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<p>By the time all of this is done, I'm sure I'll have met every single person in this image, and at least two of them will probably drop a building on me.</p>

By the time all of this is done, I'm sure I'll have met every single person in this image, and at least two of them will probably drop a building on me.

Credit: Marvel Studios

How a universe full of superheroes totally ruined my life

A first-hand account by one man whose luck is an absolute marvel

This is not a typical piece you'd read here at Motion/Captured, but when it was smuggled out of a mental health facility in the UK and then sent to me, I thought it was important to share. I wasn't sure what I was reading at first, but once I understood, it seemed urgent that I help this man get his story out to the world.

Besides... I always wondered how this worked.

- Drew McWeeny

You have to listen to me. You have to help me.

They say I'm crazy.

It's not just inaccurate; it's rude. I'm not crazy. Or if I am crazy, I'm crazy because I've earned that right. You have no idea how strange my life has been. You have no idea the things I've seen. I've watched the world go crazy, little by little, and I think my reaction has been exceedingly sane, all things considered. If I tell you my story, you have to tell me what you think. You tell me what you would do if you saw and did and heard all of the things I have.

Has it really only been a little over a decade? Can the whole world change in just that amount of time?

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<p>Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and what appears to be one half of Daft Punk in &quot;Catching Fire.&quot;</p>

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and what appears to be one half of Daft Punk in "Catching Fire."

Credit: Lionsgate

Tell us what you thought of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

The second part of the smash-hit franchise hit theaters yesterday

I haven't yet caught "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," but some films I look forward to seeing away from the press circuit in a multiplex environment, and this is one of them. I rather like Suzanne Collins' smart, straight-ahead literary franchise, and thought Gary Ross made a decent stab at realizing its story world last year, while leaving plenty to work on in terms of rhythm and visual flair. The critical consensus is that director Francis Lawrence (whose last film, "Water for Elephants," was actually kind of lovely) has made the necessary improvements, while Jennifer Lawrence, returning to the franchise as an Oscar winner, remains a committed Katniss Everdeen. (You can read Drew McWeeny's enthusiastic take here.)  

A number of you will have caught it by now, so are you with the critics? Does "Catching Fire" meet or exceed the bar set by its predecessor? And are you glad Lawrence is on board for the "Mockingjay" two-parter? Share your thoughts in the comments if/when you've seen it, and vote in the poll below.

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<p>Eminem</p>

Eminem

Credit: Interscope

Will we ever see an album sell 1 million copies in its debut week again?

Can Garth Brooks, Adele, or Taylor Swift make it happen?

What do albums that sell more than 1 million in their first week and the Western Black Rhino have in common?

Both are most likely extinct.

For the first time since 2009, no album in the U.S. will surpass the million mark in its opening frame. To be sure, Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” missed by only a whisper at 968,000 copies, but what is the likelihood that the watermark will ever happen again?  (We’re not counting Jay Z’s “Magna Carta, Holy Grail since it was given away to Samsung users). Eminem, who used to reliably sell more than a million in his first week, came in second this year with "The Marshall Mathers LP2," which sold 792,000 copies.

From 1998-2002, selling a million copies in first week of release was seen as a realistically achievable goal for superstars. Garth Brooks’ “Double Live” was the first to do so in 1998 (the first album to sell a million copies in one week was “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, but that wasn’t in its debut week- that was in the week after Christmas, which used to be the biggest sales week of the year for albums).

In 2000, five albums surpassed the million milestone in their first week, including ‘N Sync’s “No Strings Attached,” which sold a staggering 2.4 million copies in its debut week. Guess how many albums released in 2013 have sold more than 2 million copies TOTAL?  Just one. And that would be by former ‘N Syncer Justin Timberlake with the aforementioned “The 20/20 Experience.”

After iTunes launched in 2003, we still saw million sellers, but in fewer numbers. In fact, Taylor Swift has been keeping the tradition alive almost single-handedly lately. In 2010, “Speak Now” sold 1.047 million in its opening week. Last year, “Red” moved 1.2 million units in its debut week, the most since 2002, when “The Eminem Show” sold 1.32 million. In 2011, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” sold 1.1 million, but many of those sales came through a 99-cent album download promotion with Amazon. Such antics led to Billboard revising its policy and now an album must sell for at least $3.49 for its first six weeks of release to be on the Billboard 200. Follow-up "Artpop," which came out last week, sold only 258,000 copies in its opening week, far less than the 450,000 predicted.

