Though Forest Whitaker may soon be incurring the wrath of Liam Neeson in Taken 3, the Oscar-winning actor is also lining up another directorial project for the near future. Deadline reports that Whitaker is in talks to direct and co-star in an adaptation of the bestselling William Paul Young novel The Shack. The self-published, faith-based book tells the story of a man who whose daughter was abducted and brutally murdered in an abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness. Years later, the man receives a note, apparently from God, inviting him to return to the shack where he finds something that will change his life forever. Summit Entertainment acquired the feature rights to the book last April and John Fusco (Hidalgo) is penning the script.
Assuming this project moves forward sooner rather than later, this will be Whitaker’s first directorial effort since 2004’s First Daughter. He also previously helmed 1998’s Hope Floats and 1995’s Waiting to Exhale. Read the synopsis for The Shack after the jump.
Summit Entertainment has acquired that other Hercules movie and slated it for release. The non-Dwayne Johnson film is titled Hercules: The Legend Begins and stars Kellan Lutz as the titular demigod. The film aims to tell the origin story of Hercules, as we follow the character’s quest to claim his one true love, Hebe, who has been promised to his own brother. We saw a pretty awful first trailer last month, but Summit apparently took a liking to the pic and has set it for release in 2D and 3D on February 7, 2014. The film will open opposite George Clooney’s WWII film The Monuments Men and the excellent-looking animated pic The LEGO Movie, so good luck.
Read the full press release after the jump. The film also stars Scott Adkins, Gaia Weiss, Liam McIntyre, Liam Garrigan, Johnathon Schaech, Roxanne McKee, and Rade Serbedzija.
One of the biggest box office surprises of 2013 thus far has been director Louis Leterrier’s magician heist pic Now You See Me. The $75 million film went on to gross $115.6 million domestically, and it’s international total now stands at $119.3. When you consider that some major studio tentpoles (ahem The Lone Ranger) have failed to cross the $100 million mark stateside, that is an incredibly impressive performance; obviously this means it’s time to make a sequel. THR reports that Lionsgate and Summit are moving forward with a follow-up film, with production currently “penciled in” for 2014. Should that plan stick, we could expect to possibly see Now You See Me 2 hit theaters in 2015. Hit the jump for more.
The Comic-Con panel for Summit’s futuristic thriller Divergent is poised to take place later today, but the studio has gotten a jump on things this morning by announcing that the pic will be released in the IMAX format when it hits theaters on March 21, 2014. Directed by Neil Burger (Limitless), the film is based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth and takes place in a futuristic society where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, which determines how they can best serve the population. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) stars as Tris, a young girl who doesn’t fit into any of the pre-assigned groups and faces grave consequences due to her status as a “Divergent.” The book is quite the page-turner, and the film’s action sequences should make for some great eye candy on the giant IMAX screen.
Hit the jump to read the full press release, and check back here later today for our recap of the Comic-Con panel. The film also stars Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lamb, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Amy Newbold, and Christian Madsen.
A staple of Comic-Con’s past has been the Hall H panel for the latest Twilight film, which is usually held early on Thursday morning. With that series now completed, Summit is bringing a new popular YA adaptation to the Con this year: author Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Directed by Neil Burger (Limitless), the film takes place in a futuristic society where people are divided into factions based on their personalities. Tris is a young girl who doesn’t fit into any of the pre-assigned groups and faces grave consequences due to her status as a “Divergent.”
The Hall H panel will include appearances by a large number of the film’s cast members, including Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lamb, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, and Christian Madsen. Burger and Roth will also take part in the panel, which will premiere the first footage from the futuristic thriller. Hit the jump for more.
It appears that Summit has finally zeroed in on a director for the long-gestating magician pic Houdini. One of several films about the legendary magician currently in development, Summit’s project is based on the William Kalush and Larry Sloman book The Secret Life of Houdini, which portrays the magician as more of an action/adventure hero in the vein of Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes and posits that the master magician “acted as a spy for Britain, helped the Secret Service, and was in cahoots with police organizations.” Gary Ross initially flirted with the project as his post-Hunger Games film but eventually fell off, and now Deadline reports that Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot is in early talks with Summit to take the helm.
Parisot most recently directed Red 2 for Summit, and early word has been incredibly positive on the action-comedy sequel. Houdini is envisioned as a possible franchise-starter, and I have to say Parisot is quite an inspired choice. Hit the jump for a synopsis of the source material.
Summit Entertainment only just began production on the YA adaptation Divergent, but the studio has now released the first image of Shailene Woodley as the film’s protagonist, Tris. Based on the book by author Veronica Roth, the story takes place in a futuristic society where people are divided into factions based on their personalities, and Woodley’s Tris is a young girl who doesn’t fit into any of the pre-assigned groups and faces termination due to her status as a “Divergent.” While many will draw similarities to The Hunger Games (this debut image doesn’t exactly set the two apart), I’ve heard good things about Divergent and The Descendants star Woodley is proving to be one of the more exciting young talents working today. She turns in a stellar performance in the upcoming The Spectacular Now.
Hit the jump to check out the debut image from director Neil Burger’s (Limitless) adaptation. The film also stars Kate Winslet, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer, Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, Christian Madsen and Amy Newbold. Divergent opens on March 21, 2014.
Jim Carrey is set to breathe new life into Summit’s long-developing comedy Ricky Stanicky. The film was initially written by Jeff Bushell (Beverly Hills Chihuahua) and begins when three teens pull a prank by burning down a house in their neighborhood. The kids create a fake person to take the blame—“Ricky Stanicky”—and 20 years later are still using the alibi to get out of every uncomfortable situation. When their wives finally force them to set up a meeting with Stanicky, they hire an actor to inhabit the personality. Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) recently came onboard to re-write and direct the film, and the ensemble comedy is said to be in the same R-rated vein as The Hangover.
