Not only has there been loads of movie news pouring out of the Anaheim Convention Center courtesy of the D23 Expo, but we’ve also got a number of studios and actors making strides with highly anticipated projects.

A strong and lengthy theatrical run enticed Lionsgate to give the thumbs up to a “Now You See Me” sequel, Paramount just slated two “Paranormal Activity” movies to drop in 2014, and Alcon Entertainment is busy putting together a feature film based on the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. Meanwhile, Sophie Grace Brownlee of “Sophia Grace and Rosie” just snagged her first big movie role and Sam Rockwell is within arm’s reach of the male lead in the remake of “Poltergeist.”

How about the details on those stories and more? They’re all right here in your weekly Movie News Cheat Sheet.

1. D23 Expo: The D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center is just wrapping up, but the event left us with some Walt Disney Studios, Marvel, and Pixar items that we can continue to enjoy. You can see the cast of “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” take the stage as well as Kevin Feige’s introduction to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” portion of the presentation. We’ve also got brand new logos for “Maleficent,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Tomorrowland,” and “Muppets Most Wanted” as well as new art from “Inside Out,” “Finding Dory,” and “Zootopia,” an original tale about a fox and a rabbit. Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios CCO John Lasseter also unveiled a slew of new voice actor recruits. Lucas Neff will voice the main character in “The Good Dinosaur,” Arlo, John Lithgow will step in as his Poppa, Frances McDormand as Momma, Bill Hader and Neil Patrick Harris as the brothers and Judy Greer as Arlo’s sister. The “Inside Out” voice cast consists of Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, Bill Hader as Fear, Amy Poehler as Joy and Phyllis Smith as Sadness. Obviously Ellen DeGeneres will be back to voice Dory in “Finding Dory,” but this time around, Dory’s parents will make an appearance and they’ll be rocking the voices of Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy.

2. “Now You See Me 2” in the Works: “Now You See Me” opened at #2 at the box office with a solid $29.4 million back in May, but what made it a standout was its exceptionally strong run thereafter. In fact, “Now You See Me” is still in theaters and it’s predicted that the film could eventually pull in $275 million worldwide. No wonder Lionsgate is moving forward with a sequel. According to THR, the studio confirmed the second movie is in the works and production could happen in 2014, but there’s no official word on whether or not a screenwriter is attached.

3. Two “Paranormal Activity” Movies in 2014: We may be in for our first Halloween in four years without a “Paranormal Activity” movie in theaters, but Paramount will make up for it by delivering two installments in 2014 – the Latino spinoff, “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,” on January 3rd and “Paranormal Activity 5” on October 22nd. “The Marked Ones” was originally locked for an October 25, 2013 release, but was uprooted for unknown reasons. Anytime something is picked up and dropped back down in January, it’s impossible not to take into consideration that it might mean the project’s been dumped, but lately the first week in January has been a lucrative time for new horror releases. This January that weekend belonged to “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” which snagged $21.7 million and the year before, “The Devil Inside” blew everything away with a $33.7 million start. It’s unfortunate that we’re not getting very much genre material in October, but this could wind up being a smart swap from a financial perspective. (via Paramount Pictures)

4. “Chicken Soup for the Soul” Book-to-Film Adaptation: Alcon Entertainment just snatched up the rights to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” brand. Apparently the company is currently working on a feature film with “Love Happens” scribe, Brandon Camp, penning the script. According to the press release, the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” movie narrative is inspired by a number of characters and stories from the series. Alcon co-founders and co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove noted, “We’re thrilled to partner with ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul,’ the world renowned brand that has become synonymous with inspiration and life improvement and has touched hundreds of millions of readers through the power of storytelling.” “Chicken Soup” CEO Bill Rouhana added, “On the 20th Anniversary of our first book, I’m delighted to go back to my roots by adding movies and television to the variety of servings that ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ offers.” I had a short story in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles;” where’s my movie? (via Alcon Entertainment)

