Hollywood has been trying to reboot the Zorro franchise for a few years now, and it looks like things are heating up for the project once again. Two years ago, a futuristic reboot called Zorro Reborn was planned at 20th Century Fox that would have painted the titular character as more of a vigilante than a hero. Gael Garcia Bernal was poised to star, but the film never materialized. Now there’s movement on a new adaptation of the character, as Sony is gearing up to start work on a Zorro film described as a “gritty” reboot of the swashbuckler. Hit the jump for more.
Sony Pictures’ long-in-the-works adaptation of the short film Pixels is finally moving towards a production start. The studio teamed up with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company to adapt Patrick Jean’s short film of the same name three years ago, but movement on the video game-themed project has been slow. Now, after setting family friendly filmmaker Chris Columbus (Harry Potter 1 and 2) to direct last year, Josh Gad and Kevin James are in line to possibly lead the pic as champion arcade gamers who are needed to help defeat alien attacks who have an affinity for 80s arcade games. Hit the jump for more, including the original short.
[Update: The Wrap adds that Sandler will also be leading the cast of Pixels with Jennifer Aniston in the mix for the female lead, though scheduling may ultimately prevent her from signing on.]
Sony Pictures is making big plans for its Spider-Man franchise and beyond. When the studio announced plans to move forward with a Venom spinoff and a Sinister Six film in addition to further adventures in the proper Spider-Man series, it became clear that the studio was keen on building its own mini-universe not unlike Marvel’s interconnected franchises. Now it appears that the plan involves releasing a new Spider-Man film every year for the foreseeable future. That begins with 2016’s The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which the studio has now confirmed that Marc Webb will indeed be returning to direct. Hit the jump for more.
Sony Pictures is hoping to get a jump on the presumed-hype for director Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming thriller The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington, by getting the ball rolling on the sequel well in advance. The first pic doesn’t open in theaters until September, but it apparently scored through the roof during a recent test screening, bringing back the highest scores for an R-rated film in Sony’s history. As a result, the studio is keen on developing the follow-up in the hopes that the film makes waves when it hits theaters this fall. Hit the jump for more.
Last year, South Park astutely pointed out (as they usually do) how “wars” between consoles are done for PR rather than the benefit of the actual consumers, so the “battle” between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was nonsense. But championing a video game console is nothing new, and it began in earnest back in the 1990s as Sega and Nintendo went head-to-head. Author Blake Harris has penned a book on the history between the two companies, Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation, and it will be released in August. Sony Pictures and producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network) have picked up the movie rights, and have brought on Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to write and direct.
Hit the jump for more.
Writer/director Cameron Crowe’s untitled next film will serve as a nifty Christmas Present this year. Sony Pictures has slated the untitled picture for release on December 25, 2014, where it will square off against Disney’s musical Into the Woods, the comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2, and director Angelina Jolie’s war drama Unbroken. Crowe’s picture is described as a romantic comedy and stars Bradley Cooper as a defense contractor overseeing a weapons satellite launch from Hawaii who teams up with (and falls for) an Air Force pilot (Emma Stone) to scuttle the launch. The very solid ensemble cast is filled out by Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, Rachel McAdams, and Danny McBride.
Crowe’s last directorial effort, 2011’s We Bought a Zoo, also opened on Christmas Day, and I’m eager to see what the filmmaker has cooked up this time around.
You can now add a Sacha Baron Cohen comedy to the crowded 2015 film slate. We learned last year that Cohen would be teaming up with Now You See Me director Louis Leterrier for his next film, Grimsby, and now Deadline reports that the film has moved from Paramount to Sony Pictures, which will distribute the pic on July 31, 2015. The story revolves around a British black-ops spy who is forced to go on the run with his long-lost brother, an idiotic English soccer hooligan, with Cohen playing the latter. The comedian penned the script with his Borat co-writer Peter Baynham and Oscar-nominated Philomena co-writer Phil Johnston. Production is set to begin this summer.
The only other film slated for release on July 31st is Fox’s Peregrine’s Home for Peculiars, but that pic doesn’t have a firm director yet so who knows whether that will stick. However, Grimsby will likely have considerable box office competition from a film opening a week earlier, Judd Apatow’s next comedy Trainwreck.
Sony Pictures has won an intense bidding war for author David Ignatius’ upcoming spy novel The Director, and the studio is hoping to stay in business with Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass on the project. The Wrap reports that Scott Rudin is producing the pic for Sony, and both the studio and Rudin are hoping to attach Greengrass as the director. Rudin worked with Greengrass on Captain Phillips and that film is poised to land some major Oscar nominations tomorrow, so the pairing on The Director wouldn’t be a stretch. Ignatius’ spy novel kicks off when a newly appointed CIA director is faced with the possibility that the agency may have been hacked. The director then enlists a computer-savvy agent to conduct a mole hunt in Europe and the U.S.
