Welcome to another big week of news! Believe it or not, there are actually other stories BESIDES Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Hiroshima and paper cranes” story, Evan Rachel Wood will star alongside Jim Sturgess and Shinobu Terajima in One Thousand Paper Cranes, the story of Hiroshima survivor Sadako Sasaki and author Eleanor Coerr, who wrote the worldwide bestselling children’s book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.” Independent has boarded sales ahead of Cannes, where the project will be at the Marche. CAA Media Finance is handling North American rights.
Richard Raymond (Desert Dancer) will direct from Ben Bolea’s script, which featured on the Black List, the roster of Hollywood’s hottest yet-to-be-produced screenplays. Ian Bryce (Saving Private Ryan) will produce alongside Richard Raymond and Irene Yeung.
The film will tell the true story of Sasaki, who was a 2-year-old in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city in 1945. She was later diagnosed with leukemia caused by exposure to radiation from the blast. She drew strength from a Japanese legend that, if she folded 1,000 paper cranes, she would be granted a wish, which in her case was to live.
Coerr, an aspiring journalist and young mother, learns of the girl and becomes determined to share her story with the world. The Canadian-American author’s subsequent children’s book went on to achieve classic status after its publication in 1977. It remains widely read. Sadako’s legacy includes a statue of her holding a crane in the Hiroshima Peace Park.
The film also incorporates elements of Takayuki Ishii’s novel One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue.
This sounds like a moving film.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Hatin’ on people” story, Shailene Woodley is set to star Misanthrope, a thriller about a serial killer from the director of the Oscar-nominated Wild Tales, FilmNation Entertainment announced on Wednesday.
FilmNation is presenting the film to buyers at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and the film will shoot in Atlanta later this year.
In Misanthrope, Woodley will play a troubled, but talented low-ranking female cop who is recruited by the FBI to help profile and track down a serial mass murderer.
The screenplay was written by Damián Szifron with Jonathan Wakeham based on an original story by Szifron. FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder, Stuart Manashil and Woodley will produce. Further principal casting on the film is underway.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Sonic fans win!” story, Sonic the Hedgehog director Jeff Fowler has given in to fan backlash over the title character’s physical appearance. The filmmaker took to social media May 2 to promise fans a redesign of the character will take place to correct the apparent issue before the movie’s November release date. The movie version of Sonic has been the center of fan backlash ever since Paramount debuted the film’s first poster December 10. The movie character appears more muscular and furrier than his original video game counterpart, plus Sonic’s eyes have been rendered differently.
“Thank you for the support. And the criticism,” Fowler wrote on Twitter. “The message is loud and clear. You aren’t happy with the design and you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount and Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be.”
Fowler’s statement arrived just two days after Paramount premiered the film’s first trailer, which gave fans around the world their first look at Sonic’s movie design. Press who saw the trailer early at CinemaCon last month did not inspire much confidence, with many calling Sonic’s new look “creepy” and “off-putting.” Paramount originally tried to play into the backlash, releasing a poster last year that read, “Can’t a guy workout?” Now it appears the studio is taking the backlash more seriously and agreeing to work with Fowler to ensure Sonic looks more pleasing to fans.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Video games on film – again” story, The Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray was tapped to direct a film version of the Saints Row series of video games, currently in the early planning stages, IGN reported Wednesday.
Greg Russo will write the screenplay for the adaptation. Russo is also scripting movie reboots of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil.
We don’t have any details as to the story of the movie version of the Saints Row games or which characters it will focus on. But, with Gray’s experience directing action films, he seems an ideal fit. The Fate of the Furious is the 2017 eight installment to the Fast and the Furious series of action films.
Gray is also director of the upcoming Men In Black: International, which is set for release June 14.
The Saints Row games are often compared to the Grand Theft Auto series— but with more bizarre missions and weirder transport options. The series has four games, the most recent installment being Saints Row IV in 2013.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Elvis via Parker” story, Baz Luhrmann’s Tom Hanks-starring Elvis film is set to shoot significant portions in Australia, it has been confirmed.
The currently untitled film, backed by Warner Bros., will explore the life and music of Elvis Presley, including his rise to fame, his unprecedented stardom, and his impact on the world. It will also delve into his complicated relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Variety recently revealed that Hanks will play Parker. That information was confirmed Wednesday by Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier and Minister for Trade, of the Australian state of Queensland. The state’s location attraction body, Screen Queensland said: “(Luhrmann) is casting a wide net for the actor to play Elvis.”
