Why James Wan Probably Won’t Direct Another Conjuring Universe Movie, According To Peter Safran

The Warrens cross themselves in Annabelle Creation

James Wan has an impressive history when it comes to launching and contributing to franchises, but he also notably doesn’t stick around in the director’s chair for very long with them. Going back to the start of his career, he’s brought us Saw, Insidious, and chapters of both Fast & Furious and the DC Extended Universe, but of all the direct follow-ups to those movies (a total of 11), he’s only directed two.

This is a trend that most recently continued with the developing Conjuring 3, with Michael Chaves (The Curse Of La Llorona) set to replace Wan after he directed the first two chapters in the series. This was seen as disappointing, if not unsurprising news, but now a bit of salt is being put in the wound, as producer Peter Safran has gone on the record saying that he believes the filmmaker’s time helming Conjuring Universe titles in general is probably at an end:

I don’t think he will [direct another Conjuring movie]. That’s just me. My instinct is that he won’t. I think he really left everything out on the field with Conjuring 2. Just being by his side as he made that movie, I feel that he put everything that he’d learned up to that point into that film, from character development to scares to crafting sequences, just everything. I love the movie and I think that he felt like he did it, he really showed people exactly what he wanted to show them. The skills of a filmmaker telling a great story.

The subject of James Wan’s future with the Conjuring Universe was one that surfaced when I joined a small group of journalists to visit the set of the in-production Annabelle Comes Home on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California late last year. After having toured the Warren home and interviewed some of the lead actresses, we had the chance to sit down with Peter Safran and get his thoughts and opinions about the Annabelle trilogy-capper, and it was at the end of the conversation that the Wan question came up.

Peter Safran and James Wan have a built a solid working relationship, having made six films together in the last six years, so when the former expresses a particular read about the latter, it’s probably based on strong intuition. Furthermore, he definitely has a great beat on what the future holds for The Conjuring Universe, as he has produced every title released as part of the franchise so far.

On beyond the fact that James Wan seems to have a certain “rarely look back” perspective, Peter Safran brings up some really great points about The Conjuring 2. That movie is a beautiful and seriously scary piece of work, and one could definitely see why Wan may not feel compelled to return to the universe as a director going forward, instead pursuing other creative endeavors (like, perhaps, the developing Aquaman 2… which hasn’t yet nailed Wan down to direct just yet).

Of course, many in this situation would point out that it’s typically never smart to ever say “never” in this industry, as circumstances change all the time in Hollywood, and tomorrow James Wan could be struck with an idea he feels he must personally execute. Peter Safran most definitely left this possibility on the board with his answer, making particular note of Wan’s close relationship with the horror genre over the last 15 years. Said the producer,

I would be surprised if he ended up doing another one, but you never know. Guys like James, for him scares, it’s in their blood. They need an outlet for it at some point, so maybe he is getting it as a producer. There is something very compelling about sitting there just wanting to scare the shit out of people.

Even if he’s not directing, James Wan’s relationship with The Conjuring Universe is as strong as ever, as he has produced every sequel and spin-off that has been made thus far, including the upcoming Annabelle Comes Home. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.

On the subject of the third Annabelle film, it will be arriving in a theater near you very soon, as it is set up to be a nice summer scare-fest with its June 28th release date. Written and directed by Gary Dauberman (who makes his directorial debut after scripting all of the Annabelles and The Nun), the story is set over the course of one night as Judy Warren (McKenna Grace) and her babysitter (Madison Iseman) are tormented by the movie’s titular doll. Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, and Katie Sarife co-star.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stories from my Annabelle Comes Home set visit, so be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend over the next few days for more!

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Pet Sematary Could Get A Prequel

Pet Sematary Jud standing on the deadfall

While any novel being adapted for the screen is going to lose some pieces that are deemed unnecessary for the film to flow, Pet Sematary gave up a lot of real estate when it came to the story of its iconic next door neighbor Jud Crandall. It doesn’t hurt the film’s narrative, though viewers familiar with the source novel or even the 1989 adaptation might miss those parts of the story they remember pertaining to the big lesson Jud learned when dealing with the titular burial ground. Those fans might be consoled by the fact those pieces of the story are not only fresh in producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura’s mind, he’s open to adapting them into their own story.

