9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Gamer

Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Here are nine winning facts about directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s 2009 action-packed shoot-em-up, Gamer.

1. IT WAS AT THE FOREFRONT OF DIGITAL CINEMA TECHNOLOGY.

Gamer was one of the first major motion pictures to be shot digitally using the RED ONE movie camera, which allows 4K footage to be transferred immediately to a flash card after filming in order to speed up the post-production process. RED cameras are now commonplace in the industry, with everything from expensive blockbusters like Deadpool 2 to documentaries like Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time using them.

2. BUT WAS MAYBE A LITTLE TOO AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

The filmmakers originally planned to shoot Gamer in 3D (before Avatar reignited the trend), but budget constraints forced them to scrap the idea. It was later converted to 3D for the movie’s home video release.

3. THE FILMMAKERS BLEW UP DOWNTOWN ALBUQUERQUE DURING SHOOTING.

Gamer was shot entirely on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in order to shoot the urban battle sequences, the filmmakers were given an entire intersection of downtown Albuquerque. They even built fake buildings in vacant areas of the intersection in order to blow them up for the battle scenes.

4. THE DIRECTORS AREN'T HUGE GAMERS AS ADULTS.

Though the movie looks at the darker side of what a video game world is capable of, Neveldine and Taylor weren't big gamers before diving into research for the movie. "As a kid, I was a huge gamer. I was never off of the Pac-Man or the original Nintendo. I didn’t follow that through," Neveldine said. Taylor responded with, "I feel like I probably would be one if I had the time."

5. LUDACRIS’S ROLE WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM.

The rapper/actor was such a big fan of Crank that he asked the directing duo to write a role for him in their next movie. They obliged by writing the role of Brother, the leader of the underground activist organization, just for him.

6. BEFORE MAKING GAMER, MARK NEVELDINE ALMOST ADAPTED A REAL VIDEO GAME.

Years before Gamer hit the screen, Neveldine was hired to write the script for a movie adaptation of the Grand Theft Auto video game series. There was one problem, though: There was already a movie called Grand Theft Auto that Ron Howard starred in and directed back in 1977. The rights issues delayed the project, which Neveldine eventually left.

7. TOXIC AVENGER FANS MAY SPOT A FAMILIAR FACE IN THE DOWNTOWN BATTLE SCENE.

Troma Entertainment co-founder Lloyd Kaufman makes a cameo (at :42 in the video above) as a Genericon during one of the movie's action scenes.

8. THERE'S A RUNNING MAN EASTER EGG IN THE MOVIE.

Gamer and 1987's The Running Man share plenty of themes, but eagle-eyed fans may notice that there's even more that the two movies have in common. According to Brian Taylor, one of the costumes that Arnold Schwarzenegger wears in Running Man can be seen on one of the characters in the Society in Gamer.

9. THE FILMMAKERS SHOT MUCH OF THE MOVIE ON ROLLER BLADES.

Neveldine concocted a technique he dubbed the “Rollercam”—holding the camera while skating on roller blades—in order to get up close to the intense action.

8 Facts About Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon
Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon

Longtime Harry Potter fans who feel like first-years at heart may find it hard to believe, but the books have been around for decades. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, which follows Harry as he faces Dementors, investigates the mysterious Sirius Black, and gets through his third year at Hogwarts.

From Rowling’s writing process to how it changed The New York Times Best Sellers list, here are some facts you should know about the wildly popular book.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was J.K. Rowling’s "best writing experience."

In a 2004 interview with USA Today, Rowling described the creation of Prisoner of Azkaban as “the best writing experience I ever had.” This had more to do with where Rowling was at in her professional life than the content of the actual story. By book three, she was successful enough where she didn’t have to worry about finances, but not yet so famous that the she felt the stress of being in the public eye.

2. The Dementors represent depression.

Readers who live with depression may see something familiar in Prisoner of Azkaban’s soul-sucking Dementors. According to the book, “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself ... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

Rowling has stated that she based the Dementor’s effects on her own experiences with depression. "[Depression] is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again," she told The Times in 2000. "The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It's a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different."

3. Rowling regretted giving Harry the Marauder’s Map.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Marauder’s Map is introduced as a way for Harry to track Sirius Black and learn of the survival of Peter Pettigrew. But this plot device proved problematic for Rowling later on this series. In Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, she wrote, “The Marauder’s Map subsequently became something of a bane to its true originator (me), because it allowed Harry a little too much freedom of information.” She went on to say that she sometimes wished she had made Harry lose the map for good in the later books.

4. Rowling was excited to introduce Remus Lupin.

One of the aspects Rowling most enjoyed about writing Prisoner of Azkaban was introducing Remus Lupin. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and secret werewolf is one of the author's favorite characters in the series, and as she told Barnes & Noble in 1999, “I was looking forward to writing the third book from the start of the first because that's when Professor Lupin appears.”

5. Crookshanks is based on a real cat.

Harry had Hedwig the owl, Ron had his pet rat Scabbers, and in book three, Hermione got a pet of her own: an intelligent half-Kneazle cat named Crookshanks. J.K. Rowling is allergic to cats, and she admits on her website that she prefers dogs, but she does have fond memories of a cat that roamed the London neighborhood where she worked in the 1980s. When writing Crookshanks, she gave him that cat’s haughty attitude and smushed-face appearance.

6. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book Americans had to wait for.

Harry Potter fans based in America will no doubt remember waiting months after a book’s initial release in England to buy it from their local bookstore. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book with a staggered publication date: Beginning with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the rest of the books in the series were published in both markets on the same date.

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban broke sales records.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sold 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of its release, making it the fastest-selling British book of all time in 1999. The book has since gone on to sell more than 65 million copies worldwide and helped make Harry Potter the bestselling book series ever.

8. It changed The New York Times Best Sellers List.

For part of 1999, the first three Harry Potter books—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (which is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone pretty much everywhere besides America), Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban—occupied the top three slots on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It didn’t stay that way for long, though: Prisoner of Azkaban was the book that pushed the paper to create a separate list just for children’s literature, leaving more room on the original list for books aimed at adults. That’s why Harry Potter is missing from the famous bestsellers roundup during the 2000s, despite dominating book sales at this time.

Game of Thrones Star Emilia Clarke Turned Down the Lead in 50 Shades of Grey

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Though Emilia Clarke is undoubtedly best known for her starring role on Game of Thrones, she has landed some other plum parts over the past several years, including Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, the role of Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the lead in Phillip Noyce's upcoming Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston. But there's one major role Clarke passed on, and has no regrets about it: Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise.

The movies, based on E. L. James's erotic book series, trace the sadomasochistic/romantic relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire businessman Christian Grey. Both the books and the movies have garnered a lot of criticism for their graphic nudity and sex scenes. While Clarke is no stranger to appearing nude on film for her role as Daenerys Targaryen, she said that 50 Shades of Grey would have taken her too far out of her comfort zone.

“There is a huge amount of nudity in the film,” the British actress told The Sun of her reasons for not wanting to get involved with the film series. “I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.”

Even without 50 Shades of Grey on her resume, Clarke says she has dealt with a lot of negative backlash because of the nudity in Game of Thrones. “I get a lot of crap for nude and sex scenes,” the 32-year-old star said. “Women hating on women. It’s so anti-feminist.”

When we last left Daenerys, she seemed to be getting serious about Jon Snow—who, unbeknownst to the two of them, is her nephew. We'll see how that unpleasant discovery plays out when Game of Thrones returns on April 14, 2019.

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