Our first order of business here is to catch up with an item or two you’ve most likely already heard enough about. But there’s no getting around at least a mention of the replacement of Colin Trevorrow as director of Star Wars: Episode IX with the director of The Force Awakens (2015), J. J. Abrams. According to Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr., Rian Johnson, who’s directed the second film in this franchise’s sequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (out in December), was offered the job but opted out. Abrams will co-write this next one with Chris Terrio, who wrote Ben Affleck’s Argo (2012).
The Playlist’s Kevin Jagernauth cites Phil Brown’s interview with John Landis for Collider in which Landis—whose son, Max, by the way, is writing a remake of An American Werewolf in London (1981); “My son is brilliant, he really is, and he wants to do it. So what am I going to say? No?”—comments on the revolving doors at Lucasfilm: “They keep firing guys. Phil Lord and Chris Miller [The Lego Movie], those guys are really talented. They’re really funny and original guys. They shot 75% of the movie and I gotta tell you, it doesn’t speak well for the new Lucasfilm. How many directors have they fired? Four. How many writers? Twelve.”
“It’s a real wonder that Patty Jenkins was not immediately signed up to direct a sequel to Wonder Woman, after the film smashed box office records this summer to become the highest-grossing live-action movie directed by a woman,” writes Cara Buckley in the New York Times. “Finally on Monday, after months of speculation and talks, news emerged that Ms. Jenkins would indeed be directing Wonder Woman 2. . . . Gal Gadot will also be returning to star in the title role.” According to the Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit, this “deal is precedent-setting, making Jenkins the highest-paid female filmmaker in history.” WW2 will be out in December 2019.
Our second order of business is to update the cast lists of a couple of films we’ve been hearing about for months now. Domenick Lombardozzi, Jeremy Luke, and Joseph Russo are joining Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Jack Huston in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Amanda N'Duka has more at Deadline.
Liev Schreiber and Diego Luna are joining Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Annaleigh Ashford, Rebecca Hall, Cherry Jones, Will Rogers, and Kelly Rohrbach in Woody Allen’s as-yet-untitled movie—and Patrick Hipes doesn’t really have all that much more at Deadline.
“Kiki Layne will play the lead role of Tish in Barry Jenkins and Annapurna’s adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk,” reports Variety’s Justin Kroll. “‘We saw hundreds of young women and while many were artists with gifts we admired, Kiki Layne’s ability to showcase a rich interior life ultimately won the day,’ Jenkins said of the casting. ‘I absolutely adore working with her and cannot wait to have her join us in translating Baldwin’s vision of this heroine to the screen.’”
James Gray’s Ad Astra with Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Jamie Kennedy, and Donald Sutherland now has a release date, reports Variety’s Dave McNary: January 11, 2019. “Pitt is playing a man who journeys across the solar system in search of his missing father, a dangerous renegade scientist. Jones has been cast as Pitt’s father.”
Also, Sandra Bullock will co-produce and star in a comedy we know absolutely nothing about so far; “Michael Stuhlbarg, Freya Mavor, and Nikolai Kinski have joined Kevin Spacey in Gore, the Netflix biopic of author Gore Vidal”; and Ron Perlman, Martin Starr, Jake McDorman, and George Sample III are lined up for Zach Golden’s feature directorial debut, The Escape of Prisoner 614, a comedy western.
Alice Lowe will follow up on her 2016 directorial debut, Prevenge (image above), with Timestalker. Citing a press release, Women and Hollywood’s Laura Berger notes that the story will follow “Agnes, a woman who is ‘reincarnated every time she makes the same mistake: falling in love with the wrong man. The film is a thrilling tale of misplaced affection, unrequited lust, and revenge. One story, many periods—each one filled with the messy thrills and spills that come with daring to follow your heart. Or maybe your loins . . .’”
Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke of Burgundy) will direct Marianne Jean-Baptiste in In Fabric, which, according to Screen’s Tom Grater, is “is set against the backdrop of a busy winter sales period in a department store and follows the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person, with devastating consequences.”
“Eva Green is set to star in a new astronaut action-drama from Disorder director and Mustang co-writer Alice Winocour,” reports THR’s Rhonda Richford. “Green will play an astronaut with the European Space Agency (ESA) that is preparing to go on a one-year mission to the International Space Station (ISS), but must first face intense training as well as the impending separation from her seven-year-old daughter.” Lars Eidinger is also on board.
Nicolas Cage will star in Primal, “a film directed by veteran stunt coordinator Nick Powell (The Bourne Identity, X-Men: The Last Stand, Cinderella Man),” reports THR’s Tatiana Siegel. The story “centers on Frank Walsh (Cage), a big game hunter for zoos who has booked passage on a Greek shipping freighter with a fresh haul of exotic and deadly animals from the Amazon, including a rare white jaguar. However, the big cat isn't the most deadly creature on board. Richard Loffler, a political assassin being extradited to the U.S in secret, is also along for the ride.”
Back to Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr.: Peter Sollet (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Freeheld) will direct Match, “a romantic comedy set in a world where a federal agency finds your perfect match.”
“So that’s it,” sighs Stuart Heritage in the Guardian. “Liam Neeson is no longer an action movie star. His retirement from action films, announced [on Tuesday] (‘I’m sixty-fucking-five. Audiences are eventually going to go: “Come on,”’ he said at the Toronto film festival), forms the conclusion of perhaps the most unlikely career jag in cinema history.” It began with Pierre Morel’s Taken (2008) and carries on through The Commuter, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, with whom Neeson has made Unknown (2011), Non-Stop (2014), and Run All Night (2015), and will run a tad longer, too, as Oliver Lyttelton points out at the Playlist, before Neeson retires his particular set of skills.
Meantime, get this: “Page Six is told that Steve Bannon is getting back into the movie business—and that the gunslinging conservative is particularly interested in making Westerns.”
“Jim Carrey is reuniting with his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry to star in a new half-hour comedy for Showtime,” reports Michael Schneider for IndieWire. “Kidding, which has been given a 10-episode order, will represent Carrey’s first series regular role in more than two decades.” He’ll be playing Jeff, “also known as beloved children’s TV personality Mr. Pickles,” whose family is falling apart. “Dave Holstein (Weeds) created the show and wrote the pilot. He’ll also serve as showrunner.”
As a follow-up to Spoor, which has been selected as Poland’s horse in the upcoming foreign language Oscar race, Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik are “re-teaming for Netflix’s first original series in the Polish language,” reports Women and Hollywood’s Laura Berger. Set in 2002, the as-yet-untitled series takes place in an alternative history in which the Iron Curtain never fell.
“Girls alumna Jemima Kirke is set to recur opposite Emma Stone and Jonah Hill in the high-profile ten-episode Netflix series Maniac,” reports Denise Petski for Deadline.
History has ordered a series based on Peter Baker’s book, The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton, reports Linda Ge for the Tracking Board. “The six-part scripted drama will purport to be a day-by-day, and sometimes hour-by-hour, account of one of the most politically charged chapters in American political history, featuring characters like Monica Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton, Ken Starr and Newt Gingrich.”
Having mentioned Phil Lord and Chris Miller at the top of this round, let’s note that they’ve “sold a new comedy project to ABC,” as Joe Otterson reports for Variety. “Currently titled We Can Do Better, the potential series would follow a soccer mom who must deal with her newly ‘woke’ life in the south as a parent, wife, American citizen, and daughter of hardcore conservative parents.”
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