Fox Searchlight is getting its Oscar plans in order by announcing that they’ve set Steve McQueen‘s Twelve Years a Slave for December 27th. Based on Solomon Northup’s autobiography of the same name, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northup, an educated and married black man living in 1853 New York. Northup was approached by two men about a job offer in Washington D.C., but when he showed up he was kidnapped and forced into slavery. The film has lined up one of the best casts in recent memory. In addition to Ejifor, the film also stars Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Scoot McNairy, Quvenzhane Wallis, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Garrett Dillahunt, Alfre Woodard, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Fox Searchlight’s Oscar odds also go up when you consider that two films involving slavery—Lincoln and Django Unchained—grabbed Best Picture nominations last year (somehow, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter missed the cut).
The only other film set for December 27th’s is The Weinstein Company’s Oscar-hopeful Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly. I can’t wait to see Twelve Years a Slave, and I hope it will play at TIFF like McQueen’s first two features, Hunger and Shame.
It’s apparently “Godzilla reboot news day.” This morning we learned that Frank Darabont will be doing a final rewrite on the script for director Gareth Edwards’ reboot of Godzilla, along with the news that two of the film’s producers are battling Legendary Pictures to stay onboard the project. We actually know very little about the redo beyond the fact that Edwards is tackling Godzilla with a grounded, realistic tone (ie. what would it be like if this monster actually appeared in real life and started terrorizing cities?), but today word has surfaced concerning the film’s firm production start date, shooting locations, and which actors the studio and Edwards are looking at to take on the lead role. Hit the jump for Godzilla details galore.
Focus Features has released seven new character images from director Gus Van Sant’s upcoming drama Promised Land. The film stars Matt Damon and Frances McDormand as corporate salesmen who try to prey on an economic town in decline only to have their mission complicated by the citizens they encounter, particularly a character played by John Krasinski. Damon and Krasinski wrote the screenplay, and the film deals heavily with the consequences of fracking. These new images introduce the many characters that inhabit this Frank Capra-esque story.
Hit the jump to check out the images, and click here to watch the trailer. The film also stars Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, and Titus Welliver. Promised Land opens in limited release on December 28th before expanding in January.
A new trailer for director Andrew Dominik’s crime drama Killing Them Soflty has been released. The film stars Brad Pitt as a mob enforcer called in to investigate the robbery of a high-stakes card game. The film’s first trailer was pretty great, but this clip ups my anticipation level even more. We see a bit more of the plot and character interactions, and there’s a scene set in the rain that shows off some fantastic visuals. Dominik displayed tremendous talent with The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, and I’m highly encouraged by what we’ve seen of his second go-around with Pitt thus far.
Hit the jump to watch the new trailer. The film also stars Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, and Ben Mendelsohn. Killing Them Softly opens November 30th.
A few casting notices:
- Benicio del Toro is in final negotiations to play Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in Paradise Lost, which is not exactly a Pablo Escobar biopic.
- Scoot McNairy booked two roles. He will star opposite Michael Fassbender in Frank, and joins Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in The Rover.
- The full cast list for Reach Me features Tom Berenger, Kevin Connolly, Thomas Jane, Sylvester Stallone, Kyra Sedgwick, Kelsey Grammer, Nelly, Terry Crews, Ryan Kwanten, and more.
Details on each project after the jump.
Last week, Steve attended the American Film Market (AFM) and was able to bring back some first images, posters, and synopses for a handful of upcoming projects. One such film happens to be the Liam Neeson-fronted action thriller Non-Stop, for which we now have the first detailed synopsis. The story takes place during an international flight on which Neeson is an Air Mashal. His character begins to receive a series of text messages from someone who threatens to kill a passenger every 20 minutes until $150 million is transferred into a secret account.
Neeson reunites with Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra for the pic, which is described as a mix of a mystery, actioner, and a Hitchcockian thriller. Moreover, Collet-Serra has assembled a surprisingly top-notch cast that includes Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, and Michelle Dockery. Hit the jump to read the full synopsis, which includes more detail.
A new international trailer for Killing Them Softly has been released. The film stars Brad Pitt as a mob enforcer called in to investigate the robbery of a high-stakes card game. The domestic trailer showed us some of the other characters and plot points, but this international trailer is short, to the point, and it works.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer. The film also stars Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, and Ben Mendelsohn. Killing Them Softly opens November 30th.
