Add yet another “Lance Armstrong doping scandal” movie to the list. Almost as soon as Armstrong copped to doping during his tenure as a 7-time champion of the Tour de France, Hollywood starting moving forward on feature film iterations of his story. Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot were the first studios to take action, as the two studios have teamed up to adapt the Juliet Macur book Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong. Warner Bros. is also developing its own version of the story with Jay Roach (Game Change) attached to direct from a script by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion), but now it appears that the first film to actually move forward may come from High Fidelity and The Queen director Stephen Frears and Working Title Pictures. Hit the jump for more.
[Update: Deadline has updated their story to note that Ben Foster is in final talks to play Lance Armstrong in the film, which has a script by Trainspotting scribe John Hodge and focuses on "Armstrong's career from his cancer ordeal to the scandal that brought him down."]
The pivotal World War II Battle of Dunkirk is getting the big screen treatment. Deadline reports that Oliver Parker (Johnny English Reborn, The Importance of Being Earnest) is attached to direct Dunkirk, a feature film iteration of the events surrounding the titular event. The story centers on how British civilians, men, and women used small boats to cross the English Channel and rescue hundreds of thousands of British and French troops from the advancing Germans. The 1940 event gave a major boost to the morale of the British forces and should make for a compelling and inspiring feature film. The aftermath of Dunkirk was memorably captured on film by director Joe Wright in a sweeping and epic single take in the 2007 film Atonement.
The script was written on spec by Gavin Scott (War and Peace, Small Soldiers) and was recently acquired by Working Title UK. No word on how soon production might begin. Hit the jump to watch a featurette documenting how the Dunkirk scene was created in Atonement.
Fresh off a Golden Globe win for her supporting turn in the musical adaptation of Les Miserables, actress Anne Hathaway is poised to tackle yet another highly regarded property: William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The Wrap reports that Hathaway will star in a modern-day retelling of the play set in mid-20th century Italy. Abi Morgan (Shame, The Iron Lady) is handling the screenplay, but no director appears to be attached to the project at this time. Debra Hayward and Working Title are onboard to produce the pic.
Hathaway looks poised to take home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress next month, so she’ll obviously have quite a few projects to thumb through as her Les Mis follow-up. She was set to star opposite Chris Hemsworth in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi adaptation Robopocalypse (which would’ve filmed this spring) until Spielberg abruptly pushed that project back. The actress has long been attached to a developing Judy Garland biopic, but that pic has yet to move into the pre-production stage.
When young actress Saoirse Ronan wowed audiences with her turn in 2007’s Atonement, we expected many more fantastic performances to follow. She’s done swell work in the meantime, with a standout role in last year’s Hanna, and now she’s gearing up to tackle one hell of a character. Deadline reports that Ronan is attached to play the title role in Working Title’s Mary Queen of Scots. There’s no word on how much of the dignitary’s life Michael Hirst’s (Elizabeth) script encompasses, but Mary was named Queen of Scotland when she was just nine months old. Hit the jump for more.
Here’s a piece of news that is undeniably off the chain. After years of waiting and months of teasing, director Edgar Wright is set begin filming The World’s End with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost this September. The third entry in the so-called “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” that began with the zombie flick Shaun of the Dead and continued with the action-leaning Hot Fuzz has been promised for a long time now, and this past January Wright and Pegg revealed that they were “hard at work” on the film’s script. Pegg recently wrapped J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel, and earlier today tweeted that he’s moving straight into Frank Darabont’s L.A. Noir TV pilot, after which he’ll “be an author again,” followed by a job involving “plasma and gelato.”
Hit the jump for more, including a plot synopsis for The World’s End.
A new version of Rebecca is on its way courtesy of DreamWorks and Working Title. The Gothic novel by Daphne Du Maurier was famously adapted into a Best Picture winner by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940, and now Showblitz reports that Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight has been tapped to pen a new adaptation. Knight will return to Du Maurier’s novel for the update, which centers on a young woman who marries a rich widower, only to find that her husband’s late wife still haunts their mansion estate. I’m not the biggest fan of Du Maurier’s novel, but there’s something encouraging about the fact that DreamWorks and Working Title are bent on making a Gothic drama. Though in lesser hands Rebecca could easily turn into a cheap spook-fest, Knight is a promising addition. In a film landscape filled with sequels and explosions, I’m pulling for something different with Rebecca.
