For serious fans, the still-under-construction road to "The Hobbit" has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. First Guillermo del Toro was directing, then he wasn't. Now we're anxiously waiting to see if Peter Jackson will take the gig. Beyond that, there have been studio woes, casting rumors galore, will-they-or-won't-they debates over who's coming back from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and who won't... in short, enough to make a person's head spin. Then pop off and roll into a nearby storm drain. Or Hobbit hole, if you will.

Yesterday The Sun ran a story claiming that Martin Freeman, star of the UK version of "The Office" and the (vastly underrated) adaptation of Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," had been offered the lead role of Bilbo Baggins. An offer which he had to decline due to other obligations, the report said, citing an unnamed source. Now we have a follow-up -- again, sourced to an unnamed individual(s) -- from Entertainment Weekly. The news, if true, is much brighter this time: MGM and New Line came back to Freeman with a schedule that would allow him to fulfill his commitments while also taking the lead "Hobbit" role.

In short: EFF YES. Freeman is great. I don't have much experience with "The Office," but he was a fantastic Arthur Dent. Dent and Bilbo are alike in many ways; I imagine we'd see him channeling some of the character from that previous effort in bringing the Ring-bearing hobbit to life. Bear in mind that the news comes from an anonymous source, so the reliability of the information is in question. The fact remains though: Freeman would make a great Bilbo and, if what's reported is true, it's encouraging to see the studio recognizing that fact and pursuing him in this way. Here's hoping it all works out.

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"Monsters" divided the opinions of the MTV staffers who saw it, but all agreed that it's something very different. Personally, I enjoyed it. It's an unusual little film, similar to "Cloverfield" in the way it serves up an unusual twist on a traditional genre tale. It's also a road movie marked by an offbeat romance. What's odd is that this trailer doesn't really sell it that way. I get much more of a monster movie vibe here; while there are certainly elements of that at work, it is not the focus. You'll be able to decide for yourself soon; "Monsters" arrives in theaters on October 29 and hits VOD a month earlier, on September 24.


Even if you don't immediately recognize the name Drew Struzan, I guarantee you know his work. His art graces more than 150 movie posters, including some of the most celebrated and iconic works of the past 30 years: all of the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movies, the first few "Police Academy" flicks, "First Blood," "Coming To America," "The Goonies," "Blade Runner"... impressed yet? The guy has a serious resume.

There are two reasons I'm posting about Struzan today. The first is his new book, "The Art of Drew Struzan," which is available from Titan Books next week, on September 14. I've been thumbing through it relentlessly since it arrived last week, and I really can't put it down. The pages are full of amazing poster art, finished and unfinished, used and unused. A significant portion is devoted to a range of "Back to the Future" poster mockups, some of which sell a very different movie than what hit theaters in 1985. Wild stuff.

I'll be chatting with Drew a little later today, and will hopefully have a story up from the interview soon after. To psych you up though, I have a very special treat: an unused poster design from "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." Struzan did the first "Potter" movie poster, but a regime change at Warner Bros. led to a change in direction for the subsequent posters, halting these "Chamber of Secrets" sketches at the design stage. There are more in the book, but I've got an exclusive one to share with you here today. Read More...

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FINALLY! Joe Dante's horror film "The Hole" has been in the can for awhile now. It played last year at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the fest's very first 3-D award. For whatever reason, it hasn't yet surfaced in the states. I don't get it. Dante, who gave the world both "Gremlins" movies (among other things), is certainly a bankable name. "The Hole" is lacking in tentpole stars, sure, but it makes up for that with abundant creepiness. Just check out this clip, the first one that I've seen from the movie. Now seriously-- how about a U.S. release, people?!

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UPDATE: Reader fasteddie writes: "The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made in Glenn’s name to the Theatre Department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, 1800 8th Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35203. has more information. Thanks, the family of William Glenn Scott (Glenn Shadix)"

Sad news for you today, movie fans. Glenn Shadix passed away after he fell and struck his head in his Birmingham, AL home yesterday. The 58-year-old actor worked primarily in theater through the '70s and '80s. Tim Burton attended one performance in particular and took a liking to Shadix, going on to cast him in the role that he is perhaps best known for: interior designer Otho in the classic comedy "Beetlejuice."

