THE FUTURE OF PIXAR
“Quint” from Ain’t it Cool News attended a recent big publicity event hosted by Pixar and Disney Animation, and so they’ve posted a very nice summary of what Pixar has planned for the next four years or so. The piece starts with their next two, Wall-E and Up, but the movie fandom at large has been fairly aware of those two, so I’ll concentrate on what was “newer” news in the piece. For 2011, Pixar is working on Newt (Summer, 2011) and The Bear and the Bow (December, 2011). Newt is a romantic comedy about two newts (the moist four legged amphibians often confused with salamanders) that are the last of their species, one male and one female. The male has spent his life in captivity awaiting company, while the female is a fierce adventurer from the wild, and when put together, they don’t quite hit it off (partly because the male’s view of a diagram explaining newt mating patterns is blocked by a coffee machine). At first glance, it sounds a little bit like a more land-based Finding Nemo with a romantic angle, but Pixar does animated animal comedy like on one else, so it’ll probably be all awesome and stuff. The Bear and the Bow is a fairy tale in the style of the Brothers Grimm, from one of the writer/directors of The Prince of Egypt, and it tells the story of a Scottish royal family and their involvement with a witch. The project already has its core cast, which includes Julie Walters as the witch, Billy Connolly (an awesome voice actor) as the king, Emma Thompson as the queen and Reese Witherspoon as their heroic archer princess of a daughter. Whereas Newt is sort of old hat territory for Pixar, this one is sort of exciting because Pixar has never really gone into fantasy territory like this before.
Finally, there is news of plans for a Cars 2 (aiming for the summer of 2012), which will take the automobile antics overseas, and plans for the first Toy Story movies to be re-released in digital 3-D, leading up to the release of Toy Story 3 (on 10/2/09, 2/12/10 and 6/18/10 respectively). The press conference also included Disney Animation projects, most of which were already known about, but the new title, revealed as a Christmas, 2012 release is King of the Elves. King of the Elves is based on a Phillip K. Dick (Blade Runner) short story about a man in Mississippi whose assistance to a group of elves living there leads them to proclaim him their king, which leads him to fighting off an evil troll that threatens the elves.
THE LAWS OF ROBOT MOVIES
Production has started in New Orleans on Robosapien: Rebooted, a movie adaptation of the little white robot toy you’ve probably seen in toy stores, directed by Sean McNamara, “hot” off another toy adaptation, Bratz: The Movie. Hollywood movies have long been a very expensive way of promoting toys (thank George Lucas and Star Wars for that), and now the concept is apparently just being accepted (by financiers) as not needing any contrivance. The movie can be a direct adaptation of the toy (like, say G.I. Joe and Transformers) and people are apparently okay with that. So, I guess, I should be. And yet, it still feels crass to me. Ah well, I’m also not one of the kids who these movies are marked towards. I also can’t help but notice that this project is being revealed just a week after Dimension announced their remake plans for Short Circuit, and both of *these* movies seem a lot like Pixar’s Wall-E (especially Short Circuit, but this one as well). It feels like Hollywood types are seeing that Wall-E will be a huge hit, and they are getting their Wall-E-ish projects in quick order to ride the robotic wave. So, by that logic, expect Marvel Comics to announce a H.E.R.B.I.E. movie next?
DUBYA’S INNER CIRCLE EXPANDS
Casting continued this week on Oliver Stone’s W, about the rise and political success of George W. Bush, with Rob Corddry (The Daily Show) landing the role of press secretary Ari Fleischer, Fantastic Four star Ioan Gruffudd to play Tony Blair and Thandie Newton signing on to play (the much older) Condoleeza Rice. Yet to be cast are some of the biggest names, including Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney (despite early word that Robert DuVall had been approached). These casting announcements are sort of overshadowed, however, by the publication online of actual pages from the script, which paint a very specific picture of the approach that Stone is taking with this project. Read them yourself, a review of the entire script at Slate.com or see what some experts think.
HOW TO BE CYNICAL ABOUT LOVE BY 30
This week saw two different studios pick up movie rights to articles about love and relationships, which I always find kind of odd. But, I guess it worked for Sex and the City (which was also a book, I know), so maybe that’s where they’re coming from. How to Get Divorced by 30, picked up by Universal from an article in L.A. Weekly, suggests that it’s best to get your first marriage out of the way early so you can find love the second time around. How modern. Tobey Maguire and Warner Independent have likewise picked up the rights to Marry Him! Finding Mr. Real, an article which is becoming a book (changing the subtitle to Mr. Good Enough), which encourages women to drop their standards low. So, basically, it’s going to be a feature-length version of that old MAD TV sketch, Lowered Expectations? Changing the subject a bit, but still related to Maguire, Endgame Entertainment this week picked up rights to a thriller script called Hungry Rabbit Jumps, for Maguire to star in, which they are saying is similar to David Fincher’s The Game, starring Michael Douglas.
