Guardians of the Galaxy has been a massive hit for Marvel and Vin Diesel’s character Groot was a big part of that success, but was he cast because of his massive social media presence?

Now, before Diesel fans start throwing rocks, hear us out on our social media theory.

If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious actor, you’re well aware that he has a whopping 83.6 million Facebook fans. If that doesn’t impress you, it should. He has more likes than any other actor on the planet and is very in touch with his fans – something studios would be very interested in using to their advantage to increase a movie’s exposure.

For reference Will Smith is the next actor on the list, with 10 million fewer fans, which is pretty astonishing considering how massive of an actor Smith has been over the last 20 years.

With the international box office becoming more and more essential for a film’s success, having an actor with such a massive social media presence in the international market is key.

Guardians of the Galaxy pulled in $94M at the box office during its opening weekend, which is incredibly impressive for an entirely new group of superheroes. It has just crossed $500 million worldwide today, with nearly half of that coming from international markets without being released in China, Japan, Germany or Italy yet. It’s also now Vin’s most successful film ever at the domestic box office.

Recently, there was an interview released which featured Kick Ass 2 actress Chloë Grace Moretz. While being asked multiple questions about her latest film If I Stay, she explained that her most bizarre experience while auditioning for a role was when a casting director asked her how many Twitter followers she had at the beginning of an audition.

‘If you don’t Instagram or Tweet your movies then they aren’t going to succeed’

 

For reference the actress has 1.1 million Twitter followers, which is a fairly respectable number for a talented actress of her age and popularity. But she explained that she couldn’t believe that the casting director even cared enough to ask her during an audition.

She insinuated that her social media presence was deemed vital for her chances of landing the role with this large film and she revealed that she did not end up getting the role. Now, Moretz could have not gotten the role for a multitude of reasons, but this is the first time we’ve ever heard of an actor being directly asked how large of a social media presence they have.

vin diesel social media facebook fans fox

Moretz continued, saying, “Instead of being asked how you want to approach [the role], they tell you that if you don’t Instagram or Tweet your movies then they aren’t going to succeed.” This is a very surprising statement and if it’s happening with other actors (which is highly likely), then it’s truly a paradigm shift from what we’ve seen in the past with actors and auditions.

Normally actors are asked to read scripts, meet other cast members already involved, talk with studio heads, directors, writers, producers, you get the point. Twitter followers or Facebook likes haven’t exactly been the first things that come up when an actor shows up for an audition for a massive film.

Back when Vin Diesel was making his way around the web saying that he was going to have a role in a new Marvel movie, he was throwing out some massive hints, pointing at posters in Marvel Studios’ offices, posting an image of The Vision on Facebook and then taking it down and that’s when everyone began speculating.

Most believed that with his size, tough guy persona and deep voice that he’d be playing the villain that every Marvel film is building up to: Thanos.

That role ended up going to actor Josh Brolin, who we heard for the first time in Guardians of the Galaxy as Thanos and The Vision role ended up going to actor Paul Bettany, who previously voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man trilogy and The Avengers.

vin diesel groot small social mediaAfter all the speculation Vin Diesel finally revealed that he would be voicing Groot, the character essentially no one outside of comic book fans even knew or cared about. What no one could have expected was that Groot would end up being one of, if not the biggest, highlights in the entire film despite saying only three words (four if you count the one time he said “we”).

Guardians of the Galaxy had a unique problem, in that not even American audiences knew who the superheroes were, the director wasn’t a household name, neither were the actors, and the story was entirely in space.

The actor best known in the film was two-time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, who wasn’t even on screen, but voiced the second most popular character Rocket Raccoon.

Marvel have proven to be incredibly smart and when taking a look at all of the check boxes for Guardians, they undoubtedly had a big box with “find an actor with international appeal” beside it to check off.

That’s where Vin came in. The actor has the biggest international appeal of any Hollywood actor on social media and if you check out his official Facebook page, you’ll see his over 80 million fans eating up every Guardians of the Galaxy related post he made over the last six months leading up to Guardians’ release.

This was even more apparent when Groot became a star during Guardians of the Galaxy’s #1 run at the box office. The actor posted pictures of himself wearing “I am Groot” t-shirts which had millions of views and likes. International and stateside fans were falling over themselves to share Diesel’s posts about the film on Facebook and he was trending, along with his character who a year earlier 99% of the world had never even heard of.

