SKULL ISLAND Gets Re-titled, Pushed Back to 2017; Zhang Yimou’s Untitled Great Wall Epic Set For November 2016

by     Posted 6 days ago

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Because movie titles need to be as obvious as possible, Skull Island has been re-titled to Kong: Skull Island.  Starring Tom Hiddleston and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kings of Summer), the film has also been moved from November 4, 2016 to March 10, 2017.  The re-titling is an obvious branding move, but the shift in the release date is a little more interesting.  Was Universal nervous about going head to head with Marvel’s Doctor Strange?  Could be.  Or it could just be that the studio didn’t want to rush the film and felt it needed more time to complete.  Hit the jump for the full press release.

Sony Drops Steve Jobs Biopic Scripted by Aaron Sorkin; Universal Likely to Acquire Project

by     Posted 29 days ago

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Aaron Sorkin‘s Steve Jobs biopic script has attracted a lot of attention from the likes of David Fincher, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Seth Rogen, Jessica Chastain, and most recently Michael Fassbender.  Yet even with Oscar winner Danny Boyle on board to direct, Sony apparently had too much trouble trying to get the project off the ground. In a surprising development, Sony has ceased development put the project into turnaround.

Sony briefly shopped the project around and immediately found a buyer in Universal.  More after the jump.

CYBERNATURAL Retitled UNFRIENDED and Set for an April 17, 2015 Release; M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VISIT Coming on September 11, 2015

by     Posted 36 days ago

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Remember that Timur Bekmambetov-created and produced thriller that goes down in real-time from the point-of-view of a teen’s computer?  It’s got a new title.  Universal just announced that it’s doing away with Cybernatural and running with a more familiar term instead, Unfriended.  There’s something cheeky about it, but there’s also no doubt that some will have a tough time taking the new title seriously.  In addition to the title change, Unfriended will not hit theaters on April 17, 2015 as previously announced and will arrive on April 10th instead.

On top of that, Universal also revealed that one of its upcoming Blumhouse releases is M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit.  That one will arrive in theaters on September 11, 2015.  Hit the jump for more on both films.

MOCKINGBIRD Trailer Teases the Powerful New Film From the Director of THE STRANGERS

by     Posted 72 days ago

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I’m asking you to join me once more into the fray of found footage features.  I know there’s been a glut of these films the past few years so I wouldn’t go out on a limb and recommend one to you unless it was heads and tails better than the rest.  And Bryan Bertino‘s new film Mockingbird is most certainly that.  You’ll remember Bertino as the director of the excellent The Strangers (and he’s got more stuff in the pipeline that you’ll be seeing soon).  Mockingbird is more of an experiment than that film was, it’s not a traditional narrative, but it’s one of the few films I watched over the summer that actually had me on edge (and I watch a lot of horror movies).  So even if you’re sick of this sub genre, give this movie a whirl – within a few minutes I think you’ll find yourself caught fairly off guard.

The trailer only hints at the basics of the movie, so it lacks the churning dread I think you’ll encounter while watching the actual piece.  But it’s still a nice primer for the overall aesthetic and a good excuse to talk about this film.  Hit the jump for the Mockingbird trailer.  The film hit iTunes and VOD today from Blumhouse and Universal.

THE PURGE 3 Officially Announced; James DeMonaco To Write and Maybe Direct

by     Posted 73 days ago

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I’m all for another installment in The Purge franchise.  While I thought the original film was an interesting concept in search of a better movie, this summer’s The Purge: Anarchy was leaps and bounds better in every way and essentially delivered the movie we wanted the first time out (I think Matt agrees with me on this one).  And I think the concept is actually very ripe for a franchise that’s consistently renewable and can be set in a variety of different locales with different actors and scenarios (though I’d prefer it if they didn’t follow up too much on the resistance from the last film).

So I’m welcoming the announcement of The Purge 3 as good news (thought we all sort of knew it would happen anyway, at this point its simple math given the budget and returns on these films).  Writer/director James DeMonaco will return to pen the script, though his participation as a director is not yet set in stone.  Hit the jump for more on The Purge 3.  Blumhouse, Platinum Dunes and Universal will likely release the film next year.  

