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We’re Coming for the Asteroids. Are the Asteroids Coming for Us?

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What are the most important places to explore in the solar system?

The leading answers to that question have shifted over the years, driven by scientific discoveries, public curiosity, technological realities, and political agendas. For human exploration, the list of plausible destinations has always been short: Earth-orbit and the Moon. (Mars is achievable, no doubt, but we not at all technologically ready to go there right now.) For robotic probes, the list started in the same place but kept going: inward to Mercury and the Sun itself, outward past Neptune and Pluto.

For the most part, though, we’ve ignored the other 99.9999% of the objects in the inner solar system: the asteroids. There are, by current estimates, nearly two million asteroids more than a kilometer in diameter. Collectively, they represent a landscape greater than the surface of the Moon, but we’d never seen one up close until 1991. Even now, we’ve visited just a dozen of them. The asteroids didn’t get much love.

That’s about to change: There currently eight dedicated asteroid missions underway or in development (nine if you include MMX, a Japanese mission to Mars’s inner moon, Phobos, which might be a captured asteroid). Hayabusa2 is about to swing past Earth next week, dropping of samples of asteroid Ryugu over Australia. OSIRIS-REx will follow behind with a larger cache of rocks that it recently collected from another small asteroid, Bennu.

The next round of asteroid missions will try out a bunch of unusual styles of exploration. Lucy will visit the Trojan asteroids that move in the same orbit as Jupiter. The Psyche mission will travel to the asteroid Psyche—a mysterious object that appears to be composed almost entirely of metal. DESTINY+ will head to Phaethon, a “rock-comet” asteroid that appears to be crumbling because it passes so close to the Sun. NEA Scout will use a solar sail to navigate to a near-Earth asteroid.

Most dramatic of all, the DART spacecraft will ram full-speed into a small asteroid Dimorphos in 2022. The goal is to test out a technique for deflecting a dangerous asteroid if we discover one coming our way; four years later, the Hera probe will follow up to assess the damage.

In the fall of 2022, the DART spacecraft will execute a high-speed collision with 160-meter-wide asteroid Dimorphos, seen here orbiting its larger companion, Didymos. (Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

In the fall of 2022, the DART spacecraft will execute a high-speed collision with 160-meter-wide asteroid Dimorphos, seen orbiting its larger companion, Didymos. (Credit: NASA/JHU-APL)

There are many reasons for this current fascination with asteroids. They contain evidence of how our solar system formed, how Earth got its water, maybe even how life got started here. They are rich, complicated mini-worlds in their own right. They are easy to visit because of their very low gravity. Someday asteroids could even provide useful resources for astronauts or for space-based industry.

The DART-Hera pair of missions embody perhaps the most compelling reason why people find asteroids so compelling. We know that small asteroids hit Earth all the time; we know that larger ones can cause significant damage when they hit; and we have the fundamental technology needed to deflect an asteroid if it were on a collision course. Understanding asteroids could therefore be a matter of life and death.

One measure of how much people are moved by the asteroid threat is the regular appearance of “killer asteroid” stories in the tabloid newspapers. A more meaningful measure is the new IMAX movie Asteroid Hunters. The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply reduced its audience for now, but when science museums and IMAX theaters safely reopen, the movie will give you a dramatic view of asteroid science—and especially of the science behind averting a natural disaster from above.

I spoke with Phil Groves, the writer/producer of Asteroid Hunters, to find out why he finds asteroids so interesting, and to understand how he worked to make the science accessible to the general public. An edited version of our conversation follows.

A rubble-pile asteroid, inspired by the actual structure of Bennu, begins to feel the heat of a nuclear blast in Asteroid Hunters. (Credit: IMAX/Huahuang Pictures)

A rubble-pile asteroid, inspired by the actual structure of Bennu, begins to feel the heat of a nuclear blast in Asteroid Hunters. (Credit: IMAX/Huahuang Pictures)

Most IMAX documentaries are very earthbound. What inspired you to make one about asteroids?

I grew up a hardcore NASA geek, before I made a sharp left into the film business. About 12 years ago, I ran into this article describing a proposed European Space Agency mission called Don Quixote [a predecessor to the DART/Hera missions]. It was going to send a probe to knock a binary asteroid, which is a little moon asteroid that goes around a bigger asteroid, to test the notion of asteroid deflection. The idea of protecting our planet against an asteroid this way never occurred to me until I read that article.

At the time, I was running development and global distribution for IMAX, and it struck me that this was the perfect topic for the IMAX format. From there, I began to research the topic, reaching out to NASA and JPL scientists. This film became a passion project.

