More filmy news stuff!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Fix yesterday” story, Chris Pratt’s upcoming sci-fi actioner, which was recently retitled The Tomorrow War, has set a Christmas Day 2020 release date.
The Paramount film was formerly titled Ghost Draft. It follows a man (played by Pratt) who is drafted to fight a future war in which the fate of humanity may rely on his ability to correct issues of the past. Yvonne Strahovski, Betty Gilpin, J.K. Simmons and Mary Lynn Rajskub also star in the pic.
Chris McKay is directing from a script by Zach Dean.
David Ellison’s Skydance Media is financing. Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Jules Daly, David Goyer and Adam Kolbrenner are producing the project, while Rob Cowan serves as executive producer.
The Tomorrow War will face off against Universal’s historical drama News of the World, starring Tom Hanks.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Hollywood, Babylon” story, Paramount has picked up Babylon, Damien Chazelle’s drama set in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Brad Pitt and Emma Stone are in talks to star in the project, but no deals are set.
Marc Platt, who produced Chazelle’s La La Land, is one of the producers on Babylon, as is Olivia Hamilton, Matthew Plouffe and Tobey Maguire.
The story is said to be set in the late 1920s, during the movie industry’s transition from silent films to talkies. The rise and fall of fictional and historical characters figure into the proceedings.
If deals are made, Stone would portray Clara Bow, the early sex symbol and box office star who was Hollywood’s first “It” girl. Pitt would play a fictional character, a silent film star who fails to make the transition to the new technology; sources say he is based on real-life figure John Gilbert.
Paramount’s acquisition of Babylon has been a slow-cooking deal. Chazelle took his project to the studios and movie companies in June, and while there was immediate interest due to the pedigree, many had second thoughts on the script, which clocked in at a massive 180 pages, and a budget in the $80 million-$100 million range. A period drama from the filmmaker who was coming off of First Man, which engendered acclaim but was little seen, was deemed risky. Sources say Chazelle spent time reworking the draft and cut over 30 pages, thus reducing the budget.
Paramount is now all in on Babylon, having set a Dec. 25, 2021, limited release before expanding it wide on Jan. 7, 2022, giving the project awards playability.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Morbius and Blade, sitting in a tree” story, As we all know, Marvel has a reboot of Blade in the works with Mahershala Ali taking over the role made iconic on the big screen by Wesley Snipes. And Sony has an adaptation of Morbius The Living Vampire AKA Morbius in the can starring Jared Leto.
And today we’re hearing from We Got This Covered that Marvel has eyes on Morbius showing up in their franchises down the line and apparently, they’re considering using him in Blade.
Make note that this is just a rumor at this time.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Maybe that’s TOO far?” story, If the whole resurrection of James Dean shenanigans wasn’t enough to upset fans of the actor and, in general, folks who just want to leave some things alone, more celebs may be digitally exhumed very soon. According to Variety, CMG Online, an intellectual property licensing specialist, has merged with content creation studio Observe Media to form Worldwide XR. This new company plans to put digital human beings in traditional films and augmented virtual reality.
The breadth of the company’s library is quite substantial. It holds and represents the rights for better than 400 stars—actors, actresses, sports figures, etc. Among the celebs who may be on Worldwide XR’s radar: Burt Reynolds, Andre the Giant, Maya Angelou, Bettie Page, and even Lou Gehrig. Quoting almost verbatim from The Sandlot, company CEO Travis Cloyd said, “Influencers will come and go, but legends will never die.”
The fact is, legends do die, which is why preserving the work they did while they were alive is important. Watching a digital impostor parade around in an effort to convince the world he’s the actual Burt Reynolds is not only spooky, but it dishonors the human being in question. How does this company know the actor would have agreed to such a role? They don’t. They are, in effect, posthumously forcing the actor’s hand into something they never consented to.
Cloyd recognizes that he’s upset some people with these initiatives. But he says this sort of thing was inevitable. The company claims it will do its due diligence and handle each representation respectfully, doing these deceased individuals justice (whatever that means).
I don’t know, I think they’re taking this all too far.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Live action Prince Eric” story, Jonah Hauer-King will soon be a part of the Little Mermaid world.
The newcomer has been tapped to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic.
At one point, Harry Styles was is in early talks for the role, but ended up passing. Hauer-King has had two screen tests, with the most recent occurring on Nov. 9 in London with director Rob Marshall.
Halle Bailey will portray Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy will play her evil aunt Ursula. Javier Bardem is King Triton and Daveed Diggs has been tapped to portray Sebastian.
