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Empire Movie News


Brenton Thwaites Set For Pirates Of The Caribbean 5

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:55:40 GMT

Brenton Thwaites Set For Pirates Of The Caribbean 5

He'll discover if Dead Men Tell No Tales

Brenton-Thwaites-Pirates-5

With Johnny Depp as usual strapped to the mast as Captain Jack Sparrow and not one, but two directors (Kon-Tiki duo Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg) recruited, the fifth Pirates Of The Caribbean film, Dead Men Tell No Tales is gathering the rest of its scurvy crew. Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites has now won the coveted role on Henry.

Disney went on the usual casting splurge recently, looking at the likes of Kingsman’s Taron Egerton, Pride’s George Mackay and The Fault In Our Stars’ Ansel Elgort to fill the type of role once held by Orlando Bloom and, more recently, Sam Claflin in On Stranger Tides. Thwaites won out to play the dashing British soldier who will factor into the plot somehow.

With a script that has seen work from Jeff Nathanson, Dead Men Tell No Tales is busy building the cast, with offers out to Javier Bardem and Christoph Waltz and a rumoured return for some of the first four films’ actors to reunite alongside Depp. The fifth Pirates outing will set sail in cinemas on July 7, 2017.

Thwaites, seen this year in Maleficent and The Giver, has a few films coming up. He’ll next appear alongside Ewan McGregor in Son Of A Gun (due January 30) and then horror thriller The Signal, which arrives on February 13. And waiting in the wings for 2016, he has Alex Proyas’ Gods Of Egypt.


First Trailer For Strange Magic

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:03:55 GMT

First Trailer For Strange Magic

Elf and safety

A couple of weeks ago, the world at large learned of the existence of Strange Magic, an animated adventure based on an idea by George Lucas that had quietly been developing at his Lucasfilm company under the aegis of director Gary Rydstrom. With the movie arriving in the US in a couple of months, the trailer has now appeared. 

Strange Magic is set in a world where the kingdoms of the magical and the mysterious are linked but never meet. Then an interloper crosses the border and all manner of chaos breaks out, mostly to do with a powerful potion that both sides wish control over. 

{Strange Magic Pics}

Loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the film is powered along by pop songs that apparently help tell the story, even if it all seems a little basic in terms of plot. The cast includes Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredeth Anne Bull, Alfred Molina, Elijah Kelley, Bob Einstein and Peter Stormare and arrives in US cinemas on January 23. As for when it’ll make it over here? That’s anyone’s guess right now.








The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Flies High At The US Box Office

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 18:48:27 GMT

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Flies High At The US Box Office

But it's still the franchise's lowest domestic opening

Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Flies-High-US-Box-Office

There was good news and bad news for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 at the box office this weekend. First the good: with $123 million at US cinemas alone (and $275 million worldwide so far), the film has rocketed to the top of the earnings chart for the most successful opening weekend of 2014. And the bad? Despite that success, it’s still lagging behind both the original Hunger Games and Catching Fire in terms of first weekend hauls.

Big Hero 6 continues to hold on well, sticking around in second place for $20 million this weekend, having long since flown past the $100 million mark for $135.7 million in the States. There will be a lot of kids asking for a Baymax robot for Christmas this year. Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar also stayed in place, holding at third with $15.1 million and a $120.6 million total so far. Dumb And Dumber To sank quickly from last week’s first-place launch, falling to fourth with $13.8 million, while David Fincher’s Gone Girl also remained where it was in fifth, adding $2.8 million for a $156.8 million Stateside running total.

Beyond The Lights slipped a couple of places, landing at sixth with $2.6 million, just ahead of Bill Murray’s indie comedy drama St. Vincent, which fell one place to seventh and $2.3 million. Fury retreated one place to eighth for $1.9 million, while Birdman continued to impress despite showing in fewer cinemas than all of its chart-mates. Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s dark comedy took in $1.8 million in ninth, swapping places with Nightcrawler, which made $1.2 million at 10th.

To see Katniss Everdeen shoot an arrow into Baymax to watch him deflate while apologising for injuring her weapon in the full chart listings, head to Box Office Mojo.


Channing Tatum Says Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 18:48:24 GMT

Channing Tatum Says Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

He'll co-direct the film with Reid Carolin

Channing-Tatum-Reid-Carolin

There was talk a while ago that Channing Tatum might direct the Magic Mike sequel, but that job instead went to Gregory Jacobs. Then came the announcement that Tatum and producing partner Reid Carolin are attached to make an adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s novel The Son. And while that hasn’t yet come to fruition, they’ve also set up another potential co-directing project with Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

With Tatum and Carolin also aboard to produce, the pair is now looking for a writer to adapt Matthew Quick’s book, which is set in a high school. The main character is a seriously troubled student to plans a murder-suicide pact with his best friend, before a courageous teacher – potentially a role Tatum will fill in the film – acts to try and intervene.

