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Summit Hires SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN’s Visual Effects Supervisor To Direct HIGHLANDER Reboot

Posted on 29 October 2013 by Rich Drees

highlanderIt has been almost half a year since we’ve heard any real news about Summit’s ongoing attempt to relaunch the Highlander franchise. At that time, attached star Ryan Reynolds had dropped out of the project and with director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo also having left the previous December, it looked pretty much dead in the water. But the studio has persevered and has now hired Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, visual effects supervisor and second unit director on Snow White And The Huntsman, to make his feature film directing debut with the picture.

Deadline‘s Mike Fleming spoke with Nicolas-Troyan, who comes across as a fan of the franchise.

I have been working on my pitch for this since the summer, and when I got there I met the original producer and I just started geeking out and he loved it. The first movie came out when I was a teenager in France and it was one of my favorite films of those years. I loved the series also, they shot a lot of it in France, on the Seine River. My first reaction, like everybody else, was, really, do we need a remake? Then I read the script, and I thought about how Russell Mulcahy was this super visual video director who brought the pulse of the 80s to the film so well. I started thinking about taking those great characters and matching them with a modern, visceral take, and then I was in love with the idea and I just went for it.

(I should note that Fleming sounds like a Highlander fanboy as well and a portion of his story reads like two fans just nerding out on the franchise.)

The script that he is referring to is by Iron Man writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. I liked the initial draft that I read back in 2009, but it has gone through some additional writers’ hands since then. Deadline is reporting that Nicolas-Troyan will be supervising a “fast pass” rewrite of the screenplay in advance of production beginning in 2014, though it is unclear if Marcum and Holloway’s original script will be used as the basis or if they will be working from one of the rewrites that were written at the behest of the various directors who were previuosly attached and then unattached from the film.

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David S. Goyer Signs Three-Year, First Look Deal With Warners

Posted on 28 October 2013 by William Gatevackes

David Goyer imageDeadline is reporting that Warner Brothers has signed David S. Goyer and his Phantom Four shingle to a three-year, first look deal. This means that the studio will have the first right of refusal for any project Phantom Four comes up with next three years.

The deal is a win-win for both sides. Goyer will now know that he doesn’t have to shop around his projects quite as much as he would have, and Warners keeps the Warner Brothers writer and co-writer of the Nolan Batman trilogy close and happy.

Phantom Four is Goyer’s producing and directing company, meaning that it isn’t exclusively an outlet for his writing. Anything Warners gets from this deal will only be produced by Goyer, most likely directed by him, but likely not written by him.

Goyer is the one constant in Warner’s string of successful DC Comics adaptations. He is the writer for the forthcoming Batman/Superman film, will be working on Justice League after that, and Warners is rumored to be doing another property Goyer was once linked to, The Flash, in between. Perhaps this deal is a way to make Goyer the Joss Whedon of the DC films at Warners?

The first project to come out of this agreement might be a sci-fi flavored Hitchcockian thriller written by Doug Jung that Goyer has eyes on directing.

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Sam Raimi Confirmed To Direct ARMY OF DARKNESS 2

Posted on 28 October 2013 by Rich Drees


With Evil Dead 4/Army Of Darkness 2 apparently well on its way in development, it seems almost a silly question to wonder of the franchise’s creator Sam Raimi would be returning to direct the film. But still, someone asked Fede Alvarez, the director of this year’s remake of the first film in the franchise, if he would be taking the job and he tweeted this reply -

If anyone would be in the know, it would probably be Alvarez. In addition to surprising nearly everyone with his remake of Raimi’s original Evil Dead, which Raimi produced, he is currently working with the director on developing the sequel.

And speaking of the sequel to the remake, what fans really want to know is if the two franchises will eventually collide and team original hero Ash (Bruce Campbell) with the remake’s hero Mia (Jane Levy)? Back when his Evil Dead was opening, I spoke with Alvarez who did hint at that possibility by stating that the action of his film happens at the same cabin in the woods that saw the events of the first film 30 years earlier. Sounds like that could lead to something pretty groovy.