Naturally, it feels like this whole conversation started with the fact that the 2019 adaptation’s radically different ending leaves some room for a sequel to Pet Sematary; and that notion is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Regardless, while making the rounds with the press, Di Bonaventura expressed that going forward isn’t the direction that intrigues him most with this particular story. Speaking to that point in one interview, he laid out his thoughts as follows:

I generally don’t start thinking about [sequels] until they’re a success. I think if there’s anything here, there’s a prequel. I think if you look at the book, we didn’t cover all that stuff that happens before the Creed family moves in. So, I think there’s a movie there, and I think I’d be particularly interested in doing that, because, again, it’s the source material and you are going toward something that also has a lot of crazy, creepy feelings about it.

With Pet Sematary’s 2019 refresh already grossing almost double its production costs, there’s a case to be made for the film’s commercial viability. Not only does it have the Stephen King brand name working in its favor, but the film’s story is also one of the more popular titles out of King’s catalog. What’s more, the story of Jud Grandall’s youth and the local experiences with the old Micmac burial ground are ripe for fans — old and new — to see brought to the big screen.

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura’s remarks to Consequence of Sound during his time at this year’s SXSW festival pretty much sum up why he’d want to explore this particular avenue of franchise extension, and, in my opinion, his reasoning’s sound. But what about the story material? Well, fans of the novel know that Jud’s story about how various pets, and eventually war vet Timmy Baterman, were buried in that stony, supernatural soil turned out. But there’s so much to that particular story that a prequel film could easily inhabit that earlier era, and would only require a bit of padding out to make a unique narrative.

Pet Sematary isn’t even the first Stephen King property to find itself looking towards the prequel treatment as of late, as Season 2 of Hulu’s Castle Rock anthology is going to follow young Annie Wilkes from Misery, and her path to unstable evil. The big difference here is that Jud Crandall’s backstory, as well as that of the town that he inhabits, provides an advantage to expanding the world that the story of Pet Sematary inhabits.

This universe is already built to accommodate this prequel, as Pet Sematary does sneak in references to these past events. Most notably, when Jason Clarke’s Louis Creed is researching Ludlow’s rather colorful history, he comes across a newspaper story discussing Timmy Baterman, now updated to be a veteran of the Vietnam War, rather than his service taking place during World War II in the original novel’s time frame.

Strangely enough, it sounds like some of the storied past of Pet Sematary almost made it into the finished product of directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s reboot, as Lorenzo Di Bonaventura shared the following details, courtesy of an interview with /Film:

Do we get to meet young Jud? There’s a lot of opportunity I think that we don’t have to make up out of whole cloth. As fans of the book, I know for me I’ve increasingly liked the idea that that’s how we would approach it. … Yeah, and one of the things we did try to get in is we tried to get the Micmacs in. At one point we had written an opening scene where you see them flee and you’re left with some information but not too much information about the why of it. Less about establishing what it is they’re running [from] and more establishing what is the thing that’s freaking them out.

It’s certainly not lost on Di Bonaventura that Jud Crandall’s story has a lot of potential, should the decision makers at Paramount find themselves in the mood to further resurrect their legacy property. Though given the studio’s recent attempts to bring back some of previous hits through sequels, like Coming To America 2, and reboots, like the smash hit Bumblebee, this has to have been a thought that already crossed several minds before Pet Sematary even opened.

Whether or not this story becomes the next entry in Pet Sematary’s canon remains to be seen, as the film’s only been out for a little over a week. The next couple of weekends will undoubtedly be crucial to such a prospect, and if the numbers add up, it looks like there’s some room to scare up some more box office horror in the sleepy town of Ludlow, Maine. After all, old Jud was right when he said that sometimes dead is better. At the same time, why let the dead rest, when they’re having such a good time?

Pet Sematary is in theaters now, but if you’re looking for more box office excitement, our 2019 release schedule is the place you should be to find it. Though if you’re dead set on seeking out more Stephen King adaptations, we have a special guide to projects strictly from the author’s pen that are currently on track for release and production.