Given that it comes from the writer of Silver Linings Playbook, the novel has naturally attracted plenty of attention, even before Tatum and Carolin got involved. The pair has been at work on Magic Mike XXL, which they co-wrote and Tatum is starring in.

Acting-wise, Tatum is drawing plaudits for his role in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher (out January 9), and has a part in the Coen brothers latest, Hail, Caesar! He’ll next show up in the Wachowskis’ delayed sci-fi pic Jupiter Ascending, which lands here on February 6.


Jean-Marc Vallee In Talks For Janis Joplin Biopic

Sun, 23 Nov 2014 18:48:23 GMT

Jean-Marc Vallee In Talks For Janis Joplin Biopic

Amy Adams still attached to star

Jean-Marc-Vallee-Janis-Joplin-Biopic

After helping Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscar success with Dallas Buyers Club, director Jean-Marc Vallee is back in gong season with this year’s Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. And he’s already looking ahead to more potential awards bait, entering negotiations to direct the long-developing Janis Joplin biopic with Amy Adams in the lead.

Joplin’s storied life and music career has been a fascination for filmmakers for years: at one point there were competing projects warbling their way through development. And in its time, the Joplin biopic has attracted the likes of Lee Daniels, Catherine Hardwicke and Fernando Meirelles, with Renee Zellweger seriously interested in the lead.

Adams, of course, has the singing ability and has proven her acting chops, so she seems like a good fit. And this current iteration of the project boasts the potential for a reunion of the Dallas Buyers Club creative team, with that film’s writers, Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack, in negotiations to take fresh pass at the script, which originated with producers Ron Terry and Theresa Kounin-Terry.

Vallee has already been busy, shooting the drama Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, which will be out next year, and the director is likely to tackle the Joplin film in the second half of 2015.








Exclusive Hobbit Behind-The-Scenes Still

Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:49:20 GMT

Exclusive Hobbit Behind-The-Scenes Still

Thorin da house

Peter Jackson has edited the upcoming issue of Empire - on newsagents' shelves next week (November 27) - and to celebrate, there will be an ever-so-tantalising drip feed of Hobbity goodness here on EmpireOnline.com. Yesterday, there was Jackson himself and the subscribers' cover; today, there's a behind-the-scenes shot that proves why Richard Armitage is the king.

{Exclusive The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Behind-The-Scenes Still}

As you may already know, this finale finds the Dwarves, led by Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield, reclaiming the vast wealth of their mountain home of Erebor, but all is definitely not going to go smoothly. In taking back the mountain, they unleashed the terrifying dragon Smaug, who has flown off to attack the humans of the nearby Lake-town after realising that they helped the dwarves.

That’s not all that Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and his comrades have to worry about, because an ancient enemy has returned in force to Middle-earth. The clash with Smaug is just one part of the battle, with the Necromancer (also known as Sauron) unleashing his Orc hordes against our heroes. Bilbo and the rest must fight for their lives as five great armies go to war. Can the forces of good defeat the massed power of evil? Okay, smartarse, we know the Lord Of The Rings trilogy still happens…

The new issue is chock-full of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies details, as well as a huge amount more from Jackson himself and his career. Watch this space (and spaces near it) to find out more, and remember that the movie itself is out on December 12.








Podcast #137: Chadwick Boseman, Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:01:27 GMT

Podcast #137: Chadwick Boseman, Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi

What we do in the podcast studio

Two vampires (Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, writers/directors/stars of What We Do In The Shadows) and James Brown (Chadwick Boseman, star of Get On Up) make up the interview portion of this week's podcast, and thankfully no-one impersonates either the undead or the Godfather Of Soul at any point.

P.S. You can check out our podcast photo gallery here and subscribe to the Empire Podcast via our iTunes page or this handy RSS feed. You can subscribe to the magazine here if you like it in paper form, or here if you prefer things digitally.


