In addition to the big franchise news that Jurassic Park IV will be opening in 2014, Disney has just announced the screenwriter for Pirates of the Caribbean 5. Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can) has been tapped to pen the fifth installment of the property kept afloat by star Johnny Depp as Cap’n Jack Sparrow. Depp was “close” to signing on for the film back in 2011, but has yet to officially do so. It’s also unclear whether previous co-stars like Geoffrey Rush and Keira Knightley will return. What is clear is that the multi-billion-dollar franchise is sailing forward. Hit the jump for more on Nathanson and Pirates of the Caribbean 5.
The adaptation of adventures novel series The 39 Clues is now in the hands of director Shawn Levy (Real Steel). The feature rights to the on-going 15-volume series were acquired by DreamWorks as a project originally intended for Steven Spielberg. When that didn’t pan out, Brett Ratner stepped in to direct with Spielberg staying on as a producer, but that must have fallen through as well. That’s good news for the series, in my humble opinion, as DreamWorks is envisioning The 39 Clues as a family-friendly, action/adventure film franchise. Levy already brings experience in that realm, citing the Night at the Museum films. Then again, Levy is attached to damn near everything at the moment, including the Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson team-up comedy, Interns, which shoots this summer. After that, who knows. Hit the jump for more on Levy and The 39 Clues.
Production on Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black III went into its planned hiatus last November to handle issues with the script. That hiatus was set to finish in February, but was recently pushed back to March 28th. According to Deadline, blockbuster scribe David Koepp (Spider-Man) has been brought in to work on the script for the next several weeks.
The story for the third involvement involves the movie’s villain (Jemaine Clement) traveling back in time to kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), but that assassination will set off a chain of events that will destroy the world. Agent J (Will Smith) must travel back in time to protect Agent K and the universe. Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) wrote the original draft of the script, and then Jeff Nathanson (Rush Hour 2) was brought on board to punch up the time-traveling scenes. There are no details on what parts of the script require Koepp’s attention, but Sony insists that the 3D film will make its May 25, 2012 release date. The movie also stars Rip Torn, Alice Eve, Emma Thompson, and Josh Brolin.
The oft delayed production of the third entry in the popular Men in Black franchise is about to begin filming, but the shooting schedule has just taken an unusual turn. Production on the film is set to begin tomorrow, but the cast and crew will take a two-month hiatus when they wrap for the holidays. The LA Times reports that the plan for the 3D film is to shoot through Christmas week, and then shut down production until mid-February. The project seemed to be rolling right along, with copious amounts of casting news/rumors in the past few weeks, but it appears that there are a few problems behind the scenes.
Apparently screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me if You Can) is being brought in to work on a new draft of the script, previously written by Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder). Specifically, scenes surrounding the time-travel aspect of the film involving a young Agent Kay being played by Josh Brolin, are said to have some issues. For much more on the hiatus, hit the jump.
Eddie Murphy has joined the cast of Brett Ratner’s upcoming film Tower Heist. The film centers on an over-worked building manager (played by Ben Stiller) who leads the building’s staff in an attempt to loot a Bernie Madoff-style crook (played by Alan Alda) who lives in the penthouse. Deadline doesn’t say what role Murphy will play, but it’s surprising to see him costar when he usually flies solo. Of course, the solo flights haven’t been working out too well as Murphy’s last two live-action outings, Imagine That and Meet Dave, have tanked at the box office.
Interestingly, Murphy has been mentioned as a possible cast member for years, going back to when the project was called “Trump Heist” and was styled as an African-American version of Ocean’s Eleven. Hit the jump for my thoughts on the project now that Murphy’s on board.
Thanks to the success of “Twilight” it looks like we are going to get a couple of adaptations of other successful book series which are aimed at the young-adult crowd. Most of these will be pitched as “It’s like Twilight meets…” and the latest book series that is on its way to the big screen, “Wicked”, is being sold as that. The project is being described as “‘Twilight’ meets ‘Wanted’ with witchcraft” and will probably become a franchise at DreamWorks. Also, Steven Spielberg might jump in on this book series craze by maybe directing an adaptation of “The 39 Clues”. You can get all the details after the jump.
Here’s what most people know about Harry Houdini: his name is synonymous with escape artistry and he was defeated by a strong punch to the stomach which seems oddly anti-climactic for a guy who escaped death so many times. It’s almost as if the Reaper was like “Wow, that’s all really impressive. Try this one.” It’s like one step above a brain aneurysm.
But William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s biography “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero” insinuates that Houdini was a spy for Britain and was asked to be an adviser to Czar Nicholas II’s court in pre-revolutionary Russia. The book also portrayed the master escape artist and magician as a debunker of con artists who pretended to be spiritualists, leading to the theory that his death was caused by the spiritual movement as payback. You know, I think that theory would be a lot stronger if he had died under mysterious circumstances rather than “I was sick and someone punched me in the stomach.”
According to THR, Jeff Nathanson is taking on Kalush and Sloman’s take on Houdini for Summit Entertainment and will do it in the style of an action-adventure like Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (even though that film actually looks quite faithful to the books but not to the Basil Rathbone films which is why a lot of folks are confused). This all sounds great until you remember that Nathanson is the screenwriter behind two of the “Rush Hour” movies and “Speed 2: Cruise Control”. Looking at his filmography, it doesn’t seem like Nathanson is a bad screenwriter as much as he’s one that just kow-tows to the powerful director (except for the one film he directed, “The Last Shot” and even that was kind of forgettable). With Nathanson making this his next directorial feature, hopefully he’ll prove me wrong and deliver a great Houdini picture. Or a slow-moving boat crashing into a city. Either/or.