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Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o among 271 Academy invitees

Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave were two of the 271 artists and industry leaders invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which determines nominations and winners at the annual Oscars. The entire list of Academy membership—which numbers about 6,000—isn’t public information so the annual invitation list is often the best indication of the artists involved in the prestigious awards process. It’s worth noting that invitations need to be accepted in order for artists to become members; some artists, like two-time Best Actor winner Sean Penn, have declined membership over the years.

The Academy has been criticized in recent years for being too white, too male, too old, and too American; and this year’s class makes efforts to be more well-rounded and international. Hany Abu-Assad, Jean-Marc Vallée, Denis Villeneuve, and Thomas Vinterberg are some of the international directors invited—though they’re all men. Joining Nyong’o in the actors branch are June Squibb, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Sally Hawkins, among other women.

Click below for the list of invitees: READ FULL STORY

'Frank' trailer: Michael Fassbender gets eccentric in papier-mache head -- VIDEO

Actors love the challenge of a disguise–whether it’s a weight gain or loss, a prosthetic nose, a wig, or full-on CGI transformation, it signifies commitment with a capital “c” to the casual onlooker. In Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, handsome Michael Fassbender takes the idea of a disguise one step further to play the idiosyncratic lead singer of an already peculiar fringe pop group: He wears a papier-mache head for the entirety of the film.

The oddball comedy, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, introduces viewers to this band of misfits through Domhnall Gleeson’s wide-eyed, blogging Jon, a wannabe who joins the band–which includes Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Clara, a deadpan, tell-it-like-it-is theremin player–as they grasp for authenticity and artistic inspiration, while also trying to tolerate Frank’s whimsical mode of living.

Check out the first U.S. trailer after the jump. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' still leads Memorial Day movies with $90.7 million

X-Men: Days of Future Past is easily cementing its spot as the top earner this Memorial Day weekend, bringing in $90.7 million by Sunday and proving that nothing kicks off the unofficial start of summer quite like the time-honored tradition of seeing superheroes and villains duke it out for the good of the country.

The time-travel film — directed by Bryan Singer and starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence — is now on track to make at least $110 million over the long weekend, making it the second-largest holiday opening for the Fox franchise. (X-Men: The Last Stand took in $1o2.7 million in its first three days of release during Memorial Day weekend 2006). As expected, X-Men: Days of Future Past did well among international moviegoers, opening in 119 countries and territories for a global revenue of $261.78 million. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' opens with $36 million on Friday

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, the U.S. government is terrified that mutants might one day take over. And that’s exactly what they did on Friday, earning an estimated $36 million on the film’s first day in theaters. That debut makes it the third-highest movie opening of the year. (Last weekend, Godzilla crushed the competition with $38.5 million, while Marvel flick Captain America: The Winter Soldier took in a cool $36.9 million in April.)

Starring veteran mutants Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, and Ian McKellan, and X-Men: First Class alums James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence, the Bryan Singer-directed time-travel movie was the seventh X-Men film to date — and the most expensive, costing 20th Century Fox an estimated $200 million. EW’s Chris Nashawaty gave it a B+, saying: “Singer’s return in the pretzel-logic pop fantasia X-Men: Days of Future Past is so triumphant because of how effortless he makes connecting the dots seem. It’s an epic that couldn’t be more Byzantine on paper but scans with ease on-screen.” With its opening day gross across nearly 4,000 U.S. theaters, X-Men: Days of Future Past looks to be a bonafide summer blockbuster that will likely  continue to dominate over the four-day holiday weekend. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Michael Fassbender eyes 'The Light Between Oceans'; Plus, Jessica Chastain, more

• Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) is in talks to star in the Derek Cianfrance-directed adaptation of M.L. Stedman‘s 2012 novel The Light Between Oceans. The story follows a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who discover an infant and a dead body in a rowboat and decide to raise the child as their own in post-World War I Australia. Fassbender can be seen next in X-Men: Days of Future Past (out May 23). [THR] READ FULL STORY

Ridley Scott and 'Green Lantern' scribe readying 'Prometheus 2' for 2016

Prometheus 2 — or a Prometheus sequel by some other name — might be in theaters as soon as March 4, 2016.