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WALTER MITTY Scribe To Direct John Belushi Biopic

Posted on 23 October 2013 by Rich Drees

JohnBelushiSteve Conrad, the screenwriter of Ben Stiller’s upcoming remake of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, is set to direct a biopic on the life of funny man John Belushi.

Conrad had been co-writing the project with Hangover trilogy helmer Todd Phillips with the initial intention that Phillips would direct. However, now that studio Warner Brothers, who had been developing the script, has passed on the film, Phillips has stepped aside, leaving Conrad to direct the film as an indie project.

The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Phillips has already met with Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Adam Devine (Comedy Central’s Workaholics) to play the lead role. They are further reporting that Joaquin Phoenix may have been under consideration for the role. Honestly, I’m not sure I don’t see any of these three actors in the role.

Additionally, Conrad has reportedly Nelson Franklin, who has appeared on Veep and New Girl, to play Belushi’s best friend and frequent co-star Dan Aykroyd.

It’s hard to full appreciate the impact that Belushi had on American comedy. As part of the original cast of Saturday Night Live, he helped to completely alter the landscape of how comedy was presented on comedy, bringing an anarchic freedom that had not really been seen before. And it was with his frequent collaborator Dan Aykroyd that he proved that a character from that late night series could live on outside of the show. In his case it was The Blues Brothers, who performed concerts and starred in their own eponymous big screen musical comedy film, paving the way for a number of lesser SNL sketch-to-screen films that followed. Can anyone really capture the spirit if the comic? It has been tried before with the rather appalling Wired. But just because they didn’t get it right doesn’t mean that Conrad won’t be able to either. Here’s hoping he has.


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Tim Burton In Talks For BEETLEJUICE 2

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Rich Drees


After years of speculation, it looks as if Tim Burton and Michael Keaton are actually making steps towards reuniting for a sequel to their 1988 horror-comedy collaboration Beetlejuice.

The Wrap is reporting that Burton has entered into talks to direct a follow-up Beetlejuice film for the Geffen Company. It’s not not sure that this will be the director’s next project however. He has recently wrapped the film Big Eyes and has the adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ bestselling novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which may take precedence.

Deadline cautions that these negotiations are “very early,” but it should be noted that there is no love lost between Deadline’s Nikki Finke and The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman and this wouldn’t be the first time that Deadline appeared to be downplaying a story being reported by the Wrap.

Burton had previously stated that any involvement by him with a Beetlejuice sequel would depend on the quality of the script that was being developed by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter writer Seth Grahame-Smith. Apparently it turned out to be good enough that the director is at least talking to the studio about coming back.

As a followup to his feature film debut Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice was the film that solidified Burton’s signature visual look to his audiences. It was from this film that he was hired for 1989′s Batman starring Michael Keaton that started the modern wave of superhero cinema. In all, Beetlejuice is a rather important touchstone both for the director and for the shape of blockbuster cinema over the past two decades or so.

Which leads me to wonder if Burton should really be revisiting it. Sure, no bad sequel can ever retroactively make an original film bad, but I can’t help but think that such a project is bound to be buffeted by the headwinds of people’s expectations, especially in the wake of Burton’s disappointing 2012 film Dark Shadows.

This isn’t the first time that Burton has thought about doing a sequel to Beetlejuice. After the first film was released, he oversaw the writing of a script entitled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian which screenwriter Jonathan Gems had stated would have combined German expressionism and 60s surf movies because Burton thought “they’re totally wrong together.” Burton, however, got distracted by the success of Batman and Warner’s insistence of making Batman Returns a priority pretty much derailed the project, although Warner Brothers was still trying to get it made and approached Kevin Smith about doing a rewrite. Smith passed in order to work on the never made Superman Lives.