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Godzilla Vs. Kong Has Wrapped In Australia, According To The Director

Fans of Godzilla are already excited because Godzilla: King of the Monsters is almost here. The film will pit the classic movie monsters against several of his famous foes from the Japanese Toho films of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. However, King of the Monsters is designed to only be a step on the road toward the major showdown that is Godzilla Vs. Kong. That showdown is now one step closer to reality, as Adam Wingard, the director of both films, recently announced that principal photography on the monster showdown has finished filming in Australia.

Australia was the primary filming location for Godzilla Vs. Kong. It’s unclear if finishing production in Australia, as Adam Wingard revealed on Instagram (via comicbook.com) means that principal photography for the entire movie is over. It’s possible there is more work to be done on location elsewhere. However, with a release date for the film already set for March of 2020, production should be wrapping up very quickly if this isn’t the end.

With Godzilla: King of the Monsters still not even out in theaters yet, the details of Godzilla Vs. Kong are being kept more tightly under wraps than even what we’re used to seeing with most recent tent pole releases. It’s very likely that knowing too much about Godzilla Vs. Kong would reveal a great deal about what is set to happen in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Godzilla Vs. Kong will bring together the version of the giant lizard monster from 2014’s Godzilla and the forthcoming sequel and put him up against the version of King Kong that was introduced in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. In both sets of movies, the giant monster is mostly viewed as a hero and ally to humanity, at least as long as humanity doesn’t try to kill them, so why the two will apparently be fighting, is unclear. Ultimately, fighting is what these giant monsters do and it’s part of the reason that we like to watch them. The context is far less important.

The fact that Godzilla Vs. Kong went into production so soon after Godzilla: King of the Monsters wrapped certainly showed that the studio had a lot of faith in both projects. While various cinematic universes, like Universal’s Dark Universe, have faltered out of the gate, this one has been a bit more successful and has continued forward. Nobody waited to be sure King of the Monsters made money before green lighting the next entry in the series.

Of course, at this point Godzilla Vs. Kong may actually be the end of the story. We don’t know what the plans are for the franchise after this. That may very well come down to a question of box office. If the film is so successful that it’s clear the fans want more, we may very well get it.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be here next month, followed by Godzilla Vs. Kong in 2020.

9 Stephen King Movies As Bone Chilling As Pet Sematary And IT

Stephen King is an undisputed master of American literature, especially when it comes to the worlds of horror and suspense. When you get to his level of prolific fright making, the scares can come pretty fast and furiously, as evidenced in King’s very own portfolio of masterworks. As one might guess, that leads to a lot of potential for film adaptations to bring some of these iconic moments from King’s pages to proper life on the silver screen.

With last weekend’s unveiling of Pet Sematary, as well as this September’s return to Derry for IT: Chapter 2, it seems like a good time to revisit some of the most notable versions of Stephen King’s work hitting the big screen. While they span the realms of reality, as well as that of the supernatural, they all have one thing in common: each one of them is absolutely bone chilling, and ready to creep you out.

The Shining Jack Nicholson peeking out menacingly through the bathroom door

The Shining

It’s true that Stephen King has gone on record more than once as to not being a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining. But what’s interesting about this particular case of an author disregarding the movie version of one of their books is the fact that fans still pretty much rally behind this film. While it may not be the note-for-note story that King had in mind, it’s still a film that speaks to the darker sensibilities of the author and his work. And with an adaptation of the sequel, Doctor Sleep, heading our way in September, this will be required viewing for anyone who wants a good scare, and the background needed to get even more into the continuing adventures of Danny Torrance.

Gerald's Game Bruce Greenwood looks at Carla Gugino, handcuffed to the bed

Gerald’s Game

Netflix seems to be a good place to find the latest and greatest in horror in the streaming realm, and the streaming service has even gotten a couple of Stephen King adaptations to prove it! The first one we’ll mention is director Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game, which stars Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood. With the titular Gerald dropping dead of a heart attack, the film focuses mostly on his wife, Jessie, who is handcuffed to the bed of their secluded cabin. What was supposed to be a harmless sex game turns into a battle of sanity and survival, and Flanagan jumps between the worlds of reality and fantasy in such a way that they blend into a cohesive and very mind-bending whole.

