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With a sequel in the works, 'Red, White & Royal Blue' stars reflect on its success — and R rating

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With a sequel in the works, 'Red, White & Royal Blue' stars reflect on its success — and R rating
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With a sequel in the works, 'Red, White & Royal Blue' stars reflect on its success — and R rating

2024-05-23 21:18 Last Updated At:21:20

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When “Red, White & Royal Blue” debuted last summer, it did so without fanfare or spectacle, landing squarely amid historic Hollywood strikes that precluded its stars from lending their press-friendly faces to promote the movie.

But the lack of publicity surrounding the Amazon Studios rom-com’s premiere didn’t deter it from becoming a hit with audiences. The streaming service said it was the top watched film on its platform for weeks, and that it brought in a surge of subscribers.

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Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When “Red, White & Royal Blue” debuted last summer, it did so without fanfare or spectacle, landing squarely amid historic Hollywood strikes that precluded its stars from lending their press-friendly faces to promote the movie.

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

As a further testament to the movie’s success, the studio recently announced — amid a determined Emmy campaign — that a sequel was in the works, which is no small feat given the slowed production that has followed the resolution of the strikes.

For stars Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez, watching the film gain that kind of organic fanbase was particularly meaningful because of the role “Red, White & Royal Blue” plays in queer storytelling.

“After filming and kind of getting some space from it is when I really realized what this was going to do for the community. And people outside of the community,” Perez said. “It just provides empathy, you know?”

The film is reminiscent of the kind of fairytale flick that was seemingly ubiquitous two decades ago, familiar in every way except for the fact that its lovers are both men.

The movie, directed by Matthew López, the Tony-winning playwright of “The Inheritance” who co-wrote the script with Ted Malawer, is based on the bestselling novel by Casey McQuiston. It's a hate-turns-to-love story about a British prince who begins a secret romantic affair with the son of the American president (played in the movie by a drawling Uma Thurman).

Galitzine is fresh off a press tour for another Amazon rom-com — “The Idea of You” — where he plays a 24-year-old pop star who begins a relationship with a single 40-year-old mom (Anne Hathaway).

While its backdrops of Los Angeles and Coachella are miles and worlds away from the scenes of Washington and Buckingham Palace that adorn “Red, White & Royal Blue,” Galitzine says both films contain similar themes to which the actor is often drawn.

“I find people who are trapped by circumstance really interesting,” he said. “People may be thinking they’re one way, but not really sort of knowing their inner qualities and thoughts. I think that’s kind of been a recurring thing I’ve found quite interesting over the years.”

“Red, White & Royal Blue” contains fewer sex scenes than the novel upon which it is based, but that didn’t stop the film from getting an R rating from the Motion Picture Association, frustrating some fans following its release.

Both Galitzine and Perez said they were surprised when they found out about the rating and agreed with critics who said it wasn’t warranted.

“You Americans are very sensitive,” Galitzine observed before his co-star interjected, musing about what he perceives to be a double standard.

“You can point-blank shoot someone and it’s PG-13,” Perez said. “If you have queer romance on screen, it’s rated R.”

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine, cast members in "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

This image released by Amazon Prime shows Taylor Zakhar Perez, left, and Nicholas Galitzine in a scene from "Red, White & Royal Blue." (Prime Video via AP)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Nicholas Galitzine, left, and Taylor Zakhar Perez, cast members in the film "Red, White & Royal Blue," pose for a portrait, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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Movie Review: A new generation drives into the storm in rousing ‘Twisters’

2024-07-18 01:15 Last Updated At:01:22

We have a complex relationship with disaster movies. Just look at the discussion about a “ Twisters ” poster, which became a perfect encapsulation of our love-hate tendencies.

In the promo for the film, in theaters Thursday, actors Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell and Anthony Ramos are standing in front a massive, menacing cyclone. It not only contains various objects swirling in mid-air, from houses to trucks, but also appears to be on fire. Some people wondered why the stars weren’t looking at said tornado. Others said if you’re asking questions like why the tornado is on fire, this movie isn’t for you.

