How is it the middle of March already?
IN THIS WEEK’S ” WOW!” story, In a remarkable turn of events, Disney has reinstated James Gunn as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Disney fired Gunn in July 2018, after old, offensive tweets from the filmmaker were resurfaced by conservative personalities online. The firing was controversial, with Guardians of the Galaxy stars including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista signing an open letter asking for the filmmaker to be rehired. Bautista, in particular, had been outspoken in his support of Gunn.
After the firing, Gunn moved on to Warner Bros. and DC to write and direct The Suicide Squad, which has Idris Elba set to star.
Marvel Studios, meanwhile, put Guardians 3 on hold, though Marvel head Kevin Feige and others involved have maintained they intended to make the film happen.
ADDENDUM: Guardians 3 never had a release date, but Gunn previously said it would open in 2020.
In the weeks after firing Gunn, Disney began putting feelers out for new directors. But by mid-fall, the search seemed to have petered out, with many thinking that the project was on the back burner. What almost no one knew was that Marvel/Disney had gone back to Gunn and made a deal…in secret, according to insiders.
When Gunn was fired, he issued a statement apologizing for his previous tweets.
“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” his July 2018 statement read. “I have regretted them for many years since — not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time
WOW, this is interesting news. I’m happy about it, but still…wow.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Post MCU with Tom Holland” story, With the culmination of the “Avengers storyline on the horizon, Spider-Man actor Tom Holland is in talks to star in the Russo brothers’ Cherry, which is expected to be the directing duo’s first feature non-Marvel gig.
Avengers: Endgame helmers Joe and Anthony Russo will direct from a script by Jessica Goldberg, who adapted the novel Exit West for the brothers’ studio AGBO and was creator and EP of Hulu series The Path.
AGBO acquired the rights to Nico Walker’s book, Cherry, in August, with plans to shoot over the summer.
Cherry parallels the true life story of the author, a former Army medic who returned from Iraq with extreme undiagnosed PTSD, fell into opioid addiction and began robbing banks. Walker was caught and convicted in 2011 and is scheduled to be released in 2020.
The brothers will produce along with AGBO’s Mike Larocca.
AGBO has made its presence known as it continues to build its development slate. After it won the rights to Cherry following a highly competitive bidding war last summer, the pic became a top priority at the upstart studio. Holland became an easy choice for the lead role due to the trio’s involvement in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Rhapsody 2? Huh?” story, The internet is abuzz over a report from Page Six that the hugely successful Queen biographical drama Bohemian Rhapsody could be getting a sequel. The tip was provided by Rudi Dolezal, a music video director who worked with Queen on a number of clips during their career. Dolezal said a follow-up movie is “being heavily discussed in the Queen family,” adding, “I’m sure [Queen manager Jim Beach] plans a sequel that starts with Live Aid.”
To date, Bohemian Rhapsody has made $875 million worldwide, which is the kind of gross only superhero movies and blockbuster tentpoles hit these days. Rhapsody is the highest grossing music film and biopic ever made (not adjusted for inflation), so it’s not surprising to hear Queen members might want to make a sequel.
At this stage, however, a Bohemian Rhapsody sequel is just a rumor and nothing more. A publicist for Graham King, the producer who spent years trying to get the film made, confirms to /Film that no follow-up movie is on the table right now. The publicist said the validity of the rumor about a Bohemian Rhapsody sequel is not true. IndieWire did not immediately hear back from Graham’s team when asked for comment. Fox had no comment on the matter.
Please don’t become true. Please.
IN THIS WEEK’S “A King Renaissance” story, Collider has exclusively learned that Mike Barker, who has directed numerous episodes of Hulu’s Emmy-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale, is set to direct a big-screen adaptation of King and Peter Straub‘s bestselling 1984 fantasy novel The Talisman for Steven Spielberg‘s Amblin Partners and The Kennedy/Marshall Company.
The Talisman follows Jack Sawyer, a young boy in possession of a powerful talisman that can save his mother’s life, who is forced to go on the run from the inhabitants of a magical parallel universe who have discovered how to travel between worlds.
