Hey, is that more news I see? Why, yes, yes it is.
IN THIS WEEK’S “In Memorium” story, Actor-comedian John Witherspoon, who memorably played Ice Cube’s father in the Friday films, has died. He was 77. His manager Alex Goodman confirmed that Witherspoon died in Los Angeles. No cause of death was released.
The actor had a prolific career, co-starring in three Friday films, appearing on The Wayans Bros television series and voicing the grandfather in The Boondocks animated series. His film roles included Vampire in Brooklyn and Boomerang, and he was a frequent guest on Late Show with David Letterman.
For many, his most recognizable role was Pops, Ice Cube’s father in the stoner comedy Friday and its two sequels, playing a crude but affectionate father trying to guide his son to be better.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Back to the Spider-Verse” story, when it came to making a Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2, the question quickly changed from “if” to “when?” And though we still don’t know much about the hugely anticipated sequel just yet, it does seem that the gears at Sony are now beginning to pick up steam. That’s because the studio took to Twitter this afternoon to officially confirm the follow-up, even revealing its release date in the process.
So, the tweet says: April 8, 2022.
As exciting as this news is, fans will know that Spider-Verse 2 isn’t the only thing that’s been spawned from the animated classic. Already, we’ve heard that numerous alternate dimension characters from the film will be getting their own vehicles at some point. That’s right, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man 2099, and of course, Spider-Gwen Stacey will all be returning in spinoffs.
And not only that, but producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller are also busy cooking up a whole bunch of TV spider-verses. Which means that this is one franchise which has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
As long as t equality is a ta high level, I’m excited!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Playing the dream” story, According to Deadline, Netflix has signed Miranda as the director of the upcoming film tick, tick…Boom! with actor Andrew Garfield attached to star. The film is based on the off-Broadway play of the same name from Rent author Jonathan Larson. ‘Boom!’ is set to be adapted by Steven Levenson, who is best known as the author behind Dear Evan Hansen and the writer of Fosse/Verdon, based on the original play by Larson.
tick, tick…Boom! is an autobiographical work that tells the story of a young playwright Jon (played by Garfield), who is hoping to become the next big theater name while struggling and waiting tables in New York City. With outside pressures from folks in his life and the impending doom of his 30th birthday, Jon has to figure out if his dream will ever come to fruition.
Larson’s best-known work is Rent, for which he won multiple Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. However, the premiere of the play was marked by tragedy when Larson was found dead the night before the first preview performance. “tick, tick…Boom!” was originally performed by Larson in 1990 but was later revived after the author’s death as a play in 2001.
Garfield has been fairly lowkey over the last few years, appearing in about one film a year, including this year’s Under the Silver Lake. He does have a couple of films coming in the next year or so, including the highly-anticipated The Eyes of Tammy Faye. where he co-stars with Jessica Chastain.
There’s no release date set for tick, tick…Boom!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Ant Man!” story, Marvel is moving forward with its third installment of Ant-Man, as director Peyton Reed has closed a deal to return as director.
Paul Rudd will be back as the titular superhero, and Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas are also expected to reprise their roles. Marvel had no comment on Reed’s return.
Plot details are being kept hidden in the Quantum Realm.
Release details haven’t been confirmed, but sources say the movie, produced by Kevin Feige, will shoot at the end of 2020 for a likely release in 2022.
This marks one of the rare instances in which the same director has helmed every film dedicated to a single Marvel character (although Ryan Coogler will be returning for the Black Panther sequel). The studio has enjoyed mixing it up with different takes on each Marvel hero. In the case of Reed, studio execs think he has a real grasp on the Ant-Man universe and want to see him return to wrap up his trilogy.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Da Plane! Da Plane!” story, Gerard Butler may not be America’s favorite action hero, but he has carved out a niche for himself on the silver screen between 300 and his hit Fallen franchise. And now the Scottish actor is set to star in the action-thriller The Plane, which hails from Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
Based on the book by Charles Cumming, who co-wrote the script with JP Davis (Violence of Action), the film follows Ray Torrance (Butler), a commercial pilot who heroically lands his storm-damaged aircraft in the middle of a war zone, only to find himself caught between the agendas of multiple militia who are planning to take the plane and its passengers hostage.