I’m afraid that most people still picture the movie Armageddon when they think about protecting Earth from a hazardous asteroid.

If an asteroid is headed towards Earth, you send up a bunch of oil rig workers to go blow it up. It’s quite a misunderstanding! One, that is something you wouldn’t bother to do, sending people up there. And two, you wouldn’t want to blow up the asteroid, because then it sends a cloud of buckshot to Earth. But there’s a real problem here, and it’s a problem that is solvable. The threat of asteroids is the most preventable of all natural disasters.

To pump up the drama, some news stories hype the likelihood of an asteroid collision. A major impact is actually a very low-probability risk, but potentially a highly destructive one. How do you communicate a subtle point like that?

It’s a really good question. There are about a billion asteroids going around the sun [if you include the really small ones]. Most of them live in the asteroid belt, but there are two classes of asteroids that we pay particular attention when it comes to planetary defense. One is near-earth asteroids. Its very name tells you why we’re interested in them—because they come close. Then there’s the class of potentially hazardous asteroids, the ones that come very close to intercepting Earth in our orbital path around the Sun. About 10 percent of near-earth asteroids fall into this category.

We know of a couple thousand potentially hazardous asteroids. And here’s the part where you talk about the low probability but high consequence in the event of an asteroid strike: We’ve found only a third of these asteroids, maybe.

So we shouldn’t relax just yet?

The good news is, of the asteroids that we know about, none pose a threat except for at least 100 years or further in the future. But it’s the asteroids that we don’t know about that we have to keep on looking and finding. It’s not a question of if an asteroid will hit Earth again, but when. Look at the Moon: You see all the craters there. Well, Earth has been hit more often than the Moon has been. We just have weather and geology that erase the records.

That said, there’s about 200 impact craters that we do know about on Earth. An asteroid big enough to cause real trouble to a city or even a small country hits earth once about every 100,000 years. The next one could be 100,000 years from now, because that’s just an average obviously, or it could be tomorrow when we find an asteroid that is coming our way. We have to be ready for it. That’s what Asteroid Hunters is all about.

Yeah, let's make sure that doesn't happen: a major asteroid impact as envisioned in the movie Asteroid Hunters (Credit: IMAX/Huahuang Pictures)

Yeah, make sure that doesn’t happen: a major asteroid impact as envisioned in the movie Asteroid Hunters (Credit: IMAX/Huahuang Pictures)

In your view, how much effort to preparing to fend off such an unlikely disaster?

The way I internalize that sort of thinking is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You have a house. You buy a fire extinguisher, and the expense of that fire extinguisher relative to the overall cost of the house is pretty small. The amount of money
that you would have to spend to send up a space telescope to look for asteroids so that we can find it before they find us, is pretty small compared to the overall economy of the world. When you go to sleep at night, you lock your front door. The chances of someone invading your house in the middle of the night is pretty minuscule as well, but you do it. This is the same thing, just on a grander scale.

And it doesn’t even cost that much! NASA’s budget for finding asteroids is probably less than what it costs to make one Hollywood asteroid-disaster movie.

That might be generous, by the way. NASA’s budget for planetary defense in this past year is about 150 million bucks. Just about every Marvel movie made out there cost more than that. And this is the only natural disaster you can actually prevent from happening. You can’t cork a volcano. You can’t throw a net over a hurricane. You can’t glue shut a fault line to stop earthquakes. But this we can stop.

What do you find most scientifically exciting about asteroids?

The coolest fact that I learned along the way [making Asteroid Hunters] is that the asteroid belt is a planet that never came to be because of this big gravitational bully called Jupiter. It jealously prevented a planet from ever taking shape because of its gravitational influences on planetesimals, which is what asteroids are. They’re the leftover materials of construction of the planets of the solar system. The big gap between Mars and Jupiter is because of Jupiter’s huge influence. It was the first planet to form, and it’s the biggest. It kept things stirred up, gravitationally speaking, in that area, so the asteroids were never given a chance to come together and form a planet.

Then over the four-and-a-half billion years, most of the asteroids have either been sent
packing outside of the solar system or sent inward, where they become impactors of the Moon and the Earth, not to mention Venus, Mercury, and Mars. Some also fall into the sun. The asteroid belt today is maybe 1 percent of what it used to be. All of this stuff, it’s a big ammo belt, just being flung outward and inward over the course of the eons.

It’s an exciting time in asteroid exploration, with Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx bringing asteroid samples back to Earth. Any thoughts on these missions?