So is iTunes to blame for the decline? In a word, yes. By offerings songs a la carte, iTunes has likely forever changed how people consume music and made them singles buyers instead of album buyers.. And as digital consumption continue to rise and physical consumption decline (2012 was the first year that digital sales surpassed physical ones) , we’ll see fewer albums with huge first week numbers, although some album artists still inspire loyalty.. Yes, when someone purchases 10 individual songs from a given album, that counts as an album sale (it’s called TEA- track equivalent album), but unless they buy the album outright the first week, the eventually TEA sale won’t count toward first-week numbers.

There’s another theory at work here and one that leads me to conclude that there may, just maybe, be another potential million seller this year.

In April, Chris Molanphy wrote a piece for NPR and coined what he calls The AC/DC Rule. That rule is that an artist’s first week sales are predicated not so much on the current work, but by how much fans liked the previous album and by how much they missed the artist. That explains why Timberlake sold 968,000 in his opening week after a six-year absence that left fans frothing for new material, even though first single “Suit & Tie” was far from a barn burner.

His uses AC/DC’s 1981 album, “For Those About To Rock We Salute You,” as proof of his theory. That album reached No. 1 in its third week on the chart (remember, this is pre-SoundScan's 1991 launch), after the far superior “Back In Black” peaked at No. 4. The success of “Back in Black,” with such songs as the title track and “You Shook Me All Night Long,” has fans salivating for new AC/DC. Part of "For Those About To Rock's" sales came from a promise delivered by "Back in Black" and people wanted more.

So that leads to is there anyone who could top 1 million again in his or her first week? The obvious contender is Adele, whenever her follow-up to “21” arrives, because that album has surpassed the 10 million mark, it appealed to both older and younger consumers, and we will all be craving new Adele by the time it shows up...whenever it may be.

As for the rest of 2013? The only superstar names with albums still coming are One Direction, whose “Midnight Memories” comes out Tuesday (25), Britney Spears with “Britney Jean” on Dec. 5, and Garth Brooks with “Blame It All On My Roots,” an 8-CD/DVD box set on Thanksgiving.. I’m betting on Brooks.

One Direction will likely sell around 500,000, a very healthy number. But despite their rabid fan base and ticket-selling prowess, 1D aren’t mainstays at radio here and they need more radio play to reach beyond that base to sell more.

Spears is probably good for no more than 250,000-300,000.

Brooks, however, is the wild card. He’s the top selling solo artist in U.S. history and these are his  first new albums since 2001. The set consists of four CDs of newly-recorded cover songs, many of which he’s been singing in his Las Vegas show; the other 2 CDs are his greatest hits-- which will appeal to all the new fans he made since his Las Vegas show started in 2009. The two DVDs are of the Las Vegas show.  There is pent-up demand for new material from Brooks and he is also selling the full box set for $24.96, which is about as good a deal for the consumer as you will ever get.

On the downside: The set is available only through Walmart and none of it will be made available digitally as Brooks is the one remaining superstar who does not sell his material  via iTunes or any other online store. Secondly, the album isn’t available until Thanksgiving Day, so he loses half the sales week since Nielsen SoundScan’s survey runs Monday-Sunday. Third, there’s no single from the box set yet, so radio listeners aren’t necessarily aware that there is new material to buy, although his two-hour CBS Special on Nov. 29 should help solve that.

Regardless, if Brooks doesn’t make it, our last best hope to add to the list of the 20 or so albums that have achieved the Million Mark in their first week will be new Adele and new Taylor Swift. After that, such feats will only live in the record books. 

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Katie Couric may jump to Yahoo!