Frank Marshall will produce on behalf of Kennedy/Marshall, while former Amblin CEO Michael Wright will serve as an executive producer on The Talisman, which will be adapted by veteran genre scribe Chris Sparling (Buried).
Well, Stephen King is certainly getting a new-found resurgence, certainly due in no small part to the popularity of 2017’s IT. I just hope all of these King stories that get put on film (in some cases, AGAIN) do the stories justice.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The future of Gambit” story, Channing Tatum has been trying to get a Gambit movie off the ground for at least four years now. Numerous directors have signed on and dropped out of the project, including Rise of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Rupert Wyatt. The director boarded Gambit in June 2015 and by September was off the film. In a Variety report at the time, Wyatt’s exit was said to be the result of a “changing script” that “caused the film’s budget to balloon.” It turns out only half of that scoop was true.
In a new interview with ComicsBeat to promote his upcoming film Captive State, Wyatt revealed his Gambit movie was killed because Fox cut the budget with just several weeks to go before production. The decision forced script changes to be made that just didn’t make much sense for the project. Interestingly enough, the main reason Fox slashed the Gambit budget was because of the high profile failure of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four.
“I was very close with Channing Tatum and his producing partner Reid Carolin, and I was on the script with him and Josh Zetumer as a writer,” Wyatt said. “We were close, I believe 10 weeks away. It simply came down to budget. There was not enough. You know all too well about the politics of the business. ‘Fantastic Four’ had been released by Fox a month before and had not gone well for them, so our budget was slashed quite considerably.”
Wyatt continued, “The inevitable, from my perspective was, ‘Well then we need to rewrite the script to tailor to our budget,’ but we were too close to a start date for Fox to really want to go there, so unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.”
To this day, Tatum is still reportedly trying to develop the Gambit movie. The last update came in January when it was rumored that Tatum was now going to be directing the project himself, although Fox has never confirmed the project to be in active development and no production start date has ever been announced. With the upcoming Disney-Fox merger being finalized later this month, the Gambit movie could face even more roadblocks.
“[Channing] and Reid are still plugging away at it,” Wyatt confirmed. “I hope in the new Disney era, that then they get to make it.”
Oh, studios, you’re so scared to take chances…on projects that people have ACTUAL passion for and the desire to make a good film. Slaves to the dollar.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Horror Franco” story, Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand, and Jeremy Allen White will star in the horror movie The Rental, Dave Franco’s directorial debut.
Franco wrote the script with Joe Swanberg. The story centers on two couples who rent a vacation home for a celebratory weekend.
The Rental will be fully financed by Black Bear Pictures, which is producing along with Franco’s Ramona Films. The producers are Ramona’s Vince Jolivette, Elizabeth Haggard, and Franco; Black Bear’s Ben Stillman and Teddy Schwarzman; and Swanberg and Chris Storer. Black Bear’s Michael Heimler is executive producing along with Sean Durkin.
Shooting begins this April in Oregon.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Who is Invisible?” story, We may know who is going to be playing the titular role in The Invisible Man. This project will look to sort of restart what Universal was trying to do with the Dark Universe movies in 2017. The studio is going back to their well of classic monsters and is looking to freshen them up for a new generation of moviegoers. First up will be a new take on the famed novella by H.G. Wells and it appears as though Armie Hammer and Alexander Skarsgard are the frontrunners for the lead role.
According to a new report, the studio has narrowed down their list to these two final choices. I think wither would be solid, but if I’m being picky (and shouldn’t we always?), I prefer Alexander Skarsgard in the role. Whoever lands the role, will be starring alongside Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Us), who is in talks for the female lead. Production is expected to begin in May, which means these casting decisions should be settled on sooner rather than later.
Leigh Whannell (Upgrade) wrote the script and will be in the director’s chair. Blumhouse, the studio behind franchises such as The Purge and Insidious, as well as movies like Get Out and Glass, are producing.
IN THIS WEEK’S “So much Spider-man adjacent” story, Sony is all-in on their Spider-Man films. After the success of both Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Venom, the studio has realized they don’t necessarily need to rely solely on their deal with Marvel Studios to draw an audience. As a result, the studio has already planned the next seven years out for its Spidey-related projects – not just on film, but also on TV. And they have an official name for it all, to boot: Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters.
