And after some crazy times at aComicon and Star Trek Las Vegas , we’re off to another week of stupendous happenings!
IN THIS WEEK’s “LLAP gets the Peck treatment” story, Star Trek: Discovery has found it’s new Mr. Spock.
A veteran TV actor, Ethan Peck has been cast to play the iconic Starfleet officer Spock in season two of CBS All Access drama Star Trek: Discovery. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman confirmed at Comic-Con in July that Spock, one of the best-loved characters in the Star Trek franchise and in all of science fiction, would appear in season two of Discovery. Set to premiere in 2019, the new season, which takes place years before the original Star Trek television series, will feature an encounter between the USS Discovery and the USS Enterprise.
AND, he’s Gregory Peck’s grandson. Cool.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Mulan men” story, Digital star Jimmy Wong and Doua Moua have landed the roles of Ling and Po, respectively, in Disney’s live-action Mulan adaptation, which is currently in production. Starring Yifei Liu as Mulan, the Niki Caro-directed film follows a fearless young woman who masquerades as a man to fight Northern Invaders attacking China.
Disney released the popular animated version of the Chinese folktale in 1998. Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, and Lauren Hynek adapted the screenplay for the film, which will be released March 27, 2020.
Wong, best known for the web series, Video Game High School, lends his voice to Sony’s animated film Wish Dragon, which features an all Asian cast. He’s repped by Gersh and The Green Room. Moua, who appeared in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, is an Academy Nicholl semi-finalist for his script The Harvest. He is repped by Creative Talent Company.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Bogosian and Sandler??” story, Uncut Gems is the forthcoming film that the Safdie Brothers have written and will direct. It has been reported that unlikely actor Adam Sandler has signed on to star in the film that is said to be about diamond sales and is inspired by the Manhattan Diamond District.
Joining Sandler in the cast, according to Deadline, is none other than Eric Bogosian. For those not familiar with Bogosian’s work, the actor is probably best known for his role on Law & Order, and the film Talk Radio.
Martin Scorsese is on board to exec produce.
What a weird casting combo. BUT, could this be one of those few films that Sandler does that’s actually good? We’ll see.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Next classic Disney live action remake” story, Tessa Thompson is in negotiations to voice the title role in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Lady and the Tramp.
Justin Theroux will voice the Tramp. Kiersey Clemons is also on board.
Majority of the cast will play CGI characters, similar to Disney’s wildly successful adaptations of Beauty and the Beast and Jungle Book. Lady and the Tramp tells the story of an American Cocker Spaniel named Lady who lives with a upper-middle-class family, but is set astray when the family has a baby. Lady ends up meeting a mongrel known as the Tramp on the streets. They embark on a romantic journey and eventually fall in love.
The Lego Ninjago Movie filmmaker Charlie Bean is directing the remake. It is expected to debut on Disney’s upcoming digital streaming service, which launches in 2019. Andrew Bujalski wrote the script, Jessica Virtue and Chaz Salembier are overseeing for Disney.
UGH. Disney’s streaming service. This is going to get insane.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Will he or won’t he?” story, rumors abound lately as to whether Idris Elba is the next James Bond. but according to Elba, there is nothing in stone yet.
In all the fuss, Idris Elba has responded too. On Twitter, he posted three tweets. One ambiguously a photo of himself (looking like it was taken on a 2003 iMac with those old dated filters), and then two more straightforward captions and images: one of rap group Public Enemy and a nod to their 1998 song, Don’t Believe The Hype (written for Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing if anyone is keeping score).
Ok, we’ll just keep waiting then.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Sounds like…something bad” story, writer David Robert Mitchell to pen a script about a deadly sound. Yeah, you heard that right. (Wow, the jokes just write themselves.)
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Mitchell is going to take the rare role as screenwriter-only for his next project, They Hear It. The horror/thriller is to be helmed by Julian Terry, who is the filmmaker responsible for the short of the same name, which Mitchell is adapting. The premise is about a mysterious presence called “The Sound,” which bestows terrible consequences on those unlucky souls that hear it. THR says the film is said to be using Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Stephen King’s IT as touchstones.
Weird, but fascinating.
