Posted on 01 August 2014 by Rich Drees
A few weeks ago we learned about Universal’s plans to revitalize their classic monsters film brand with a new Marvel Cinematic Universe-style series of interconnected franchises with writers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan heading up the effort. And now we now that Kurtzman will be adding some additional duties to his plate for the project as he will be taking on the directorial reins for the first film in the cycle, The Mummy.
Kurtzman is stepping in after Len Weisman dropped out of the project and a deal with next choice Mama director Andy Muschietti couldn’t be worked out.
While Universal has not yet set a date for the film to be in theaters, this added work for Kurtzman does cast a question over his involvement with Sony’s Spider-Man franchise. Last year, when the studio announced that they were expanding their line of Spidey films to include spin-offs featuring some of the villain characters from the comics, Kurtzman was attached to write and possibly direct a feature spotlighting the popular 1990s anti-hero character Venom. No date was given for that film. But right now, Sony’s plans for their Spider-Man franchise seem to be in a bit of disarray. With the underwhelming critical and box office response to this summer’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, the studio quickly reshuffled their release plans for the franchise, moving back the film’s direct sequel from its previously announced date in May 2016 back to an unspecified date in 2018 and announcing their villain-centric The Sinister Six for an unspecified date in 2016. If Sony were to keep to their every-other-year schedule, that would put a Venom film into the summer of 2020 at the very earliest.
But if Kurtzman has a success with The Mummy, there would certainly be an increase demand for his services from Universal. It appears that Sony does have first right to his services as the Venom project was announced several months before this week’s Mummy announcement. This could lead to a conflict between the two studios if both franchises are still active in a few years. Of course, if Sony’s misfortunes with Spider-Man continue, they may cancel their plans for a Venom film altogether.
Posted on 26 July 2014 by William Gatevackes
Marvel didn’t waste any time starting promoting Ant-Man, as after a short montage showing their films to date and a short piece about Guardians of the Galaxy (with our first look at Thanos), the studio brought out director Peyton Reed, stars Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, long rumored cast member Evangeline Lilly, and new addition Corey Stoll.
Lilly will be playing the daughter of Hank Pym (Douglas) and was referred to as both Hope Pym and Hope Van Dyne on Twitter (Marvel’s website refers to her as Van Dyne). Does this mean that Janet could be her mother? I hope so.
Director Reed tried to ease the fears of anyone who was disappointed by Edgar Wright dropping out by playing up his geek cred. Apparently, Reed has been attending San Diego Comic Con for 20 years, and once portrayed Ant-Man on a poster for his punk band that paid homage to the cover from Avengers #1.
Stoll is playing Darren Cross, a former protege of Pym turned evil and has taken on the identity of Yellowjacket. In a recurring theme, he has also stolen some of Pym’s technology for his alter ego, and will be fighting Rudd’s character, who also stole Pym’s technology. This is believed to be the role that Patrick Wilson had before he dropped out from the project days ago. If so, this is might quick turnaround time for casting the part.
While Lilly is known to most from her work on Lost, Stoll is a bit of a lesser known quantity. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work on House of Cards and can currently be seen in The Strain. He has appeared in films such as Midnight in Paris (where he played Ernest Hemingway) and Non-Stop.
The film will be shooting in Atlanta starting August 18th, although Marvel did show some test footage of Douglas as Hank Pym and Ant-Man riding a flying ant.
Posted on 25 July 2014 by William Gatevackes
Typically, studios like to see how a film will do before they sign the writer/director up for a sequel, but Marvel is not your typical studio.
The Wrap has found out through an interview with Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman that the film’s director and co-writer James Gunn will be returning as writer and director for an as yet announced sequel to that film.
While GotG has yet to be released, it currently has an enviable 100% fresh rating from advance reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. Marvel likes to lock up creatives that get that kind of good buzz, case in point them locking the Russo Brothers in for Captain America 3 four months before Captain America: The Winter Soldier even opened.
Our own Rich Drees has also interviewed Ms. Perlman. Be on the lookout for that interview coming up soon.
