Another week, another bunch of news.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Zack is back” story, Zack Snyder is returning to make his next film, and it’s not a superhero movie. Whatever your feelings are about him, you have to be at least interested a little bit by the first major actor cast for the upcoming film Army of the Dead.
Deadline is reporting that Dave Bautista has signed on to star in Snyder’s return to the zombie genre. Despite the title, it doesn’t appear that Army of the Dead has anything to do with Snyder’s breakout film (which is very well his best to date) “Dawn of the Dead.” Instead of your typical humans-fighting-zombies-as-they-discover-the-worst-in-humanity story that seems to be all the rage in the genre, Army of the Dead is a straight-up heist film. The plot follows a man (presumably Bautista) who puts together a group of mercenaries that attempt to venture into the zombie-filled land of Las Vegas to pull off an epic heist.
Production is set to begin fairly soon on Army of the Dead. The Netflix film is said to carry a $70 million budget and is co-written by Snyder and Shay Hatten, who is one of the folks behind the upcoming action film John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
Ok, well this could be interesting. Snyder just needs to stay away from superhero movies for a while. Or forever.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Still talking about this” story, Are Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker finally set to reunite on the big screen for the long-discussed Rush Hour 4? The internet is abuzz after Tucker joined Chan in person over the weekend to celebrate the latter’s birthday. The two co-stars took a photo together holding up the number four with their hands, which has many speculating that the characters of Chief Inspector Lee and Detective James Carter are finally getting ready to make a comeback.
The last major Rush Hour 4 update came in October 2017 when Chan said the script was finishing up in a good place and that if a sequel actually did happen, it would come down to Tucker agreeing on the story.
So, they kept turning down scripts.
One of the biggest roadblocks facing Rush Hour 4 is that every installment in the franchise has been directed by Brett Ratner. The filmmaker has been accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment and abuse, so it’s unclear what his involvement in a potential new Rush Hour sequel would be.
Apparently there are fans out there that want to see this happen, but it still looks like not much is happening yet.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Even more Dead” story, AMC will serve up another helping of Walking Dead, launching a third series that tells the story of survivors in a world where a plague turns most of the civilized world into flesh-eating zombies.
The new drama, which is as yet untitled, will stand alongside two other series in the franchise – The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead – and allow the cable network to feature content from a growing “universe” of Walking Dead stories for the bulk of the year, according to executives from AMC Networks, the outlet’s parent company. The new series will debut on AMC in 2020.
“This allows us to come to the marketplace with completely uninterrupted ‘Walking Dead’ universe content from post-Super Bowl Sunday to Thanksgiving,” says Scott Collins, president of ad sales for AMC Networks, in an interview.
The new series will be built around two young female protagonists, says Sarah Barnett, the president of the company’s entertainment networks, who noted that some of the young women portrayed on the flagship series in the group in recent episodes “have resonated” strongly with audiences. She declined to elaborate, noting that Scott Gimple, chief content officer for the “Dead” franchise, was eager to keep details to a minimum.
AMC is betting that a third series will have appeal at a time when ratings for some Walking Dead broadcasts have winnowed – a dynamic that is not atypical for a program that has been on the air since the fall of 2010, but is still concerning. “We believe in the underlying vitality of the Walking Dead universe,” says Barnett. “Walking Dead itself continues to be the number-one show by some margin,” she adds. “This show just continues to be an incredible boon for us. It’s something another cable or streaming network would actually kill for.” Other than news and sports programs, episodes of The Walking Dead represented many of the most-watched broadcasts on cable in the current TV season.
The new series will be co-created by Gimple, and Matt Negrete, who has been a writer and producer on The Walking Dead for the past five seasons and who will serve as showrunner. Produced by AMC Studios, the series will begin production on 10 episodes this summer in Virginia.
Ok, as long as it’s profitable, they’ll keep making them. I, however, won’t likely be watching. I walked away.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Dwayne “Black Adam” Johnson” story, with Shazam! being a hit, the happiest person in the world right now is probably Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Over on his Instagram, the actor posted a four-minute video to fans, thanking them for the success of Shazam. You may be wondering why Johnson is so excited about the success of a comic book film that he’s not the star of. Well, for the better part of a decade, the actor has been developing the Shazam film, with an eye for himself to star as Black Adam. However, it was decided that Black Adam wouldn’t be featured in the film, and instead, would be getting his own origin story.
So, Johnson explained to fans why his role in the film was cut and why he’s excited about the prospects in the future.
“We were trying to tell two origin stories in one script…Shazam is connected to Black Adam. Black Adam is an anti-hero or villain, who I cannot wait to play. I’ve been developing this, and it’s been with me in my DNA for over 10 years, now. We should start shooting that in about a year. Very excited about that,” said the actor.