MORE LIKE THE PRINCE OF PEORIA
Disney’s live-action adaptation of the Prince of Persia video game series was the focus of a good deal of casting buzz this week, starting with the (quickly debunked) rumor that the Prince might be played by Orlando Bloom, followed by Latino Review’s story that the role might instead now be offered instead to Jake Gyllenhaal. Never mind, I guess, that he isn’t you know… Persian, or even Middle Eastern. He’s got dark hair though, which I guess Disney figures is close enough.
On the next page: the rest of the “Ketchup”…
SHAKING THE REST OF THE KETCHUP OUT OF THIS WEEK’S BOTTLE
- The trailer for the ensemble drama (Charlize Theron, Ray Liotta, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Rodriguez), Battle for Seattle, telling the stories of people from all sides of the 1999 World Trade Organizatin riots in Seattle, is now online.
- Apparently inspired by the success of Cloverfield, Columbia Pictures and producer Neil Moritz (XXX, I Am Legend) have picked up the script, Battle: Los Angeles, about a platoon of Marines fighting off an alien invasion in the streets of Los Angeles and Santa Monica, with plans to fast track the project in time to start filming in the next six months.
- MGM has acquired the rights to Bobism, a comedy about a teenager who discovers that his blog is the basis for a utopian socity 1,000 years in the future.
- Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway will costar in Bride Wars, about two friends who both pick the same wedding date, with Candice Bergen playing a famous wedding planner, and Gary Winick (13 Going on 30, Pieces of April) directing.
- The independent comedy, Divorce Ranch, will star Chloe Sevigny as a World War II-era actress who moves to a ranch in Nevada (along with her assistant, played by Zooey Deschanel) in the hopes of securing a quickie divorce.
- The CGI animated version of Gatchaman has apparently hit a bump, as its director, Kevin Munroe (who did TMNT for the same company) has dropped out, so that he can work on an adaptation of the graphic novel, Dylan Dog, instead. Dylan Dog is an Italian series that sort of does for a “traditional” monster hunter what Constantine did for a hunter of more demonic origins. I haven’t read it but Dylan Dog also appears to take more of a surreal/humorous approach.
- With no other information known about it other than it being a “sci fi epic”, Universal won a bidding war against three studios for the rights to produce Earth vs Moon, from the creators of The Joe Schmoe Show, that fake reality show from a few years back about a guy who didn’t realize the show was fake. The best guess I can come up with is that maybe this movie will likewise deal with subterfuge, and be a sort of Wag the Dog, but with (fake/staged) attackers from the Moon instead. Again, please note, just a guess.
- Jane Austen’s Emma, which was also the inspiration for Clueless, has been targeted by Screen Gems (Sony) and one of the screenwriters of Menace 2 Society, as the basis for a hip hop musical called Emme, which is expected to have at least 15 song and dance numbers.
- After doing two documentaries about Iraq, famed filmmaker Errol Morris is returning to more eccentric subject material (like the guys featured in his Fast, Cheap and Out of Control) with The End of Everything, which will reportedly include coverage of flightless birds, a volcano, the author of Gone with the Wind and Laura Bush.
- ThinkFilm has acquired U.S. rights to The Escapist, a British prison drama starring Brian Cox and Joseph Fiennes, that premiered in January at Sundance.
- Robert de Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell are headlining Everybody’s Fine, an English-language remake of the 1990 Italian film of the same (English) title, about a widower (de Niro) who goes on a road trip after his wife’s death to reconnect with his three children, only to discover that their adult lives are really screwed up. The remake was written and will be directed by Kirk Jones, whose first film was the very funny and touching Waking Ned Devine.
- Walt Disney Pictures has picked up rights to a comedy script called Family Dude, about a successful executive who hires a family to pose as his own while he meets with clients at a cowboy ranch in Montana, in a story that in no way resembles City Slickers. The producer is Walt Becker, who directed Wild Hogs, and is currently filming its sequel, Old Dogs, starring John Travolta, Bernie Mac and Robin Williams.
- The trailer for horror master Dario Argento’s next film, The Mother of Tears, starring his daughter Asia Argento (and Udo Kier!), is now online, just as the news has come out of his next project, Giallo, which will star Adrien Brody as an Italian investigator who teams up with a flight attendant who fears that her sister has been abducted by a serial killer named Yellow (which Giallo is Italian for).