Posted on 25 July 2014 by William Gatevackes
What is it about San Diego Comic Con time and unfinished documentaries about unseen comic book films?
Last year, Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four was looking for backers around this time. Now, it’s a documentary about the failed attempt by Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage to bring Superman Lives to the screen.
The film is titled The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? and will be done by producer/director Jon Schnepp. Schnepp has created a trailer for the film, and we see immediately that he has already spoken to many of the players from that project, including Burton, initial screenwriter Kevin Smith, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, production designer Rick Heinrichs, screenwriter Wesley Strick, costume designer Colleen Atwood, special effects supervisor Steve Johnson, storyboard artist Tim Burgard, and associate producer Derek Frey, with comic book writer Grant Morrison interviewed to provide context.
Schepp also got his hands on more of the legendary test footage Nicolas Cage shot for the project, including a shot of him flying. There is also a lot of unseen production art on display.
Schnepp is trying to raise the final $85,000 he needs to complete post production on the documentary. Currently, he has $7,332 of that on a fundraiser on the Fan Backed website. And, as is typical with this sort of fundraiser, there are rewards attached to certain donation levels ranging from getting you name in the end credits for $25 to becoming a producer for $25,000 which entitles you to every other perk from every other tier plus busts of Nicolas Cage and Brainiac from the movie.
Posted on 22 July 2014 by Rich Drees
It has not been that long since Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios parted ways after the writer/director had spent years developing Ant-Man for them. But Wright appears to not be one to stew over the split and has already set what his next project will be – Baby Driver.
Deadline is vaguely describing the film as “a collision of crime, action, music and sound… [t]hat sounds like a close cousin to the Cornetto Trilogy.”
No word yet as to whether Wright would team up with his Cornetto Trilogy leads Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, though even if they aren’t the leads in the film I would not be surprised if they made some sort of an appearance.
Baby Driver is a film that Wright has been looking at doing for some, with it being mentioned as a possible project back in 2008 when Wright signed a two-picture deal with Working Title. The World’s End was his first film delivered under that agreement and now Baby Driver will fulfill the second obligation.
As a fan of Wright’s, I was definitely disappointed to see him exit Ant-Man back in May. But the fact that he’s already lined up his next project does take some of the sting out of it. Sure I would love to see what a director like Wright could bring to a collaborative effort like Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but I think I would like it more to see what next original project he has in store.
Posted on 13 July 2014 by William Gatevackes
Breakups are always hard, especially when there are children involved. You try to work together to provide your kids with what they need to go forth in the world, but that becomes tougher once other things occupy your time. And for Roberto Orci, it has become almost impossible.
Orci recently made an amicable split with writing and producing partner Alex Kurtzman, but the team was expected to stay together on anything that was already in the works. This was thought to include Sony’s planned Venom (which the pair was going to write and Kurtzman was going to direct) and The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Orci has stated in an interview with IGN when asked directly about the latter that he was not officially involved in it.
A lot of this might have to do with Sony’s uncertain scheduling. Orci said:
I don’t know what their plans are for that franchise. I don’t ever want to say never, but we have to figure out what their scheduling is in terms of when they want each movie. I’ve read probably as much as anyone else. There’s a love for the Sinister Six, the idea of Venom — there’s an idea of Spider-Man’s going to be one of these characters that’s part of our business. He’s such a popular character. Spider-Man’s not going to go away any time soon. When it all happens and how and all that has yet to be determined.
If Orci is going to to direct Star Trek 3, as is rumored, he simply might not be available for the Spidey films. Whether or not this is another nail in the coffin of Sony’s plans to spin off Spidey into a shared universe remains to be seen. The idea seemed haphazardly thrown together from the get go, and the disappointing grosses and reviews for The Amzing Spider-Man 2 caused many wags to question of a line expansion was a good idea. Now they are going to have to go forward without one of the lynchpins of said expansion.
More on this as it develops.
Posted on 08 July 2014 by Rich Drees
Writer/director Kevin Smith’s relationship with indie mogul Harvey Weinstein goes back two decades when Weinstein acquired and distributed Smith’s very first film, Clerks. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Weinstein has passed on producing Smith’s planned third installment of the misadventures of Smith’s two Jersey-ite register jockeys.