Misery James Caan looks at the shaving kit Kathy Bates presents him


Within the heart of director Rob Reiner’s films from the 1990s is one of Stephen King’s most frightening stories grounded in reality: Misery. It’s Reiner’s hand that guided Kathy Bates to her Academy Award win for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes, the antagonist at the heart of the film, and just on her performance alone this film has quite a head of steam. But when taking the full picture into account, including James Caan’s frightened captive, and the suspense surrounding whether or not he’ll escape his the clutches of his biggest/most obsessed fan, it’s clearly a fantastic adaptation of a nightmare that only King could dream up on the page. Either way, the folks behind Season 2 of Castle Rock may want to revisit this one, just to make sure they nail Annie’s origin story in the new season.

The Mist Thomas Jane holds a lantern to one of the bugs outside the store

The Mist

Sometimes, in rare cases like writer/director Frank Darabont’s adaptation of The Mist, an ending presents itself that ties things together even better than the source material did. So it was a surprise to even Stephen King himself when Darabont not only crafted a movie that captured the dire straits of the characters who find themselves facing creatures of Lovecraftian proportions, it also gave the pre-existing story a more modern context of fear. Then, in the final five minutes, everything was nailed shut with one of the most jaw-dropping endings ever seen on film, sealing this film’s fate as a storied adaptation for the ages.

1922 Thomas Jane stands in the corn with bloodied hands


If you’re looking for the source of a particular menace in the Stephen King universe, there are two places you can usually look to find the root: the delusions of humanity, or the supernatural forces trying to control them. Both seem to have a place at the table in Netflix’s 1922, which is drawn from the novella of the same name in King’s Full Dark, No Stars collection of tales. What starts as a murder in the name of self-preservation for Thomas Jane’s Wilfred James and his son Henry quickly turns into a spiraling chain of events that seem to be guided by the icy hands of fate, leading to one darker twist of the plot after the other.

Carrie Sissy Spacek stands drenched in blood at the prom


Anyone’s high school years could probably qualify as their own personal hell. But very few have experienced the actual hell that Carrie White went through while dealing with the pressures of both adolescence and telekinesis. A slow burn with a sympathetic protagonist that only breaks bad towards the end of her story, Carrie has the prom to end all proms in its third act. If you only know this Brian DePalma film for that particular bloodbath, you only know part of the story. Seeing this young girl learn how to use her powers and eventually turn them against all who tormented her takes such a natural path to the more fantastical elements of its conclusion that it’s just as chilling today as it was when it came out.

The Dead Zone Christopher Walken trying to warn someone of a vision

The Dead Zone

There are quite a few creatures and otherworldly powers that Stephen King has dabbled with endowing his characters with. But in terms of The Dead Zone, King runs with an old favorite when it comes to main character Johnny Smith’s particular abilities. Given the power to see into the future, Christopher Walken’s protagonist starts off as a crime fighter helping out with the solving of local crimes. But as time goes on, and Johnny begins to curse his gifts, the stakes raise once he stumbles upon something so frightening, he’s shocked into action. The very future that director David Cronenberg’s film shows as disaster Johnny is trying to avoid is still referenced to this day as one of the most frightening scenarios that scares viewers to this very day.

Cujo bloodied and waiting for a victim


Scary animals are definitely a specialty in the world of Stephen King, as Pet Sematary seems to have left its mark on the world twice over, thanks to Church the Cat’s demonic presence. However, there’s an even more menacing pet in the King pantheon, and his name is Cujo. A St. Bernard that starts as a cuddly, adorable furball, Cujo turns into a mad killing machine one he’s infected by a rabies carrying bat. Unfortunately for the Trenton family, by the time they move into the town of Castle Rock, that more murderous side of the pooch rears its ugly head, terrorizing them with a relentless bloodlust. You might want to think about staying away from dogs for a couple of days after watching this one.

