And we’re back! It’s a new week. Funny how that happens.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Lots of talk” story, when you hear Jason Reitman describe the incredibly detailed ways he’s going to bring the Ghostbusters franchise back to its roots, it’s clear the new director is catering to those same folks that cried “sacrilege!” when Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and Harold Ramis were replaced by GASP! four women.
You know, the backlash about the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot was stupid anyway. For Reitman to feel like he has to cater to those naysayers about the Ghostbusters being women shouldn’t be catered to or pandered to. I thought that Ghostbusters reboot was lots of fun and ideologically they should double down on the idea and make a sequel to THAT film.
“I’m not making the ‘Juno’ of ‘Ghostbusters’ movies,” said Reitman, while being interviewed on a recent episode of the Bill Burr Podcast.
From there, Reitman discusses the painstaking lengths he’s willing to go to bring the original look and feel to the new Ghostbusters film. Needless to say, hiring the son of the original director means that the studio is getting a very reverential sequel in 2020.
“This is going to be a love letter to Ghostbusters, said Reitman. “I love this franchise. I grew up watching it. I consider myself the first Ghostbusters fan. I was like seven years old when that movie came out and I love it. I want to make a movie for my fellow Ghostbusters fans.”
He continued by discussing the amount of work that went into creating the short teaser that was released earlier this year. He said, “We went back to the work files for the sound of the proton pack. And we went back to the stems of Elmer Berstein’s score. Just for where it says, in the teaser, ‘Sumer 2020,’ we went back and found the original physical vinyl letters they used to create the Ghostbusters poster in 1984. Rescanned them and then our titles guys reprinted them. We filmed the titles. Not like in a computer. We shot physical titles with a light and smoke effect because that’s how they would have done it back in the day.”
“We are, in every way, trying to go back to the original technique and hand the movie back to the fans,’ the director concluded.
You know, Jason, that kind of attention to detail is admirable, for sure, but that alone does not make a good feature film. And at a time when we need MORE diversity of color and gender in film, succumbing to the opposite isn’t the answer. But alas, the almighty dollar demands obedience, so doing the right thing be damned.
And that’s how I feel about that.
IN THIS WEEK’S “For the Riot Grrls” story, Amy Poehler is going to rock out in her next film, planning to direct Moxie, a story about a teenager who discovers the feminist punk rock movement Riot Grrrl and leads a feminist revolution at her high school, an individual with knowledge of the project tells TheWrap.
Poehler will direct the film for Netflix, which will be both her second directed-feature and also her second for Netflix following Wine Country, which is set to debut on the streamer this May.
Tamara Chestna wrote the screenplay based on Jennifer Mathieu’s novel of the same name. Poehler’s banner Paper Kite acquired the novel last year.
Moxie tells the story of Viv Carter, a 16-year-old girl fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys and the belief that the football team can do no wrong. But when she discovers that her mom was once in a tough-as-nails Riot Grrrl band in the ’90s, Viv creates a feminist zine and eventually starts a movement in her school once other girls respond.
“‘Moxie kicks ass. It’s a sweet, funny and fierce exploration of how a few young women band together and start a movement. Read this and then join the fight,” Poehler said about the book in its promotional materials.
Riot Grrrl was a movement of underground, feminist punk rock that grew in the late ’80s and early ’90s behind bands like Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and L7.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Jordan and Jordan” story, Michael B. Jordan is in talks to star in Sony’s Journal for Jordan, a drama that will be directed by Denzel Washington.
The movie, penned by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Virgil Williams, is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dana Canedy’s love affair with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King. King kept a journal full of poignant life lessons for their newborn son, Jordan, while deployed overseas. He was killed in Iraq in 2006 when Jordan was just seven months old, but his spirit lives on in his messages of love to Dana and Jordan.
This sounds like a potential future Oscar nominee.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The real Black Panther” story, Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are in negotiations to star in the historical drama Jesus Was My Homeboy about Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.
The project is set up at Warner Bros. with Black Panther director Ryan Coogler producing along with Charles King through his Marco production company. Executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler, and Macros’ Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks.
Shaka King will direct and produce from a script he wrote with Will Berson, which will focus on the death of Hampton, who was killed in 1969 while sleeping in his apartment during a raid conducted by a state tactical unit in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His death was ruled as a justifiable homicide by the inquest. A civil lawsuit resulted in a settlement of $1.85 million in 1982.
