4/23/2014

Robert Downey Jr. Tweets His First 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Set Pic; Lou Ferrigno Back Voicing the Hulk


The Twitter account of Robert Downey Jr. only just went live, and already he's making good use of it. Iron Man himself has tweeted the first set photo from Avengers: Age of Ultron. There's not a lot to the image, really, just Downey hanging out with exec-producer Jeremy Latcham. It's probably the most famous Latcham will ever be, so I hope he's enjoying it.

Also, Marvel is smart enough not to screw up a good thing, and they've done pretty well with original TV's Hulk star Lou Ferrigno voicing the character on the big screen. And now Nuke the Fridge has learned Ferrigno will be back as the voice of the jade giant in Avengers: Age of Ultron, just as he did in 2003's Hulk, 2008's The Incredible Hulk, and The Avengers.

Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1st 2015.

4/22/2014

Disney's 'It's a Small World' Attraction to be a Movie Directed by Jon Turteltaub


There have been so many Pirates of the Caribbean movies at this point it's easy to forget the amusement park attraction they sprang from. Disney has obviously found a lot of success bringing one attraction to the screen, and will try again later this year with Tomorrowland, but now they're planning one more with It's a Small World. What, no Space Mountain?

According to Deadline, Jon Turteltaub (Last Vegas) will direct a film based on the Disney musical boat ride, which features singing animatronic dolls representing citizens from across the globe. Jared Stern (co-writer on The Lego Movie 2) will write the script, but no plot details are available at this point. We can probably expect the familiar tune (which I thought got creepy after awhile) to be at the center of it, and probably some sort of story involving the world community coming together for a singular purpose. Call it a hunch.

This one's a ways off but Disney is eying it as a potential franchise, of course.

'Star Trek 3' Writers Bringing Flash Gordon Back to the Big Screen


Flash Gordon turned 80 this year, and the famous comic strip hero is probably more popular than ever. Sam J. Jones, who played Flash in the cult 1980 film, was paying tribute to the character (sort of) in Seth MacFarlane's Ted, to hilarious effect. And now 20th Century Fox is bringing the character back to the screen, and they aren't wasting any time in getting this project going.

Fox has hired Star Trek 3 scribes Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne to begin work on a Flash Gordon script, based on a pitch by The Adjustment Bureau's George Nolfi. John Davis is producing, having spent the better part of a year securing the rights.  Rumors of this deal first emerged last week but now THR says it's all wrapped up.

Flash Gordon was tremendously popular after artist Alex Raymond conceived the character in 1934. At the time he was developed as an answer to Buck Rogers, which was one of the top comic strips at the time. The story follows the titular hero, a Yale grad who battles the evil Ming the Merciless while going on intergalactic adventures. He's accompanied by his lover Dale Arden and scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov.

The character has been a steady presence on the big and small screen over the decades, but attempts by other studios to launch a new feature film have failed, including one that would have had Breck Eisner (The Crazies) directing. Fox is just the latest to give it a shot, and we'll have to wait and see if Flash Gordon will return to defend the Earth.

Jessica Chastain to Play Marilyn Monroe in 'Blonde'



Since before Andrew Dominik began work on Killing Them Softly, he had been developing Blonde, a fictionalized Marilyn Monroe biopic based on the acclaimed Joyce Carol Oates novel. Naomi Watts had been set for the lead, and it went far enough that promo images of her as Monroe were released. But she eventually dropped out and the project stalled, but now Jessica Chastain has entered talks to replace her.

If everything comes together, Chastain would play Norma Jeane Baker aka Marilyn Monroe in the film, taken from Oates' Pulitzer Prize-nominated book published in 2000. Here's the synopsis:

One of America’s most acclaimed novelists boldly re-imagines one of America’s most enduring icons in Blonde—the National Book Award-nominated bestseller by Joyce Carol Oates. The legend of Marilyn Monroe—aka Norma Jeane Baker—comes provocatively alive in this powerful tale of Hollywood myth and heartbreaking reality. Marilyn Monroe lives—reborn to tell her untold history; her story of a star created to shine brightest in the Hollywood firmament before her fall to earth. Blonde is a dazzling fictional portrait of the intricate inner life of the idolized and desired movie star as only the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates could paint it.