There’s no cast or release date set for the film, which is being produced by Legendary Entertainment and The Picture Company, but we can expect to hear more from that in the coming months.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The first robot lead actor?” story, Tony Kaye is making a dramatic casting move for his upcoming feature 2nd Born. According to Deadline, the American History X filmmaker is using an artificial intelligence robot to play one of the lead roles in his new movie. The idea to cast a real robot came from Kaye and producer Sam Khoze. The filmmaker does not want to cast a human actor in makeup or have to rely on computer-generated effects.
According to Deadline, the robot will be trained in different acting methods and techniques prior to filming. Kaye and Khoze are hoping to get the robot SAG recognition.
2nd Born is the sequel to Ali Atshani’s 1st Born, an indie film starring Val Kilmer, Tom Berenger, Greg Grunberg, William Baldwin, and Denise Richards. The original film is being released this year by Lotus Entertainment and centers on a married couple whose first pregnancy forces their families to find common ground. A majority of the original cast is expected to return for the sequel.
This is getting weirder.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Rumors. Horrible horrible rumors.” story, Warner Bros. might be enlisting A-list talent when they reboot Green Lantern Corps, according to a new rumor about the future DC Comics movie.
A blind item from the celebrity rumor site Crazy Days and Nights states that Tom Cruise was in talks to star as the lead Green Lantern, but with one major caveat. The rumor states that the character was going to be killed off in the script, but that Cruise would not take the role unless that was changed.
The item originally ran in March of this year without Cruise’s name or without Green Lantern mentioned, and now the site just revealed that information.
Cruise has long been mentioned as a rumor to be cast as the new Green Lantern, especially with frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie in talks to join the film. No progress has been made on the film at this point, at least that Warner Bros. has publicly commented about.
It should also be noted that this item originally ran in March. Those talks could have cooled or both parties could have moved on, especially since a deal has not yet been announced. Maybe if this rumor generates interest, it could stir up some momentum on Warner Bros. getting serious about locking Cruise down.
Well, I’d say it’s NOT good news. But maybe that’s just me. DC can’t seem to get anything figured out.
The film is rumored to feature both Hal Jordan and John Stewart, two of the most popular characters in the franchise. Hopefully we learn more about Warner Bros. plans for Green Lantern Corps in the near future.
IN THIS WEEK’S “It gets more Slender when you cut scenes” story, apparently if you saw Slender Man this past week, you might find yourself a bit confused.
Some scene transitions often made little sense and character arcs surfaced and disappeared at random. Curious what happened to the supporting characters who fell under Slender Man’s thrall? Well too bad, pal, they’re going to disappear at random mid-way through the film.
According to the report, Sony Screen Gems never really got behind Slender Man, which was originally intended to be much darker than the film that hit theaters. While the script was always intended to appeal to a teen audience, word is Screen Gems mandated a PG-13 rating and reworked from David Birke’s original script heading into production. But it didn’t stop there, and as the film neared theatrical release, the studio clipped the film’s violent content over fears of public backlash.
Hey Screen Gems, you know Slender Man is a horror film, right?
BD cites anonymous sources that say “several major scenes” were removed from the film, and that the studio’s fears sparked up after the father of one of the girls involved in the 2014 Slender Man stabbing criticized the film for being “extremely distasteful” and “popularizing a tragedy.”
The first trailer included two scenes of mutilation — a student gouging out her eyes and a girl stumbling out of the woods with blood running out of her mouth — neither of which are seen in the final film.
Now, I still call myself a fan of horror films, no doubt, but I am definitely more picky about which horror films I see. I like more atmosphere and purpose behind the gore – or a healthy dose of humor with it. But that doesn’t mean I think we should start letting the public decide whether or not a film should be edited down from it’s original intended length. If it’s not the right time – postpone the release to a later date. But when you let the general public dictate the content of your film in this manner, you basically strangle creativity and lose all integrity.
That being said, this Slenderman movie probably should have been made at east five years ago if anyone wanted it to make any kind of money at all. Far as I’m concerned, they should have just scrapped the whole idea anyway.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Ch-ch-ch-changes” story, Changes are afoot on the upcoming production of the highly-anticipated American remake of Toni Erdmann. The film, which was set to star Kristen Wiig and Jack Nicholson, as the father-daughter duo at the center of the story, is in the middle of some big changes as the film moves forward towards production, according to The Wrap.