If the deals are made, Kaluuya will portray Hampton. Stanfield, who starred in Sorry to Bother You, will play William O’Neal, who had provided the FBI with detailed plans of Hampton’s apartment. O’Neal committed suicide in 1990.
Sounds like future Oscar potential to me.
IN THIS WEEK’S “What movie?” story, Actress Nicky Whelan has been cast to star opposite Bruce Willis in the upcoming action movie Trauma Center.
Whelan, whose past credits include the Farrelly brothers’ Hall Pass, The Wedding Ringer, Knight of Cups and Left Behind, will play Madison opposite Willis’ Lt. Wakes in the film.
Trauma Center was written by Paul da Silva and is being produced by MoviePass’ Randall Emmett, George Furla and Lydia Hull.
The production begins principal photography this month in Miami.
The title represents part of a three-picture deal Willis recently signed with MoviePass Films — representing a longtime working relationship the actor has with Emmett and Furla, with whom he’s made more than 10 films, including 2011’s Catch .44.
Matt Eskandari is directing.
I’m sorry, not to be dismissive, but this sounds like a film that will come and go almost unnoticed. And a 3 picture deal with…Movie Pass Films? isn’t Movie Pass disintegrating? Bruce Willis has started making some of these smaller, lesser known films that, regardless of quality, are just flying to far under the radar for anyone to really care. They feel like money grabs to me. He’s joining Nic Cage in that way. For evey 10 films they make, only one or two are worth watching. Oh how the mighty haven fallen.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Hulu gets Ducky” story, Howard the Duck fans are likely excited that the anthropomorphic duck is getting his own animated series on Hulu, but none are as excited as Kevin Smith. That’s because the famous comic book fan gets to go behind the camera (or the drawing board?) for the Howard the Duck animated series as writer and executive producer of the upcoming series. And he’s ecstatic
Smith is developing the series alongside Dave Willis (Space Ghost, Aqua Team Hunger Force, Archer, Squidbillies), and the pair are executive producing alongside Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb.
The official synopsis for the show:
“Marvel’s Howard The Duck is trapped in a world he never made, but America’s favorite fighting fowl hopes to return home with the help of his unstoppable gal pal Beverly before the evil Dr. Bong can turn him the crispiest dish on the menu. Writers Kevin Smith and Dave Willis will also executive produce along with Jeph Loeb.”
Sounds appropriately bonkers. I don’t have Hulu, but I’ll find a way to see some of this, somehow.
IN THIS WEEK’S “LOL” story, Chris Hemsworth is set to portray wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan in a biopic that reunites Todd Phillips with Scott Silver, the respective director and writer of the upcoming DC Comics movie The Joker. John Pollono (Stronger) will co-write the script with Silver.
Ok, I’m sorry, my first reaction was a chuckle. It just seems like this movie is coming a bit late.
Deals for the Hogan project are in the midst of closing with Netflix. Producing will be Michael Sugar, the Academy Award winner behind Spotlight, who will produce via his Netflix-based Sugar23, and Phillips and Bradley Cooper, who will produce via their banner Joint Effort. Also producing will be Hemsworth and Eric Bischoff.
One of the biggest names in wrestling of all time, Hogan was a fixture on TV sets in 1980s America as part of the World Wrestling Federation who subsequently parlayed his championships-winning leg drops and star power into forays into movies and television, endorsements and video games.
Born Terry Gene Bollea, Hogan began his career in the late 1970s in the Florida wrestling circuit, and when he started in the WWF, he frequently squared off against Andre the Giant as a villainous fighter. When Vince McMahon took over the company and began expanding it into a national presence, Hogan was its face and by then a hero persona. By the end of the ’80s, he was one of the Me Decade’s key personalities, gracing magazine covers, appearing on nightly talk shows and even headlining a Saturday morning cartoon.
In the 21st century, however, Hogan’s fortunes were see-sawing as personal conflicts overtook those inside the ring. Most notably, he was embroiled in a sex tape scandal, with the wife of a friend and radio personality, including a years-long lawsuit that precipitated the end of Gawker and led to Hogan receiving tens of millions of dollars in a settlement.
The biopic will not delve into those years or attempt to encompass Hogan’s entire life. Instead, sources say it will focus on his rise and is described as an origin story of the Hulkster and Hulkamania.
