Articles from February 2012

Saddle up–filming of THE LONE RANGER begins today!

After months of anticipation, filming of the Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer version of The Lone Ranger got underway in New Mexico today, under the direction of Oscar-winner Gore Verbinski. Johnny Depp plays Tonto, described in the press release as a “spirit warrior” (emphatically not a “sidekick”), with Armie Hammer portraying the masked Ranger. The impressive supporting cast includes Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Here’s the synopsis offered in the official press release: “The Lone Ranger is a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice —- taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

The Lone Ranger is written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio of Pirates of the Caribbean, Eric Aronson and Justin Haythe. The executive producers are Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Eric Ellenbogen and Eric McLeod.”

The Lone Ranger is scheduled to shoot throughout the summer; the Western is set for release in the U.S. on May 31, 2013.

The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news; you can read more about The Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

The Zone sends our best wishes for a happy and successful shoot to Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski, and everyone involved in The Lone Ranger‘s production.

“I’m feeling I’m dreaming right now”–Gore Verbinski reacts to his Oscar win for RANGO

Backstage after winning his first Academy Award, director Gore Verbinski reflected on how it felt to earn the Best Animated Feature Oscar for Rango, a movie that took several years to reach the screen. For the first 18 months, Verbinski admitted, his “lizard project” had no studio backing and he and writer John Logan were working “just out of our houses.” But he was able to get Paramount to green-light the film when he could guarantee that Johnny Depp would be the actor giving voice to the title character. “It helps when you’re friends with Johnny Depp,” Verbinski confided. “I mean, we needed money and once Johnny said he was in, things started to happen.”

The “things” that happened led the director to a critical and box-office success, and eventually to the awards podium on Sunday night. Backstage, clutching his golden statue, Verbinski said, “I’m feeling I’m dreaming right now. It’s here. It’s in my hand. It’s very heavy. It feels good.” Looks good, too! To see a larger version of the photo of Verbinski holding his Oscar for Rango, CLICK HERE, and for a more playful picture of the director, CLICK HERE.

The Zone thanks Theresa for the photographs and FANtasticJD for articles on the Oscars; you can read more on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp in New York City this weekend–new photos!

The photo at left shows Johnny Depp emerging from a building in New York City on Monday, February 27th. He is accompanied by a security guard and is greeted by an admirer brandishing a Sharpie and a photo of Captain Jack Sparrow for Johnny to sign. To see a larger version of the photo, CLICK HERE, and to see another picture CLICK HERE. Johnny spent Oscar weekend in New York; he was photographed by paparazzi on Saturday as he emerged from a guitar store on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village. Johnny was accompanied on that excursion by security chief Jerry Judge and Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famer Patti Smith. You can see a photo of Johnny outside the guitar store HERE, and HERE you see Jerry Judge leading the way to the SUV, with Patti Smith and Johnny behind him.

The Zone thanks Emma and Evochka for sharing the photos.

BREAKING NEWS–Martin Scorsese’s HUGO wins 5 Academy Awards!

Martin Scorsese’s magical Hugo ensured its place in movie history on Sunday night, winning a total of five Academy Awards; the only other film with five victories was Best Picture winner The Artist. Congratulations to Mr. Scorsese, Graham King and Tim Headlington of GK Films, and Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski of Infinitum Nihil for producing such an unforgettable work of art. The Zone also salutes the individual Oscar winners who created such a vivid world for Hugo:

Robert Richardson, Cinematography

Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, Art Direction

Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty, Sound Editing

Tom Fleischman and John Midgely, Sound Mixing

Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman, and Alex Henning, Visual Effects

Well done! The Zone thanks everyone who took part in our Oscar-night discussion; you can read more about the Academy Awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

BREAKING NEWS–RANGO wins Academy Award for Best Animated Feature!

Congratulations to director Gore Verbinski, whose passion-project Rango won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature on Sunday night, besting A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots. Rango, which is Verbinski’s first animated film, features a stellar vocal cast led by Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, and Abigail Breslin.

