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Best of 2012: 5 movies that stuck the landing

The Great Ending has become an unexpected casualty of Hollywood’s franchise era: Because a sequel is always strongly implied, the final moments of most big movies are now just temporary breaks in action, instead of definitive conclusions. But the movies on this list each left a mark, whether they ended with a bang or with a graceful coda. (One of them even managed to set the stage for a sequel and suggested the end of an emotional journey.) Here are our five favorite movie endings of 2012:

5. The Grey
“What? The film where Liam Neeson punches a wolf?” Well, yes and no. The most mismarketed movie of the year is actually a reflective examination of mortality — and it ends on a note that’s simultaneously ambiguous and fiercely life-affirming. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): How 'The Cabin in the Woods' became the year's most buzzed-about fright flick

“I still smell the blood in my sleep,” says Drew Goddard. The filmmaker is talking about the psychic aftershocks of shooting his debut movie, The Cabin in the Woods, a horror comedy he co-wrote with Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers director Joss Whedon. That Goddard’s subconscious is still haunted is testament to the volume of fake red stuff in his movie, which stars Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Jenkins. Why? Because Goddard shot Cabin in Vancouver way back in 2009, only to see its release delayed by more than two years due to the bankruptcy of the film’s original studio, MGM. That’s long enough for Hemsworth to have played the role of Thor twice, the second time in Whedon’s Avengers, which would arrive in cinemas just three weeks after Cabin. “We shot the film and had an amazing time,” says the Australian actor. “Then it disappeared for three years.” Here, in a piece originally published last April as the movie finally hit theaters, is one of the year’s best making-of stories.

For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.

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'Cabin in the Woods' director Drew Goddard on his lost weekend with Joss Whedon -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

In the spring of 2007, Drew Goddard — who’d gotten his start in Hollywood writing on Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and moved on to write episodes of AngelAliasLost, and the monster movie Cloverfield — was approached by Whedon with a crazy idea: Lock themselves in a hotel room for a weekend to write a horror movie. And not just any fright fest, but one that would work as a straightforward horror flick while also being somehow about the entire genre of horror flicks. Naturally, Goddard said yes.

Two years later, Goddard was directing, and Whedon producing, The Cabin in the Woods, but thanks to the MGM bankruptcy, it wasn’t until the film premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival that audiences got a chance to see it. It subsequently opened in theaters to rave reviews and an instant cult following, and in this exclusive clip from the Blu-ray (out Sept. 18), Whedon and Goddard talk about that lost weekend that got it all started. Check it out below, and then read on for Goddard’s further thoughts on working with Whedon, writing Steven Spielberg’s upcoming action spectacular Robopocalypse, as well as some seriously SPOILER-y talk about Cabin‘s much-discussed ending.  READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Hunger Games' wins with $21.5M, passes $500M worldwide; 'Three Stooges' and 'Cabin in the Woods' debut decently

For the fourth weekend in a row, The Hunger Games easily led the domestic box office, holding off three new wide releases from the top spot.

Lionsgate’s $90 million blockbuster adaptation earned $21.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period, marking a slim 32 percent drop from last weekend. All told, The Hunger Games has earned $337.1 million after 24 days and seems headed for a final domestic total of about $375 million. The only other 2012 releases likely to reach those sorts of numbers are franchise films The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Hunger Games' tops Friday with $6.5 million, 'Stooges' beat 'Cabin' for second

Katniss and her fellow tributes aren’t ready to give up the box office throne just yet!

The Hunger Games hasn’t left first place since its March 23 debut, and judging by Friday’s box office numbers, the thriller will enjoy a fourth frame atop the chart, too. Games took in an estimated $6.5 million yesterday, putting it on pace for about $20 million this weekend. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Cabin in the Woods' and 'Three Stooges' take on 'The Hunger Games'

Three new wide releases are stepping into the arena this weekend alongside 2012’s biggest hit so far, The Hunger Games, but none of them appear likely to dethrone the box office titan, which has grossed $312.7 million in its first 20 days in theaters.

Horror entry Cabin in the Woods has a better shot at reaching the top of the chart than slapstick comedy The Three Stooges or action thriller Lockout, but in the post-Easter frame, Katniss has her eyes on the top prize for one final weekend. Will she nab the victory?

Here’s how the box office may shake out:

1. The Hunger Games – $20 million

After three weekends atop the chart, The Hunger Games isn’t going anywhere. Last frame, the dystopian thriller dipped by 43 percent (that weekend was both boosted by Good Friday grosses and weakened by Easter Sunday grosses), so another drop of about 40 percent seems likely. That would give The Hunger Games about $20 million, lifting its total to $335 milion and keeping it on track for a $370 million finish.

2. Cabin in the Woods – $15 million

Lionsgate’s Drew Goddard-directed and Joss Whedon-produced horror entry has been sitting on the shelf for about three years, which is usually a sure sign of a stinker. In this case, Cabin in the Woods, which has earned glowing reviews overall, bucks the trend. After a buzzy run at SXSW, Cabin, which was made for a reported $30 million, is looking at a moderately successful opening weekend, but it will need to rely on strong word-of-mouth to become a legitimate hit. Although Lionsgate has marketed the film heavily, it’s been difficult for the studio to effectively communicate the film’s super-secret storyline, for fear of giving away the surprising plot — and thus taking away from the theatrical experience. Thankfully, ample buzz should overcome the confusion and help Cabin in the Woods gross $15 million this weekend.

