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Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie thriller 'Maggie' gets U.S. distribution

In the genre-subverting apocalyptic thriller Maggie, which Lionsgate just acquired  for North American distribution, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a father grappling with his daughter’s imminent zombie-ness.

John Scott 3’s Black List script imagines a world overtaken by a zombie virus, but focuses the trauma on the relationship between a father and his daughter (Abigail Breslin) as she slowly devolves into one of the cannibalistic undead. Henry Hobson, whose main credits are for designing title sequences for video games, television shows, and films such as The Help and The Walking Dead, directed the film, which also stars Joely Richardson.

Maggie has all the ingredients that spell commercial excitement—a compelling script and an ‘A’ list superstar surrounded by a world-class cast,” said Lionsgate’s Co-Chief Operating Officer and Motion Picture Group President Steve Beeks. “We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who turns in a performance that marks a dramatic departure from his action persona, and partner with our friends at Lotus Entertainment on a film that will resonate with thriller aficionados everywhere.”

Lotus co-chairs Bill Johnson and Jim Seibel, who produced and will handle international sales, added: “Maggie takes the zombie genre in exciting new directions, and it offers something for everyone—star power, horror, suspense, and riveting performances that will keep moviegoers on the edge of their seats.”

Maggie does not have a set release date yet, but it’s expected to arrive in theaters in early 2015.

Shlocky charms: The crazy rise and 'terrifying' return of 'Leprechaun'

How did a low budget horror movie about a diminutive Irish monster spawn five sequels, a new reboot, and the career of Jennifer Aniston? EW tracks the deranged history of the Leprechaun franchise.

British actor Warwick Davis says he has “specific” fans—well-wishers who want to discuss just one of the several fantasy franchises in which he has appeared. “People talk about Star Wars, people talk about Harry Potter,” he explains, “and people talk about Leprechaun.

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Box office preview: Will teen drama 'If I Stay' top 'Sin City' sequel?

It takes a special kind of sequel to be able to withstand a nine-year gap between releases, and unfortunately for Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, Sin City: A Dame to Kill for doesn’t appear to be up to the task. Instead, the YA adaptation If I Stay looks poised to take first place this weekend.

Here’s how things might play out.

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Box office preview: 'Expendables 3' to challenge 'Turtle' power

In what just as easily could have been a box office showdown from 1990, Sylvester Stallone and his buddies face off against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at theaters this weekend. And even though The Expendables 3 boasts a star-studded action hero cast of a just-bygone era, the Turtles might still win out.

The long-gestating adaptation of The Giver opens wide as well, playing alongside the buddy comedy Let’s Be Cops, which hit theaters on Wednesday. Indie darling Boyhood expands to just under 800 theaters, too.

Here’s how things might play out on this late summer weekend.

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Adrian Garcia Bogliano starts shooting black comedy 'Scherzo Diabolico'

Scherzo-Diabolico

Director Adrián García Bogliano has yet to release his most recently completed film, the werewolf tale Late Phases. But EW can reveal that the prolific filmmaker has commenced principal photography on his next movie in Mexico City. The film is called Scherzo Diabolico and, according to the official release, it “brings Bogliano back from the supernatural realm to a wild black comedy about a bored and frustrated accountant who decides to kidnap a girl who will become his worst nightmare.”

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Awesome zombie movie 'The Battery' now has a making-of doc

The-Battery

How do you make one of the best low-budget horror movies of the past few years? With a lot of booze and no underwear. At least, that’s what the folks responsible for zombie film The Battery claim in the trailer for a making-of documentary—which will be included among the bonus extras when Scream Factory releases the film on Blu-ray and DVD, September 16.

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Box office report: 'Lucy' slays 'Hercules' with $44 million debut

Hercules‘s muscles were no match for Lucy‘s drug-enhanced brain at the box office this weekend. Audiences turned out in earnest to see the Scarlett Johansson thriller, which earned an expectation-shattering $44 million from 3,173 theaters in its first weekend.

Not only is it director Luc Besson’s biggest opening, Lucy is also a career high for Scarlett Johansson as a lead. Audiences for the original feature were evenly split between genders, 35 percent were under the age of 25, and 29 percent were Hispanic. But even though the EuropaCorp-produced, Universal-distributed project appealed to a wide demographic swath, those who did see the R-rated action film were a little less kind in the exit polls, slapping Lucy with a poor C+ Cinema Score.

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20th Century Fox Comic-Con panel: Colin Firth kicks butt in 'Kingsman'

20th Century Fox took control of Hall H for two hours on Friday to unveil some of their upcoming films. The big surprise? No talk of (or footage shown from) next summer’s Fantastic Four or of X-Men: Apocalypse. But there were plenty of other highlights:

- During the panel for September’s The Maze Runner, star Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf) accidentally revealed that a certain character dies in the film after he was asked what was the most difficult scene to shoot. “This is going horribly,” he (sorta) joked later. Fans also got a look at a new trailer for the film and a thrilling sequence introducing viewers to Runner‘s main villains called Grievers, who sort of resemble a giant spider with robotic arms.

- October’s The Book of Life is a vibrant animated film produced by Guillermo del Toro and featuring the voices of Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate and Zoe Saldana. But it was a different voice that stole the show in Hall H: rapper Biz Markie showed up to perform his classic “Just a Friend,” which is used in Life.