Verbinski attended the ceremony and collected his first Oscar from presenter Chris Rock. To see a larger version of the photo of the director holding his Oscar, CLICK HERE, and to see a photo of Verbinski delivering his acceptance speech, CLICK HERE. Here’s what Verbinski said to the audience in the theater and those watching around the world:

GORE VERBINSKI: Thank you so much. This is crazy! Someone asked me if this film is for kids, and I don’t know . . . but it was certainly created by a bunch of grown-ups acting like children, and we just had the best time. I want to thank the real-world chameleon, Mr. Johnny Depp, and the entire cast and crew for coming out and playing. And to the artists–Crash McCreery, Jim Byrkit, Hal Hickel, Tim Alexander, John Knoll, and everyone at Blind Wink and ILM — who put so much passion in every frame. And to the early believers, John Logan, Graham King, Brad Grey and everyone at Paramount, who really let us try something different. And to my beautiful wife and my family, who inspire me every day with their smiles and laughter. It doesn’t get any better than this. Thank you.

The Zone thanks you, Mr. Verbinski, for making a wonderful film and carving out a place in movie history for the denizens of Dirt. Now it’s time to saddle up for The Lone Ranger!

The Zone thanks all the Zoners who took part in a lively Oscar-night discussion; you can read more about the awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum. Many thanks also to Theresa for sharing pictures and updating our Rango banner.

Edgar Wright in talks to direct THE NIGHT STALKER, starring Johnny Depp

As one Disney project starring Johnny Depp gets underway — The Lone Ranger — Disney confirms that the studio is negotiating with Edgar Wright to direct a future Depp project, the big-screen version of the 1970s television series The Night Stalker. Wright previously directed the cult hit Shaun of the Dead (which would seem to make him a fine candidate to capture The Night Stalker‘s blend of cynical wit, noir and horror) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Originally based on the novel The Kolchak Papers by Jeff Rice, The Night Stalker chronicles the adventures of newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak, whose investigations of mysterious crimes invariably lead him to vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other strange or supernatural occurrences. In addition to his other-worldly enemies, Kolchak constantly struggles with police and editors who don’t believe his claims (Chris Carter, who created The X-Files, cited The Night Stalker as one of his inspirations). Johnny Depp is attached to play Kolchak, the role Darren McGavin played in the original series. Johnny and Christi Dembrowski will produce for Infinitum Nihil.

No writer has been chosen for the project yet. Mike Fleming of reports that the “subject matter will be tailored to fit Disney’s family film mandate and likely a PG-13 rating, but the idea of Wright’s hyper-reality style and Depp’s gift for constructing quirky characters sounds like a good match.” We agree!

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for sharing the news. You can read more about The Night Stalker on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The article is available HERE.

ONBC discussion of Dashiell Hammett’s THE THIN MAN begins today!

Johnny Depp is currently preparing to play Tonto in Gore Verbinski’s new version of The Lone Ranger, but not long after his Western adventure, JD will shift genres to play Dashiell Hammett’s cynical, tough-talking detective Nick Charles in The Thin Man. The new version of the classic mystery will be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) for Warner Bros. Oprah Noodlemantra’s Book Club begins its discussion of the famous tale of double-dealing and murder today . . . stop by the ONBC forum for what is sure to be a rip-roaring discussion! Many thanks to the ONBC moderators, Liz and DeppintheHeartofTexas, for sharing wonderful background tidbits on Jazz Age New York, Dasheill Hammett, and the culture that produced Nick and Nora Charles. You can follow the ONBC discussion HERE. We’ll be exploring all the twists and turns of The Thin Man, starting today!

Johnny Depp nominated for two Kids’ Choice Awards–congratulations!

Johnny Depp has been nominated for two Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards: for Movie Actor, where he faces competition from Jim Carrey, Daniel Radcliffe, and Adam Sandler; and for Voice from an Animated Movie, for his performance in Rango. Other actors nominated for their work in animation are Antonio Banderas, Jack Black, and Katy Perry. The Kids’ Choice Awards will be presented live on Saturday, March 31, 2012.

You can find the full list of nominees in all categories HERE. Voting for the Kids’ Choice Awards opens on Friday, February 24th.

The Zone thanks Winona and Fairy for sharing the news; you can read more about this year’s Kids’ Choice Awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Announcing a new gallery for the Zone–Pictures of the Week 2011!

