John Boyega Leads Jesse Owens Biopic, RACE; Kevin Hart Lends His Voice to a Pair of Animated Family Films for Universal and DreamWorks Animation Studios

     January 24, 2014

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Here’s a look at the latest casting news:

  • John Boyega (Attack the Block) will lead the Jesse Owens biopic, Race, directed by Stephen Hopkins (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) from a script by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel.
  • Louis C.K. (Louie), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and Kevin Hart (Ride Along) will lend their voices to Universal’s 3D animated The Untitled Pets Project, opening February 12, 2016.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) and Kevin Hart (Ride Along) will voice characters in DreamWorks Animation’s Captain Underpants, also starring Nick Kroll (The League), Jordan Peele (Key and Peele), and Thomas Middleditch (The Wolf of Wall Street), for director Rob Letterman.

Hit the jump for more on each film.

john-boyega-jesse-owens-raceFirst up from Variety is news of Boyega’s lead role in Race as Olympic athlete, Jesse Owens.  Race focuses on Owens, the son of an Alabama sharecropper, and how he “shattered Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by winning a record four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 400-meter relay.”  Hitler had insisted Jews and Blacks not be allowed to participate in the games, but relented when threatened with a boycott.  Shooting it set to start this May in Berlin, including the Olympic stadium where Owens won four gold medals, and Montreal.  Producers are eyeing a release date in spring of 2015.

The casting announcement for Universal’s The Untitled Pets Project comes via the studio’s Twitter account, along with an early look at the film’s concept art.  Chris Renaud (Despicable Me) will direct, with co-director Yarrow Cheney.  The fifth animation film from Illumination Entertainment is set in an apartment building in Manhattan and follows the residents’ pets when they “gather to start their day, which consists of hanging out, trading humiliating stories about their owners, and helping each other work up adorable looks that will lead to more snacks. The head hound is a quick-witted terrier rescue (Louis C.K.), whose position at the epicenter of his master’s universe is suddenly threatened when she comes home with Duke (Stonestreet), a sloppy mongrel with no polish. The two soon find themselves on the mean streets of New York, where they meet the adorable white bunny Snowball (Hart). It turns out that Snowball is the leader of an army of pets that were abandoned and are determined to get back at humanity and every owner-loving pet. The dogs must thwart this plot and make it back in time for dinner.” (Via Deadline)

Hart will also voice a character in DreamWorks Animation’s Captain Underpants, as THR reports.  Adapted from Dav Pilkey‘s popular children’s book by Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets), Captain Underpants centers on “the adventures of two mischievous fourth graders (Hart and Middleditch).  Things quickly spiral out of control when their favorite superhero, Captain Underpants, magically springs to life from the pages of a comic book.”  Helms plays the boys’ power-mad principal, Mr. Krupp; Peele voices their geeky nemesis, Melvin; and Kroll stars as the wretched supervillain Professor Poopypants.

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