Apologies in advance for drowning you in anticipation, but this week’s Movie News Cheat Sheet is loaded with updates on promising new projects.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” star Quvenzhane Wallis might ride the Oscar wave straight towards a big, new role, possibly leading Will Gluck’s remake of “Annie.” The futuristic thriller “Young Ones” just loaded up on star power, casting Nicholas Hoult, Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, and Kodi Smit-McPhee while the atomic bomb drama, “Midnight Sun,” did the same, locking in Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Kruger and Emile Hirsch.

Check out the details of those stories as well as the plan for Ellen Page’s directorial debut, the latest on Laika’s “ParaNorman” follow-up, “The Boxtrolls,” and much more in your weekly Movie News Cheat Sheet.

1. Quvenzhane Wallis in the Running to Play Annie: Quvenzhane Wallis may only have one feature on her resume thus far, but that feature made her the youngest Best Actress nominee ever; it’s no wonder Will Gluck’s got his eye on the fast-rising young star for his remake of “Annie.” According to EW, Gluck, Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and Jay-Z’s Marcy Media have yet to make any formal decisions, but Wallis is certainly being considered. The original plan was to have Willow Smith lead the production, but at this point, the 12-year-old has grown out of the role, making 9-year-old Wallis an ideal candidate.

2. Shannon, Hoult, Fanning and Smit-McPhee for “Young Ones:” Gwyneth’s little brother, writer-director Jake Paltrow, just secured a dream cast for his next feature. Via Variety, “Young Ones” will star Nicholas Hoult, Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. The futuristic thriller is set at a time when water is the most precious resource on Earth. Producer Michael Auret describes the piece as an “engaging tale of hope and courage in a neo-realistic dystopia” with “universal appeal.”

3. Ellen Page to Make Directing Debut with Anna Faris: With quite a few high-profile productions on her resume, Ellen Page has got to know something about directing at this point, right? Well, we’ll find out soon enough because as reported by Deadline, Page will step behind the lens for the first time to direct the Julia Hart-penned script, “Miss Stevens.” The film will star Anna Faris as a teacher chaperoning a high school weekend trip that goes awry.

4. “Star Wars” Spinoffs in the Works: Sick of hearing about “Star Wars” yet? You better get over it because not only do we have “Episodes VII,” “VIII,” and “IX” on the way, but some “Star Wars” standalone films, too. Rumors have been swirling ever since details of the new trilogy surfaced, but the latest is that Disney CEGO Bob Iger unveiled official plans to make a few spinoff films within the “Star Wars” universe. Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have already been recruited to develop the scripts. Deadline warns that the team is only “kicking around ideas” and not to expect anything soon, but that hasn’t stopped folks from entertaining each and every one of those ideas, dissecting the possibilities for the supposed Yoda, young Han Solo and Boba Fett editions.

5. Laika to Follow Up “ParaNorman” with “Boxtrolls:” With an Academy Award nomination for “ParaNorman” under its belt, animation production company Laika is set to move on to its next endeavor, an adaptation of the book, “Here Be Monsters.” Laika is re-titling the tale “The Boxtrolls” and is re-teaming with Focus Features for the 3D stop-motion/CG production to be directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable. Laika also has an impressive voice cast lined up including Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade and Tracy Morgan. The film is about Boxtrolls who live underneath the cobblestone of a town called Cheesebridge. The locals have turned the Boxtrolls into little menaces, blaming them for stealing children and cheese, but really, they’re just loveable little creatures who have a thing for boxes. Hempstead-Wright will voice the main character, Eggs, an orphan who’s raised by Boxtrolls while Kinglsey will step in as the villain, Archibald Snatcher, an exterminator who’s determined to rid Cheesebridge of Boxtrolls. Head on over to Cinema Blend for more story details as well as our very first look, or peek, at a Boxtroll.

6. Eisenberg, Kruger and Hirsch to Headline “Midnight Sun:” Chris Eigeman’s “Midnight Sun” just became one to watch. Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Kruger and Emile Hirsch are set to star in the drama about a pair of young post-graduates living in New York in 1943 who must leave their lives behind to join a community of scientists in New Mexico to work on a top-secret US Government project. The Pulitzer Prize winning author of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” Richard Rhodes, is also on board to act as an advisor. The film is due to go into production in the summer of 2013. (via Screen Daily)

7. Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen Eye “Godzilla:” Gareth Edwards is circling a big-time cast for his first big-time movie. The director behind the micro-budget monster movie, “Monster,” is moving on to a much bigger monster, “Godzilla,” and might be taking both Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston along with him. According to Variety, both actors are in talks with Legendary Pictures, along with Aaron Johnson, but no deals will be finalized until the studio gets the new draft of the script. Everything is being kept top secret for now, but the plan is to have the film begin production in March so it’ll be ready for its May 16, 2014 release.

8. Melissa McCarthy x 3: Universal and Fox bet early on Melissa McCarthy and now that “Identity Thief” is out and it’s a hit, the risk looks as though it’ll pay off. McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, have three new projects in the works via their production shingle, On the Day. “Michelle Darnell” is in development over at Universal as is “Cousin Irv From Mars,” the story of a boy and his odd cousin, based on the Bruce Eric Kaplan book. Project #3 now belongs to Fox, an adaptation of the sex-help book, “Just Do It: How One Couple Turned Off the TV and Turned On Their Sex Lives for 101 Days (No Excuses!).” McCarthy is attached to star in “Michelle Darnell” and “Just Do It,” but no word on her involvement beyond On the Day in “Cousin Irv.” (via THR)

9. Trailers: “Room 237,” “The Lords of Salem,” “Hours:” The marketing team behind the documentary, “Room 237,” makes a smart play, delivering a trailer that’ll undoubtedly catch the attention of any fan of “The Shining.” The film hones in on the 1980 release’s cult following, examining the theories, controversies and secret messages surrounding the horror classic. We’ve also got a new trailer for Rob Zombie’s “The Lords of Salem,” and while “Room 237” proposes some curious topics, “The Lords of Salem” is just flat-out bizarre. Fans of Zombie’s work will likely take to the outlandish scenario and unusual visuals, but for others, the story just isn’t particularly appealing. On the other hand, Eric Heisserer’s Hurricane Katrina film, “Hours,” looks like it could be a major tearjerker across the board. The film stars Paul Walker as a man who loses his wife during childbirth just as the storm rolls in.

10. Box Office: “Identity Thief” stole the weekend. Melissa McCarthy’s latest trounced the competition with a total of $36.6 million on a stellar $11,650 per theater average. “Warm Bodies” held on better than expected, dropping 43.5% for another $11.5 million. “Side Effects” opened as predicted with a lukewarm $10 million and a $3,845 per theater average. “Silver Linings Playbook” continues to show off some very long legs, only dropping 10.7% from weekend 12 to 13, and taking another $6.9 million to the bank. Rounding out the top five is “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” After a crushing 52.1% weekend one to two drop, the film leveled out, only losing 39% of its weekend two profits for a total of $5.8 million this time around. (via Box Office Mojo)

By Perri Nemiroff

The Boxtrolls Artwork
The Boxtrolls Artwork

By Perri Nemiroff

Film producer and director best known for her work in movies such as FaceTime, Trevor, and The Professor. She has worked as an online movie blogger and reporter for sites such as CinemaBlend.com, ComingSoon.net, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *