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Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 – Event Report



The Force was strong at the ExCel Exhibition Centre in London last weekend as Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 offered three days of galactic action, epic reveals, high-end purchases and queues. Lots of queues. So many queues…

We were lucky enough to attend the flagship Lucasfilm extravaganza first-hand and reap the benefits of all the Star Wars goodness on offer which overall provided an extremely reassuring outlook on the future of the globally-adored franchise across all primary platforms.

Star Wars Celebration


The biggest and most eagerly-anticipated panel of the opening day was of course for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but before the cast and crew of the latest movie appeared on the Celebration Stage, fans were treated to an hour with Luke Skywalker himself – Mr. Mark Hamill.

This writer sadly did not make it into the Hamill panel, but the words were positive, with may commenting on the legendary actor’s oddball humour as well as extended monologue of his animated villain The Joker who will next be seen in the most famous fable of the character’s lifetime – Batman: The Killing Joke.

The Rogue One panel was quite frankly incredible. One of the very best press and/or public events I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. Game of Thrones actress and Captain Phasma from Star Wars: The Force Awakens Gwendoline Christie led the discussion which featured director Gareth Edwards, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, a wealth of producers and the entirety of the cast including the likes of Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso), Diego Luna (Captain Cassian Andor), Donnie Yen (Chirrup Îmwe) and Ben Mendelsohn who arrived on stage in full Director Orson Krennic attire.

The expansive audience were treated to a detailed Sizzle Reel (video above) showcasing a number of the filmmaking processes, detailing the authentic and muscular directorial decisions to really make this feel like an on-the-ground military movie, as well as seeing Jones’ face illuminate so brightly when she is presented with her Black Series action figure – the very first from the range and a must purchase on Force Friday later this year.

The panel wrapped with a brand-new trailer for the movie which is due for public release at the end of this week. Trust me when I say it is an absolutely masterclass of cinematic advertisement and ends on the most goosebump-enducing moment in recent memory. You are going to adore it.

The day concluded with a huge screening of A New Hope on the Celebration Stage. The Force Awakens played in the same time slot on the following day.

Star Wars Rebels Season 3


Things kicked up a gear on Saturday – particularly in the organisation departments which were, well, pretty poor on Friday. Everyone had found their bearings (both custom and staff) and the entire day flowed far smoother and sweeter because of it.

A variety of panels were in operation across the three core stages – Celebration Stage, Galaxy Stage and Behind the Scenes Stage – but the two biggest showcases were prepped for the leading arena.

First up was the Creatures, Droids and Aliens of The Force Awakens panel which saw Wicket the Ewok himself Warwick Davis host an array of artists, designers, animatronic engineers and more in an insightful retelling of how a wealth of the fascinating characters from J.J. Abrams’ movie came to fruition, and the processes of getting them onto screen.

It was a sheer pleasure to hear than Abrams wanted to feature as many practical effects as possible in the film, and only rely on CGI as a tool if no other form of design or technology were possible. This philosophy has too transpired to Edwards’ film and Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII which is apparently inspired by “old war movies”.

In this panel, we also got to meet “Space Monkey” (he currently is without a real name) from Rogue One who featured in the Sizzle Reel screened at the panel. This guy is pure Star Wars. The perfect creature who has some resemblance to Chewbacca so perhaps he is of Wookie origin. Who knows at this point, but he is very cool indeed.

As the afternoon arrived, so did the very best reveal of the day; in fact, it was one of the biggest highlights of the entirety of the weekend: the Star Wars Rebels Season 3 panel. For those of you who know this author personally, you’ll know I’m a massive Rebels fan, so this was eagerly-awaited anyway, but what we received was just majestic.

Executive Producer Dave Filoni (complete with trademark hat), and voice actors Tiya Sirdar (Sabine) and Sam Witwer (Darth Maul) were in attendance and sat down with Warwick Davis to chat about the future of the Disney XD series. Guests were treated to a number of awesome clips, as well as the brand-new trailer which left me slack-jawed. The sheer scale and visual design of Rebels continues to impress, and fans of the Star Wars EU are finally getting the villain they have longed for: Grand Admiral Thrawn. Yes, he is officially canon and will star in the show voiced by Lars Mikkelsen, as well as receive a brand-new self-titled novel by his creator Timothy Zahn.

The panel concluded with a special screening of the premiere episode of Rebels Season 3 “Step Into Shadows” which is a two-parter running lasting about 45 minutes. Thrawn features in the first episode, as well as brand new character situated firmly between the Light Side and the Dark Side, and he is voiced by none other than Tom Baker – the definitive Doctor Who for the masses.

