Here’s to another week loaded with celluloid news!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Let the rumours begin” story, It’s perfectly normal for a big-budget, franchise film to undergo reshoots. Most films, especially over at Disney, account for these reshoots in their original shooting schedule. But things begin to get a little weird when a studio brings in new filmmakers to oversee reshoots. That’s when rumors of a dreaded “troubled production” begin to surface. And sadly, it appears that that sort of speculation has hit the upcoming The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.
For those not familiar with the film, this new version of ‘Doctor Dolittle’ is a live-action/CGI hybrid that stars Robert Downey, Jr. as the titular doc. But according to THR, the film has hit a bit of a rough patch in its post-production, which has led to the film’s recent nine-month delay.
The report says that Jonathan Liebesman, who is best known for his films Wrath of the Titans and the rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, has been brought on to oversee the extensive reshoots for the film, taking over for the original filmmaker Stephen Gaghan. However, the original director was onboard for the reshoots, and reportedly collaborated with Liebesman. It’s expected that Gaghan will remain the sole credited director for the upcoming film.
Apparently, the new three-week reshoots came after Chris McKay, the filmmaker behind The LEGO Batman Movie was brought in to overhaul the film. McKay was contacted and brought on to view an assembly cut of the film and was specifically asked to pump up the animal aspect of the film. Unfortunately, McKay’s schedule prevented him from helming the reshoots.
THR reached out to a source close to production that said, “Gaghan needed help with the animal component of it all. These two guys who had expertise in that field, and they came in to help.”
Joining Robert Downey, Jr. in the cast of the film (most as voices) are Selena Gomez, Tom Holland, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, John Cena, Rami Malek, Craig Robinson, Marion Cotillard, and Carmen Ejogo.
The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle was expected to be released on April 12 but was pushed back until January 17, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The master of artful combat, Zhang Yimou, is ready to rebound with his next film, Shadow.
After the disastrous and disappointing The Great Wall, Yimou seems to be going back to his roots, bringing an elegantly crafted martial arts movie that we’ve seen in more of his promising projects such as House of Flying Daggers and Hero. We can definitely expect plenty of period drama and action, as Zhang brings in a re-imagining of the ancient classic tale of the Three Kingdoms. Not to mention, the philosophical archetype of a body double.
It definitely seems to be a visually appealing experience with scenes that are gorgeously choreographed and emulate paintings. “Referred to as ‘shadows,’ body doubles have existed since ancient times,” Yimou told Venice Film Festival. “A shadow must be ready to spring into action at that critical moment when his master’s life hangs in the balance; a shadow must seamlessly meld with the real, so that true and false can’t be distinguished. Is he a man, standing in the light? Or a ghost, hiding in the darkness? Who will live? Who will die?”
Deng Chao leads the film starring as an ailing commander and his body double. The film also stars Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Wang Qianyuan, Wang Jingchun, Hu Jun, Guan Xiaotong, and Wu Leo.
Here is the synopsis:
“With SHADOW, director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and grays punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated. In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a “shadow”, a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.”
Ok, I’m in.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Star Wars stuff” story, Star Wars Celebration 2019 has come and gone, but it sure did leave fans with a lot of new nuggets about the upcoming ‘Episode IX’ to ponder for the months ahead. Not only did Kathleen Kennedy and filmmaker J.J. Abrams reveal the title (The Rise of Skywalker) but a teaser trailer was also unveiled, satiating the rabid fanbase. But there was an overall feeling during the ‘Skywalker’ panel that this latest Star Wars saga episode would be a return to form for the series after Rian Johnson’s previous entry subverted many fans’ expectations, for better or worse.
And in a new interview with IGN, Abrams discussed one of the ways that Lucasfilm and the upcoming ninth film in the series should be seen as a welcome addition to those that were perhaps upset by Johnson’s ‘The Last Jedi.’ Namely, the Skywalker director invoked the holiest of “Star Wars” names – George Lucas.
“This movie had a very, very specific challenge, which was to take eight films and give an ending to three trilogies, and so we had to look at, what is the bigger story?” Abrams said. “We had conversations amongst ourselves, we met with George Lucas before writing the script.”
That’s right, after fans were polarized by ‘The Last Jedi,’ with many long-time fans vowing to give up on the series as a whole unless Disney righted the wrongs of the film, it appears that Lucasfilm is going back to the man who created it all to help bring the end of the Skywalker Saga. And for fans of what Rian Johnson did with the last film, it appears that the new trilogy is going to end with a more “back to basics” approach to Star Wars, in more ways than one.