We’re happy to announce a new addition to the Zone’s permanent photo galleries: Pictures of the Week 2011! This collection of the photos featured as Pictures of the Week last year includes beautiful images of Johnny Depp in his film roles as Captain Jack Sparrow in On Stranger Tides, Paul Kemp in The Rum Diary, and Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows, as well as pictures from new photoshoots and public appearances for Rango, On Stranger Tides, and The Rum Diary. You’ll find some favorite vintage photos, too! Many thanks to Sleepy, AnaMaria, Theresa, Hiro3, Emma, Evochka, HonestGirl, Joni, and FANtasticJD for contributing photos, and to Theresa for her editorial assistance.

Pictures of the Week 2011 is currently featured in our Gallery Showcase. You can access the new gallery by clicking on the Gallery Showcase button above, or HERE. We hope you’ll enjoy our look back at 2011.

No werewolves in THE LONE RANGER–Gore Verbinski sets the record straight

Drew Taylor of The Playlist snagged a pre-Valentine’s Day interview with Gore Verbinski and took the opportunity to ask the director for an update on his soon-to-shoot big-budget Western, The Lone Ranger, which stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. How are things going? “It’s going great,” Verbinski replied. “It’s going to be photo-real and it’s going to be interesting in its own way but it’s a complete stepping back over the fence from Rango,” the director promised. Don’t expect to find werewolves howling on Verbinski’s range, though — despite what you might have read on the Internet, there’s nothing like that in The Lone Ranger.

The Playlist’s Taylor was curious about whether certain rumored “supernatural elements of the script would be maintained” or cut as part of the budget-trimming Disney required to green-light the movie, noting that “at one point” the script had been “said to feature a monstrous Wendigo as well as a pack of werewolves.”

Verbinski was happy to set the record straight and torpedo the werewolf storyline once and for all. “I don’t know where this idea of werewolves came from,” he told The Playlist. “It’s never been in any draft I’ve worked on.” According to Verbinski, the only “supernatural elements” in the Lone Ranger script are “a kind of Native American overlay of omens and other things happening that we don’t fully understand.”

In a live chat with readers of the Los Angeles Times on Friday, Verbinski also shot down rumors that shooting of The Lone Ranger had been “delayed” again. “The Hollywood Reporter is saying TLR has been delayed again,” @ Mrs Me wrote. “Please say it isn’t so …” Verbinski replied, “Delayed again? Really? I’ve got my cowboy hat on! No, in all seriousness, we begin shooting in two weeks. Time for everyone to stop talking about TLR and let us go make it!” Amen. As soon as the Oscars are over, The Lone Ranger rides.

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing The Playlist interview and Theresa for sharing the transcript of the live chat. You can read more about The Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Playlist interview, which includes information about Verbinski’s other projects, is available HERE.

“Heightened . . . absurdist . . . and funny”–writer Seth Grahame-Smith describes DARK SHADOWS

Perhaps one reason we have yet to see a trailer for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, due in movie theaters in May, is because the film cannot be confined to conventional pigeonholes of genre and tone. While its uniqueness may baffle marketers, one person who can speak authoritatively about Dark Shadows is the author of the screenplay, Seth Grahame-Smith. As the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Grahame-Smith has cornered the market on genre-bending and tonal juxtaposition. Of Dark Shadows, Grahame-Smith says, “The tone of the movie is soap operatic. It’s heightened. Everything is heightened and grand.” That applies to Johnny Depp’s performance as Barnabas Collins, too, which Grahame-Smith describes as “dug in and big.”

Speaking to reporter Devin Faraci at a promotional event for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in Springfield, Illinois — now that’s a way to celebrate Honest Abe’s birthday — Grahame-Smith alluded to other aspects of Dark Shadows: “There’s an absurdist element to it,” he said. “It’s very funny. I don’t think people are expecting it to be as funny as it is.”

Viewers should expect some touches of horror as well: “It’s PG-13, so there’s no gore, there are no hardcore scares,” Grahame-Smith said; however, he reminded the reporter that Barnabas is a vampire who “will surprise people in terms of [his] ferocity.”

The new publicity still of Barnabas with his witch-lover/nemesis Angelique (Eva Green) hints at that ferocity; to see the photo, CLICK HERE. Is it May yet?