It is safe to say that this episode is mind-blowingly great, and anyone in attendance who viewed and hasn’t previously watched the show will certainly be catching up with the first two seasons. The developments of Ezra are simply riveting, and to see his conflicted progression as a Jedi but with a teenage mindset hell-bent of seeking power could lead him down some dark, complex avenues. Rebels Season 3 doesn’t hit screens until late September, but trust me, the wait is worth it.



By now the early mornings, late nights and aches from waiting in lines are starting to take their toll, but there was still plenty to enjoy on the final day of Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016. Seriously though, my calves were killing. They felt like lead…

Princess, sorry, General Leia Oragna herself, Carrie Fisher, lead a discussion panel in the morning complete with her loyal dogs and even a reenactment of her scenes with Wicket from Return of the Jedi.

Unfortunately, one did not make it to this particular panel, nor the Closing Ceremony because of the convoluted wristband process which pretty much requires you to be in line from 6am to guarantee access to the panel later that day. Queuing and collecting a band at that time is tiring, but then waiting a further four hours before you can even step inside the convention is even more so. By Sunday, I needed a fraction more kip.

The Closing Ceremony and Future Filmmakers panel featured a variety of talent involved with the progression of Star Wars including Rian Johnson, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller who are helming the Han Solo spin-off project with Hail, Caesar! star Alden Ehrenreich. John Boyega (Finn), Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher (plus dogs…) and Kathleen Kennedy also attended the roundup amongst others which provided a compelling and thoughtful think piece on what’s to come for the Star Wars cinematic universe.

One particular panel this writer did attend on the day however was the LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens hour which invited a series of Lucas Arts, TT Games and LEGO employees to the stage to discuss the transition of Abrams’ smash-hit feature film to the video game platform.

The panel documented the forthcoming DLC expansion packs for the game which includes a Legacy add-on complete with Boba Fett, Django Fett and more, as well as new levels featuring the new and increasingly popular Freemaker Adventures. There was also news from the EA Games group that those with Star Wars Battlefront can look forward to a Rogue One DLC in late November/early December to coincide with the December 16th theatrical release.

I personally used the final day as a last excuse to visit the many stands and stalls providing a wealth of amazing Star Wars merchandise, as well as taking a second trip around the glorious Rogue One props and costume exhibit which was open across the entire weekend. Safe to say that on this day, and all days really, much money was spent and many photos were snapped.

Overall Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 was an incredible experience, and one of the most enjoyable events this writer has had the pleasure of attending for some time. The opening day was a little tainted by the sheer mania of it all and the lack of staff seeming to know what was going on and the protocols for particular requests, but all of these issues were ironed out with precision by the following morning. Suffice to say, Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 – which will primarily be promoting Episode VIII – is definitely on the cards. I better start looking for flights and accommodation…

My personal Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 videos including a Weekend Vlog and Merchandise Haul are available to view on my YouTube channel The Midas Touch. Click here to subscribe.

Film fanatic and UFC obsessive. Avid NFL fan and Chelsea supporter. Maintains a BA (Hons) degree in Film Studies attained from the University of Brighton. Adorer of Michael Haneke, Woody Allen, Pixar Animation Studios, James Bond 007, American Indies & French New Wave.


2018 Academy Awards Live Updates #Oscars




Find The List Of Nominations Here
















0216: The performance of ‘Remember Me’ from ‘Coco’ was… interesting


0200: Jimmy asking Spielberg for pot…




0136: Best Documentary up next, presented by Best Director nominee Greta Gerwig and Laura Dern



0125: Next Up is Gal Gadot and Arnie Hammer for Hair and Make Up

0122: Sam Rockwell sets a time of 1minute29seconds for that Jet Ski

0115: First award of the night is for Best Supporting Actor…


0112: Jimmy encouraging the winners to make the night’s shortest speech and offering them a Jet-Ski as a prize

0110: ‘The longest Meryl Streep went without a nomination was from 1992 to 1995 and that was only because she was in prison’

0108: ‘We don’t make films like ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to make money, we make them to upset Mike Pence’

0100: And we’re off! Are you ready for the 90th Academy Awards?