Empire’s Peter Jackson Issue Subscribers' Cover Arrives

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:28:36 GMT

Empire’s Peter Jackson Issue Subscribers' Cover Arrives

Five Armies, three elves, two heavenly creatures and one giant ape

The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue - Guest-Edited by Peter Jackson
Photo: Louise Hatton

The concluding chapter in the concluding Tolkien trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, will be with us in just three short weeks. But dry your tears and hush the lamentations of your kin because Empire is taking it out in style with the help of a certain P. Jackson, esquire. Marking the occasion with the kind of money-can't-buy access having the keys to Peter Jackson’s drawers, archives and nerve centre can secure you, the Jackson-curated January issue will be overflowing with Hobbits, Heavenly Creatures and Feebles. There’ll be reunions, glorious artwork and never-seen-before notes.{Empire's Farewell To Middle-earth Subscribers Cover}

Of course, at the issue's heart is the not-so-small matter of a Tolkien armageddon that will bring together dwarves, goblins, wargs, men, eagles - hitherto the Ubers of Middle-earth - and a certain shape-shifter to meet, greet and batter the heck out of each other. There’s a dragon at large too, of course, and a sense of one era ending and another more brutal one about to begin for the inhabitants of Middle-earth as the Battle of the Five Armies commences.

The finale finds the Dwarves, led by Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield, reclaiming the vast wealth of their mountain home of Erebor, but all is definitely not going to go smoothly. In taking back the mountain, they unleashed the terrifying dragon Smaug, who has flown off to attack the humans of the nearby Lake-town after realising that they helped the dwarves.

That’s not all that Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and his comrades have to worry about, because an ancient enemy has returned in force to Middle-earth. The clash with Smaug is just part of the battle, with the Necromancer (AKA Sauron) unleashing his Orc hordes against our heroes.

The full-length trailer is below for your perusal, while the finished article will hit screens big and even bigger on December 12.

For much more on the movie, exclusives on every part of Jackson’s career to date, news of future projects and possibly even a Pint Of Milk with Tom Bombadil (okay, possibly not) when the January issue of Empire hits newsagents on Thursday.








Jerry Bruckheimer Sets Global Frequency At Fox

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:23:23 GMT

Jerry Bruckheimer Sets Global Frequency At Fox

Adapting Warren Ellis comics for TV

While they clearly have enormous plans for the cinema, Warner Bros. are continuing to plunder their DC comics catalogue for TV projects too. Like Gotham, one of their next major projects will be set up for the Fox channel. Jerry Bruckheimer will executive produce Global Frequency, based on the Wildstorm / Vertigo comics by Warren Ellis. Rockne S. O'Bannon (Farscape, Defiance) will be the principal writer.

The comics revolve around a covert intelligence agency headed by the pseudonymous agent Miranda Zero. Independent, accountable to no one, crowd-sourced and funded by mysterious benefactors, the agency's purpose is to guard against and tackle various worldwide secret government initiatives that may threaten the public at large. Agents are unknown even to each other until they're placed on assigments together, and the cases they face range from the paramilitary to the paranormal.

There was actually a TV pilot once before in 2005, overseen by reality TV mogul Mark Burnett for network The CW, and starring Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlstar Galactica) as Zero. It wasn't picked up for a full series at that time, but the stars seem to be aligned for Bruckheimer's version. WBTV-DC Entertainment's Gotham and The Flash have been big hits this year and already received full season orders. The timing looks right. The forthcoming Supergirl series already has a season order despite the pilot not having aired yet.

Bruckheimer and O'Bannon will be joined behind the scenes by Ellis, Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Read. The talent in front of the camera has yet to be decided. Let the campaign for Forbes' reinstatement begin here.


Mike Nichols 1931-2014

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:33:44 GMT

Mike Nichols 1931-2014

The Graduate director dies aged 83

Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols, the stage director and Oscar-winning filmmaker behind The Graduate, has died. He was 83.

Among his many achievements, Nichols laid claim to being one of the only creative people to have scored all four major entertainment industry awards – an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony – but it’s the Oscar for The Graduate on that groaning statuette shelf that he’ll be best remembered for. It’s a film that has grown with age, earning a place in the movie pantheon as a zeitgeist-capturing snapshot of late ‘60s America.

Born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky in Weimar Berlin, the son of a Russian Jewish doctor, Nichols escaped the Nazis in 1938 with his younger brother. Reunited with his family in New York – and with an Americanised surname – the newly naturalised Nichols went on to study at the University of Chicago. It was there that he discovered a passion for the dramatic arts. Rather than following his father’s footsteps into medicine, he turned to the theatre, adapting August Strindberg plays, hobnobbing with Susan Sontag and eventually winding up at Lee Strasberg’s famous Actors Studio in Gotham.

Following a spell in improvisation comedy, Nichols found his calling in 1963. His direction of Neil Simon's Barefoot In The Park won him a Tony Award and convinced him to pursue directorial work. There followed another Simon play, The Odd Couple, with Art Carney and Walter Matthau as its leads, and another Tony.

