Hey, we’re back with some intriguing film news this week!
In this week’s Hello, neighbor” story, TriStar Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to You Are My Friend, a biopic of iconic Mister Rogers Neighborhood creator Fred Rodgers that will star Tom Hanks as Rogers and be directed by Diary of a Teenage Girl helmer Marielle Heller. Production is set to start in the fall.
The deal with Little Miss Sunshine and Loving producer Big Beach comes as the beloved children’s TV series starring Rogers celebrates its 50th anniversary; the Morgan Neville doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor? just had its world premiere at Sundance.
You Are My Friend originated from a true story developed by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, whose script made the 2013 Black List. It came from the real-life friendship between Rogers and Tom Junod, when the cynical journalist begrudgingly accepted an assignment to write a profile piece but finds his perspective on life transformed during the process.
Won’t you be my neighbor? Yes, Tom, yes I will.
In this week’s “I choose you, Pikachu!” story, Bill Nighy and You’re the Worst actor Chris Geere are the latest to join Legendary’s Detective Pikachu.
Ryan Reynolds will star as the titular Pikachu in the action adventure film that also features Justice Smith, who will be seen in the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Big Little Lies actress Kathryn Newton and Ken Watanabe.
The story is set into motion when Smith’s character’s father is kidnapped, forcing the teen to team up with Pikachu and a young journalist (Newton) in order to find him.
Rob Letterman (Goosebumps) is directing the project, which is due to start shooting this month in London.
Nicole Perlman wrote the script with Letterman, with Eric Pearson and Tom McCarthy having completed production polishes.
I don’t know how this is going to turn out.
In this week’s “Netflix gives Luc Besson some options” story, Netflix and Luc Besso’s company EuropaCorp are talking about a multi-picture deal.
Netflix is in discussions with Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp to have the French filmmaker direct and produce several movies for the streaming giant over the next few years, Variety has learned.
The movies would be labeled Netflix originals and would be budgeted in the $30 million range, sources with knowledge of the discussions said. Netflix and EuropaCorp declined to comment.
As part of the deal, Netflix could also buy into EuropaCorp’s library, which has an estimated value of €150 million ($186 million) and includes such franchises as Taken, Taxi and Transporter, according to three independent sources. Netflix initiated discussions with Besson late last year to partner up on movies, but those talks have broadened as the streamer is now among the companies that are looking at EuropaCorp’s assets with a view to possibly buying stakes in the Paris-based company.
The library, along with EuropaCorp’s other assets, is being held in escrow by its primary lender, JP Morgan.
Franco-Tunisian business tycoon Tarak Ben Ammar and Lionsgate are also among the potential buyers and investors circling EuropaCorp, which is struggling to climb out from under a heavy debt load estimated at €230 million ($285 million) as of September (thanks to that Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets film). The company hosted a management presentation last week to outline the company’s strategy and discuss its assets with prospective buyers and investors.
Buying up or buying into EuropaCorp would be an unusual move for Netflix, which made its first and only company acquisition last August with Millarworld, the comic-book publishing company founded by Mark Millar, creator of Old Man Logan and Kingsman. However, scooping the rights to Besson’s famous franchises would allow Netflix to feed its pipeline with TV and film adaptations which boast a global appeal. Besson would join a flurry of directors, notably Martin Scorsese and Damien Chazelle, who have started working with Netflix.
I thought Netflix was having money problems. Oh well.
In this week’s “The Rock in the Jungle” story, Dwayne Johnson gets a co-star, as now Emily Blunt is getting on board for Disney’s Jungle Cruise.
The actress is joining Dwayne Johnson in the feature based on the classic Disneyland ride, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Jaume Collet-Serra, the filmmaker behind The Shallows and Liam Neeson films such as The Commuter and Non-Stop, will direct the action-adventure. While park-goers are taken on a journey through the rivers of the world, from Africa’s Nile and Congo rivers to South America’s Amazon, exact plot details for the feature are being kept under wraps.
Johnson will also produce the project with Dany Garcia, the co-CEO of the duo’s Seven Bucks Productions banner, which just had a hit with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Seven Bucks’ Hiram Garcia will also produce, along with Beau Flynn, John Davis and John Fox. Scott Sheldon will co-produce. The studio is aiming to start production in the spring.
Seems weirdly similar to Johnson’s recent hit, Jumanji, but, hey, what do any of us know, right? I’m sure it will be TOTALLY different than THAT jungle movie.
In this week’s “Cloverfield related movie” story, it turns out that another one of these loosely related Cloverfield movies is already done.
Word is that a World War 2 thriller originally titled Overlord from director Julius Avery (Son of a Gun) is actually the fourth installment of the Cloververse and it’s already complete.
