30 Facts About 2017’s Most Googled Movies

Clay Enos - © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC
Clay Enos - © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC

From Beauty and the Beast to Baby Driver, 2017 was a big year for movies. And going by Google’s 2017 Year In Search lists, film lovers were hungry for as much information as they could find on killer clowns, superheroes, wonder women, and baby drivers. Here are 30 things you might not have known about the most Googled movies of 2017.

1. FOR DIRECTOR PATTY JENKINS, WONDER WOMAN WAS A DREAM PROJECT.

Director Patty Jenkins has long wanted to make a big-screen version of Wonder Woman. Following the success of her Oscar-winning feature directorial debut, Monster (2003), Jenkins was clear about what she wanted her next project to be: “I want to make Wonder Woman,” she told anyone who asked. “Everybody knew I wanted to make a superhero movie.”

In 2005, she was presented with a script for Wonder Woman and the opportunity to direct, but Jenkins was pregnant with her son at the time and couldn’t fathom leaving a newborn at home to go off to make a movie—even if it was her dream project. “When I’m on a movie, I’m unavailable, everyday for a year and a half,” Jenkins told Entertainment Weekly. “You can’t do that with a little baby. Somebody might be able to do it, but not me.” Fortunately, though it was in development, the project never got off the ground, and it eventually landed back in Jenkins’s lap. “Part of the reason I’m in such a good mood is this is the movie I’ve wanted to make my entire life,” said. “I feel so grateful that I get to be able to do this.”

2. FILMMAKERS HAD TO GET CREATIVE TO HIDE GAL GADOT’S PREGNANCY.

Speaking of pregnancy and superheroes: In November 2016, Gal Gadot had to slip back into her Wonder Woman suit in order to film some reshoots for the movie. There was just one hitch: She was five months pregnant. In order to hide her pregnancy from the cameras, and make sure the new footage matched the original footage, the production team had to get creative. Essentially, they covered her stomach with a piece of bright green cloth that they could use to digitally alter her appearance in post-production. “On close-up I looked very much like Wonder Woman,” Gadot told Entertainment Weekly. “On wide shots I looked very funny, like Wonder Woman pregnant with Kermit the Frog.”

3. IT BROKE ALL SORTS OF HORROR BOX OFFICE RECORDS.

Bill Skarsgård stars as Pennywise in It (2017)
Brooke Palmer - © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Andy Muschietti’s big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s It was undoubtedly one of the summer’s most anticipated movies, and the box office numbers proved it. In addition to posting the biggest opening weekend of any horror movie in history (it raked in $123,403,419), it also ousted The Sixth Sense from the top spot as the highest grossing horror/supernatural movie of all time.

4. BILL SKARSGÅRD SCARED THE HELL OUT OF HIS YOUNG CO-STARS.

In order to up the fear factor in the scenes between Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise, and the kid members of The Losers Club in It, director Andy Muschetti kept Skarsgård away from his young co-stars until it was time to film. As such, “Pennywise was this looming force they knew was coming but hadn’t seen yet,” Skarsgård told The New York Times. “That built an excitement in the kids you could feel when they saw him for the first time. They were probably a bit scared.”

5. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST AND LA LA LAND COULD HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT MOVIES.

La La Land and Beauty and the Beast were two of the most highly anticipated movies in recent years, but they both could have looked a lot different. Emma Watson was offered the role of Mia in La La Land (the same part that earned Emma Stone her first Oscar), but ultimately passed in order to make Beauty and the Beast. “I knew I had horse training, I knew I had dancing, I knew I had three months of singing ahead of me, and I knew I had to be in London to really do that,” Watson said. “And [Beauty and the Beast] wasn’t a movie I could just kind of parachute into. I knew I had to do the work, and I had to be where I had to be. So scheduling conflict-wise, it just didn’t work out.”

At the same time, La La Land’s Ryan Gosling passed on playing the Beast so that he could make La La Land. (And everyone lived happily ever after.)

6. DAN STEVENS SPENT THE BULK OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST WEARING STILTS.

In order to help Dan Stevens cut an appropriately menacing figure as The Beast, he spent most of the movie walking around on stilts. “I was in a muscle suit on stilts covered in grey Lycra with dots on my face,” Stevens told Metro. “And every couple of weeks I would go into a booth—a kind of cage—they’d spray my face with UV paint, and 27 little cameras with UV light would capture what I was doing with my face in those scenes. And Emma would very graciously sit on the other side of this weird cage and we’d play all of the scenes whether they were arguing scenes, or waltzing scenes, and we’d gaze longingly at each other, just everything I could do with my face I did in that cage.”