On Friday, Fox announced plans to release an untitled Ridley Scott movie on that date, and yesterday, The Wrap reported that Green Lantern writer Michael Green was re-writing the Prometheus 2 script with that target date in mind. (Green and Scott are also collaborating on a Blade Runner sequel.)

Production could begin on Prometheus 2 as soon as this fall, after Scott finishes his Moses film, Exodus, starring Christian Bale. According to the report, Michael Fassbender will return for the sequel, as the script calls for multiple android “David”s.

20th Century Fox confirmed that Green was now working on the script. Scott did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.

'Frank' trailer: Michael Fassbender covers up with giant, fake head -- VIDEO

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Michael Fassbender plays a musical genius who can’t seem to face life “face on” in the film Frank.

The offbeat comedy directed by Lenny Abrahamson premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and tells the story of the avant-garde pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Fassbender) as they travel to perform at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas. Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal star as Frank’s bandmates. The story, written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats) and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), is loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of cult musician and comedy legend Chris Sievey, as well as other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.

The film will be released in the U.K. May 9, with a domestic release planned for later this year. Watch the trailer below: READ FULL STORY

'Love is Strange' and 'Frank' both get post-Sundance deals

After premiering at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, two films have been acquired for theatrical release.

Sony Pictures Classics announced Friday that they have acquired all North American, German, and Scandinavian rights to Ira Sachs’ feature Love Is Strange starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a longtime couple who lose their New York City home shortly after getting married and, as a result, must live apart, relying on friends and family to make ends meet. “Filmmaker Ira Sachs, one of our most acute observers of humanity in modern times, has made his most accomplished film featuring two of the greatest actors in the English speaking world at the peak of their form. It is a privilege to collaborate with them on releasing Love Is Strange,” Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement. The all-star cast also includes Marisa Tomei, Darren Burrows, Charlie Tahan, and Cheyenne Jackson.

The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures also announced Friday that they have acquired North American rights to Frank, an offbeat comedy directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare at Goats) and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Frank stars Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gylenhaal, Scoot McNairy, and Michael Fassbender as the titular character, a brilliant and eccentric musician who wears a giant fake head at all times.

“All of us at Magnolia were completely taken with Frank,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “It reaffirms the considerable talents of Lenny Abrahamson, who has delivered a beautiful, poignant, and hilarious film that speaks on many levels about being an artist. That Michael Fassbender can be so affecting while encased in a papier-mâché head proves that he is one of the greatest actors working today.” Magnolia is eyeing a summer 2014 theatrical release for the film.

'Frank' star Maggie Gyllenhaal joins Michael Fassbender's head at EW Sundance Lounge

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Director Lenny Abrahamson and his stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy came by EW’s Sundance Lounge Saturday to talk about their movie Frank, which also stars Michael Fassbender as a musical genius… wearing a giant ceramic head… the entire film.

Fassbender himself couldn’t make it, but we did get to spend time with the head. Check out the video interview below. READ FULL STORY

Sundance 2014: Kristen Stewart as a Guantanamo guard? I didn't buy it

On Entourage, Vincent Chase would do his dumb-whore popcorn movies (like Aqua-Man) and feel humiliated, but the truth is that he rarely looked more hapless than when he was making one of his “integrity” projects — like his Pablo Escobar biopic, or the I’m-just-Vinnie-from-the-block indie Queens Boulevard, which wound up getting showcased at Sundance. If Entourage wasn’t about Vincent Chase but was about Kristen Stewart instead, her Escobar-meets-Queens Boulevard wince-worthy integrity dud might be Camp X-Ray, in which Stewart plays a guard at Guantanamo Bay who winds up uncovering the big lie of American anti-terrorist policy by making friends with one of the prison camp’s detainees. Has he been unjustly imprisoned? Maybe, but as the film sees it, the real injustice is that he’s been locked up with no end in sight, and he’s nice. READ FULL STORY

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