Speaking with Screen Daily (via Variety), Smith revealed that Weinstein balked at the idea of producing Clerks 3 due to its price tag.
[The Weinsteins] passed. I went in with a $6m budget and they were, like, ‘Oh no Kevin, this is too high’. Bob offered us distribution but they weren’t going to finance it.
What’s surprising about this is that Smith’s indie films – we’re going to ignore his one studio effort, Cop Out, done for Warner Brothers – have always been produced on ridiculously low budgets and have always turned a profit, despite the fact that he has never really had a box office blockbuster. Clerks II, which Smith made in 2006, had a price tag of just $5 million, cleared almost five times that much at the box office, clearly putting it into the black. And that’s before ancillary revenue like home video kicked in. You would think that $6 million would be an easy price to pay for Weinstein.
Weinstein, whose company does own the rights to the franchise through his the Weinstein Company, did offer to distribute the pic should Smith get it financed through other means. And that shouldn’t be too hard a trick as Smith has managed to land independent funding for his last couple of features, Red State and Tusk. If it comes to it, Smith, who has been adverse to the idea of established filmmakers such as himself using crowdfunding means like Kickstarter to finance projects, has indicated that he would pay for the film out of his own pocket. But this does put a crimp into Smith’s plans to shoot the film at some point later this year.
Posted on 26 June 2014 by Rich Drees
Fairy tales don’t have “happily ever after” endings when they can instead launch franchises. At least that’s what Universal is thinking in having a sequel in development to their 2012 film Snow White And The Huntsman. The Wrap is now reporting that the studio has settled on writer/director Frank Darabont to direct their planned follow up.
Darabont apparently beat out Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) and Andy Muschietti (Mama) for the gig, with the studio and producer Joe Roth reportedly very excited by the director’s idea for a sequel.
One person who ay not be coming back, or at least only coming back in an extremely limited capacity, is the film’s Snow White, Kristen Stewart. The Warp is reporting that the sequel will put much more of an emphasis on Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman character, and given the actor’s growing popularity from his role as Thor in Marvel Studios’ superhero films, it is possible that the new film will rebrand the franchise to stress Hemsworth character more prominently. If Stewart were to return, it only be in a small cameo role.
Charlize Theron, who played the evil queen in the first film, is expected to return for more villainy.
Posted on 26 June 2014 by Rich Drees
MGM is currently in negotiations with with Dean Israelite to direct and Arash Amel to script their planned remake of the 1983 thriller WarGames. According to Deadline, the studio is close to signing Israelite, who just made his directing debut on Paramount’s InSurge and Platinum Dunes’s American Almanac.
GM has been trying to get a WarGames remake off the ground for a while now and had previously had Seth Gordon Green interested in the project.
The original film starred Matthew Broderick as a computer hacker who inadvertently breaks into a military computer and almost cause a nuclear war. Although the technology in the film is definitely of its time and hasn’t aged well over the last three decades, the premise itself still has plenty of relevance with things like identity theft and cyber-terrorism being ongoing concerns of the day.
Posted on 20 June 2014 by William Gatevackes
At least Star Trek got two films out of him!
Numerous sources are reporting that J.J. Abrams will be one and done when it comes the new Star Wars trilogy, and that he will be handing the reins over to Rian Johnson starting with Episode VIII.
The only question is what will be the extent of Johnson involvement. Both Deadline and The Wrap say that he will be writing and directing Episode VIII and a treatment for Episode IX. Deadline says Johnson will also be directing the latter movie, while The Wrap says he will only be writing it.
While I do have to say that I loved Johnson’s Looper, the one concern I have about this is that Johnson’s typical tone is a bit darker than what you’d expect from a Star Wars film. I don’t know if this means that future episodes will be darker or that Johnson will be adapting his style to fit.
Even though Johnson is a skilled and talented director, the fact that Abrams is doing all the films is a bit disappointing. While changing directors mid-stream in the Original Trilogy did give us The Empire Strikes Back, it also gave us Return of the Jedi.
More on this as it develops.