2040(GMT): We’ll be live tweeting @MovieMarker from the red carpet at midnight (GMT) along with coverage of the ceremony itself from 1am (GMT)

Number of Nominations

The Shape of Water: 13

Dunkirk: 8

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: 7

Blade Runner 2049: 5

Lady Bird: 5

Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly’s Game

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

Meryl Streep’s nomination is her 21st overall and her 17th in this category

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Original Song

Remember Me (from Coco)
Mystery of Love (from Call Me By Your Name)
This Is Me (from The Greatest Showman)
Mighty River (from Mudbound)
Stand Up For Something (from Marshall)

Best Documentary Short

Edith & Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam
Traffic Stop

1342: Christopher Plummer there, who of course didn’t even know he was going to be in All The Money In The World only a couple of months ago (reshot Kevin Spacey’s character’s scenes)

Best Documentary Feature

Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Leslie Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Insult  (Lebanon)
Loveless  (Russia)
The Square (Sweden)

1339: Mudbound’s Cinematography nomination marks the first ever female nominee in that category for Rachel Morrison

Best Animated Short Film

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Film Editing

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul

Best Production Design

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Best Live-Action Short

Dekalb Elementary
The 11 O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
All Of Us

Original Score

Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sound Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Sound Editing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul


Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

1326: There’s Gal Gadot, drinking tea…

1323: While we wait, check out this great photo of grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn behind the scenes in 1956

1322: We are underway, though timings are probably going to be off as they always are with these things…

1321: Roger Deakins could get his 14th nomination for Blade Runner 2049, so far 13 and 0 wins! Is there anyone more overdue a win?

1317: Gary Oldman is tipped to pick up his first Leading Actor win for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in ‘The Darkest Hour’

1313: Just under ten minutes until the nominations begin, let us know what you’re rooting for over on twitter @MovieMarker

1307: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri is another film expected to receive a number of nominations, with an Actress In A Leading Role nod expected for Frances McDormand and potentially Best Director and Supporting Actor noms for Martin McDonagh and Sam Rockwell respectively.

1305: The Shape Of Water is fancied by many to lead the nominations, it could yet equal the record of 14 nominations set by Titanic, All About Eve and La La Land – Read our five-star review of Guillermo Del Toro’s latest.

1300 (GMT) Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis will host the nomination ceremony, along with special guests Gal Gadot, Salma Hayek, Rosario Dawson, Priyanka Chopra, Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana, Molly Shannon, Rebel Wilson, and Michelle Yeoh, from the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles.

The nominations will begin with the categories cinematography, costume design, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short film, live action short film, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects.

The nominees will then be announced for actor in a leading role, actor in a supporting role, actress in a leading role, actress in a supporting role, animated feature film, directing, documentary feature, documentary short subject, foreign language film, original song, best picture, adapted screenplay, and original screenplay. This second half of the presentation will be aired live on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”


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Thriller Film ‘MADTOWN’ Gets Jan 5 Release



SP Releasing has acquired the US rights to the forthcoming drama-thriller feature film MADTOWN, starring Emmy™-nominated Milo Ventimiglia (NBC’s “This Is Us”). The film will release in theaters and on-demand on January 5, through SP Releasing’s output deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Milo Ventimiglia in MADTOWN

Written and directed by Charles C. Moore, MADTOWN, which made official selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival, follows a troubled young man, Briggs (Ventimiglia), who flashes back to the demons of his past when his sister is released from her twenty-year prison sentence for the murder of their parents. Briggs must confront his estranged sister and deal with the past, while fighting to protect his future and the new life he has rebuilt for himself.

Official Trailer:

“It is a privilege to partner with the entire SP Releasing team,” said Moore, “Their commitment to the film, and Milo’s breathtaking performance, has been evident from the get-go. The collaboration with SP Releasing provides the film an incredible opportunity to be shared with wide audiences across multiple platforms, and for this we are most grateful.”

The film also stars Rachel Melvin (Dumb and Dumber To, Sleepy Hollow), John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise, White Oleander), Bonita Friedericy (Chuck, Paranormal Activity 3), and Amanda Aday (Carnivàle, Shangri-La Suite, Pledge This!).

The film will release through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in limited theatres and on-demand January 5, with DVD release following in February 2018. The deal for the film was negotiated by Tiffany Boyle and Katherine Imp at Ramo Law.

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Up Close with Francesco Pireddu



Movie Marker Magazine sat down with Italian actor-dancer, Francesco Pireddu to talk acting and his role in ‘Turandot’, Puccini’s grand spectacle of legendary China at the MET this October.

Can you tell us a little about your early beginnings living in Italy?

I was born and raised in Sardinia, a little island on the west coast of Italy. After completing high school, I moved to Rome with the intention to study Sociology, but my love and desire for the Arts was so strong and bright that I immediately decided to study classical ballet, improvisation and modern dance. After three years in Rome I moved to Tuscany to join Micha Van Hoecke, the renowned Belgium director and choreographer, who was directing a revival of one of the biggest Italian Operas: Rigoletto.

What inspired you to start dancing?

I always had a very strong desire to express myself through movement, and the need to explore self-expression, and body language, are still very much alive! Also, Mickail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, the greatest dancers in the world, profoundly inspired me to dance.

