, Lily Tomlin, and Nicholas Cage. The lead role of Lucas, however, was given to Zach Tyler, who has never played the lead character in a major movie. Tyler is a relative newcomer to Hollywood, having only six major roles since 1999. He has, however, done voice over work before in cartoon series "The Backyardigans" and "Aviator: The Last Airbender."
  4. One of the trailers for the film had bugs auditioning for the role of Terrified Ant Number 1697 in the movie. Their auditions poked fun at Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Harry Potter" and rappers.
  5. When the project first began, many of the big name stars weren't part of it. Because recording is one of the last things done on an animated project, actors had time to learn about the script and ask to join the project.
  6. In addition to "The Ant Bully movie," Midway games has created a video game version for the Playstation 2, the Game Cube, the PC and the Game Boy Advance. These games follow the plot of the movie and put players in the role of Lucas.
  7. The movie took over two years to create. Because of that, many of the actors were called in over the years to record parts in the trailers as they were completed before finally being able to record the movie.
  8. Jelly Belly has created four new jelly bean flavors to go along with "The Ant Bully." They are Ant Hill, Lawn Clippings, Caterpillar and Alka Root. These flavors are also the flavors of the "sweet rocks" featured in the movie.
  9. There has been some complaint about nudity in the film. When Lucas is shrunk to ant size, he loses most of his clothing because it doesn't shrink with him. However, he still has his underpants on (they mysteriously shrink with him).

Opens July 28, 2006

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Will Ferrell in "Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"
Will Ferrell in "Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"
  1. Star Will Ferrell, who plays Ricky Bobby, also co-wrote the script. When he and co-writer/director Adam McKay pitched the movie idea, they summarized it in six words: "Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver."
  2. The film went through several different titles. While the film was originally called "Talladega Nights," some NASCAR officials objected to the title. It then became "High, Wide, and Handsome," but that title was scraped and the much of the movie was filmed as "Untitled Will Ferrell NASCAR Movie." Several other titles were thing considered, including "Loud and Proud." Finally, the movie reverted to the "Talladega Nights" title after discussion with NASCAR.
  3. While the title of the film is "Talladega Nights," few of the movie scenes actually take place at the Talladega Superspeedway. Only one week of shooting was done there; the rest of the film was shot in North Carolina, with Lowe's Motor Speedway being used for many of the racing scenes. Also, despite the title, the Talladega Superspeedway is never used for night racing, and there are no lights at the course.
  4. "Talladega Nights" and another summer 2006 film, "Cars," share a bit of trivia. In "Talledega Nights," Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr., are nicknamed Lightning and Thunder because they always finish first and second, respectively. In "Cars," Lightning McQueen calls Chuck Hicks "Thunder" because, like Naughton, he always comes in second.
  5. Writers Adam McKay and Will Ferrell previously worked together on "Anchorman," and the movie also features many of Ferrell's "Saturday Night Live" castmates in roles or cameo appearances.
  6. The Web site for "Talladega Nights" (RickyBobby.com) not only includes trailers and gamers, but fans can also create their own "Talladega Nights" movie poster by uploading a picture of themselves and using the Web site's tools to manipulate it.
  7. One scene in the movie includes a car being driven backwards. To create this illusion, the production company actually built a car with its exterior body on backwards. To drive it, the driver lay down on the passenger side and steered by looking out of a tiny windshield that was where the taillight usually is.
  8. Checker's Drive-In Restaurants, the official NASCAR Drive-Thru, joined with Columbia Pictures to promote the movie. Customers can enter the "Talladega Nights Fully Loaded Sweepstakes" to win a trip to a race at Talladega, a fully loaded Winnebago, and a year's supply for fully loaded fries. The restaurant is also introducing a series of Fully Loaded menu items.