7. JAMAL WOOLARD HAD SOME EXPERIENCE PLAYING CHRISTOPHER “BIGGIE SMALLS” WALLACE.

Playing The Notorious B.I.G. wasn’t a big stretch for Jamal Woolard in All Eyez on Me, Benny Boom’s Tupac Shakur biopic. Woolard made his big-screen debut starring as Biggie in 2009’s Notorious.

8. BABY DRIVER’S OPENING CAR CHASE WAS SHOT ON ONE OF ATLANTA’S BUSIEST HIGHWAYS.

The opening scene of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is a stellar piece of vehicular choreography, but it was no easy task to create. “The first chase is on the I-85, which is the main freeway in Atlanta, and you cannot shut down the I-85,” director Edgar Wright told Inverse. “That’s impossible, but what you can do is have a police motorcade, which is miles wide.” Because they couldn’t shut the road—which sees about 200,000 motorists per day—down, they had to plan their shot, and timing, very, very carefully.

“We were given a Sunday that didn’t have any ball games, and they said, ‘we’ve got 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then that’s it’—2 p.m. was a hard kick-off,’” Wright explained. “We had police cars on all lanes of the freeway, 50 stunts cars, actors and the camera cars, all in the middle of what is called The Bubble. This big flotilla of cars is going down the freeway at 70 miles an hour shooting, and sometimes the actors are in the car as well, and it’s insane.”

9. EDGAR WRIGHT HAD TO PERFORM A SCENE OVER THE PHONE TO GET MIKE MYERS’S PERMISSION TO USE THOSE AUSTIN POWERS MASKS.

In a comedic moment of miscommunication, Baby Driver’s gang of bank robbers pull off a job wearing Austin Powers masks when the original instruction to get Michael Myers (as in Halloween’s blank-faced serial killer) causes some confusion. According to the movie’s Blu-ray commentary, in order to receive permission to use those shagadelic disguises, Wright had to ask Mike Myers’s permission directly. He agreed, but asked Wright to perform the scene for him over the phone.

10. THE BIG SICK LANDED A SWEET DISTRIBUTION DEAL AT SUNDANCE.

Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick (2017)
Sarah Shatz - © WHILE YOU WERE COMATOSE, LLC

After making its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick—based on a script by (and the real-life relationship of) Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon—became the subject of a major bidding war. Netflix was hot to buy the rights, but Nanjiani wanted the film to have a theatrical release. Eventually, they sold the film to Amazon for $12 million, one of the biggest deals ever brokered at the Park City fest.

11. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN ORIGINALLY PLANNED TO MAKE DUNKIRK AN EXPERIMENT IN IMPROVISATION.

Director Christopher Nolan first conceived of shooting Dunkirk without a script, and just improvising the dialogue as they went along. His wife, Emma Thomas, advised him against this approach. “Emma looked at me like I was a bit crazy and was like, ‘okay, that’s not really gonna work,’” Nolan said. Fortunately, Nolan listened.

12. THE DARK TOWER SPENT A LONG TIME IN DEVELOPMENT.

The Dark Tower, Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series of books, took several years to come together. Both J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard were attached to direct the film at different points during its development.

13. DAVID BOWIE WAS DENIS VILLENEUVE'S FIRST CHOICE FOR THE PART OF NIANDER WALLACE IN BLADE RUNNER 2049.

From the earliest days of his involvement in Blade Runner 2049, director Denis Villeneuve had his eye on David Bowie for the role of Niander Wallace. Unfortunately, the iconic rocker passed away before production began. The part eventually went to Jared Leto.

14. VILLENEUVE KNEW HE HAD BIG SHOES TO FILL, AND HE WAS OK WITH THAT.

The fact that he was rebooting one of the most iconic and inventive sci-fi films of all time was certainly not lost on Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve. "I know that every single fan will walk into the theater with a baseball bat,” he said. “I'm aware of that and I respect that, and it's okay with me because it's art. Art is risk, and I have to take risks. It's gonna be the biggest risk of my life but I'm okay with that. For me it's very exciting ... It's just so inspiring, I'm so inspired. I've been dreaming to do sci-fi since I was 10 years old, and I said 'no' to a lot of sequels. I couldn't say 'no' to Blade Runner 2049. I love it too much, so I said, 'Alright, I will do it and give everything I have to make it great.'"