Well, I guess the time is right now for this. I hope Johnson can squeeze it into his perpetually busy schedule.
RELATED: Needless to say, it looks like Shazam! will be getting a sequel. The picture’s scribe, Henry Gayden, has reportedly signed on to the pen the sequel which could also see Director, David F. Sandberg and producer, Peter Safran return for a whole lot of big kid fun.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Goodbye, Seymour” story, Seymour Cassel, the Oscar-nominated John Cassavetes regular whose wily glint, weathered look and versatile talent made him an admired character actor, has died. He was 84.
Cassel died Sunday in Los Angeles of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, his son, Matt, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Cassel also was a favorite of Wes Anderson, who cast the irascible actor in Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004).
IN THIS WEEK’S “Coming To America, again” story, so it’s official. For real. Coming To America 2 is in pre-production. And sweetening the already-amazing deal is the fact that Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter is aboard the project, bringing a bit of Wakandan flair to Prince Akeem and Semmi.
Sure, it was already announced that Coming to America 2 is a thing. Back in January, it was announced that Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are reuniting after 30+ years to bring the classic comedy film back to the big screen in a new sequel from director Craig Brewer. But still, even with an announcement, it just seemed like a fantasy. But now, thanks to Carter, who posted a picture on Instagram signaling the beginning of work on the production, we can fully say for certain that Coming to America 2 is indeed a thing and is indeed on track to make its summer 2020 debut.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Oh man, here we go…” story, Netflix is getting into the movie theater business in a big way. The streaming giant has entered into talks with American Cinematheque to buy the historic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. On the surface, this looks like the latest step in Netflix’s overarching plan to be taken seriously by the film industry, since many in the business still cringe at Netflix’s streaming-based model. But sources say this is more of a partnership between Netflix and Cinematheque, and not a sign of things to come. We’ll see.
Deadline broke the news on Netflix’s plan to buy the Egyptian Theater. Netflix is hoping this move will raise their profile in the Hollywood community, and show they’re more than just a streaming service. Some industry titans, like Steven Spielberg, have offered something akin to disdain for Netflix, claiming that the only way to really experience a movie is in the hallowed halls of a movie theater, not streaming at home.
The Egytpian has been around since the 1920s, and served as the site of Hollywood’s first movie premiere (for Robin Hood in 1922). I’m already seeing a knee-jerk reaction towards this news among the denizens of Film Twitter, but the more you read the Deadline story, the more you realize this isn’t such a bad thing overall. Per the story:
“Both parties look at this as something of a partnership, sources said. Netflix will program its screenings for weekday nights while the Cinematheque runs screenings, lectures and occasional festivals on weekends on an autonomous basis. The organization will be able to expand its programming with the financial resources from this deal. Netflix will hold occasional special screenings and events for some of its splashiest movie launches.”
That sounds like a win-win, overall. Cinematheque is a non-profit, and its funds have been severely limited in recent years. This major deal with Netflix will fix that. In addition, Cinematheque will continue to run screenings at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. Still, it would be naive to think Netflix was doing this out of the goodness of their corporate heart. The streaming service wants to rack up awards – especially Oscars. And the best way For Netflix to do that, as far as the Academy is concerned, is to screen their original films theatrically in Hollywood. With this move, they’ll be able to do that in their very own theater.
On top of all this, Deadline’s sources add that “it would be wrong to eye this as the start of a move into the operational theater business.”
Well, this all SOUNDS great on the surface, but if Netflix owns the Egyptian Theater, they could eventually change their minds and squeeze out Cinemateque. I have reservations, for sure.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Nothing new” story, Camila Cabello, formally of the pop group Fifth Harmony, has been tapped to star in a new iteration of Cinderella, written and to be directed by Pitch Perfect scribe Kay Cannon. Set at Sony Pictures, the project, which is on the fast track for production, is based on an original idea from late night host James Corden who producing the pic with Leo Pearlman under their Fulwell73 shingle. This will mark Cabello’s film acting debut. The Grammy-nominated “Havana” crooner will also be involved in the music for the film.
Another Cinderella movie. Sure, why not? No reason to come up with new ideas, right?
IN THIS WEEK’S “Before Grease” story, Grease has inspired everything from a questionable sequel to Halloween costumes to bone-chilling theories. Now, it seems we can add “a prequel” to that list — Deadline reports that Aladdin screenwriter John August is writing a prequel to the 1978 musical called Summer Loving.
The film takes its plot from the Grease song “Summer Nights,” which details the brief but romantic fling between John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John’s characters, Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, before they unexpectedly end up at the same high school together in the Fall. If you somehow have gotten through life without hearing the song or watching the iconic musical (Like ME!), the tune describes Danny and Sandy’s versions of the Summer as they tell their friends about how they met (“Summer loving had me a blast / Summer loving happened so fast”).