Di Bonaventura will produce under his eponymous banner along with Mark Vahradian, and they’ll be joined by MadRiver Pictures’ Marc Butan and Ara Keshishian, as well as Butler and his G-BASE partner Alan Siegel.
Production is slated to start in Q2 next year, and CAA Media Finance is handling domestic rights, while MadRiver International is handling international sales.
Butler next stars in Ric Roman Waugh‘s thriller Greenland, and he’ll also be seen in Jamie Foxx‘s upcoming basketball comedy All-Star Weekend.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Remember that song?” story, Channing Tatum is reteaming with the writer and producing team behind his breakout movie Dear John for Paramount Pictures’ Soundtrack of Silence.
Tatum will star in the film, as well as produce alongside Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan for their Free Association. Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner and John Fischer will also serve as producers.
Based on the true story from KQED, Soundtrack of Silence chronicles Matt and Nora Hay’s journey to preserve love in a world without sound, and how some of the greatest songs of all time helped them do it. When Hay learned as a sophomore in college that he would soon go deaf, he memorized his favorite songs in order to preserve his most important memories, including how he fell in love with his girlfriend and future wife, Nora.
Jamie Linden penned the script, and the studio will now seek a director for the project.
The film marks a reunion for Tatum, Temple Hill and Linden who helped launch each other’s careers with Lasse Hallström’s Dear John. Tatum starred in the romance, which Linden adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ novel.
They would later team on Linden’s Ten Year, which follows a friend group’s 10 year reunion.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Surprise! You ARE a vampire!” story, Cameras are rolling on Dampyr, the live-action movie adaptation of the popular independent comic book franchise. Wade Briggs (Please Like Me) will play Harlan, the Dampyr, in the $12 million fantasy action thriller, which is being helmed by Riccardo Chemello.
Stuart Martin (“Jamestown) has signed on to play Emil Kurjak, and Frida Gustavasson (Arne Dahl) plays Tesla. The cast also includes David Morrissey (Good Omens) as Gorka, Sebastian Croft (Game of Thrones) as Yuri, and Luke Roberts (300: Rise of an Empire) as Draka.
That paragraph makes it sound like we ALL know exactly who all these characters are.
The movie is a co-production between Eagle Pictures, Italian comic book giant Sergio Bonelli Editore, and production outfit Brandon Box.
It will be based on the first two comics in the Dampyr series, which runs to 300 issues. Set during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s, it follows Harlan, who is haunted by nightmares as he wanders the countryside making money pretending to be a Dampyr – half human, half vampire – ridding villages of what residents believe are evil monsters. When summoned by soldiers who are under attack by real vampires, Harlan finds out the truth: he is a real Dampyr.
The Dampyr comics were created by Mauro Boselli and Maurizio Colombo and written by Giovanni Masi, Alberto Ostini, and Mauro Uzzeo. The movie will be the first out of the Bonelli Cinematic Universe. Filming will run over 11 weeks in various locations in Romania.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Denzel Things” story, Warner Bros.’ The Little Things, a crime thriller starring Denzel Washington, has cast actor John Harlan Kim.
John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder) is writing and directing the film, which also stars Rami Malek and Jared Leto. The Little Things follows a burned-out Kern County, Calif. deputy sheriff named Deke (Washington), who teams with Baxter, a crack LASD detective (Malek), to reel in a wily serial killer. Deke’s nose for the “little things” proves eerily accurate, but his willingness to circumvent the rules embroils Baxter in a soul-shattering dilemma. Meanwhile, Deke must wrestle with a dark secret from his past.
Kim will portray a rookie cop, while Leto will portray the serial killer on the loose. The film is currently in production.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Game of Star Wars” story, Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have stepped away from the “Star Wars” franchise, after being attached for more than a year to develop a new trilogy of films beyond the Skywalker Saga. Their series of films were slated to have begun in December 2022.
In a statement given to Deadline, the duo said, “We love ‘Star Wars.’ When George Lucas built it, he built us, too. Getting to talk about ‘Star Wars’ with him and the current ‘Star Wars’ team was the thrill of a lifetime, and we will always be indebted to the saga that changed everything… There are only so many hours in the day, and we felt we could not do justice to both ‘Star Wars’ and our Netflix projects. So we are regretfully stepping away.”