Within three years, Nichols was on the cover of Time magazine and had become a bona fide filmmaker with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a collision of tempers, booze and marital decline that was temptestuous on and, thanks to its stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, off screen.

The Graduate
Shooting Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

Its five Oscar nods and box-office grosses pushed Nichols straight into the Hollywood big time. Grandly acclaimed “the new Orson Welles”, he struck gold again with The Graduate, before turning in an ambitious adaptation of Catch-22 that caught the spirit, if not the unit-shifting popularity of Joseph Heller’s novel.

If the initial bravura successes of the ‘60s weren’t quite matched by the following decade – Carnal Knowledge, The Day of the Dolphin and The Fortune – Nichols bounced back in 1983 when the Meryl Streep-starring Silkwood picked up $35 million and five Academy Awards nominations.

Charlie Wilson's War
On set of Charlie Wilson's War with Tom Hanks

The filmmaker’s command of tone and pacing enabled him to shapeshift through the decades in a way that’s defeated lesser directors. With Working Girl (1988) and Regarding Henry (1991) he made yuppie-era dramas that suggested that greed might be good, but being nice was better, while Closer (2003) and HBO's AIDS-based drama Angels In America (2004) were brimming with social concerns and troubled souls. His final film, Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), broadened his scope into a semi-satirical jab at US foreign-policy. With a good script and gifted actors, he was still as sharp as ever – even at 76.

Nichols is survived by his wife, ABC News presenter Diane Sawyer, and three children.








Stephen King's The Stand Will Stretch To Four Films

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:33:43 GMT

The Stand Will Stretch To Four Films

Josh Boone doesn't think it too many

In recent years we've become accustomed to novels being adapted into multiple films, with the final volumes in the Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games sagas all being split into two parts each. Then there's The Hobbit precendent, of course, where a shortish book was expanded to a nine-hour trilogy. Now, unsurprisingly, director Josh Boone (Stuck In Love, The Fault In Our Stars) has revealed the plan for adapting Stephen King's colossal The Stand: it'll be divided into four movies.

Assuming lengthier running times than 90 minutes each, that means Warner Bros.' franchise will actually be longer than the Mick Garris' ABC TV miniseries from 1994. "We're going to do four," Boone told Kevin Smith, "and we're going to do The Stand at the highest level you can do it at, with a cast that's going to blow people's minds. We've already been talking to lots of people, and have people on board in certain roles that people don't know about..." Casting rumours to date have included unspecified roles for Matthew McConaughey and Nat Wolff.

Set after an American super-flu virus has wiped out most of the world's population, The Stand sees a King-typical band of mismatched survivors trying to establish a peacenik new society under the aegis of earth-mother Abigail Freemantle. The existence of another group however, led by King's recurring antichrist Randal Flagg, means conflict - the stand of the title - is brewing.

First published in 1978, The Stand was always epic in size and scope, but was re-issued in 1990 in an "author's cut" that was even longer. The immense challenge of writing the adaptation has, in this current development cycle, passed through the hands of Steve Kloves and David Kajanich, with Boone finally coming up with his own draft. He hopes to start shooting in the first half of next year.


Jason Reitman Plans A Heist

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:26 GMT

Jason Reitman Plans A Heist

Nick Hornby to adapt I Would Only Rob Banks For My Family

Jason-Reitman-Bank-Heist-Dramadey

His last two movies, Labor Day and Men, Women And Children, might not have been as rapturously received as some of his previous efforts, but Jason Reitman isn’t ready to turn to crime just yet. Except, that is, for his next film, where he’s planning to adapt a real-life story of a family trying to rob a bank.

In actual fact, Nick Hornby will be the one doing the heavy lifting on the adaptation, turning Skip Hollandsworth’s Texas Monthly magazine article I Would Only Rob Banks For My Family into a script.

The piece tracks a seemingly ordinary family who fall on hard times and turn to heists to make money. They manage to pull off two daring robberies before they’re caught attempting a third. Reitman is aboard to produce and direct the film, though he’s currently busy making online series Casual for Hulu.

Hornby has also been active, adapting the screenplay for Wild, which is already gathering Oscar buzz and writing the script for 1950s romantic drama Brooklyn.








Martin Freeman Wants To Do The Taliban Shuffle

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:25 GMT

Martin Freeman Wants To Do The Taliban Shuffle

He's in talks to join Tina Fey's new film

Martin-Freeman-Taliban-Shuffle

Martin Freeman is having a very good year. He won acclaim (and an Emmy nomination) for TV’s Fargo and more praise (plus an actual Emmy) for Sherlock and recently worked on the BBC’s drama The Eichmann Show. He’s looking to the big screen once again, entering talks to join Tina Fey in Taliban Shuffle.

