Welcome to another week of movie madness!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Onward!” story, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer have been set to lead the voice cast of Onward, the next film in the works at Pixar Animation Studios. Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) is directing the pic, which is set to hit theaters on March 6, 2020.
Disney said today the plot centers on two teenage elf brothers who embark on a quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there. Scanlon first tipped the film at Disney’s D23 convention last year under the working title Suburban Fantasy World.
“At Pixar we try to create stories that come from some kind of personal truth,” Scanlon said. “This film was inspired by my own relationship with my brother.”
At D23, Scanlon said the plot is inspired by the story of his childhood and how his father died when he was young and he always wanted to find out about him. This movie, he said at the time, is “a mix of the fantastic and the everyday,” with “elves, sprites and pretty much anything that would be on the side of a van in the ’70s.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “Before Die Hard” story, if you haven’t heard yet, there is a prequel to Die Hard in development, and it’s called McClane. It was previously titled Die Hard: Year One.
Originally, rumor had it that Bruce Willis would only appear in the beginning and end, to pass the torch to the younger McClane in flashbacks. In 2016, weeks after posting the title Die Hard: Year One on social media, director Len Wiseman told /Film that Willis would be in the whole movie. This year, Wiseman told /Film that a younger Holly McClane is in the script, with a present day reunion between the older characters possibly in the cards.
Wiseman directed the only PG-13 Die Hard movie, Live Free or Die Hard, where McClane’s iconic catchphrase had to be muffled by a gunshot. Although Live Free or Die Hard was a hit, fans felt it wasn’t right to make the franchise family-friendly. Di Bonaventura won’t make that mistake again. He wants McClane to be rated R like the rest of the series.
“I hope so,” Di Bonaventura told /Film. “Look, I’m not in charge of that. Would I prefer it? Absolutely.”
There is a lot more to making a good movie than a rating. 2013’s A Good Day to Die Hard was rated R, but Die Hard fans were also unsatisfied by that film. Even though McClane could drop F-bombs again, he didn’t feel like John McClane, with all of the cavalier destruction of civilian vehicles in Russia, and his seemingly superheroic powers. He was far from the vulnerable everyman of the original films. But it’s promising that the filmmakers involved with McClane value the original tone as a place to start.
The premise for McClane is that a present day case makes 60-year-old John McClane (Willis) reflect on his 20-something rookie days. Holly will factor into those rookie days, as well as some other Die Hard favorites.
“Part of what McClane is is to get to know the mythology before the movies started,” Di Bonaventura said. “So that’s where we’re going to meet characters that we may know from before.”
Oh ok, we’ll see about all this. I’m not exactly hopeful, though.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Mistaken identity” story, Following his SAG nomination for actor in a drama series, Sterling K. Brown is in negotiations to star in Fox Searchlight’s biopic The Fence, sources tell Variety.
Peter Nicks is on board to direct. George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane, who originally brought the book to HBO before it landed at Searchlight, teamed up to adapt the script.
Based on the book by award-winning Boston Globe journalist Dick Lehr (Black Mass), The Fence follows the true story of Michael Cox, an African-American undercover cop who is mistaken for a suspect and brutally beaten by his own force following one of the largest police chases in Boston history. As Cox seeks answers and justice for what happened, he finds himself on the other side of the “blue wall of silence” as the Boston Police Department aggressively covers it up.
While a production start date has not yet been officially set, it would likely happen while Brown is on hiatus from his hit NBC show This Is Us during the spring.
Since the start of This Is Us, Brown has found time to stay busy during each hiatus, as he was just seen in Marvel’s Black Panther and Fox’s The Predator.
He recently wrapped production on A24’s Waves and is lending his voice to Frozen 2. He can be seen next in Paramount’s The Rhythm Section.
Good for him. And The Fence sounds gripping.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Well, DUH” story, Movies with Female leads outperfom those with Male leads at the box office, a study reveals.
Movies featuring men in lead roles still outnumber those with women, but a new study from Creative Artists Agency and the digital strategy company Shift7 reveals that’s not exactly good for business. The study found that top movies from 2014 to 2017 starring women in lead roles outperformed those starring men, regardless of budget. The data also found films that passed the Bechdel test, meaning two women characters had a conversation about something other than a man, outperformed those that didn’t.