Variety has a profile on Sony, where they talk with Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Tony Vinciquerra and Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins about the shape of things to come. Within the story, Vinciquerra confirms that Sony has “the next seven or eight years laid out as to what we’re going to do with [Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters], and that will not only be on the film side — it’ll be on the TV side.” Vinciquerra also adds: “Our television group will have its own set of characters from within that universe that we will seek to develop.”
The studio has “900 Spider-Man-adjacent characters” to work with, which offers an entire universe of opportunity. Hopkins states that the team working on all of this is “pretty far down the road in terms of working through which characters we think could be their own star of a series.” Hopkins goes on to say:
“We’re developing a lot of Marvel-related content, and I think we’ll be out in the market very soon with something really, really big and transformational for us, because we’ve not done any shows with Marvel before, with Marvel IP. So that’s a big piece of development that we’re onto…I think we aspire to have several shows in a universe that we create that can pollinate between each other, and to working with a partner to make that happen.”
The partner Hopkins mentions could be Disney, since Sony is already working with them and Marvel Studios. But Hopkins also indicates the door is open to others as well, and that an official announcement should arrive in the coming months.
We’re going to get a lot of characters that many people think “Who?” when the films get announced.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Future Marvel director news” story, Marvel Studios has hired Destin Daniel Cretton to direct Shang-Chi, its first superhero movie with an Asian protagonist.
Cretton is currently directing Just Mercy, starring Brie Larson and Michael B. Jordan. Dave Callaham is writing the script that will ultimately modernize the Shang-Chi story and character arc.
The original Marvel Comics Shang-Chi features Shang, a half-Chinese, half-American superhero created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin. In the comics, Shang-Chi is a master of numerous unarmed and weaponry-based wushu styles, including the use of the gun, nunchaku, and jian. Shang-Chi first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 in 1973.
Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige is producing the film. Marvel’s Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, and Jonathan Schwartz are executive producers on the project.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Kern Co. gets Denzel” story, Denzel Washington is in talks with Warner Bros. to join the cop thriller Little Things, a person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to TheWrap.
Washington would play Deke, a jaded Kern County police officer with the uncanny ability to spot the “little things” in an investigation and a willingness to break the rules. That unstable combination comes to a head when he must team up with an LASD detective named Baxter to track down a serial killer.
IN THIS WEEK’S “FINALLY fired” story, Not that scandal is unusual in Hollywood, but the recent influx of sexual misconduct and assault stories that have come up, thanks to the #MeToo movement, have wreaked havoc in the film and TV industries. The scandals are so widespread and all-encompassing, that sometimes they even bleed into one another. That seems to be the case with the recent accusations against WB chairman Kevin Tsujihara and the continued drama surrounding Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer.
The stories regarding Tsujihara are far too detailed and lengthy to accurately sum up in this article, but suffice to say, he had an affair with an actress and then attempted to use his power at Warner Bros. to land special roles for his mistress. And somehow, this affair links back to Bryan Singer, who found himself embroiled in even more accusations of sexual assault against underage boys recently.
The connective tissue seems to be in the form of producer/film executive Avi Lerner.
In a recent report from THR, which details the accusations surrounding Tsujihara, Lerner’s name comes up quite a bit, as a person that the WB executive reached out to, in hopes of finding acting roles for his secret love interest.
Buried deep in the report is a line from THR saying that Lerner, who is the man behind the upcoming Red Sonja reboot film, has fired Singer from the project due to the producer finding no takers for US distribution.
For those that have been following the Singer drama, this is fairly major news. Right after the recent Atlantic piece about the filmmaker dropped, Singer denied everything (obviously) and was staunchly defended by Lerner, who had just hired the director to helm Red Sonja. However, Lerner came under fire for his defense of Singer, and the fact that he was paying the director upwards of $10 million for the project.
Previous reports said that Red Sonja was delayed due to the drama, but didn’t mention Singer was let go. Now, it appears that the reason Red Sonja is back on the shelf is because Lerner is going to need to start from scratch on the development, beginning with a new filmmaker.