The story has been adapted from Kim Barker’s wartime memoir, subtitled 'Strange Days In Afghanistan And Pakistan'. It charts her time as a journalist in Kabul in 2002, where with no foreign languages among her skillset and precious little idea how to get between Pakistan and Afghanistan, she was thrown in at the deep end. Slowly but surely, she grew to love the region, even as she became increasingly worried about its future.

Fey is playing Barker, and Margot Robbie is also aboard as a hard-charging, ambitious on-air news anchor. Freeman is set to fill the role of Barker’s love interest, a dedicated Scottish photojournalist. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are gearing up to the shoot the black comedy, which should hit cinemas next year.

Freeman will next be seen in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, rounding out his time playing Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s second Tolkien trilogy.


Steve McQueen Finds Widows

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:25 GMT

Steve McQueen Finds Widows

He's adapting Lynda La Plante's 1980s TV series

Steve-McQueen-Widows

In the last couple of days, there has been a lot of talk about Steve McQueen settling on a film about activist Paul Robeson as his next project. It appears he’s ready to zag when everyone expected him to zig, signing on instead to focus on turning a 1980s crime drama into a film.

McQueen has partnered with New Regency for the film, which he’ll write and produce, adapting Lynda La Plante’s 1983 miniseries Widows. The original series – two more followed in 1985 and then 2002 – starred Ann Mitchell, Maureen O’Farrell and Fiona Hendley in the story of three women who all lose their criminal husbands when the men die in the middle of robbing a security van that catches fire.

Together with Eva Mottley’s Bella O’Reilly, they succeed in tracking down the cash for themselves. Until, that is, Mitchell’s character discovers that her husband didn’t actually die in the incident...

It seems like an odd film for the man who made 12 Years A Slave, but then he’s shown a willingness to tackle different subjects before and never wants to settle on a genre. The idea is for him to kick off pre-production on the film before 2014 breathes its last.


Matt Smith Encounters Patient Zero

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:25 GMT

Matt Smith Encounters Patient Zero

Somebody needs a doctor

Matt-Smith-Patient-Zero

He may have played a Doctor on television, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Matt Smith would be any use in a global pandemic. Unless you need someone to look quizzical in a fez, we assume. But that isn’t stopping him signing on for Patient Zero.

Natalie Dormer is already aboard to star in the film, which sees an unprecedented viral infection spread across the Earth, birthed from a super strain of rabies. The disease creates a new species that is entirely driven by violence. But when a survivor turns out to be inexplicably immune, yet with the ability to communicate with the new series, he starts the hunt for Patient Zero, and the first step in saving his infected wife along with the rest of humanity.

Though we speculated previously that Dormer would be the lucky central figure, it appears Smith will instead be the survivor, with Dormer taking some other role – possibly his wife? Mike Le wrote the script, which Stefan Ruzowitzky will direct.

Smith will be back on our screens next year in Terminator: Genisys, which arrives here on July 3. And he’ll have plenty of experience with nasty outbreaks, as he’s been shooting Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, which should also emerge in 2015 but has yet to lock down a date.








Andrew Garfield May Head To Hacksaw Ridge

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:25 GMT

Andrew Garfield May Head To Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gisbon in talks to direct the drama

Andrew-Garfield-hacksaw-ridge

There was a time when we thought – not unreasonably – that Mel Gibson had reduced his career to a giant, smoking crater. But it would seem Hollywood is still willing to give him a second chance. He’s snagged several roles recently and is now in early talks to direct real-life conscientious objector drama Hacksaw Ridge, which has Andrew Garfield pondering the lead.

Randall Wallace co-wrote the script with Robert Schenkkan and was looking to direct it himself, but Gibson is now making tentative overtures for the director's chair.

Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true of Desmond T. Doss, who served as a US Army medic in World War II during the battle of Okinawa and refused to kill. Despite his objections, his incredible valour saving lives during the battle saw him awarded the Medal of Honor, the first time a conscientious objector has won the decoration.

If he does take the job, Gibson would be back in the director’s chair for the first time since Apocalypto. And working from a Wallace script would make something of a Braveheart reunion. As for Garfield, he was back on our screens in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and has Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes under his belt, with Martin Scorsese’s Silence next on his schedule.