They’ll help us get an understanding of the construction of our solar system and maybe even the formation of life itself. A lot of these asteroids carry with them organic
compounds. You want to know: Did they bring water to Earth and Mars and perhaps other planets?

What’s also interesting about OSIRIS-REx is the asteroid it’s investigating, Bennu, is one of these potentially hazardous asteroids I was referencing earlier. It’s going to pass close to Earth in 2035. It’s not going to hit then, but Earth’s gravity could have some influence on its orbit around the sun. After that, Bennu may become a real risk to our planet, and it’s a pretty big asteroid. It’s about 500 meters across, more than 1,500 feet.

Behold Bennu, the diamond-shaped rubble-pile asteroid, as imaged by OSIRIS-REx. (Credit: NASA/University of Arizona)

Behold Bennu, the diamond-shaped rubble-pile asteroid, as imaged by OSIRIS-REx. (Credit: NASA/University of Arizona)

The images of Bennu are amazing. It’s a diamond-shaped hunk of gravel.

It’s a rubble pile, and knowing that is an important aspect of planetary defense. How you would mitigate the threat could depend on your understanding of the asteroid structure. Is it mostly metallic, like a big cannon ball? Or is it a rubble pile, where if you whack it too hard, it’ll break apart? Then you’d have a pile of buckshot, which could be just as bad.

For Asteroid Hunters, you researched many different ideas about how to deflect asteroids. Which idea did you find most persuasive?

We show a couple of techniques, the gravity tracker and the kinetic impactor. But my favorite way is also the way that many scientists prefer: sending a nuke out into the path of the asteroid. A nuke is the greatest amount of energy in the smallest package.

When the nuke goes off, it irradiates the surface of the asteroid. The heat that’s reflecting off of the surface and the ablating rock create an opposing thrust, which alters the orbit of the asteroid. It’s kind of a nice one-size-fits-all. It doesn’t matter what the structure of the asteroid is like. For any internal form, it will do a great job in reflecting that heat back out.

It’s a weird time to release a movie like Asteroid Hunters, in the middle of a pandemic. What message do you want people to take away from it?

The heroes of the movie are scientists, who are using the power of science to watch our back. One of the things that’s really important in protecting our planet—not just against asteroids but against any threat, including COVID—is working together. When we are working together, there isn’t anything that we can’t defeat, including the most preventable of all natural disasters.

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Black Sands Entertainment’s Manuel Godoy Reflects on Running a Black-Owned Comic Publisher

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Black Sands Entertainment's Manuel Godoy Reflects on Running a Black-Owned Comic Publisher

While new comic book publishers seem to come and go with the tides, Black Sands Entertainment is making some serious waves within the comic book industry. Run by President Manuel Godoy, Black Sands has an impressive array of comic book and animated series under its umbrella, all focused on Black characters and focusing on the African-American community.

As one of the only Black-owned publishing companies in the United States, Black Sands Entertainment was successful in raising $1 million in December of last year through a WeFunder campaign. CBR spoke with Godoy about the challenges related to being a Black business owner/entrepreneur, the opportunities that lie ahead for Black Sands Entertainment and the upcoming launch of The Black Sands Publishing app.

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CBR: To kick things off, can you go back in time and tell us a little bit about the origin of how Black Sands Entertainment was created?

Manuel Godoy: So in 2016, we funded the corporation for Black Sands Entertainment, and start creating our comic books. Kids 2 Kings was the original name of the main series. And we made a Kids 2 Kings #1 after failing at a video game production. So we had video game production for Black Sands and spent like $20,000 on it, right? It was still expensive, and we only got to a beta at that point. And I was like, “I’m never gonna be able to finish this game.” And so I abandoned that production and pivoted to a more comic-oriented series. And we went to Kickstarter in 2017 for Kids 2 Kings and raised $20,000 for our campaign. And we just haven’t stopped since then. We just kept moving forward, constantly growing and evolving over the years. And now we’re at the precipice of new horizons.

How many titles do you have so far under the umbrella?

So for our specific company, we have about six different titles. So we have six different series that are in our company right now. And on top of that, we also have 26 different titles signed to the BSP, which is our app coming out in February.

Business owners already have a tough time trying to establish themselves. And of course, it only intensifies when you’re a Black entrepreneur. What was the reception like in the creative community once you started to promote Black Sands?