As you are no doubt aware, the teaser for Rise of Skywalker ended with the familiar cackle of Emporer Palpatine, the big bad of the first two trilogies, signaling the unlikely (last we saw, he very much died) return of the most evil of evil villains in the “Star Wars” films. While many saw this as yet another nail in the Rian Johnson/The Last Jedi coffin, Kathleen Kennedy reveals that the return of the Emporer was something that was discussed all along.
Obviously, she was very opaque about any specific details, but she revealed that it was only a matter of time before the bad guy resurfaced in the new trilogy. Kennedy revealed to Yahoo, “We had not landed on exactly how we might do that, but it was always [to be in Rise of Skywalker].”
Man, I hope they don’t do TOO much fan service. Sometimes that can have the opposite affect. Yet ANOTHER Death Star would just be sad.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The Birds are flying” story, The Birds of Prey movie has wrapped filming. Or, to be more correct, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has wrapped filming, as the upcoming DC Movie is technically titled. The film is a female-centric spinoff starring Margot Robbie, reprising her role as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad. The story finds Harley teaming up with a band of female heroes to take on Ewan McGregor’s villainous Black Mask.
Birds of Prey was one of a number of DC movies in development, but Robbie’s enthusiasm for the project spurred it into production ahead of Suicide Squad 2 and a planned Joker/Harley Quinn spinoff that may or may not ever get made. Robbie produced Birds of Prey and helped select the film’s director, indie filmmaker Cathy Yan. Bumblebee scribe Christina Hodson wrote the screenplay.
The news that the film has wrapped principal photography comes courtesy of LuckyChap Entertainment, which is Robbie’s production banner. Birds of Prey won’t hit theaters until next February, but it marks the next in a series of unique and ambitious films from DC. Rather than sticking with an interconnected universe, Warner Bros. has greenlit a number of DC films that stand alone. We’re just coming off the family-centric Shazam!, later this year we’ll get Joaquin Phoenix’s dramatic take on Joker, and then after Birds of Prey we’ll get the highly anticipated sequel Wonder Woman 1984.
Birds of Prey opens in theaters on February 7, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Perfect? story, Aside from the monumental and well-deserved rise of Adam Driver, Allison Williams is on track to become the core Girls cast member with the second most interesting career. Not only did her pivotal role in “Get Out” launch her into proper movie stardom, but it seems to have sparked a real love of genre in the actress, a role fans are eager to watch her fulfill. Williams is doubling down on horror with her newest project for Netflix, a thriller set in the cutthroat world of classical musicians. Even the title, The Perfection, hints at a Type A character obsessed with success for which Williams seems almost poetically suited.
According to Netflix, The Perfection is “overflowing with dizzying horror and sly dark humor.” The synopsis promises “an elegant and terrifying suspense ride filled with unexpected twists and turns. When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte (Williams) seeks out Elizabeth (Logan Browning), the new star pupil of her former school, the encounter sends both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “A new guest in Pandora” story, Michelle Yeoh is heading to Pandora. The veteran actress is boarding James Cameron’s Avatar franchise, and will portray scientist Dr. Karina Mogue.
“Throughout her career, Michelle has always created unique and memorable characters,” Cameron said. “I look forward to working with Michelle to do the same thing on the Avatar sequels.”
Avatar 2, the first of four follow-ups, will hit theaters on Dec. 18, 2020. The remaining installments will be released on the same weekend over the next few years, with Avatar 3 arriving on Dec. 17, 2021; Avatar 4 on Dec. 20, 2024; and finally Avatar 5 on Dec. 19, 2025.
IN THIS WEEK’S “first time film” story, Jennifer Lawrence will star in an untitled film for IAC FILMS and A24 to be directed by acclaimed theater director Lila Neugebauer, who will make her feature film debut.
The script was written by first-time screenwriter Elizabeth Sanders. Scott Rudin and Eli Bush are producing, with Lawrence and Justine Polsky.
This marks the first film to which Lawrence has committed after announcing a break from acting a year ago. Lawrence won the Oscar for best actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. She has been nominated for three additional Oscars for Joy, American Hustle and Winter’s Bone.
Neugebauer, who has established herself as the most significant young director of new plays off-Broadway, made her Broadway debut last year with the critically acclaimed revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery, starring Elaine May and Lucas Hedges, with Rudin and Bush also producing.
She has about 8 other theater credits to her name.
Details of the film project are being kept under wraps. Principal photography begins mid-June in New Orleans.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Where’s Wesley” story, Wesley Snipes is back in bad-guy mode while also doing some good for the environment.
The veteran actor has come aboard to star in and executive produce Payline, an indie action thriller from Dawn’s Light.
