Welcome to another week of celluloid stuff!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Greg’s first directing gig” story, Greg Kinnear is an Oscar-nominated actor that has starred in dozens of quality films over the last few decades. But up until now, he’s never stepped behind the camera. In the new dramedy, Phil, the actor-turned-director not only is the man at the helm but also the star of the show.
The official synopsis:
A depressed dentist whose life is falling apart, is shocked when one of his patients, a man who seemed to have the perfect life, kills himself. Determined to find out what would drive a man who had everything to end his life, he pretends to be a handyman and integrates himself in to the dead man’s life, befriending his wife and daughter. How long can Phil keep up this double life when he is already ready to end his normal one?And of course, as you might imagine, the lonely dentist gets in a little over his head and the cops become involved when it’s revealed that perhaps the dead patient was the victim of a stalker.
Kinnear stars alongside a great cast that includes Emily Mortimer, Jay Duplass, Taylor Schilling, Kurt Fuller, Luke Wilson, and Bradley Whitford. Phil is written by Stephen Mazur, and as mentioned, directed by Kinnear.
Phil arrives in theaters, as well as on Digital and On Demand, on July 5.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Bill and Ted finally get going” story, After long years of rumors and failed talks, the Bill and Ted 3 production begins. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are bringing back the band in Bill & Ted Face the Music, which kicked off production with a gratitude and nostalgia-filled post from Winter, who praised writer Ed Solomon, the writer of the original Bill & Ted movies, for being the rock that holds the bodacious family together.
And speaking of family, Solomon also teased a few comparison shots of young Reeves and Winter with their daughters played by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine, who show an uncanny resemblance to the excellent duo.
Production has begin for Bill & Ted Face the Music, the long-awaited sequel to 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. The production start was announced by Winter, who played the OG slacker-rocker Bill alongside Reeves’ Ted in the first two films. But unlike the ever-busy Reeves, Winter hasn’t appeared in a feature film since 2015’s Smosh: The Movie, and posted a sweet message expressing gratitude to the Bill & Ted family and the film’s tenacious writer Ed Solomon.
“Just got to location to shoot [Bill and Ted 3],” Winter writes. “Making movies is a miraculous gig, but it’s also stressful & fairly nuts. Good to be here with @ed_solomon, our great director & producer, many folks I’ve known most of my life. We’re family, and that makes this all the more special.”
Solomon was the biggest force behind bringing Bill & Ted Face the Music to life, working for years on a project that long seemed a doomed dream. But here we are, with production beginning, and a star-studded cast that includes William Sadler, Samara Weaving, and Brigette Lundy-Paine. The latter two play the daughters of Bill and Ted, and they share quite a resemblance to the young Winter and Reeves, as Solomon points out.
ill & Ted Face the Music will be directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest, Red 2, Fun With Dick and Jane), from a screenplay by returning franchise writers Chris Matheson (Imagine That, A Goofy Movie) and Solomon (Men in Black, Mosaic).
It’s finally happening.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Hunger Games prequel, anyone?” story, Scholastic announced today that it is publishing Suzanne Collins’ new Hunger Games prequel novel, currently untitled, which will hit shelves on May 19, 2020.
The novel will be set in the world of Panem 64 years before the events of the original Hunger Games trilogy on the morning of the reaping of the 10th Hunger Games — well before the lifetime of the story’s protagonists Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence on-screen.
“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published. We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie,” said Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group about the potential plans for a movie.
On returning to the world of The Hunger Games, Collins said, “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period ten years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days—as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet—provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”
Ok, have fun with that.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Why are we keeping this up?” story, The Wonderfilm Media Corporation announced today that Amityville 1974 has been given the green light to begin principal photography in November with its story of the real-life rampage murders that would became the background story for author Jay Anson’s 1977 bestseller The Amityville Horror and the numerous films that have invoked it in name or premise.
The Anson novel was adapted to the screen in a namesake feature film (with James Brolin and Margot Kidder, directed by Stuart Rosenberg) that became a cultural sensation in the summer of 1979 and one of the most lucrative hits in Hollywood history with its tale of hostile supernatural forces at work in a home in a Long Island, N.Y., shoreline village called Amityville. The 1979 hit was “re-imagined” twice in theatrically released films (first in 2005, the second in 2017) but over the years 20-plus other productions (either direct-to-video or for television) have used the real-life village’s name and notorious history for haunted-house screen stories.