Bryce Dallas Howard May Meet Pete's Dragon

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:25 GMT

Bryce Dallas Howard May Meet Pete's Dragon

She's in talks for the Disney reboot

Bryce-Dallas-Howard-Petes-Dragon

Thanks to the likes of Smaug and Toothless, dragons are still – pun entirely intended and unapologetically delivered – hot. So Disney’s decision to throw Pete’s Dragon into the maw of the remake beast is perhaps not as surprising as it might be. Director David Lowery has been busy gathering a cast and has Bryce Dallas Howard in early talks for the female lead.

So far, Lowery has landed Oakes Fegley as the titular Pete, an orphan who arrives in a small town with his magic dragon, attempting to escape his abusive adoptive parents. Oona Laurence, meanwhile, plays a newly created character, Natalie, who also befriends our hero. The film - which will shoot in New Zealand - is set against the backdrop of illegal logging. Elliott the dragon, who raises Pete after he's orphaned by a car crash, lives in a threatened forest. 

Robert Redford is in talks to co-star and Howard may end up joining him. While the original was a musical, the new one will be a more straightforward film, with the dragon conjured via CGI alongside a live-action cast. It’s just the latest attempt by Disney to raid its back catalogue to fuel new movies.

Howard will next be on our screens in Jurassic World, which roars in on June 12. She’s also attached to write and direct a drama called The Originals about a group who reunite in New York when they learn the teacher who shaped their childhoods is in a mysterious coma.








Penelope Cruz Set For Zoolander 2

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:25 GMT

Penelope Cruz Set For Zoolander 2

Co-starring with Ben Stiller

Penelope-Cruz-Zoolander-2

We’ve been hearing tantalising things about the chances of Zoolander 2 actually coming to life, and a big step has just occurred. Penelope Cruz is now signing on to co-star with Ben Stiller in the comedy sequel. Hey, if Dumb & Dumber can come back and score a hit, why not this?

The Zoolander sequel has been in the works for years, with various script drafts passing through. Justin Theroux, who had been attached to direct before his work on HBO drama The Leftovers got in the way, has written the most recent draft on the script, which Stiller is planning to direct.

Not much is known about the film’s plot yet, save that it apparently is still set ten years after the events of the original, finds Stiller’s Zoolander and Owen Wilson’s Hansel rejected by the fashion industry after they age out of the sweet spot for male models, leaving them struggling to once again make their names. Deadline reports that there are no deals in place for Wilson or Will Ferrell – who played preening villain Mugatu – to return yet, but we’d bet they’ll both show up to play. With Cruz aboard, the film should finally show some real momentum.

Cruz, last seen in The Counselor, has worked on Julio Medem’s Ma Ma, and will crop up in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy, Grimsby, which is out here on July 24.


Brad Pitt Activates Alpha

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:16:25 GMT

Brad Pitt Activates Alpha

A new idea from Robopocalypse's Daniel H. Wilson

Brad-Pitt-Alpha

Following the surprise success of World War Z last year, Brad Pitt has clearly been on the hunt for more literary-sourced raw material for movies. He’s now attached to produce Alpha, which Robopocalypse writer Daniel H. Wilson dreamed up and will turn into a script.

Lionsgate has come aboard to work on the film, which is largely being kept quiet. The Hollywood Reporter has heard that it’s a science-fiction-flecked tale of survival in the mould of Jack London's The Call Of The Wild.

Anthony Scott Burns, who like several recent directors has won the job thanks to a couple of canny short films, is set to call the shots on the film once Wilson – who came up with the idea and will bypass the book stage this time – has written the screenplay. There’s no indication as to whether Pitt wants to star in this one, though of course he has the option if he likes the result of Wilson’s labours.

The writer will be hoping this one has a smoother development process than the adaptation of his Robopocalypse novel, which seemed destined for the screen via Steven Spielberg before the director pulled the brakes for script rewrites and has since been distracted by other projects.








The Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer Arrives Online

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:21:16 GMT

The Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer Arrives Online

You're going to miss them when they're gone

The Barden Bellas are back, back, back and this time they're taking on the world, as revealed in the new trailer for Pitch Perfect 2. The trouble is that the world doesn't like America, and Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) and the gang are going to have to sing (and dance) like never before if they're going to make it. And, with any luck, not vomit as much as they did in the first one.

 

As well as the returning cast you were hoping for - Rebel Wilson as "Fat Amy", Adam DeVine as the leader of the Treblemakers, Bumper Allen, and many more - there are plenty of new names to look forward to, including Hailee Steinfeld as Bella newcomer Emily. You've also got mud wrestling, some magic involving dry leaves and the concept of "Loser" as a language.