Dwayne Johnson Confirms Role in Ludlum’s THE JANSON DIRECTIVE; Akiva Goldsman to Write Script

by     Posted 81 days ago

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A couple of months ago Dwayne Johnson was reported to be in talks to star in Universal’s adaptation of Robert Ludlum‘s novel The Janson Directive.  Now it has been confirmed that he is officially cast.  Not only that, but Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman will be writing the script (presumably a page-one rewrite of the draft John Hlavin was commissioned to execute a few years ago).  Make no mistake, Universal wants to fashion this into a Bourne style franchise for Johnson and I… have no problem with that.  It’s gotta be better than The Bourne Legacy.

The story follows a former consular ops agent who goes into business as a private security consultant after becoming uncomfortable with the high number of sanctioned killings as a covert operative.  I’m kind of looking forward to seeing Johnson do serious action work that doesn’t have the wink and nod element built in (though I love the Fast & Furious movies).  Hit the jump for more on The Janson Directive.

NIGHTCRAWLER, KRAMPUS, and SPECTRAL Get New Release Dates

by     Posted 121 days ago

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Universal pictures has found release dates for two films from their Legendary slate while Open Road has moved one of their more intriguing films to Halloween.

  • Writer/director Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler moves from October 17th to October 31st.
  • Director Michael Dougherty‘s Krampus will open on November 25, 2015.
  • The Nic Mathieu-helmed Spectral will appear on screens on August 12th, 2016.

Hit the jump for more on these release date changes.

Universal and Imagine Land the Rights to Anne Rice’s THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES; Kurtzman and Orci to Produce

by     Posted 133 days ago

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I guess we might be getting a remake of Interview with the Vampire after all.  Universal has acquired the rights to Anne Rice’s incredibly popular anthology of novels, The Vampire Chronicles. Imagine’s Brian Grazer will produce alongside Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (someone needs to look into a monopoly breaker for those two, they can’t have every property).  The deal is for every single book in the series, including the upcoming Prince Lestat (and yes, this includes the ones that have already been made such as Interview and Queen of the Damned).

I’d like to think they could hit the ground running with the sequels and leave the 1994 Tom Cruise movie alone, but there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll feel the need to rebrand from the ground up. Only time will tell, but that’s my hunch.  Hit the jump for more on The Vampire Chronicles landing at Universal and Imagine and be sure to check out our Comic-Con interview with Rice herself. 

Jason Blum Strikes a 10-Year Multi-Platform Deal with Universal

by     Posted 151 days ago

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The Purge: Anarchy didn’t manage to match The Purge’s $34.1 million start, but apparently Universal Pictures is pleased with the film’s $28.4 million haul because the studio chose today to announce that they’ve entered a 10-year first-look production deal with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions that will also cover the NBCUniversal businesses, which includes the Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions divisions.

Blumhouse is responsible for a long list of micro-budget horror hits including the Paranormal Activity series and three others that are already under the Universal umbrella, The Purge and Insidious as well as Sinister, which is moving over from Summit to Focus Features.  The company looks to follow up that success with Ouija and the Jennifer Lopez-starrer, The Boy Next Door, next.  Hit the jump for more.

Guillermo del Toro Says Universal Wants Him to Do FRANKENSTEIN; Would Like to See the Universal Monster Universe Done as Period Movies

by     Posted 154 days ago

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Though there are a number of projects that filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has been attached to over the years, one of the biggest and most promising is FrankensteinMary Shelley’s novel is del Toro’s favorite book of all time, and he’s been very vocal about his passion for adapting the material.  He’s spoken of plans to have Doug Jones fill the Monster role and there have been various updates every now and then, but del Toro has been so busy with other projects (At the Mountains of Madness, The Hobbit, Pacific Rim, etc.) that Frankenstein hasn’t yet come to pass.

Steve recently took part in an extremely lengthy and candid interview with del Toro on the set of his next film, Crimson Peak, and del Toro touched on his planned Frankenstein adaptation, revealing that Universal Pictures chairperson Donna Langley has approached him a few times about getting it going.  Del Toro says he hasn’t made it yet because he’s “a chicken shit,” but added that when he does do Frankenstein (and also hopefully Bride of Frankenstein), he’ll drop everything else for three years to focus entirely on the monster pic.  Hit the jump for more, including del Toro’s thoughts on how he would tackle a new Universal Monster Movie Universe.

