Seth Rogen has signed to direct and star in The Interview, a comedy about a talk show host and his producer who get caught up in a plot to assassinate the prime minister of North Korea. Rogen is also set to co-author the screenplay with his frequent writing partner Evan Goldberg. The film is based on a story written by Goldberg, Rogen and former Daily Show writer Dan Sterling.
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Rogen’s Pineapple Express co-star James Franco may sign on to play the talk show host, though it does note that talks with Franco have yet to commence. Rogen will take the part of the producer.
The film will be Rogen’s directorial follow up to This Is The End, an apocalypse comedy due out this summer.
While I wasn’t the biggest fan of Pineapple Express, this does sound like a promising project with a funny premise. It’s been awhile since North Korea was the topic of a comedy, I’m think probably Parker and Stone’s Team America: World Police. And since this looks to go in a different direction, there is plenty of fertile ground for them to work.
1. Oz the Great and Powerful (Disney, 3,912 Theaters, 130 Monutes, Rated PG): Way back in June of 2010, FilmBuffOnline Head Honcho ran down the nine Wizard of Oz themed films in production. It turns out that this film was second behind Witches of Oz/Dorothy and the Witches of Oz in making it to screen, which had life as a TV miniseries and was recut limited release feature film. Later this year, it will be followed the computer animated Dorothy of Oz. The status of the six remaining projects is still up in the air.
Why all the attention for the Emerald City? Why , because it is the perfect mix of being almost universally known from the yearly television airings of the 1939 The Wizard of Oz and also having the original novel–and the character’s and concepts held within–being in the public domain.No rights to pay for a property everyone on the planet has heard of makes and new adaptation of the story that much safer to make. (Note: Any elements introduced in that 1939 film, ranging from the ruby slippers to the Wicked Witch’s skin color is copyright protected. So, expect some changes from that film to this one).
This story follows Oz (James Franco, following Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp as the third actor attached to the role in this film), a magician who is transported to a magical land where he finds an assortment of strange and unusual creatures and a number of quite attractive women, one of who will become quite wicked. The magician becomes a wizard, one so great that they presumably will name the world after him.
Rich has already seen the film, and you can find his review right here.
2. Dead Man Down (FilmDistrict, 2,188 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated R): In case travelling to the fantasy world of Oz isn’t your thing, here’s a dual-layered revenge flick for you.
Victor (Colin Farrell) has infiltrated the crime empire of Alphonse (Terrence Howard) in order to get his revenge on the gangster. His revenge is complicated when his neighbor Beatrice (Noomi Rapace, reuniting with her The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo director Neils Arden Opley) witnesses him kill a man. She blackmails Victor to get some revenge for her as well. However, it might just turn out that he might be able to get his revenge and hers at the same time.
One fascinating fact about this film is that this film was partly produced by WWE Studios (formerly WWE Films). That’s WWE as in World Wrestling Entertainment. The company used to be nothing more than a means to an end to get some of their wrestlers feature films while still getting some money from the deal. It appears that they are branching out with this film and next week’s The Call, which do have WWE wrestlers in the cast, but in supporting roles and not as the headliners.
I’m also intrigued by Terrence Howard using the promotional tour for this film as a way to snipe about his experience with Marvel over the Iron Man franchise. I guess it’s only natural considering Iron Man 3 will be out in two months, although Howard really has no need to complain because this film will be out of theaters way before then.
It looks like The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s cast is about to add an Oscar-winner in a pivotal role.
The Hollywood Reporter states that Chris Cooper has signed on to play Norman Osborn in the sequel. Osborn is the billionaire scientist and industrialist who eventually becomes the villain known as Green Goblin.
The only appearance the character made in the first film was in a piece of window box advertising for Oscorp. The role was originated by Willem DaFoe in Spider-Man. Dale DeHaan has been cast as his son, Harry, a role originated by James Franco in the previous franchise.
Cooper is a skilled actor, and a great choice for the role. But one has to ask when will it be too much? There are a lot of characters in the film, many of whom are villains, which need screen time to develop. Whenever you try to cram this many characters in, you end up losing something in the end.
Sometimes, you find news items in unexpected places. Take, for instance, this interview James Franco did with MTV. On the surface, the interview is about Franco’s recent directorial effort, a video for defunct rock band R.E.M.’s track Blue and his experience working with Lindsay Lohan on the clip in particular.
Then at the end of the interview, MTV asks him a throwaway question about his involvement with the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Franco’s short answer calls into question not only his reprising his role from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but also the path the franchise reboot will take from here.
MTV: Are you going to be making an appearance in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”?
Franco: I was going to be a small part of the next one. There was a moment when Rupert Wyatt was going to direct the second one. A lot of the human characters that were in the first movie were dead in the sequel that Rupert was going to direct. But there was one scene, between Caesar and my character, maybe even just like on a video that was left behind, but then a lot of things happened, like [former Fox co-chairman] Tom Rothman who was a big part of the first movie, left. Now Rupert’s not a part of it so I don’t know. My guess is I won’t be in it. Nobody’s talked to me since Rupert left.