The Zone thanks tocnavforjd and FANtasticJD for sharing the photo, and Emma for the interview with Seth Grahame-Smith. You can read more about Dark Shadows on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

THE RUM DIARY is released on Blu-ray and DVD today; also available On Demand

Treat yourself to a special Valentine’s Day gift and pick up a personal copy of Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary on Blu-ray or DVD; the film will be available at retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada today. An adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s first (but long unpublished) novel, The Rum Diary is itself a valentine to the Good Doctor, and to the Puerto Rico he knew as a young journalist at the end of the Eisenhower era. The story follows freelance journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp), who takes a job with a struggling San Juan newspaper in 1960 and finds temptations of all sorts, few of them resistible. Paul falls under the spell of the free-spirited Chenault (Amber Heard), the fiancee of an American businessman who wants Kemp to publicize his latest shady real estate development. But will Kemp sell out, or fight the good fight? “Depp and company always remain true to Thompson’s irascible spirit,” notes critic Kathleen C. Fennessey. Enough said.

Special features are rather thin, but include “A Voice Made of Ink and Rage: Inside The Rum Diary,” a 12-minute feature; and “The Rum Diary Back-Story,” a 45-minute documentary by Wayne Ewing, an authority on Hunter Thompson.

The Rum Diary is also available via Movies On Demand effective today, so you can watch it at home, anytime! Many thanks to Rossana Woo for that news, and to Sleepy and Emma for information about the DVD release. You can read more about The Rum Diary‘s release on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp attends the Foo Fighters’ post-Grammy party–new photo!

Johnny Depp popped in to the Foo Fighters’ post-Grammy celebration at Fig & Olive Melrose Place on Sunday night. The band had plenty of reason to celebrate, having won Grammys for Best Rock Album (Wasting Light), Best Rock Song (Walk), Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance (White Limo), and Best Long Form Music Video (Back and Forth). Their party also had the best guest list in town — Sir Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen were also in the house. Jessica Wedemeyer of People reports, “At one point, McCartney approached Depp and mimicked his signature Pirates of the Caribbean Captain Jack Sparrow walk –- which resulted in lots of laughter. Depp then joined the former Beatle and his wife for dinner; McCartney, a vegetarian, stuck to dishes like the spaghetti Mediterraneano and vegetarian paella. By the end of the evening, fast friends McCartney, Springsteen and Depp were seen discussing the night’s big awards and all the winners.”

Johnny was photographed as he left Fig & Olive; to see a larger version of the photo at left, CLICK HERE. The Wedemeyer article is available HERE. The Zone thanks Evochka for the photo and mytreasure for the article. You can read more on the Zone’s Pit General Discussion forum.

BAFTA Awards–RANGO wins Best Animated Feature, HUGO wins 2 awards!

Gore Verbinski’s first animated film, the Western homage Rango, continued its impressive awards-season run on Sunday, winning the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Feature over Arthur Christmas and The Adventures of Tintin. Congratulations! Cheers also to Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, who won Best Production Design for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo; Hugo also won the BAFTA for Best Sound.

The Artist was the night’s big winner, with awards for Best Film, Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius). Best Original Screenplay (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Cinematography, Costume Design, and Music. Meryl Streep won Best Actress for The Iron Lady, while supporting awards went to Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Octavia Spencer (The Help).

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD, Lou Lou 63 and Gilbert’s Girl for sharing the news; you can find a complete list of this year’s BAFTA winners HERE, and you can read more about the BAFTAs on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

RANGO wins four Visual Effects Society Awards; HUGO wins two!

Honors continued to mount up for both Gore Verbinski’s Rango and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, as each film won multiple awards from the Visual Effects Society. The animated Rango, which stars Johnny Depp as a chameleon who has to save an endangered Wild West town, won for Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Motion Picture; Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture; Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture; and Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in an Animated Feature Motion Picture. Congratulations!

Hugo won Visual Effects Society Awards for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture, and Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture. Well done!

A complete list of the 10th annual Visual Effects Awards winners is available HERE.