You know, it’s getting a lot harder to be a film fan with all this shit going on.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Jay and Bob additions” story, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is shaping up to be a reunion of almost everyone that Kevin Smith has ever worked with. Not only are stars from the various View Askewniverse movies returning in this one, but cast members from Zack and Miri Make a Porno have made a comeback, too. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back star Shannon Elizabeth is back as Jay’s thief lover Justice. But there is one surprise that comes in the form of WWE wrestler Chris Jericho being part of the cast.
Here’s what the director had to say about bringing back this character from Jay and Silent Bob’s cross country adventure:
“…Shannon returned to us from Africa, where she’s been living lately, working to save elephants and rhinos with her Shannon Elizabeth Foundation. So Jason Mewes and I were especially appreciative Shannon not only came back but also came far, leaving behind the noble work for a minute to do some silly shit with old friends.”
Next up, wrestler Chris Jericho revealed that he shot a role in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot a few days ago.
Apparently Jericho is playing a bit of a bad dude in the movie, because Smith calls him a “super sweet Canadian kid” who was cast way against his type.
Well, that’s all well and good. It’s still a weird reboot idea.
IN THIS WEEK’s “Button up” story, 42 filmmaker and L.A. Confidential scribe Brian Helgeland is set to direct Button Man for Netflix, sources tell Variety.
Based on on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Arthur Ranson, the movie tells the story of ex-military contractor Harry Exton, considered the first true hero of the post-truth age. Exton’s is a proxy in a clandestine competition among the super rich. Paid to fight to the death in modern-day gladiatorial contests, Exton sets out on a relentless journey to use these twisted elites’ own dark machine to bring their corrupt world crashing down.
No production start date has been set as Helgeland will now look to cast his Exton.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Disaster with Gerard” story, STXfilms has acquired the domestic rights to distribute Greenland, starring Gerard Butler, it announced Thursday.
Greenland is a disaster thriller that follows a family struggling for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster. The film will be directed by former stuntman Ric Roman Waugh, who wrote and directed Dwayne Johnson’s 2013 crime thriller Snitch.
Chris Sparling (Buried) penned the script for Greenland, with current revisions by Mitchell LaFortune. Principal photography on the film is set to begin in May.
Ok, I guess it’s benn a few minutes since we had a disaster movie. Unless you consider any BAD movie a disaster, then, you know, I think we’ve all had our fill.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Fessenden’s Frankenstein” story, Indie horror guru Larry Fessenden hasn’t directed a feature film since 2013, but he’s returning with Depraved. The film is a reimagining of Frankenstein, told through Fessenden’s own unique lens. Starring David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux, Ana Kayne, Maria Dizzia, Chloë Levine, Owen Campbell and Addison Timlin, Depraved will have its world premiere this month at What the Fest!? You can now look for a trailer online.
Larry Fessenden may not be what you’d call a “household name”, unless you’re a weird nerd. You know, like us. Fessenden is a writer, director, actor, editor, and producer whose credits include Habit, Wendigo, and more. His indie production home Glass Eye Pix is responsible for working on some of the quirkiest, out-there genre pictures in the last few years – The House of the Devil, Late Phases, and more. And now he’s back with Depraved, a reimagining of Frankenstein set in modern Brooklyn that “explores the crisis of masculinity and ideas about loneliness, memory and the subtle psychological shocks that shape us as individuals.”
Here is the official synopsis:
“Alex (Owen Campbell) leaves his girlfriend Lucy (Chloë Levine) after an emotional night, walking the streets alone to get home. From out of nowhere, he is stabbed in a frenzied attack, with the life draining out of him. He awakes to find he is the brain in a body he does not recognize. This creature, Adam (Alex Breaux), has been brought into consciousness by Henry (David Call), a brilliant field surgeon suffering from PTSD after two tours in the Mideast, and his accomplice Polidori (Joshua Leonard), a predator determined to cash in on the experiment that brought Adam to life. Henry is increasingly consumed with remorse over what he’s done and when Adam finally discovers a video documenting his own origin, he goes on a rampage that reverberates through the group and tragedy befalls them all.”
Ok, you got my attention.
There’s no official release date for Depraved yet, but the film will debut at What the Fest!? on March 20, 2019.
What an interesting week!