The Little Mermaid will be directed by Marshall and written by David Magee. The upcoming movie will incorporate original songs from the 1989 animated classic, as well as new tunes from original composer Alan Menken with lyrics by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda is also producing the film with Marshall, Marc Platt and John DeLuca. Jessica Virtue and Allison Erlikhman are overseeing the pic for the studio.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Confirmation” story, Matt Reeves just made it official: Andy Serkis, presumably not working under motion-capture but you never know with him, will play Wayne family butler Alfred Pennyworth in The Batman. Reeves confirmed the news, which was reportedly in the works as of last week, on Twitter.
Still not sure how I feel about this.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Maybe Charted for Wahlberg” story, Mark Wahlberg is in final talks to star opposite Tom Holland in Sony Pictures’ and PlayStation Productions’ Uncharted, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.
Travis Knight is set to direct. Dan Trachtenberg was previously attached to direct, but exited the project in August.
The new draft of the screenplay is written by Rafe Judkins, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. Holland is now confirmed to join the cast. Uncharted continues Holland’s relationship with the studio, and he will next shoot the next Spider-Man installment in the summer.
IN THIS WEEK’S “SOMEBODY’S gonna make a Beverly Hills Cop sequel” story, Beverly Hills Cop Axel Foley will come back to active duty…for Netflix. Paramount has made a one-time license deal — with an option for a sequel — that will enable Netflix to make the fourth installment of the film with Eddie Murphy and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The studio had been developing a reboot for awhile. It is another example of studios striking inventive deals with Netflix at a time when long gestating sequels like The Shining followup Doctor Sleep, The Terminator: Dark Fate and Zombieland: Double Tap have been hard pressed to measure up to the grosses of their predecessors, with at least two of them in line to lose money because of the high cost of P&A.
This deal gives Netflix a sexy title with a big star and it gives Paramount an opportunity to reap revenue on a library title. Paramount launched the franchise in 1984 with the Martin Brest original, followed by a Tony Scott-directed second installment in 1987 and a third by John Landis in 1994.
Netflix will work with Murphy and Bruckheimer to get a scripts and director and finance the Beverly Hills Cop reboot and release it on the streaming service.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Taika’s busy schedule” story, Taika Waititi’s next movie Next Goal Wins for Fox Searchlight has added to its cast Oscar Kightley (Aroha Bridge, The Breaker Upperers), David Fane (The Barefoot Bandits, Westside), Beulah Koale (Hawaii Five-0), Lehi Falepapalangi (Future Man, Hawaii Five-0), Semu Filipo (Harry), Uli Latukefu (Alien: Covenant), Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok) are joining the cast with Kaimana in her debut role.
Searchlight has global rights to the pic, which is their second with Waititi following this fall’s Jojo Rabbit which has racked up north of $10M in its specialty release stateside. Production began last week in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The pic tells the story of the American Samoa soccer team, who suffered the worst loss in World Cup history, losing to Australia 31-0 in 2001. With the 2014 World Cup approaching, the team recruits a down on his luck, maverick coach (Michael Fassbender) to help turn their fate around. Waititi and Iain Morris wrote the script. Elisabeth Moss also stars.
Waititi is producing alongside Jonathan Cavendish and Garrett Basch, with Andy Serkis, Will Tennant, and Kathryn Dean serving as executive producers. Additional producers include Mike Brett and Steve Jamison, who directed the 2014 documentary from which the film is based.
After this, presumably, Waititi will get started on his next film, Thor: Love and Thunder.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Black Adam gets a date” story, Dwayne Johnson’s long-in-development Black Adam movie is slated to hit theaters just in time for the holidays – next year.
The New Line Cinema film film will debut on Dec. 22, 2021, five days after the release of James Cameron’s long-gestating Avatar sequel.
Johnson has been attached to play the anti-hero for most of this decade. Jaume Collet-Serra, who worked with Johnson on Jungle Cruise, will direct.
Black Adam is a spinoff from Warner Bros. and New Line’s Shazam! starring Zachary Levy, which grossed $365 million worldwide earlier this year.
The Black Adam character first appeared in DC Comics during the 1940s as a villain who had been corrupted by power, then became an anti-hero in the early 2000s with a disregard for rules and conventions.
“He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people,” Johnson wrote on Instagram, “but he does it his way. Truth and justice – the BLACK ADAM way.”
