HBO has given a pilot order for a remake of the 1973 cult classic sci-fi thriller Westworld, and it comes with some pretty impressive behind-the-scenes talent. J.J. Abrams will executive produce the pilot alongside his Bad Robot partner Bryan Burk, and The Dark Knight scribe Jonathan Nolan will co-write and direct the pilot. The original film was written and directed by author Michael Crichton and starred Yul Brynner as an android in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park. Per Variety, the HBO iteration of the story is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”
Nolan, who currently acts as showrunner on the CBS series Person of Interest, will mark his second time directing with Westworld, as he previously helmed an episode of the CBS series. He was previously rumored to be in contention to direct Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, produced by his brother Christopher Nolan, but that job eventually went to Zack Snyder. Hit the jump for more on the potential Westworld series.
As someone whose only firsthand experience with the Star Trek franchise comes by virtue of J.J. Abrams‘ two Trek films, I know I’m in over my head when the topic presents itself. When you mention Trek, you’re referencing (either directly or indirectly) a rich legacy filled with peaks and valleys, genre-defining characters and moments, and an international fanbase that rivals any of pop-culture’s most enduring titles. And yet here I am, with two films under my belt (both of which I enjoyed), talking about it. Obviously, I have nothing at stake with regards to Star Trek Into Darkness. Whether you like it or dislike it is of no consequence to me. My only aim today is to extend a humble word of caution to the Trek fans who have years of equity built-up in their beloved franchise: be careful not to dismiss or begrudge it solely because it’s trying to appeal to the largest possible audience. Abrams’ Trek films aren’t above reproach, but they also aren’t void of redeeming qualities. Try to at least acknowledge some of those qualities when tearing into them or risk coming off as someone whose real issue is that a bunch of people now enjoy this thing that you once considered yourself unique for liking.
All preachiness aside, this week’s Top 5 includes several interviews from Star Trek Into Darkness, rumors surrounding Christopher Nolan being approached to direct James Bond 24, the first trailers for Marvel’s new ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a new trailer for Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim, and new photos and a video from the set of director Jose Padilha‘s RoboCop remake. If I haven’t lost you yet, a brief recap and link to each of the above can be found after the jump.
While everyone associates Bad Robot with J.J. Abrams, he actually has a producing partner that rarely does press and usually stays out of the limelight: Bryan Burk. If you look over his IMDb profile, you’ll see he’s tremendously involved in all Bad Robot productions and was a key component in both Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.
With the movie getting ready to premiere around the world, I recently landed an exclusive interview with the busy producer. During our wide-ranging interview, we talked about making the sequel, the editing process, the secrecy, the title, if we’ll get Star Trek 3 in less than four years, whether a new Star Trek TV show could happen in the near future, and more. We also talked about other Bad Robot productions like Star Wars, Mission: Impossible 5, Infinitely Polar Bear, Person of Interest, Revolution, Alfonso Cuaron‘s pilot Believe, Karl Urban‘s pilot Almost Human, and more. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
The networks are gearing up to announce their fall schedules next week at the upfronts, but this week we’re starting to learn which pilots have been picked up to series. We saw Fox’s orders last night, and here’s a look at some of the series moving ahead at NBC:
- Believe – Kyle MacLachlan, Johnny Sequoyah, and Delroy Lindo star in this supernatural drama series that follows the unlikely friendship between a gifted young girl and a man recently released from prison. Alfonso Cuaron, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Mark Friedman will executive produce, and Cuaron directed the pilot.
- Crisis – Gillian Anderson, Dermot Mulroney, and Rachel Taylor star in this drama series about Washington’s government being pulled into an international conspiracy. Rand Ravich and Far Shariat (Life) will executive produce. Phillip Noyce directed the pilot.
- About a Boy – David Walton, Minnie Driver, and Al Madrigal star in this comedy series adaptation of the Nick Hornby book and subsequent 2002 film. Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) will executive produce, and Jon Favreau directed the pilot.
