All sorts of things happening this week!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Welcome to, Michael Peña!” story, Michael Peña has been tapped to take on the role of the iconic Mr. Roarke in the Sony Pictures and Blumhouse-produced Fantasy Island film adaptation from director Jeff Wadlow (Truth Or Dare).
Peña is taking on a role that was originated by Ricardo Montalban when the TV series, from Aaron Spelling, launched in 1978 on ABC. Mr. Roarke, joined by his sidekick, Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize), was the mysterious overseer of the island who granted the fantasies of visitors for a price. Created by Gene Levitt, the series dealt with dark themes and the supernatural as visitors come to the island to live out their fantasy wishes.
Wadlow co-wrote the screenplay with Truth or Dare scribes Chris Roach and Jillian Jacobs. Jason Blum is producing with Ryan Turek overseeing for the company, which is also co-financing the project. Wadlow and Blumhouse’s Couper Samuelson will serve as exec producers.
IN THIS WEEK’S “From podcast to screen” story, it was only a matter of time before podcasts got optioned into screen adaptation. Lore was made into a series by Amazon, and now Dirty John is part of the wave of podcast adaptations coming to the small and big screen, and will be adapting the story of the gripping Wondery and LA Times podcast into a Bravo eight-episode miniseries. Eric Bana stars as the titular Dirty John, a mysterious man who holds a few too many secrets from his girlfriend, played by Connie Britton.
When Debra Newell, a single mother and interior designer meets a handsome man online, he seems too good to be true. He’s attentive, caring, and charming — but only to her. Her daughters are wary of the new man in their mother’s life, and perhaps for good reason. His strange behavior starts to become more alarming, spiraling to the a gruesome murder that becomes the jumping off point for the gripping investigative podcast by reporter Christopher Goffard.
IN THIS WEEK’S “What he left behind” story, There will never be another George Romero, and the filmmaker’s death in 2017 left a big hole in the world of movies. But Romero’s legacy lives on through his work, and it might continue on into the future thanks to unreleased material. Romero’s widow Suzanne Desrocher-Romero has revealed that the Night of the Living Dead filmmaker left behind round 50 unproduced scripts, as well as a completed film from 1973 that most film-goers have never seen.
When Romero died in July of 2017, it was sad to think we’d never see another new film from the director. But now, it looks like that might not be true. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Romero’s wife Suzanne Desrocher-Romero dropped the surprising revelation that the late filmmaker left behind a wealth of unproduced scripts, and even a complete movie that’s never been released.
“George has many scripts. We have very many scripts that he’s written. And so, you just never know what’s gonna pop up,” Desrocher-Romero said. “[Road of the Dead] is in the works, I think. I think it’s sputtered a little bit, but we’ll see what happens. But we have a lot.” Road of the Dead is a script Romero wrote with Matt Birman, which Birman was supposed to direct. Think of it as Mad Max, with zombies. But that’s not all. Desrocher-Romero added:
“George was a prolific writer. He loved to write, and we have 40, 50 scripts that he’s written, and a lot of it is very good. He had a lot to say, and he still does, because I’m gonna make sure that he does. It’s my mission.”
“We have a film that he shot in 1973 that most people haven’t seen. A handful of people have seen this film,” Desrocher-Romero continued. “We’re gonna restore it, and we’re gonna show it to Romero cinephiles. It’s a scary movie, but it’s not a horror movie, and it’s about ageism. Anyway, he has a cameo in it, and it’ll be fun. And we’ll show the movie, or get it distributed. It’ll be a project that the foundation’s gonna do. I think it’s the first project we’re gonna do actually.”
Ok, well then, George Romero lives on!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Bond will always be a ‘James” story, James Bond, who has been portrayed by a similar revolving door of changing actors, will probably remain the same womanizing male spy who was first introduced in 1953. Despite some demands for a female James Bond, executive producer and one of the keepers of the Bond legacy, Barbara Broccoli, confirmed that there are no plans to cast a woman as 007.
“Bond is male,” Broccoli said in an interview with The Guardian. “He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male.”
Though the James Bond franchise is going through a small upheaval with the hiring of Asian-American director Cary Joji Fukunaga to helm the 25th entry in the long-running espionage series, Broccoli says we shouldn’t expect a female 007 any time soon. Since current Bond Daniel Craig has announced his plans to exit the role after starring in the upcoming Bond 25, there has been chatter online demanding that the character be recast as a woman. But Broccoli says that James Bond, first introduced in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, was written as a womanizing male spy “so there’s certain things in [Bond’s] DNA that are probably not gonna change.”