First, and probably foremost in the minds of film fans, Jack Nicholson has left the production for an unknown reason. However, Kristen Wiig is sticking around to star. Now, all we have to wait for is to hear who is taking over the highly-coveted role that Nicholson is leaving behind. For those not familiar with Toni Erdmann, the film follows a woman, who is struggling with finding happiness as she focuses entirely on her career. That all changes when she begins to interact more with her father, who brings a much-needed influx of chaos into her life.
Another major change that’s happening is behind-the-camera, where Lisa Cholodenko is stepping up to direct the adaptation. She was already hired on to pen the script, after the “Girls duo of Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner dropped out. Now, the Olive Kitteridge and The Kids Are All Right filmmaker is doing double-duty as writer-director on the comedy.
All told, it appears that even with these major changes to the film, the production is still moving forward. It makes sense that Paramount would be pushing this film to be completed, as the studio is struggling to find box office winners. And if this new version of Toni Erdmann is able to live up to the original, which won a ton of awards and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, it looks like Paramount would have a much-needed hit on its hands.
It is quite a loss, however, to lose Nicholson, who basically came out of retirement to be in this.
IN THIS WEEK’S “The big move” story, Thanks to strong test screenings, Lionsgate is moving its Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron comedy Flarsky to the summer season. It will now premiere on June 7, 2019.
Studio executives are feeling bullish about the film after recent audience test screenings gave it scores above 95% — indicating that Flarsky can perform as a major summer comedy. Ocean’s 8 launched on the same weekend this year with $41.7 million and is on its way to a solid $138 million domestically.
Flarsky had been set to open Feb. 8. Rogen stars as Fred Flarsky, a down on his luck journalist, who through a string of comedic circumstances catches the attention of the world’s most powerful woman, Charlotte Field, (Theron). Much to the chagrin of her handlers, he becomes an important part of her inner circle in her globe-trotting journey to become the first female president of the United States.
Test audiences are comparing Flarsky to Rogen’s earlier work in Knocked Up, which made him a household name with $213 million worldwide in 2007.
Flarsky is directed by Jonathan Levine and re-teams Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver of Point Grey with Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake and Lionsgate Motion Picture Group president Nathan Kahane.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Still a ‘no’ from Disney” story, After a strong push to get James Gunn back as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 following his firing from the project, Disney and Marvel are standing by their decision to not reinstate him as helmer for the next installment. The decision came following a meeting between Gunn and studio chairman Alan Horn.
Gunn was let go from the project nearly a month ago when dozens of Gunn’s tweets from nearly a decade ago came to light. The so-called joke tweets, about pedophilia and rape, were recently resurfaced by alt-right agitators. The studio acted quickly to remove Gunn from directing the third installment, believing the comments were unacceptable in the Me Too era and were not in line with Disney’s family-friendly image.
Since then, support for Gunn has been widespread, especially from the “Guardians” cast. Cast members including Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana asked for Gunn to be reinstated in an open letter.
Gunn and his UTA reps pushed hard for him to be given a second chance, and Horn decided to take the meeting but only as a courtesy to clear the air with Gunn. Though the meeting was described as civil and professional, sources say that Horn stood by his decision to not reinstate Gunn as director.
Insiders say Marvel president Kevin Feige was out of town and unable to attend. Sources added that while it was rumored that Feige was pushing to bring Gunn back, Feige stands by the studio’s decision to not bring back the “Guardians” director for the third installment.
The film was expected to go into production at the start of 2019, and while sources have stressed that Gunn’s original script will be used for the next film, it is still very likely that whoever is brought in will still need to put a polish on it in order to add their stamp to the project.
Who knows how that will affect things. Ugh.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Amazon theaters?” story, A report surfaced last night that Amazon is in the running to acquire the Landmark arthouse movie chain. We hear from various sources on good authority that Amazon isn’t in the running nor are they even in the final rounds for Landmark.
Landmark, owned by Wagner/Cuban cos., was put up for a sale a second time during the owners’ history back in April.
For 53 venues and 255 screens across the nation, the going price for Landmark, it is said, is around an estimated $175M. The Landmark boasts such platinum properties as the exhibitor’s new 57 West locale, The Landmark on Pico in Los Angeles, Boston’s Kendall Square, the Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington D.C., and Merrick Park in Miami. The chain’s venues are a mix of leases and some owned brick-and-mortar.