Opens August 4, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Samuel L. Jackson in "Snakes on a Plane"
Samuel L. Jackson in "Snakes on a Plane"
Image courtesy New Line Cinema
  1. Director Ronny Yu was originally slated to direct the film, but budget problems and creative differences led to his resignation and replacement by David R. Ellis.
  2. "Snakes on a Plane" has become an Internet phenomenon, attracting attention usually only reserved for the next "Star Wars," "Batman" or "Spiderman" movie. Fans wanted Samuel L. Jackson to speak a certain line in the film, which didn't exist. In response to this, the cast and crew were called back for five additional days to re-shoot some scenes using fan enthusiasm as their guide. The result will change the film's rating from PG-13 to R.
  3. New Line Cinema and TagWorld, an online friend site similar to MySpace, created a contest for new bands to have their music included in the movie. The winning band was Captain Ahab and their track "Snakes on the Brain" will be featured in the film. Runner up Louden Swain's track "Here Come the Snake" will be included on the official movie soundtrack.
  4. Months before the film debuted, Internet sites and news shows began discussing it and making jokes about the title. All of this discussion created a huge amount of pre-release interest in the movie. Screenwriter Josh Friedman, who at one time was attached to the project, is credited with starting much of the buzz with an entry on his blog celebrating the return of the movie's name from "Flight 121" to "Snakes on a Plane." The movie has also been the target of humorous monologues and jokes on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report."
  5. Technology magazine Wired named "Snakes on a Plane" the "Best Worst Film of 2006" in their January 2006 issue. None of the editors or writers at Wired had seen any part of the movie; instead, it received the award based on its title and concept.
  6. Bloggers and fans of the movie have created songs, T-shirts, new movie posters, fanfiction, parody films, mock trailers, a board game and a poker game based on the movie. Many of these films feature crossover characters from Samuel L. Jackson's other movies, including Mace Windu, Jackson's character from "Star Wars," and his characters from "Shaft" and "Pulp Fiction". While some studios immediately move to block such fan-created items, New Line Cinema and "Snakes on a Plane"'s producers have encouraged fans to have fun with the movie concept.
  7. The image on the movie poster of two snakes wrapped around a plane was designed to resemble the Caduceus, the staff of the Greek god Hermes. The Caduceus is often used as a symbol for medicine and in hospitals.
  8. The title "Snakes on a Plane" is similar to a piece of airline pilot lingo. They use the phrase "Snakes in the cockpit" when they have a large number of tasks to perform.
  9. A live version of the movie occurred in June 2006 when one particular pilot was shocked to discover that there really was a snake on his small personal plane. The pilot found a small snake on his control panel, which he grabbed a hold of. He landed his plane safely after requesting emergency clearance from the nearest airport.

Opens on August 18, 2006

World Trade Center

  1. To portray a sense of realism and to do justice to many of the fallen officers of September 11th, director Oliver Stone used actors from PoliceActors.com: former cops turned actors. They all have their SAG cards.
  2. Known for his politically charged dramas like "JFK," "Nixon," "Wall Street," "Born on the Fourth of July," and "Platoon," Stone says he's focusing on the real-life heroics as opposed to the political dimensions of the 9/11 attack. To do this, he focuses on the story of two Port Authority Police Officers.
  3. An underground filmmaker, Chris Moukarbel, took sections of the WTC script he found on the internet to create World Trade Center 2006. The video was made entirely in his studio using student actors and then released on the Internet, intentionally pre-empting Stone's film release in August 2006. According to Moukarbel: "The artwork is a commentary on Hollywood's authority to write history. Through their depiction of an historic event, they are ultimately in the position to influence ideas and effect policy." Paramount Pictures is taking action against him. For now, the film and all pages that linked to it say that it has been removed at the request of Paramount Studios.
  4. This is Maggie Gyllenhaal's second film touching on 9/11 themes. In an interview for the first, she was quoted as saying "I think America has done reprehensible things and it's responsible in some way" for the September 11th attacks. Her opinion has caused some controversy about her appearance in World Trade Center.
  5. Nicolas Cage portrays real-life Sergeant John McLoughlin. Stone cast Cage based on a conversation he had with the real McLoughlin on who should play him. Other names that were tossed around were George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, and Mel Gibson.
  6. McLoughlin and Jimeno were the last two survivors to be recovered from the rubble of the fallen towers. They credit their survival to the rescue teams who searched for them and managed to pull them out before their oxygen supply was depleted.
  7. Nicolas Cage is distantly related to two policemen who perished in the September 11th attacks, Donald MacEntire and John Sherry.
  8. In 2002, Paramount also released a documentary by James Hanlon and Jules and Gedeon Naudet depicting a local ladder company on the day of the attacks. This is the only released video of the first plane hitting the North Tower. Opens on August 9, 2006