We’ve got a couple of interesting casting stories to share this afternoon. First up, a trio of fine actors has joined Liam Neeson in the airplane thriller Non-Stop, raising my interest in the project significantly. Variety reports that Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly), and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) have joined Non-Stop for director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) and producer Joel Silver. Neeson stars as a federal air marshal “who starts receiving text messages from someone claiming to be on the same flight, and who is threatening to kill its passengers.” Naturally, Neeson must discover the identity of the killer and stop him. Hit the jump for more, including casting news concerning Lars von Trier’s controversial Nymphomaniac.
The first trailer for director Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land has been released. Matt Damon and John Krasinski wrote the script and star in the film, which was originally set to mark Damon’s directorial debut before scheduling issues forced him to call in his Good Will Hunting buddy Van Sant to step in. Damon and Frances McDormand play corporate salesmen who try to prey on an economic town in decline only to have their mission complicated by the citizens they encounter. The pic has been a big question mark in the Awards race, and things aren’t much clearer after seeing this trailer. There’s definitely potential for a heartwarming and relevant story to be told, but it also looks like the fracking argument—though valid—could come across as too preachy. The character-centric story is definitely appealing, and given Damon’s ridiculous talent and the crazy-good ensemble cast, I’m inclined to believe that the full film will deliver the goods.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. The film also stars Rosemarie DeWitt, Hal Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, and Titus Welliver. Promised Land opens in limited release on December 28th before expanding in January.
Let’s take a look at a year in the life of composer Danny Elfman: he’s already crafted scores for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie, plus another for Men In Black 3. He has David O. Russell’s upcoming Silver Linings Playbook, plus Fox’s animated pic Epic and a reunion with Sam Raimi for Oz The Great and Powerful. So, what the hell, let’s add two more on the list! Reports have Elfman attached to compose the scores for director Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land as well as Sacha Gervasi’s biopic, Hitchcock. Hit the jump for more on both projects.
The first trailer for Killing Them Softly has been released. Directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James), the film stars Brad Pitt as a mob enforcer hired to restore order following the robbery of a mob-protected card game. We knew going in that Dominik was unlikely to make a straightforward crime pic, and this trailer promises something special. There’s some great humor, strange characters, and a wonderful backing track provided by the one and only Johnny Cash. We even get a shade of those political undertones that were singled out when the film premiered to a wildly positive response at the Cannes Film Festival. As a big fan of Jesse James this one was already high on my list of anticipated films, but seeing Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta and co. in action I can already tell it’s gonna be an excruciating next few months waiting for this to hit theaters.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. The film also stars James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, and Vincent Curatola. Killing Them Softly opens on October 19th.
New images have been released for the action flick Dredd and Andrew Dominik‘s crime drama Killing Them Softly. For those unfamiliar with the films, Dredd is an attempt to faithfully adapt the 2000AD comics character Judge Dredd, and stars Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, and Lena Headey. As for Killing Them Softly, the movie stars Brad Pitt as a mob enforcer who’s tasked with investigating the robbery of a high-stakes card game. The film also stars stars James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy, Bella Heathcote, and Sam Shepard.
Hit the jump to check out the images. Both films open September 21st.
All the casting news that money can buy:
- Hailee Steinfeld is in negotiations to star in the high school comedy Why We Broke Up
- Matt LeBlanc will headline the indie rom-com Lovesick
- Scoot McNairy and Ruth Negga will join Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender Twelve Years a Slave
More on each project after the jump.
Focus Features announced today that production has commenced on the drama Promised Land. The screenplay was written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, based on a story by Dave Eggers, and the project was poised to be Damon’s directorial debut before scheduling issues forced him to vacate the director’s chair. Damon’s Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant swooped in and swiftly took over directing duties, and now filming has begun. Focus President Jeb Brody draws some very flattering comparisons when describing the project:
“Matt and John’s script is rich in Frank Capra-esque qualities, blending humor and heart while exploring the power of community in this day and age. An actor’s director like Gus will bring forth all the emotions in the story, which is a true passion project for everyone.”
In addition to Damon and Krasinski, the cast also includes Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, Rosemarie DeWitt, Scoot McNairy, and Titus Welliver. Hit the jump to read the press release, which includes a plot synopsis.
Ben Affleck’s Argo began shooting today. The film has a killer cast that includes Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, and John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, Victor Garber, Richard Kind, and Michael Parks. I don’t really care about press releases announcing that filming has commenced (what’s newsworthy is when it looks like filming will commence and then it doesn’t), but this press release includes the first official synopsis for the movie. Check it out:
Based on true events, “Argo” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis—the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist named Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.
Okay, so that doesn’t point out that his plan is to use a fake movie as cover for the operation, but that’s the hook. Affleck co-wrote the script with Good Night and Good Luck. screenwriter Grant Heslov. Hit the jump for the full press release which includes a rundown of the behind-the-camera talent.