Well, I’ve always been a little bit of a different type of marketer. So as opposed to like, leading so much with the content, I usually lead with the causes, like why people should support this brand, what it means to parents and the kids. And that’s really resonated well with our audience. Currently, 25 percent of our customer base are avid comic book fans. Most of them are just parents who want to have amazing content for their kids. And that’s usually the loop, right? The parents buy for your kids, the kids love it, they email us asking when the next one is coming out, and then we just keep going. And that’s really how we’ve been going. We’re huge on social media. So we have five million impressions a month now. So so we have a really effective, organic marketing campaign.

When you started to go out to promote all your different comics, were you a fixture on the convention circuit, or was it more networking online?

At first, it was the convention circuit. So we were definitely heavy with the convention circuit in 2018 and 2019. I think in 2018 we did like 15 shows, and then in 2019, we did like 25. And then when we got to a point where we just were making way too much money online, to the point where we were like, yeah, there’s no reason to go to shows anymore, except for maybe four major shows. But that was it. And then COVID hit and then we said no more shows. [Laughs] So it was good that we pivoted before that.

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How hands-on are you when it comes to working with the different creators under Black Sands?

Well, for other creators who are assigned to us for BSP, typically, the most I do is just make sure that the management processes are correct. So I’ve already curated the content to say, hey, there’s a clear audience for this content and its high quality, but now we have to figure out what your process is. So maybe the reason why they have three issues, and their brand’s been around for three years is because management’s not that great, right? So that’s usually what I’m most hands-on about is the management, the cost of their pages, the production schedule, the process of making stories. None of this stuff when it comes to their actual story. They can do whatever they want with that. I’m very hands-off when it comes to the creative side.

And since you’re juggling everything, what was your business background in before you got into comics?

Well, I was an Army vet. So I’ve done radar technician work and stuff like that, and then telecommunications and engineering. Those are the main things I used to do, so it was more of a design type feel to my job. I also did some work in the government, right before I finally came into this, but I had a long stretch of unemployment after engineering got outsourced. This is my way of dealing with basic chronic unemployment.

What challenges did COVID pose back during 2020? Were there any plans that needed to be adjusted? Or did new opportunities present themselves?

Well, new opportunities did present themselves, but I did have one issue. I was supposed to go to Seattle for Emerald City Comic-Con. I had already shipped like $20,000 of inventory to Emerald City. And they lost my inventory. Mostly because Seattle was one of the first places to lock down.

Yeah, I think it started out there.

Yeah, everything was messed up there. We didn’t fly yet. So we canceled our flights. But our stuff was already in the process to be shipped there and was gone. And most of it didn’t return. And then USPS was like, “Well, I don’t know what’s going on. So I can’t reimburse your charity.” So I lost like, $8,000 on the trip. I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll cancel all my other shows, this doesn’t look like it’s gonna end anytime soon.” So that was a hiccup. But with that being said, people have become much more open to online purchases. So that’s good for us. Like 75 percent or more of our income came from e-commerce deals.

Have you been able to take part in any of the online conventions that have taken place since last year going into this year?

I really haven’t tried. If I’m not a panelist, I tend to not participate. Most of these companies don’t really know how to make a virtual convention work. So most of the time, people are paying for a spot on a website. And that’s it. That really doesn’t do anything for anybody.

A lot of times you can do better just by hosting your own thing on your YouTube channel.

Yeah, do a couple of social media posts. Most of the time you do better, as far as engagement. So I definitely avoid it. But some people do well. They have little conferences and breakout rooms and everything else. But it’s usually on the smaller side and more professional level. You might have a gaming conference with developers, right? It’s like a developer conference. Those will be better conferences because they’re really small groups, and you actually talk to people and have meetings and everything else throughout the entire week. Those are great. I’ve been to a couple of those.

What can fans look forward to with the publishing app you have coming out next month?

First of all, all the content is free. So it’s a free app to download. It’s going to be for iOS and Android. We also have a forum on there. So basically, anybody who’s a fan of Webtoons or ComiXology, you’re gonna love this app because we have a whole bunch of different kinds of stories, not just superhero stories. I’m a big proponent of a real fleshed-out story. So a lot of different diverse stories, a forum online so you can actually talk on the app. You can talk to people about comics, movies, whatever. We’ll have dozens of episodes coming out every single week.

It’s just a cooler experience than what they normally get from Webtoon. Because we’ve literally looked at Webtoons and brought all the key features that they have to the app. And then on top of that, we added gamification, where you have daily missions, where they have a forum and features that add more of a community aspect to it. Webtoon is a very individual experience — you download it, you might be able to comment and that’s about it. But for the most part, you’re by yourself. Whereas for us, there are 32,000 people on the app right now. So you don’t feel alone.

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What’s the official name of the app going to be?