Palaszczuk said she was looking forward to welcoming the Warner Bros. production to Queensland’s world-class facilities, Village Roadshow Studios, on the Gold Coast. She said that an agreement to shoot in Queensland had been made after a recent meeting with Luhrmann in London. No schedule for a start of production was announced.
IN THIS WEEK’S “He REALLY is in this” story, Everyone can relax: James Gunn has found his Polka-Dot Man. Ant-Man and Dark Knight actor David Dastmalchian is joining Gunn’s Suicide Squad sequel cast as the polka-dot costumed villain, one of several new characters joining the squad. Dastmalchian joins returning cast members Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney and Viola Davis, and new cast additions Idris Elba and John Cena.
So, Polka dot Man is REALLY in the next Suicide Squad film. Go figure.
This news confirms an earlier rumor about which new characters would appear in the movie – Polka-Dot Man, Peacemaker, King Shark, and Ratcatcher.
Polka-Dot Man is “a character usually called Mr. Polka-Dot in the comics. His real name is Abner Krill, and he wears “a bizarre costume covered in spots, the point of which soon became apparent – once removed from the costume, the spots could be used for a variety of purposes, creating deadly weapons and a bizarre escape vehicle.”
It’s a strange world, and James Gunn is running part of it.
IN THIS WEEK’S “TV Rider” story, Gabriel Luna is once again suiting up as Marvel’s Ghost Rider, but this time for Hulu.
Variety has learned exclusively that Luna will star in the recently announced Hulu live-action series based on the comic book character. This will mark the second time that Luna has played Ghost Rider, previously appearing as the character in the ABC-Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, sources stress that this will be a completely new iteration of the character in no way connected to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline.
In addition to his time on “ Luna’s other television credits include True Detective, Wicked City, and Matador. On the feature side, he is set to appear in the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton. He has previously appeared in films like Bernie, Freehold, and Balls Out.
Ghost Rider, also known as Robbie Reyes, is consumed by hellfire and supernaturally bound to a demon. He lives on the Texas/Mexico border and when he unleashes the Rider, Robbie brings vengeance for the innocents he encounters, but struggles to control the power he wields
.Ingrid Escajeda will serve as showrunner and executive producer on Ghost Rider, with Paul Zbyszewski and Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb also executive producing.
In addition to Ghost Rider, Hulu has also ordered a live-action Marvel series Helstrom. They join the upcoming animated Hulu-Marvel shows based on Howard the Duck, M.O.D.O.K, Hit-Monkey, and Tigra and Dazzler.
Hulu also airs the live-action Marvel series Runaways, which is going into its third season.
I did NOT realize Hulu had so many Marvel related shows. Go figure.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Hey, Booboo” story, Twilight star Booboo Stewart will join Kevin Costner and Diane Lane in the Focus Features suspense thriller Let Him Go, based on Larry Watson’s novel of the same name.
Lesley Manville, Jeffrey Donovan, Kayli Carter and Will Brittain are also on board. The Family Stone filmmaker Thomas Bezucha is set to direct from his own screenplay. Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan of the Mazur Kaplan Company will produce alongside Bezucha. Costner will executive produce with Kimi Armstrong Stein, Jeffrey Lampert and Rod Lake.
Production of Let Him Go is expected to start in the spring.
Focus Features and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film worldwide. Focus president of production Josh McLaughlin will oversee the movie.
Costner will play a retired sheriff and Lane will portray his wife. After the loss of their son, the couple leaves their Montana ranch to rescue their young grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family living off the grid in the Dakotas. When they arrive, they discover the family has no intention of letting the child go.
Stewart will play Peter, a young man Costner and Lane’s characters encounter on their journey.
Ha. Booboo. Sorry, I just can’t help but chuckle.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Gateway to film” story, Frank Grillo, Keith David, Taryn Manning and Mark Boone Junior have joined the ensemble cast of The Gateway.
They join Shea Whigham, Olivia Munn, Bruce Dern and Zach Avery with Michele Civetta directing. Andrew Levitas is producing under his Metalwork Pictures banner alongside Stephen Israel.
The pic follows Parker, a downtrodden social worker in the grips of alcoholism, assigned to oversee care of the daughter of single mother, Dahlia, in this neo-noir thriller.