Apt Pupil Ian McKellen dressed in a Nazi uniform, glaring with evil

Apt Pupil

Throughout this entire catalog of fear through the eyes of Stephen King, even the most grounded examples have had a supernatural tint to their story. But in our final example, Apt Pupil, the only evil present is that of humanity itself. Specifically, the story of Ian McKellen’s Nazi neighbor in hiding, and the young man obsessed with his deeds during the war. With the late Brad Renfro’s performance as teen instigator Todd complimenting McKellen’s slow descent into old, sinister habits, the film explores the very real evils that took place during the reign of the Third Reich, and the threat they pose to any future generations who forget the lessons they taught the world. It’s a very human message, in a very horrifying movie.

While these are the best examples of chilling Stephen King films we can think of at the moment, there are bound to be a couple we may have missed. If you’re so inclined, please share with us what you feel are the creepiest and most unsettling movies from King’s library that didn’t make the cut. You just might scare us with the results! And before you go, check out our list of upcoming Stephen King films that just might be frightening audiences in the future. It’d be scary if you missed any of the fun to come.

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Watch Chris Evans And The Avengers Cast Turn Infinity War Into A Cute Children’s Story

Avengers: Infinity War may have been a movie full of comic book superheroes that kids love, but that doesn’t mean it was a film suitable for all ages. Jimmy Kimmel apparently felt that small children needed a version of the story they could handle, and so a Jimmy Kimmel Live children’s storybook has been created, and the Avengers themselves took time to read it to your little ones last night. Check it out in the video below.

The story of Avengers: Infinity War and the extermination of half the universe certainly sounds less terrible when it’s spoken of in rhyming verse and accompanied by colorful pictures. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, and Don Cheadle are all on hand to tell parts of the story. It still ends the same way, which is probably going to make some children sad, but it leaves hope at the end teasing that Avengers: Endgame is coming to finish the story very soon.

There are some truly hilarious parts of the video. Everybody giving Thor a hard time for not going for Thanos’ head is great, and something that Chris Hemsworth has certainly heard before. Hemsworth, for his part, has a pretty decent rebuttal, that at least Thor actually did some damage to Thanos and came close to succeeding, which none of the rest of the team really did.

Of course, Hemsworth himself has plenty of blame to throw around. He calls out Star-Lord for ruining the plan to get the Infinity Gauntlet off Thanos’ arm, which we’ve certainly also heard before.

The highlight of storytime, however, may be when every reader stops reading and calls out whoever wrote the verse of the book for trying to rhyme Groot with soot. Needless to say, it doesn’t scan. Most of the team ends up mispronouncing soot to rhyme with Groot, but nobody is happy about it. There were plenty of other characters whose names could have been used if you can’t find a suitable rhyme for Groot.

Jimmy Kimmel is certainly right in his introduction to the piece that it’s no fun to see Spider-Man die. The end of Avengers: Infinity War, while being somewhat predictable for fans who were familiar with the source material, was no less shocking, even to them. The fact that a major Marvel Cinematic Universe movie ended with half of our favorite heroes turning to dust was still the sort of moment that blew people away.

What comes next, we’re all still only guessing about. While we fully expect our heroes to win in the end, exactly how that will happen, or who will still be standing when it does, is fueling endless speculation. There’s certainly no guarantee that if Avengers: Endgame becomes its own children’s’ book, that it will have any happier an ending.

We’ll find out when Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 26.

Kevin Feige Says There Will Be No Time To Pee During Avengers: Endgame

After Avengers: Endgame was officially announced as a three hour and two minute epic, one particular question came up that hasn’t really been raised with any other Marvel Studios film: Will there be time to pee? Sure, three hours sounds intimidating, but with so many other films before it running close to that length in the MCU, is it really that big of a question? Well if it’s an issue close to your heart, producer/mastermind Kevin Feige has given an answer as to when is the best time to pee during Avengers: Endgame. Unfortunately for those with small bladders, that answer is never.

This particular subject was raised at this weekend’s press junket for the Infinity Saga’s swan song, and Feige explained that they tweaked the movie until they got to the point where there was no downtime in the film.

So, rather than being a sadistic response to a rather public issue, Kevin Feige is saying that Avengers: Endgame is such a well-woven story that every second of screen time is earned in the eyes of the creators. If that claim holds up, and everything we’ve seen come out of the film’s marketing indicates such a scenario may be likely, you’re definitely going to want to go to the bathroom before taking the trip to defeat Thanos and not whilst in the middle of it.