3. The Three Stooges – $12 million

Fox’s $30 million slapstick comedy looks utterly antiquated in its comedic stylings, which has made marketing a challenge — although Stooges has earned surprisingly positive reviews. Some young males looking for a family option other than Mirror Mirror will rejoice in the goofy comedy’s release, but it’s more likely that general audiences are turned off by the little footage they’ve already seen. It might make about $12 million this frame.

4. Titanic 3D – $11 million

James Cameron’s blockbuster pulled out of port more slowly than the last live action re-release, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which debuted to $22.5 million. Still, it’s likely to hold better in the subsequent weeks than the frontloaded fanboy film. A 35 percent drop would give Titanic about $11 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period.

5. American Reunion – $10 million

The fourth installment of the American Pie franchise will face the same sort of second-weekend drop as most sequels at the box office. A decline of about 55 percent might give the comedy $10 million and keep it on track to be the lowest earner in the series.

Also entering theaters is the Guy Pearce/Maggie Grace thriller Lockout, which, despite an effective trailer, hasn’t garnered much buzz. It may earn about $6.5 million.

What will you be seeing this weekend?

'The Cabin in the Woods': How Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's 'insane frolic' became the year's most buzzed-about fright flick

“I still smell the blood in my sleep,” says Drew Goddard. The filmmaker is talking about the psychic aftershocks of shooting his debut movie, The Cabin in the Woods, a horror comedy he co-wrote with Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers director Joss Whedon. That Goddard’s subconscious is still haunted is testament to the volume of fake red stuff in his movie, which is released tomorrow and stars Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Jenkins. Why? Because Goddard shot Cabin in Vancouver way back in 2009, only to see its release delayed by more than two years due to the bankruptcy of the film’s original studio, MGM. That’s long enough for Hemsworth to have played the role of Thor twice, the second time in Whedon’s Avengers, which arrives in cinemas just three weeks after Cabin. “We shot the film and had an amazing time,” says the Australian actor. “Then it disappeared for three years.”

READ FULL STORY

'Cabin in the Woods': five new pics, and the long-awaited movie's complicated backstory

Cloverfield scribe and Lost executive producer Drew Goddard shot The Cabin in the Woods — the horror comedy he co-wrote with Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers director Joss Whedon — back in 2009 only to see its release delayed by more than two years thanks to the bankruptcy of the film’s original studio, MGM. That’s long enough for Cabin star Hemsworth to have played the role of Thor twice, the second time in Whedon’s Avengers, which arrives in cinemas just three weeks after Cabin.

Goddard’s waiting game officially ended on March 9, when the gloriously grotesque Cabin opened at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival. Though the wait isn’t quite over for the rabid pack of Whedonites and horror junkies anticipating the film’s April 13 release, EW has five new images and a bit of the film’s thrilling backstory to keep the blood lust at bay — at least for a little while.

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SXSW: 'Cabin in the Woods' director Drew Goddard's festival diary: BBQ with Robert Rodriguez, Bradley Whitford mom flirtation, and rain rain rain

Drew Goddard, the writer behind some of your favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AngelAlias, and Lost, made his feature directing debut with The Cabin in the Woods at the SXSW Film Festival last Friday night. Goddard co-wrote the highly anticipated horror film with producer Joss Whedon; it stars Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchison, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Jenkins. In his first SXSW diary entry, Goddard forecasted his expectations for his first time at the Austin mega-festival, some of them a bit tongue-in-cheek. Little did he know how accurate his predictions would be

Thursday, March 8 — DAY ONE

7:10 p.m. – Plane lands in Austin. The Austin airport smells like barbecue. This delights me to no end.

7:30 p.m. – It is monsooning right now in Austin. Weather reports are predicting the worst rainstorm to hit Austin in six years. The director in me immediately worries about how this will affect my actresses’ hair tomorrow. (Note for aspiring directors: When working, you will spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about how the elements will affect your actors’ hair and makeup on any given day. This is not something they teach you in film school.)  READ FULL STORY

SXSW: Joss Whedon says 'The Avengers' villains are NOT the Skrulls or the Kree

One of the most tantalizing mysteries about Marvel Studios’ The Avengers has been the identity of the mysterious creatures at the heart of the film’s world invasion plot. Are they the Skrulls? The Kree? The reptilian baddies from Galaxy Quest?

Turns out, it’s none of the above. At “A Conversation with Joss Whedon” at the SXSW festival, I asked the Avengers‘ writer-director to identify finally who these rogues are. “It’s the Vulcans,” Whedon joked. “I don’t know a lot about the Marvel universe, and I thought there were Vulcans. I know we’re going to get a lot of emails about that one.” After the audience laughter died down, Whedon actually answered the question with a surprising revelation: “I will say only this: It is not the Kree or the Skrulls.”  READ FULL STORY

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