Casey La Scala (The Remaining) will direct the latest iteration, Amityville 1974, from a script he wrote. The focus shifts back to the traumatic murders that reputedly set the supernatural stage for the nation’s most notorious haunted-house legend. In November 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot all six members of his family in a spree killing that took on even more horrific hues a year later when a family bought the notorious property and lived in it for 28 days – a four-week window that became the core story of the Anson novel and its three big-screen adaptations.
“This is a story that takes its jumping-off point from the true facts surrounding the Defeo tragedy,” La Scala said, “but also focuses on the human drama that took place inside a family as they were relentlessly stalked by a terrifying evil.”
ALMOST sounded like a different take on the story, but then ends up sounding the same as most of the other film made about this subject. We’ll see.
Jeff Bowler, founding partner of Wonderfilm Media, and Shaun Redick (Get Out) will produce for Wonderfilm. “We are beyond thrilled to introduce Amityville 1974,” Bowler said. “Casey has a truly unique and terrifying vision for the fright franchise and audiences will experience horror like never before with this film.”
That’s pretty high talk, pal.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dan Aykroyd is very tenacious” story, Since it was announced earlier this year, the Jason Reitman-helmed Ghostbusters reboot-quel has seemingly won back the fans that were upset by the Paul Feig-directed reboot from 2016.
And speaking to Gamespot, one of the original masterminds behind the 1984 classic and its sequel, Dan Aykroyd, talked about why the upcoming Ghostbusters sequel is special.
“Jason came up with this idea, which is just so good, everybody got it right away and understood. It will connect, better than anything, to the first movie,” said Aykroyd. “That’s about all I can say about it, but the two movies will connect, in a way that hasn’t been done before.”
One of the ways that the new Ghostbusters film is said to connect to the previous entries is with the cast. Just recently, Sigourney Weaver said she’s returning to the film, and she mentioned Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Bill Murray would be joining her. However, we have confirmation that another familiar face is coming back.
In an interview with KTLA, where she’s promoting her role in Toy Story 4, actress Annie Potts was asked about possibly coming back in the upcoming Ghostbusters sequel.
Potts said, “I have heard some things. If it’s true, what I’ve heard…yeah, I think it’s gonna happen.”
When asked if she’s definitely showing up in the sequel, she replied, “I think I will.”
The new Ghostbusters sequel will arrive in theaters on July 10, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Clint gets a good cast” story, Over the last week, we’ve been following the casting process of Oscar-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s latest project, The Ballad of Richard Jewell. With the two main stars already signed on, Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser, it appears that the filmmaker is still lining up some major talent for his upcoming drama.
Variety is reporting that Olivia Wilde and Jon Hamm are the latest actors to join The Ballad of Richard Jewell. The film follows the true story of Richard Jewell, a security guard from the 1996 Olympic games that discovered an explosive and was able to evacuate the area before hundreds were potentially injured. Later, police would mistakenly accuse Jewell of planting the bomb himself, leading to the once-hero then becoming public enemy #1.
In the film, Wilde will portray real-life reporter Kathy Scruggs, who investigated the incident. And Hamm will play an FBI agent involved in the case.
Filming of The Ballad of Richard Jewell is expected to begin relatively soon, which would make a 2020 release likely.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Is Max Landis the new Harvey Weinstein?” story, Max Landis seemingly had his career laid out in front of him at a very young age. The son of director John Landis, best known for films like Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Coming to America, and An American Werewolf in London, Max was able to turn one of his first scripts into a major film, with the 2012 found-footage superhero film “Chronicle.” From there, the younger Landis sold script after script, becoming one of the most high-profile, and very vocal, writers in Hollywood. But during that time, and even well before, Landis was allegedly abusing numerous women.
In a very detailed report from The Daily Beast, eight separate women have come forward with harrowing accounts of what happened between them and Max Landis. These allegations include rape, physical abuse, humiliation, and various other troubling situations. Each person, dating back from Landis’ college years to one of his most recent girlfriends, gives extraordinary detail about instances where the screenwriter abused his power to sexually assault them.
“There’s too many voices to ignore,” Anna Akana, a former friend of Landis, said. “And I felt the need to be vocal because Max is intimidating and he’s scary. And I’ve seen, being in that friend group, one of the most frustrating things is that he would lord his power and his money over people and intimidate them into friendship, or into forgiveness.”
