Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann has a penchant for displays of extravagance, and now it looks like he might next be putting his talents towards a martial arts Western adaptation of a popular TV show. THR reports that the Great Gatsby director is in talks to helm an adaptation of the 1970s TV series Kung Fu, which starred David Carradine and revolved around a Shaolin monk who came to the American West in search of his half-brother. Legendary Pictures is producing the effort, and the 19th Century-set feature would certainly make for an ambitious challenge for Luhrmann. The director has yet to tackle an action-oriented pic, opting instead for the operatic or theatrical with films like Moulin Rouge! and Australia.
Hit the jump for more on the Kung Fu movie adaptation, including how the film will differ from the TV series.
Now available on VOD and in select theaters is Drafthouse Films’ dark thriller/comedy Cheap Thrills starring Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner, and Sara Paxton. I watched the film last night and, while not for the faint of heart or stomach, I can’t recommend it enough. At its core, Thrills works from a single question: how far would you go to be able to provide for yourself and/or your family? It uses precision pacing, confident direction from E.L. Katz, and solid performances across the board to explore this question, all while gradually rising to a crescendo that feels both inevitable and wildly inventive. Offhand I can’t think of a film that blends the thrilling and the disgusting, excitement and repulsion, in a more entertaining way than Cheap Thrills. Regardless of whether you want to or not (and I don’t think you will), this is a movie you won’t soon forget.
In addition to talking a bit more about Cheap Thrills with Matt’s review and a couple of interviews, this week’s Top 5 also highlights our set visit coverage for Godzilla, Matt’s review of Divergent plus interviews with Shailene Woodley and more, the final trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Muppets Most Wanted interviews with Tina Fey among others. Read on for a brief recap and link to everything I mention above.
Legendary Pictures is putting The Great Wall back together. The project initially came very close to production with Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai) directing and Henry Cavill and Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) in the lead roles, but scheduling issues and creative differences brought the film to a halt. The central conceit—which was hatched by Legendary CEO Thomas Tull and World War Z author Max Brooks—explores the mystery behind why The Great Wall was constructed in China. In Zwick’s iteration, supernatural forces played a role as the wall was built not to keep anyone in, but to keep terrifying creatures out.
Though it was over a year ago that Zwick dropped out, Legendary is going to try to get The Great Wall moving again with Hero director Zhang Yimou. Hit the jump for more.
Will Smith’s last two starring roles were for sci-fi oriented films (After Earth and Men in Black 3), and it appears that the actor is keen on continuing that trajectory for his next project. The Wrap reports that Smith is in early talks to star in the sci-fi thriller Brilliance, which is being developed as a potential tentpole for Legendary and Universal. The pic is based on the Marcus Sakey novel of the same name and takes place in a world where once percent of people are born with heightened cognitive abilities, dubbed “brilliants.” Smith would play a federal agent whose gift is put to good use hunting terrorists, but he meets his match when he must track down another “brilliant” who is bent on igniting a civil war. David Koepp (Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds) penned the screenplay, and Julius Onah (God Particle) is set to direct. Onah is also developing a separate sci-fi project for Paramount and J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot.
Smith seems like a solid choice to lead this kind of high-concept thriller, and his attachment would certainly put the film on the fast track towards production. The actor will next be seen onscreen opposite Margot Robbie in the con man pic Focus, which opens next February. Read a synopsis for Sakey’s Brilliance after the jump.
300: Rise of an Empire is scheduled for release on March 7. To whet fans’ appetites, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have planned screenings of the original 300 February 4 in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Dallas, Washington DC, Phoenix, Toronto, and Montreal. To make it extra special, the first 13 minutes of 300: Rise of an Empire will screen in 3D IMAX prior to the screening. It’s a neat and logical promotion.
Hit the jump for the press release with all the details. Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Rodrigo Santoro, David Wenham, Igal Nao, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, and Andrew Tiernan star in 300: Rise of an Empire, directed by Noam Murro.
Universal Pictures has announced a slew of release dates for some of its upcoming films, unveiling the first synopses for some highly anticipated pics (including the latest from Guillermo del Toro) in the process. Briefly:
- As Above, So Below – From Legendary Pictures, the psychological thriller directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine) will open August 15, 2014.
- A Walk Among the Tombstones – The Liam Neeson/Dan Stevens thriller directed by Scott Frank will hit theaters September 19, 2014.
- Ouija – Universal’s adaptation of the popular board game produced by Michael Bay is slated for October 24, 2014.
- Everest – Director Baltasar Kormakur’s (2 Guns) survival drama starring Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, and Jake Gyllenhaal will be released in 3D and IMAX 3D February 27, 2015.
- Pitch Perfect 2 – The music-centered sequel, directed by Elizabeth Banks, will be aca-released May 15, 2015.
- Crimson Peak – From Legendary Pictures, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro’s next directorial effort, starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Charlie Hunnam, will haunt traditional theaters and IMAX on October 16, 2015.
Hit the jump to read the synopses for the aforementioned films.
Filmmaker J.C. Chandor took on the recent financial crisis in his talky director debut Margin Call and then chronicled one man’s nearly dialogue-free attempt to survive on the open ocean in All Is Lost, and now he’s setting his sights on something entirely different yet again for another upcoming feature. Deadline reports that Chandor is writing with an eye to direct a film about legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, who as head coach led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships and won the first two Super Bowls. Hit the jump for more on the project.