Obviously it’s early in the game, so no director is attached at the moment. Knight has written a few high profile scripts as of late, including the Dan Brown adaptation The Lost Symbol and an untitled thriller starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall. He’s set to make his directorial debut on the thriller Hummingbird with Jason Statham in the lead. Hit the jump to read a synopsis for Du Maurier’s Rebecca.
I was among the cinephiles who were unmoved by the first trailer for Hugo. I never should have doubted Martin Scorsese: an early screening at the New York Film Festival drew breathless praise from the lucky few who saw it. Four decades later, Scorsese is still a master filmmaker. As is customary for a master filmmaker, Scorsese has a lot on his plate: Silence, The Irishman, The Wolf of Wall Street, a remake of The Gambler, and a Frank Sinatra biopic among other things. A report from Variety suggests a new project, The Snowman, could leapfrog the others for the next slot in Scorsese’s schedule. The director has reportedly been circling the adaptation of the bestselling Norwegian mystery novel for the last month or so; Paramount has not yet made a formal offer, but Scorsese “is now seriously considering making it his next project.”
The Maguffin in The Snowman is the pink scarf of a missing woman, found wrapped around an “ominous-looking snowman” in what appears to be the work of a serial killer. More on the project and a full synopsis after the jump.
Working Title Films and Peapie Films have acquired Andy Mulligan’s novel Trash as a directing vehicle for Stephen Daldry (The Reader). Richard Curtis (Love Actually) will adapt the novel, which is “a contemporary thriller set in the third world, about three boys who scrape a living picking through rubbish mounds. One day they discover a leather bag, whose contents plunge them into a terrifying adventure, pitting their wits against corruption and authority to put right a terrible wrong.” Variety reports that the project is being developed with an eye towards shooting in 2012.
Daldry is currently at work adapting Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Curtis recently worked on the screenplay for Stephen Spielberg’s upcoming drama War Horse. Hit the jump for a synopsis of Andy Mulligan’s Trash.
Merlin is in the upper echelon of fictional wizards* along with Gandalf, Harry Potter, and the The Great and Powerful Oz. Having first appeared in Arthurian legend in 1136, Merlin predates them all, but arguably lacks the definitive on-screen portrayal of the latter three.
Author/screenwriter Jay Basu’s take on Merlin may not change that, but it ought to be fresh. Working Title has picked up a Basu film pitch that brings Merlin into “a contemporary setting.”
Merlin. Present day. That’s about all we know so far, but the character has a rich history; hit the jump for background information on Merin.
I’m walking into an auditorium wearing a Comic-Con badge. I can see many extras sitting in seats and I also notice the crew setting up for a shot. A production assistant tells me to keep walking towards the stage. Eventually I’m stopped. An assistant director tells me to sit in a specific seat in the middle of the second row. If I had walked in a second later, I’d have been told to sit somewhere else. At this moment I had no idea I’d just won the lottery. A little while later, more extras are shuffled in and the other seats are filled up with visiting journalists. The setting is a Comic-Con panel and we’re the crowd the camera will be focused on. Eventually Simon Pegg and Nick Frost walk into the auditorium and I realize the two empty seats in front of me are going to be their seats and I’m going to be in the movie! As a huge fan of both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I’m beyond excited. A few moments later I’m handed a digital camera and told to look at the stage and to pretend someone like George Lucas has come out and to start getting excited. I really don’t have to act. Hit the jump for a lot more:
Does anyone else think it ironic that Working Title won the bidding war on a feature that is, in essence, working on its title? According to Variety, the company threw down a high six figures to beat out Original Film and New Regency, clinching the rights to a star vehicle that will be written by Allan Loeb and starring Ryan Reynolds…in drag. The of-yet-unnamed project will feature Reynolds dressing as a woman to become BFFs with his ex and win her back. More on the project after the jump.