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Super 8FROM MTV MOVIES: As well as anyone, J.J. Abrams knew the challenges facing "Super 8" this summer. It's not a sequel or based on an existing property; it doesn't feature any major stars; its central conceit had to remain largely mysterious, and its release date plopped the flick in a crowded field of superheroes, robots and wizards.

"We're a complete anomaly in a summer of huge films," the director told the Los Angeles Times, "and we don't want to be so silent or coy that people don't care or don't hear about it."

As the film's June 10 release date neared, it seemed people might not have heard about "Super 8," nor cared to check it out if they had: Box-office tracking was said to be weak, with a possible opening weekend as low as $25 million. But as reviews continued to be strong, and Paramount staged over 300 Twitter-sponsored screenings at midnight on the Thursday before release, the tide seemed to be turning.

And it did. "Super 8" grossed $37 million domestically. That put the alien-invasion film roughly in line with one alien invasion film based on an original idea and starring lesser-known talent (2009's "District 9") but slightly below another (2008's "Cloverfield"). Yet what separates "Super 8" from these other movies is the talent behind the camera: Abrams in the director's chair and Steven Spielberg taking on a producer role for a film that is an undeniable homage to films like "E.T." With those names leading the charge, expectations were high as soon as the project was announced in May 2010. And now opinions among industry experts seem to be split. Is $37 million for "Super 8" a success or a disappointment — or somewhere in between?

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You never know what's going to happen at the MTV Movie Awards. If you're me, you might end up interviewing a 7-year-old girl made famous wanting to get s**t-faced on chocolate. You might find yourself talking with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley while standing next to a shriveled "Green Lantern" alien and hear the Victoria's Secret model crack, "That looks like me after I go tanning!" Or you could find yourself thrust into a chat with hip-hop diva Nicki Minaj.

For a guy whose head is firmly stuck in the world of movies, that last interview can pose a particularly perilous challenge. But things ended up working out well. I got a bit of insight into the film career she hopes to have, and then the Young Money starlet ended the conversation by saying, "Thank you, sexy boy."

Yep, it was that kind of evening. And with cinema on everyone's minds, Nicki confessed that she looks forward to a time when music is no longer her primary focus. "That's what I want to do with my life, I want to retire as an actress," she said. "I love acting, I studied acting."

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Jackson RathboneAfter touching down in La La Land yesterday and making our first and very wise stop at In-N-Out Burger, we're now energized, caffeinated up to our eyeballs and ready to attack our first full day in the celeb-filled run-up to the 2011 MTV Movie Awards.

We join events already in progress: things truly got started on Monday evening, during the first of our five sneak-peek events, when we sat down with "Fright Night" star Christopher Mintz-Plasse and director Craig Gillespie for an early look at their horror remake and an extended chat about the project. Then on Tuesday, it was time for a conversation with the stars of "The Art of Getting By," a Sundance fave earlier this year. Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser and director Gavin Wiesen stopped by to introduce a clip, then stuck around to discuss their indie about a lonely student (Freddie Highmore) and the unlikely friendship he strikes up with Roberts' charismatic and complicated teen girl.

And now the real action starts. This afternoon, we'll be trekking across the concrete corridors of Los Angeles to talk to "Breaking Dawn" star Jackson Rathbone. And "Jackass" fav Steve-O will be swinging through Universal City, where the MTV News offices are located all week -- just a few hundred yards from where the Movie Awards will take place on June 5 at 9 p.m. ET. Then at night, sneak peek #3 kicks off with the summer comedy, "Horrible Bosses." Director Seth Gordon will present an exclusive clip before diving into a chat about how Jason Bateman and his onscreen cohorts hatch a plan to kill their nasty workplace superiors. As always, you can tweet your questions @MTVNews using the hashtag #spw.

It's gonna be a hectic day, but really it's just the beginning. In-N-Out and a love for what we do will keep us powering through until show night. Keep it locked to Movies Blog all week for everything there is to know about the 2011 MTV Movie Awards!

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Fright NightFROM MTV MOVIES: Each year, we jam 12 months' worth of movie magic into just one day for the MTV Movie Awards. This time around, there's simply too much Golden Popcorn goodness to contain, so we're opening up things with a full five days of cinematic treats that we call MTV Movie Awards Sneak Peek Week.

Starting on Monday, May 30, and running through Friday, June 3, we'll be bringing you exclusive looks at some of this summer's hottest films, including "Fright Night," "Horrible Bosses" and more. Each night at 11 p.m. ET, we'll welcome a film's cast onto MTV to present an exclusive clip. Then you can continue the live conversation with the stars online, as our own Josh Horowitz hosts an extended chat with the talent. As always, you'll have the chance to ask the stars your own questions; just tweet at @MTVNews using the hashtag #SPW.

It's all building up to the Movie Awards themselves, which will be hosted by Jason Sudeikis and air live on Sunday, June 5, at 9 p.m. ET from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.

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HangoverFROM MTV MOVIES: By this point, if anyone is still doubting whether "The Hangover Part II" will be a massive worldwide hit, Wednesday's midnight screenings should quiet skeptics. Warner Bros. announced that the follow-up to 2009's record-smashing hit roped in $10.4 million in those early showings, setting a new midnight opening record for an R-rated film on its way to what many are predicting will become a $125 million opening over the five-day holiday weekend.

