Q: Why were such movies as “The Invisible Man” and “The Way Back” available on On Demand so quickly? — Patricia Bellows, via e-mail
A: It was a measure of the given films’ theatrical runs ending so soon, due to theaters closing because of the coronavirus pandemic. That cut any regular-run profits short, so the respective studios decided to rush the titles into On Demand, hoping to recoup whatever money it could in the short term.
Those movies were being made available at home for what a ticket to see them theatrically would have cost (or slightly more than that), but don’t expect it to be a permanent situation. It was a special circumstance caused by the health crisis, which made theater owners more willing to sign off on it. Such major titles as Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” and the James Bond caper “No Time to Die” still are expected to be in theaters later this year.
Q: I have enjoyed “Walk the Line,” the movie biography of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Did Reese Witherspoon or Joaquin Phoenix use their actual voices to sing the songs? — Fran Artis, Fremont, N.C.
A: They both did. Phoenix actually met Johnny Cash before he even knew about the movie directed and co-written by James Mangold (“Ford v Ferrari”) and released in 2005, while Witherspoon — who won an Oscar for her performance — intently studied existing material of June Carter Cash to be able to approximate her voice accurately.
Q: It was nice to see Michelle Borth back for the series finale of “Hawaii Five-O.” Why wasn’t it advertised that she’d be in it? — John Hayes, via e-mail
A: Well, the makers of the CBS reboot had to keep some surprises for the wrap-up, though it must be said that any true fan of the show had to have surmised there was a strong possibility that her role as Steve McGarrett’s (Alex O’Loughlin) on-and-off flame Catherine would figure into the ending somehow.
CBS took a gamble by sending the final “Five-0” episode to TV writers the day before the show was broadcast, but pointedly asked, “No spoilers, please.” Everyone pretty much held to that request, thus letting Catherine’s reappearance be a welcome treat for the “Five-0” faithful when it actually aired.
Q: Is there any chance that the Western series “The Magnificent Seven” with Michael Biehn, Eric Close and Ron Perlman will be shown again on TV? Is it available on DVD? — Kay Berresford, Negley, Ohio
A: Though it’s not in the current lineup, repeats of the show — which originally aired on CBS from 1998 to 2000 — were staples of Saturday nights on the channel This TV for a while. There’s always a chance it could return there, since its programming consists many of MGM-produced offerings, which “The Magnificent Seven” was.
The movies that inspired the show also turn up there often, since those were released by United Artists, which MGM bought the bulk of the film and TV library from. Interestingly, Robert Vaughn had a recurring role in the television version after having been one of the original Seven on the big screen in 1960. The two seasons of the series were released on DVD in 2005 and 2007, with a “Complete Series” set issued in 2008; they still can be found for purchase fairly easily online.
Q: I saw Rowan Atkinson in the James Bond movie “Never Say Never Again.” Is that where he got the idea for his Johnny English character? — Brad Donnelly, Cranston, R.I.
A: Actually, though Atkinson played the character in three movies (to date), the idea actually came from three writers … Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who also have worked on the actual Bond series, and William Davies (the brother of Michael Davies, who developed “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” for the U.S. audience).
It might be thought that Atkinson’s “Mr. Bean” was an inspiration for his “Never Say Never Again” as bumbling Bond contact Nigel Small-Fawcett (opposite Sean Connery, in his final turn as Agent 007), but “Bean” didn’t come until seven years after his Bond stint. In a way, then, Nigel was a set-up for much of the work that Atkinson since has become renowned for globally.