A year ago there was some speculation that the announced film from Bad Robot and Paramount could be another entry in the series, but that could have just been fan theory as Paramount has a deal with Abrams that certainly isn’t all about Cloverfield. But apparently, /Film have received confirmation from a source that Overlord is indeed Cloverfield 4, and production on the project is finished.
On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers are dropped behind enemy lines to carry out a mission crucial to the invasion’s success. But as they approach their target, they begin to realize there is more going on in this Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation. They find themselves fighting against supernatural forces, part of a Nazi experiment.
Ok this Cloverfield Universe thing is getting strange. At first I didn’t mind it, but this film sounds a little off from the direction of the others. But maybe it’s still too early to tell. I keep thinking that maybe there will be some kind of connecting thread in all of the films, but that still remains to be seen.
In this week’s “In Search of…Zachary Quinto” story, Zachary Quinto gets one step closer to being Leonard Nimoy by hoting and executive producing a rebooted In Search Of docuseries.
History is bringing back the iconic ’70s franchise In Search Of, as a 10-episode docuseries, the network announced Tuesday. And though one of the original hosts, the late, great Leonard Nimoy obviously can’t reprise his gig, History has found the next best candidate to lead and executive produce the program: Zachary Quinto, the actor who has portrayed Spock, Nimoy’s most legendary role, in the new Star Trek movie franchise.
The series will examine unexplained phenomena from all over the world, according to its official logline. UFOs and paranormal mysteries remain relevant as the Pentagon recently acknowledged a secret UFO program which investigated sightings of UFOs from 2007 – 2012.
“I am so excited to be reimagining In Search Of and exploring new questions and phenomena with all of the advancements in science and technology from which we have benefited in the past forty years since the original series first aired,” said Quinto.
From the mythical to the scientific, each episode will follow Quinto as he investigates a different subject within a dynamic theme – such as alien encounters, mysterious creatures, UFO sightings, time travel and artificial intelligence – and searches for the truth to some of the world’s greatest mysteries. In Search Of will explore enigmas told through the eyes of witnesses and scholars with a personal connection to the phenomenon and include immersive demonstrations and experiments that contextualize each episode’s theme. The original In Search Of series aired from 1977-1982 and was hosted by Rod Serling and later by Nimoy following Serling’s death.
“In the spirit of my late dear friend Leonard Nimoy, we intend to honor and perpetuate his endless curiosity about the world – and universe – in which we live,” Quinto said.
In this week’s “Let’s try this again” story, actor Katherine Heigl is trying her hand at being a lawyer – again – by joining the cast of USA Network’s show Suits.
The ex-Doubt attorney is joining Suits as a series regular, TVLine has learned. Heigl’s casting comes a day after USA Network renewed the long-running legal drama for an eighth season — its first without original cast members Patrick J.Adams and Meghan Markle.
The Grey’s Anatomy vet will star as Samantha Wheeler, a talented new partner at Pearson Specter Litt who “challenges the status quo and will either become the firm’s greatest ally or most powerful enemy.” She joins an ensemble that includes returning series regulars Gabriel Macht (Harvey), Sarah Rafferty (Donna), Rick Hoffman (Louis) and her former Doubt co-star Dulé Hill (Alex).
Heigl’s career seems to be having trouble finding traction ever since she left Grey’s Anatomy.
In this week’s “Life After Spacey” story, House of Cards returns to production, with some new faces.
Production on the series was originally shut down in October after allegations of sexual assault and harassment were made against series star Kevin Spacey. Shortly after production was suspended, Netflix and studio Media Rights Capital (MRC) announced that they were severing ties with Spacey.
Season 6 of the political thriller will consist of eight episodes, with Robin Wright starring. Michael Kelly, Jayne Atkinson, Patricia Clarkson, Constance Zimmer, Derek Cecil, Campbell Scott and Boris McGiver will also star.
In addition, Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear have joined the final season. The details of their roles are being kept under wraps, but it is known the two will play siblings.
The show is one of Netflix’s original breakout hits, having been nominated for 53 Emmys throughout its run.
In this week’s “More Passion” story, actor Jim Caviezel will return as Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s sequel to The Passion of the Christ.
Yes, a sequel. I guess that makes sense, seeing as Christ came back after the Crucifixion and all – if you’re into that sort of thing. I think we all know where Mel Gibson stands on that.
Jim Caviezel says he will reprise his role as Jesus in the sequel to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
In an interview with USA Today, the 49-year-old actor said: “There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience. It’s great. Stay tuned.”
He added, “I won’t tell you how [Gibson’s] going to go about it. But I’ll tell you this much, the film he’s going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.”
Oh boy. Talk about over-selling a film.