The report goes through each accusation thoroughly, while also focusing on what be his most recent alleged crime, with his then-girlfriend Ani Baker. Frankly, it’s tough to read the details because of how gross they are, but The Daily Beast and the victims want everyone to realize just how terrible Landis is said to be.
Baker claims once, after they had sex, she playfully slapped Landis’ butt and he responded by violently putting his hands around her throat and threatening to kill her.
While Baker may have opened the floodgates with her post, she’s hardly the first woman to accuse Landis of abuse. He was widely accused of misconduct on social media back in 2017 when the Will Smith movie “Bright” was released — which was written by Landis.
Actress Anna Akana wrote, “Written by a psychopath who sexually abused and assaults women, right? Cool.”
The women claim Landis’ MO is to use his circle of friends, which he dubbed “The Colour Society,” to entice women to get close to him … then torment them through a series of insults, intimidation, humiliation and in some cases, sexual violence. One woman described him as a “cult leader.”
Another accuser, in the Daily Beast expose, claims Landis would pretend to hit her, then laugh when she flinched. Another claims he fat-shamed her, while another described him this way … “He would systematically try to have sex with all the women I knew. We’re not people to him.”
Landis is also accused of forcing abuse and humiliation porn on a woman, and the worst of it — forcefully holding down a woman and raping her despite her saying “no” repeatedly.
One of his anonymous victims said, “Max Landis is a serial rapist, gaslighter, physical and psychological abuser who tormented me for six years, long after our romantic relationship, both directly and behind my back.”
Landis is responsible for two projects that are currently in development, including a new film Deeper,” which is said to star Idris Elba, and Shadow in the Cloud, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz. The latter film has already gone to lengths to distance itself from the writer.
The writer is also said to be developing a remake of his father’s An American Werewolf in London, which he is attached to not only write but also direct.
The pattern continues.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Who’s joining Eddie Murphy?” story, Jermaine Fowler is set to play one of the leads opposite Eddie Murphy in Paramount’s sequel Coming 2 America, sources tell Variety.
Hustle & Flow helmer Craig Brewer is on board to direct the pic with the studio planning an August 7, 2020 release.
Plot details of Coming 2 America are unknown, as are the details of Fowler’s character.
Kenya Barris, who is executive producing, has been attached since 2017 to rewrite a script by original Coming to America writers Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield. Murphy is producing alongside Kevin Misher.
The original movie starred Murphy as a charming African prince who traveled to New York City to escape an arranged marriage. Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, and John Amos co-starred in the the pic, which was a major hit, grossing nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office.
Fowler stars as Franco Wicks on Superior Donuts for CBS alongside Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal. Most recently he starred opposite Zoey Deutch in “Buffaloed,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. He also appeared in the critically-acclaimed film Sorry to Bother You and on the HBO comedy series Crashing.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Scorcese and DiCaprio, together again” story, Back in October 2018, Collider.com reported that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio were planning to make an adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon their next project with filming set to begin this summer. While that filming start date looks unlikely (it’s possible, but Scorsese is likely still in post-production on The Irishman), Paramount has now picked up the project. Deadline reports that the studio will finance and distribute the project, which was picked up by Imperative Entertainment back in 2016 for a hefty $5 million.
Based on the book by David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: An American Crime and the Birth of the FBI, the nonfiction story is “about the mysterious murders of the Osage Indians tribe in Oklahoma, where oil sat rich beneath their land. The case was turned over to a brand new law enforcement agency known as the FBI, which fought against corruption to solve the case.” Grann, a writer for the New Yorker, previously penned the book The Lost City of Z.
IN THIS WEEK’S “More woman directors, please” story, Rachel Morrison, the DP on “Black Panther” and cinematographer on Mudbound, is in negotiations to make her feature directorial debut with Universal’s Flint Strong, which Barry Jenkins penned the script for.
Flint Strong will be based on the 2015 boxing documentary T-Rex, which was directed by Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper.
Michael De Luca will produce via his Universal-based Michael De Luca Productions alongside Jenkins and De Luca Productions’ Elishia Holmes. Canepari and Cooper will executive produce.
T-Rex told the story of 17-year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, who is from Flint, Michigan and who had a dream of becoming the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing, which she achieved at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Then, she won her second gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Universal acquired her life rights and rights to the documentary in 2016.