I’m actually kind of looking forward to this one.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Where have you been?” story, Filming is underway on Deep Water, the first movie from Indecent Proposal and Fatal Attraction director Adrian Lyne in almost two decades. Among cast joining Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts and Rachel Blanchard are Dash Mihok (Ray Donovan), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), Jacob Elordi (Euphoria), Kristen Connolly (House Of Cards), and Jade Fernandez (Little).
This is Lyne’s first movie since 2002’s Unfaithful. New Regency fully financing. Zack Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) and Sam Levinson (Euphoria) have adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel, and Garrett Basch and Steven Zaillian are producing with Entertainment 360’s Guymon Casady and Ben Forkner, and Anthony Katagas (12 Years A Slave). Arnon Milchan is also producing.
The pic is an erotic thriller, right in Lyne’s wheelhouse. Affleck and de Armas play Vic and Melinda Van Allen, an attractive young married couple whose mind games with each other take a twisted turn when people around them start turning up dead. The couple staves off divorce in a loveless marriage by allowing each to take lovers, but it becomes messy as Highsmith exposed the surface facade of American suburban life.
Aaaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “Quit your meddling” story, The puppet master is creator George Lucas, whose departure from all things Star Wars seems to have been greatly exaggerated – appears to have yet again doctored the famous Greedo scene in 1977’s Star Wars.
The scene depicts the Mos Eisley cantina in which Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is confronted by an alien bounty hunter and winds up shooting him dead in a brief flurry of blaster fire. It has been much discussed over the years, largely because Solo shot Greedo in cold blood in the original, “Han shot first” 1977 cut, while in later versions Lucas re-edited the footage to depict Greedo as the aggressor, with Han returning fire in self-defense. Many fans have speculated about what effect that subtle change had on Han’s transformation in the original trilogy from cold-hearted hustler to hero of the resistance. Now Lucas has tinkered all over again, to further muddy the waters.
As seen on new streaming service Disney+, the scene features Han and Greedo shooting at roughly the same moment – to be fair, this is a change introduced several years back. But now, Greedo appears to utter the phrase “MacClunkey!” before succumbing to his wounds.
Reports suggest Lucas made the changes some years ago, perhaps around the time he sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4bn, in 2012.
So, now I’m going to have to watch this again now that I succumbed to Disney+. This is infuriating.
OH, aaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “Cage squared” story, in a “How meta can you get” idea, Nicolas Cage is in talks to play Nicolas Cage in a movie about – you guessed it– Nicolas Cage.
The film is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and Cage would play a fictionalized version of himself having to reckon with his career choices while also getting mixed up in a plot involving the CIA and a drug cartel kingpin.
OH. EM. GEE. I’m not sure how much more Nic Cage madness I can take. Well, probably still more. Yeah, I mean, check this out.
Cage’s entire career seems to have been building towards this very moment: THR says he’s in talks to play himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a film that Lionsgate beat out HBO Max and Paramount to make. The plot sounds…wild, y’all. In the film, Nicolas Cage is desperate to land a role in a new Quentin Tarantino movie. He’s also “dealing with a strained relationship with his teenage daughter. He also occasionally talks to an egotistical 1990s version of himself who rides him for making too many crappy movies and for not being a star anymore.”
Oh yes, very much yes.
Much like the real Cage, this movie Cage is “under a mountain of debt.” These debts force Cage to “make an appearance at the birthday party of a Mexican billionaire who happens to be a fan of Cage’s work and secretly hopes to show him a script on which he’s been working.”
This is already pretty strange, but here’s where things get really far-out:
“While he bonds with the man, Cage is informed by the CIA that the billionaire is actually a drug cartel kingpin who has kidnapped the daughter of a Mexican presidential nominee, and is recruited by the U.S. government to get intelligence. The situation spirals even more dramatically when the Mexican brings over Cage’s daughter and his ex-wife for a reconciliation, and when their lives are on the line, Cage takes on the role of a lifetime.”
If all of that wasn’t enough to hook you, you should also know that the film references real Cage movies like Leaving Las Vegas, Face-Off, and Gone in 60 Seconds, and that the script that Cage and the alleged drug kingpin are writing “begins to mirror events on the storyline.”
The script comes from Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, and Gormican is attached to direct. Sources tell THR that Gormican wrote a letter to Cage stating that the script “was a love letter to the actor, not something that made fun of him.” And Cage apparently agreed, and that’s why he’s now in talks.
This is almost more than I can bear. But I’ll bear it, folks. Yes I will. Because it’s Nicolas Cage’s world, and we just live in it.
~ And on that note, I’ll be off. ‘Til next time, keep it Cagey, people!