It’s Comicon week! Huzzah! Let’s see if I can squeeze some news in this week!
In this week’s “Memorial” story, the man who essentially created the zombie genre as we know it, has died. George Romero, director of such classics Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and others, died at the age of 77 after a “brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer,” according to a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times.
In a recent interview with IndieWire, Romero discussed his latest project in great detail: Road of the Dead, a sort of Mad Max–inspired tale of automotive zombies that he was producing but not directing. Romero and director Matt Birman were headed to the Fantasia International Film Festival to secure financing. “I’ve had a terrific run,” he said during the conversation.
In this week’s “Other Memorial” story, in another bit of sad news, legendary award-winning actor Martin Landau has also died. Landau was most closely associated with scene-stealing character turns in such films as North by Northwest, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Ed Wood as well as the classic TV series Mission: Impossible, died Saturday in Los Angeles, according to his publicist. He had been hospitalized at UCLA where he experienced complications. He was 89.
This was a bad weekend.
In this week’s “It’s like everything I believed about Tobe Hooper is a lie!” story, according to the assistant cameraman on the film Poltergeist, Steven Spielberg actually directed it rather than Tobe Hooper.
Apparently it’s long been suspected that co-writer and -producer Steven Spielberg was the true helmer; due to a clause in his E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial contract, however, Spielberg wasn’t technically allowed to direct anything else while preparing his kid-friendly classic.
In an appearance on Blumhouse’s podcast ‘Shock Waves,’ the film’s assistant cameraman more or less confirms that Spielberg was the actual director.
“It was a very intense, very fun, very technical movie to work on. There’s a lot going on. And candidly… Steven Spielberg directed that movie. There’s no question,” says John Leonetti, whose brother Matt was the film’s cinematographer. Leonetti, who directed “Annabelle” as well as the upcoming “Wish Upon,” spares several kind words for Hooper nevertheless.
“Hooper was so nice and just happy to be there. He creatively had input. Steven developed the movie, and it was his to direct, except there was anticipation of a director’s strike, so he was ‘the producer’ but really he directed it in case there was going to be a strike and Tobe was cool with that. It wasn’t anything against Tobe. Every once in a while, he would actually leave the set and let Tobe do a few things just because. But really, Steven directed it.”
Well, that’s an interesting tidbit of information.
In this week’s “Dumbo’s arrival date” story, Disney’s live-action “reimagining” of the 1941 animated classic, Dumbo, will arrive in theaters March 29, 2019.
Tim Burton is directing and production has officially begun. The cast is impressive, with the likes of Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, and Michael Keaton now confirmed to star opposite newcomers Nico Prker and Finley Hobbins.Roshan Seth, DeObia Oparei, Sharon Rooney, and Douglas Reith also star.
Wow, at least three of these actors are Burton favorites. I’m almost surprised that Johnny Depp isn’t in this. Maybe Burton surprise us and cast him as Dumbo.
Here’s some particularly bad news about this film: Ehren Kruger — who wrote the middle three Transformers movies — penned the script. That sound you hear are my expectations crashing after plummeting downward a great distance.
The original story followed an ostracized baby circus elephant who strives to achieve his full potential. Burton’s movie will include both live-action and animated elements. The entirety of 2019’s “Dumbo” will be filmed in England.
In this week’s “Kermit got fired?!” story, the voice of Kermit the Frog, Steve Whitmire was fired by the Muppets Studio, and Disney approved it. And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, the Henson family was also on board with the replacement.
After 27 years, Whitmire was replaced as the voice of Kermit. The company is alleging through “a source close to the studio” that Whitmire was “overly hostile and unproductive.” Muppet Studios commented:
“We raised concerns about Steve’s repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback,” the studio continued. “The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support.”
Whitmire has written multiple blog posts offering his side of the story. Last week, he wrote that he was let go and is “devastated to have failed in my duty” to the late Jim Henson. He offered various notes to the studio regarding the famous felt frog.
“The first issue was that they felt I had been ‘disrespectful’ in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series,” Whitmire told THR. “I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney , but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have
insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets.”
What sorts of insights is he talking about? An example: Whitmire took issue with the fact that in the ABC Muppet show, Kermit lied to his nephew, Robin, because the actor considers the iconic frog to be “too compassionate” for such a deception. He also thinks the show might have been spared cancellation if the studio had listened more closely to the Muppet talent. “I am not saying my notes would have saved it, but I think had they listened more to all of the performers, it would have made a really big difference.”
Well, this situation isn’t going to change, so there you have it. Don’t criticize The Mouse.
In this week’s “I ain’t got nunthin’ for this one” story, the director of the new Stephen King remake of It, Andy Muschietti, already has his next gig lined up.
Muschietti will direct a film adaptation of Robotech for Sony.
Muschietti’s creative partner Barbara Muschietti will join Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton in producing the project, which is based on the 1980s cartoon series from Harmony Gold USA and Japan’s Tatsunoko Productions.
The story is set in a time when Earth has developed giant robots from the technology of an alien spacecraft that crashed on a South Pacific island and is now using that technology to fight off an impending alien invasion.
The property has attracted everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to James Wan over the years. Sony now hopes Muschietti can finally push it into production.
Well, I hope it’s more Pacific Rim and less Transformers.