It’s BSP, so Black Sands Publishing.

Something I’ve been curious about is more and more people have been forced to work from home since 2020. What’s your home/work setup like? Are you the type of person that needs total silence when working? Or do you find yourself listening to music or podcasts?

Yeah, I can’t avoid it, since I have kids. My roof is not the best. I have the entire basement. So I lock that door whenever I can. If they’re watching Shark Man or something like that, and they’re dancing upstairs, there’s nothing I can do. It’s like an earthquake down here. Yeah. So I’ve learned to do a lot of work with a lot of background noise. It’s hard, though. I do hire people all the time for assistance. And other kinds of managers, because no one man can do all this. Somebody else has to run the app and stuff like that.

How many people do you have helping you under the company?

So people who are directly doing the responsibilities that I normally would have, if I was doing them? I’d say I have six official people in charge of specific departments and the company. And then I also have some agencies working for me for either PR or for advertisements and stuff like that.

To wrap up, what do you see in store for Black Sands going into 2021 and beyond?

Well, what we’re looking to do is hit $2 million in sales. For physical books alone, we’re on pace to hit at least $1.2 million. But we really want to increase and get to $2 million. On top of that, we would love to hit maybe 500,000 users on the app by the end of December, but who knows, we might get way more than that. I have a lot of influencers on the team. And we’re also planning on raising a minimum of $10 million this year in capital. This is for the second round for our app and then a round for our animated properties for Black Sands. The animation will probably come out in the summer. And we’re going to use that clip, which is like seven minutes long, as a short. And we’re going to use that to raise the money for the entire show.

So it’s a different kind of process from how shows are typically funded. Usually, you go to like a Netflix of the world or HBO and you say, “Hey, this show is X amount of money,” and they’re like, “Alright, well, I like this show.” I think we’ll have good numbers to pay for it. We’re gonna pay for it ourselves, and then we’re going to be able to go to them as distributors instead of as the people who fund the production themselves.

So the animated shows you’re working on, are they based on the existing comics you’re already publishing?

Yes, Black Sands’ Seven Kingdoms, Cosmic Girls and Boys Family Adventures. Cosmic Girls is already ready to go. We’re pitching that now to some studios like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

You can keep up with Black Sands Entertainment on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and at Black Sands’ website. The Black Sands Publishing app is set to launch on iOS and Android on Feb. 1.

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CartoonExtra 2021 is one of the most visited illegal websites

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CartoonExtra 2021 is one of the most visited illegal websites

CartoonExtra 2021 is one of the most visited illegal websites

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CartoonExtra 2021 is one of the most visited illegal websites

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Movies playing in Southeast Michigan, new releases Jan. 29 | Arts & Entertainment

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Movies playing in Southeast Michigan, new releases Jan. 29 | Arts & Entertainment

 

Theaters are open at limited capacity and without concession refreshments. The following list includes movies available at local theaters, and movies that are available to watch through online streaming services including: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Hulu, Vudu, FandangoNow, Apple TV+, YouTube, Disney+, HBO Max and more.

Showing at theaters

• “Supernova” (R): A gay couple are traveling on a road trip, as dementia sets in on one of them. Starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. In theaters, Jan. 29. Available streaming, Feb 16.

• “The Little Things” (R): A search for a serial killer in Los Angeles dredges up the past for a deputy sheriff working on the case. Starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto and Natalie Morales. In theaters and on HBO Max, Jan. 29.

• “Our Friend” (R): Based on the true story of the Teague family and how their lives are upended by the mom’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. Starring Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel.

• “The Human Factor” (PG-13): A behind-the-scenes story from the last 25 years, of how the United States came within reach of pulling off the impossible – securing peace between Israel and its neighbors. Featured negotiators include Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Gamal Helal and Aaron David Miller.

• “One Night in Miami” (R): Four icons of sports, music, and activism – Cassius Clay, (aka Muhammad Ali), Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown – gathered one night in 1964 to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, and discuss the responsibility of being successful black men during the civil rights movement. Starring Eli Goree, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Leslie Odom Jr. and Aldis Hodge.

• “The Marksman” (PG-13): A former Marine lives a solitary life as a rancher along the Arizona-Mexican border, until he tries to protect a boy on the run from members of a vicious cartel. Starring Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba and Teresa Ruiz.

• “Wrath of Man” (R): A man works for an armored truck company in Los Angeles, moving hundreds of millions of dollars. Starring Jason Statham, Scott Eastwood, Holt McCallany and Josh Hartnett.