Released in 2004, The Passion of the Christ was written, directed and produced by Gibson, and earned more than $611 million worldwide on a $30 million budget. That film followed the last 12 hours of Christ.
Before Caviezel reprises his role as Christ, he will play Luke in Paul, Apostle of Christ, which will hit theaters on March 28 and also stars James Faulkner as Paul. Well, that’s confusing…
Many fans took to Twitter to come up with a title for the upcoming sequel. Ideas includes “Passion of the Christ II: Forgive This”, “Passion: I’m Getting Too Old For This S—“ and “2 Passion 2 Christ.”
Oh yeah, I like those titles. But what about, “The Passion of the Christ 2: Electric Boogaloo”? 😀
In this week’s “Update on the weirdly titled Ted Bundy movie” story, there are new additions to the cast.
Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment, Terry Kinney, and Dylan Baker have joined the ensemble cast on Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, which Voltage Pictures sells internationally.
Voltage is fully financing the Ted Bundy film and announced it in Cannes last summer. Production is underway and Joe Berlinger directs from a screenplay by Michael Werwie.
The film charts the relationship between notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, played by Zac Efron, and his longtime girlfriend, played by Lily Collins, who at the time, had no knowledge of the crimes.
John Malkovich, Kaya Scodelario, Angela Sarafyan, and Jeffrey Donovan recently joined the cast.
Parsons will be playing Larry Simpson, the lead prosecutor of the 1979 Miami trial that finally convicted Bundy.
Baker will play David Yokum, the hard-nosed Utah prosecutor, while Kinney joins as Detective Mike Fisher, who sought to prove Bundy’s crimes.
In this week’s “Bad Boys eventually” story, Sony says, despite all the setbacks, that Bad Boys 3, aka, Bad Boys for Life, is still happening.
The studio has tapped rising filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (TIFF Discovery Award winners for “Black”) to helm Bad Boys For Life. Chris Bremner has written the most recent draft of the script, that once brings together detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett for a new adventure. Of course, whether or not this movie actually happens remains to be seen and is largely dependent on the whims of Smith, who has never seemed in any particular rush to make this sequel. Nonetheless, Sony is crossing their fingers that they can get cameras rolling in August.
In an interesting, and somewhat ironic twist. Arbi and Fallah were previously hired to direct another long brewing, never happening project — “Beverly Hills Cop 4.” Hopefully, they aren’t left in the dust again. But even if this movie doesn’t happen, the “Bad Boys” TV spinoff starring Gabrielle Union is moving steadily along, with the pilot shooting soon.
I’m not exactly chomping at the bit for this sequel, probably much like most people.
In this week’s “More horror from Larry” story, director Larry Fessenden will make a film inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, titled Depraved.
IndieWire has exclusively learned that Fessenden is stepping behind the camera for the first in several years to direct Depraved from his own script. Billed as a contemporary reimagining of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” Fessenden’s project focuses on a field surgeon who suffers from PTSD after combat in the Middle East, and creates a living human out of body parts in his Gowanus, Brooklyn lab.
This is not the first time Fessenden has used the backdrop of a creepy laboratory to explore real-world concerns. His 1991 feature No Telling focused on a man experimenting on animals and the impact of the work on his personal life. Fessenden is best known for directing the 1999 New York vampire drama “Habit,” the mystical Wendigo, and the eco-thriller The Last Winter. He last directed the Chiller-produced monster movie Beneath, and has produced countless low budget projects through his Glass Eye Pix, including Ti West’s The Innkeepers and Jim Mickle’s Stake Land.
For Depraved, Fessenden said he was excited to bring the “Frankenstein” narrative into a contemporary context. In a statement, he called his approach to the story “deeply personal and visceral,” adding, “I’ve been moved by the iconic character since childhood and it is a great thrill to try and put my version on the screen.”
The movie begins production in New York in February. It stars David Call, Joshua Leonard, and Alex Breaux (Bushwick) as the monster.
This definitely sounds like something I would like to see.
In this week’s “Cowboy Ninja Viking” story, Chris Pratt is starring in the aforementioned film, Cowboy Ninja Viking, and they have a director.
Michelle MacLaren, who is best known for her award-winning work on acclaimed television shows Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, has nabbed the gig to direct Chris Pratt in Universal’s Cowboy Ninja Viking.
Universal prioritized the project, which has been in development since 2014, in the summer when it dated the action movie for a June 28, 2019, release.
MacLaren beat out Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda) and Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) for the gig.
Cowboy Ninja Viking tells of a counter-intelligence unit that uses multiple personality disorder patients to create agents known as Triplets, referring to the three personalities the killers have. When the agents become rogue hired guns, the deadliest Triplet of them all, Cowboy Ninja Viking, is called in to take down his own brethren.
The project is based on the Image Comics title by A.J. Lieberman and illustrator Riley Rossmo.