In this week’s “Can’t fill those shoes.” story, In the Disney live-action remake of Aladdin, the genie will be played by… Will Smith.
I don’t know how to feel about that other than not good. I mean, the comparisons to Robin Williams will be inevitable.
In this week’s “Where are we going?” story, Netflix has landed the post-apocalyptic thriller, Bird Box, and has Sandra Bullock attached.
Susanne Bier is directing from a script by Arrival scribe Eric Heisserer.
The story follows a woman and a pair of children who are blindfolded, and make their way through a post-apocalyptic setting along a river. Dylan Clark is producing with Chris Morgan and Clayton Townsend. The film was developed by Scott Stuber at Universal, before he moved to Netflix to head its feature film division.
What a fascinating and disconcerting premise.
In this week’s “Jon Watts finds a home” story, director of Spider-Man: Homecoming is in talks to direct the Spider-Man sequel, along with perhaps some other stuff going on there at Marvel and Sony
seeing as the Spider-Man film has already grossed about 472.8 million, it makes sense they’d want him back. Watts also co-wrote the film with Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers.
It’s unknown if the original co-writers will be brought back or if Sony will add new scribes to join Watts for this second installment.
Although Watts hadn’t been locked in for a sequel prior to film’s release, the news doesn’t come as a surprise as Watts and studio execs had discussed the plots of upcoming installments.
According to sources, negotiations heated up when other studios began courting Watts for their tentpoles. With a release date already locked in, Sony also didn’t have time to waste on contract talks so they locked in Watts sooner rather than later.
Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal are returning to produce.
The second installment, which will again star Tom Holland, will hit theaters on July 5, 2019. Zendaya and Marisa Tomei are also expected to reprise their roles. The movie will follow the events of Avengers: Infinity War, which opens on May 4, 2018.
In this week’s “I’ll watch Natalie Portman do just about anything” story, Portman’s new period drama, Planetarium, has been set for an Aug. 11 release in select U.S. theaters, Variety has learned exclusively.
“Planetarium,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, is written and directed by Rebecca Zlotowski. The film is set in Paris during the late 1930s.
Portman and Lily-Rose Depp portray sisters who are believed to possess the supernatural ability to connect with ghosts. They meet a French producer (played by Emmanuel Salinger) who is fascinated by their supernatural gift and hires them to shoot an ambitious experimental film that soon spirals into a game of hidden agendas.
In this week’s “Wait, it’s only part one?” story, Andy Muschietti, the man directing the new version of Stephen King’s It, says he will return for a sequel that will pick up with the adult half of King’s story and bring the saga of IT to a close.
Ok, I thought the upcoming film was going to cover the whole story, but apparently not.
When Variety asked the director point blank if there would be two films, here’s what he said,
“We are doing that. We’ll probably have a script for the second part in January. Ideally, we would start prep in March. Part one is only about the kids. Part two is about these characters 30 years later as adults, with flashbacks to 1989 when they were kids.”
I see. So. Many. Installments. Why can’t people just make all these at once, or just make them one film? Because…MONEY! Sigh.
In this week’s “‘Cause we don’t have enough of these yet…” story, it seems Warner Bros. has begun plans for yet another remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Producer John Davis is involved along with The Conjuring 2 screenwriter David Leslie Johnson being tapped to write the script.
The original 1956 movie is based on Jack Finney’s 1954 novel The Body Snatchers in which the small California town of Mill Valley is invaded by aliens plant pods, which replicate humans as they sleep. The resulting replicants have no emotion.
But it has been remade – wonderfully in 1978 with Donald Sutherland and Philip Kaufman directing; and again in 1993 as Body Snatchers with Gabrielle Anwar starring and Abel Ferrara directing; and once AGAIN in 2007 as The Invasion with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman starring and Oliver Hirschbiegel directing.
I think we should wait a while longer before doing this again, but then, what the Hell do I know?
In this week’s “Everybody’s going to the small screen” story, Julia Roberts is the latest to join the small screen party.
Amazon Studios has prevailed in the race to secure global rights to the upcoming psychological thriller series Homecoming starring Julia Roberts.
Sources confirmed to Screen that Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail will direct and serve as executive producer on the half-hour drama being produced by Universal Cable Productions and Mr. Robot producer Anonymous Content.
Amazon is understood to have ordered two seasons of Homecoming, which is based on a fiction podcast by Gimlet Media about caseworker at a top secret government facility and a soldier.
Roberts would play the caseworker in what has become another TV project on her to-do list after HBO made a development deal last month for Annapurna Television’s limited series Today Will Be Different.
And in this week’s “Celebrity dating news” story, Charlize Theron told folks on the Howard Stern show that she went on a first date with “a really cool dude”.
“I went on a date maybe, like, a month ago,” she revealed. “I had a great date, I’ve got to tell you. I had an incredible date. This guy really impressed me. We went for a 9-mile hike in the middle of the night. It was a full moon. But I was really impressed. It was fun.”
Theron — who broke off her engagement to Sean Penn in June 2016 after 18 months together — didn’t divulge the mystery man’s identity, and wouldn’t respond to Stern’s question about whether he was famous.
Ok, my surprise is that she was ENGAGED TO SEAN PENN FOR 18 MONTHS? WTF.
Aaaaand, Im out! Off to San Diego Comicon! Woo hoo!