‘I am Groot’ has become Marvel’s new ‘I am Iron Man’

Despite the fact that Chris Pratt was the star of the film, and did one hell of a job as the leading man, everyone wanted to hear three little words from Vin Diesel at all the premieres around the globe – and why not? It’s catchy, we can use it online in nearly any situation and now “I am Groot” has become Marvel’s new “I am Iron Man.” Fairly lucky for them, considering the latter phrase had become a bit stale, they get a new one just in time for it to become a global phenomenon.

Guardians of the Galaxy desperately needed international appeal because it barely had any domestic appeal prior to its last few trailers, which is really when fans truly started gaining interest and it began generating traction due to solid word of mouth after early reviews started to roll in.

This isn’t intended to discredit Vin Diesel’s work as Groot in any way, because he was obviously brilliant, but because of Groot’s one line, nearly anyone (with a deep voice) could have voiced Groot and most likely would still have been a gigantic hit with moviegoers. His beloved presence was felt because of the incredible VFX artists working their magic to bring this tree-like character to life and tap into our deepest emotions.

vin diesel groot wide

Especially considering one of the most memorable parts of the film was when baby Groot was dancing during the mid-credits scene – a scene where Groot doesn’t speak at all. But when fans can put a face to the character, it becomes all the more popular and even more advantageous to Marvel for promotional purposes.

So, what does all of this mean? Was Vin Diesel the right guy for the job? You bet he was, but maybe not because of his unique voice and unlikely due to his past experience doing voice work on The Iron Giant.

Marvel have become marketing ninjas and they saw the potential to include a cast member that only has three words, yet would bring them 80+ million adoring fans spreading the word that Vin Diesel, the actor with 80 million strong, is the voice behind the heartstring-pulling superhero in their latest film.

Guardians of the Galaxy owes quite a bit of its success to Diesel and we would never take that away from him, but Marvel is behind-the-scenes pulling the strings in exactly the right way and there’s no doubt in our mind that they’re a lot smarter than the rest of us.

Which means their casting choice for Groot may have been a bit more about brilliant promotion as opposed to brilliant voice work.

The real question is how this will affect casting in the future. Will the first question during all auditions become: How many Facebook fans do you have?

It wouldn’t surprise us in the least.

Sherlock season 4, episode 3 is the last new material fans will see for a very long time. Was it a satisfying farewell to the series?

The Sherlock season 4 finale is a healthy mix of emotional highs and lows. But was it, as co-creators Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss describe, “television history?” No. It was not. It was not even the best episode of the Sherlock series.

However, it is what we have to left to unpack as we leave Holmes at Watson in 221B by the fire. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Read full article

Sherlock season 4, episode 3 is the last new material fans will see for a very long time. Was it a satisfying farewell to the series?

The Sherlock season 4 finale is a healthy mix of emotional highs and lows. But was it, as co-creators Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss describe, “television history?” No. It was not. It was not even the best episode of the Sherlock series.

However, it is what we have to left to unpack as we leave Holmes at Watson in 221B by the fire. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

The final problem

The greatest flaw of Sherlock is when it gets stuck in its own heightened story telling. “The Final Problem” is the perfect example of retelling the past and not giving the audience any new information. It’s not hard to deduce. The episode does not suffer for this. Because it not about the game at all.

Eurus’ game is well-crafted, brutal, and unforgiving. She is a master. The episode goes above and beyond to prove that over and over. Eurus wants to understand the complexity of human empathy. The only way she can do that is to cut the people open and see what makes their muscles move.

watson

The maze she crafts tests the resolve of Sherlock, Mycroft, and John. One great example of this is the use of Molly Hooper. It should be noted that Molly Hooper deserves so much better.

Using her love for Sherlock as a weapon, Molly Hooper’s life shatters with three words. Unfortunately, all of this is in service to unravel Sherlock with no resolution on her end.

As he smashes the coffin with his bare hands, John and Mycroft are there to reel him back in. They lend a hand to rebuild the walls that are falling down around him. That is until they literally fall at the doorstep of his childhood home.

The final problem is how do you deliver human connection to someone who does not know how to receive it? That desire to feel that her brothers appreciate her for more than her brain. If Eurus’ favorite person, Sherlock, could just take a moment to play her game, everything can end.

The test, it turns out, is for Sherlock to leans heavily on his capacity for emotional connection throwing logic out of the equation. He makes room for John, Mary, Molly, even Greg in his life. Can he find a way to make room for Eurus in spite of everything he just found out?

“You were always the grown up,” says Mrs. Holmes near the end of the episode. Sherlock takes the family into the next chapter of their life. One where music bridges the gap between them and the entire Holmes family can sit together without words getting in the way.