Craig Mazin (The Hangover II) wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay. The original draft was written by Zombieland writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese.
This film actually sounds pretty interesting to me.
In this week’s “Men In Black adjacent” story, director F. Gary Gray is in negotiations to helm Sony’s spinoff of the property, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
The film will follow new characters, rather than Agents K and J, played by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in the original films. The approach is described as being akin to Universal’s 2015 film Jurassic World, which revived the Jurassic Park franchise not as a straight reboot, but did bring on new characters that somewhat acknowledged what came before.
Iron Man writers Matt Holloway and Art Marcum have written a script.
Gray is coming off a huge hit with last year’s Fate of the Furious, which earned $1.2 billion worldwide. His 2015 film Straight Outta Compton was a commercial and critical hit.
Well, if you’re gonna reboot a franchise, this is a good choice of people to direct it.
In this week’s “Cast him anyway” story, director Roman Polanski, who usually IS a director, occasionally shows up in something as a character actor.
And so he will for Quentin Tarantino’s next film. With all the #MeToo talk in the air right now, Polanski’s name is a bit of a trigger. But Tarantino just don’t care, I guess. According to Variety’s Justin Kroll, Polanski — as a character — will have a “key role” in Tarantino’s not-actually-a-Charles-Manson-movie project. Here’s the intel, as tweeted by Justin Kroll:
“Some QT-Manson updates: The role Pitt and Cruise have met on is for that of a stuntman not prosecutor, the Leo character is also Tate’s neighbor in the pic and Polanski will play key role in film, QT going discovery route wants authentic polish thesp”
To remind everyone, Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to star in the movie which is set in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969, and centers on a washed up TV actor who’s had one hit series and is looking for a way to get into the film business through the burgeoning spaghetti western industry in Italy. His sidekick — who’s also his stunt double (the part that Pitt and Cruise are apparently in contention for) — is looking for the same thing.
Meanwhile, the horrific murder of Sharon Tate and four of her friends by Charles Manson’s cult of followers shadows the main narrative. DiCaprio is playing that washed up actor, with Margot Robbie expected to sign up as Sharon Tate, with Al Pacino also eyed for role.
Seems like a strange thing for Polanski to do, seeing as he was actually involved with Tate in real life at the time of her murder. Truth is oft stranger than fiction, but sometimes fiction totally fucks with your truth.
Tarantino’s next film opens on August 9, 2019.
And in this week’s “Better late than never” story, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reopend the case of Natalie Wood’s 1981 death.
Speaking to CBS News’ 48 Hours, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators say that Natalie Wood’s then-husband, actor Robert Wagner, is a person of interest as they look into the circumstances around her mysterious death in 1981.
“As we’ve investigated the case over the last six years, I think he’s more of a person of interest now,” Lt. John Corina says of Wagner in an interview with 48 Hours correspondent Erin Moriarty. “I mean, we know now that he was the last person to be with Natalie before she disappeared.”
Wood drowned off the coast of Catalina in November 1981 after she went missing from her family’s yacht, Splendour. Wood, Wagner, Christopher Walken and yacht captain Dennis Davern were all on board the night before Wood was found floating in the water wearing a red down jacket and flannel nightgown. The death was originally ruled an accident, following a two-week investigation, but in 2011, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reopened the death investigation, and a year later the L.A. coroner’s office amended Wood’s death certificate to change the manner of death from accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors.”
There have long been rumors of foul play surrounding Wood’s death. Wagner’s and Davern’s shifting accounts of what happened the night Wood, famously terrified of dark water, went missing, have raised red flags for investigators.
Investigators, speaking to 48 Hours about new witnesses, evidence and theories about occurred, want to speak with Wagner about the circumstances surrounding her death.
And the plot thickens…
But Wagner has refused to talk to investigators, and Corina tells 48 Hours that he doesn’t think the actor has told the whole story.
Additionally, Corina says he thinks Wagner knows more about what happened to Wood than he’s said, “because he’s the last one to see her.”
With an autopsy report that shows what looked like fresh bruises on Wood’s body, Det. Ralph Hernandez tells 48 Hours, “She looked like the victim of an assault.”
When asked whether he believes Wood was murdered, Corina says, “I think it’s suspicious enough to make us think that something happened.”
Hernandez adds, “We have not been able to prove this was a homicide. And we haven’t been able to prove that this was an accident either. The ultimate problem is we don’t know how she ended up in the water.”
Neither Wagner nor Walken responded to 48 Hours’ requests for comment.
The full 48 Hours episode, Natalie Wood: Death in Dark Water, is set to air Saturday night at 10 p.m. on CBS.
Time to set the DVR!
And I’ll see you all next week!