“Let’s just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters,” she adds.
Ok, then. Fair enough.
As for within the Bond franchise, Broccoli instead aims to focus the more nuanced depictions of female characters on the supporting roles, such as the expanded role of recurring character, Moneypenny, given a bold update in the Craig films by Naomie Harris. Broccoli said:
“I’ve tried to do my part, and I think particularly with the Daniel [Craig] films, they’ve become much more current in terms of the way women are viewed.”
IN THIS WEEK’S ” Shannon and Knives? Can’t go wrong” story, Michael Shannon is in talks to join the A-list ensemble being assembled for Rian Johnson’s next pic Knives Out, which currently stars Daniel Craig and Chris Evans.
Lakeith Stanfield is also on board with MRC financing. Johnson is writing and directing and will produce with his producing partner Ram Bergman.
Plot details are vague but it has been described as a modern-day murder mystery in the classic Agatha Christie whodunit style. It’s not yet known what type of character Shannon will play.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Beam her up, Scotty” story, Celeste Yarnall, who appeared opposite Elvis Presley in Live a Little, Love a Little, had a memorable turn on Star Trek and donned a loincloth to play “the original flower child” in the jungle-set cult classic Eve, has died. She was 74.
Yarnall, a “scream queen” who was terrorized by a headless monster in Beast of Blood (1971), died Sunday at her home in Westlake Village, California, her husband, British artist Nazim Nazim, told The Hollywood Reporter. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November 2014 and turned to a crowdsourcing site to help pay her medical expenses.
“She was magnificent in everything she did,” Nazim said. “She was my beloved queen.” They were together for nine years.
Yarnall is known to Star Trek fans for her portrayal of Yeoman Martha Landon on the October 1967 episode “The Apple,” in which Chekov (Walter Koenig) can’t help but fall for her. (She appeared as herself — one of 42 Trek alums — in the 2018 sci-fi comedy Unbelievable!!!!! and was a regular on the convention circuit for years.)
RIP, Celeste Yarnell.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Putting on the breaks” story, Though production on the highly anticipated drama was expected to start in two weeks, sources tell Variety that Annapurna Pictures has dropped the untitled Fox News-sexual harassment film starring Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman.
Focus Features is expected to come on as distributor, according to sources. Two other sources say Bron Studios will co-finance the film.
One source close to the situation says Annapurna passed on the project for reasons related to the budget, which kept growing bigger by the day. It is unknown how this will affect the production and if a postponement is possible.
The movie features an all-star cast that includes Kidman, Theron, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, and Margot Robbie. The film is directed by Jay Roach (Trumbo) and written by Academy Award winner Charles Randolph (The Big Short).
The movie focuses on Ailes’ downfall, zeroing in on a group of female employees who bucked the culture of sexism at the network to oust the news baron from power. Kidman will play Gretchen Carlson, the Fox News anchor who sued Ailes for harassment in July 2016, and Theron will portray Megyn Kelly, a star at the network whose decision to go public with her own story of abuse was seen as a key turning point. Robbie’s character is said to be a fictional Fox News associate producer.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.
IN THIS WEEK’S” Meaningful title?” story, Rambo 5 is currently filming, and the Sylvester Stallone sequel now has an official title and a new cast member. The latest, and possibly final, entry in the series now goes by the name Rambo 5: Last Blood. In addition to that, The OA actress Paz Vega has joined the cast as a reporter.
THR has the news that Paz Vega has joined the Rambo 5 cast, and the confirmation that the film is now going by the monicker Rambo 5: Last Blood. This title makes sense: the first Rambo film was First Blood (it didn’t even have Rambo in the title), followed by Rambo: Fist Blood Part II. Last Blood has a nice finality to it, heavily indicating that this will indeed be the last Rambo movie. Of course, Sylvester Stallone is someone who can’t seem to let his iconic roles go. He stuck in there with Rocky when everyone else had given up on the character – and it paid off. Rocky is back now in the excellent Creed franchise. Rambo, too, seemed to come to a head with the previous film, 2008’s Rambo, which concluded with Stallone’s John Rambo returning home to America for the first time in decades.
But now Rambo is back, and he’s going up against a Mexican drug cartel. Vega, who has appeared in Spanglish and the Netflix series The OA, will play “a reporter who covers the Mexican drug trade and teams up with Rambo after her younger half-sister is kidnapped.” Previous set photos, posted by Stallone himself, show Rambo in full rancher attire, suggesting the new film is going for a modern-day Western vibe. Stallone just posted yet another pic, in which he sits contemplating a blurry knife. On the wall behind him rest several rifles.