Shadix went on to appear in a number of other notable roles that fans of late-'80s/early-'90s film can immediately recognize: Father Ripper in "Heathers," Associate Bob in "Demolition Man" and Mr. Fallows in "Sleepwalkers" being my personal favorites. Shadix also famously voiced the two-faced (literally!) mayor in Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and later worked with the director again in his remake of "Planet of the Apes." After the jump I've embedded a classic "Beeltejuice" moment in which you can see Shadix getting his dance on. Rest in peace, Glenn-- you will be missed. Read More...


To be fair, "some dude" is actually Karl Pilkington, star of the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant-produced UK TV series, "An Idiot Abroad." I haven't seen the show, but the premise apparently involves sending Pilkington on a globe-spanning adventure designed to take him "out of his comfort zone."

None of that has anything to do with today's Daily TwitPic, other than the fact that Gervais is among those pictured. The headline pretty much nails what's worth advertising here though. Warwick Davis, the star of "Willow" and a noted actor in various "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter" movies, wants to give his pal Ricky some orange juice. Pilkington, who in an apparent inside joke has an orange-shaped head (I suppose it is rather round), is Davis' obvious target. I don't see any OJ leaking out. It doesn't matter. The picture is ridiculous. Read More...

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Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard. Brooklyn Decker. Tadanobu "Ichi the Killer" Asano. Rihanna. Whatever you care to say about Peter Berg's film adaptation of the classic board game "Battleship," there's one fact you can't argue with: that is one wacky lineup. And it just got wackier.

Liam Neeson, the respected actor who has embraced his awesome or sold his soul down the river depending on who you talk to, is in, Deadline reports. The star of "Taken" and "The A-Team" will play Admiral Shane, the father of Decker's character, who is herself engaged to Kitsch's character. Got all that? This movie is going to freaking explode with awesome. Just see that Decker is kidnapped and that Neeson gets on the phone telling those alien bastards that he'll hunt them down and hurt them.

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You've heard this story before: a powerful young woman, perhaps a warrior or an athlete or some other competitive figure, bucks stereotype and forces her way into a male-driven world where her skills can be put to proper use. Joan of Arc is the example most people think of. This one comes from another part of the world.

"Mulan" was a fairly awesome 1998 animated flick from Disney, adapted from the classic Chinese tale. Hua Mulan is a female warrior who joins an all-male army by posing as a man. Now The Hollywood Reporter reveals that "Speed" and "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" director Jan De Bont is going to be shooting a live action telling of the story this fall. Zhang Ziyi will take the starring role, a perfect bit of casting; this is the same actor who kicked ass as a powerful female character in "Hero," "House of Flying Daggers" and the Academy Award-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Maybe we didn't need a remake of "Mulan," but with this lineup already set, I'll definitely be seeing it.

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With Labor Day safely behind us, weekly movie releases can now officially be considered as part of the fall slate. Yes, yes... fall technically starts on September 22. Screw that noise though. Summer blockbusters are done. So begins the race for the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards and all of the other many prestigious awards that will be handed out in the coming months.

What are you most looking forward to seeing? "TRON: Legacy"? "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"? "The Social Network"? Please let us know. I'm going to use this opportunity to run through 10 upcoming fall releases that don't necessarily number among the major tentpoles. Even if you've heard of them, these (mostly) smaller-scale productions are worthy of your attention in the coming months. Read More...

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Two things define Matt Reeves' "Let Me In," his remake of the character-driven Swedish horror flick "Let the Right One In": an '80s setting and an atypical human/vampire relationship between two children (though technically, one of them only looks like a child). That's what I get from this new clip; lucky Toronto International Film Festival goers will get to find out in a few days exactly what Reeves cooked up for his remake; the rest of us will be left waiting for the October 1 release. But at least you can get a taste now...

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