‘I’m a pirate’

The biggest twist, if you didn’t already work it out for yourself, comes when John discovers the bones of “Redbeard” in the well. They are not dog bones, but the bones of Sherlock’s best childhood friend, Victor.

But the best appearance is by far the inclusion of Mycroft’s Christmas gift– Jim Moriarty.

sherlock season 4 moriarty

Moriarty’s obsession with Holmes begins well before Eurus calls him in for a meeting. But did he succumb to being one of her agents? Probably. But Jim likely steered his own course to Sherlock. But the game… well, the game now reeks of Eurus.

Mycroft Holmes

The Holmes brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, have the most fascinating relationship on Sherlock. “The Final Problem” highlights the complexity of their past and the trajectory of their future.

The most moving scene in the entire episode arrives when Mycroft, John and Sherlock are contemplating the reality of what may be their final moments alive. Hearing that Sherlock appreciated a talent of his, one that is not based on their familial intellect, moves him to a smile. Well before Mycroft sacrifices himself for Sherlock’s partnership with John, he gets the validation that their relationship is full of mutual appreciation.

mycroft sherlock

The minds of the Holmes siblings may be capable of great feats, but no fortress is entirely secure.

Mycroft’s home at the start of the episode is infiltrated by the combination of Holmes and Watson. Later on, his mind’s security system fails. He is a strong, put together person. After years of arranging Sherlock’s safety behind the scenes, it’s time for Sherlock to step up and do the same.

Is there room for more?

Perhaps we will all meet again at Anemoi. In the credits letters it is typical for the editors to highlight certain letters. The final sequence produces just a single word– Anemoi, the meeting place of the four winds.

While the finale ties up loose ends, recreates the scars that affect the duo the most, it does feel more like a beginning than an ending.

Sherlock may or may not return.

Tags: bbc sherlock

American Horror Story season 7 has yet to begin even filming and the show has already been renewed through 2019. Eager fans (including myself) have started to speculate what the next three seasons of the horror anthology series by FX might look like.

‘American Horror Story: Antichrist’

Ryan Murphy has already stated a future season of AHS will feature a crossover between Murder House and Coven. How that crossover might actually play out is unknown as of now. Although, Murphy has stated that it will not be season seven. In the meantime there are many different ways these two worlds could collide.

Read full article

American Horror Story season 7 has yet to begin even filming and the show has already been renewed through 2019. Eager fans (including myself) have started to speculate what the next three seasons of the horror anthology series by FX might look like.

‘American Horror Story: Antichrist’

Ryan Murphy has already stated a future season of AHS will feature a crossover between Murder House and Coven. How that crossover might actually play out is unknown as of now. Although, Murphy has stated that it will not be season seven. In the meantime there are many different ways these two worlds could collide.

As the witches of New Orleans step into the Murder Hous a world of possible storylines could unfold: ghosts, séances, the afterlife, endless possibilities. However, for me the final moments of season one are what hold the clue to what the crossover season is all about.

Murder House ends with all of the Harmon family dead save for Michael, the third child of Vivian. Three years in the future shows the orphaned child being raised by Constance Langdon, previous owner of the Murder House. Most important of all however, it is revealed that this toddler has murdered his nanny. Such an act suggests there is more to this child than is of this life.

Meanwhile, the end of Coven showed the existence of witches going public. The supreme witch, Cordelia Goode, opened her academy for young witches all over the country. It seems that for now that there is peace with those possessing magical powers. Although, a child born of ghost and human might shake up that peace with powers to match that of the witches. Powers of darkness and a drive to use them for evil that with threaten the safety and security of witchkind. This conflict will ultimately lead up to a head-to-head confrontation between the child of the afterlife and the witches.

‘American Horror Story: Shipwreck’

AHS is no stranger to resorting to the use of supernatural forces as a form of horror. Every season except for Roanoke showed how the dead can walk among the living on Halloween night. Hotel brought us vampires and Coven showed the great and terrible power of voodoo. No season as of yet, however, has shown what horrors natural forces have in store for mankind.

In Shipwreck a luxurious Hawaiian cruise goes full-on Lost when a hurricane rips a passenger ship out of the sea. Crashing onto the shores of an uncharted island, families from all different backgrounds must come together to survive. Washed up with nothing connecting them to the civilized world, things can’t seem to get any worse. That is until trips into the dense jungle for sustenance show what horrors the island has in store.