Grillo is fresh off the success of the acclaimed Netflix documentary series Fight World, an inside look at fight culture all over the globe that he produced and starred in as well as the brawl-thriller Donnybrook with Jamie Bell and Margaret Qualley that opened the Toronto Film Festival. He has a slew of projects set to bow in 2019, starting with the Netflix project Point Blank followed by the thriller Boss Level opposite Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts, which Grillo produced with his production company War Party. Grillo will also appear in Jason Blum’s Once Upon a Time in Staten Island with Watts and Bobby Cannavale, Screen Gems’ Black and Blue. Grillo is currently filming The Hitman’s Bodyguard sequel with Ryan Reynolds.
Ok, so Frank Grillo is busy.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Just a reminder” story, I just thought I’d remind people that there is another Rambo movie coming with Sylvester Stallone.
Sylvester Stallone took to Instagram to upload a snazzy, grainy new Rambo 5 behind the scenes video. The footage features a compilation of Stallone in full Rambo mode, banging together metal tools, gazing into blazing fires, and getting ready to (probably) murder a lot of people.
Will Rambo 5, aka Rambo V: Last Blood, end the Rambo series on a high-note? Eeeh, I don’t know. I mean, the last one was actually surprisingly entertaining and had a social message about the horrors in Burma.
In Last Blood, Rambo is living on his family ranch in Arizona, “deeply troubled and wrestling with PTSD as he picks up casual work wherever he can. When long-time family friend and estate manager Maria informs Rambo that her grand-daughter has gone missing after crossing into Mexico for a party, he sets off with her to find the youngster. What ensues is a violent descent into hell as Rambo uncovers a sex-trafficking ring. He teams up with a journalist whose half-sister has also been kidnapped and must deploy all his skills to save the girls and bring down a vicious crime lord.”
Stallone co-wrote the script with Matt Cirulnick. Get the Gringo filmmaker Adrian Grunberg directs. In addition to Stallone, Rambo V: Last Blood features Adriana Barraza, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal, Sergio Peris-Mencheta,
Oscar Jaenadam, and Joaquín Cosío.
IN THIS WEEK’S “For change” story, Seth Green is making his feature directorial debut — and bringing together three former child stars.
In a PEOPLE exclusive look at the trailer for his new film Changeland, Green, 45, stars as Brandon, who bought an exotic second honeymoon package to surprise his wife only to discover she’s having an affair.
Instead of wallowing, Brandon decides to take his best friend, Dan (Breckin Meyer), on the trip to Thailand where their friendship is exposed as potentially strained due to Brandon’s marriage.
The pair soon meet a compassionate tour guides Pen (Brenda Song) and Dory (Clare Grant), bond with honeymooners Emma (Rose Williams) and Marc (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and have an adventure with Ian (Macaulay Culkin), a boat operator looking for a good time, and local legend Martin (Randy Orton).
Song opened up about how she bonded with boyfriend Culkin, as well as Meyer and Green over being child stars.
“Child actors, we don’t even get to talk about it, you just look each other in the eye and you nod and we know,” Song told Entertainment Tonight on Monday.
Ok, that’s kinda dark.
Changeland — also starring Rose Williams, Kedar Williams-Stirling and Randy Orton — is in theaters and VOD on June 7.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Coleman and Hopkins” story, Anthony Hopkins, who won an Oscar with The Silence of the Lambs, and Olivia Colman, who just picked up the Academy Award for The Favourite, will star in Florian Zeller’s movie adaptation of his hit stage play The Father.
Principal photography begins this month in the U.K. Financing has been arranged by Viewfinder and Embankment, and is provided by Elarof Fund and Film4.
Hopkins stars in the title role as a mischievous and highly independent man who, as he ages, refuses all assistance from his daughter Anne (Colman). Yet such help has become essential, following Anne’s decision to move to Paris with her partner. As Anne’s father tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and reality itself.
Zeller will direct from a screenplay he co-wrote with Christopher Hampton (Atonement, Dangerous Liaisons).
The 2012 play, written and directed by Zeller, was first launched in Paris, winning a Moliere Award for best play, before hitting Broadway and London’s West End, where it won both Tony and Olivier awards for best actor.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Mission: Impossible: Forever” story, After Mission: Impossible – Fallout, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie gave the impression that he was going to take a break from the franchise for a while. That didn’t last, though, because it was soon announced McQuarrie reunite with Tom Cruise yet again, and helm both Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 back-to-back. This will no doubt be a daunting feat, and McQuarrie isn’t afraid to admit that.