 

Couric is said to be negotiating an exit package from her ABC News deal. According to The Hollywood Reporter is being wooed to Yahoo! by CEO Marissa Meyer to host a newsmaker program that would be featured on Yahoo!'s homepage.
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<p>Venice Film&nbsp;Festival award-winning &quot;Kush&quot;</p>

Venice Film Festival award-winning "Kush"

Credit: Red Carpet Moving Pictures

Academy unveils short list of live action short Oscar contenders

No love to be found for Jonás Cuarón's 'Aningaaq'

The Academy has announced the short list of contenders for this year's Best Short Film - Live Action Oscar competition, and of immediate note is the fact that Jonás Cuarón's "Aningaaq," which Warner Bros. submitted for consideration in the category, didn't make the cut. It would have been a first for a film with a tie to another (sure-fire) Oscar nominee — in this case "Gravity" — to land a nomination in the shorts field and a nice little entry in Academy history as a result.

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<p>You and me both, sister.</p>

You and me both, sister.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Brace yourself, because 'Alice In Wonderland 2' is no longer just a threat

Everyone involved is better than this, but that's not stopping them

It's strange knowing that someone already got me a birthday present for the year 2016, and it's even stranger knowing that it's going to be horrible.

"Alice In Wonderland" earned over a billion dollars worldwide, and since Congress passed the famous 2005 Mandatory Sequel Act, that means Disney is legally obligated to make a follow-up. Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice and Johnny Depp will once again play Johnny Depp In A Crazy Hat, with James Bobin taking over as director for Tim Burton.

First question: will they demonstrate the utter lack of imagination necessary to actually call the film "Alice In Wonderland 2" or will they call it "Through The Looking Glass"?

Second question: thanks to the weird choices made with the script for the first film, wasn't that technically "Alice In Wonderland 2" already?

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Julia Roberts in a rare moment of calm in "August: Osage County."
Julia Roberts in a rare moment of calm in "August: Osage County."
Credit: The Weinstein Company

As Palm Springs honors Julia Roberts, why she's the MVP in 'August: Osage County'

The Oscar winner will receive the Spotlight Award, but she shouldn't need it

I caught up with "August: Osage County" last night and found it, as colleagues had led me to expect, something of a mixed bag. Even with the playwright himself on adaptation duty, Tracy Letts' exhausting but enjoyably spiky Pulitzer Prize-winning play is diminished in its translation to the screen: compressing the material to two-thirds of its luxurious three-hour runtime reveals a number of its strains and superficialities, with the newly short shrift given to certain characters (notably Misty Upham's Johnna) affecting its cumulative emotional impact.

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<p>Yes, that's a chimp.</p>

Yes, that's a chimp.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Exclusive: Chaos ensues in new poster for 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Dark comedy set for release on Christmas Day

David O. Russell's "American Hustle" is set to finally start screening this weekend and one can only imagine Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" won't be too far behind. The film has finally been screened internally at Paramount and is slowly making its way out into the light of day. Will it be an Oscar player? With four of Scorsese's last five features having made the cut, it's certainly fair to speculate along those lines.

But this will be a different breed. Set to compete in the comedy/musical category at the Golden Globes, "Wolf" will be a dark comedy and something of an antidote to the more somber pieces prevalent in this year's Oscar race. That tone is readily apparent in a new poster Paramount has provided us with to premiere this afternoon. Just look at the chaos going on below. This should be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Wait! There's ACTUALLY a monkey! (OK, it's a chimp.)

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<p>Beyonce</p>

Beyonce

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Beyonce's gorgeous 'God Made You Beautiful'

A mother's love wrapped in a sweeping melody

Still no word on when a new album from Beyonce will arrive after a number of individual songs released over the past year, but on Monday, fans will get the full-length version of “God Made You Beautiful,” a stately ballad about Beyonce and Jay Z’s daughter, Blue Ivy.

We’ll give a full review when we have more than the 1.40 here, but from what we’ve heard, it is gorgeous. Opening with a chorus of voices as if they’re descending from the heavens, the song goes into a slow jam as Beyonce rhapsodizes about how her baby “brought me back to life/you bring me back to life.”

Every new mom feels this way, but not every one can express it in music. Of course, Blue Ivy's dad, Jay Z, beat mom to the punch with " Glory,"  featuring Blue Ivy, which came out shortly after their tot was born.

The song will be offered as a free download to those purchasing Beyonce’s HBO documentary, “Life is But A Dream,” which comes out on DV on Nov. 25.

We’ll come back with the full song then.  In the meantime, what do you think? 
 