Adrian Grunberg is directing Rambo 5: Last Blood, with a script by Matt Cirulnick and Stallone. Per Screen Daily, the film finds Stallone’s Rambo “living in a ranch in Arizona, deeply troubled and wrestling with PTSD as he picks up casual work wherever he can.”
Rambo 5: Last Blood will likely arrive in 2019. That’s fine. I’ll likely go see it. I don’t know why, but there you have it.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Holy what now?!” story, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn is in talks to write Suicide Squad 2 for DC and Warner Bros.
A rep for the studio said Tuesday that Gunn has not been signed to direct the movie.
Gunn directed the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, but was fired from the franchise this summer due to the re-emergence of old, offensive tweets. He’d been set to appear on a panel to discuss Sony’s
BrightBurn horror project at San Diego Comic-Con in July, but his appearance was canceled after the Disney firing.
Sony announced Monday that it moved Gunn’s BrightBurn back from Nov. 30 to May 24, 2019 — the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Gunn produced the project with The H Collective. BrightBurn stars Elizabeth Banks, Jackson Dunn, David Denman, Meredith Hagner, and Matt Jones.
News about Gunn was first reported by The Wrap.
WOW, this is a surprising turn of events.
UPDATE: From Indiewire.com: Warner Bros. has confirmed to IndieWire that Gunn has been hired to write the script for Suicide Squad 2. According to The Wrap, Gunn may also direct the project. The project is Gunn’s first tentpole since Disney fired him after controversial tweets from his past resurfaced online.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Second World War Z” story, This week, Beautiful Boy producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner provided an update on the World War Z sequel. They say the film is in the works, David Fincher is still attached to direct, Brad Pitt attached to star and Brad Kelly, who worked with Fincher previously on the failed remake of Utopia for HBO (now set up at Amazon without Fincher), is writing the script.
“We’re starting to shoot in June,” Gardner said. “What more do you need to know? Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane. He’s back. David Fincher is directing.”
Ok fine. I’m not overly concerned with this one.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Random Spider-man adjacent film” story, the next film in the Spidey-verse at Sony is officially Morbius.
A Venom sequel is probably inevitable, but first up, Sony will get to work on their Morbius movie, starring Jared Leto. Sony producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach spilled the beans on some Morbius movie details, and confirmed the project will likely start shooting in around February 2019.
Collider sat down with Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach and asked them for an update on the previously-announced Morbius movie starring Jared Leto. The producers first confirmed that the film was definitely happening next, and that Jared Leto was officially on board to play the Living Vampire. Morbius is the next entry in Sony’s confusing Spider-Man Universe, which kicked-off this month with Venom. The studio also has Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters this year, but technically, that movie is set in a different universe, so good luck trying to make sense of all this.
And see if you can decipher this next statment:
“This is the great thing for us now,” Arad tells Collider, “that an actor like [Jared Leto], and an actor like Tom [Hardy] wanted to have their own character. But the character they love. Both of them, very hard to get them to do a movie. You actually cannot get them. We went in, we sat with them, and everybody told us, ‘Oh, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba.’ Nothing. That’s what he wanted to do.”
WTF does any of that mean? Is he a sheep? Whatever; Sony continues to baffle and vex with its’ Spider-man Universe.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Bautista’s fantasy” story, Dave Bautista is in negotiations to join the upcoming film adaptation of the classic TV series Fantasy Island. He will join Michael Peña, who is talking on the role of the iconic character Mr. Roarke.
The movie is described as being a “tonal mix of Westworld meets The Cabin in the Woods, centering on a group of contest winners who arrive at an island hotel to live out their dreams, only to find themselves trapped in nightmare scenarios. “
If the deal closes, Bautista will play “a former guest who is still on the island against his will and who wants to expose Roarke and the island’s magical secrets.”
Ok, this is shaping up to be very interesting.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Black Panther 2? Oh yes!” story, Ryan Coogler signs the deal for the sequel to Black Panther.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the filmmaker behind Marvel’s landmark Black Panther has quietly closed a deal to write and direct the sequel.
While the move was expected — Marvel wanted to keep the creative team as intact as possible and a sequel was never in any real doubt — the timing was always unclear.