Brad Pitt, who has worked with Dominik twice already on The Assassination of Jesse James and Killing Them Softly, will produce through his Plan B shingle, while Dominik has adapted the screenplay himself. No word on when filming will begin but snagging Chastain is a solid way to start things moving again. [TheWrap]

Trailer for Nostalgia Comedy 'Ping Pong Summer', My Least Favorite Sundance Film


Truth: the most irritating film I saw at Sundance was Ping Pong Summer, a nostalgia comedy bathing in 1980s quirk but little else. It annoyed me so that it was one of the few films I simply tried to forget about, but now as its release date is coming up in a few months, the painful memories are returning along with this new trailer.

Basically The Karate Kid if it were about ping pong, the1985-set film stars newcomer Marcello Conte as the awesomely-named Rad Miracle, a shy kid whose family heads to Ocean City, MD for summer vacation. There he struggles to make friends until he becomes best buds with the jeri curl-sporting beat boxin' Teddy Fryy (Myles Massey); falls in love with the troubled hot chick, and gets challenged to a ping pong match with the local bully. Susan Sarandon headlines as Rad's Yoda-like instructor, while Lea Thompson, John Hannah, Amy Sedaris, and Robert Longstreet co-star.

My issue with the film was that it wasn't particular clever, and rather than doing anything funny simply slapped on something goofy from the '80s. I think that comes through in this trailer, as well. It works for a minute or two, but that's about it. Written and directed by Michael Tully, Ping Pong Summer hits VOD on June 6th.

Catherine Hardwicke to Direct Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz in 'Miss You Already'



The Morwenna Banks-scripted dramedy Miss You Already has been developing for a couple of years, but never seems to gain any traction. Jennifer Aniston seemed to give it a firm A-list lead with which to build from, with Paul Andrew Williams in line to direct. Toni Collette joined soon after, only for the project to run aground for various reasons. Now it's back on with a new director, a new star, and hopefully some new momentum.

Deadline reports that Catherine Hardwicke has replaced Williams as director, while Rachel Weisz is in for Aniston. Collette remains attached to the film which centers on "lifelong best friends whose relationship is tested as they confront a crisis." The story, described as similar to Beaches, is based on Banks' personal experiences. Invoking Beaches is probably a good way to make sure no guy pays to see this movie.

The film will be shopped around at Cannes where it should find lots of potential investors with Weisz and Hardwicke on board.

Roberto Orci Wants to Helm 'Star Trek 3'; Splits from Big Screen Partner Alex Kurtzman


Wherever Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman go, big box offices tend to follow. The writing/producing duo have been behind some huge blockbusters over the years, from The Amazing Spider-Man, Star Trek, Transformers, Cowboys & Aliens, The Island....okay, maybe not those last two. There's no denying the impact they've had as a tandem, but it's coming to an end now as the duo is splitting up to pursue their own goals.

While they will remain television partners, Orci and Kurtzman are going their own way when it comes to feature films, and Orci is hoping to make a big splash. Variety reports he is pushing hard to direct Star Trek 3, which he is slated to co-write with Patrick McKay and John Payne. The hold-up appears to be Paramount who are understandably reluctant to hand such a major franchise to an unproven debut director. Orci has the support of J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot, which may be enough to convince Paramount to take a chance. Kurtzman, on the other hand, has already helmed People Like Us and is set to co-write and direct Sony's Venom spinoff.

Orci and Kurtzman will continue to produce projects together but this split is a pretty big deal. It'll be interesting to see if they can survive as individuals.

Alan Horn Talks 'Star Wars: Episode VII', Reveals Struggles with 'Captain America 3' Release Date


As predicted, J.J. Abrams is keeping every detail of Star Wars: Episode VII frozen in carbonite, which is why it's good people like Alan Horn are around to spill the beans. We already know that some filming has begun earlier than expected, with principle photography beginning next month.The Disney Chairman attended the Tribeca Film Festival where he revealed a few minor details about Star Wars, while also commenting on the brewing showdown between Captain America 3 and Batman vs. Superman.