15. CRITIC ARMOND WHITE RUINED GET OUT’S PERFECT ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE.

National Review film critic Armond White has developed somewhat of a reputation for his dissenting opinions. This is the man, after all, who gave a poor review to Toy Story 3, writing that: “Toy Story 3 is so besotted with brand names and product-placement that it stops being about the innocent pleasures of imagination—the usefulness of toys—and strictly celebrates consumerism.” So it was hardly surprising when he became the first critic to give a bad review to Jordan Peele’s Get Out, thus knocking its 100 percent fresh rate down to 99 percent. White’s problem with the film, which he called a “horror-comedy for Black History Month”? “In Get Out, just as Obama did, Peele exploits racial discomfort, irresponsibly playing racial grief and racist relief off against each other, subjecting imagination and identification to political sway,” White wrote.

16. A SINGLE CRITIC KILLED LADY BIRD'S PERFECT SCORE, TOO.

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird (2017)
A24

Like Get Out, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird held a 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes ... until critic Cole Smithey ruined it all, knocking the film from its perch as the site's best reviewed movie. Following an internet backlash, Smithey took to Twitter to explain himself:

17. THOR: RAGNAROK HAS A CONNECTION TO DEVO.

The music for Thor: Ragnarok was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, who is the lead singer and keyboardist for Devo. Not only did he integrate musical pieces from earlier Marvel films into the movie, but he included the famous “Lonely Man” theme from the ‘70s Incredible Hulk TV show.

18. THE ROOM’S TOMMY WISEAU APPROVES OF "99.9 PERCENT" OF THE DISASTER ARTIST.

James Franco in The Disaster Artist (2017)
Justina Mintz - © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

James Franco’s A-list retelling of indie filmmaker Tommy Wiseau’s so-bad-it’s-kind-of-good movie The Room has been getting lots of acclaim, including from the original film’s creator. When Franco asked Wiseau what he thought of the film after seeing it at SXSW. “I was like, ‘So, Tommy, what did you think of the movie?’ And he said, ‘I approve 99.9 percent,’” Franco told Entertainment Weekly. “And we were like, ‘What was the 0.1 percent?’ He said, ‘I think the lighting, in the beginning, a little off.’ [Laughs] I told Brandon [Trost, The Disaster Artist‘s cinematographer]. He was like, Yeah, maybe we should watch The Room, get some lighting pointers!”

19. JAMES GUNN HAD TO FIGHT TO KEEP ADAM WARLOCK’S POST-CREDIT CAMEO IN GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2.

James Gunn had to fight to keep Adam Warlock’s post-credit cameo in the movie, despite the character not showing up in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. To get it cleared by Marvel, he promised the studio that he would confirm on Twitter that the character is not scheduled to appear in the third or fourth Avengers films, “Because I didn't want people to have false expectations of what they thought was going to happen with Adam.”

20. THE THREE MAIN FEMALE CHARACTERS IN HIDDEN FIGURES WORE VINTAGE UNDERGARMENTS, FOR AUTHENTICITY.


Twentieth Century Fox

To add an extra layer of authenticity to the costumes in Hidden Figures, the three main actresses wore vintage undergarments, including corsets and girdles. “That snatches you into a perfect stature,” Taraji P. Henson said. “You have no choice. Women back then carried themselves not as loosely as the women do today because they were strapped down and pinned down.”

21. TREY EDWARD SHULTS WROTE IT COMES AT NIGHT JUST DAYS AFTER HIS FATHER’S DEATH.

In an interview with Den of Geek, Trey Edward Shults talked about how he wrote the script for It Comes at Night in just a couple of days following the death of his father, then revisited it a few years later to tweak it. “I would say that the final film is about 85 percent of what that first three days view was,” he said. “I’m not entirely sure, but it always really important to me, because it was stuff just coming out of me [at the time], stuff I didn’t fully understand even, that I went back and psychoanalyzed. But it was important for me to retain that, to convey the mood and tone and emotion of where I was at.”

22. JUSTICE LEAGUE COULD HAVE BEEN A GEORGE MILLER MOVIE.

In the mid-2000s, Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller had been in production on a Justice League movie, getting so far as to have a completed script, costumes designed, and most of the main cast assembled. A writers strike and the ongoing work of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy delayed and eventually shut down the movie just weeks before it was set to film.

23. DENZEL WASHINGTON AND VIOLA DAVIS WERE KNOWN FOR THEIR ROLES IN FENCES LONG BEFORE THE MOVIE ARRIVED.

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences (2016)
David Lee/Paramount Pictures

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis starred in the 2010 Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences, and both won Tony Awards for their roles.

