This week, the Cannes Film Festival got started, and as it does every year, that means that dozens of movies were either announced or had casting news. A few stars (including Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) actually had multiple projects announced this week. There’s also news about movies based upon board games and video games, as usual, two biopics about Marilyn Monroe, and the surprising plans to send 19th Century adventurer Allan Quatermain… into the future.
The movie season of the Summer of 2010 got its start last week with the opening of Iron Man 2, and as the stars did press for that movie, they dropped new information about related upcoming projects. First, there is Iron Man 3, which has been known to be pretty much a sure thing at some point after 2012’s The Avengers. Director Jon Favreau confirmed that in Iron Man 3, he hopes to finally bring the Mandarin, arguably Iron Man’s most iconic villain into the mix (after being hinted at in the first movie). What Favreau is currently struggling with is how to portray the Mandarin, who in the comics wears ten rings, each of which give him a different super power. Favreau calls them “magical,” but their Marvel Comics origin is actually from an alien spaceship. Samuel L. Jackson also revealed this weekthat there are plans, after The Avengers, for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. to get their own movie. In addition to Jackson as Nick Fury, a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie might also feature Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson and Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow (and she’s also a strong contender to be a member of The Avengers as well). Jackson also said that War Machine (Don Cheadle) is “gonna show up a lot.” As for other movies based on Marvel characters (though not produced by Marvel Studios), there is X-Men: First Class. This week, we learned who the writers working on X-Men: First Class are. First, there is the writing team of Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, who cowrote Agent Cody Banks, and have also written episodes of Fringe and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The details are unclear, but it appears that Miller and Stentz got the latest version of the script started, and they are now being joined in rewrites by Jane Goldman. Goldman’s involvement is unsurprising, as she cowrote (with director Matthew Vaughn) both Stardust and Kick-Ass. Vaughn might need Goldman’s help in getting the script done quickly, as Fox’s June 3, 2011 release date is only getting closer.
Last month, director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) tweeted about a video on YouTube called Pixels, and the video quickly became something of an Internet phenomenon. In the creative short film created by Patrick Jean, New York City is invaded and transformed by a variety of characters and images from the classic 1980s era of video games. Included in the invasion are Pac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Space Invaders and the paddles from Breakout. And now, Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison is developing Pixels as a movie, with talks ongoing at Columbia, where Happy Madison has a first-look deal. There is no writer involved with Pixels yet, but the plan is to “make a Ghostbusters-style action comedy in which characters come out of a video game to wreak havoc in the real world.” This is a project that might have ordinarily ended up in the Rotten Ideas section, but Patrick Jean’s short film really is quite awesome, presuming Jean (if hired) can work the same sort of magic on a feature-length film.
This was a big week in casting news for Colin Farrell, with the Irish star announced for three different movies. First, there is the DreamWorks remake of 1985’s Fright Night, which is normally listed as a “Rotten Idea,” but Farrell’s involvement is a surprise, and possibly a sign that Fright Night might only suck blood. Farrell wil play vampire Jerry Dandridge who is investigated by his teenage neighbor, played by Anton Yelchin. Toni Collette is also costarring in an unspecified role (but I’m guessing she might play Yelchin’s mom). Fright Night will be directed by Craig Gillepsie (Lars and the Real Girl, Mr. Woodcock). Colin Farrell will also star (along with Marion Cotillard) in Cosmopolis, an adaptation of the novel by Don DeLillo. Cosmopolis tells the story of 24 hours in the life of a multi-millionaire as he loses all of his wealth during a long limousine ride across Manhattan. Cosmopolis will be directed by David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, A History of Violence) on a budget of $20.5 million. Filming will start in March, 2011 in New York City and Toronto. Colin Farrell’s third new movie this week is Horrible Bosses, which you can read more about in the #7 spot.
Focus Features, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures are teaming up to adapt the upcoming non-fiction book The Tiger by John Vaillant. The Tiger tells the true story of the 1997 hunt for a man-eating tiger in Russia’s far east wilderness. The Tiger is being adapted by Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel), which may make it the first major film that Arriaga has written that will not be directed by his frequent collaborator, Alejandro González Iñárritu. Brad Pitt is expected to star in The Tiger, but it is unclear whether this would be a directing project for Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream) or whether he will just be producing. Brad Pitt has also been confirmed as starring in Columbia Pictures’ Moneyball, based upon the baseball non-fiction bestselling book. Bennett Miller (Capote) is now attached to direct, following the departure of Steven Soderbergh last year just days away from the start of filming. Jonah Hill is also attached to star, and Robin Wright (no longer a Penn, by the way) and Philip Seymour Hoffman are in talks to to appear as well. Filming of Moneyball is now scheduled to start in Los Angeles in July, 2010.
Hollywood has a long history of dueling projects, as competing producers race with each other to see who can get their project out first. This has even happened within the field of biopics, such as with Truman Capote (Capote vs Infamous), and the various continuing attempts to make movies based on the lives of Janis Joplin, Linda Lovelace and Jimi Hendrix. This week at Cannes, two different Marilyn Monroe biopics were announced, and both plan to start filming in the next several months. Naomi Watts will star in Blonde, an adaptation of the imaginary Monroe memoir by Joyce Carol Oates. Blonde will be directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). Filming of Blonde is scheudled to start in January, 2011 on a budget of $20 million. The Weinstein Company might get the jump on Blonde, however, as they plan on filming My Week With Marilyn in late September. Michelle Williams will play Marilyn in this story about the time Monroe spent in England filming The Prince and the Showgirl opposite Laurence Olivier. Scarlett Johansson had at one time been in talks to star before Williams signed on. My Summer with Marilyn will be the first feature film for British director Simon Curtis, who has worked mostly on TV projects like David Copperfield.