- Rogue Pictures has recruited hot genre screenwriter Justin Marks (Voltron, Masters of the Universe and Supermax, starring DC Comics’ Green Arrow) to adapt Hack/Slash, a comic book series (and series of one-shots and mini’s) about Cassie Hack, a seductively dressed woman who travels the country, killing serial killers and other such bad guys. Todd Lincoln, who worked on the special effects for From Dusk Til Dawn will be making his directorial debut.
- Even though High School Musical 3 won’t be hitting theaters until this fall, Disney is already working on plans for High School Musical 4, which may see the series return to the small screen (like the first two), and will probably not feature all of the returning cast. If #3 is a huge, super hit like many expect, however, expect that some of the variables mentioned in that article to possibly change.
- Jim Carrey, Ewan MacGregor and Leslie Mann are signed on to star in I Love You, Phillip Morris, about a prison inmate (Carrey) who falls in love with the prisoner in the cell next to him. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writing team behind Bad Santa and Cats & Dogs, will be making their directorial debuts on this comedy.
- Two clips of Iron Man appeared online this week, at SciFi.com and Apple.com.
- The giant shark movie, Meg, which has been struggling through film development for over a decade now, appears to have gotten a new chance at actually getting made, according to an article in the L.A. Times which is worth reading not just for that news, but for the extension that it covers this project’s many twists and turns through the Hollywood blockbuster system.
- Even as his Supernatural costar, Jared Palecki, is starring in the Friday the 13th remake, Jensen Ackles has himself signed on to star in a horror remake, My Bloody Valentine.
- Production of the 12 shorts that will make up New York, I Love You is in full swing in that city, with lots of famous stars and directors at work. Check out the coverage at Variety, The Hollywood Reporter or IGN Movies for some extensive lists and coverage.
- Davis Entertainment (Eragon) has picked up the rights to North Wind, an indie comic book about a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.
- Director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn) has signed on with Focus Pictures to rewrite and direct The Piano Tuner, an adaptation of a 2002 novel about a British piano tuner in the 1800s who travels to Burma to fix an eccentric military officer’s piano, where he falls in love with a local woman, and inspires people with music.
- Barry Josephson, one of the producers of Enchanted, has acquired the rights to the spec script, Smash, which basically sounds like Footloose, but in the “world” of rural demolition derbys.
- Rapper 50 Cent will star in the independent drama, Spectacular Regret, directed by Joshua Leonard (one of the three stars of The Blair Witch Project), as a famous death row inmate awaiting his execution.
- Ving Rhames has joined the cast of The Surrogates, in which Bruce Willis plays a cop who investigates crimes through a robot (his “surrogate” in the real world. Rhames will play the leader of a cult devoted to ending the prevalance of mankind’s use of surrogates.
- Ernie Cline, the screenwriter behind the long-awaited (and apparently quite troubled) Fanboys, sold a script this week called Thundercade, which aims to do for old school video games what Fanboys did for fans of Star Wars, as an old school high scoring gamer discovers that his long-standing record has been broken, and so… he sets out to do something about that.
- The very large robot called Devastator (which is made up of 6 smaller Transformers, ala Voltron) is reportedly going to be making an appearance in Transformers 2, which is set to start filming soon in Pennsylvania. IESB.net has that news, and lots of character casting descriptions as well.
- Colin Farrell, Paz Vega and Christopher Lee have signed on to star in Triage, the next drama from Danis Tanovic, the Bosnian director of No Man’s Land.
- David Goyer’s horror project, Unborn, isn’t due to hit theaters until next year, but he’s already talking up his plans for Unborn 2.
- Producer Will Packer (Stomp the Yard) has acquired the rights to the life story of Kimba Smith, a college student who was charged with conspiracy to sell crack cocaine, and was ultimately pardoned by President Clinton.
- Production starts this month in Connecticut on the as-yet-untitled next project for Sam Mendes (American Beauty, and the upcoming Revolutionary Road, starring Leonardo DiCapro and Mendes’ wife, Kate Winslet). Written by novelist couple Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) and Vendela Vida, the movie will star Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski as a couple looking all over the country for the best place to raise their child, with Toni Collette and Cheryl Hines also costarring.
- There’s a very nice video over at SuperHeroHype, giving us lots of glimpses at the sets of Watchmen, which sort of debunk the idea that the movie is a completely CGI affair like 300.
- Natalie Portman has signed on for the lead female role of Catherine Earnshaw in the new version of Wuthering Heights, which was adapted by Olivia Hetreed (Girl with a Pearl Earring) and will be directed by John Maybury (The Jacket).
Greg Dean Schmitz can be contacted via his MySpace page, there’s the RT Forums thread devoted to him, and his IMDb discussion thread is currently a very lonely place.