The first film came out in 2012, sneakily hauling in $113 million at the box office, as well as winning over a legion of die-hard fans, who will no doubt be champing at the bit to see what is going to aca-happen aca-next. From the looks of things, it's going to be raucous.

{Pitch Perfect 2 Teaser Poster}

Pitch Perfect 2 will be out in the UK on May 15.


Pirates Writer Heads For Yucatan

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:34:44 GMT

Pirates Writer Heads For Yucatan

Robert Downey Jr.'s 'lost' Steve McQueen film

It's a long while since we've heard anything about Robert Downey Jr.'s in-development Yucatan, based on an unfilmed treatment by the late Steve McQueen. There's news of further progress this morning, however, with reports that Pirates Of The Caribbean writer Terry Rossio has been brought in for a new draft of the screenplay.

Yucatan was a film that McQueen was actively developing in the late 1960s, but he never got it going before his untimely death in 1980. He filled over 1500 pages in a dozen notebooks, with script notes and storyboards detailing an underwater heist thriller. He'd have played the lead role of "a renegade deep sea salvage expert", hired to uncover a mysterious treasure horde buried deep underwater in the titular Mayan ruins.

Warners have wanted to get the project up and running again since it was unearthed by McQueen's sons in 2005. McG and David Heyman were involved with previous incarnations, and Downey and his production company have been attached since 2010.

With McQueen's treatment in no workable state, however, it's no surprise that Team Downey have struggled with the script. Anthony Peckham (Sherlock Holmes) was the most recent screenwriter to take a crack. Deadline believe that McQueen's exceptionally detailed concepts are baing used simply as "a jumping off point for a mind-bending adventure story".

Downey and his wife Susan are producing Yucatan along with Dan Lin, and the project is, naturally enough, being seen as a potential star vehicle for the once and future Tony Stark. When the screenplay's finally sorted, next they'll need a director...








Dustin Hoffman May Be Going In Style

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:34:44 GMT

Dustin Hoffman May Be Going In Style

With Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman

New Line's remake of the 1979 George Burns comedy Going In Style already has Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine attached to star. Now the final member of the lead trio may have arrived. Dustin Hoffman is in talks to make up the third piece of the puzzle.

The original film starred Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg as bored Brooklyn senior citizens who hatch a plan to rob a bank. They pull off the caper wearing Groucho Marx disguises and then significantly increase their earnings with some casino luck. Their story becomes a media cause célèbre, but ill health and killjoy cops but a dampener on their adventures.

Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) was originally lined up to direct, but has apparently moved on, although we still seem to be talking about his screenplay. Oddly, Variety reports that New Line are looking at Zach Braff (Garden State, Wish I Was Here) as his replacement, but "negotiations are not underway". So Braff is top of a wishlist, rather than a locked-in player.

Following the likes of Last Vegas (which also starred Freeman) and Grudge Match, grumpy-old-men comedies seem to be quietly in vogue in Hollywood at the moment. A Hoffman-Caine-Freeman version could be fun, but there's no start date so far.


Luther Will Return

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:34:44 GMT

Luther Will Return

Idris Elba is back for two BBC episodes

BBC-New-Luther

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on Tuesday when word broke that the US Fox network was planning a new, stateside version of gritty police drama Luther. There will likely be a much better reception for word that Team Luther UK is reuniting for two more episodes set to air in 2015.

Though last year’s episodes appeared to indicate that we’d seen the last of Elba’s tough-talking ‘tec (at least until the long-planned movie is actually made), it would seem there is life in the gruff old dog yet, with the actor returning to the role for what is being described as an “event series” of two episodes. The cameras will roll in March and the episodes will hit the Beeb later in the year.

It was just one part of a big announcement by the corporation, which included a hefty drama slate of shows such as a 1940s thriller called SS-GB adapted from Len Deighton’s novel by Bond veterans Robert Wade and Neal Purvis, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent by Tony Marchant and The Dresser, a two-hour drama starring Anthony Hopkins, who inherits the role first played by Albert Finney. And Top Of The Lake will return for six more episodes once more overseen by Jane Campion.

So even if Loofah does end up being turned into another American cop product, at least the original is still kicking around London’s streets.








Alexandra Daddario And More up For Marvel's Jessica Jones

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:34:44 GMT

Alexandra Daddario And More up For Marvel's Jessica Jones

Plus Luke Cage has a couple of contenders

Alexandra-Daddario-Jessica-Jones-Contenders

Another day, another superhero project letting slip its wish lists for actors to fill the lead roles. In this case, we have two of the Marvel/Netflix Defenders shows on the hunt for potential talent to don the central costumes. For Jessica Jones, the likes of Krysten Ritter, Alexandra Daddario, Teresa Palmer and Jessica De Gouw are all under consideration while Lance Gross and Mike Colter are potential Luke Cages.