Black Panther, centering on T’Challa, the king of a fictional African country, was an outsized success both commercially and critically. The pic, which starred Chadwick Boseman as the titular hero, grossed $700 million domestically and more than $1.3 billion worldwide, and is also considered a contender for Oscar consideration. The movie became a defining cultural moment and touchstone, especially for the black community.
Typically, a filmmaker is more than willing to quickly sign on for a follow-up, and a studio is eager to snap up a key piece of talent in the lead-up to or right after a successful opening. But Coogler’s camp shook off the peer pressure and took its time in making a deal, which occurred under the radar some time ago.
Sources say the plan at this stage is for Coogler to write the script next year with an eye to start production in either late 2019 or early 2020. Marvel and parent company Disney, however, have not made any official announcements about Marvel’s slate of movies beyond the release of the next Avengers pic in May 2019 and a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel in July — and plans could shift.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Soul Pizza!” story, Rebecca Romijn (Star Trek: Discovery, the X-Men franchise) is set to star in Fangoria’s Chelsea Stardust-directed film, Satanic Panic, described as an after-hours-esque horror comedy with a healthy dash of imaginative gore.
Newcomer Hayley Griffith will co-star opposite Romijn with Ruby Modine (Happy Death Day), Arden Myrin (Insatiable), Jerry O’Connell (Carter), AJ Bowen (The Sacrament), Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever), Jeff Daniel Phillips (The Lords Of Salem), Hannah Stocking (Boo 2! A Madea Halloween), Michael Polish (Some Kind Of Hate), Whitney Moore (House Of Demons) and Skeeta Jenkins (Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) rounding out the supporting cast as production is set to being next week in Dallas, Texas.
Written by Grady Hendrix, based on a story by Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan, the plot follows a pizza delivery girl (Griffith) at the end of her financial rope who has to fight for her life — and her tips — when her last order of the night turns out to be high society Satanists (led by Romijn) in need of a virgin sacrifice.
Haha – good times.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Another action-thriller for Neeson” story, Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh will star in the independent action-thriller The Honest Thief.
Mark Williams, co-creator of the Netflix series Ozark, will direct from a script by Steve Allrich. Neeson will portray a bank robber who tries to turn himself in because he’s falling in love with a woman — played by Walsh — who works at a storage facility where he’s stashed his loot. Complications ensue when his case is turned over to a corrupt FBI agent.
Williams is also producing along with Tai Duncan, Stephen Emery, Mark Holder, Ryan R. Johnson, and Myles Nestel of Solution Entertainment Group, which is selling world rights.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dream wedding” story, Stranger Things star David Harbour became a viral sensation when he followed through on a promise to officiate a couple’s wedding in full wardrobe as Chief Hopper if a tweet requesting his presence racked up 125,000 retweets. But now he’s made another promise to one fan that would make for one hellacious wedding ceremony.
Spencer Perry is the managing editor of ComingSoon.net, and he’s a good friend of some of the folks at /Film. He’s also engaged to be married, and when David Harbour recently put out the call for new retweet challenges, Spencer asked the actor how many retweets it would take for him to officiate the wedding dressed in full Hellboy make-up and gear. Well, Harbour has responded, and it’s a tall order, but it’s not impossible if the internet comes together to make this incredible event happen.
Of this tweet.
Big Red officiates. Full Gear. In his saintly best.
Think of how difficult it will be for me to get this character ordained by a Christian church😈🙄
(P.S. – I’ll knock off 500k if you can get @artofmmignola to read a poem at the service)”
Mike Mignola responded agreeing to read a poem, but only if David Harbour writes it!
I think someone is going to have one Hell of a great wedding.
And IN THIS WEEK’S “Trouble on the Joker train” story, some unpleasant news from the set of Joaquin Phoenix‘s Joker movie, as TMZ reports that extras in a Brooklyn subway scene were locked in a train car and denied a break after two hours of filming. In the most Gotham City scenario imaginable, the background actors allegedly resorted to banging on the vehicle’s doors with some forced to go to the bathroom on the train tracks between cars.
An assumedly horrified SAG-AFTRA representative was sent to the set to resolve the situation and will be monitoring director Todd Phillips‘ set for the remainder of production. The incident presumedly happened while filming the leaked footage of Phoenix—rocking full-on clown makeup and a purple jacket that would make Cesar Romero proud—strolling across a subway platform as horrified onlookers and protestors erupt into chaos around him.
Sounds like just another say in the crazy DC Extended Universe these days. Yikes.
Well, this has been another week of celluloid shenanigans. See ya next time!