While Sandy remembers it as an innocent love affair (“He got friendly holding my hand . . . He was sweet just turned 18”), Danny embellishes their tryst for his friends (“She got friendly down in the sand . . . Well she was good you know what I mean”). I guess Summer Loving will settle it, once and for all, except I likely won’t see this either.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Russos and MGM, sitting in a tree” story, Deadline is reporting that MGM and the Russos’ AGBO production company have reached an agreement to have a partnership that will include co-financing a variety of original projects, as well as the directors’ company spearheading a bunch of remakes of classic films from MGM’s library.
While the details of which films AGBO will be remaking are sparse, it is known that one of the first will be the upcoming Thomas Crown Affair re-imagining that is set to star Michael B. Jordan, as well as the animated/live-action hybrid film The Rats of Nimh (Zoinks!). The upcoming film Hacienda is said to be included in the deal, but that’s based on an original concept and not a part of MGM’s library.
“MGM is focused on partnering with Hollywood’s premier talent to bring amazing stories to life. Our partnership with AGBO demonstrates MGM’s focus on creating alliances with today’s most innovative and premier storytellers,” said Chris Brearton, MGM’s Chief Operating Officer. “Joe and Anthony’s track record speaks for itself and we look forward to working with their team to bring new and exciting projects to life on the big and small screens.”
I wonder if it also has anything to do with MGM needing some new life and revenue generating films?
Joe Russo said, “This deal reflects the fundamental tenets upon which AGBO was built: a storytelling driven studio designed to develop and produce a complex array of narrative in an ever-evolving landscape. Artist ownership is primary to our agenda, and we’ll be serving as partners on every film. It’s also an amazing opportunity for AGBO to work with MGM, which owns one of the greatest libraries in the world.”
In addition to the news that AGBO will be in creative control of the MGM remakes, it’s being reported that the Russo Brothers, themselves, are perhaps interested in directing The Thomas Crown Affair, with Jordan set to star. They hired a new writer to take a stab at the script. The directors are currently putting on the finishing touches to ‘Endgame’ and will almost immediately begin work on the upcoming film “Cherry.”
IN THIS WEEK’S “Hawkeye gets the small screen” story, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is the latest member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to line up his own Disney+ series.
Variety has learned from sources that Disney’s upcoming streaming service is officially developing a limited series based on the archery ace Marvel character with Renner attached to star. The project is said to be an adventure series in which Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, will pass the torch to Kate Bishop. Bishop is a Marvel Comics character who took up the Hawkeye mantle after Barton. She is also a member of the group known as the Young Avengers.
Disney and Marvel declined to comment. Reps for Renner declined to comment.
As Variety previously reported, there are also Disney+ limited series in the works that will focus on MCU characters like Falcon and Winter Soldier, as well as Loki, Vision, and Scarlet Witch. The series are expected to be six to eight episodes. The series on the Disney+ will be produced by Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige, who has headed up the MCU for years. The shows are also expected to have large budgets compared to other television projects.
I see…well, Renner has been sort of underused I think in the MCU so far. But then, with so many characters, it’s tough to get all of them the screen time they deserve. Either way, this works out well for him.
IN THIS WEEK’S “More Apatow” story, Bel Powley, the star of Diary of a Teenage Girl and White Boy Rick, is set to star as the female lead opposite Pete Davidson in an untitled comedy Davidson co-wrote with director Judd Apatow at Universal, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.
It was also recently announced that comedian Bill Burr would also star in the film, which will begin production this summer in New York City.
Apatow, Davidson and Dave Sirus co-wrote the film, which will be Apatow’s sixth feature. Apatow will also produce for his Apatow Productions alongside Barry Mendel. Universal senior executive vice president of production Erik Baiers will oversee production on behalf of the studio.
Universal has set a release date for June 19, 2020.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Casting Invisible” story, It would appear that Us won’t be Elisabeth Moss’ only collaboration with powerhouse production company Blumhouse. The Emmy-winning “Mad Men” and The Handmaid’s Tale star has joined The Invisible Man, a reboot of the classic monster movie that Jason Blum’s genre-centric studio is producing alongside Universal. Leigh Whannell (Upgrade, Insidious: Chapter 3) is helming the project, which was originally announced as part of Universal’s Dark Universe — a venture that was scrapped after the rocky reception to 2017’s The Mummy.
I hope they go in a more spooky, atmospheric direction with these Universal horror films. If not, it will be yet another creative Hollywood tragedy.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Wahlberg makes good” story, Mark Wahlberg, Connie Britton and Reid Miller are set to star in Monsters and Men helmer Reinaldo Marcus Green’s drama Good Joe Bell, from Brokeback Mountain screenwriters Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry.