24. SABRETOOTH WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE IN LOGAN.

In one version of the script for Logan, longtime Wolverine foe Sabretooth was set to make an appearance during the casino scene, but his character was removed as the movie went through different drafts.

25. NAOMIE HARRIS HAD TO WORK FAST FOR MOONLIGHT.

Naomie Harris shot all of her scenes for Moonlight in just three days, in the middle of an international publicity tour for Spectre. All that work paid off; she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

26. THE MUMMY'S STUNTS LEFT SEVERAL CREW MEMBERS SICK TO THEIR STOMACHS.

The Mummy's zero gravity plane crash stunt was shot in actual weightless conditions and took 64 takes, leaving many of the crew sick to their stomachs as a result.

27. AUDIENCES SEEMED PRETTY EXCITED FOR THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE.

Executives at Lionsgate had reason to be excited about the potentially huge audience for Power Rangers. The film's teaser trailer generated more than 150 million views within 48 hours of first dropping in October 2016.

28. ALIEN: COVENANT’S NEOMORPH WAS MODELED AFTER THE GOBLIN SHARK.

Even if you don’t know much about the nightmare-inducing goblin shark, its name sort of says it all. The animal is able to extend its teeth forward when attacking its prey in order to allow for a better grip, and to do more damage. It’s this creepy sea dweller that inspired the look of the Neomorph in Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant. "Some of those nature videos are so stomach-churning that they don't pay me enough to watch them," writer John Logan said. “But Ridley will see something to do with insects swarming, for example, which eventually finds its way into a movie. Usually there's some sort of grotesqueness we find interesting.”

29. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING’S TOM HOLLAND IS VERY, VERY YOUNG.

Want to feel old? New Spider-Man Tom Holland wasn’t even born when Michael Keaton, who plays the movie’s villain The Vulture, was Batman in the early 1990s.

30. KENNETH BRANAGH'S MUSTACHE WAS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

Kenneth Branagh in 'Murder on the Orient Express' (2017)
Twentieth Century Fox

Though Kenneth Branagh's remake of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express was met with mixed reviews, viewers and critics agreed that his mustache was spectacular. And it's a good thing—as getting that facial hair right was extremely important to Christie's family, who served as advisers on the film. "The first thing they asked in their creative meeting was, ‘What are you doing about the mustache?'" Branagh said. "There was no twinkle in the eye. I knew it was critical. This mustache is serious business."

'143,' Fred Rogers's Code for "I Love You," Gets Its Own Holiday in Pennsylvania

Family Communications Inc./Getty Images
Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

"It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three."

That quote from Fred Rogers has become a symbol of the children's entertainer's legacy. The number 143, his special code for "I love you," is used by a charity inspired by Rogers, and it was spotlighted in the recent documentary movie Won't You Be My Neighbor? Now, Mister Rogers's favorite number has its own holiday in Pennsylvania.

As Philly Voice reports, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born in Westmoreland County near Pittsburgh and he spent his whole life in the area. By honoring the famous Pennsylvanian with his own holiday, the organizers behind the statewide 143 Day campaign hope to inspire residents to be kind to their neighbors on May 23 and every day of the year.

The initiative encourages schools, businesses, and citizens to share their acts of kindness on social media with the hashtag #143DayinPA. A "kindness tracker" on the campaign's website keeps how many time the hashtag has been used, and so far, over a 6000 acts of kindness have been shared online. And if someone has trouble thinking of ways to honor the spirit of Mister Rogers, the campaign's "kindness generator" can come up with a suggestion for them.

One hundred and forty-three was more than just a fun saying for Fred Rogers: It was a lucky number he made part of his lifestyle. The television personality even went so far as to go swimming every day to maintain his weight at the number.

[h/t Philly Voice]

10 Bizarre Documentaries That Are Stranger Than Fiction

A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
Top Knot Films

Documentaries have grown considerably more ambitious since Fred Ott’s Sneeze, an 1894 clip that documents the irritated sinus cavities of its subject in just five seconds. They can inspire, as in the case of 2019’s Academy Award-winning Free Solo, about bold mountain climber Alex Honnold. They can shine a light on cultural overachievers like Fred Rogers, the subject of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And they can parse political history, with films like 2003's The Fog of War shedding light on decisions that shaped the world.