Greengrass has yet to choose a follow-up project to Captain Phillips, and while he continues to develop his MLK drama Memphis, he recently stated that it wouldn’t be his next film. We should hear something more concrete about his future plans once the awards madness dies down. Hit the jump to read a synopsis of Ignatius’ novel.
A few weeks ago, Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal hinted at expanding the Spider-Man universe, and I’ve been saying for months that the company’s superhero strategy rests on supervillains since they only have one superhero, Spider-Man (creating a superhero from scratch is apparently verboten). Their only option is to dig into Spidey’s vast rogues gallery, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do. Last night, Sony outlined how they plan to compete with Disney/Marvel, Warner Bros/DC Comics, and 20th Century Fox (X-Men and Fantastic Four).
Hit the jump for more details on the studio’s plan.
The legacy of the James Bond film franchise is not without its twists and turns, many of which are excellently captured in the documentary Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007. One of the more difficult stories related to the film series involves Thunderball, which began with an original screenplay by Bond creator Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory, before Fleming decided to cut McClory out of the picture and publish the novel Thunderball—based on the idea the two hatched together—with nary a mention of McClory. The result was a decades-long legal battle and two “unofficial” Bond films (Thunderball and Never Say Never Again), but at long last the entanglement has ended.
Hit the jump for more, including what this means for the Bond franchise going forward.
Sony is once again getting a jump on its next Spider-Man sequel, as the studio has tapped a trio of scribes to start penning the screenplay for The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Alex Kurtzmn, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner are credited with the screenplay for next May’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Sony has now hired the trio to begin work on The Amazing Spider-Man 3. The studio clearly has big plans for the rebooted Spidey franchise, as it recently set release dates for both Spidey 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 for June 2016 and May 2018, respectively. Hit the jump for more, including the likelihood of director Marc Webb returning for the third installment.
Sony Pictures has just acquired a stranger-than-fiction pitch that will see Jason Segel playing a maple syrup thief. Inspired by real events reported by Anne Sutherland in the Montreal Gazette, the film chronicles the 2012 heist of over $20 million worth of maple syrup that was stolen from Quebec’s Federation of Maple Syrup Producers (this is a real thing that exists). As of now, over 20 individuals have been arrested in connection to the maple syrup crime (also a thing that exists). Segel is attached to star and Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon is onboard to direct. Hit the jump for more.
Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Evan Goldberg have long talked about an idea for an R-rated animated film, and now it appears that the raunchy pic will finally come to fruition. Sony Pictures announced today that it will partner with Annapurna Pictures on Sausage Party, which was written by Rogen, Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir based on an idea by Rogen, Goldberg, and Hill. The story follows one sausage’s “quest to discover the truth about his existence,” as he falls out of a shopping cart and, along with his friends, embarks on a journey to return to his aisle before the 4th of July sale.
Voice casting has yet to be announced, but Conrad Vernon (Shrek 2) and Greg Tiernan will be directing the pic with an eye towards a 2015 release date. Rogen and Goldberg made their directorial debut with this summer’s excellent This Is the End and are currently helming the Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview. Hit the jump for the full press release.
Though Elysium has only been in theaters for a couple of weeks, Sony has already given director Neill Blomkamp’s next film a release date. The sci-fi pic Chappie will open in theaters on March 27, 2015, adding yet another film to look forward to in what’s shaping up to be the busiest moviegoing year in history. The only other film currently set for release on 3/27 is DreamWorks Animation’s spinoff The Penguins of Madagascar, but Marvel is poised to invade every available screen a little over a month later when The Avengers: Age of Ultron opens on May 1st.
With Chappie, Blomkamp reunites with his Elysium and District 9 star Sharlto Copley once again. The pic tells the story of a robot (Copley) imbued with artificial intelligence who is stolen by two local gangsters who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes. Ninja and Yolandi Visser are onboard to play said gangsters. Production on Chappie begins this fall in South Africa, but it appears that Blomkamp will need plenty of time to complete the film’s extensive visual effects.
Following last weekend’s slightly disappointing box office opening of Elysium, Sony Pictures has decided to back another one of writer/director Neill Blomkamp’s films. The studio is teaming up with MRC to finance Blomkamp’s next pic, the sci-fi film Chappie. The pic “tells the story of a robot imbued with artificial intelligence who is stolen by two local gangsters who want to use him for their own nefarious purposes.” Sharlto Copley is already onboard to voice the titular robot, and Ninja and Yolandi Visser (aka Die Antwoord) are set to play the two gangsters. Dev Patel was reported as being in early talks for a role a few months ago, but there’s no mention of the actor in this official press release. Blomkamp recently revealed that there’s one more role he’s trying to fill, so this may be it.
Blomkamp wrote the script for Chappie with Terri Tatchell (District 9) and will also produce the pic alongside Simon Kinberg, who also produced Elysium. Filming is poised to begin this fall. Hit the jump to read the full press release, which includes the logline.