Hit the jump for more on the project, including details regarding Carrey’s casting.
Shailene Woodley is having a very good couple of weeks. The Descendants star recently entered negotiations to nab the coveted role of Mary Jane Watson in the Amazing Spider-Man sequel, and now she’s looking to lead a franchise of her own: director Neil Burger‘s (Limitless) adaptation of the Hunger Games-esque YA novel Divergent. The story revolves around a 16-year-old girl living in a world where society is divided into five factions that represent a particular virtue. There’s Honesty, Selflessness, Bravery, Peacefulness, and Intelligence. On a certain day, all 16-year-olds must choose which virtue they want to devote the rest of their life to, after which they undergo a rigorous initiation process for said virtue.
The novel, from author Veronica Roth, is the first in a planned trilogy and it’s garnered some very positive reviews, so this may not be the cheap Hunger Games ripoff that some are expecting. Heat Vision reports that Woodley initially some scheduling issues with Spider-Man, but apparently the Mary Jane role is realtively small in that sequel, setting up a major role in the third film. As such, she’s able to take the lead in Divergent and also play Mary Jane. Hit the jump to read the full synopsis for the book.
Hot on the heels of the first trailer for the significantly delayed genre pic Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, a witch hunting film of a different sort may have found its lead. The Wrap reports that Vin Diesel is in talks to star in The Crazies director Breck Eisner’s The Last Witch Hunter. Diesel would play one of the last remaining witch hunters who is tasked with “discouraging a group of witches and warlocks from reproducing.” Vin Diesel: Cock Blocker was previously set up as a directing vehicle for Wanted’s Timur Bekmambetov, but he’s now only onboard in a producer role. The script for the Lionsgate/Summit film was written by Cory Goodman (Priest).
Diesel is currently in London filming the Justin Lin-helmed sequel Fast & Furious 6, and he recently wrapped the third installment in his Chronicles of Riddick series, Riddick. The actor is also attached to star in the Iron Giant-esque possible franchise-starter The Machine, in which he’ll play a government-created machine that must protect the family who’s harboring him.
Though director Scott Derrickson’s (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) horror film Sinister doesn’t open for a couple more weeks, fans have the chance to bring a preview screening of the film to their hometown early. For those unaware, the pic stars Ethan Hawke as a true crime novelist who moves his family into a house where the horrific murder of an entire family took place in an effort to discover his next big story. When he finds a box of home videos in which other families are also brutally murdered, he realizes he may have made a huge mistake by moving into the house. Derrickson’s Emily Rose was pretty great, and early word on Sinister has been promising.
The fantastic service Tugg.com, which allows film fans to bring theatrical screenings of movies new and old to their hometown theater, is sponsoring the preview screenings. Hit the jump to find out how to bring a Sinister screening to your city in advance of the film’s October 5th release.
Though Summit/Lionsgate already has the young adult market cornered with the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises, Summit (which is now owned by Lionsgate) is looking to turn yet another popular YA book series into a feature film franchise. Variety reports that The Illusionist and Limitless helmer Neil Burger has entered early talks to direct an adaptation of Divergent.
Written by Veronica Roth at the ripe old age of 22, the book has drawn comparisons to the Hunger Games series for its similar futuristic setting in which teen-on-teen violence takes place. Though blatant ripoffs are easy to spot, I’ve actually heard good things about Divergent and the novel—which is the first in a trilogy—is quite popular. Hit the jump for more.
Lionsgate has landed the rights to Time and Again, a sci-fi romance novel from late author Jack Finney which has been sought after for some time. The illustrated novel from the author of “The Body Snatcher” centers on Simon Morley, an illustrator living in Manhattan who volunteers for a military experiment that sends him back in time to 1882. When he falls for a woman in the 19th century, Si (as he’s often referred to) must choose between two lovers in two very different time periods. Lionsgate has tapped Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) to direct; Liman will also producer with Hypnotic partner, Dave Bartis. Hit the jump for more from Time and Again.
Summit Entertainment has tapped Ric Roman Waugh to direct a feature film based on the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster that occurred in April of 2010. Per Deadline, the film is titled Deepwater Horizon and is based on The New York Times article Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hour by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephanie Saul. Scripted by Matthew Sand (Ninja Assassin), the film will focus on the oil rig workers that were on site during the explosion that killed 11 people and injured 16 others. We’ll apparently see the minutes leading up to the explosion and the survivors’ attempt to stay alive.
Waugh has a long career as a stuntman on his resume, and previously directed 2008’s Felon. He’s currently filming his follow-up feature, Snitch, with Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon. No word on how soon Summit is hoping to get Deepwater Horizon into production, but Waugh will presumably be busy for quite some time with Snitch.
The gestating adaptation of John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus finally has a director and potential star. Summit Entertainment set Leap Year scribes Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan to write the script in January of last year, and now Deadline reports that top commercials director Bryan Buckley will take the helm with Reese Witherspoon attached to star. Buckley has earned the nickname “King of the Superbowl” by helming over 40 spots for the national sporting event, and he also directed those creepy Siri commercials and the baseball rivalry campaign between Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski.
Unless I’m mistaken, this is the first we’ve heard of Witherspoon’s involvement with the film. The Best Actress winner (she won an Oscar, remember?) most recently starred in This Means War and is lined up to join Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz in Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy’s musical One Hit Wonders. Witherspoon also recently signed on to produce and star in the children’s book adaptation Pennyroyal’s Princess Boot Camp. Hit the jump to sample Buckley’s work and read a synopsis for the book. Production on Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is set to get underway in January.