The deal, which took months to put together, will include life rights, with Bollea acting as a consultant on the movie as well as executive producer. Also exec producing will be Sugar23’s Ashley Zalta.
Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman will co-produce the project, which is in its early stages.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Presumably, after Bond” story, According to Collider, Craig’s first post-Bond film will be The Creed Of Violence, an adaptation of Boston Teran’s novel of the same name which will be helmed by Todd Field (In The Bedroom).
The project has been in development for a number of years, with actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale circling roles at one point, but it seems as though it’s finally coming together. Set in 1910 during the Mexican Revolution, The Creed of Violence will center around an assassin known as Rawbone (Craig) as well as a young government agent named John Lourdes as they travel from Texas to Mexico in order to bring down a smuggling ring.
“Mexico, 1910. The landscape pulses with the force of the upcoming revolution, an atmosphere rich in opportunity for a criminal such as Rawbone. His fortune arrives across the haze of the Sierra Blanca in the form of a truck loaded with weapons, an easy sell to those financing a bloodletting.
But Rawbone’s plan spins against him, and he soon finds himself at the Mexican-American border and in the hands of the Bureau of Investigation. He is offered a chance for immunity, but only if he agrees to proceed with his scheme to deliver the truck and its goods to the Mexican oil fields while under the command of Agent John Lourdes. Rawbone sees no other option and agrees to the deal—but he fails to recognize the true identity of Agent Lourdes, a man from deep within his past. As they work to expose the criminal network at the core of the revolution, it is clear their journey into the tarred desert is a push toward a certain ruin, and the history lurking between the criminal and agent may seal their fates.”
That’s a lot of synopisis, but, Ok, my interest is piqued.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Storytelling by the best” story, Jim Henson’s iconic 80s anthology series The Storyteller is eyeing a comeback. Fremantle has teamed with The Jim Henson Company and author/TV writer-producer Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Good Omens) to develop a reimagined version of The Storyteller for television.
Inspired by his daughter Lisa’s university studies in folklore and mythology, Jim Henson created the original version of The Storyteller in 1987 and directed multiple episodes, with Oscar winner Anthony Minghella writing all the episodes. The Emmy and BAFTA-winning live-action TV series featured creatures by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in a re-telling of various European folk tales, with a mysterious elfin storyteller (played by John Hurt). The world of The Storyteller was inhabited by various mystical and magical characters – heartless giants, enchanted beggars, white lions and human hedgehogs – exploring themes such as fear, desire, death and destiny, and challenging notions about good and evil.
In the new incarnation, written and executive produced by Gaiman, The Storyteller will create a mystical world combining various fairy tales and folklore. It will be updated to work “for the binging kind” of viewer of today, Gaiman said.
“Part of what fascinates me about The Storyteller is the stuff that we don’t know.,” he said. “Who was the Storyteller, why was he telling these stories, was he a goblin, what kind of creature? What I’d love to do is an inside story that’s as long as the outside story. We’re going to find out a lot about who the storyteller is, we’re going to find out things we don’t even know that we don’t know. We’re going to begin in a Northern kingdom where stories are forbidden and where the act of telling a story is liable and can get you imprisoned or executed. If you put a storyteller into that situation, things would need to start getting interactive.”
“The Storyteller has always been a special project for me, having worked so closely with my dad on the original concept,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company.
“Neil Gaiman is an expert in traditional folklore and mythology, in addition to himself being the modern ‘storyteller’ for our times. I feel like if Neil were an actor, he’d have to play (the Storyteller) because he embodies what the storyteller is, a skillful wordsmith who can entertain people with the power of the story itself, and not to mention he also memorizes it all in his head.”
Lisa Henson has known about Gaiman’s love of The Storyteller since their first meeting in 1991 when she worked at Warner Bros. Over the years, the two bonded over their deep knowledge of folklore mythology.
Gaiman and Henson would love to have some creative auspices from the original series back for the revival.
“We would love to have John Hurt as our Storyteller, but alas, he’s no longer with us. But absolutely the actors from the original Storyteller series, bringing them back would be a marvelous thing to do, and we really did have the cream of the crop,” Gaiman said.
Henson indicated that the producers will be using the same out-of-the-box approach to hiring directors that was used on the original series…work with the directors who can do the most innovative work with puppetry technologies to marry it up in that truly innovative modern way with word crafting.”
Fremantle’s collaboration with Gaiman on The Storyteller grew out of the company’s relationship with the writer-producer who is behind Fremantle’s American Gods.
