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Box office preview: 'Oblivion' will Cruise to No. 1

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Only one new film is entering the fray this weekend, the Tom Cruise sci-fi adventure Oblvion. With no real competition, the film should easily top the chart, while The Place Beyond The Pines looks to break out in its wide release expansion.

Here’s how the box office may shake out:

1. Oblivion – $38 million
Tom Cruise has become a polarizing star over the past few years, but he’s still a considerable draw in major action tentpoles like the Universal release Oblivion, which cost about $120 million to produce. Oblivion will benefit from being the first big-budget spectacle to hit theaters since G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and it should play very well with young men as a result. (Morgan Freeman’s presence is always a reliable draw for men as well.) The film has gotten a strong, Inception-y marketing push from the studio, and it will get a boost from IMAX screens as well. Out in 3,782 theaters, Oblivion could earn about $38 million this weekend. READ FULL STORY

Interview with director Joseph Kosinski: 5 things to know before you see 'Oblivion'

In the year 2072, all that’s left of earth is a lot of dust, the remnants of our cities and structures, and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and Jack (Tom Cruise), the maintenance team just awaiting permission to come join the rest of humanity on a space station before they relocate to another planet. But, not all is as it seems in director Joseph Kosinski’s (Tron) latest sci-fi dystopia Oblivion. When a mysterious stranger crash lands on earth, Jack Harper begins to question everything he knows.

EW spoke with Kosinski about the world creation behind Oblivion, the state of the art technologies he used, and his love of Indiana Jones. Check out the interview below before you see the film, which opens in the US on Friday.

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China's growing importance to Hollywood: Tom Cruise, Joss Whedon, and other industry heavyweights weigh in

The next time the Avengers assemble on the big screen, don’t be surprised if you see them touch down at some point in China. Given the rapid, almost Hulk-like growth of the film market in that country over the past few years, Avengers director Joss Whedon is half-expecting to get a call any day now asking whether he can set part of the superhero sequel in a Chinese locale. “I’m working on the script right now, and if someone came to me and said, ‘We’re looking into doing a chunk of this in China’—well, I’d have to think about it,” Whedon says. “China is on my radar. It can’t not be at this point.”

As North American movie theater owners gather in Las Vegas this week for their annual convention, CinemaCon, the state of the domestic movie business isn’t looking so rosy, with this year’s box office revenue running 12 per cent behind 2012 and 3-D ticket sales continuing to slide. But pan across the globe to China, and the picture couldn’t be more different. If America’s long love affair with movies seems to have cooled somewhat lately, China is in the first blush of a passionate new romance. How passionate? Put it this way: When James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar opened in December 2009, there were only 13 IMAX screens in all of China. Today, there are 110, with some 140 more scheduled to open in the near future. “When I go to China, people will ask me for my autograph,” IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond says, adding drily, “That typically doesn’t happen in other places.”

With box office revenues rising 30% last year to $2.7 billion, China has now edged out Japan to become the second-largest film market in the world following the U.S. New movie screens are sprouting up across the country at a rate of roughly 10 per day, and some project that China could surpass the U.S. as the world’s top film territory within five years. It’s no surprise that Hollywood is eager to capitalize on that torrid growth as much as it possibly can. “China is on most producers’ minds all the time now,” says Barry Levine, producer of the sci-fi film Oblivion, which opens Friday. “It is a giant market if you can reach it. But you have to play it smartly.” READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Tom Cruise attached to star in 'Yukikaze'; Plus, Kate Upton is the other woman, more

• Tom Cruise is attached to star in an adaptation of Chohel Kamayashi’s Japanese sci-fi series Yukikaze. In the first book, when a porthole to another dimension opens up over Antarctica, hostile aliens (known as the JAM) start pouring through and a special combat force is created to force the JAM back through the porthole. The story revolves around Second Lieutenant Rei Fukai, who must travel solo through the passageway to gather as much information on the JAM as he can. “Yukikaze” refers to the call sign for his fighter plane, his only companion. Warner Bros. acquired the series and will distribute the film as well. Cruise is coming off of a particularly good weekend with the $61 million international opening for Oblivion and is probably even more eager for Doug Liman’s sci-fi pic All You Need is Kill to hit theaters on March 7, 2014. Cruise is also still in talks to star in an adaptation of the 60s television show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. [Deadline]

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'Oblivion' premiere: Tom Cruise and the cast debate the future's best gadgets

With most of civilization wiped out by an alien invasion, the ensuing nuclear counterattack, and the natural disasters triggered by the aforementioned war, Earth 2077, as imagined in the new Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion, is a pretty bleak and empty place.

“When Joe [Kosinski, director] first told me the ideas for what this world would look like, I was instantly pulled in,” Tom Cruise told EW on the black carpet at the film’s U.S. premiere last night at the Dolby Theatre. “I thought seeing iconic landmarks retaken by the Earth would be cool visuals and very different than how we normally see the future portrayed in films. And I loved that despite how destroyed the planet was, my character still found beauty in it.”