First up, Horn talked about the early shooting that has taken place, and basically says it's just setting the stage for when the big show begins in a few weeks. So don't bother looking for any cool set photos....

Horn: "We did some second unit work in Abu Dhabi and other places, because we have all these locations we have to film and we have to give it that Star-Warsian look So we needed to go to different places that give us the right look and feel and we did have second unit work shooting already but we haven't commenced the main part of principle photography yet."

That makes sense because casting has yet to be finished, despite a few names having emerged as  likely stars.

Horn: "We're not prepared to announce it yet but we will be very shortly announcing what we're doing.

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Disney is throwing every dollar they can at Abrams' vision of Star Wars, and Horn says the budget could hit the $200M mark. Kind of surprising after the expensive flops they've had of late....


Horn: "We actually don't even have the completed budget yet. But it will be in that range. These large, tentpole kinds of movies, on the expensive side, are in the neighborhood of $175-200 million, that kind of a number — some are more, some are less. We need to give the audience, essentially, a full meal in return for their affection and devotion and love for these properties."

And even though George Lucas gets razzed by fans for what he did with the Star Wars prequels, Disney says he's still involved with the new trilogy as a consultant...

Horn: "We actually don't even have the completed budget yet. But it will be in that range. These large, tentpole kinds of movies, on the expensive side, are in the neighborhood of $175-200 million, that kind of a number — some are more, some are less. We need to give the audience, essentially, a full meal in return for their affection and devotion and love for these properties."

Right. Sounds like Lucas doesn't actually have a whole lot of input. Star Wars: Episode VII arrives on December 18th 2015, which is an unusual time of year for the franchise historically. Horn was asked if that would be the expected season for future Star Wars movies, or if they could revert back to the early summer as usual...

Horn: "No, we're not sure yet, we may revert. The Star Wars dates have been May, and we may revert to that at some point, it depends on the readiness of the screenplays or where we are, but this first one will be December 18th of 2015, so we'll start with that and we'll see.

Horn then spoke about Marvel's Captain America 3 and the May 16th 2016 showdown with Batman vs. Superman. With Captain America: The Winter Soldier quickly becoming one of the studio's biggest hits, Warner Bros. is expected to back down and move their film to another date. But in a conversation with Variety's Brent Lang, Horn said that Marvel has some concerns of their own...

It simply doesn't make sense to keep both films on that date as they'll chew up one another's audience. But maybe it won't be Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. who turn tail and run?

First Trailer for French Drama 'Insecure' Starring Adèle Exarchopoulos


Forget all of the controversy that followed last year's Palm d'Or winner, Blue is the Warmest Color; nothing can take away from the commanding breakthrough performance by Adèle Exarchopoulos. While the 20-year-old is poised to make her American debut in Sean Penn's The Last Face, which begins shooting this summer, she recently starred in the French drama, Insecure, and now we have the first trailer.

Directed by Marianne Tardieu, the film stars Reda Kateb (last seen being grilled by Jason Clarke in Zero Dark Thirty) as a nursing student trying to make ends meet by taking a security job. While there he faces humiliation by hostile teens and gets wrapped up in a robbery gone awry, but he also develops a relationship with a student played by Exarchopoulos.

Considering Exarchopoulos' newfound fame this will probably play well in France, but for now there are no U.S. plans. Hopefully that will change. [The Film Stage]

Li Bingbing Returning for 'Resident Evil 6'; Diane Kruger and Thomas Kretschmann Scale 'The Wall'


* Earlier this year, Paul W.S. Anderson suggested the sixth and final Resident Evil film wouldn't hit its September 2014 target date, and since there have been zero updates since we can assume that to be the case. But he has given a brief update on it while attending the Beijing International Film Festival, confirming that it will "definitely be in 3D" and that Li Bingbing would be returning as Ada Wong. Of course, Milla Jojovich will be back for more zombie-slaying action as Alice. [CNTV]

* Diane Kruger (Troy) and Thomas Kretschmann (recently seen as Baron von Strucker in Captain America: The Winter Soldier) have joined romantic drama, The Wall, about a couple whose love and loyalty are literally separated by the Berlin Wall. Michael Johnson and Theresa Alto penned the script, but a director still needs to be found before filming begins later this year.