You could pretty much expect this piece of information Kevin Feige told  io9 to spark up the debate of whether or not an intermission is required during Avengers: Endgame, and for sure this information changes the terms of that discussion. If the plot to this particular film is so hypothetically dense there’s little-to-no period of time the audience can be absent, then even those who feel that a film of this stature doesn’t require a breather might be persuaded to change their tune. This only makes the claim that the second half of the film is apparently mind-blowing all the more intriguing.

Of course, this is coming from Kevin Feige, and to say he’s biased towards Avengers: Endgame, or any of the MCU films, is an understatement. What may be an invaluable moment of Ant-Man joking about defeating Thanos through the worst re-enactment of Fantastic Voyage ever for some, might be another audience member’s perfect time to purge the soft drinks he or she consumed earlier.

Avengers: Endgame will be in theaters on April 26th, but if you’re seriously concerned about bladder-pacing issues, you might want to wait a little while for some public feedback to see whether or not this film will give you a problem. Which gives you a little more time to study our feature on what order you should experience the MCU prior to Avengers: Endgame.

The Addams Family First Trailer Has A Classic IT Joke

We’ve known for a while now that The Addams Family would be coming back to the big screen in 2019. Now that we’ve gotten the first look at the upcoming animated venture, I can confirm they’re still creepy and they’re kooky, plus they’re absolutely mysterious and spooky. But you don’t need to take my word for it. You can catch the first preview of the new movie, below.

The Addams Family trailer takes great pains to let us know this isn’t your average family. In fact, there’s a whole section at the beginning filled with stick figures to explain how the Addams differ from other people you’ve met in your lifetime.

My favorite moment, however, features Wednesday Addams and a red balloon. She walks into a room her parents are currently occupying with said red balloon and her mother Morticia declares, “Strange there’s usually a murderous clown attached to the other end of these.” Nods to IT are pretty timely right now, given the popularity of the Andy Muschietti venture.

Theme music is present in every corner of this first trailer for The Addams Family and Wednesday is as gloomy as ever in the first look at the computer animated 3D movie, which comes from MGM Pictures and Cinesite.

As for the cast, sometimes with animated movies it can be hard to tell exactly who is involved in all of the voicework, so we’ll break it down for you here. Oscar Isaac is on board as Gomez Addams and his lovely wife Morticia (she of the IT jokes) will be voiced by Charlize Theron. Their kids, Wednesday and Pugsley, will be voiced by Chloe Grace Moretz and Finn Wolfhard–the latter is actually in IT: Chapter One and IT: Chapter Two, so that reference in the trailer has an added layer. Nick Kroll will voice Uncle Fester in this iteration of The Addams Family. Bette Midler will voice Grandmama and Allison Janney will voice a reality TV host in the upcoming movie.

The whole animated venture has two directors in Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, who also worked together on the R-rated animated flick Sausage Party. Matt Lieberman wrote the script for the new movie. This project actually took a long time to come together, as we were already writing about an animated Addams Family venture back in 2013.

Hopefully, the final project will be worth the wait. We’ll be able to see for ourselves when The Addams Family hits theaters on October 11, 2019 — just in time for a family-friendly Halloween. To take a look at what else is hitting theaters later this year, take a look at our full release schedule. And be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend as a longer trailer should be forthcoming.

What Shazam! Gets Right About The Emotions Of Foster Children

Billy Batson Shazam

Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for Shazam! Read at your own risk.

There’s a lot to love about Shazam!, but amongst all the praise for its humor and action, there’s one thing I loved about the DC movie above all else that isn’t getting a lot of attention. Foster children play a huge part in Shazam!, and the way the film handles each child and the emotions they cope with is a supremely underrated thing this story should be getting more praise for.

I say this as a foster parent who has experienced firsthand and heard several stories from others about how harrowing the foster process can be. Much like Billy and the rest of the siblings, these kids are faced with tough situations very early in life that affects them in entirely different ways. No two kids are alike, and Shazam! shows audiences some of the various ways these kids are shaped in a way that mainstream media doesn’t often show.