- Sean Saves the World – Sean Hayes, Linda Lavin, and Thomas Lennon star in this multi-camera sitcom about a man trying to parent his teenage daughter and appease his boss. Victor Fresco (Better Off Ted) and Todd Milliner (Hot in Cleveland) will executive produce.
Hit the jump for news regarding the other two comedy pilots order to series, as well as full synopses for all six shows.
When Disney first announced that it had acquired Lucasfilm and was moving forward with new Star Wars films, the level of fan excitement was understandably very, very high. Not only did Disney have new Star Wars films in the pipeline, but the studio was hoping to release the next one—Episode VII—in just three short years. With the potential 2015 release date looming, the search for a director began, culminating with producer Kathleen Kennedy finally tapping Mr. J.J. Abrams to take the helm.
While Abrams is clearly busy promoting the release of Star Trek Into Darkness at the moment, he’s also very deep in development on Star Wars: Episode VII. Steve recently spoke with Abrams’ producer Bryan Burk about Into Darkness, and during the course of their conversation Burk also talked briefly about Star Wars, which he is also producing alongside Abrams and Kennedy. While he was understandably tight-lipped, Burk did reveal that they’re hoping to start filming early next year. Hit the jump to read on.
Disney and Lucasfilm have now confirmed what we already knew: J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII. The press release was sent out this evening, announcing that Abrams will not only helm the new sequel, but he’ll also produce through Bad Robot with Bryan Burk. The announcement includes quotes from both producer and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and Mr. George Lucas himself, and here’s what Lucas had to say about the decision:
“I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”
Also of note, the press release adds that screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) will be consulting on the project. We previously learned that the two would have a hand in the scripts for further sequels/spinoffs, but it appears they’re also collaborating on Episode VII. Michael Arndt is writing the screenplay. Hit the jump to read the full press release.
A Lance Armstrong movie is indeed moving forward, but it’s probably not the one that the famous cyclist had in mind. A biopic of the seven-time Tour de France champion had been in development for a quite a while with Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal involved in the project at different times, but now following Armstrong’s confession regarding doping charges, a feature film is in the works that focuses on the darker side of the cyclist’s life. Deadline reports that J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk have acquired the screen rights to the book proposal Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong by author Juliet Macur.
It’s unclear in what capacity Abrams and Burk will be involved, but one assumes they’re solely onboard as producers. Paramount Pictures and Abrams and Burke’s Bad Robot will produce the film, which is likely to draw a considerable amount of attention.
NBC, heady with the long unfamiliar smell of success, is snatching up projects, most recently jumping onto the fantasy train by finalizing a deal for Wonderland, executive produced by CSI creator Anthony Zuiker. Wonderland is a drama set in the years after the events in Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland book, and is said to focus on Alice and a new character, Clara.
Elsewhere, the CW has picked up the J.J. Abrams, Ken Olin and Bryan Burk-produced project Electropolis, described as an undercover cop show meets (in my own interpretation) Skins. For more on both of these projects and why every network seems primed to have an Alice in Wonderland story next year, hit the jump.
Though Fringe is coming to an end after the upcoming fifth and final season, showrunner J.H. Wyman and executive producer J.J. Abrams are already making moves for their next TV collaboration. Deadline reports that Fox has acquired an untitled new series that’s described as an action-packed buddy cop show set in the near future where all LAPD officers are partnered with “highly evolved human-like androids.” In other words, a slightly more realistic/dramatic version of Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E.
Fox has committed to producing the pilot, which Wyman will write. Wyman will also executive produce the project with Bad Robot’s Abrams and Bryan Burk. The the pilot be picked up to series, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the android aspect of the show. Will it simply be an actor with light prosthetics/makeup (I’m sure Haley Joel Osment is available) or will there be a heavier CG-feel to it? Whatever the case, I’m inclined to give Wyman and Abrams the benefit of the doubt.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) has been tapped to pen Earthquake, a disaster pic produced by J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk for Universal. The picture is a fresh take on natural disaster fare and only shares a title and a subject with Universal’s previous effort in 1974 starring Charlton Heston. Earthquake may now set itself up to compete with New Line’s own earth shaking project, San Andreas 3D. Deadline reports that the Universal project first had David Seltzer (The Omen) attached to write in 2008 and now gains momentum with Black in the mix. The writer’s most recent projects include J. Edgar, an adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book Under the Banner of Heaven for Warner Bros. and a script for Fox’s Barefoot Bandit.