One fact you can get from that exchange was that Franco was going to have a small part in the sequel when Rupert Wyatt was set to direct it, and now that he’s gone Franco’s involvement in uncertain to unlikely. But you can also pick up a sense of uncertainty on the future of the franchise by Franco mentioning that two people who aided in its success, Wyatt and Tom Rothman, are no longer involved. Something for those of you who loved Rise to think about.
He already has experience playing a character corrupted by power in Chronicle, now, if previous versions of the character still ring true, he’ll play one again.
Hitfix is reporting that Dale DeHaan has officially been cast as Harry Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man 2. The role had been previously played by James Franco in the original film trilogy.
I have to say that at least physically he seem more of a match to the comic book version of the character. Franco was a little bit too suave and put together to play the borderline insane Harry Osborn. With DeHaan, we’ll have no problem seeing that quality of the character.
Also, in the comic books, Mary Jane Watson was the girlfriend of Harry Osborn. It remains to be seen if that connection stays for the sequel.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is scheduled to start filming early next year for a May 2, 2014 release date.
It has been three years since there has been a new film from director Sam Raimi. Not a conspicuously long absence by today’s standards, but for fans like myself, long enough. Last night, Disney released the first trailer for his upcoming film Oz, The Great And Powerful and it looks like a welcome return for the director.
There’s a lot to comment on in the clip, but I’ll only hit upon a few. First off, I love how it looks as if the film will be aping the 1939 MGM classic version of The Wizard Of Oz by starting off in black and white (though the original was sepia tone) and then having color bleed into the picture once James Franco’s Professor Marvel arrives in Oz. Another nice touch is how at that point the film expands on that idea by switching from the screen ratio used in 1939 to modern widescreen. There seems to be other touches that call back to the MGM film as well. I’ll leave you to find them, but I will start you off by pointing out the quick glimpse of one of the Wicked Witch of the West’s palace guards.
If any director is going to have fun with 3D it will be Sam Raimi, and even though the trailer is in 2D, it definitely shows here. From the fire-eater “breaking the frame” in the first moments of the trailer to the shot of the green-skinned arm shooting out towards the viewer at the end, it looks like Raimi is enjoying himself with this film.
Oz, The Great And Powerful will hit theaters next March.
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we continue our four week “vacation” overseas with the most notable one-off comic films Japan has to offer.
If Europe is to be commended for so easily accepting comic books as art, then Japan should be given the gold star for the way it totally embraced the art form. Manga is read by all-ages in Japan, and by all social classes and has reached a level of cultural status unseen in the country.
Over the last quarter century, manga’s influence has grown into the United States, to such a point that if you were to walk into any bookstore (if any bookstores still exist when this post is published), you’d find the shelves dedicated to manga out numbering the shelves devoted to American comics by four to one. While Magna’s dominance of the American market is a relatively recent occurrence, American audiences were exposed to one of manga’s greatest characters decades before.
Osamu Tezuka has been called the Japanese Walt Disney for a variety of reasons. Both have had an indelible effect on the fields of animation and comic books in their respective countries. Both have inspired generations of fans and influenced generations of artists. And both have created characters that have touched the hearts of millions.
Tezuka created many characters in his lifetime, but perhaps the most popular in the United States was Astro Boy. Created by Tezuka in 1951, the character was a little robot boy who was created by a scientist named Dr. Tenma as a replacement for his dead son, Tobio. When Tenma realizes that the robot could never take the place of his dead son, he sells the robot boy to the circus. While at the circus, he catches the eye of another scientist who works at the same Science Ministry as the robot’s creator. The scientist, Professor Ochanomizu, adopts the robot, and becomes its legal guardian. The robot, now known as Astro Boy, would go on to have many adventures, striving to keep Japan safe.
American audiences were first exposed to the character when the Japanese anime adapted from the manga was redubbed and run in syndication on U.S. television. The U.S. cartoon originally ran from 1963 to 1965, although it has been rebroadcast at various times since then.
In 2009, the robot boy got computer animated with the film Astro Boy.
The film cost $65 million to produce and featured an all-star cast of voices, including Nicolas Cage, Freddie Highmore and Nathan Lane. However, it only grossed under $40 million worldwide.
If Astro Boy was the Mickey Mouse of manga/anime, then you can argue that Akira is the Citizen Kane of the mediums. Akira first appeared in 1982 in the pages of Young Magazine and was created by Katsuhiro Otomo. The story told the tale of a Neo-Tokyo, a new version of the city that sprung up after being destroyed at the start of World War III. A nuclear bomb was blamed for the blast, but it was really due to the powers of a telekinetic named Akira.
Neo-Japan is dominated by civil unrest, an oppressive government, and warring biker gangs. When a gang member by the name of Tetsuo Shima develops telekinetic powers similar to Akira’s, all hell starts breaking loose.