• “Monster Hunter” (PG-13): Lt. Artemis and her soldiers are transported to a new world, full of dangerous and powerful monsters. Starring Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa and Ron Perlman.

• “Pinocchio” (PG-13): Adaption of the classic tale, filmed in Italy. Starring Federico Ielapi, Marine Vacth and Davide Marotta.

• “Wonder Woman 1984” (PG-13): A new chapter in the Wonder Woman story, where Diana Prince lives quietly among mortals in modern world, 1984. Starring Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine and Pedro Pascal. In theaters and available on HBO Max.

• “News of the World” (PG-13): After the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, and crosses paths with Johanna, a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own. Kidd agrees to return the child to her biological aunt and uncle, where the law says she belongs. Starring Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel.

• “Promising Young Woman” (R): Everyone said Cassie was a promising young woman until a mysterious event derailed her future. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs of the past. Starring Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham and Laverne Cox.

• “The Croods- A New Age” (PG): The Croods new animated film finds the prehistoric family looking for a new place to live. They find a walled-in paradise that meets their needs. The only problem is another family already lives there: the Bettermans. Starring Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds. Also streaming on demand.

• “Freaky” (R): Millie Kessler is just trying to survive her senior year of high school when she becomes a victim of The Butcher, the town’s infamous serial killer and his mystical ancient dagger, which causes him and Millie to wake up in each other’s bodies. Millie has just 24 hours to get her body back before the switch becomes permanent. Meanwhile, The Butcher looks like her and takes his appetite for carnage to Homecoming. Starring Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton and Celeste O’Connor.

• “Fatale” (R): Derrick (Michael Ealy), is a successful sports agent, until a one night stand turns out to be a police detective (Hilary Swank) who entangles him in her latest investigation. In theaters and available on Premium Video On-Demand, (PVOD).

• “The War with Grandpa” (PG): Comedy about a sixth-grader named Peter (Oakes Fegley) who is forced to give up his bedroom when his recently widowed grandfather Ed (Robert De Niro) moves in. Peter tries to drive out grandpa with elaborate pranks, but grandpa resists. Based on the award-winning book by Robert Kimmel Smith. Also starring Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Cheech Marin, Laura Marano and Jane Seymour. In theaters and available on Amazon Prime.

Streaming movies

• “The Dig”: Escavators find a wooden ship from the Dark Ages while digging up a burial ground on a woman’s estate. Starring Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James and Johnny Flynn. Available on Netflix, Jan. 29.

• “Palmer” (R): Former high-school football star Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) returns home to Louisiana after serving 12 years in a state penitentiary. He moves back in with his grandmother, (June Squibb), who raised him and tries to rebuild a quiet life. Complications arise when the hard-living neighbor Shelly (Juno Temple) disappears leaving her 7-year-old son Sam (Ryder Allen) in Palmer’s reluctant care. Available on Apple TV+, Jan. 29.

• “The White Tiger” (R): Based on the best-selling novel of the same name about a poor villager who climbs to success in modern India. Available on Netflix.

• “The Kid Detective” (R): A down-and-out detective teams up with a teenager to solve the mysterious murder of her boyfriend. Starring Adam Brody and Sophie Nelisse. Available on Amazon Prime.

• “Outside the Wire” (R): Sci-fi film about a drone pilot sent into a war zone to help an android officer stop a nuclear attack. Starring Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris and Emily Beecham. Available on Netflix.

• Pieces of a Woman”: A home birth ends in tragedy for a Boston couple, (Martha and Sean). The story centers on Martha as she learns to live with her grief while working through fractious relationships with Sean and her mother along with the publicly vilified midwife, whom she must face in court. Starring Vanessa Kirby, Ellen Burstyn, Shia LaBeouf and Molly Parker. Available on Netflix.

• “Herself” (R): A young mother escapes her abusive husband and fights back against a broken housing system. Starring Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter and Ericka Roe.

• “Shadow in the Cloud” (R) A female WWII pilot travels with top-secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress and encounters an evil presence on board. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson and Taylor John Smith.

• “The Midnight Sky” (PG-13): Post-apocalyptic tale follows a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop fellow astronauts from returning home to a global catastrophe. Starring George Clooney, Felicity Jones and David Oyelowo. Available on Netflix.

• “Soul” (PG): Pixar Animation Studios’ introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before, where souls go before they go to Earth. Also starring voice of Tina Fey. Available on Disney+.

• “Tenet” (PG-13): Action epic from the world of international espionage, directed by Christopher Nolan. It is a co-production between the United Kingdom and United States, filmed on location across seven countries. Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia and Michael Caine.