IndieWire has independently confirmed the veracity of Deadline’s report with Lucasfilm.
The obvious questions are, “why’d they leave and what were their films going to focus on?” A new report might have gotten to the bottom of the story, although as is always the case with these sort of things, there’s a chance some details aren’t 100% accurate. From the sound of things, the Game of Thrones duo clashed with Lucasfilm. But had they gotten to make their trilogy, the plan was to focus on the origins of the Jedi.
Variety has the scoop on the canceled Benioff and Weiss Star Wars trilogy. According to their story, the Benioff and Weiss films would “exist apart from the Skywalker family saga,” and focus on “exploring how the Jedi came to exist.” At first everyone seemed on board with this concept. But Lucasfilm execs and Benioff and Weiss reportedly began to have different visions regarding the prospective trilogy.
Well, we all know what can happen when these two don’t have enough time to work on something, so, I’m ok with this.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Speaking of Game of Thrones…” story, HBO has ordered Game of Thrones prequel series “House of the Dragon” straight to series, HBO programming president Casey Bloys announced during WarnerMedia’s media event Tuesday.
Co-created by George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal, the 10-episode spinoff is set in the early days of Westeros and focused on House Targaryen. “House of the Dragon” is based on Martin’s “Fire & Blood” book, and takes place 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones.
Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, who directed several fan-favorite episodes of the original Game of Thrones, will serve as co-showrunners on the series and executive produce along with Martin and Vince Gerardis.
Sapochnik will also direct the pilot and additional episodes.
“The ‘Game of Thrones’ universe is so rich with stories,” Bloys said. “We look forward to exploring the origins of House Targaryen and the earlier days of Westeros along with Miguel, Ryan and George.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “Jaguar Assassin Cage” story, Four words. It only takes four words for me to sell you on the upcoming film Primal. Nicolas Cage. Jaguar. Boat. If that combination of words isn’t enough to make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up in excitement, then there’s really no saving you. As a film fan, there are just certain combinations of actors and premise that sound too good to be true, and with Primal, it appears that this one might actually deliver.
Primal tells the story of Frank Walsh, an exotic game hunter and collector that is on a boat to deliver a rare white jaguar to a zoo. Everything is going great, as this collector celebrates his latest victory. But Frank and his crew aren’t the only folks on this boat, as the government is also extraditing a dangerous political assassin on the same vessel. And when the assassin breaks free, and the jaguar gets freed, it’s up to our guy Frank to save the day.
In addition to Nic Cage and Famke Janssen, the film stars Kevin Durand, LaMonica Garrett, and Michael Imperioli. Primal is written by Richard Leder and directed by Nick Powell.
Primal is set to hit theaters and On Demand on November 8. You can watch the clip and the trailer for the film below.
Here’s the synopsis:
“When Frank Walsh (Nicolas Cage), a hunter and collector of rare and exotic animals, bags a priceless white jaguar for a zoo, he figures it’ll be smooth sailing to a big payday. But the ship bearing Frank’s precious cargo has two predators caged in its hold: the cat, and a political assassin being extradited to the U.S. After the assassin breaks free – and then frees the jaguar – Frank feverishly stalks the ship’s cramped corridors in hot pursuit of his prey, right up until the thrilling, unpredictable climax.”
This is immediately bonkers, because why is a political assassin on the same boat as this big game hunter and his jaguar? Then you add Nic Cage? Dude, I’m SO in!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Card Counting” story, Fresh off an Oscar nomination for his terrific drama First Reformed, filmmaker Paul Schrader has found his next leading man. Per Variety, Oscar Isaac will star in the revenge thriller The Card Counter, written and to be directed by Schrader. The story follows a gambler and former serviceman named William Tell who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past.
The official synopsis continues as follows:
“Tell just wants to play cards. His spartan existence on the casino trail is shattered when he is approached by Cirk, a vulnerable and angry young man seeking help to execute his plan for revenge on a military colonel. Tell sees a chance at redemption through his relationship with Cirk. Gaining backing from mysterious gambling financier La Linda, Tell takes Cirk with him on the road, going from casino to casino until the unlikely trio set their sights on winning the World Series of poker in Las Vegas. But keeping Cirk on the straight-and-narrow proves impossible, dragging Tell back into the darkness of his past.”