The manga was an epic story with various subplots and characters interwoven together. Some say that Akira is a parable for postwar Japan and the generation that was born after WWII. The story was brought over to the United States in 1988 by Marvel’s EPIC imprint, was part of the first wave of the manga invasion, and helped the cyberpunk genre take off. Otomo would write and direct a film version of his story, which would hit theaters in 1988.
The film differs from the manga to quite a degree, as it would due to trying to convey six volumes of story into a two-hour film, but the film made a lot of best-of lists and stands today as a cult classic. A live-action version of the story, with everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to James Franco to Zac Effron rumored to be attached to it, is in development hell even as we speak.
Another manga turned film soon to be remade by Hollywood is Old Boy. The manga, which ran in Weekly Manga Action from 1996 to 1998, focuses on a man who was imprisoned in a private prison for 10 years and, upon his release, has to track down the people who kept him captive and the reason why he was held. The manga was the basis for the Korean film, Oldboy.
The film, while keeping the basic plot of the manga, makes a couple significant changes to make it darker than the source material. The character is locked up for 15 years, not ten, and still has to find a reason why, but the path he takes has more disturbing twists and turns. Incest is added as a plot point, the violence and gore is amped up, and the resolution is less positive. But, like Akira, even with the changes, the film Oldboy was very well received. It also is heading for an American remake, with Spike Lee tapped to direct the project.
It just doesn’t quite feel like a Sam Raimi-directed film without some sort of cameo from his good friend and Evil Dead series collaborator Bruce Campbell, and when Campbell tweeted last month that he wasn’t going to make an appearance in Raimi’s upcoming Oz: The Great And Powerful, fans were a bit disappointed.
Well, it’s time to turn that frown upside down as the actor has told The Shiznet that he will be in the film after all!
The scene that I shot was a page [of the script] and it took all day. It was great to see the scope of Oz and to see the detail, and the craftsmanship and the professionalism and the incredible stuff that they’re doing visually in every other way.
As always, Campbell plays coy about the nature of his cameo, saying only -
I play a pivotal role. It involves me and Oz – that’s James Franco – and let’s just say that we have a confrontation. It was a very fun role to do actually.
Keep in my that Campbell has jokingly inflated the importance of his roles in Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy in the past, going so far as to say that he has been the only actor to ever defeat Spider-Man.
My guess would be that Campbell is probably playing a fellow carnival worker of Franco’s future Wizard of Oz, back in the days before he journeyed from Kansas to that magical land over the rainbow.
We’ll find out when Oz: The Great And Powerful opens on March 8, 2013.
It’s not unusual for a film to make changes after principal photography has ended that require some cast members to return for more shooting, and this summer’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is no exception. At a panel during the Visual Effects Society Production Summit, Fox’s president of postproduction Ted Gagliano revealed that the film underwent some last-hour reshoots that altered the finale and kept one character from meeting an untimely end.
“We shot for three hours and (Franco) was back on the plane,” Gagliano recalled, adding that this change led to a challenging final weeks of what was originally a 41 week post schedule that involved extensive visual effects work.
Gagliano stated that on July 4 of this summer, just a month before the film’s scheduled release, actors James Franco and Andy Serkis reshot the film’s climactic scene.
Originally, Franco’s biochemist character Will Rodman, who was responsible for artificially accelerating the chimpanzee Caesar’s intelligence, was supposed to die saving Caesar’s life. Since Will was a father figure to Caesar, his death would strike a parallel to the death of Will’s own father (John Lithgow) earlier in the film. (You can read that original scene at The Playlist.)
The producers and director Rupert Wyatt seemingly had a change of heart, however, and the actors were brought back to film the scene that played out in multiplexes this past summer in which Will tries to convince Caesar to come back home with him but Caesar declines indicating the woods he and the other apes from the wild life sanctuary have escaped to are now his home.
This certainly turned out to be a good thing for Franco. The film made over $400 million at the box office, a strong indication that studio Twentieth century Fox will want a sequel.
Of course, thanks to DVD and blu-ray disc, such cut and abandoned scenes are usually made available for the curious and Gagliano indicated that the original ending would probably show up that way at some point. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes doesn’t have an announced release on home video but is available for pre-order here.
After a long development period, cameras finally rolled on Oz, The Great And Terrible this past Monday in Michigan under the watchful eye of director Sam Raimi.
Although Robert Downey Jr was originally set to star in this prequel to L Frank Baum’s classic book series, the finished product will now see James Franco in the role. Also in the cast are Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Zach Braff. The press release announcing the commencement of production has a more detailed synopsis -
Oz The Great and Powerful imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.
Joining Raimi behind the camera will be cinematographer Peter Deming who worked with Raimi on Evil Dead II and Drag Me To Hell.
Oz The Great And Powerful is slated for a March 8, 2013 release.