Carnivorous primates, poisonous plants, flesh-eating bugs, and acid rain are just some of the terrors that passengers meet. Still, as days turn to weeks and time becomes an illusion the vacationers worst enemies become each other. A fight for survival turns into survival of the fittest and seemingly overnight the sandy beaches of this island are stained red. Allies shift into betrayal, families become strangers, and lovers descend into worst enemies. The island is reduced to a battleground with one clear goal: total sovereignty.

Who will become the last man standing, and will help arrive in time to stop complete annihilation of the island inhabitants?

‘American Horror Story: Virus’

Picture Grey’s Anatomy meets Contagion. Every season of AHS so far has been very localized and small scale, taking place in one central location. Roanoke set its roots at a farmhouse in North Carolina. Freak Show never left the small town of Jupiter, Florida. But in a not-so-distant future America, a virus begins taking the lives of unsuspecting citizens.

It starts in a hospital in New York City. A young man comes in presenting unusual symptoms; a fever, bloodshot eyes, a rash spreading quickly across his posterior. Without warning the rash metastasizes inward, eating his flesh from the outside in, killing him slowly and painfully. Across the country another case pops up in a hospital in California. Exact same instance. No warning, no explanation, no idea of where it came from. Soon the virus is nationwide and time is running out as top doctors are trying to find a cure and stop the spread of this viral infection.

Eventually a common denominator between some of the initial victims has shown up. Every single carrier was a survivor of a Hawaii-bound cruise that crashed on an uncharted island months previously. The passengers picked up the virus on the island and carried it to the mainland where it is spreading across the country like wildfire. Finding cure is the only thing left to do. However, with people dying across America by the second, chances of  a cure being constructed are becoming sparing.

At the midseason mark, after loss of hope, weeks of research, and the death of millions a cure is established. The antidote is distributed widely slowing down the spread so research on a preventative agent can begin. There is just one catch:

The dead are coming back to life.

‘American Horror Story: Incarceration’

Roanoke was the bloodiest American Horror Story season yet. Three characters had their innards yanked from their bodies, two hikers were burnt at the stake, and one character’s ear was cut off and pickled for eating. The fandom probably needs a break before the show goes back to using gore tactics as a source of terror.

Once the fans are ready for some more senseless and gruesome entertainment, AHS: Incarceration will be waiting to disturb them. At a penitentiary located in a middle American desert, miles from civilization a dire mistake is made. An innocent man is sent to a prison where the country’s most diabolical criminals are sentenced to live out the rest of their lives.

In this prison, however, there is a secret  that few know about and even fewer are willing to share. Every couple weeks a prisoner disappears. Everyone claims to have no clue where they have gone, no one will say if they have escaped or if they are even alive. Those who know the truth are the key to this innocent’s only chance at freedom. Prisoners are selected at random and are given the chance at participating in a series of tasks that if completed will grant them their freedom. Not a soul knows who offers this opportunity, not until they are chosen, until it is too late.

These tasks are gruesome. Inspired by the Saw franchise, the participant must torture themselves in a way similar to that of how they have hurt others in order to gain their liberation. No one has ever succeeded, every prisoner who has attempted the mission has met their demise in the process. Escape, so it seems, is impossible. Even so, the masked tormenter feeds off the human will to attain freedom in order to assemble new victims.

‘American Horror Story: Ghost Stories’

AHS has utilized children in different and interesting ways in the past. Hotel turned children into misunderstood and messy villains using the blood virus. Roanoke centralized them as the heart of the show through Flora and Priscilla in Roanoke. What if, alternatively, the children were the victims?

Not all is right at happy, sleep-away-camp in sunny and adventurous Colorado. Terrifyingly cheerful camp counselors, a bloodthirsty chef, and a chilling camp song set every child on edge. In the end, not one is surprised to hear something go bump in the night. Meanwhile, ghost stories around the campfire turn into a full-blown nightmare as children’s worst fears come to life.

Something is moving under the waters of the lake where campers swim and canoe. Children who misbehave come back from meetings with counselors acting strangely upbeat and vacant. At night a figure who looks different to each and every child who sees it, skulks in the woods. However, nothing can prepare camp goers for the day that one by one their friends start to go missing.

As events in the camp only become more disturbing the children start to suffer from nightmares that seem too realistic to be just dreams. Employees of the camp begin working even harder and harder to ease the minds of terrified guests. Meanwhile the children discover that there is more at work at camp that meets the eye. They must fight together against supernatural forces that take on the shape of the demons of their mind to save their friends and escape the camp that seeks to take their lives.

AHS: Ghost Stories will have you asking what really lurks in the forest at night?

What kind of storylines do you want to seen in future seasons of ‘AHS’?