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Oprah & Diablo Cody team for a 'Moody Bitches' comedy on HBO


Oprah & Diablo Cody team for a "Moody Bitches" comedy on HBO

Based on the book "Moody Bitches" by Dr. Julie Holland, the HBO comedy project will "expose the truth about the drugs you're taking, the sex you're not having, the sleep you're missing and what's really making you crazy."


Syfy sets January premiere dates for "Being Human," "Face Off," "Lost Girl" "Helix"

Also, Laura Vandervoort in "Bitten" is premiering next month.


ABC announces 3 "Bachelor" specials for "Juan-uary"

The specials will "Countdown to Juan Pablo," go "Behind the Scenes" and tell "Bachelor Love Stories."


Fox interested in bringing "The X Factor" back, despite bad ratings
Simon Cowell's reality show is still considered viable by Fox.

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<p>Charlotte Gainsbourg is completely clothed in the rest of this shot, of course.</p>

Charlotte Gainsbourg is completely clothed in the rest of this shot, of course.

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Don't say you weren't warned: 'Nymphomaniac' debuts highly NSFW trailer

Sex and whips and vagina close-ups, oh my

"Oh Lars, that was intense." Those were the words famously muttered by a mortified Kirsten Dunst after his infamous 2011 Cannes press conference, though I imagine many will say something similar after viewing the trailer the Danish provocateur dropped today for "Nymphomaniac." And the bomb-like implications of the verb "dropped" are fully applicable here: a brief but direct close-up of a plucked vagina sets the tone for a two-minute taster that was plainly calculated to generate maximum chatter about the all-star sex epic, and is already doing its job admirably.

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<p>Kate Mara in Broken Bells' &quot;After the Disco&quot;</p>

Kate Mara in Broken Bells' "After the Disco"

Credit: PopFilms/Columbia/The Creators Project

Kate Mara on ‘House of Cards’ Season 2: ‘Never a boring moment’

Actress talks Broken Bells, Miley Cyrus, ‘Transcendence,’ ‘Captive’ and the color pink

In our interview this week, Kate Mara described the second season of “House of Cards” and her character in it, Zoe Barnes, as never having a dull moment. The same can probably be said of her professional life right now, as she promotes the two-part mini film “After the Disco” for Broken Bells, currently shoots “Captive” in Mexico City with David Oyelowo and will soon see the result of her turn in “Transcendence” with Johnny Depp. Mara also said that “House of Cards” finished shooting about a month ago, and the second season with drop – all at once, again – “relatively soon."

Despite the space-based theme of “After the Disco,” Mara seems pretty grounded, happy and humbled by her work lately. Below, we discuss acting with Anton Yelchin, jamming to Miley Cyrus and Cliff Martinez, “Transcendence,” technology and the color pink.
 
HitFix: Your spacesuit for “After the Disco” was pretty great. Did you get to keep it?
 
Kate Mara: I didn’t get to keep it, but what are they going to do with it, yknow? It was made specifically for my 5’2” body. It’d be a cool Halloween costume.
 
Is pink your color?
 
I hate pink, I just sometimes end up wearing it. [Broken Bells] wanted to use an image from the album cover – a lady in this outfit. It’s awesome for the video.
 

What made you say yes to this project?
 
There was no spoken conversation, it was an email I got from my agent just saying, “Do you want to do this music video with Anton Yelchin?” and I was like “Yes, I love Anton Yelchin,” and then I thought, “Oh wait, maybe I should listen to the song first…” I’ve always wanted to work with [Yelchin], and I watched [director Jacob Gentry’s] video that he did previous to this with Christina Hendricks, which I thought it was so unique. Broken Bells’ music is so cinematic, so I thought it was a no-brainer.
 
Were you pretty up-to-date on their music when you said yes, with Broken Bells, or the Shins or Gnarls Barkley or anything?
 
I’m one of those people who loves a lot of songs but I don’t know who sings any of them.
 
You must’ve loved the fact that you didn’t have any dialogue.
 
Yeah on the first day it was just me and Anton in Malibu. [Gentry] sent me the lookbook for it, gave me the storyline and that was it. It was very improvisational, and yet it was Jacob talking to us while we were shooting.
 
I loved the experience. I think not having dialogue, it’s a very different challenge and yet trying to get people to understand what you’re going through.
 
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