In a new interview, the filmmaker talks about how he’s feeling the pressure to make sure the franchise earns these back-to-back sequels, and his believe that the new films need to “swallow the last three movies whole.”
Since everyone on the planet knows that the team-up of McQuarrie and Cruise is what makes Mission so memorable, Paramount recruited McQuarrie to make the next two films in the franchise back-to-back.
Now, McQuarrie has to figure out how to top himself. That will be no small feat, since Mission: Impossible – Fallout was thrilling-as-hell. Speaking with Empire, McQuarrie says: “I pitched the idea of making two movies, and now I have to justify why it’s two movies.” While McQuarrie doesn’t give any specifics on how he’s going to justify this, he does talk about what he hopes the two new sequels achieve:
“You’ve got to earn that. You’ve got to make something that swallows the last three movies whole. I’m freaked out now. We’ve talked ourselves into something. Holy shit.”
If you’re thinking of joking that they’ll end up on the moon or something, don’t worry. “Here’s the problem with going to the moon: how do you fall from the moon?” McQuarrie says, referring to Tom Cruise’s propensity to jump off really high places and risk his life.
That’s good to know.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Confirming rumors” story, A while back, there was talk that Ron Howard might revivist the world of his film Willow. Well, speaking to Josh Horowitz on the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast, director Ron Howard probably spoke a little out of school by discussing the potential of a Willow series coming to Disney+ in the future. Disney has always been a company that likes to keep announcements close to the vest and stay out of the rumor and speculation scene. But Howard seems to break that rule and full on confirms that “discussions” are currently underway.
“There are some really serious discussions going on with Jon Kasdan, who was one of the writers of ‘Solo,’ who kept hounding me about ‘Willow’ the whole time we were shooting and also hounding Kathy Kennedy,” said Howard. “We’re in discussions about developing a ‘Willow’ television show for the Disney+. And I think it’d be a great way to go.”
He continued, “In fact, George [Lucas, who created the story of ‘Willow’] always talked about the possibility of a ‘Willow’ series, which he felt innately would be great and more intimate, and built around that character and some of the others. And Jon Kasdan has, I think, an inspired take on it and it could be really, really cool. Fingers crossed.”
Turns out the show would be a continuation from the film, and would feature Warwick Davis. YAY!
So there you have it. More Willow could be in our future.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dolph vs zombies?” story, Saban Films’ Dead Trigger stars the action icon as Captain Kyle Walker, who finds himself in the thick of a zombie apocalypse where the deadly virus has killed billions. To combat the zombie scourge, the government creates an apocalypse video game called “Dead Trigger” and recruits the players with the highest kill count to combat the flesh-hungry hoard in real life. With the team assembled, Captain Walker leads them to Terminal City, where the outbreak began to battle through a horde of the undead and find a team of scientists working on a cure. The only way to get to them, however, is through a city full of terrifying undead mutants.
Of COURSE! Wouldn’t be much of a zombie movie otherwise.
Directed by Mike Cuff and Scott Windhauser from a script by Heinz Treschnitzer, Dead Trigger also stars Autumn Reeser, Romeo Miller, and Isaiah Washington. The film arrives in theaters and on-demand on May 3, 2019.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Is THIS rumor true?” story, The saga of the fifth Indiana Jones film seems to add a new wrinkle every few months. This all started with Steven Spielberg saying that the latest entry in the iconic franchise would be his next film. Then came word that the script was being overhauled and the film was pushed to summer 2021. Now, there’s a rumor that the overhauled script is getting tossed out in favor of a new one. At this point, you have to wonder if ‘Indy 5’ is ever going to see the light of day.
According to a rumor posted by MakingStarWars (not a major source of ‘Indy’ news in the past, but a trusted source on many things), Jon Kasdan, who was brought on to rewrite the latest film in the Harrison Ford franchise, has now been replaced by Dan Fogelman, who will start from scratch on a new script.
Fogelman is probably best known as the creator of the popular TV drama series “This is Us.” However, he has an extensive history as a screenwriter of films like Cars, Fred Claus, Tangled, and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Most recently, Fogelman found himself the subject of some harsh critiques after his 2018 film, Life, Itself, was killed by film critics.