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Philip K. Dick’s “Martian Time-Slip” Heading To Big Screen

Posted on 18 October 2013 by Rich Drees

Martian Time-Slip (1981)Writer/director Dee Rees is setting an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel Martian Time-Slip as her follow-up to her Spirit Award winning debut film Pariah. She’ll be joined on the project by the late author’s daughter Isa Dick Hackett, producing for Electric Shepherd Productions.

Dick’s novel tells the story of Jack Bohlen, a repairman living in a Martian colony struggling with mental illness who is asked to help build a device that would prove a psychotherapist’s theory that mental illnesses may actually be altered states of time perception. He soon discovers that the autistic boy the device is supposed to help actually not only does view time differently but may be able to alter its flow himself.

An often cerebral writer, the works of Philip K. Dick have been notoriously difficult to turn into good films. For every Blade Runner, which did not bare much resemblance to the source novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, or the 1990 version of Total Recall, you also get films like 1995′s Screamers, Paycheck or the 2012 version of Total Recall.

Via Deadline.

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MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE Loses A Director, Gains A New Screenwriter

Posted on 08 October 2013 by Rich Drees

More trouble for Columbia’s He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe film attempt.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, G.I. Joe: Retaliation director is no longer attached to the project. And while the Reporter does not speculate as to why Chu has left the project, I would hazard a guess that it was over some sort of creative difference as the Reporter is also saying that screenwriter Terry Rosio has been brought on to provide yet another new draft of the script. I suppose that once that gets turned in we will hear further word on a new director.

Rossio has a decent track record in Hollywood with his frequent co-writer Ted Elliot, having written the first four Pirates Of The Caribbean films for Disney and the first of the Shrek animated features for Dreamworks. They are also the ones who scripted last summer’s mega-flop The Lone Ranger. This looks to be the writer’s first big solo project however. But if he can help turn a Disney theme park ride into a billion-dollar franchise, he might be the one who can create a story and script that will get this project into production.

Mattel, the manufacturers of the He-Man line of toys from which a couple of series of cartoons and the 1987 live action film were spun off from, have been trying to get a new Masters Of The Universe film going for some time now. Originally, they had the project set up with Warner Brothers with a rather good script by Justin Marks entitled simply Grayskull, after the magical fortress that is the source of He-Man’s powers. Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson was set to helm the project and writer Evan Daugherty took another pass at the screenplay, but ultimately, none of their worked satisfied Mattel and the project moved on to Columbia in the fall of 2009. Once at Columbia, Predators writers Mike Finch and Alex Litvak were brought in to provide a fresh start story-wise. John Chu got involved in July 2012 and seemed enthusiastic about what he wanted to do with the film when he talked it.

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Director Marc Forster Won’t Be Back For WORLD WAR Z Sequel

Posted on 04 October 2013 by Rich Drees


World War Z was one of the surprising hits of the summer. Not because no one knew anything about the film before it opened, but because everyone knew everything about it. The stories of its tortured production were the meat for a number news reports for months, and the fact that director Marc Forster and star/producer Brad Pitt gutted the film’s third act for a drastic and expensive reshoot seemed to indicate that there was indeed major trouble on the project. But the film connected with audiences and since it managed to bring in over half a billion dollars worldwide, it is perhaps inevitable that they are moving forward with a sequel.

It is just that that sequel will not have the participation of Forster.

In a Hollywood Reporter story on Pitt’s Plan B production shingle, the potential World War Z sequel is mentioned but it is stated that “director Marc Forster won’t be back.”

And honestly that’s probably for the best.

I’m going to discount the reports that Pitt and Forster did not get along on the set, though that probably did play a factor into whomever decided to end the relationship between the two.

