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US actress America Ferrera arrives with Toothless the dragon, for the UK Gala Screening of ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ at the Vue cinema in central London, on June 22. ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ earned $25.3 million at the box office. (AP)
Stars form unlikely bond in ‘Rover’ ‘Doctor Strange’ to be penned by writer Spaihts

LOS ANGELES, June 23, (RTRS): After winning over critics with the complex, dark family drama “Animal Kingdom” for his directorial debut, director David Michod wanted to pare things back to tell a simpler story about survival in his next film. “The Rover,” follows a lone character, Eric, who has his car stolen and embarks on a journey to recover it, handling threats and obstacles along the way. Australian director Michod created a stark, stripped down, decaying setting in the outback of his native country and said he was inspired by his “despair” at the world today. “I felt like I was literally making a movie that was set in a strange, dangerous and inhospitable version of the present day,” the director said.

And yet, Michod said he still wanted to feature some hope for Eric, played by Guy Pearce, who finds it in an unlikely friendship with Rey, played by Robert Pattinson. Rey, an American petty criminal left for dead, is rescued by Eric and forms a bond with the introverted man, who takes him on a journey to recover his car and reunite Rey with his brother. Pattinson delivers a performance in “The Rover” that takes him a world away from the brooding teenage vampire that rocketed him to fame in the “Twilight” film franchise. The British actor transformed himself to play the dim-witted young Rey by adopting a jolted southern accent accompanied by twitches, tics and blank stares.

“It was quite interesting playing someone who has basically zero faith in himself,” the actor said. “As soon as he starts opening his mouth, he’ll either start almost questioning his own sentence as it’s coming out of his mouth, and then trying to hide away from it.” The talkative Rey poses a sharp contrast to Eric, whom Pearce described as “a wounded animal,” a product of surviving the harsh landscape of a decaying world, who spends much of the film in silence.

“I really enjoy working without necessarily relying on words and talking,” the actor said. “The story you’re to be telling is totally possible without actually having to say anything and then when you do speak, it really is more effective.” Michod said the biggest challenges he faced on “The Rover,” made for about $12 million and distributed by A24 films, were related to the isolated, hot outback they filmed in, and in particular, a car chase sequence that he called “draining.”

Despite the dark nature of the film that Michod compares to a dark fable, he hoped the end result is more optimistic for audiences. “This movie is about how even in incredibly violent and challenging circumstances, people still have a basic need to try and find intimate connection with other human beings, so I like to think about this movie as a movie about love,” he said.

Aaron Swartz’s belief in the free spread of information landed him in jail. The people who want to watch a movie about his life will face no such legal problems. Anyone who buys the movie via Vimeo will also be able to download it and share it for free. Vimeo is putting up a DRM-free version of the movie that comes with a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons, which Swartz helped build, offers public copyright licenses that facilitate the easier spread of an artist or intellectual’s work and indemnifies people from prosecution for piracy. People who buy the movie starting June 27 via Vimeo cannot resell their movie, but they will be able to download it and share it with friends.

This type of distribution is unusual for a movie, but it satisfies the wish of director Brian Knappenberger and gels with the ideals of Swartz, who co-founded Reddit and later turned into a prominent Internet activist. His lax beliefs with regard to intellectual property landed him in hot water. “I was really dedicated to having a version of the film VOD day and date, accessible to people as soon as possible with creative commons license” Knappenberger told TheWrap. “Vimeo found a way for us to do that.

The movie will still receive a traditional theatrical distribtion. FilmBuff will release it June 27 with support from Participant Media, which will also air the movie on its TV network Pivot later this year. Yet whereas distributors typically acquire the rights, Participant and FilmBuff have licensed the movie. Participant, which has financed socially conscious work such as “Promised Land,” “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Food Inc.,” is the rare partner that would accept such terms. It will also mount a campaign to raise awareness about poor oversight in the US justice system given what many view as unfair treatment of Swartz.

Knappenberger has told TheWrap a few times that he turned down big money at the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie premiered. “The Internet’s Own Boy” will be available on Vimeo, iTunes and other video-on-demand platforms the same day it opens in theaters, a release method known as day-and-date. Vimeo is the only place you will be able to buy the movie for the first month it is out, at a price of $9.99. You can rent it on those other sites, and then buy it after that first month.

Jon Spaihts, who is best known for his work on Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” is nearing a deal to write “Doctor Strange” for Marvel, which recently hired Scott Derrickson to direct the superhero movie. First introduced to comic book readers in 1963, the titular Steven Strange is a neurosurgeon who also doubled as the Sorcerer Supreme, acting as Earth’s primary protector against mysticism and sorcery. In preparation for the character’s introduction in Phase Three of Marvel’s cinematic universe, the name Steven Strange was first referenced in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Benedict Cumberbatch and Jared Leto are Marvel’s top targets to play Strange. Despite earlier reports, Tom Hardy is not expected to be available for the film. Spaihts previously wrote the Emile Hirsch sci-fi movie “The Darkest Hour” and Keanu Reeves’ long-gestating sci-fi movie “Passengers,” which remains in development at Focus Features. Spaihts, who is also working on “The Mummy” reboot for Universal, is repped by CAA and Circle of Confusion. The news was first reported by Deadline.

“Ted” actress Jessica Barth has closed a deal to reprise her role as the titular teddy bear’s girlfriend/co-worker Tami-Lynn in Universal and MRC’s sequel “Ted 2,” TheWrap has learned. Amanda Seyfried is joining original “Ted” star Mark Wahlberg, while Seth MacFarlane will also return to voice everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed stuffed animal. In the first film, Barth played a cashier who falls for Ted’s unique charms and later clashes with Wahlberg’s girlfriend, played by Mila Kunis. She also pulled off a convincing Boston accent, which can be difficult for some actors.

MacFarlane is directing “Ted 2” from a screenplay he co-wrote with frequent collaborators Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. He’s also producing with Bluegrass Films’ Scott Stuber, as well as John Jacobs and Jason Clark. “Ted” was the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time, and Universal will release the sequel on June 26, 2015. Barth has voiced multiple characters on MacFarlane’s hit animated series “Family Guy,” including Kate Hudson and “True Blood” heroine Sookie Stackhouse. She has also appeared on “Parks and Recreation,” while her feature credits include “Get Smart” and the Nicolas Cage movie “Next.” She’s repped by Innovative Artists and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

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