Morrison made history last year as the first woman ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for her work in Mudbound. She was also the first woman to shoot a Marvel Cinematic Universe film with Black Panther.
Her other credits include Fruitvale Station, Cake, Dope, What Happened, Miss Simone? and Confirmation.
Now let’s multiply this by 100 for more woman directors.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Easy A adjacent” story, Nearly a decade after the success of Easy A, a spinoff of the coming-of-age comedy is in the works. Sources tell Variety that Screen Gems has appointed Bert Royal, who penned the first script, to write and direct the upcoming movie.
Insiders stress that the film is still in early development, as Royal is still in the process of writing the screenplay. After Easy A became a breakout hit, the studio opted to task him with directing duties as well. The spinoff will mark Royal’s directorial debut. Zanne Devine is returning to executive produce.
Will Gluck directed 2010’s Easy A, a teen comedy about a clean-cut high school student who relies on the school’s rumor mill to advance her social standing. It became a surprise hit, earning $75 million worldwide, while also solidifying its star Emma Stone on the A-list for leading ladies in Hollywood.
Insiders tell Variety the spinoff will be set at the same high school and will explore many of the same themes as the original Easy A. That hints that Stone is unlikely to return for the follow-up, as the forthcoming installment will focus on a new group of students and teachers.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Halloween continues” story, After Jason Blum teased earlier this month that he was “discussing stuff” with Jamie Lee Curtis, Collider now reports that a sequel to the duo’s 2018 Halloween reboot is gearing up for a September film shoot. Multiple sources tell Collider a production start is set for just after the Labor Day holiday. Universal already has an untitled Blumhouse horror movie scheduled for October 16, 2020 that will most likely be Halloween 2.
Many of the talents involved with the successful Halloween reboot are expected to return, most importantly Jamie Lee Curtis as the franchise’s protagonist Laurie Strode. Cast members Judy Greer and Andi Matichak are expected to reprise their roles as Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter, respectively. David Gordon Green wrote the script for Halloween 2 and is being eyed to return to the director’s chair.
Universal and Blumhouse’s Halloween reboot opened last October to $76.2 million, the highest opening in the horror franchise’s history and the second biggest October start on record. The film ended its run with $159 million in the U.S. and $255 million globally on a budget in the $10 million range. Most importantly, the film got critics and fans back on the franchise’s good side after a series of poorly reviewed sequels.
The 2018 Halloween movie served as a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original. Carpenter is expected to return as producer of the 2020 sequel, alongside Blumhouse’s Couper Samuelson, Green, and Danny McBride. The latter co-wrote and produced the reboot.
As far as the Halloween 2 plot is concerned, neither Blumhouse nor Universal is saying anything about where the franchise goes next. The reboot ended with (SPOILERS!) the Strode family seemingly prevailing over Michael Myers by trapping him in the basement of their home and setting the place on fire. The movie ended with a shot of the burnt basement and Michael’s body nowhere to be found. A post-credits scene included Michael breathing, confirming the character survived the events of the film.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Ron Howard directs Edward Gorey?” story, In a prolific career that has yielded numerous iconic movies, Ron Howard is set to direct his first animated film.
The project is one of four ambitious, original animated and live-action hybrid films he and Brian Grazer have set up through their company Imagine Entertainment, in a joint venture with Australian production engine Animal Logic (The Lego Movie franchise, Happy Feet).
Howard is attached to direct The Shrinking of Treehorn, a children’s book by Florence Parry Heide with illustrations from Edward Gorey, originally published in 1971. Paramount Pictures will release the film.
“I’ve long had this passionate point of view that Ron Howard should make a tentpole animated movie. That’s how this started,” said Zareh Nalbandian, Animal Logic’s entertainment CEO.
Treehorn follows a young man who begins shrinking in size after playing a strange board game, which goes largely unnoticed by his parents. The visual language of the film will closely follow Gorey’s aesthetic. Rob Lieber (Peter Rabbit, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day) is writing the script.
Well, the story sounds good, as long as Howard doesn’t screw it up.
IN THIS WEEK’S “In case your were wondering” story, In a new interview, actor Mark Hamill expresses his desire to hang up his Jedi robes for good and retire from the Star Wars universe after this movie, while also confirming that he’ll be appearing as a Force ghost in The Rise of Skywalker.
