The Force is strong with this one. Today news spread like wildfire that J.J. Abrams–the same man who resurrected Star Trek for the big screen–will do the same for the other massively popular set-in-space franchise Star Wars. The Wrap broke it first.
This fall George Lucas sold his Lucasfilms to Disney for $4 billion and his partner Kathleen Kennedy signed on to ensure the making of a new Star Wars movie. Shortly thereafter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) agreed to pen the script and now the immense project has a star director in Abrams. Star Wars: Episode VII aims for a 2015 release.
Neither Abrams nor Disney has commented on the story yet. What’s interesting, however, is that just a couple months ago Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that he wasn’t interested in taking on Lucas’ lucrative franchise. He admitted that he had “original stuff” he was hoping to do next. He went on to say how much Star Wars influenced him at a young age and that it ignited his passion for visually epic storytelling. “As a kid I was always a fan of special effects,” he said. “Watching movies I was constantly trying to figure out how they did it, whatever the effect was. Star Wars was the first movie that blew my mind in that way; it didn’t matter how they did any of it because it was all so overwhelmingly and entirely great. It was funny and romantic and scary and compelling and the visual effects just served the characters and story. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of.”
In a two-part interview with Hero Complex conducted in 2009, Abrams talked about the challenge of reimagining Star Trek in a post-George Lucas Star Wars world. “I’m just a fan of Star Wars,” he said. ”As a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was. If you look at the last three Star Wars films and what technology allowed them to do, they covered so much terrain in terms of design, locations, characters, aliens, ships — so much of the spectacle has been done and it seems like every aspect has been covered, whether it’s geography or design of culture or weather system or character or ship type. Everything has been tapped in those movies. The challenge of doing Star Trek — despite the fact that it existed before Star Wars — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.”
It is definitely going to be interesting to see exactly how J.J. Abrams plans to bring Star Wars back into the fold compared to the way he did it with Star Trek. He’s a powerful player in the sci-fi arena, and personally I have no doubt he’ll get it right. What say you?
Marvel’s second phase of film offerings includes mostly sequels to already established franchises like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Two of them–namely Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy–have the potential to become franchises of their own. On Tuesday director James Gunn (Slither, Super) confirmed speculation by announcing via Facebook he will in fact helm the adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy:
For a month or so there’s been a lot of Internet speculation about my involvement with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Until now I haven’t said anything, because I’m trying to be less expulsive about this project than I am about the rest of my life. But last night I got the go-ahead from Kevin Feige to let you all know that, yes, indeed, I am rewriting and directing Guardians of the Galaxy. As a lifelong lover of Marvel comics, space epics, AND raccoons, this is the movie I’ve been waiting to make since I was nine years old. Kevin, Joss, and all the folks at Marvel have been amazing collaborators so far, and we’re committed to bringing you something majestic, beautiful, and unique. I am incredibly excited. I am also incredibly grateful to the fans and the press for all their words of encouragement and support regarding my involvement with this project since the news first leaked. Thanks – you have, honestly, touched and overwhelmed me. And that’s it for now. Other than the occasional photos of my dog and cat here on Facebook, I’ll talk to you again in August 2014 when Guardians is released!
Concept art for the flick includes a superhero team made up of Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, and Gamora. Yes, a gun-wielding raccoon is involved. And with Gunn directing, things are about to get wild, wacky, and extremely radical. Hear what Avengers helmer Joss Whedon has to say about Gunn’s involvement in a video interview posted after the break. (Click here for more…)
So who do you think has more expertise working with 3D technologies, Cameron (Avatar) or Bay (Transformers)? Spoiler alert: It’s the guy who dreamed up Pandora.
In related Transformers news, Paramount has shifted the premiere of the third installment from Friday, July 1 to Wednesday, June 29. Catch the latest trailer after the break. (Click here for more…)
Sources confirm that Jon Favreau will not direct Iron Man 3. But why? Vulture broke the news and they speculate: A) Creative differences: Favreau is “frustrated with Marvel’s urge to stuff more of their in-house heroes into the next film in the wake of The Avengers.” B) Financial reasons: Favreau is said to have made $10 million for the Iron Man 2 and a hefty raise would likely be necessary to keep him on board. C) A mix of both A & B. Vulture goes on to say that a source close to “Marvel’s playbook” think that “the company had been pushing a confusing and packed vision of the third film as a tactic to provoke Favreau into leaving the project.” Whatever the reason, Favreau is out and apparently he left the team under amicable terms. Shortly after this news hit the web he tweeted, “It’s true, I’m directing Magic Kingdom, not Iron Man 3. I’ve had a great run with Marvel and wish them the best.” Marvel is currently in the process of finding a new helmer, and it’s worthy to note that star Robert Downey Jr. has contractual approval over the director of the film so he’ll have a hand in the decision. Iron Man 3 is still on track for a May 3, 2013. Favreau is putting the final touches on Cowboys and Aliens and he’s still signed on as a producer for The Avengers.
Piranha 3D splashed into theatres last summer, surprisingly cashing in a worldwide gross of $71 million (it cost about $40 million to produce and market). After a strong opening weekend performance at the box office, Dimension Films announced a sequel would be on its way. Today Dimension announced the creative team behind the sequel now officially titled Piranha 3DD (get it? boobies!). John Gulager will direct and Saw 3D scribes Melton and Marcus Dunstan will pen the script. Gulager, Melton, and Dunstan worked together in the past on Dimension horror flick Feast, a film that was featured in the show Project Greenlight. No word on why Piranha 3D director Alexandre Aja dropped out of the project. I hope the new team has the creative umph to bring back the perfect summer movie tongue-in-cheek bloody fun the original so successfully made famous and enjoyable. Dimension does not want to miss a summer release; as long as the writers can pump out a timely script, you can expect 3DD to hit theatres this August.