- In a message taped on the South African set of Homeland, Rupert Friend introduced the first trailer for Hitman: Agent 47.

- Meanwhile, Jake Johnson missed the panel for Let’s Be Cops but taped a comedic message from New Orleans where he’s shooting Jurassic World.

*The biggest highlight of the 20th panel was probably Kingsman: The Secret Service starring Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson. The pair were both in attendance and were featured in two lengthy clips that tease what looks to be a really fun spy movie (Jackson’s evil villain speaks with a lisp and Firth’s character has a weaponized umbrella). Director Matthew Vaughn taped a message from the UK along with Star Wars‘ Mark Hamill who appears in the film as well.

For more Comic-Con coverage, stay tuned to EW.com.

Box office preview: 'Lucy' aims to dominate 'Hercules'

Hercules might be a legendary warrior, but Lucy‘s brain capacity will likely prove too formidable a foe for the Greek demigod at the box office. The Scarlett Johansson-led action film looks poised to ravage Dwayne Johnson’s sword-and-sandals epic as both debut on 3,000+ screens this weekend.

Rob Reiner’s And So It Goes, starring Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas also opens in 1,800 theaters, which could possibly break the top five with $8 million, closing out a quiet and struggling July at the box office before Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy arrives next weekend.

Here’s how things might play out.

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5 things Hollywood learned about Latino moviegoers this summer

For kids in school, summer is typically spent catching up on reading lists and assigned homework between hours spent at the swimming pool and with friends at summer camp (not necessarily in that order). But many professionals working in the entertainment industry—whether as producers, journalists, actors, or producers—spent this summer learning about Latino moviegoers. (That’s largely thanks to an exclusive series on Hispanic film consumers published at TheWrap.)

From the growing importance of Hispanic females at the box office to the expanding movie preferences of Latino film fans, here are a few essential—takeaways about Hispanics that got Hollywood’s attention this summer.

1. Hispanic women over age 25 are the most frequent moviegoers. Summer films like Transformers: Age of Extinction, Godzilla and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are meant to capitalize on the appetites of young, mostly male audiences, but it turns out that Latina movie lovers headed to the movies more this summer often than any other age or ethnic group. According to a study conducted for The Wrap by market research firm C4, about 20 percent of Hispanic women watched this summer’s major releases—and in every case except for The Fault in Our Stars, those buying movie tickets were over the age of 25.

2. Hispanic audiences go to movies of all genres. Horror and family flicks used to be considered standard money makers among Latino audiences (the smash success of Guillermo del Toro’s Mama and the Lego movie were largely driven by Hispanic audiences). This summer, hits like 22 Jump Street (a comedy), Fault in Our Stars (a drama) and Edge of Tomorrow (a thriller) were all heavily attended by Latinos, who made up at least 20 percent of the opening week audience—proving that just like in political elections, their preferences aren’t monolithic.

3. Twenty is a magic number. When it comes to Hispanic movie lovers, that is. According to Nielsen/Univision research conducted for The Wrap, Latino ticket buyers are now Hollywood’s most valuable audience, accounting for at least 20 percent of ticket sales opening weekend for the highest-grossing movies in May and June. “You don’t have a major hit without Hispanic moviegoers,” Chris Aronson, Fox’s president of domestic distribution, told TheWrap.

And consider this: Latinos purchased 25 percent of the tickets sold in 2013 in the U.S. though they account for just 17 percent of the U.S. population, according to a study published by the Motion Picture Association of America last year. Those statistics are the driving force for a growing number of creative agencies that specialize in helping studios market films to Hispanic moviegoers, who tailor media campaigns to appeal to an audience that cares deeply about culture, family-friendly content, and Spanish-language media.

4. Tacos and margaritas now mean big money for cinemas. It’s no secret that overpriced popcorn and Big Gulp-sized drinks earn major dollars for movie theaters, but a diversified menu at the concession stand is a big draw for Latino moviegoers. Fajitas, chicken wraps, tacos, dishes spiced with chipotle peppers, and specialty cocktails are now available at AMC’s 15 dine-in theaters nationwide, part of an industry-wide push for diverse dining choices and alcohol offerings that aims to capitalize on the fact that Hispanic moviegoers overindex in their purchase of concessions and alcohol.

“Our dine-in theaters, while not specifically targeting a certain demo, have a seasonal menu that would line up closer to a Hispanic moviegoing population in terms of food,” AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan explained to TheWrap.

5. The Latino presence in film—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes—remains alarmingly low. Despite the presence of Latinos in summer films like like Sex Tape (starring Cuban-American actress Cameron Diaz) and The Purge: Anarchy (with its predominantly Latino cast), there are “fewer Latino lead actors in the entertainment industry today, than there were seventy years ago,” a recent study by the Columbia University Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race shows.

And it gets worse: When Latinos are on camera, they are typically portrayed in roles that lean heavily on stereotypes—Latinos are often cast as criminals, law enforcers, cheap labor, and hypersexualized beings, the study found. And according to the study, when it comes to behind-the-scenes talent, Hispanics account for just 2.3 percent of movie directors, about 2 percent of producers, and 6 percent of writers.

“The success of a few Latino stars has created a widespread perception that media diversity in the U.S. is significantly improving,” said Frances Negrón-Muntaner, director of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and the study’s lead researcher in a statement. “But our findings indicate that, in some ways, it is getting worse.”

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