5. Strong or Cranston for Lex Luthor in Superman/Batman Movie?: We only just found out that Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Joe Manganiello, Richard Armitage, and Matthew Goode are all apparently in the running for the role of Batman in the Superman/Batman movie, but some have already moved on to discuss the film’s villain. When asked about the possibility of him stepping in as Lex Luthor, Mark Strong told Digital Spy, “All I can say is … watch this space.” Latino Review’s El Mayimbe also tweeted this not-so-cryptic message regarding the role, “FANBOY BLIND ITEM: Which superhot actor finishing final season of hit TV show who also was in 2 films for WB is up for juicy badguy part? :)” Considering the unrelenting “Breaking Bad” pandemonium leading up to the return of the show tonight, the answer to that question should be obvious – Bryan Cranston. Clearly nothing is confirmed and this is all rumor and speculation, but at least it’s promising rumor and speculation. Anyone on that Batman short list could be a strong choice and the same goes for Strong or Cranston in regards to Lex Luthor.

6. Meryl Streep Cast in “The Giver:” The big screen adaptation of “The Giver” is expected to begin shooting in eight weeks in South Africa and, should this deal go through, Meryl Streep will be there. According to Deadline, Streep is currently in talks to take the role of “the chief elder, the authoritarian charged with keeping order in a society that seems utopian.” In the Lois Lowry book, “The Community’s” pristine way of life is rattled when Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), the Receiver of Memories-in-training, is compelled to refute the mandated conformism. Jeff Bridges is locked to play Jonas’ mentor, The Giver, elevating this Weinstein Company and Walden Media project even further.

7. Sam Rockwell May Join “Poltergeist:” The “Poltergeist” remake is becoming more and more necessary every day. Not only is Sam Raimi producing the MGM and Fox 2000 venture, but Rosemarie DeWitt is locked to star and Sam Rockwell may sign on the dotted line as well. According to The Wrap, Rockwell is in early talks to play Mr. Bowen, a father who must go up against malicious supernatural forces to recuse his daughter, Madison. Apparently Rockwell is weighing several offer options, but hopefully he’ll side with “Poltergeist” because his involvement would undoubtedly raise the bar significantly.

8. Sophia Grace Joins “Into the Woods:” This was just bound to happen. Sophia Grace Brownlee of the “Ellen” viral duo, “Sophia Grace and Rosie,” has locked her first big screen role. As reported by EW, she’ll star as Red Riding Hood in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of “Into the Woods.” The film will feature James Corden and Emily Blunt as a baker and his wife who make a deal with Meryl Streep’s evil witch so they can finally have a baby. The pair goes on a journey through the woods where they encounter iconic characters like The Wolf (Johnny Depp), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), and, of course, Brownlee’s Red Riding Hood.

9. Trailers: “The Monuments Men,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Her:”The Monuments Men” has gained a notable amount of momentum thanks to a cast comprised of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, and more, but now it’s got a trailer to back that hype up, too. The first promo for the Clooney-directed feature offers the ideal amount of information on the Monuments Men’s mission to protect priceless art from the Nazis paired with a curious tone that suggests the film could offer a unique blend of rousing drama, action, and some comedy as well. The new trailer for “Thor: The Dark World” isn’t particularly telling or engaging, but it’s a Marvel movie; the inherent intrigue is more than enough to drive folks to the theater. So while I’ll be seeing the sequel for that reason alone, it still would have been nice to get a clearer sense of what or who Thor is fighting in this promo. Spike Jonze’s “Her” is set to close the New York Film Festival in October and, based on its brand new trailer, it looks to be an ideal way for the event to go out. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as an introverted man who strikes up a relationship with an advanced operating system, ultimately falling in love with what’s essentially just a voice.

10. Box Office: As expected, nothing blew away the box office, but we do have three films that performed relatively well. “Elysium” snagged the top spot with a $30.4 million opening while “We’re the Millers” came in second thanks to a $26.6 million weekend one haul. Add on the film’s Wednesday and Thursday intakes and that already brings its bank account over its $37 million production budget. The #3 spot went to “Planes,” which posted a $6,085 per theater average and a $22.5 million opening weekend total. Unfortunately, “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” was the weak link of the new releases this weekend. With just $14.6 million in the bank to start, it’s going to be a long climb to reach and surpass that $90 million price tag. Even though it took a hefty 58.9% weekend one to two hit, “2 Guns” held on strong enough to take the final spot on the top five with $11.1 million. (via Box Office Mojo)

By Perri Nemiroff


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,, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.

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