Creative Artists Agency and Shift7 calculated the data with help from the Neilsen-owned technology provider Gracenote. The “lead actor” was determined by the performer listed first on Gracenote, which means films like the new Star Wars movies were not listed as female-led. Gracenote had Harrison Ford as the lead in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mark Hamill as the lead in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, even though Daisy Ridley appears in a primary role in both. Given how well both Star Wars films performed at the box office, the findings could even be considered conservative.
Overall, 350 films were factored into the study (105 led by women, 245 by men).
“The perception that it’s not good business to have female leads is not true,” CAA agent and researcher Christy Haubegger told The New York Times. “They’re a marketing asset.”
When the data was broken down by budget size, such as films made for over $100 million, less than $10 million, $10 million to $30 million, and so on, the average earnings in each budget region for female-led films outperformed those of male-led films at the box office.
As far as the Bechdel test is concerned, the study found that 60% of 319 films used in the research passed. No film since 2012 has made $1 billion at the worldwide box office without passing the Bechdel test. Head over to The Times for more findings form the survey.
THIS is very interesting stuff. If Hollywood bothered to hire more women in the industry, they actually would probably make MORE money. Uh, HELLO?
IN THIS WEEK’S “Knives for Thanksgiving 2019” story, Lionsgate is set to partner with MRC and distribute worldwide Knives Out, the contemporary murder mystery that Looper and Star Wars: The Last Jedi helmer Rian Johnson wrote and is directing. Daniel Craig stars as a detective trying to solve a murder and the killer ensemble cast includes Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer, Katherine Langford and Don Johnson.
Whoa. That cast….
Lionsgate has dated the film for nationwide release on November 27, 2019 for the Thanksgiving holiday corridor.
The film became possible when director Danny Boyle exited James Bond 25. While that film regrouped — Cary Fukunaga is directing it — Craig suddenly had an open slot, and Johnson and his producing partner Ram Bergman took full advantage with an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery that Johnson wrote and was able to squeeze in before he and Bergman drill down on a new trilogy in the Star Wars universe.
Sometimes, things work out for just right.
Said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake: “Knives Out redefines the detective movie genre in a cool and original way With a superstar filmmaker, an amazing ensemble cast and the perfect partner in MRC, we can hardly wait to bring this big, crowd-pleasing property to a global audience next Thanksgiving.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “Scratch that” story, It’s case closed for The Trial of the Chicago 7.
The Amblin Partners drama that was to be directed by Aaron Sorkin has been shut down.
Sources say that budgetary concerns forced the company to pull the plug on the feature project, which was in preproduction and heading toward a February 2019 start.
Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne and Jonathan Majors were on board to star in the drama about a group of antiwar activists who were accused by the federal government of conspiracy and incitement to riot because of the protests surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
While the event may have been a defining moment of the 1960s, concern arose that the project’s budget was too high for a period drama about an event that does not on paper seem like it could immediately connect to audiences. Sources point to the performances of recent dramas such as Detroit and First Man as similar examples.
The development is the latest to befall Chicago 7, which Amblin has been developing since at least 2008, when Steven Spielberg was planning on directing it. Then it was derailed by the WGA strike and in later years, both Paul Greengrass and Ben Stiller flirted with the idea of presiding over it as helmers. Sorkin came on board as director in October.
Amblin insiders say the company remains committed to the project and will, with Sorkin, regroup and redevelop it.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Rumours, smokescreens and maybe’s, OH MY!” story, Hot off the heels of Jason “My Man!” Momoa seemingly at peace with the idea of continuing the DCEU without the help of Henry Cavill as Superman, the Aquaman actor seems to be singing a different tune.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, on the red carpet, Momoa was adamant about Cavill not leaving the DCEU just yet. When asked if Cavill was done with the role, Momoa said, “He’s absolutely not.”
He continued, “He loves the character and he’s not [leaving]. 100%.”
Either Momoa got some new information in the last 48 hours or even he isn’t completely sure what’s going on in the DCEU. The news of Cavill’s departure seemed to be teased a few months ago, with the actor not refuting it and WB seemingly side-stepping an actual statement by playing it down the middle.
However, more recently, Amy Adams, who plays Lois Lane opposite Cavill’s Superman, said, “I think I’m out of the DC Universe now. I think they’re revamping that. I don’t know the details.”