At one point Deadline heard that Entertainment Studios, Netflix, and even Reading Cinemas were looking at Landmark, but some believe the exhibitor isn’t likely to land with any of these companies. Netflix is reportedly working on getting some films out for Oscar consideration, so buying a theater chain isn’t likely on the forefront of their decisions – yet.
Amazon buying a theater chain could certainly change the way they do things. Instead of movie theaters going away, they’ll just be showcases for streaming services. An interesting development.
IN THIS WEEK’S “Turning a negative to a positive?” story, Blumhouse expresses interest in taking over the Universal Dark Universe.
You remember The Dark Universe, right? It was Universal’s attempt to forge their own Marvel-like cinematic universe, using their classic monsters instead of superheroes. The series kicked-off with The Mummy, and then instantly ground to a halt. The Mummy, for lack of a better word, sucked. So much so that the next Dark Universe flick, Bride of Frankenstein, was soon put on hold. So what went wrong? A lot of things, but the biggest goof was Universal’s decision to approach these films as action movies.
The classic Universal Monster movies – Dracula, Frankenstein, and so on – weren’t action flicks. They were eerie, slow-burning, gothic melodramas. And, most of all, they were horror movies. Time and time again, box office returns have proven that audiences love horror.
During a Q&A session, Blumhouse head honcho Jason Blum expressed great interest in taking control of Universal’s monsters.
Turns out, Blumhouse has a first-look deal with Universal. And that’s not all. Blumhouse President Jason Blum himself is very interested in making this happen. The producer was answering questions on Twitter yesterday, and in response to “Would you be willing to take over the Dark Universe?”, Jason Blum had a resounding “YES”.
I’m actually ok with this idea.
IN THIS WEEK’S “TV round-up!” story, Watchmen has been officially ordered to series for/by HBO.
The series is based on the DC graphic novel from Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins. It is set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws. The series is slated to debut in 2019.
The cast includes: Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Adelaide Clemens, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith, and Adelynn Spoon.
Lindelof will write and executive produce, with Nicole Kassell directing the pilot and executive producing. Stephen Williams will also direct and executive produce,
Gotham: TheWrap has obtained the titles for the first eight episodes of the fifth and final season of the Dark Knight prequel series and the last one is — are you ready for it? — “I am Bane.”
OK, if that isn’t a clear indication we’ll be seeing the man who was born in the dark arrive on the Fox drama next year, then I don’t know what is. Especially because when the network announced in May this would be the show’s final season, it said the installment “will focus on Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the caped crusader.” So maybe some Batman v. Bane, yes?
Looks like I’ll be watching this coming last season of Gotham, just to see how it wraps up.
And IN THIS WEEK’S “Give me a break” story, Allison Mack, the former Smallville star who’s facing sex trafficking charges over her connection to the alleged sex cult Nxivm, would like some leniency. The actress has asked the judge overseeing the case to lighten the terms of the GPS-monitored house arrest she got when she posted $5 million bail this past spring. She’s currently allowed to visit her attorneys, according to Page Six, and make court appearances in Brooklyn. She’d like now to be able to go to work, school and church.
“While the instant charges have deprived her of pursuing her acting career, Ms. Mack nevertheless is interested in contributing to society,” court papers said. “These activities not only will allow Ms. Mack to use her time productively while awaiting trial, but will also assist with her reintegration into society if she is vindicated of the charges or even in the unlikely event that she is convicted after trial.”
Mack is accused of recruiting women into Nxivm’s DOS sect, where she branded them with a sigil that combined her initials with those of the alleged cult’s founder, Keith Raniere, who went by “Vanguard,” and is accused of indoctrinating them for sex with him. Raniere reportedly had 15 to 20 women that he would sleep with; Mack allegedly recruited some 25 women for Raniere. He was arrested in March at a $10,000-per-week villa in Mexico. Her arrest came the following month in Brooklyn.
Mack has been charged with sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and attempted human trafficking. A trial for her and Raniere is set for January. They each face a minimum prison sentence of 15 years. They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Not guilty…Uh, huh. Riiiight. Why is it always the wholemome ones that fall the farthest? 😉
Ok, off we go – see ya next time!