Francesco Pireddu. Photo Credit: Balasole Dance Company

You have performed on some of the world’s most prominent stages including; the Royal Opera House in London and The Metropolitan Opera in New York. Can you explain some of those productions and your role within them?

Yes indeed. I performed at the prestigious Royal Opera House in London, in two major operas: Boris Godunov and La Forza del Destino. Both operas required specific and detailed choreography, especially La Forza del Destino, which is one of the most important Italian operas. La “Tarantella”, a folk dance characterized by a fast-upbeat tempo and one of the most recognized forms of traditional southern Italian music, was the theme of the choreography.

At The Metropolitan Opera in New York, I was in Aida, by Giuseppe Verdi, playing one of the Noble Soldiers in the triumphal march, and I am currently performing in the Turandot until Spring 2018. Franco Zeffirelli, the renowned Italian director, and most sought-after producer of operas, staged a magnificent and superb production of both operas. His creation wows audiences all around the world.

Both of these world-famous stages are such huge platforms for a performer. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to be a world class performer in one of these operas, as they are vast productions with an amazing ensemble cast.

You have recently transitioned into acting. Can you tell us a little about how that came about?

My transition into acting was a very important step for my growth as an artist. As a dancer I learned to explore the movement, my body language and I acquired self-discipline and a strong work ethic. When I moved to America, I trained at HB Studio, one of the most original and famous acting studios in New York, founded by Viennese actor/director Herbert Berghof. At the HB Studio, I learned how to use my voice, how to pronounce correctly the words in order to create a character entirely from scratch. The training was intense and very fulfilling.

Francesco Pireddu. Photo Credit: Ewa Ligeza Photography

Your debut appearance as an actor was in ‘Top Broker’. Can you explain your role in the film?

In Top Broker I play one of the leads, Riccardo, a dancer who’s searching for an apartment in New York. A top realtor broker shows me an apartment; she’s attracted to me and starts to flirt a little. Things progress from there. It’s a delightful comedy and I was very happy to star in such a gem.

As an actor, what other movies have you enjoyed being part of, and the characters you play?

It is hard to choose but Top Broker has a special place in my heart because it was my debut appearance as an actor. I was playing a dancer so totally in my natural element. In Dolores I played Mr. Baxter, a serious and dedicated teacher who’s having issues with a difficult student. It was quite a challenge to play a character so different from everything I have done in my career. I totally embraced the challenge and I loved playing Mr. Baxter. In Life I played Paolo, a dancer who just graduated from a very famous dance school in New York. We were shooting outdoors, in Washington Square Park, and I was dancing and telling the world (in Italian) how happy I was about my latest accomplishment! For Play Love, I play Brad, a lover who’s having an affair. I had so much fun playing Brad! The rhythm of the story is flawless and engaging. Playing Brad gave me the opportunity to use my facial expressions like I never did before because the idea was to be over the top, bright and sassy. So much fun!

You star in several TV commercials including; JA Bank, Chase, Bud Light, Mountain Dew and Pima Cotton sheets. How did you find the pace of filming a commercial to that of a movie?

The pace varies and, technically, filming a commercial requires less time and a much faster pace. However, it all depends on the budget: the bigger the budget, the better. I had the fortune to be cast in these high profile national commercial productions, where we had all the time we needed thanks to a strong budget and a very professional team of directors and producers.

Francesco Pireddu. Photo Credit: Ewa Ligeza Photography

You star in the production ‘Table of Silence’ at the Lincoln Plaza in New York. Can you explain what the production celebrates?

The Table of Silence is a dance-tribute-prayer for peace. It celebrates and honors peace all around the world.

It’s a memorable event that creates an opportunity to remember, through a powerful dance and live music, those who lost their lives on 9/11. This global tribute was seen in more than 50 countries via live stream. I am extremely proud to have starred in this production. The message is peace and something we all wish for.

What type of genre of film or TV show are you drawn to traditionally?

I am drawn to drama. However, I am not particularly attached to what I am drawn to because, as an artist, I want to be open-minded and, in the end, it’s the story that makes a difference.

Do you have a bucket list of actors and directors you would like to work with?

I would love to work with Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Their work is remarkable and magnificent. There are also a few European directors I would love to work with such as Michael Haneke, the incredibly talented German director, and Lars Von Trier, whose work is unique and powerful. So stay tuned!

When you are not acting, what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy relaxing in nature. Hiking is one of my favorite activities and having a strong connection with nature keeps me grounded and connected. I also love Yoga, which I regularly practice.

What can we expect to see you doing over the next few months?

I just completed the first season of Play Love and the writers are already working on the second season – which is super exciting. I am also in the incredible opera Turandot, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where we have performances until Spring 2018.

Twitter: @francescopire4

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