Both lines of thought can be true though. Maybe their coexistence is essential. This makes no sense! Also, sign me up immediately! Disaster movies are almost required to be graded on a curve. And filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung’s entry into the canon is perfectly paradoxical.

It might not be fair, or rational, but there is something about the genre that inspires otherwise reasonable moviegoers to giddily give themselves over to a wild premise — the more ridiculous and illogical the better. There is something to be said about the joy of collective laughter where there wasn’t an intentional joke, or a spirited post-movie debate about the flawed logistics of a plan and exactly how many people have died from being sucked into a tornado. These are the movies that are hard to see clearly the first time but tend to become sneaky favorites over the years.

Such is the case with “Twister,” Jan de Bont’s film about storm chasing and remarriage. The modern collective love for it would probably surprise even the critics who reviewed it favorably in 1996. Part of that is certainly the fact that in the 28 years since it was released we lost both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Paxton. But it’s also just fun to watch with fresh eyes, to see the internet remember (or realize for the first time) that one of the storm chasers was played by Todd Field, the man who would go on to write and direct “Tár.” I re-watched it recently on plane and had a blast. I’d forgotten the insane opening but remembered Dusty’s impassioned foot chant.

There’s been a lot of cautious optimism surrounding “Twisters” that’s felt different from a lot of the reboots and “new chapters” (anything to avoid calling it a sequel) that have come and gone in recent years. Audiences are craving something big and fun, but worried that it won’t live up to their idea of what it should be. This is inherently flawed because “Twister” has earned its reputation, its quotability, across many viewings and many years. “Twisters” we’re just meeting. It’s hard to get too excited about a first date.

But Chung, a filmmaker best known for the comparatively small “Minari,” has made a solid film with escalating action sequences that look great on the big screen. There is once again a crazy opening that gives Edgar-Jones’ tornado-obsessed Kate a trauma origin story. Her hubris in thinking she could “tame” a tornado with science backfired and people died; But five years later her old friend Javi (Ramos) convinces her to come back to Oklahoma’s Tornado Alley to attempt a different kind of study.

The story is credited to Joseph Kosinski (who was once going to direct) and the screenplay to Mark L. Smith (“The Revenant”) and none of them can get the original out of their heads. Yes, these are all new characters (including Powell’s YouTube star storm wrangler Tyler) and the only real connection to the first movie is that the Dorothy technology exists. But it is so referential as to be distracting: Literal lines of dialogue (“I’m not back”); An attempt to make Tyler’s crew a gang of Dustys (which underserves actors like Sasha Lane and Katy O’Brian); Making David Corenswet wear what’s essentially a recreation of Carey Elwes’ baseball cap and earpiece. Don’t they want us to think of “Twisters” on its own terms?

But Chung clearly also had a vision, attempting to ground the insanity in a real place with regionally appropriate styles and music, and deeper characterization. The supporting players were thoughtfully cast. Its leads, Powell and Edgar-Jones, are endlessly watchable with palpable chemistry, even as they’re monologuing about sodium polyacrylate.

I wish I had the ability to know how “Twisters” will play 28 years from now, in 2052. Will the 12-year-olds seeing it this weekend go back to it as a comfort watch? Will it feel like it was part of the good old days of big studio movie making? Right now, it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s destined for that kind of longevity. And I’d love nothing more than to be wrong about that.

“Twisters,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association for “intense action and peril, injury images, some language.” Running time: 122 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Sasha Lane, left, and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Sasha Lane, left, and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, from left, Anthony Ramos and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, from left, Anthony Ramos and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, from left, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Maura Tierney in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, from left, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Maura Tierney in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Harry Hadden-Paton in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Harry Hadden-Paton in a scene from "Twisters." (Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Brandon Perea, from left, Harry Hadden-Paton and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Brandon Perea, from left, Harry Hadden-Paton and Glen Powell in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, left, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, left, and Anthony Ramos in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Daisy Edgar-Jones, left, and Anthony Ramos in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, right, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Glen Powell, right, and Daisy Edgar-Jones in a scene from "Twisters." (Universal Pictures via AP)

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