Take Billy, for example, who has spent a majority of his time in foster homes and running away in hopes of finding his birth mother. Billy is so convinced his mother has no way of finding him that he’s leaving good and safe homes (which is not always a guarantee) and ignoring the case worker who suggests the reason she hasn’t found him yet is because she’s not looking.

What’s most important in Shazam! is that it’s explicitly clear to the audience why Billy does the things he does. He’s not a foster kid acting out because he’s ungrateful, misguided or a troublemaker. He legitimately believes his living situations are temporary, and that things will be alright once he finds his mother.

Of course, that’s not always the case in foster care, and Billy eventually learns that his mother intentionally left him with the police because she believed he’d be better off without her. She also doesn’t think it’s a good time to reconnect, and it’s more or less implied that she’s in no rush to start a relationship with the young hero despite his efforts to find her.

What’s important about this arc is that there’s an acknowledgement that none of what happened is Billy’s fault, which is a message all foster children need to hear regardless of their situation. Billy was affected by his mother’s actions, but at the end of the day, she’s the one to blame for their separation. Even if the situations aren’t the same, any foster child can walk away from this film feeling that their circumstance isn’t their own doing.

Another big thing Shazam! gets right about foster kids’ emotions is the wide range of ways a child can react to their situation. Each of the kids ended up in the system some way, and each have been shaped by the experience and are coping with it in their own way. One scene in particular that sticks out is Darla’s immediate attachment to Billy, and how quick she goes into referring to him as her brother.

The scene gets a big emotional payoff later when Billy tells Darla she doesn’t have to call him ‘brother,’ as they aren’t technically a family. Darla is immediately crushed by the statement, and it’s the one scene in Shazam! where she could be described as sad. Billy tries to explain to Freddy he didn’t mean it to upset her, and Freddy waves him off in an understanding manner while tending to Darla.

It’s become one of my favorite scenes of the film because it shows Freddy immediately understands both sides and that no one is at fault. Freddy gets Billy’s newcomer status in the family, and the fact that he still has reservations about getting so close to a group of strangers. He also understands Darla’s position, and why someone rejecting her offer of inclusion into their foster family is devastating to her.

Freddy has his own problems, as he confesses later to Billy that he’s absolutely jealous of his superpowers. Freddy, like most children, just wants to be seen and acknowledged for something other than what he is. No one at the school gives him a lot of acknowledgement, and the ones that do are bullies who frequently tease him for his disability and foster kid status.

Then there’s Pedro, Mary and Eugene, who collectively represent another big part of foster kids and Shazam! Mary and Eugene are bright, while Pedro’s math test implies he struggles in school. Their personalities are vastly different from each other, and they all seem to have been shaped differently by their varied upbringings.

Shazam Family Shazam!

Someone reading this may think “Well, they’re just being portrayed like children,” and that’s the point. Too often does mass media portray career criminals as “foster children that bounced from home to home” or emotionally fragile kids when there’s really not one box to contain them. That’s not to say there aren’t children who come out of foster care and become two of those prior stereotypes, but there are plenty of children who come out just like the Shazam Family.

These kids are positive role models for a group that, more often than not, is going through things the average child doesn’t and shouldn’t experience. Many won’t complain because it’s all they’ve known, or because they feel uncomfortable doing so in a situation where no one is entirely sure what the future holds for them.

Shazam! can be a great asset to foster families in helping kids and teens in the system tap into those complex feelings, and perhaps serve as a conversation starter into some deeper topics. It’s also just a great film that can reinforce to a child in the system that they are special, and that their situation doesn’t mean they’re destined to become any one thing.

It’s why I’m hoping that while the ending of Shazam! established Billy as a part of the Vasquez’s foster family, themes relating to foster care continue in Shazam! 2. While Billy’s mother didn’t seem to want anything to do with him, it would be cool if they had some form of relationship down the road, however complicated that may be. There’s also Billy’s father who is in prison, so something could be done with him down the road as well.

Shazam! is in theaters and is doing quite well according to the first week numbers at the box office. For more on the film, check out the questions we had following the film’s conclusion, and be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for the latest updates on movies, television, and pop culture.

