The feature animation world is about to get a bit bigger as Paramount Pictures is looking to expand its original animation output. The studio surprised last year with the excellent Rango, a film which many (myself included) stood head an shoulders above what Pixar and DreamWorks Animation had to offer in 2011. The studio has since put into development a number of properties, but thus far the only one we’ve known much about was The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2.
A new report just hit that clues us in on much more of what Paramount has in store, including an animated project from J.J. Abrams and feature film adaptations of a number of Nickelodeon shows like The Legend of Korra and Dora the Explorer. Hit the jump for more.
Hot off of the more than $240 million worldwide take (against its approximately $135 million production budget) enjoyed by Rango, Paramount is moving ahead on its next animated film. Heat Vision reports that the studio has acquired the rights to adapt Penny Arcade‘s online comic The New Kid with scribe Gary Whitta (Book of Eli) tapped to pen the screenplay. The move is the studio’s second foray into the comic world in the last twenty-four hours as they optioned Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne’s graphic novel The Mighty earlier today.
As for The New Kid, the comic is an intergalactic tale that focuses on a lone human attending a school filled with aliens. It is believed that Paramount’s activity in the animated realm is a self-inflicted attempt to give the studio a large pool of animated projects to draw from in case its soon ending distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation is not renewed. Rango is the studio’s only non-DreamWorks-produced animated film to date.
The Smith household has apparently not received the memo that M. Night Shyamalan should not be writing or directing movies. Back in October, we reported that Will Smith had signed on to star in Shyamalan’s sci-fi project One Thousand A.E. and that Smith’s son Jaden may co-star. We have now received a press release announcing that the film has lost its title but gained a tiny Smith.
The script (written by Shyamalan and Gary Whitta) is set 1,000 years in the future and has a young boy (Jaden) navigating an abandoned and sometimes scary Earth to save himself and his estranged father (Will) after their ship crashes. Apparently the Smith family wants to test how strong their charisma can carry a film over inert directing and awful screenwriting. Hit the jump for the press release.
Kurt Russell has signed on to star in the neo-noir supernatural thriller Undying. Written by Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli), the film is about a private investigator named Virgil Lone who falls into a surreal underworld after he’s hired by a mysterious woman named Delia. According to THR, production is set to begin this fall.
Russell recently joined the cast of Rupert Wainwright’s historical drama Waco. Whitta is also writing the MMORPG movie The Defenders for producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek).
With the Hughes Brothers The Book of Eli opening this Friday, Warner Bros. has finally released some movie clips. While some studios are content to release four or perhaps six clips from a film, WB has sent over twelve! So if you’re trying to stay spoiler free, you will not want to watch these. Saying that, a few of the clips showcase some of the cool action scenes so perhaps you want to see them now. The Book of Eli stars Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Beals, Ray Stevenson, Frances de la Tour and Michael Gambon.
Hit the jump for the synopsis and clips:
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Heroes” star Masi Oka has just set up “The Defenders” over at DreamWorks with “Star Trek” writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci producing, Gary Whitta (“The Book of Eli”) writing the script, and D.J. Caruso (“Eagle Eye”) potentially directing. I’m not sure what role this leaves Oka since the story doesn’t say he’s acting in it, co-producing, co-writing, or if he’s active in any capacity other than developing the idea.
The idea: “The story centers on a group of mostly teenagers from around the world who are involved in a multiplayer video game, each unaware of who they really are behind the cover of their consoles and avatars. They are forced to come together for a real adventure, becoming inadvertent heroes in the process.” Also, the teenagers who say they’re hot women and have a busty elf as their avatar should actually be ugly dudes. Naw, I’m just kidding. This is totally gonna play into a geek fantasy and some gorgeous chick is going to be a hardcore gamer*.
Honestly, it seems like a fun idea since Orci and Kurtzman want to make a film in the vein of the old Amblin movies like “The Goonies” and Oka asks the cool question of “What if you had to live up to the person you created in the virtual world?” Cynically, I’d say you’d fail completely and be revealed for the failure that you are. The movie will probably come to a different conclusion.
*Yes, I know there are hardcore gamers that are gorgeous women. It’s just that the aforementioned hideous dudes are far more common.
Given the wealth of remakes, adaptations and updates on studio release schedules these days, movies made from original screenplays have become a rare commodity, at least for folks disinterested in Alvin and the Chipmunks. The Book of Eli was written by Gary Whitta, a newcomer with only one other credit to his IMDB resume – the forthcoming live-action version of Akira – and as directed by Allen and Albert Hughes, it promises to be more than the exception that proves the rule. Starring Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis and Gary Oldman, the film follows a lone warrior (Washington) as he navigates a dusty, violent, post-apocalyptic landscape, and Collider was recently invited to check out its fantastic, futuristic, and most of all dusty landscape.
The film was shot in New Mexico, the production location for several other recent blockbusters including Observe and Report and Terminator Salvation. The set we visited was a short distance from the Albuquerque airport, but by the time we arrived at the razed landfill where shooting was to take place, virtually all remnants of civilization were forgotten: tumbleweed (seriously) and dusty plains were the only sights for miles in every direction. Except, of course, for the set itself – a dilapidated house built especially for a big action set piece, some of which we hoped to watch as it was shot.