Jessica Jones is a fellow former Midtown high school classmate of Peter Parker’s, irradiated in a car crash with a military convoy carrying radioactive chemicals. She wakes from a coma with super strength and the ability to fly (although she never properly masters it), renames herself 'Jewel' and sets herself on a superhero path that leads to substantial suffering. According to Deadline, the series will draw from Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’ Alias comics run, where a traumatised Jessica has decided to put her superhero days behind her and open up a detective agency that caters to more regular crimes as well as some superheroic incidents.

Jones and Luke Cage have something of a history in the comics (they’ve been married and raised children together) so it may not surprise you to learn that he’ll be showing up on her show before launching his own.

Melissa Rosenberg is overseeing the Jones series and appears to be looking at actresses with genre experience or comic chops, which would make sense. Daddario, who was recently in True Detective, is a veteran of the Percy Jackson films. Ritter, who will be seen in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, has starred in sitcoms and was briefly on Breaking Bad. Palmer was superheroic as an alien in I Am Number Four and romanced Nicholas Hoult’s zombie in Warm Bodies. De Gouw has appeared on the recent Dracula miniseries and on DC Comics’ Arrow, so this would mean crossing the aisle in superhero TV terms.

As for the men who would be Cage, Colter has been seen on The Following and The Good Wife, while Gross was part of the cast for recent US TV series Crisis and Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counsellor. It’s early days for the casting in both cases, but it sounds like there is a healthy batch of candidates for the jobs. Daredevil, of course, is already filming, ready to launch on screens next year.








Mike Nichols Dies

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 15:34:43 GMT

Mike Nichols Dies

The Graduate director was 83

Mike Nichols

Mike Nichols, the stage director and Oscar-winning filmmaker behind The Graduate, has died. He was 83.

Among his many achievements, Nichols laid claim to being one of the only creative people to have scored all four major entertainment industry awards – an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony – but it’s the Oscar for The Graduate on that groaning statuette shelf that he’ll be best remembered for. It’s a film that has grown with age, earning a place in the movie pantheon as a zeitgeist-capturing snapshot of late ‘60s America.

Born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky in Weimar Berlin, the son of a Russian Jewish doctor, Nichols escaped the Nazis in 1938 with his younger brother. Reunited with his family in New York – and with an Americanised surname – the newly naturalised Nichols went on to study at the University of Chicago. It was there that he discovered a passion for the dramatic arts. Rather than following his father’s footsteps into medicine, he turned to the theatre, adapting August Strindberg plays, hobnobbing with Susan Sontag and eventually winding up at Lee Strasberg’s famous Actors Studio in Gotham.

Following a spell in improvisation comedy, Nichols found his calling in 1963. His direction of Neil Simon's Barefoot In The Park won him a Tony Award and convinced him to pursue directorial work. There followed another Simon play, The Odd Couple, with Art Carney and Walter Matthau as its leads, and another Tony.

Within three years, Nichols was on the cover of Time magazine and had become a bona fide filmmaker with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a collision of tempers, booze and marital decline that was temptestuous on and, thanks to its stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, off screen.

The Graduate
Shooting Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

Its five Oscar nods and box-office grosses pushed Nichols straight into the Hollywood big time. Grandly acclaimed “the new Orson Welles”, he struck gold again with The Graduate, before turning in an ambitious adaptation of Catch-22 that caught the spirit, if not the unit-shifting popularity of Joseph Heller’s novel.

If the initial bravura successes of the ‘60s weren’t quite matched by the following decade – Carnal Knowledge, The Day of the Dolphin and The Fortune – Nichols bounced back in 1983 when the Meryl Streep-starring Silkwood picked up $35 million and five Academy Awards nominations.

Charlie Wilson's War
On set of Charlie Wilson's War with Tom Hanks

The filmmaker’s command of tone and pacing enabled him to shapeshift through the decades in a way that’s defeated lesser directors. With Working Girl (1988) and Regarding Henry (1991) he made yuppie-era dramas that suggested that greed might be good, but being nice was better, while Closer (2003) and HBO's AIDS-based drama Angels In America (2004) were brimming with social concerns and troubled souls. His final film, Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), broadened his scope into a semi-satirical jab at US foreign-policy. With a good script and gifted actors, he was still as sharp as ever – even at 76.

Nichols is survived by his wife, ABC News presenter Diane Sawyer, and three children.