Writer-director Billy Ray (Breach, Shattered Glass) will direct the sci-fi romance, Departure, from an original script he wrote. The Hunger Games screenwriter based this new picture in part on the Martin Candin book, Ghosts of the Air, which recounts true-life pilots’ experiences with aviation mysteries, such as planes disappearing in mid-air. Ray’s treatment centers on an FAA investigator who is looking into the phenomena occurring with increasing frequency in the skies over Miami. The man’s quest takes a personal turn when it’s revealed that his wife is a passenger on an affected plane. Casting is expected to begin immediately. Hit the jump for the full press release.
Universal Pictures really, really wants to get their reboot of The Mummy going. Last September the studio tapped Underworld and Total Recall helmer Len Wiseman to direct the redo of the classic monster movie for a possible 2014 release. The film will be set in present day and is described as “epic,” and Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, Transformers) are on board to produce the pic with Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) working on the screenplay. However, Universal is now taking out a bit of an insurance policy by commissioning a separate, competing script for the film by The Hunger Games and State of Play scribe Billy Ray. Hit the jump for more details on this atypical approach.
The last time we reported on the possible Gears of War adaptation, the picture was a mess, citing a search for a new writer and director, as well as toning down the lofty scale of the treatment and its resulting budget. New Line, which has had the project under its roof since 2007, recently put it into turnaround to focus on The Hobbit films. But with the video game franchise generating over $1 billion in sales and a fourth installment due out next year, Creative Artists Agency is reportedly enthusiastic about meeting with producers to find a new home for the feature adaptation.
Exclusive to the Microsoft 360 console, Gears of War is a military sci-fi third person shooter which centers on the soldiers of Delta Squad in their last-ditch efforts to save the human inhabitants of the planet Sera from unstoppable subterranean creatures known as the Locust Horde. Hit the jump for more on the fate of the Gears of War movie adaptation.
As Martin Scorsese gears up to direct the financial-centered drama The Wolf of Wall Street, another one of his many percolating projects is moving closer to the production stage. Deadline reports that Universal Pictures has tapped Billy Ray (State of Play) to write the screenplay for the biopic Sinatra, which Scorsese has been developing for the quite some time. Little is known about the film’s plot or what aspects of Sinatra’s life will be depicted onscreen, but the hiring of a writer signals that Scorsese is keen on making Sinatra sooner rather than later.
Hit the jump for more, including a recap of what other projects Scorsese has on his plate.
Fans eager to see the 24 movie get going are gonna have to wait a bit longer. While all signs pointed to the feature film adaptation of the popular Fox TV series going into production this spring, Deadline reports that 20th Century Fox has decided not to go forward with the film this year. Apparently budget issues are to blame, and the studio wasn’t convinced everything could be worked out in time to shoot the movie before star Kiefer Sutherland has to report back for the second season of his new series Touch this fall (if it’s renewed). Hit the jump for more, including the possibility of a film trilogy.
Director Rob Marshall is heading back to musicals. After helming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Marshall signed on to direct a remake of the 1934 film The Thin Man with Johnny Depp attached to star, and now he’s set to reteam with Disney on a feature film version of Stephen Sondheim’s fairy tale-themed musical Into the Woods. Marshall got his start as a choreographer before bursting onto the scene with 2002’s Oscar-winning movie musical Chicago, and now he’s poised to return to the world of song and dance. Hit the jump for more.
When it comes to writing a hard-boiled detective story, few are better than Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon). As for adapting those stories to the screen, few do it as expertly as Billy Ray (State of Play). Ray has been tapped to pen the current Warner Bros. adaptation of Hammett’s novel The Thin Man, starring Johnny Depp as Nick Charles, a retired private eye who maintains his drinking habit. Although Jerry Stahl (Bad Boys II) and David Koepp (Spider-Man) were initially on board for the script, director Rob Marshall decided to go in another direction and Ray landed the job. Personally, I think Marshall made the right choice.
The Thin Man is more of a light-hearted murder mystery than Hammett’s other works, as the plot revolves around a married couple solving crimes while bantering back and forth. Though Depp can easily portray a wise-cracking, alcoholic, the equally witty and thrill-seeking Nora Charles has yet to be cast. The success of The Thin Man, in my opinion, balances on that chemistry. Hit the jump for more.
J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Billy Ray (State of Play) are teaming up for an untitled mystery adventure film set up at Paramount Pictures. Deadline says Abrams and Ray pitched it together. That’s all we know and given Abrams’ fetishistic love of secrecy surrounding his projects and mysteries in general (he guest-edited the May 2009 issue of Wired and filled it with riddles), that’s probably all we’ll know up until a few months before the movie’s release where just about everything will be spoiled by advertising. To his credit, Abrams was able to keep the monster in Super 8 under wraps even though the monster’s appearance bears almost no bearing on the story.
Ray continues to keep busy. He’s working on the script for the 24 movie, the awful-sounding Channing Tatum Peter Pan prequel, the adaptation of Captain Richard Phillips’ memoir A Captain’s Duty starring Tom Hanks, and the remake of the Argentinean film The Secret in Their Eyes.