A brief transcript when asked the question:
Is this really going to be your last Star Wars appearance?
MH: I hope so (laughs).
MH: Well, because…I had closure in the last one. The fact that I’m involved in any capacity is only because of that peculiar aspect of the Star Wars mythology where if you’re a Jedi, you get to come back and make a curtain call as a Force ghost.
Is it me or does Mark Hamill have a certain tone in his response? I mean, he definitely sounds like he’s done with Star Wars. Not that I blame him, for sure. I agreed with his feelings about these last two films (he felt he, Harrison and Carrie should have had scenes together on screen), despite me liking them anyway.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20, 2019.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Another Netflix movie” story, Chiwetel Ejiofor will be part of The Old Guard. The 12 Years a Slave star has signed on for the Netflix and Skydance picture, which will also star Charlize Theron who also produces.
Harry Melling (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) and Veronica Ngo (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) have also been cast in the adaptation of the graphic novel series, which was created by author Greg Rucka and illustrator Leandro Fernández.
The new names join the previously announced KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Matthias Schoenaerts and Luca Marinelli in the upcoming movie.
The story, published in 2017 by Image, centers on old soldiers who never die, finding themselves trapped in immortality without explanation.
The film will tell the story of a small covert group of immortal mercenaries who must fight to keep their team together when they discover the existence of a new immortal and their extraordinary abilities are exposed. Filming is underway in the U.K.
Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball”) directs. Rucka and Prince-Bythewood have adapted the graphic novel for the screen. Rucka also exec produces, alongside Stan Wlodkowski.
IN THIS WEEK’S “One way or another” story, Millennium Films has set Transparent creator Jill Soloway to write and direct Red Sonja, a film that went back to the drawing board earlier this year after Bryan Singer was dropped as director. Soloway is coming in with a bold new take, and gives the film much better optics that already has studios approaching Millennium. Soloway’s Topple Productions partner Andrea Sperling is also coming aboard as a producer.
“I can’t wait to bring Red Sonja’s epic world to life,” Soloway told Deadline. “Exploring this powerful mythology and evolving what it means to be a heroine is an artistic dream come true.”
It is the first deal for Soloway since directing The Transparent Movie Musicale Finale that this fall will wrap Soloway’s groundbreaking Amazon series creation. Casting will start anew for an actress to play Red Sonja, who originated as a comic book heroine in the 1970s and has appeared in hundreds of comics over the decades, with Dynamite Entertainment still publishing them today. It will be the second film treatment for the character following the 1985 actioner that starred Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Millennium has been trying to revive Red Sonja for at least a decade, coming closest with a version where Robert Rodriguez was going to direct Rose McGowan in the role. The project came back around after the success of Wonder Woman demonstrated the potential for female-driven superhero films. While Millennium’s action and genre slates have had mostly men at the helm, the company has made an emphasis on become more inclusive in hiring filmmakers. It recently set Tanya Wexler to direct Kate Beckinsale in the action thriller Jolt.
Singer was set as Red Sonja director last year, even after being fired from Bohemian Rhapsody two weeks before wrapping, for repeated absences. The movie was at the time asserting itself in the Oscar Best Picture race with a box office run that ended with an astounding $903 million worldwide, and Singer also had an enviable superhero track record with X-Men. But Singer was dropped after the publication of an article in The Atlantic that leveled tawdry allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against the director. Despite Singer’s denials, distributors wanted no part of it, and it would have been a challenge to find an actress to play the character who, in the comic mythology, is out to avenge her family, with sexual assault a part of that tapestry.
People just don’t want this Red Sonja movie to die. So, ok, better make it good, then.
Aaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “Say what, now?” story, Jason Momoa is all for reuniting with Game of Thrones costar Peter Dinklage for a remake of the 1988 classic Twins. During an Aquaman Q&A panel at Celebrity Fan Fest in Texas, Momoa was asked if he’d consider starring in the reboot alongside Dinklage. “F*ckin’ tell me where to sign!” he responded. “Absolutely. That’d be amazing. I love that movie.”
The original comedy — which centers on two experimental fraternal twins who are separated at birth before reuniting later in life — featured Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as the leading men. Currently, a sequel is in the works with both Schwarzenegger and DeVito on board, though there isn’t a release date yet.
Ok, whatever. I’m not sure what to make of that.
Thanks for stopping by! See ya next time!