Even prior to any casting or extensive plot details, the NBC pilot Revolution has major geek credentials. J.J. Abrams and partner Bryan Burk—who together have brought us Star Trek, Alias, Lost, Fringe, etc.—are producing. Supernatural creator Eric Kripke wrote the script. Now Deadline reports Jon Favreau, he of Iron Man fame, will direct the pilot. Favreau has directed a few TV comedies before, including an episode of Undeclared, but nothing of this scope. Revolution is described as “a high-octane action drama following a group of characters struggling to survive and reunite with loved ones in a world where all forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist.” I don’t know what that means, but it sounds very cool, mostly because I trust the parties involved.
Favreau is also working on Tweaked this pilot season over at CBS. He wrote the script, which chronicles life and dating among single parents in Santa Monica, and is attached to direct.
Paramount and Bad Robot are teaming up once more for an untitled action pic, and they’ve settled on Brad Parker to take the helm. Variety reports that the Diary of Lawson Oxford director has been set to head up the untitled action pic which has J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves, and Bryan Burk onboard to produce. Plot details are under wraps, but Michael Gilio (Carter Beats the Devil) wrote the script. Parker made his feature directorial debut with the The Diary of Lawson Oxford, a horror film produced by Paranormal Activity helmer Oren Peli. The pic stars Jesse McCartney and is due out sometime next year.
Parker has a rapport with Reeves, as he served as second-unit director on the remake Let Me In. He began a successful career directing commercials in the 1990s, working on spots for Nike, Nintendo, and Sony. Bad Robot most recently produced the super-successful Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and is gearing up for production start on Abrams’ sequel to Star Trek.
With writer/director J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 opening next week, Paramount has released over twenty new images and you can check them out after the jump. Here’s the synopsis:
In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth – something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.
With the embargo lifted, I can tell you Super 8 was great and it made me feel like a kid again. If I was 12, Super 8 would probably be my favorite movie. It really deserves the Amblin logo at the beginning…
The Fox drama Alcatraz is quickly developing into a dragnet for Lost fans. Key Lost writer Elizabeth Sarnoff is the showrunner. Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams is executive producer. And now, according to Deadline, Lost fan favorite Jorge Garcia will star.
The drama centers on a team FBI agents that investigates the mystery of a group of missing Alcatraz prisoners who disappeared thirty years ago. Garcia will play Dr. Diego Soto, the world’s foremost expert on Alcatraz, described as a “hippie geek.” Awesome.
Bryan Burk (Fringe) joins Abrams and Sarnoff as producer; Danny Cannon (CSI) will direct the pilot, which shoots in January in San Franciso and Vancouver. Glad to hear they’ll shoot some of the show on location in Frisco. The aerials, at the very least.
As we previously reported, the fourth Mission: Impossible would not be titled “Mission: Impossible IV“ and as such we had to refer to it with such non-catchy descriptors like “Untitled Mission: Impossible Reboot”. Now, Tom Cruise has revealed the official title for the movie: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (we have confirmation from Paramount that this is the correct spelling). Maybe there can be a nice crossover at some point with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and after their Ghost Mission they can all go out and enjoy a nice Ghost Steak.
The title was revealed during a press conference for the film, which is partially shooting in Dubai. Also at the press conference were costars Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton, producer Bryan Burk and director Brad Bird (The Incredibles). Hit the jump for what they had to say about filming in Dubai as well as Cruise’s thoughts on Top Gun 2 and shooting at 828-meter-high Burj Khalifa tower.