Denzel Washington has apparently been offered the lead role in Billy Ray’s remake of the Oscar winning 2009 Argentinian film The Secret in Their Eyes. Twitch reports that they’ve learned that the part has been offered to the thesp. The project is set up at Warner Bros, and is set to be written and directed by Billy Ray (Breach). The original film centered on a retired legal counselor who decides to write a novel in hopes of providing closure to one of his past unresolved homicide cases, as well as his unrequited love for his superior.
It’s important to note that actors are offered roles every day, so this news by no means affirms that Washington will take on the part. The actor is currently gearing up to star in director Robert Zemeckis’ return to live-action, the drama Flight. Washington will play a commercial airline pilot who’s heralded as a hero after piloting a damaged flight to safety. His newfound fame comes under scrutiny when an investigation is launched to determine whether or not he had been drinking before the flight. Production begins next month in Atlanta.
Last week, we reported that Paul Greengrass was considering three projects as his next film: the Somali pirate drama Maersk Alabama, the racing biopic Rush, and an unknown third project. Now it looks like Maersk Alabama is the frontrunner as Deadline reports that Sony has offered the film to Greengrass and talks are about to begin between the two parties. Deadline adds that the film won’t be an impediment to Greengrass’ delayed MLK assassination drama Memphis and that Maersk will likely be the director’s next film.
The story is based Captain Richard Phillips’ memoir A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea which recounts his three days as a Somali pirate hostage and the dramatic rescue from a team of Navy SEALs. Tom Hanks is attached to play Phillips; Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, and Kevin Spacey are producing, and Billy Ray (State of Play) wrote the script. Hit the jump for a synopsis of the memoir.
Tom Hanks has signed on to star in Sony Pictures’ adaptation of Richard Phillips’ memoir A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea. Hanks would play Phillips, a captain of a cargo ship who gave himself over to Somali pirates in exchange for the safety of his crew. Phillips was hostage to the pirates for three days and was eventually saved by Navy SEALs who killed three of his captors and left another in custody. We reported back in 2009 that screenwriter Billy Ray (State of Play) was working on the script and Deadline reports that Hanks sparked to the latest draft. The producing team behind The Social Network (Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, and Kevin Spacey) will produce the adaptation of A Captain’s Duty.
Hit the jump for a synopsis of the memoir and other projects on Hanks’ schedule.
Every piece of classic literature is getting a reboot these days and it was foolish to think Peter Pan would buck the trend. Last week, a pitch went out for a package called “Peter Pan Begins” with Channing Tatum attached to star, screenwriter Billy Ray (Shattered Glass) writing the script, and Joe Roth (Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) producing. Because audiences must know Peter Pan’s origin story, the pitch ignited a bidding war and Heat Vision reports that Sony Pictures came out on top to the tune of about $1 million.
We still don’t know much about the pitch, which is now titled “Pan” (so there goes the title for my Spanish-language drama about satyrs who bake bread), but HV says that the prequel envisions Peter Pan and Captain Hook as brothers. Let me guess: Hook is jealous that Peter got to stay a kid. Wonderful.
In keeping with the current trend of mining classic fairy tales/stories for “fresh take” remakes, a pitch package is making the rounds called Peter Pan Begins. The package includes Channing Tatum attached to star, with Billy Ray (Breach, Shattered Glass) tapped to write the screenplay and Joe Roth producing. Roth has been a staple in the “classics update” trend lately, as he has both Oz, the Great and Powerful and Snow White and the Huntsman currently in development. Details on Peter Pan Begins are scarce, but one can assume that Tatum would be donning the Pan tights.
Heat Vision’s report on the matter doesn’t reveal more than the title and the parties involved, so at this point no one really knows what the movie is about. It’s a bit hard to picture Tatum taking on the role of Peter Pan, given that Pan is a young boy and “Begins” implies this could be a prequel of sorts to the J.M. Barrie tale. Or maybe they’re going for a gritty version of Pan, a la Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (adding “begins” to the title of a movie automatically makes it gritty). Either way, the whole project sounds a bit strange. Maybe the whole thing will make more sense once the plot is revealed. Until then, speculate away.
20th Century Fox Television has axed Billy Ray’s (State of Play) 24 film script. While this probably means Mr. Jack Bauer won’t be gracing the silver-screen in the immediate future, according to executive producer (of the series and, purportedly, the film adaptation) Howard Gordon, the film is by no means dead:
“As far as I know, it is in suspended animation. There is talk about re-approaching it. I understand (director/producer) Tony Scott is meeting with Kiefer to talk about ideas. People are still talking about it.”
To read more from Gordon and for a reminder on what Kiefer Sutherland has to say about the 24 film, hit the jump.
He was already in talks to direct the film, but Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) is now confirmed as the director for the upcoming adaptation of The Hunger Games. The novel – written by Suzanne Collins – is the first book in a trilogy which takes place in a post-apocalyptic future and centers on heroine
“Katniss Everdeen, an enterprising 16-year old from a poor territory that was once Appalachia, who becomes a teen gladiator in a reality show event that is a battle to the death against other teens from the 12 districts that make up what is left of the USA, which is run by a cruel totalitarian government.”
Variety is also now reporting that Collins will be adapting her own book for the screen, while Billy Ray (Breach) has been brought in to polish the screenplay. Lionsgate has high hopes for The Hunger Games. The studio is hoping to create the next Twilight with the series due to its popularity and shared demographic. You can hit the jump to read the official plot synopsis for The Hunger Games.