Schrader was originally intending on following First Reformed up with a neo-meta Western remake of the 1956 film Seven Men from Now starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe. Hawke left the film when he finally got financing for his passion project, a TV series based on the life of John Brown, and now it appears that Schrader has moved on from that Western (for now) and is instead setting his sights on a revenge gambling drama.
OK, Oscar Isaac is great, so I’m on board.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Haunted house franchise” story, The writers of The Conjuring films Chad and Carey Hayes are developing a new horror franchise of films inspired by the stories of the haunted Lalaurie Mansion in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
The two brothers will tell the history of the house and its crazed owner, Madame Delphine Lalaurie across multiple film installments, and the intention is for principal photography to begin in 2020.
The Lalaurie Mansion is considered one of the most haunted houses in the world and has been closed to the public since 1932, but it remains a popular tourist attraction. The house’s owner Madame Lalaurie was a New Orleans socialite and serial killer who tortured and murdered enslaved persons hidden away in her house all while being the center of attention as the host of extravagant parties.
In 1834, an enslaved person chained to the stove set the house on fire, fearing her fate would end on the third floor of the house, where many of the victims would be led to never return. Firefighters discovered the horrors in the hidden rooms on the third floor and Madame LaLaurie fled the city, never to be seen again.
Kathy Bates portrayed a fictionalized version of Madame LaLaurie on American Horror Story: Coven, and her history has been well-known in popular culture. But the Hayes brothers intend to give a deep dive to the house’s history in the 19th century and its more fantastical and horrific modern history.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Netflix Renews Life” story, Netflix has renewed Katee Sackhoff-starrer Another Life for Season 2.
“I have the most exciting news! Another Life is coming back for Season 2 on Netflix! Can’t wait to see you all back in space,” Sackhoff wrote on her Twitter account Tuesday.
Sackhoff stars as astronaut Niko Breckinridge, who leads a mission to explore the genesis of an alien artifact. Justin Chatwin co-stars as Niko’s scientist husband, with Samuel Anderson and Elizabeth Faith Ludlow also starring.
Production on Season 2 will begin next year in Vancouver.
Another Life is produced by Halfire Entertainment (“Alias Grace”). Aaron Martin is the creator and showrunner for the series, which is also executive produced by Noreen Halpern.
Aaaand IN THIS WEEK’S “Keeping Cage busy” story, you want MORE Nic Cage news, you say? You got it!
If you’re a filmmaker and you have landed Nicolas Cage in your project, the odds are your film is one of two things — 1) a self-serious action thriller that doesn’t have the best script and hardly a budget, but somehow you were able to land Cage or 2) one of the most bizarre premises that can only work with someone with the manic, genius energy of Cage. And in the case of Wally’s Wonderland, we are happy to report the film is clearly in the latter camp.
According to Landafar Entertainment, JD Entertainment, Saturn Films, Almost Never Films, and Screen Media Ventures (yep, that’s a lot of studios), Cage has agreed to star in the upcoming film Wally’s Wonderland. And if you’re a fan of some truly unhinged Nic Cage action, this film seems like it won’t disappoint.
Here’s the synopsis:
‘Wally’s Wonderland has a dark secret and when THE JANITOR (Cage) is forced to spend the night in the twisted amusement park he is pulled into a living nightmare. As the threatening animatronic characters come to life, The Janitor has to fight his way from one monster to another to survive until morning and get out of the park.”
You read that right. This film has murderous animatronic characters coming to life and only a janitor, played by Cage, can save the day. If that Jaguar on a boat thing wasn’t crazy enough to pull you in, THIS one surely must be. I know I’m on board.
Wally’s Wonderland is set to be directed by Kevin Lewis, based on a script by G.O. Parsons. Grant Cramer, Jeremy Davis, and Danny Roth.
“For me there was always one actor and one actor only who could make this movie work, and that actor is Nick Cage,” said Lewis. “I’m thrilled to be working with him and can’t wait to see him go up against Wally and his gang of psychopathic misfits. I see this movie as ‘Pale Rider’ vs ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space.’”
Wally’s Wonderland is set to begin production in January.
What a week of news! So much Cage to come!