The report says that Kasdan’s rewritten script would have been based on the famous Wałbrzych gold train, aka the Nazi gold train. The train is said to be buried underground in Europe by the Nazis at the end of World War II. The legend says that the gold train is supposed to be filled with incredible riches and treasures. Perfect fodder for an Indiana Jones film.
As mentioned, however, Fogelman’s script is said to focus on a different plot, which is unknown at this time.
We still don’t know when filming will begin on ‘Indy 5.’ Sure they have some time, as long as they don’t get a script and then rewrite it yet AGAIN.
Indiana Jones 5 is expected to arrive in theaters on July 9, 2021.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Chewie says ‘goodbye'” story, Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbecca in the original trilogy, died on Tuesday, his family announced on his Twitter. He was 74.
He died at his North Texas home surrounded by his family, read the Twitter statement.
He was discovered by producer Charles H. Schneer while working as a hospital attendant in London, and cast in Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. The next year, he was cast as Chewbacca, the 200-year-old Wookiee.
May the Force be with you, Mr. Mayhew.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Tolkien stuff” story, The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien issued a statement earlier this month saying it did not “approve” nor “endorse” Dome Karukoski’s biopic Tolkien, starring Nicholas Hoult as the Lord of the Rings author and Lily Collins as his wife, Edith Bratt. However, at a post-screening Q&A in New York City May 1 (conducted by this writer), Karukoski said not working with the Tolkien estate proved to be a creative benefit.
“Honestly, you try not to work with the estate for reasons obvious,” Karukoski said. “Even if it would be out of kindness to ask the estate, you start servicing them, they become your friends. You shouldn’t mess with the estate, so the film can exist purely for your own reasons and your own feelings about the characters. We did very, very thorough research, we understand these characters, and the emotional truth of them is very true. To dig out the emotional truth of the characters, you have to try to not hide certain evidence and when you work with an estate what happens is that that kind of gets suffocated. You’re not allowed to do certain things so that the audience can feel an emotion from it.”
Karukoski added that he offered the Tolkien estate an opportunity to see the film before its London premiere, but its representatives refused. “I actually approached them to offer them a chance to watch the film with me and Nick and I hope that will happen one day,” he said.
The Tolkien estate (led by the author’s now 94-year-old son, Christopher Tolkien) has long expressed dissatisfaction with adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, including of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The author himself was very adamant about resisting Walt Disney’s attempts to buy the screen rights to The Lord of the Rings in the 1960s.
At least one J.R.R. Tolkien descendant approves of Karukoski’s film. Said Collins, “Callum Tolkien, his great-grandson, plays a soldier in the trenches with Nick [Hoult], and he came to the premiere the other night. So there was a Tolkien present!”
As for Karukoski’s insistence that the film get all the facts right, not just those approved by the estate, Hoult was so committed to the part that he learned to draw land spent much of his time on Tolkien-esque sketches while experiencing downtime on the set of X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
“We were doing a Dark Phoenix action sequence, and I had this little tent where I’d go in to cool off because it was pumped full of air conditioning,” Hoult said. “I’d go in there and I’d copy Tolkien’s drawings. I thought it would hopefully be something that’ll subconsciously help me for the role.”
Well, that actually sounds like they respected Tolkien enough to try to do right by him.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dude, where’s my movie?” story, Brad Pitt’s science-fiction adventure movie Ad Astra has quietly vanished from the release schedule, three weeks prior to its previously announced May 24 opening date.
Fox had originally dated Ad Astra for Jan. 11, 2019, then decided in late 2018 to move it back four months to the Memorial Day weekend on May 24. Disney closed the deal for the 20th Century Fox film assets in March and has not done any promotion for the movie since then — no trailer or stills have been released. Ad Astra was not included in early tracking numbers released Thursday for the Memorial Day period, expected to be dominated by Disney’s live-action Aladdin.
The studio had no comment Thursday. Disney distribution head Cathleen Taff told exhibitors last month at the CinemaCon convention that the studio would be moving around distribution dates on some of its titles. Rumor is that it’s still in final editing, and that it may be moved to Fall 2019.
James Gray directed Ad Astra from a script he co-wrote with Ethan Gross.
Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Jamie Kennedy, and Donald Sutherland are also starring in Ad Astra. Pitt is playing a man who journeys across the solar system in search of his missing father, a dangerous renegade scientist. Jones is portraying the father.
And who knows when we’ll all see it.
And with that, we are out. See you all next time!