Box office: The Fate of the Furious breaks records overseas and worldwide but slips somewhat in North America

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The Fast and the Furious franchise set some new records at the box office this week.

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Exclusive: James Wan on his return to horror, respecting the experiences of those who encounter the paranormal, and getting a priest to bless the set of The Conjuring 2

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Many directors dream of launching one hit franchise. James Wan has launched three.

The Malaysia-born, Australia-raised filmmaker first made a name for himself with Saw, a psychological horror film that spawned six sequels, all of which Wan produced but did not direct. Then he directed Insidious and its first sequel; a fourth film — again, produced but not directed by Wan — is now in the works. And then he directed The Conjuring, a huge hit that led to a prequel-ish spin-off called Annabelle.

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Star Trek XIII has a new director and a release date — just 18 months from now — but does it have a script?

startrek-kirkspockbridgeA lot of developments on the Star Trek front these last few days. In a nutshell, the people who made the last two movies aren’t involved in the new film in any serious way, but the studio is determined to get the film out in time for the franchise’s 50th anniversary — which is now only a year and a half away — and so they’ve hired a director who has experience making big-budget multi-ethnic action-oriented box-office hits and reviving troubled properties. Details below.

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Ben-Hur has found its Esther and its Pontius Pilate

pascal-gadotTimur Bekmambetov’s upcoming remake of Ben-Hur may be different from the 1959 version in a number of ways, but in one way it will be remarkably similar: it will feature an Israeli beauty-contest winner as Esther, the Jewish slave girl that Judah Ben-Hur falls in love with.

In 1959, the part was played by Haya Harareet, who won one of the first beauty contests in Israel after that nation came into being in 1948; and now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the part will be played by former Miss Israel Gal Gadot.

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