This is awesome news!
IN THIS WEEK’S “Stallone gets in on Superheros” story, In what was said to be a competitive bidding situation, MGM has acquired the original spec script, Samaritan, from screenwriter Bragi F. Schut and Sylvester Stallone’s Balboa Productions. As Deadline previously reported, Stallone is attached to star in the film, which was announced as part of the forthcoming film slate from Stallone’s recently formed production banner.
Plot details are scarce but the pic has been described as a dark, fresh take on the superhero genre. MGM will develop the project with Stallone and Braden Aftergood of Balboa. Schut will serve as an executive producer.
The studio previously teamed with and Balboa to develop a biopic on the iconic boxer Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion. In addition, Stallone and Aftergood have lined up projects like Hunter, an adaptation based on James Byron Huggins’s novel about skillful tracker Nathaniel Hunter, Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent, a memoir by 30-year FBI veteran Michael McGowan and Ralph Pezzullo, and a film set in the world of special ops written by retired Army Ranger Max Adams.
IN THIS WEEK’S “D’Onofrio goes Old West” story, The story of Billy the Kid has been redone time and time again, ever since the infamous outlaw still rode through the West. Now he rides again in the newest film from director Vincent D’Onofrio, The Kid.
So many films have tried to capture the life and story of Billy the Kid, the cattle-rustling gunfighter who killed eight men and was on the run for five years before he was gunned down at the age of 21. Now, with only one other directing role under his belt from 2010’s Don’t go in the Woods, celebrated actor Vincent D’Onofrio is ready to pitch his own take on the Old West gunman.
Playing the title role and putting his young looks to good use is Dane DeHaan, known for his roles in movies like The Amazing SpiderMan 2, Chronicle, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. As Pat Garrett, the sheriff almost as infamous as the outlaw he killed, will be Ethan Hawke (First Reformed). In his debut role, and adding a little freshness to the story, is newcomer Jake Schur playing a boy traveling with Billy to save his sister, and adding another meaning to the film title The Kid. To top it off, Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) will be returning to the Western movie genre as the villain.
Here’s the official synopsis:
In this thrilling Western, a young boy, Rio (Jake Schur), is forced to go on the run across the American Southwest in a desperate attempt to save his sister (Leila George) from his villainous uncle (Chris Pratt). Along the way, he encounters Sheriff Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke), on the hunt for the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan). Rio finds himself increasingly entwined in the lives of these two legendary figures as the cat and mouse game of Billy the Kid’s final year of life plays out. Ultimately Rio is forced to choose which type of man he is going to become, the outlaw or the man of valor, and will use this self-realization in a final act to save his family.
“The Kid” will be released in theaters on March 8th, 2019. I’ll check this out. I love D’Onofrio.
Aaaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “How sporting of you” story, France’s fencing federation has officially recognised lightsaber duelling as a competitive sport, granting the weapon from George Lucas’s space saga the same status as the foil, epee and sabre, the traditional blades used at the Olympics.
Of course, the LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate replicas can’t slice an opponent in half. But they look and sound remarkably like the blades that Yoda and other characters wield in the blockbuster movies.
The physicality of lightsaber combat is part of the reason why the French Fencing Federation is now equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and training would-be lightsaber instructors. Like virtuous Jedi knights, the federation sees itself as combatting a Dark Side: the sedentary habits of 21st-century life.
“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” says Serge Aubailly, the federation’s secretary general. “That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”
In the past, Zorro, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader are joining them.
“Cape-and-sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Aubailly says. “Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try.”
In building the sport from the ground up, French organisers have produced competition rules intended to make lightsaber duelling both competitive and easy on the eye.
“We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” said Michel Ortiz, organiser of a national lightsaber tournament.
Combatants fight inside a circle marked in tape on the floor. Strikes to the head or body are worth five points; to the arms or legs, three points; on hands, one point. The winner is the first to reach 15 points or, if they don’t get there quickly, the fighter with the higher score after three minutes is the victor. If both fighters reach 10 points, the bout enters a “sudden death” stage, in which the first to land a head or body blow wins.
Since it is still counting its practitioners only in the hundreds, lightsaber duelling has no hope of a place in the Paris Olympics in 2024. But hearing the buzz of blades may encourage others to give the sport a try.
Olympic light-saber battles in my life-time? Could be.