• “Greenland” (PG-13): A family makes a perilous journey for survival as a planet-killing comet races towards Earth. Starring Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin. Available on Premium Video On-Demand, (PVOD).

• “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”: During an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago, trailblazing performer Ma Rainey, the “Mother of the Blues,” engages in a battle of wills with her white producer over control of her music. As the band waits, trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — and spurs his fellow musicians. Starring Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman. Available on Netflix.

• “The Prom” (PG-13): New York City stage stars try to resurrect their new Broadway show that is a major flop, by supporting a small-town, high school student who has been banned by the PTA from attending the prom with her girlfriend. Starring Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key. Available on Netflix.

• “Songbird” (PG-13): Set in Los Angeles, the world is in its fourth year of lockdown after the COVID-23 virus has mutated. A courier, Nico (KJ Apa), who’s immune to the virus, races to save the woman he loves, Sara (Sofia Carson), from a quarantine camp.

• “Sound of Metal” (R): A heavy-rock drummer suddenly loses his hearing, starring Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke and Mathieu Amalric. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

• “Wander” (R): Hired to investigate a suspicious death, a private investigator becomes convinced it is linked to the same conspiracy and cover-up that caused his daughter’s death. Starring Aaron Eckhart, Tommy Lee Jones and Heather Graham.

• “What Lies Below”: Science-fiction thriller about a 16-year-old who returns home from camp to learn that her mother has a mysterious fiancé. Starring Ema Horvath, Mena Suvari, Trey Tucker and Troy Iwata.

• “Minor Premise”: Attempting to surpass his father’s legacy, a reclusive neuroscientist becomes entangled in his experiment, pitting 10 fragments of his consciousness against each other. Starring Sathya Sridharan, Paton Ashbrook, Dana Ashbrook, Purva Bedi and Alex Breaux.

• “Hillbilly Elegy” (R): A Yale Law student goes back to his Appalachian hometown. Starring Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso and Haley Bennett. Available on Netflix.

• “Lego Star Wars Holiday Special”: An animated sequel set after the events of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Available on Disney+.

• “Iron Mask”: Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in this misguided adventure.

• “The Nest” (R): An entrepreneur and his family begin to unravel after moving into an old country manor in England in the 1980s. Starring Jude Law, Carrie Coon and Anne Reid.

• “The Forty-Year-Old Version” (R): A struggling New York City playwright reinvents herself as a rapper. Starring Welker White, Reed Birney and Jacob Ming. Available on Netflix.

• “Echo Boomers” (R): Thriller about disillusioned millennials who break into wealthy homes in Chicago. Starring Patrick Schwarzenegger, Alex Pettyfer and Michael Shannon.

• “The Life Ahead” (PG-13): Set in Italy, Sophia Loren plays a Holocaust survivor who forges a friendship with a young immigrant, who recently robbed her. Based on Romain Gary’s 1975 book “The Life Before Us”. Available on Netflix.

• “2 Hearts” (PG-13): A story about two romances: a college student in love with a classmate, and a wealthy Cuban exile in love with a flight attendant. Starring Jacob Elordi, Tiera Skovbye and Adan Canto. Available on Fandango Now.

• “Infidel” (R): A desperate woman tries to save her husband after he’s kidnapped and put on trial for espionage in Iran. Starring Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan and Hal Ozsan.

• “On the Rocks” (R): A New York woman and her father try to find out if her husband is having an affair. Starring Bill Murray, Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans. Available on Apple TV+.

• “The Witches” (PG): Remake of a 1990 movie based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name about a young orphaned boy who goes to live with his loving grandma in Alabama. The boy and his grandmother encounter deceptively glamorous witches. Starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock. Available on HBO Max.

• “Spell” (R): While flying a plane to his father’s funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis to lose control of the plane carrying himself and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in the attic of Ms. Eloise, a Hoodoo practitioner, who claims she can nurse him back to health. Unable to call for help, Marquis tries to break free and save his family from a sinister ritual. Starring Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and Andre Jacobs. Available on Fandango Now and Vudu.

• “Borat-Subsequent Movie Film” (R): Kazakh funnyman Borat is released from prison for bringing shame to his country, and then returns to America with his 15-year-old daughter. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

• “Rebecca” (PG-13): Psychological thriller based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 gothic novel about a newly married young woman who moves into her new husband ’s family estate, battling the shadow of his first wife, the elegant and urbane Rebecca. Starring Lily James, Armie Hammer and Kristin Scott Thomas. Available on Netflix.