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for sharing the news; you can read more on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil options film rights to forthcoming book by Damien Echols

From Death Row to freedom to the silver screen — that’s the arc the West Memphis 3’s Damien Echols has traced in the past year, as reports that the film rights to Mr. Echols’s forthcoming memoir have been purchased by Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski for Infinitum Nihil, the Depp production company. The book, due to be published in September, details Mr. Echols’s experiences after his arrest and wrongful conviction for the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, a harrowing miscarriage of justice which continued for 18 years and aroused so much public protest that the West Memphis 3 were eventually set free.

Compelling documentary films about the West Memphis 3 include 1996’s Paradise Lost, which first brought the case to national attention, and Amy Berg’s West of Memphis, produced by Peter Jackson, which recently screened at Sundance to great critical acclaim. Johnny Depp was actively involved in efforts to free the West Memphis 3, including a memorable musical performance with Eddie Vedder and Patti Smith at a fundraising concert in Little Rock in 2010. Now Infinitum Nihil will bring Damien Echols’s personal story to the screen in a feature film with Mr. Echols and his wife Lorri Davis as executive producers. According to, the film will “spotlight the controversial conviction and imprisonment of the then 18-year-old” and “present his life before conviction as well its twists and turns leading to release.”

The Zone thanks Theresa for breaking the news; you can read more about this project on the Zone’s News & Views forum, and you can read the story HERE.

RANGO wins 4 Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature! Congratulations!

In a ceremony Saturday at UCLA’s Royce Hall, the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood presented the Annie Award for best animated feature to Gore Verbinski’s Rango. The Oscar-nominated Western homage about a pet chameleon who becomes sheriff of a small town named Dirt features an impeccable voice cast that includes Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, and Alfred Molina. Rango topped an impressive field that included Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Cars 2, Rio, and The Adventures of Tintin.

Rango also won Annie Awards for character design for Mark “Crash” McCreery; writing for John Logan, Verbinski and James Byrkit; and editing for Craig Wood. A stellar showing for the Rango team — congratulations to all!

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for sharing the news; you can read more about the Annie Awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum. A full list of this year’s Annie Award winners is available HERE.

New Mexico welcomes THE LONE RANGER! First look at sets

As production nears on Gore Verbinski’s new version of The Lone Ranger, an enterprising film crew at Albuquerque television station KQRE spotted what appears to be a Western set taking shape near Rio Puerco, outside Albuquerque. To see a photo of the (possible) set, CLICK HERE. “Carpenters and other technicians are rapidly creating a detailed and authentic-looking town from the old west,” notes reporter Bob Martin. “Although the New Mexico State Film Office neither confirms nor denies this set is for the Disney motion picture The Lone Ranger, industry insiders say it is.”

Two weeks ago, New Mexico governor Susana Martinez and the state Film Office confirmed that The Lone Ranger will shoot “in and around Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Shiprock and other locations through the middle of August 2012.” According to Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office, the Jerry Bruckheimer production will employ about 300 crew members, 30 actors and 1,200 extras. Mr. Bruckheimer sounds delighted to film in the Land of Enchantment: “The state’s world-class crews, local talent and spectacular locations will be critical in helping us take this iconic story and legendary characters to new heights.”

The Zone thanks Emma for the Lone Ranger updates; you can read more about the production on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

“She wants to own every bit of Barnabas”–Eva Green talks about her DARK SHADOWS character

In a recent interview with The Playlist, Eva Green spoke about her work on Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. The film itself is “very, very funny,” she promised, “with a dark sense of humor, but really funny.” As for the character she plays, the witch Angelique Bouchard, Green described her as “a cuckoo character. An extreme character, who is madly obsessed with Barnabas Collins.” (The vampire Barnabas Collins is played by Johnny Depp, so Angelique’s obsession needs no further explanation.) “It’s a very electric relationship,” Green continued, “[a]nd she wants to own every bit of Barnabas.”

The actress spoke with affection about her unusual role. Angelique is “not a typical villain, and that’s what I like about how Tim [Burton] dealt with her,” Green told Playlist. “She has a good reason to act like that. It’s really a love story.”

To Movieline, Eva Green confided that Angelique is so “completely obsessed” with Barnabas that she “will do absolutely anything to get him, to own him. She looks like Barbie, but a bawdy Barbie. She’s a big character, and lots of fun to play, that’s for sure.”

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing both Eva Green interviews; you can read more about Dark Shadows on the Zone’s News & Views forum.