Instead, I’m going to focus on the why they had to basically reshoot the final third of the film at a cost of millions of extras dollars, making the risky project that much more of a financial gamble. And that’s because Forester completely threw out the original script that screenwriter J Michael Straczynski had written from Max Brooks’ original novel and brought in an entirely new writer. At the time it didn’t make much sense to me, and even now it still doesn’t. Straczynski’s draft was good enough that it got mentioned on the 2007 Black List, was gaining lots of praise in industry press and was the thing that got the studio first excited about the project. And, having read it myself, I found it to be an amazing bit of storytelling, taking the premise of a zombie outbreak and truly making it global, while at the same time taking the unorthodox structure of Max Brooks’ original novel and turning it into a more linear narrative and making it film-able.

marc-forsterBut upon Forster’s hiring, he immediately threw out the two drafts that Straczynski wrote, something which Brooks indicated to me was a stupid idea, and brought in Matthew Michael Carnahan to completely rewrite the screenplay, and in my opinion dumb it down to a more general blockbuster level that ejected much of the subtly and smart material that the Straczynski drafts contained. And in the process added a third act that was sprawling and expensive and ultimately, as was found out after tens of millions of dollars had been spent trying to shoot it, didn’t work. I don’t blame Pitt and Plan B for not wanting to continue working with a director whose instincts cost them millions of dollars.

While there is the old saying “You go into battle with the army you have, not the army you wish you had,” and the same applies to filmmaking as well. But no matter what kind of army you have, if the battle plan is so flawed that it takes some major on-the-fly changes and the cost of more resources to achieve victory, than the plan is still a failure. And the general responsible, should be removed from command. In this case, that general is Marc Forster, and his removal from a World War Z sequel is a most welcome piece of news.

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PARANORNAL ACTIVITY Franchise Scripter Christopher Landon To Direct BOY SCOUTS VS ZOMBIES

Posted on 26 September 2013 by Rich Drees

Boy-scouts-rockwellThe 2010 Black List was overrun by zombies, or more accurately overrun by screenplays about zombies. Interestingly, though, all three of the zombie scripts were comedies. One, Zombie Baby, took place after a zombie apocalypse, while another, Kitchen Sink, takes place in the middle of a zombie uprising that is interrupted by an invasion from outer space. But the third delivers its high concept to us right in the title - Boy Scouts Vs Zombies. And out of these three projects, Zombie Baby appears to be dead in the water (pun only slightly intended) while Kitchen Sink is working its way through post-production for a release on October 24, 2014.

Boy Scouts Vs Zombies, however, has been struggling to get in front of the cameras. The script by Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki was initially purchased by Paramount in Spetember 2010 for You Again helmer Andy Fickman to direct. Along the way, Fickman dropped out and comedy screenwriter Etan Cohen was attached to the project. But it looks as if Cohen has taken a hike as well, since it has been announced that Paranormal Activity vet Christopher Landon is the latest to try and bring the project to fruition.

Landon was the co-writer for the first Paranormal Activity sequel and then went on to solo script installments 3 and 4 before graduating to both writing and directing the Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. His hiring seems to signal a possible shift in tone from a more comical take that someone like Fickman or Cohen would have brought to the material to a possible stronger emphasis on the horror elements in the story.

I had a chance to read the original script that was named to the Black List and despite its goofy premise, I found that there was a sweet coming-of-age story in the midst of all the shambling, undead shenanigans. Hopefully, that hasn’t been written out as the script has gone through development over the last three years.

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Neil Marshall Tapped For TROLLHUNTER Remake

Posted on 23 September 2013 by Rich Drees


Neil Marshall has been tapped to write and direct the English-language remake of Scandinavian director André Øvredal’s 2010 found footage film Trollhunter.

The original film starts off as the story of a group of college students investigating a series of mysterious bear killings, but takes a serious twist when they encounter a man who claims to be one of a long line of people who hunt trolls, keeping them from interacting with humans. The film made fans when it did the festival circuit a few years back, enough for Hollywood to take notice and snap up the English-language remake rights. It’s happened before with such films as the 2008 vampire film Let The Right One In from Sweden and virtually the entire wave of J-horror films from last decade.

Marshall is a good choice for the project, given his past genre work with the films Descent and Dog Soldiers. My one concern about the project right now is that the original relied heavily on Scandinavian mythology to flesh out the various types of trolls encountered throughout the story and that an American version, if set elsewhere, would water down that fascinating and unique aspect of the film’s world-building.

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