It’s (finally) official: Peter Jackson will direct ‘The Hobbit’ [Update: Martin Freeman cast as Bilbo]
Peter Jackson, the man who helmed the Lord of the Rings trilogy movie adaptations will be back to direct the two-part prequel series The Hobbit. Originally Jackson was going to serve as executive producer with Guillermo del Toro as director. But when MGM’s financial woes forced production delays del Toro decided to back out of the project leaving the director spot open for some time. Since the beginning of last summer it had been rumored that Jackson would take control of the reigns again, and today Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, and MGM finally confirmed it. In a statement Jackson said, “Exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth goes way beyond a normal film-making experience. It’s an all-immersive journey into a very special place of imagination, beauty and drama. We’re looking forward to re-entering this wondrous world with Gandalf and Bilbo – and our friends at New Line Cinema, Warner Brothers and MGM”.
The Hobbit will be cut up into two parts (as originally planned by del Toro) and will be shot in 3D. Principal photography begins in February 2011. Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and Hugo Weaving are locked in to reprise their roles as Gandalf, Gollum and Elrond, respectively. It has not been confirmed whether or not Ian Holm will return to star as Bilbo Baggins.
Update (10/21): Casting news! Martin Freeman (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Hot Fuzz) is Bilbo Baggins. The following actors comprise Bilbo’s Company of Dwarves who set forth to reclaim a treasure from a dangerous dragon: Richard Armitage (MI-5, Captain America: The First Avenger) is Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Company of Dwarves; Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) will play Kili and Fili; Graham McTavish (Secretariat) is Dwalin, John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury) is Oin; Stephen Hunter (All Saints) is Bombur, Mark Hadlow (King Kong) is Dori, and Peter Hambleton (The Strip) is Gloin.
Peter Jackson on Freeman as Baggins: “Despite the various rumors and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us. There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”
Zack Snyder, helmer of 300, Watchmen, and the upcoming Sucker Punch, has signed on to direct the Superman franchise reboot. He joins a stellar creative team in the Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures backed project. Christopher Nolan, the man famous breathing life into the Batman franchise, is producing alongside wife Emma Thomas, Charles Roven (The Dark Knight), and Zack’s wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder. The Superman story has already been imagined by Nolan and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight); Goyer is currently penning the script.
Deadline recently spoke with Snyder about the news. “I’ve been a big fan of the character for a long time, he’s definitely the king of all superheroes, he’s the one. It’s early yet, but I can tell you that what David and Chris have done with the story so far definitely has given me a great insight into a way to make him feel modern. I’ve always felt he was kind of awesome.” Snyder promises to get started on Superman as soon as production wraps on Sucker Punch. Warner Bros. and DC Comics are aiming for a 2012 holiday release.
Paranormal Activity 2 is starting to come together. Writer and director of the original film Oren Peli posted a note to the film’s website sharing news that a new director has been chosen for the sequel. Kip Williams (The Door in the Floor) got the job. Peli says: “Kip is the guy we want at the helm, because he knows exactly what we want to deliver to the fans.” Peli will remain on the team as a writer and producer, and Michael Perry is set to pen the screenplay. Production starts in May and if all goes as planned, Paranormal Activity 2 should hit theatres right before Halloween on October 22. Any plot details, you ask? Tight-lipped Peli has this to say: “I don’t want to spoil the story but I promise it will surprise you. Stay tuned.”
It’s been too long since we’ve had the pleasure of watching a J.J. Abrams-directed series premiere on television (the Lost premiere, to be exact). According to The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams will direct the premiere episode of NBC’s upcoming spy show Undercovers. The episode is co-written between Abrams and Felicity pal Josh Reims. According to numerous sources the show is being described as has been described as Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets The Bourne Identity.
Abrams adds Undercovers to a growing list of other new shows he plans on unveiling in the near future. There’s the HBO medical drama called Anatomy of Hope and a not-yet-titled FOX comedy. With Lost beginning its heavily anticipated final season this February, Abrams better have a deep arsenal of amazing TV dramas in his pockets. As hard as it is for me to imagine a future without Lost, news that Abrams is hard at work with new offerings gives me a glimpse of a hopeful future post-one of the best shows ever made.
You may or may not know this but Hugh Laurie is the star and one of the producers of FOX’s House. Laurie plans on adding to his resume the position of director. He will direct this season’s 17th episode which airs on March 22. Says executive producer Katie Jacobs: “Hugh has been there since day one through every single episode, so he’s phenomenally smart and his instincts are [impeccable].” “This is going to be great for morale, because there’s no one that the cast and crew and the writers want to work harder for than our leader.” Though the plot is top-secret, Jacobs hints that “it’s not a traditional episode.” Two words: Can’t wait.
Fast & Furious alums director Justin Lin and producer Neal Moritz are set to remake the classic 1986 cult film Highlander. Peter Davis, one of the producers from the original Highlander series, is also on board to produce. Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (of Iron Man success) will pen the script. The original Highlander starred Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown and Roxanne Hart. Casting for the remake has not been decided yet.
Details are small on the direction of the film. According to insiders, “Summit’s plans to expand on the original Highlander premise of immortals battling amongst us and hunting each other through the ages. The new pic will center on an immortal Scottish swordsman who must confront a murderously brutal barbarian who lusts for a fabled prize.”
“THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.”