Normally, a new movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson would almost automatically get listed as a “Rotten Idea,” but The Three Musketeers 3D now has a pretty great cast. The title characters will be played by Ray Stevenson (Punisher: War Zone, Rome) as Porthos, Luke Evans (Apollo in Clash of the Titans) as Aramis and Matthew MacFadyen (the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood) as Athos. Luke Evans is also in talks this week to star with Jessica Biel in Vivaldi, a romantic biopic about the famed classical composer. Logan Lerman, who had been rumored to be a contender to star in the reboot of Spider-Man is instead in talks to play D’Artagnan, the “fourth” musketeer (which conflicts with the Spider-Man filming schedule). Also cast are Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) as Cardinal Richelieu and Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale and Draco from Clash of the Titans) as Rochefort. An offer is also out to Orlando Bloom to play the film’s villain, the Duke of Buckingham. Finally, and to no surprise, there is Milla Jovovich, AKA Mrs. Paul W.S. Anderson and a frequent star of his movies, as Milady de Winter, a former lover of Athos, who is being described as a “17th century Bond girl.” Filming of Anderson’s project starts in August, which puts it in competition with another Three Musketeers project to be directed by Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) which also is aiming to start filming this fall. Also this week, soon after this casting announcement, Summit Entertainment picked up The Three Musketeers 3D, and the studio is aiming for a summer, 2011 release date.
Jennifer Aniston was announced in connection to two different comedies this week. First, there’s Horrible Bosses, a New Line Cinema comedy about a group of friends who agree each other’s mean employers. Jason Bateman and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) will play two of the friends, and Jennifer Aniston signed and Colin Farrell in talks to play two of the bosses. With Fright Night and Cosmopolis, this is the third movie that Colin Farrell was connected to this week. Jamie Foxx also costars as a scam artist named “Motherf***er Jones” who gives murder advice to the three friends. Horrible Bosses will be directed by Seth Gordon (The King of Kong, Four Christmases) from a script cowritten by John Francis Daley, who as a teenager played Sam Weir in Freaks and Geeks. Jennifer Aniston’s second new comedy this week is Wanderlust, in which she and Paul Rudd play a couple who leaves the city to join a commune out in the country. Wanderlust is being produced by Judd Apatow, and will be directed by David Wain (Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer). Wain also cowrote Wanderlust along with fellow The State member Ken Marino.
DreamWorks has acquired the screen rights to the board game Monsterpocalypse, and is talking to the already very busy Tim Burton about being “the creative catalyst.” Monsterpocalypse is a collectible miniatures game in which a variety of giant monsters fight in a large city filled with skyscrapers, as an homage to kaiju movies like Godzilla. DreamWorks’ development of Monsterpocalypse is especially interesting given the studio’s concurrent development of a movie based upon the novel Robocalypse, about a robot invasion. The similar titles suggest that DreamWorks might be envisioning the two movies as some sort of franchise, even though they come from two completely different sources and have no other connection other than their titles. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because it’s yet another entry in Hollywood’s recent love affair with board game movies. And also because Monsterpocalypse is difficult to spell.
Sony Pictures Animation has picked up the rights to the Atari PC game franchise RollerCoaster Tycoon. RollerCoaster Tycoon is a game that simulates the management of an amusement park, with players designing their own roller coasters and other park attractions. The franchise has brought in over $300 million in sales for Atari and includes the third best-selling PC title of all time in the U.S. Harald Zwart (The Pink Panther 2, the Karate Kid remake) is producing with an eye towards possibly directing RollerCoaster Tycoon as a live-action/CGI hybrid movie. Screenwriters David Ronn and Jay Scherick (cowriters of Norbit, I Spy) have been hired to adapt RollerCoaster Tycoon after working on Sony’s upcoming The Zookeeper, starring Kevin James and a large cast of stars voicing the animals in a zoo. This is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because it is comparable to the recent drive by Hollywood to adapt board games as movies. As a game, RollerCoaster Tycoon is a simulation game with no real narrative other than the idea of the player creating their own theme parks. This makes for a fun video game experience, but doesn’t seem like a particularly great idea for a movie that has to have a narrative element.
H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain was a 19th century Victorian era hero known mostly for his exploits in the wilds of Africa in books like King Solomon’s Mines. The character was also one of the key influences of Indiana Jones, and one of the members of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. What Allan Quatermain was not was a futuristic adventurer from outer space, but that’s exactly what DreamWorks has in mind. Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans) has signed to star in Quatermain, which will be set in a future after humans have left Earth. The future version of Allan Quatermain will return to Earth on a King Solomon’s Mines-style adventure, but on a planetwide scale. This highly revisionist take on Quatermain was written by Mark Verheiden (Timecop, My Name is Bruce), and doesn’t yet have a director. Quatermain is this week’s most Rotten Idea because it is so completely different from the premise of H. Rider Haggard’s classic adventure character. Imagine if DreamWorks was announcing a new movie called Indiana Jones, but it would be an archaelogist from outer space exploring Earth in the distant future, and you get an idea of what they’re basically saying this Quatermain project is. The concept might have promise as an original story, but by calling it Quatermain, DreamWorks is twisting Haggard’s character completely out of context.