Wahlberg will play real-life Oregonian father Joe Bell, who sets out on a walk across the United States with his son, Jadin (Miller). Production is set to start on April 15 in Utah.
Producers on the pic are Daniela Taplin Lundberg of Stay Gold, Riva Marker and Jake Gyllenhaal of Nine Stories, Eva Maria Daniels of Vision Chaos, Cary Fukunaga of Parliament Of Owls, Ryan Ahrens of Argent Pictures, as well as Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson.
Good Joe Bell marks Green’s follow-up to his directorial debut Monsters and Men, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance International Film Festival to rave reviews. Neon picked up the film, which grossed $500,000 from 153 theaters last fall.
Seems to me that Mark Wahlberg has been taking film roles lately that definitely have a positive slant to them. Like he’s trying to clean up his past, uuuh, tarnished reputation? He’s really trying to get rid of that bad boy rep.
He still doesn’t make me want to go see his movies.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Far from hilbillies” story, Glenn Close has joined Amy Adams in Ron Howard and Netflix’s anticipated Hillbilly Elegy movie.
Vanessa Taylor (The Shape Of Water) has adapted the screenplay based on the acclaimed novel by J.D. Vance. Howard is producing with Brian Grazer and Karen Lunder for Imagine Entertainment. Julie Oh and J.D. Vance are executive producers.
As we revealed earlier this year, Netflix stumped up around $45M for the project in a heated bidding war.
Imagine won the book rights back in 2017. Vance’s memoir (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, to give it its full title), a bestseller for 74 weeks, is an account of growing up in the Rust Belt and a personal analysis of the white underclass, race and privilege in America. Vance, raised poor among working-class “hillbillies,” explores his childhood and family struggles as they navigate drug addiction, and social and economic challenges. Supported by his larger-than-life grandmother, he developed a deep appreciation for education that laid the foundation for him to rise out of poverty and its cultural restraints.
The project reunites Close with Howard who previously directed her in 1994 pic The Paper as well in a PSA for Bring Change To Mind, Close’s nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Not making sense” story, According to Deadline, MGM and Warner Bros. are willing to roll the dice one more time with the recent Tomb Raider reboot franchise. After Angelina Jolie put Lara Croft on the Hollywood map with two films over a decade ago, Alicia Vikander stepped into the role last year, but failed to light up the box office, despite decent reviews. But alas, when you have a well-known property combined with an Oscar-winning actress, you tend to give it a second chance.
There is one bit of good news with this announcement, and that’s with the person hired to script the sequel. The report states that Amy Jump, best known for her collaborations with director/spouse Ben Wheatley, has been brought on to script the next adventure. And apparently, Vikander is impressed by what she’s seen.
As mentioned, Jump has previously written scripts for films like High-Rise, Free Fire, and A Field in England. Her most recent project is Freak Shift, which is in development now.
A Tomb Raider sequel is far from a guaranteed hit. Despite Vikander’s quality performance in the role and the overall increase in quality versus the previous Jolie-led iteration, last year’s film failed to excite fans at the box office, only earning just under $275 million worldwide off of a $94 million budget. (Note: as always, when discussing box office, it’s important to know that to turn a profit on a film, a studio would have to look at the total cost, which is budget plus marketing, and earn DOUBLE that in ticket sales, as the theaters take roughly half). Domestically, the film only earned $58 million, showing that international play is the big driving force here.
Wow, ok. Just keep beating that dead horse until it’s unrecognizable or it gives you money. That’s the Hollywood way.
Aaaaand, IN THIS WEEK’S “Smallville to Jailsville” story, a correspondent, VillageDiane, from The Underground Bunker, was in the courtroom just now as Smallville actress Allison Mack pled guilty to two counts — racketeering and racketeering conspiracy — and broke down in tears twice as she did so.
Dianne observed that Mack no longer appears to be starving herself on the Nxivm diet and looked healthier in court today, but she broke down as she began to giver her allocution to Judge Nicholas Garaufis.
“I’m here to plead guilty,” she was able to get out before breaking down. When the judge asked if she wanted a moment to gather herself, Mack said no and continued with her statement.
“I was lost and wanted a community,” she explained for why she had gotten involved in Keith Raniere’s group, and she said that she had believed the people in Nxivm were trying to better themselves and others. “But I was wrong,” she added. “There was criminal conduct resulting in my agreeing to support a criminal enterprise.”
She admitted to making false representations about the specialized sub-group she helped run, “DOS,” which prosecutors says was a sex slavery operation to benefit Raniere, and not a “sorority” for self-empowerment. Mack admitted to concealing to DOS members that Raniere was really in charge of it.
“She began crying again when she said she caused harm. Her lawyers put their hands on her,” Dianne says.
Mack will be sentenced on September 11.
It’s weird out there, people.So, come one back nest week to see what more wild movie news we have!