Richard Switzer and Jason Cherubini of Dawn’s Light are producing, along with Allan Ungar. Snipes, under his Maandi House Studios banner, and Alexander Ferguson will serve as executive producers.
Payline is described as being a cross between heist ensemble Ocean’s 11 and crime thriller Free Fire, with the story centering on a small-town casino that turns into a battleground after two groups of criminals attempt to rob it on the same night. Rob Robol and Jay Boyd wrote the script.
Snipes will play the leader of a group of ex-soldiers robbing the casino. It will be his first turn as a villain since Demolition Man, the 1993 sci-fi action movie that also starred Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock.
The project aims to use sustainable methods that will make the planned production an environmentally friendly affair.
“This is a vehicle to demonstrate the next generation of indie filmmaking in a 5G powered world,” said Snipes in a statement. “It is our goal to show how a 100 percent Certified Renewable Energy film production can show love for the environment, community and still produce a kick-ass popcorn movie.”
Snipes and the producers want to debunk the idea that it costs more to make a sustainable movie than a “normal” production.
Snipes next appears opposite Eddie Murphy in Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name and is one of the stars of RZA’s Cut Throat City, whose ensemble cast also includes Ethan Hawke, Terrence Howard and Eiza Gonzalez.
Ok, well, I didn’t even know Snipes was still out there working in the film industry. And here he is trying to do it with an environmentally friendly way.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dating Hustlers” story, STXfilms has set its strip-club drama Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and Cardi B, for a Sept. 13 release in North America.
Lopez announced the date on her Instagram account on Monday.
Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles and Mercedes Ruehl are also in the cast. The film is being directed by Lorene Scafaria.
The movie, originally set up at Annapurna as The Hustlers at Scores, is inspired by a New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler. It’s set in New York City in the wake of the financial crisis and follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
This sounds a lot like an 80’s comedy. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
STXfilms is producing alongside Lopez, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina — who previously collaborated with the studio on the 2018 romantic-comedy Second Act — as well as Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and Jessica Elbaum for Gloria Sanchez Productions. Kate Vorhoff and Catherine Hagedorn are overseeing the film’s production for the studio. STXinternational is handling international distribution, and distributing directly in the U.K. and Ireland.
Hustlers is dated for Sept. 13.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Filming blind” story, In an interview with Yahoo, the ever-delightful Mark Ruffalo revealed that he had no idea whether Bruce Banner would survive Thanos’ climactic Infinity Gauntlet snap until he saw the movie.
According to the actor, he did in fact film a scene where the Incredible Hulk himself got dusted. “I didn’t know until I saw the movie,” Ruffalo said. “For one take, I did disappear, and then the other one I didn’t.”
Ruffalo had a pretty solid reason for thinking Marvel would give Hulk the boot, though. Ruffalo is notoriously loose-lipped when it comes to spoilers. Exhibit A: Here is Ruffalo accidentally streaming the first 20 minutes of Thor: Ragnarok on Instagram Live from his pocket. Exhibit B: Here is Don Cheadle, in one of my favorite videos on the internet, getting so, so mad at Ruffalo for saying “everybody dies” at the end of Infinity War.
“I was pretty sure it was gonna be me,” Ruffalo said. “It’s like Survivor. It’s like, who’s gonna get kicked off the island? And I probably should’ve. … It’s like Project Runway for leakers.”
Ruffalo’s uncertainty tracks with what we’ve heard before, though. When Collider spoke with Sebastian Stan last year, the actor wasn’t even sure Bucky Barnes would be in Endgame.
“When I was shooting anything, nobody ever told me what was part one or part two. The truth is, I don’t even know if I’m in [Avengers 4]. What I shot was in part one. And anything that I shot may or may not have been in part one or part two and I still don’t know. There were things that we shot that were never gonna’ make it because it was easier to just convolute the whole thing. So in a way, you go ‘Alright, that’s cool, but…’
IN THIS WEEK’S “If it ain’t broke…” story, When discussing what the Fox merger means for Marvel Studios, there’s quite a bit that’s still up in the air, according to studio president Kevin Feige.
Speaking to Variety, the Marvel boss was asked about what the future might hold for the X-Men and other Fox superhero properties that he is now in control of. While we already know that full-scale reboots of the characters seem to be years off still, there may be some of the ideas that Fox put forward that Marvel Studios is interested in adopting.
Feige said it “remains to be seen” if Marvel Studios will venture into the world of] R-rated adventures such as the successful films Logan and Deadpool. That being said, it appears that the adult-oriented humor that has made the latter character so damn popular is here to stay.
“When we were purchased, Bob [Iger, Disney CEO] said to us, ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,’” said Feige. “There’s no question that Deadpool is working, so why would we change it?”