Well, gee, I wish SOMEBODY could give us some definitive information here.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Women into stone” story, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are starring in the independent historical drama Ammonite, a story inspired by the life of fossil hunter Mary Anning.
The story is set in 1840s England, when Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever. Anning is credited with making key scientific discoveries in the Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel.
Francis Lee is set to direct. Lee’s critically acclaimed freshman feature, gay Yorkshire romance God’s Own Country, premiered at Sundance in 2017 as the only British film in competition and won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Directing, as well as the prize for best film at the British Independent Film Awards.
Principal photography is set for March.
Real Paleontology is finally getting some film cred!
IN THIS WEEK’S “This ain’t no hero” story, Imagine, for a moment, that Superman didn’t grow up to be the kind, self-sacrificing superhero we all know and love. What if, instead, he put on his red cape and a creepy-as-f*ck mask and began using his unusual, superhuman abilities for evil? Like, murdering unsuspecting diner waitresses and truckers, perhaps? That’s essentially the plot for James Gunn’s upcoming horror movie Brightburn, and we have to say that we’re intrigued.
The film stars Elizabeth Banks as a woman who seems to get a gift straight from god when a baby from another planet crash-lands on her farm. Unfortunately, as the years go by and her adopted son grows up, his true nature proves to be far more sinister than she or her husband (David Denman) could have ever imagined. What’s worse? No one alive seems to be able to match his power.
Brightburn is written by Mark Gunn and Brian Gunn, and directed by David Yarovesky. Produced by James Gunn.
Wow. I’m so in.
Trailer is now online, the film releases Memorial Day, 2019.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Cage Uncaged?” story, Nicolas Cage Calls Prisoners of the Ghostland ‘The Wildest Movie I’ve Ever Made’.
Nicolas Cage and Sion Sono are collaborating on a crime thriller. The result is the upcoming Prisoners of the Ghostland, which Cage says “might be the wildest movie [he’s] ever made.” That may sound hard to believe — this year’s Mandy was pretty bonkers, and who can forget the likes of Vampire’s Kiss (Yay!) or that Wicker Man remake (the bees!)? — but anyone who’s seen Love Exposure or Suicide Club knows that Sono is capable of much oddity.
“I’m thrilled about it! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before,” Cage said of the film during the Film Festival and Awards Macao, according to Screen Anarchy. “It might be the wildest movie I’ve ever made, and that’s saying something. It’s out there. I wear a skintight black leather jumpsuit with grenades attached to different body parts, and if I don’t rescue the governor’s daughter from this state line where they’re all ghosts and bring her back they’re gonna blow me up. It’s just crazy. It’s way out there.”
Prisoners of the Ghostland has yet to begin filming.
It sounds insane and I want to see it.
Aaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “Don’t give it Hamill….” story, Mark Hamill is a legendary figure in the Star Wars Universe, but not even the man behind Luke Skywalker is allowed to keep the script for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX in his possession for longer than a day. The actor recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly and revealed to no one’s surprise that security is in overdrive to protect the script and preserve spoilers for the final entry in the new Star Wars trilogy.
“They’re going to fly [the rewrites] over with somebody from the company,” Hamill said. “They’re going to come and give it to me and wait for me to read it before I give it back. So no pressure! You can’t even keep it overnight. But that’s the way it is now.”
Hamill has already shot a little bit of his Episode IX role, but he has more shooting days planned in the near future. Every time there is a change in the screenplay, someone from the studio flies the script so Hamill can read the changes and then takes the script and flies it back to the studio. The script is printed on a special type of red paper that makes it impossible for the pages to be photocopied or scanned. The dark red pages were used on The Force Awakens.
“I remember back when I read the first ‘Star Wars’ [script], I was like, ‘Wow, that’s the goofiest thing I’ve ever read,’” Hamill said. “I gave it to my best friend to read, and I said, ‘What do you think of it?’ He said, ‘It’s really wild, it’s crazy, can I give it to Meredith?’ ‘Sure, go ahead.’ It went around to all my friends. Of course back then nobody cared. Nowadays it’s like working for some secret deep state government organization, like being in the CIA.”
Disney opens Star Wars: Episode IX in theaters December 20, 2019.
Thanks for tuning in for another week of wacky film news!