Take the following news with a grain of salt, but we’re hearing about a number of high-profile movies that may have set their production start dates. We’ll take a deeper look into why some of this information might be bogus, but for the moment, here’s what Hollywood’s shooting schedule could look like for the following films:
- Ghost in the Shell – Begins production this month with shooting locations in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai, China
- Fifty Shades Darker – Starts production this month in Vancouver
- Alien: Covenant – Begins production in April in Sydney, Australia
- Wolverine 3 – Begins production on April 25th with shooting locations in New Orleans and New Mexico
- Avatar 2 – Begins production around April 15th with locations in New Zealand
- Transformers 5 – Begins production this May but no locations have been confirmed yet
- Blade Runner 2 – Aiming for a July start in the UK and Hungary
Ghost in the Shell – The latest news out of this former Disney production is that the Mouse House dropped it from their release schedule, only for the film to be picked up by Paramount, a co-financier on the project. Rupert Sanders directs Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg cop tasked with taking down a dangerous hacker; Sam Riley and Pilou Asbaek co-star. The film aims to keep its March 31, 2017 release date, so starting production sooner than later makes sense in light of that decision.
Fifty Shades Darker – Having recently reported that Kim Basinger is in talks to join the sultry sequel as a Mrs. Robinson-type to Jaime Dornan’s Christian Grey, it seems as if the movie is anxious to wrap up casting before getting a start on production. On-set tension with author E.L. James caused the first film’s director Sam Taylor Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel to decide not to return for the sequel, so James Foley is taking on writing and directing duties with Niall Leonard also getting a screenplay credit. The plan is to shoot this picture and the third film, Fifty Shades Freed, back to back, but we’ll see how audiences respond when the Fifty Shades of Grey follow-up opens February 10, 2017.
Alien: Covenant – Formerly known as Prometheus 2 and briefly as Alien: Paradise Lost, this sequel to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is set to bow October 6, 2017. The April start isn’t much of a stretch considering that Michael Fassbender has been attached for some time, Katherine Waterston is in talks, and Noomi Rapace is confirmed not to return at all. While that might suggest that the script is still in a state of flux, the sequel is going to have to start sooner than later in order to allow for what’s expected to be a substantial amount of effects work.
Wolverine 3 – This one’s a little uncertain since Hugh Jackman just talked to Steve about the script status on this movie while at Sundance for Eddie the Eagle. He said they were “super close” on the final script, but wouldn’t start production until it was “perfect” since it’ll be his last time donning the claws. With all that in mind, Jackman’s been hitting the gym to get back in Wolverine shape, so for his sake I hope they start soon enough to sync filming up with his grueling routine.
Avatar 2 – This is probably the biggest question mark on the list. Zoe Saldana tweeted earlier today that it would be “face and body art day for the next 5 months” with a picture of her Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 character, Gamora. So unless she wraps on GotGV2 in two months and rolls right into her extensive motion-capture work for Avatar 2, I’m not sure she’s going to make the Tax Day deadline. When last we heard from James Cameron, the scripts were still in the process of being worked on, but he expected to hit the target date of Christmas 2017 with the additional films coming a year apart after that. More recently, distributor 20th Century Fox pulled that release date without announcing a new one or any plans to start production. I have a tough time believing that everything will line up for an April 15th start date this year.
Transformers 5 – The last we heard on this project was that Michael Bay confirmed he’d be back to direct, and that was about a month ago. The film has a June 2017 release date planned and it’s presumed that this picture will tie Bay’s previous films into Paramount’s new expanded universe.
Blade Runner 2 – Hey, finally a film production start date we can confirm! The news came with the announcement that Sony Pictures has landed international distribution rights for the film; Warner Bros. will distribute in North America through their deal with Alcon. Unfortunately we don’t have a release date for it yet, so, you win some, you lose some.