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Robert Pattinson Calls The Twilight Movies ‘Ahead Of Their Time’ In One Respect

While Robert Pattinson has gradually shifted to working on independent and less flashy movies, he’ll arguably always be best known for playing Edward in the Twilight film series. Although these romance fantasy tales made a lot of money at the box office over their five-year run, critically they earned mixed-negative reception, and for a while Pattinson wasn’t fond of thinking back on his time working on the franchise. However, lately he’s been kinder towards the Twilight movies, recently noting that their soundtracks in particular stand out compared to other movies from that period. Pattinson said:

Music is an integral component to filmmaking, so even if a movie isn’t received well, there’s always the chance its tunes are enjoyable. Some movies get by with just a traditional score, but the Twilight movies were also accompanied by songs that were performed by a variety of artists/bands, with New Moon’s soundtrack including numbers like “Meet Me on the Equinox” by Death Cab for Cutie and “Possibility” by Lykke Li. In the years since the Twilight film series wrapped up, there have been other movies that, while not necessarily ranking high on the critical scale, have drawn attention for their fun soundtracks, such as the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Along with complimenting the soundtracks for the five Twilight movies, Robert Pattinson also noted that he’s fascinated by younger people who missed the initial Twilight craze and are now discovering these stories and appreciating them. As he put it:

Wow, now I feel old. It seems like it was just yesterday that the first Twilight trailer came out and people were wondering how the movie was going to compare to the Stephenie Meyer novel. In any case, while the Twilight movies weren’t critical powerhouses, clearly the movies have staying power. As far as why Robert Pattinson is being kinder to the Twilight franchise, the actor also noted during his interview with USA Today that it helps that the “mania is not so intense,” so now he can appreciate the “warm memories.” And hey, even if he never re-watches these movies in their entirety again, at least he’s willing to re-listen to their songs.

Although the possibility of Twilight being rebooted has been periodically discussed, for now, that franchise remains wrapped up. Robert Pattinson, however can currently be seen playing Monte in High Life, and his other movies scheduled for this year include The Lighthouse, The King and Waiting for the Barbarians.

Why Two Of Shazam!’s Cameos Were Particularly Special, According To The Director

Warning: The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Shazam! Seriously, don’t read ahead until you’ve seen it!

At the end of Shazam!, to defeat Doctor Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins, Billy Batson transforms his foster siblings into adult superheroes of their own to fight alongside him. The introduction of the Shazam Family was a surprising and fun secret, as we got to see Darla, Eugene, Pedro, Mary and Freddy Freeman enjoy the thrill of having superpowers. It also allowed for some fun cameos as older actors portrayed the adult versions of the family. Two of these cameos were particularly special, as director David F. Sandberg explained:

It wasn’t intentional or some planned out thing, it just worked out that Adam Brody, who played the adult Freddy Freeman, and D.J. Cotrona, who played the adult Pedro Peña, were both once attached to star in George Miller’s ill-fated Justice League: Mortal as The Flash and Superman, respectively. That film, which also would have seen Armie Hammer as Batman, is on the long list of superhero films that might have been.

That history of coming so close to being a part of a DC movie only for it not to happen adds a bit of poetry to their cameos in Shazam! As David F. Sandberg told The Hollywood Reporter, it was exciting once they realized that Adam Brody and D.J. Cotrona were once attached to Justice League: Mortal. It was a happy little coincidence that is really cool in hindsight.

What’s makes this even more special is that Adam Brody and D.J. Cotrona didn’t even know what they were auditioning for. The actors had no idea they would be playing superheroes or members of the Shazam Family. Something about them must have just said ‘superhero.’

It’s like the two actors were destined to be in a DC comic book movie, and without any knowledge of their DC past or design on the filmmaker’s part to remedy past ills, the universe exerted its will and they wound up in Shazam! Beyond just the special quality these cameos take on with this knowledge, they actually worked out really well in their own right.

Pedro Peña didn’t talk much in the film, so we didn’t get to see a ton of his personality, but D.J. Cotrona certainly looked the part of a superhero with the strength of Hercules. And Adam Brody as an adult, superhero Freddy Freeman is about as perfect as casting can get. In addition to looking like Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody has a history of playing that kind of talkative, nerdy character. It’s great to see The O.C.’s resident comic book nerd Seth Cohen finally get some superpowers.