Exclusive: Guillermo del Toro Wants to Release PG-13 and Unrated Cuts of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS Simultaneously

by     Posted 161 days ago

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Guillermo del Toro is no stranger to developing multiple projects at once.  We just learned that he will be doing a small black and white film prior to shooting Pacific Rim 2 next year for an April 7, 2017 release date (not to mention the Pacific Rim animated series).  He’s also producing The Strain TV series, debuting on FX, and that’s just the stuff he’s openly talking about.

Well, that stuff and his long delayed dream project, an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.  Last week we learned that he was considering a toned-down PG-13 version of that film in order to get it made. While that’s still true, that doesn’t mean it will be the only version that’s out there.  He’s also considering shooting all the gore for a simultaneously released Unrated Cut.  In fact, that’s his preferred plan.  Hit the jump for more.

Will Smith Drops Out of BRILLIANCE

by     Posted 203 days ago

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Will Smith appeared ready to commit to Brilliance as his next project.  Earlier in the month, Noomi Rapace entered talks to co-star and director Julius Onah was gearing up to start shooting this summer.  Smith has instead thrown a wrench in Legendary and Universal’s plans by deciding to drop out.  According to Deadline, “the exit came down to timing.”  The report does not specify, so I wonder which of Smith’s countless projects takes priority if the actor does film something in the coming months.  Smith will next be seen as a grifter in the February 2015 release, Focus.

David Koepp‘s Brilliance script is based on the Marcus Sakey novel of the same name that takes place in a world where one percent of the public (called “brilliants”) are born with heightened cognitive abilities.  Brilliance is the first in a planned trilogy.  Read the book description after the jump.

Release Dates for POINT BREAK Remake, WILD, DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS, and THE DROP

by     Posted 217 days ago

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A few release dates to pass along:

  • The Point Break remake is set for release August 7, 2015.
  • Two Reese Witherspoon projects found a place on the calendar.  The Jean-Marc Vallée-directed drama Wild opens December 5, 2014.  The comedy Don’t Mess With Texas (co-starring Sofia Vergara) opens May 8, 2015.
  • The crime drama The Drop moves up a week from September 19 to September 12, 2014.
  • Universal and Legendary Pictures scheduled an untitled “event project” November 4, 2016.

Dates via Box Office Mojo.  More on each project after the jump.

Rumor: Could a NAMOR Movie Be Universal and Legendary’s Secret Project? [Updated: Is GODZILLA Screenwriter Max Borenstein Working on the Script?]

by     Posted 217 days ago

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Just yesterday, Universal Pictures announced they would be releasing the Legendary Pictures Untitled 2016 Event Project on Friday, November 4, 2016.  Pretty innocuous, right?  That is until you start to scroll through the lists of superhero properties that belong to certain studios but have yet to see the big screen.  Surprise, surprise!  Universal has managed to survive the mergers and acquisitions wars with one lone Marvel property intact: Namor the Sub-Mariner.  Now, Universal’s got plenty of their own IP to worry about, what with their monstrous reboots on the way, but their recent deal with Legendary suggests a superhero launch could be just over the horizon.  Hit the jump for more. [Update: We've added a comment from Godzilla screenwriter Max Borenstein, who could be scripting the secret project.]

Universal Drops Joe Carnahan’s STRETCH; No Theatrical Release Scheduled at the Moment [Updated with Carnahan's Comments]

by     Posted 331 days ago

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Universal Pictures has nixed plans to release Joe Carnahan’s comedy-thriller Stretch on its scheduled March 21st release date.  Although it made our “Most Anticipated” list for the first quarter of 2014, no replacement date is currently set up.  It’s a bit of an odd move, especially for the normally successful production banner of Jason Blum, Blumhouse Productions, which specializes in turning low-budget pictures into big box office returns.  Universal allowed Blum to shop the picture to other distributors, but when a deal couldn’t be reached, the rights reverted back to the studio, which is now “exploring creative options” for release.  Hit the jump for more.

[Update: We've updated the article with comments on the situation from Carnahan himself.]

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