Russian trolls influenced 'The Last Jedi' backlash - Silver Screen Beat
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Russian trolls may have had something to do with the all of the ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ backlash

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Star Wars The Last Jedi Mark Hamill
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Writer-director Rian Johnson’s riveting intergalactic spectacle Star Wars: The Last Jedi was undoubtedly one of my favorite movies of last year and, in my opinion, is one of the best in the franchise. Many critics felt the same way, giving the latest entry in the Skywalker saga a 91% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

However, as you may recall, the film was met with immediate online backlash upon its release last December from some Star Wars fans who took it upon themselves to launch a campaign to lower the Rotten Tomatoes audience score as far as they could and a petition to have it removed from official Star Wars canon.

As it turns out, though, the discourse surrounding The Last Jedi may not have been from actual Star Wars fans at all, but rather a very elaborate Russian political influence campaign, according to a new study from Morten Bay, a research fellow at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

“The study finds evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments,” Bay writes. “The likely objective of these measures is increasing media coverage of the fandom conflict, thereby adding to and further propagating a narrative of widespread discord and dysfunction in American society.”

For his analysis, Bay divided the online discourse around The Last Jedi into three separate categories: those with a political agenda, trolls and bots, and what he calls “real fantagonists,” which are actual Star Wars fans who were genuinely dissatisfied with Johnson’s film. The results of his 38-page-long study are staggering.

“Overall, 50.9% of those tweeting negatively was likely politically motivated or not even human,” Bay writes, adding that 11 of the 16 accounts he investigated that were suspected of being run by Russian trolls tweeted almost exclusively about The Last Jedi, Johnson, or right-wing U.S. politics.

To some, the results might be surprising, but back in 2017, just one week after The Last Jedi opened in theaters, I wrote about how the film was actually polling pretty well with audiences despite all of the backlash it was receiving online. The Last Jedi received an A-rating from moviegoers polled by CinemaScore, and comScore’s PostTrack audience survey found that 68% of audience members rated the film as excellent, while 21% said that it was very good.

Look, when you consider the fact that Russian trolls were able to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by creating fake accounts and spreading misinformation on social media, it really shouldn’t be all that surprising that they were able to basically do the same thing when it came to stirring up manufactured outrage about a Star Wars movie with a blatantly progressive message that they didn’t like.

All 38 pages of Bay’s study are available to read here via ResearchGate.

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Paramount has picked up the rights to Scorsese and DiCaprio’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

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Killers of the Flower Moon
JAMIE MCCARTHY/WIREIMAGE

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are one step closer to reuniting with each other as Deadline is reporting that Paramount has just picked up the rights to Killers of the Flower Moon, which could be the next project Scorsese decides to tackle after he finishes The Irishman later this year.

Per the original report, Paramount has closed a deal for an unspecified sum to finance and distribute the film based on David Grann’s murder mystery novel of the same name set in 1920s Oklahoma “where the Osage Indians were granted revenue rights to oil discovered under their lands that was harvested by oil companies.”

“Suddenly, they began to get murdered as did those trying to investigate. “It came down to the newly created Bureau of Investigation, to overcome the corrupting influences from oil money and politics to solve the murder mystery, one that would bring the FBI to prominence.”

Dune and A Star Is Born co-writer Eric Roth wrote the screenplay for the project, which has had Scorsese attached as director and DiCaprio as the star and one of several producers since early 2017. Robert De Niro was rumored to be attached to star alongside DiCaprio at one point as well, but, unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case here.

No word yet on when we can expect to see cameras start rolling on Killers of the Flower Moon as Scorsese is still knee-deep in the extensive level of post-production work needed on The Irishman, which is expected to hit Netflix and a handful of select theaters no later than the end of this year.

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Our first look at Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ is finally here and it’s absolutely incredible

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Little Women
COLUMBIA PICTURES

As if we weren’t already excited enough to see what Greta Gerwig has in store for us with her adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women, the first official images from the writer-director’s eagerly awaited Lady Bird follow-up debuted today in Vanity Fair and it just looks so damn good.

Perhaps even more personal to her than Lady Bird was, Little Women feels like somewhat of an autobiography to Gerwig, she says, and follows the lives of the March sisters—Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlan)—as they navigate their journies from childhood to womanhood in Civil War-era America.

“When you live through a book, it almost becomes the landscape of your inner life,” Gerwig explained to Vanity Fair. “It becomes part of you, in a profound way.”

In addition to Ronan, Little Women also reunites Gerwig with her other Lady Bird star Timothée Chalamet, who plays Laurie, “the literal boy next door who develops an intense friendship with Jo,” but it never blossoms into anything beyond that.

“I loved that in Lady Bird, he was the one that broke my heart, but I got to break his heart in Little Women,” Ronan said. Lady Bird finally got her revenge against Kyle, it seems.

Rounding out the film’s ensemble cast is Laura “I Will Not Not Be Rich” Dern as Margaret “Marmee” March, the girls’ mother, and Meryl “My Grief Is Too Loud For You?” Streep as Aunt March, their old and cranky rich aunt who often provides financial support for the family.

Little Women will hit theaters on December 25. You can check out the first official images from the film (via Vanity Fair) below.

Little Women

Little Women

Little Women

Little Women

Little Women

Little Women

Little Women

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Shocking: Max Landis is an abusive piece of shit who deserves to be blacklisted in Hollywood

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Max Landis
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In a bombshell exposé published by The Daily Beast this morning, eight women detailed the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that they suffered at the hands of Bright and Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis, which is not particularly surprising given the fact that we’ve heard about this kind of stuff about Landis before—but no one did anything about it.

Before we go any further, a quick warning: the exposé is disturbing, to say the least, and contains graphic descriptions of the aforementioned abuse. Reader discretion is most definitely advised. 

In one part of the story, an ex-girlfriend and former friend of Landis going by the name of Julie (some of the names used in the story are aliases so as to protect the anonymity of the victims) describes how she “didn’t realize that I had been raped consistently and deliberately by this man for two years until today, when I wrote it down.”

Julie, after detailing some of the emotional abuse Landis inflicted upon her, goes on to say, “He choked me until I passed out and did humiliating, degrading things to me that I still can’t manage to write out on paper.”

Another ex-girlfriend, Kerry, wrote about how Landis “choked me and told me he wanted to kill me. And I would wind up reassuring him that he wasn’t a monster when he felt bad about it. Because I felt bad that he was so sick.”

Ani Baker, who also had a romantic relationship with Landis at one point, described a similar event in which Landis snapped, put his hands around her throat, and got very close to her face, saying, “I will fucking kill you. Do you understand what I’m saying? I will fucking kill you.”

These are just a few of the very harrowing accounts Landis’ victims tell in the exposé and help paint a picture that shows who Landis truly is: a violent sexual abuser. You can read the piece by Daily Beast entertainment reporter by Amy Zimmerman in its entirety here. (Again, please keep in mind that the exposé contains graphic descriptions of abuse and you should only read it at your own discretion.)

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