Cue the “Star Wars” theme! As if the big news of Disney acquiring Lucasfilms and planning a new franchise trilogy wasn’t enough, the studio is already putting the plan into motion, locking an Academy Award winning writer to pen “Episode VII.”
Meanwhile, Michael Bay moves forward with “Transformers 4,” recruiting Mark Wahlberg as his new leading man. Big casting news in the Lego world as well, Warner Bros and Village Roadshow adding Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman and Alison Brie to an already impressive voice cast. George Clooney has his eye on a new role too, the superstar considering taking on Brad Bird’s “1952.”
Looking for more? How about the first image of Tom Cruise in “All You Need Is Kill” and the details on the “Flight” booze battle? You can find all of that and more in your weekly Movie News Cheat Sheet.
1. Michael Arndt to Pen “Star Wars: Episode VII:” Lucasfilm, er, Disney, er, Lucas-Disney, whoever is spearheading the “Star Wars” continuation effort isn’t wasting any time. With the seventh installment heading towards a 2015 release, it’s about time to get working on a script and Michael Arndt has been hired as the man to get the job done. Arndt snagged an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “Little Miss Sunshine” and was in the running for Best Adapted Screenplay just last year for his work on “Toy Story 3.” According to StarWars.com, Arndt is currently in the midst of story conferences with Kathleen Kennedy and George Lucas.
2. No “Star Wars” for Spielberg or Tarantino: “Star Wars: Episode VII” may have locked an award winning screenwriter, but the production isn’t having as much luck with a director. Not only did Zack Snyder tell Super Hero Hype he wouldn’t go for it if he were offered the gig, but both Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino said they’d turn it down, too. Via Access Hollywood, Spielberg said, “No! No!” and, “It’s not my genre. It’s my best friend George’s genre.” Tarantino rather bluntly told EW, “I could so care less. Especially if Disney’s going to do it. I’m not interested in the Simon West version of Star Wars.” While I do think someone with solid experience will eventually board the project, that solid experience will likely only be one, maybe two good movies – and probably not Oscar-worthy ones.
3. James McAvoy May Take WikiLeaks Movie: DreamWorks nailed one main man, recruiting Benedict Cumberbatch to star as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in their yet-to-be-titled film and now the studio is wrapping its search for main man #2, honing in on James McAvoy for the role of Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the author of the book upon which the film is based. Writer Josh Singer will use “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website” as well as “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy” to formulate his script about the whistleblowing website’s experience prodding the government with embarrassing exposures leading to the site and Assange’s prosecution. Assange enlisted Domscheit-Berg thinking they could change the world together, but eventually Domscheit-Berg ditched Assange when he suspected Assange compromised his journalistic integrity. (via Variety)
4. Lego Movie Gets Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman and Alison Brie: We all know an all-star voice cast doesn’t equal a top-notch animated feature, but it certainly ups the anticipation. Warner Bros and Village Roadshow have already locked Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Morgan Freeman to lead the “Lego” movie and now Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman and Alison Brie are joining in, too. The film focuses on Pratt’s Emmet, an average Lego who’s mistakenly pegged as the guy who’s destined to save the world and forced to join a special fellowship to help stop an evil tyrant. Ferrell will go head-to-head with Emmet as President Business, Neeson will voice Bad Cop, the president’s henchman, Offerman’s character is described as “a craggy, swaggering pirate obsessed with revenge on President Business” while Brie takes on the role of one of the members of the fellowship with “a powerful secret.” (via Deadline)
5. Tom Cruise vs. Fireball in First Image from “All You Need Is Kill:” I’ve had more than enough of the indestructible Tom Cruise going action hero to the max time and time again, but Tom Cruise in some heavy duty armor running away from a fireball? Now that’s cool. The image comes from Doug Liman’s “All You Need Is Kill,” a film featuring Cruise as Lt. Col. Bill Cage, an officer with zero combat experience who’s thrown into a war against a hive-like alien race called Mimics. Sure enough, Cage is killed in an instant, but he manages to take out an “Alpha” in the process, the direct contact hurling him into a time loop forcing him to live that same fateful day over and over again. “All You Need Is Kill” is due in theaters on March 14, 2014. (via Cinema Blend)
6. Mark Wahlberg to Lead “Transformers 4:” Looks like Michael Bay didn’t go for that leading lady option. Paramount Pictures confirmed that Mark Wahlberg is set to headline “Transformers 4.” Bay recently wrapped “Pain and Gain” with Wahlberg and apparently had a good experience, Bay explaining, “I’m so fired up to be back working with him. An actor of his caliber is the perfect guy to re-invigorate the franchise and carry on the Transformers’ legacy.” Fingers crossed that re-invigoration actually happens because “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” certainly didn’t leave me itching for round four. Production is due to kick off next spring with the film set for a June 27, 2014 release.
7. Budweiser Unhappy About Taking “Flight:” Oscar potential or not, Anheuser-Busch doesn’t appreciate how its beer is portrayed in “Flight.” Clearly Denzel Washington’s character indulges in some booze in the film and at one point, he’s clearly enjoying a Budweiser while behind the wheel. According to the AP, Paramount Pictures never obtained the proper rights to feature the brand nor did it get the okay from Stolichnaya. William Grant & Sons, the Stolichnaya distributor in the US, told the outlet that even if Paramount asked, they’d never give them the OK due to the content of the film. Budweiser is asking that the studio obscure all trademarks in all digital copies of the movie, but legal experts say Paramount was never obligated to get permission and Budweiser would achieve little in court.
8. George Clooney Eyes “1952:” Disney could have a big one brewing. According to Variety, George Clooney is in negotiations for the leading role in “1952” penned by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen, and due to be directed by Brad Bird. Should the deal go through, Clooney would lead as a man who makes contact with aliens on Earth. Even though “1952” isn’t officially green lit, the article notes that the studio is treating the project as potential high-profile tentpole.
9. Trailers: “Warm Bodies,” “World War Z,” “Jurassic Park 3D:” Had enough zombie, vampire and other assorted supernatural creature movies? I’d consider giving zombies another go because we’ve got not one, but two trailers for zombie movies that look to push the boundaries with refreshing and highly entertaining scenarios. Writer-director Jonathan Levine’s more comedic approach to Isaac Marion’s book, “Warm Bodies,” comes as a nice surprise, letting us have a laugh at all of those overused clichés while still showing signs of having well-developed characters and a good deal of action. The “World War Z” trailer, however, takes that zombie-induced action to a new level. No lumbering flesh-eaters here. The “World War Z” zombies are hungry and horrifyingly fast, leading to some pretty incredible visuals. Speaking of visuals, even as someone who actively avoids 3D films, “Jurassic Park 3D” is a must. Not only does the 3D trailer prove the material’s still got bite, but it also draws attention to shots that are surprisingly well suited for the extra dimension.
10. Box Office: Hello, “Skyfall!” Forget about just becoming the franchise’s strongest opener; “Skyfall” absolutely blew “Quantum of Solace” away, topping its $67.5 million start with a wildly impressive $87.8 million. Even with “Skyfall” claiming much of the cash flow, almost every film that cracked the top ten enjoyed a particularly strong weekend. “Wreck-It Ralph” only lost 32.6% of its opening weekend profits, letting it take another $33.1 million to the bank while “Flight” dropped just 39.4% for a $15.1 million second weekend out. “Argo” continues to hold strong, dipping 33.9% from weekend four to five and adding another $6.7 million to its domestic grand total, a solid $85.7 million, keeping almost right in line with “The Town.” “Taken 2” rounds out the top five with $4 million, courtesy of a minimal 32.4% loss. (via Box Office Mojo)