As sparse as this future is, it still contains plenty of another sci-fi staple — cool gadgets and transportation — from the aerodynamic ship with rotating driver’s seat and the killer spheres with sniper skills to the future food and exercise tread-wheel found in the most amazing live/work space in the sky. While the cast and crew all agreed that they could do without the war of the worlds, they did wish they could have brought some of the movie’s currently un-invented tech back from the future.

Below are their picks for which toy of tomorrow they’d most like to own today: READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Hugh Jackman attached to 'Six Years'; Plus, Tom Cruise and 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E', Nick Jonas, Sarah Silverman, more

• Hugh Jackman is attached to star in an adaptation of mystery and thriller author Harlan Coben’s upcoming novel Six Years. The story is about Jake Fisher who loses his love to another man. When Fisher attends the other man’s funeral to see his long-lost love six years later, he realizes that the widow is not the same woman, and as a result, he begins to doubt everything. It’s still very early in the process — Coben’s novel has yet to be released (out March 19), and there is currently no director or screenwriter attached. Guillaume Canet adapted the Coben triller Tell No One for the big screen. As for Jackman, the Oscar-nominated actor can be seen next in The Wolverine, in theaters July 26. [THR]

• Tom Cruise is in early talks to star in Warner Bros. adaptation of the 1960s NBC series Man from U.N.C.L.E, about a pair of secret agents who work for the international agency U.N.C.L.E, or, United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Guy Ritchie is currently attached to direct. The film adaptation has been in the works for years. At one point, Steven Soderbergh was attached to direct George Clooney, and when Clooney had to drop out due to an injury, basically every current Hollywood dreamboat was considered for the role, including Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender.  [Deadline]

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Visions of the past come alive in newest trailer for 'Oblivion' with Tom Cruise -- VIDEO

Tom Cruise’s movie Oblivion opens April 19, and in this new trailer, we get to see just a little bit more of the mystery unfold.

60 years after an invasion that destroys Earth, Jack Harper (Cruise) is a curious maintenance man who repairs security drones. But his curiosity (of course) gets him into trouble when he discovers a survivor who jogs his memory and opens the door for more questions.

The trailer begins with Harper in some woods by a lake, a contrast from the past images we’ve seen from the film, and starkly different from the images that dominate the rest of the trailer — a wasteland of a planet, with bits of familiar landmarks rising above the dismal gray landscape.
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Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman face 'Oblivion' in new posters -- EXCLUSIVE

Oblivion is taking Tom Cruise to a now-familiar place — a sci-fi setting where a disconnected soul confronts hard choices and a mystery that makes him question his assumptions about the world around him. That was the case in Minority Report, Vanilla Sky and War of the Worlds and it’s also the case in the April 12 film that stars Cruise as Jack Harper, a repair worker in a distant future where  (like WALL-E or the Maytag repairman) his days are defined by his solitary duties. The film is directed by Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) and based his graphic novel.

Some new images from the film nod to the tone Kosinski was seeking as he shot in 4K resoultion in Iceland and parts of the United States. The film costars Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, and Melissa Leo. Here’s more from the Universal Pictures summary:

“On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man’s confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind. Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete.Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautifulstranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.”

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New 'Oblivion' trailer sheds light on Tom Cruise's sci-fi adventure -- VIDEO

The international trailer for Tom Cruise’s upcoming “WALL•E meets Battlestar Galactica” movie Oblivion reveals a little more about the film’s dystopic premise than its first trailer — and shines more of a spotlight on both Olga Kurylenko, who plays a mysterious woman from Cruise’s past, and Andrea Riseborough, who plays his semi-sinister colleague.

The film, set 60 years after an alien invasion that destroyed Earth, follows Cruise’s Jack Harper — not to be confused with Jack Reacher — as he works to repair security drones on the ravaged planet. When Jack defies orders by rescuing an oddly familiar stranger from a crashed spaceship, he ignites a chain of events that exposes everything he’s been told about the invasion as a lie. Morgan Freeman also co-stars. Check out the second trailer below.

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Christopher McQuarrie 'deciding to direct' the next 'Mission: Impossible'?

It’s been a little over a year since the Brad Bird-directed, IMAX-amplified, heavily-punctuated Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol. The movie was a box office hit, a critical sensation, and a boon to the Dubai tourism board. It also rejuvenated the Mission: Impossible franchise. Producer-star Tom Cruise has been circling another sequel, and early rumors had his Jack Reacher writer-director Christopher McQuarrie as a strong possibility to helm the five-quel. McQuarrie’s best-known work was the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Usual Suspects, but he’s lately become a Cruise favorite, having written Valkyrie and co-scripted the upcoming All You Need Is Kill – a movie which, we need to stress, is still titled All You Need Is Kill, thank goodness. READ FULL STORY

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