Now, the real question is whether or not the R-rating is integral to Deadpool “working?” Can a PG-13 Marvel Studios version of Ryan Reynolds’ character still be as edgy and funny as the no-holds-barred, filthy version that fans have come to know and love? As Feige said earlier, we guess that answer “remains to be seen.”
What might actually happen sooner is that fans will see those lower-level Marvel characters popping up in MCU films. For years, Marvel Studios was handcuffed by the fact that Fox had control over thousands of characters, leading Feige and Co. to introduce other characters or change origins to suit these limitations. With the Fox deal done, that’s no longer an issue.
“We spent 12 years at Marvel Studios really embracing and digging into all the stories of characters who had never been brought to the screen before, but there would be times when we’d have a supporting player or a reference point or something for a movie and legal would go, ‘don’t forget that characters on that other list and you don’t have access to it,’” said Feige. “I’m not talking about Professor X or Wolverine, but there are thousands of characters in those brands and we’d shrug and go okay and figure out another solution. It will be nice to not have to do that.”
At this point, everything leads us to believe that Marvel Studios is likely 4 or 5 years away from fully-integrating the Fox properties. However, with the deal now completed, it’s only a matter of time before those Fox characters start popping up.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Billion dollar remake” story, Travis Knight has come on board to direct Warner Bros.’ film adaptation of the classic TV show Six Billion Dollar Man with Mark Wahlberg attached to star.
Sue Kroll, Bill Gerber and Steve Levinson are producing with Bill DuBuque penning the script.
The Six Billion Dollar Man is based on the sci-fi TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, which is about a former astronaut, Colonel Steve Austin, portrayed by Lee Majors. Majors’ character, employed as a secret agent, had superhuman strength due to bionic implants. The series ran for five seasons on ABC between 1973 and 1978, and was based on Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg.
The studio bought the rights to the project in 2017 from the Weinstein Company after the studio collapsed and had been looking for a director after Damian Szifron moved on from the project.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Suicide Cena” story, Sources tell Variety that Cena is in talks to join Idris Elba and Margot Robbie in Warner Bros.’ follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad.
Robbie is returning as Harley Quinn and Jai Courtney is back as Captain Boomerang. Variety first reported that the studio decided to have Elba play a brand-new character instead of taking on Deadshot, a character portrayed by Will Smith in the first film. It’s currently unknown who Cena and Elba will be playing.
Warner Bros. had no comment.
James Gunn will write and direct the movie, which is expected to go into production this fall. The tentpole hits theaters on Aug. 6, 2021.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Joining Picard” story, Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful) and Isa Briones (American Crime Story: Versace) are set as series regulars opposite Patrick Stewart in CBS All Access’ upcoming Star Trek series that will explore the next chapter of Jean-Luc Picard.
The new untitled Star Trek series, produced by CBS TV Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment, features Stewart reprising his iconic role as Picard, which he played for seven seasons on
Star Trek: The Next Generation, and follows him in the next chapter of his life. Pill, Treadaway and Briones join previously announced cast members Santiago Cabrera, Michelle Hurd and Evan Evagora.
The cast is shaping up!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Time-traveling pirates?” story, Denise Richards will star in sci-fi action film Timecrafters.
Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove is the first movie in a planned franchise about time-traveling seamen who try to retrieve a treasure map from kids in a local town called Pirate’s Cove. The travelers, who originally lost the map, have to adapt to new technology and modern ways of life as they have fast-forwarded through time some 300 years after lightning struck their ship and forced them through a portal into a modern generation.
Richards (Wild Things, The World is Not Enough) will play a single mom named Victoria Dare who struggles with the loss of her husband and copes by gravitating toward a slew of unsuitable partners in search of the best one to help raise her son. Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) will star alongside Richards, playing Captain Lynch, a villain who leads the pirates looking for the elusive treasure map, and Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under) will play Geoffrey Pistol, a dashing first mate who has beef with Lynch.
Casey Simpson, who starred in Nickelodeon series Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, & Dawn, will appear as one of the young treasure map-holders and Lew Temple (The Walking Dead) will join the cast as well as co-produce.
Rick Spalla, best known for producing the documentary And the Oscar Goes to…, will direct the film.
“Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove is the launching point for the entire Timecrafters franchise introducing the colorful storyline and the cast of misfit characters,” said Spalla in a statement. “The film is reminiscent of classic Disney narratives with sword-play, pirate ships, canon battles and even a Steam Punk time machine.”
The film will be shot on actual pirate ships on the coast of California. Ok, at least that part sounds fun.