Michael Dougherty‘s Trick ‘r Treat has built up a cult fanbase since it was first screened at Butt-Numb-a-Thon in 2007. From there, it went through multiple festivals including Fangoria Convention, Fantasia Film Festival, and Fantastic Fest. The movie finally received a limited release in 2009, and the cult has continued to grow. For those unfamiliar with the film, it’s an anthology of loosely-related Halloween stories that all have a darkly comic twist. The cult following has kept the surprises secret, and while I don’t personally find the movie scary, I thought it was quite clever.
But for the die-hard fans, there’s some terrific news: Trick ‘r Treat 2 was announced during the Q&A at last night’s fan screening for the original. There are no details beyond the announcement, but you can hit the jump to check out the panel.
The Hot Wheels movie now has a director. Heat Vision reports that Legendary Pictures has tapped prestigious second-unit director and stunt coordinator Simon Crane to take the helm of Hot Wheels, which is based on the Mattel toy line of the same name. The story takes place after a dangerous military device has fallen into the hands of a criminal, which forces a washed-up Illinois State Trooper to fight the man his father once put behind bars. How this ties into cars is unknown, but with the Fast & Furious franchise making serious money on its fifth and sixth entries and a Need for Speed film poised to hit theaters next year, Legendary is clearly game to get in on the car craze.
Crane’s resume as a second-unit director includes work on films like World War Z, Troy, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, so he has plenty of experience with blockbuster filmmaking. Art Marcum and Matt Holloway wrote the initial script for this iteration of Hot Wheels, but Legendary has tapped Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show) to do a rewrite. Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland) is producing.
Here’s a bit of acquisition news for you today:
- Legendary Pictures has picked up Reminiscence, a sci-fi thriller spec script from Lisa Joy, under their deal with Universal.
- DreamWorks has acquired Spark, an upcoming novel from writer John Twelve Hawks.
Hit the jump for more on both pictures.
The World of Warcraft movie now has an official release date. Universal Pictures announced today that director Duncan Jones’ Warcraft will be released on December 18, 2015, ensuring at least one fantasy epic event movie will be in theaters for the holiday season. Officially described as “an epic adventure of world-colliding conflict,” Warcraft will square off directly against Ron Howard’s Dan Brown adaptation Inferno on the pre-Christmas date, but rumors have swirled that Star Wars: Episode VII might be eyeing a December date as well. We recently learned that Paula Patton is in negotiations for a lead role in the film with Colin Farrell also being eyed for a lead, and the short list for a couple of other roles reportedly includes Paul Dano, Anton Yelchin, Travis Fimmel, and Anson Mount.
Legendary Pictures is producing Warcraft, which will be distributed by Universal Pictures as part of Legendary’s new deal with the studio after cutting ties with Warner Bros. Jones also wrote the screenplay with Charles Leavitt, and Charles Roven is producing alongside Alex Gartner, Thomas Tull, and Jon Jashni. Filming is slated to begin on January 13th.
Legendary Pictures is hitting the ground running with its new distribution deal under Universal. After severing its relationship with Warner Bros., Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures is eyeing Dracula as its first project with Universal. Production on the film is already underway in Ireland with Luke Evans taking on the titular role, but Variety reports that Legendary is in talks to come aboard and co-finance the project. Gary Shore directs the pic, which tells the origin story of the classic creature and is slated for release on August 8, 2014.
Additionally, Legendary is considering co-funding the high-profile Jurassic Park 4. Hit the jump for more on the studio’s deal with Universal.
The World of Warcraft movie is finally coming to fruition. After Legendary showed off a highly promising reel of test footage from Moon director Duncan Jones’ adaptation at Comic-Con, the studio announced that filming would begin in early 2014. Indeed it will, as Production Weekly now reports that filming on Warcraft is officially slated to begin on January 13th in Vancouver. Casting has yet to be announced, but if the January date sticks then we should expect to hear word on that front very soon.
Recent rumors suggest that the film will be a full-blooded fantasy pic in the vein of The Lord of the Rings, and it’s said to more closely follow the real time strategy video games from the mid-90s instead of the current iteration of the game—that will be saved for further installments in the potential franchise. Warcraft is being eyed for release in 2015.
A surprising bit of custody business has been settled as a result of the divorce between Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. The two studios will part ways at the end of this year when their current contract expires, and Legendary has already set up a distribution deal with Universal Pictures after opting not to renew its WB deal. Just the other day we learned that Legendary agreed to give up its stake in the Man of Steel sequel in exchange for a portion of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which is a co-production between Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, and now it appears that Warner Bros. is dropping the upcoming fantasy-adventure film Seventh Son altogether. As a result, the film’s release date is now in flux.
Hit the jump for more, including a rundown of the Warner Bros./Legendary projects that are still in question.
When director Zack Snyder’s Superman vs. Batman film hits theaters in 2015, the pic will not be boasting the Legendary Pictures logo. The studio has decided to end its partnership with Warner Bros. later this year when their contract comes to a conclusion, but Legendary still stood to maintain its stake in the Man of Steel follow-up. However, The Wrap now reports that Legendary has agreed to give up its stake in Superman vs. Batman in return for a portion of Christopher Nolan’s 2014 sci-fi film Interstellar. Legendary previously co-produced Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy as well as Inception, so the studio certainly has a relationship with the filmmaker.
Interstellar is a co-production between Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. and is sure to make a killing at the box office, so Legendary stands to make a healthy amount of money on Nolan’s latest. At the end of its partnership with Warner Bros., Legendary will begin its new contract with Universal Pictures.