Other documentaries set out to chronicle true stories that, were they presented as a fictitious, might be hard for people to believe. We’ve profiled such films in previous lists, which you can find here, here, and here. If you’ve already made your way through those tales of cannibals, tragic love affairs, and twist-laden true crime, here are 10 more that will have you staring at your television in disbelief.  

1. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

When Idaho native Jan Broberg was 12 years old in 1974, her neighbor began to take an unseemly and inappropriate interest in her. What begins as a disturbing portrait of predation quickly spirals into an unbelievable and audacious attempt to manipulate Jan’s entire family. Director Skye Borgman’s portrait of seemingly reasonable people who become ensnared in a monstrous plot to separate them from their daughter has drawn some shocking reactions since it began streaming on Netflix earlier this year.

2. The Wolfpack (2015)

Confined to their apartment in a Manhattan housing project for years by parents wary of the world outside their door, the seven Angulo siblings developed an understanding about life through movies. The Wolfpack depicts their attempts to cope with reality after finally emerging from their involuntary exile. Hulu subscribers can watch it now.

3. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

The highly marketable conceit of director Tim Wardle’s documentary is that triplets born in 1961 then separated spent the first 18 years of their lives totally ignorant of their siblings. When they reconnect, it’s a joy. But the movie quickly switches gears to explore the question of why they were separated at birth to begin with. It’s that investigation—and the chilling answer—that lends Three Identical Strangers its bittersweet, haunting atmosphere. It’s currently on Hulu.

4. Tickled (2016)

A ball of yarn bouncing down a flight of stairs is the best metaphor we can summon for the narrative of Tickled, which follows New Zealand journalist David Farrier on what appears at first glance to be a silly story about the world of “competitive endurance tickling.” In the course of reporting on this unusual subculture, Farrier crosses paths with people who would prefer their hobbies remain discreet. When he refuses to let the story go, things grow increasingly tense and dangerous. HBO subscribers can see the film, and it’s also available as a $3.99 rental on Amazon Prime.

5. Billboard Boys (2018)

In 1982, an Allentown, Pennsylvania radio station sponsored a contest in which three men agreed to live underneath a billboard. The last man remaining would win a brand-new motor home, a considerable incentive in the economically-struggling area. Three contestants went up, but things didn't go as planned. It's available for free to Amazon Prime members.

6. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

How far would you be willing to go for a new pick-up truck? That’s the deceptively simple premise for this documentary chronicling an endurance contest in Longview, Texas, where participants agree to keep one hand on the vehicle at all times: The last person standing wins. What begins as a group seeking a prize evolves into a battle of attrition, with all the psychological games and mental fortitude that comes with it. The film can be hard to find, but you can watch the first nine minutes on YouTube for free (above) and then catch the rest for $9.99 on iTunes.

7. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

At the age of 4, upstate New York resident Marla Olmstead began painting sprawling abstract art that her parents sold for premium prices. Later on, a 60 Minutes report called into question whether Marla had some assistance with her work. Was she a child prodigy, or simply a creative girl who had a little help? And if she did, should it matter? My Kid Could Paint That investigates Marla’s process, but it also sheds light on the world of abstract art and the question of who gets to decide whether a creative impulse is valid. You can rent the film for $3.99 on Amazon.

8. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

In 2014, two Wisconsin girls came to a disturbing decision: In order to appease the “Slenderman,” an internet-sourced boogeyman, they would attempt to murder a classmate. The victim survived, but three lives have been altered forever. Beware the Slenderman explores the intersection where mental illness, social media, and urban mythology collide to result in a horrific crime. It’s available to HBO viewers or as a rental on Amazon for $3.99.

9. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

For years, Richard Kuklinski satisfied his homicidal urges by taking on contract killings for organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. Following his arrest and conviction, he agreed to sit down and elaborate on his unusual methodologies for disposing of victims and how he balanced his violent tendencies with a seemingly normal domestic life that included marriage and children. (You can see an example of Kuklinski's chilling disposition in the clip above.) In addition to The Iceman Tapes, which originally aired on HBO, Kuklinski participated in two follow-ups: The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman in 2001 and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist in 2003. See them on HBO or watch the original and both follow-ups for free on Amazon Prime.

10. Tabloid (2010)

Filmmaker Errol Morris (The Fog of War) details the unusual love affair between beauty queen Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson, who alleged McKinney kidnapped and assaulted him after believing he had been brainwashed by the Mormon church. That’s only the beginning of this twisty—and twisted—story, which illustrates how people can perceive the same event in completely different ways. It’s currently streaming on Hulu.

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