All this box-office talk gets even more impressive when you note reviews for the film have been decidedly mixed. While the first "Hangover" won over both critics and moviegoers, the sequel is currently languishing at just a 31 percent approval at the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator. Critics have pointed out how the second film follows the plot points of the original far too closely. They've also argued that the sequel simply isn't as funny as the first. Other reviews, however, are still getting a kick out of watching the Wolf Pack flail and fail all over again, similarities are not. Read on for a deep dive into the "Hangover Part II" reviews:

The Story
"'The Hangover Part II' opts for the most popular cure: the hair of the dog that bit it. In other words, the sequel is almost identical to the first 'Hangover.' This time, dweeby Stu (Ed Helms), slick Phil (Bradley Cooper) and attention sponge Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are at a wedding (Stu's) in Thailand, instead of Las Vegas, but the rest is pretty much the same. The movie starts with the three waking up after a night of debauchery, with one of their pals missing, with a threatening crook on their tails and with vague knowledge of peccadilloes both sexual and chemical. Oh, and Mike Tyson is tangentially involved (Stu has a facial tattoo just like the former champ's). They spend the rest of the movie trying to make it to the wedding while piecing together clues to what happened the previous night and searching desperately for their missing bud." — Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press

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"Toy Story 3" gets the awards-season glory, "Shrek" stands as the most successful animated series of all-time, but I confess one of my favorite CGI flicks of the last several years remains 2008's "Kung Fu Panda." Even when I catch snippets on TV, Jack Black's wild, panda abandon never gets old. The fight sequences manage to be both creative and LOL-inducing. And, as my 10-year-old cousin can attest, there's a potent moral hidden within that's a bit cheesy but also super truthful.

But in breaking down a film into a cinematic laundry list, we shouldn't miss the overall point: as a whole, "Kung Fu Panda" is just so much darn fun. And that's exactly what the sequel is too: a blast. Here are five reasons why you need to check out "Kung Fu Panda 2."

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Pirates of the CaribbeanFROM MTV MOVIES: While "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" opened to $90.1 million this weekend, showing the franchise has perhaps sprung a leak domestically in its fourth installment, the new film set a five-day international opening record of $256.3 million.

Disney is reportedly convinced this latest "Pirates" could pass the $654 million international total for 2007's "At World's End." The takeaway from all this box-office chatter is we likely haven't seen the last of the swashbuckling series.

In fact, development on a fifth film is already under way, with a draft of a script from Terry Rossio, who also penned "On Stranger Tides," in the hands of Disney execs and both director Rob Marshall and producer Jerry Bruckheimer signaling their interest in returning to franchise. The question, however, is whether or not star Johnny Depp will reprise his role as Jack Sparrow.

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Pirates of the CaribbeanFROM MTV MOVIES: To truly understand the global success of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise — because who, honestly, can wrap his head around a figure as large as $2.7 billion, the series' worldwide box-office haul? — one might do well to pay attention to the slightly smaller figure of Johnny Depp's paycheck for playing Captain Jack Sparrow.

"It must be kind of nice for him to know that he can revisit this every two or three years and be paid more than the national debt of most countries," new co-star Ian McShane joked to the Los Angeles Times during an interview in Cannes last week.

OK, so McShane is exaggerating just a tad, but the point is that over the course of three films (even though the last two had decidedly mixed reviews), the "Pirates" films have managed to stay remarkably popular — especially considering they're based on a hokey, '60s-era amusement-park attraction. The newest installment, "On Stranger Tides," shows little sign of a dent in that "Pirates" popularity, despite once again facing a mixed critical assessment. Its two-day international gross stands at almost $44 million, and domestically, it's expected to reel in around $100 million over opening weekend.

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Arnold SchwarzeneggerFROM MTV MOVIES: As Arnold Schwarzenegger makes plans to resurrect his career in Hollywood after seven years in the California governor's mansion, the 63-year-old actor-turned-politician-turned-actor again made the startling revelation that he'd fathered a child with a member of his family's household staff.

In recent weeks, Schwarzenegger's name had cropped up in a number of potential projects, some more realistic than others, from the Brad Furman-directed drama "Cry Macho" and a fifth "Terminator" to a wild rumor about a sequel to the 1988 comedy "Twins." The question now is how, if at all, Arnie's revelation — following news that his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, was leaving him — will affect his plans to kick-start a movie career.

"This will, essentially, go away," said David Poland of Movie City News. "He'll be on 'Leno' next week to put this all behind him. Maybe two weeks — depends on how much the kid looks like him and how many weeks the tabloids run the photo on the front page. But eating this privately is not his way."

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Judd ApatowFROM MTV MOVIES: In the run-up to the debut of "Bridesmaids" this past weekend, with theaters jammed with popcorn action flicks like "Thor" and "Fast Five," industry insiders were predicting a box-office gross of around $15 million to $17 million. But stellar reviews, strong word of mouth and, most importantly, a staggeringly funny film combined to thrust "Bridesmaids" to a $26.2 million opening.

Yet while the rest of Hollywood might have been surprised that the movie, starring "Saturday Night Live" star Kristen Wiig and a slew of hilarious supporting women, did so well, producer Judd Apatow had a feeling the comedy would connect with a previously untapped slice of the movie-going public.

"I always hoped that there was this huge neglected audience out there hoping someone would start making movies for them," Apatow said in an email to MTV News on Monday (May 16). "I am so excited I was not imagining things. Hopefully this will lead to a lot more movies being made starring funny women."

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