• “The Broken Hearts Gallery” (PG-13): Lucy, a 20-something art gallery assistant living in New York City, saves a souvenir from each past relationship. Starring Dacre Montgomery, Geraldine Viswanathan and Phillipa Soo.

• “The New Mutants” (PG-13): Film based on the Marvel comic series about five young people who demonstrate special powers and are brought to a secret institution to undergo treatments they are told will cure them of the dangers of their powers. Starring Blu Hunt, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Anya Taylor-Joy and Alice Braga.

• “Unhinged” (R): Russell Crowe stars in this psychological thriller that takes road rage to a terrifying conclusion. Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late getting to work when she crosses paths with a stranger (Crowe) at a traffic light. Soon, Rachel finds herself and everyone she loves the target of a man who feels invisible and is looking to make one last mark upon the world by teaching her a series of deadly lessons.

• “Cut Throat City” (R): Action heist movie, set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastation. Starring Demetrius Shipp Jr., Shameik Moore, Kat Graham, Eiza González and Wesley Snipes. Available for video rent or to buy.

• “Enola Holmes” (PG-13): Based on the book series by Nancy Springer, the film is set in England, 1884. Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) wakes on her 16th birthday, to find that her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts. Placed under the care of her brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), Enola escapes to search for her mother in London. Available on Netflix.

• “The Devil All the Time” (R): A young man is devoted to protecting his loved ones in a town full of corruption. Starring Tom Holland II, Bill Skarsgård and Riley Keough.

• “Antebellum” (R): Thriller about a successful author who finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality. Starring Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange and Jena Malone.

• Mulan (PG-13): Live action remake of the 1999 animated Disney film of the same name about Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, who steps in to take the place of her ailing father, to serve in the Imperial Army. Starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen and Jason Scott Lee. Available on Disney+.

• “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (R): Based on novel by Ian Reid, the film stars Jessie Buckley as a young woman who takes a road trip with her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to his family farm. Also starring Toni Collette and David Thewlis. Available on Netflix.

• “Bill and Ted Face the Music” (PG-13): Bill and Ted, now middle aged, set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that “only their song can save life as we know it”. They are helped by their daughters and a few music legends. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and Samara Weaving.

• “The One and Only Ivan” (PG): Disney animated film based on a Newbery Medal-winning book about a gorilla named Ivan, who tries to piece together his past with the help of an elephant named Stella, starring Angelina Jolie, Sam Rockwell, Danny DeVito and Bryan Cranston. Available on Disney+.

• The Sleepover” (PG): Two siblings learn their mother is a highly trained former thief kidnapped for one last job, and only they can save her. Starring Sadie Stanley, Maxwell Simkins and Ken Marino. Available on Netflix.

• “Project Power” (R): A mysterious new pill on the streets of New Orleans unlocks superpowers unique to each user, but the effects are not known until after taking the pill. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dominique Fishback and Jamie Foxx. Available on Netflix.

• “The Burnt Orange Heresy” (R): Art critic, James Figueras (Claes Bang), has fallen from grace, and goes to work in Milan lecturing tourists about art history. He is contacted by wealthy art dealer Joseph Cassidy (Mick Jagger) who asks him to steal a painting from a reclusive artist, Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland). Also starring Elizabeth Debicki.

• “The Tax Collector” (NR): Two longtime “tax collectors” for a crime lord face difficulties when a rival crime lord returns to the area, set in Los Angeles. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Bobby Soto and George Lopez.

• “I Used to Go Here” (NR): An author becomes involved in the lives of a group of college students after being asked to speak at her alma mater. Starring Gillian Jacobs, Josh Wiggins and Jemaine Clement.

• “The Secret Garden” (PG): Based on the classic novel written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Set in England, the film follows a young orphan girl who is sent to live with her uncle, where she discovers a magical garden on his estate. Starring Colin Firth, Julie Walters and Dixie Egerickx.

• “The Rental” (R): Two couples take a weekend trip at an oceanside getaway rental house and start to suspect the host may be spying on them. Starring Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, and Sheila Vand. Horror film, directed by Dave Franco.

• “The Kissing Booth 2” (NR): After a romantic summer with her reformed bad-boy boyfriend Elle Evans (Joey King) heads back to high school for her senior year. Also starring Jacob Elordi, Joel Courtney and Taylor Zakhar Perez. Available on Netflix.

• “The Old Guard” (R): A group of immortal mercenaries, led by a warrior, Andy (Charlize Theron), have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. When their extraordinary abilities are exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to protect their power. Based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka. Available on Netflix.

— MediaNews Group

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