IN THIS WEEK’S ” Thor 4?” story, Tessa Thompson, one of the stars of Thor: Ragnarok, says that Thor 4, directed by Taika Waititi, has been pitched.
The future of characters like Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe beyond Avengers: Endgame isn’t quite clear at the moment but fans of the Asgardian will be delighted to hear that Thor 4, directed by Taika Waititi, has been pitched, according to Tessa Thompson. In a recent interview with LA Times, she said:
“I heard that a pitch has happened for [another Thor film]. I don’t know how real that intel is, but I hear that the pitch has happened. I think the idea is Taika Waititi [who directed ‘Ragnarok‘] would come back.”
Well, now THAT’s an interesting tid bit. I guess that tells us a little about who survives Endgame, right? Maybe?
IN THIS WEEK’S “King’s Renaissance” story, Alex Ross Perry will write and direct the film adaptation of Stephen King’s “Rest Stop” for Legendary, the distributor announced on Thursday.
Craig Flores will produce through his Bread & Circuses banner, while Alex Garcia and Ali Mendes will oversee for Legendary.
King’s short story was first published in Esquire Magazine in 2003 and was later included in King’s 2008 collection titled Just After Sunset. “Rest Stop” won the National Magazine Award for Fiction in 2004. The film is being described as a “propulsive cat and mouse thriller that follows the twisted journey of two women after a fateful encounter at a highway rest stop.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “Ballsy move, Roman” story, Just about a year ago, filmmaker Roman Polanski was formally kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The reason for his dismissal stemmed from the decades-old court case that involved the rape of an underage girl, for which Polanski is currently avoiding jail time by not coming back to the United States. At the time, there was a large contingent of people that supported the Academy’s decision, as it coincided with the expulsion of Bill Cosby. However, the filmmaker and his wife made defiant comments, threatening to sue the Academy because of the decision.
Well, a year later, it appears that Polanski is ready to make good on those threats.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker is asking a Los Angeles judge to rule that the AMPAS be forced to accept Polanski back into the organization as a member in good standing. The reason for the suit stems from the director’s argument that he was denied due process, and was never allowed to speak with the Academy before it’s fateful decision.
“The Academy committed a prejudicial abuse of discretion in that the Academy failed to proceed in a manner required by law, the Academy’s expulsion decision is not supported by the findings, and the Academy’s findings are not supported by the evidence,” writes Polanski’s attorney Harland Braun (via THR).
It remains to be seen how this plays out. If he succeeds, then precedent is set and other expelled people could get to rejoin. If he gets denied, then he’s going to be one angry director.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Person that stars in film, sings its’ praises!” story, Milla Jovovich is defending her new film Hellboy from tough reviews following its release on Friday.
The 43-year-old actress portrays Nimue the Blood Queen, a powerful sorceress who seeks to destroy mankind but is challenged by David Harbour’s Hellboy.
The R-rated film currently has a 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes from 159 reviews, and an audience score of 63 percent.
On Saturday, Jovovich shared her thoughts on the film’s reception on Instagram, writing, “It’s always stressful on opening weekend and @hellboymovie is no different.”
“You work super hard to make something fun and entertaining and have to absorb the negative reviews by movie critics, but hey! THAT’S SHOWBIZ BABY.😎,” she continued. “All I’m gonna say before going to bed is this: All my raddest films have been slammed by critics. It’s f—— hilarious.”
Jovovich shared a few her most panned films, including the 1993 comedy Dazed and Confused.
“Dazed and Confused? Seriously? Classic movie. The Fifth Element! You would have thought that was the worst movie ever made if you read the reviews in like ‘98😂. Zoolander? Slammed,” she wrote. “Joan of Arc? Disaster. Resident Evil? Let’s not even go there.”
She continued, “Anyway, every one of those films is now a cult classic. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. And this will be too. Mark my words. Why? 1. Because of the amazing actors. David Harbour. Ian Mcshane. Daniel Dae Kim. Sasha Lane. They are all so damn wonderful and talented, the movie is worth seeing just because they’re in it, especially one that’s so much fun to experience as this is.”
“@mikemignola who created the #Hellboy comics helped write the script and was on set every single day to make this film as close to his vision as possible,” Jovovich wrote. “3. It was directed by one of the greats. #NeilMarshall who brought us The Descent. One of the greatest horror movies ever.”
Despite the bad reviews, the actress remained confident the latest Hellboy adaptation would weather the storm.
While the actress defended her latest film, the movie hasn’t performed well at the box office earning just $12 million in the U.S. and a little over $13 million internationally against a budget of $50 million.
Well, of COURSE SHE’S going to say it’s good. Duh.
Whew! That’s a LOT of stuff going on! More next time!