We all know the names of these famous sci-fi novels, but have you actually read them? Ocean of Storms author Jeremy K. Brown tells us why we should.

About ‘Ocean of Storms’

In the near future, political tensions between the United States and China are at an all-time high. Then a catastrophic explosion on the moon cleaves a vast gash in the lunar surface, and the massive electromagnetic pulse it unleashes obliterates Earth’s electrical infrastructure. To plumb the depths of the newly created lunar fissure and excavate the source of the power surge, the feuding nations are forced to cooperate on a high-risk mission to return mankind to the moon.

Now, a diverse, highly skilled ensemble of astronauts — and a pair of maverick archaeologists plucked from the Peruvian jungle—will brave conspiracy on Earth and disaster in space to make a shocking discovery.

Read full article

We all know the names of these famous sci-fi novels, but have you actually read them? Ocean of Storms author Jeremy K. Brown tells us why we should.

About ‘Ocean of Storms’

In the near future, political tensions between the United States and China are at an all-time high. Then a catastrophic explosion on the moon cleaves a vast gash in the lunar surface, and the massive electromagnetic pulse it unleashes obliterates Earth’s electrical infrastructure. To plumb the depths of the newly created lunar fissure and excavate the source of the power surge, the feuding nations are forced to cooperate on a high-risk mission to return mankind to the moon.

Now, a diverse, highly skilled ensemble of astronauts — and a pair of maverick archaeologists plucked from the Peruvian jungle—will brave conspiracy on Earth and disaster in space to make a shocking discovery.

Ocean of Storms is an epic adventure that spans space and time as its heroes race to fulfill an ancient mission that may change the course of humanity’s future.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

5 sci-fi/fantasy novels everyone pretends to have read (but actually should)

For many people, their knowledge of Dune doesn’t go much further than Sting in a metal Speedo. Time to put down the remote and delve into the original (and sometimes completely different) books that birthed these pop culture legends.

‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert

Herbert’s desert world of Arrakis (also known as Dune) is quite obviously the prototype for Star Wars’s Tatooine, and from sandworms to spice, Lucas clearly drew on the first three Dune novels while creating his galaxy far, far away. And who can blame him? Herbert’s galaxy-sprawling saga is stirring, invigorating and completely engrossing. The hero’s journey of Paul Atreides is only one thread in an infinite tapestry that encompasses six Herbert-authored novels and a slew of sequels penned by his son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson. This is world-building at its most epic.

‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson

If all you know about cyberpunk is The Matrix, then you owe it to yourself to read this book and see where the term actually came from! Gibson put the genre on the map with this 1984 book that was light years ahead of its time, giving life to the concept of “cyberspace,” (a word actually coined by Gibson himself), creating an entire hacker culture and giving rise to legions of imitators. Plus, it has one of the best opening lines of any sci-fi book ever!

‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ by Philip K. Dick

It’s true that Blade Runner is a cooler-sounding title, but Dick’s novel is an even deeper and richer experience than the admittedly awesome (but somewhat loose) Ridley Scott adaptation. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world in which owning an animal is a status symbol, Androids is a great meditation on finding empathy and humanity in an increasingly artificial world.

‘Earthsea’ by Ursula K. Le Guin

Sorry, J.K. Rowling, we love you, but when it comes to wizarding schools, Le Guin beat you to it. A story of a young boy learning to cope with his unimaginable powers (as well as defeat the shadowy creature they have wrought) is a fantastic, genre-bending coming of age story that instantly transports you to a world so complete and lived-in that you’d swear you were reading a true story.

‘Starship Troopers’ by Robert Heinlein

OK, let’s establish a few things first. Yes, Heinlein’s 1959 novel about Earth’s last stand against a race of arachnoid aliens is a little dated in terms of its politics. And yes, Paul Verhoven’s 1997 adaptation turns the book’s themes into a wicked satire of militarism, jingoism and just about every other “ism” you can think of. But, all that said, the book itself is a watershed piece of science fiction that influenced everything from Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War to James Cameron’s Aliens. Basically, any time you see a futuristic soldier in an exosuit, take a moment to thank Heinlein!

About Jeremy K. Brown

Jeremy K. Brown has authored several biographies for young readers, including books on Stevie Wonder and Ursula K. Le Guin. He has also contributed articles to numerous magazines and newspapers, including special issues for TV Guide and the Discovery Channel, and recently edited a collector’s issue on Pink Floyd for Newsweek. Jeremy published his first novel, Calling Off Christmas, in 2011 and is currently at work on another novel. He lives in New York with his wife and sons.