Without a doubt, one of the most anticipated films on the 2019 release schedule is Disney’s Frozen 2, the sequel to their 2013 animated musical smash hit ($1.276 billion from a budget of $150 million). Walt Disney Pictures has been in production for Frozen 2 for a while now, with all three of the original voice stars returning, aiming for a release date of November 27, 2019 (a release date that no other studio has dared oppose). This week, we learned that Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, and Josh Gad will be joined by two new characters voiced by Sterling K. Brown (TV’s This is Us) and Evan Rachel Wood (HBO’s Westwood). Walt Disney Pictures has not yet disclosed what sort of characters they will be voicing.
A surprising story that emerged early last year was that Orson Welles’ unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind will be finished and released by Netflix. Similarly, there are other directors whose unfinished works would cause quite a stir, like Stanley Kubrick, who died in 1999 a few months before the release of Eyes Wide Shut. The most famous of Kubrick’s unrealized projects is Napoleon, but there are several others, including a drama called Burning Secret, which Kubrick co-wrote in 1956 (around the time of The Killing, and before 1957’s Paths of Glory), adapting a 1913 novella by Stefan Zweig. That screenplay was long thought to be lost, until this week, when we learned that it was discovered by a British film scholar. It’s not known if any attempt will ever be made to actually realize Kubrick’s adaptation of Burning Secret.
Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the October 2nd, 2009 release of the genre comedy Zombieland (Certified Fresh at 90%). We’ve heard frequent talk about a sequel in the years since, but this week, we learned it’s finally officially coming together with a filming start and release date and everything. All four of the original film’s stars (Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin) will return for Zombieland 2 for Sony Pictures and director Ruben Fleischer. The sequel will start filming in January, 2019, allowing for nine months before its release on October 11th, 2019. Zombieland 2 joins a crowded release date that currently includes Disney’s Jungle Cruise (starring Dwayne Johnson), the animated reboot of The Addams Family, Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and the novel adaptation The Goldfinch. Ruben Fleischer’s next film before Zombieland 2 will be Marvel’s Venom (10/5/2018).
Speaking of Zombieland, one star who won’t be returning for that sequel is Bill Murray, who (9-year-old spoiler here) appeared in a scene-stealing cameo as himself. That does not, however, mean that Murray is done with zombie movies. Director Jim Jarmusch (who previously worked Murray in Broken Flowers, Coffee and Cigarettes, and The Limits of Control) is currently filming a zombie movie in upstate New York called The Dead Don’t Die, and Murray is part of an ensemble cast that also includes Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, and Tilda Swinton, all of whom have worked with Jarmusch before, with the exception of Gomez. Murray, Driver, and Sevigny are reportedly all playing police officers who find themselves in the midst of the zombie apocalypse.
Ever since the disastrous events surrounding the decline of The Weinstein Company, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has made the news quite a bit because of the planned movie adaptation of his musical In the Heights. We can also report that Miranda is signed to make his film directorial debut, and surprisingly, it’s not one of the projects he’s previously worked on, on stage. Instead, he will direct Imagine Entertainment’s adaptation of the autobiographical musical Tick, Tick… Boom! by the late playwright Jonathan Larson. Larson is best known for writing the long-running broadway hit musical Rent, which was also adapted as a film. Tick, Tick… Boom! will be Miranda’s directorial debut in part because In the Heights will not be directed by him, but by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians).
We’ve known for a while now that director Denis Villeneuve‘s latest sci-fi project after Arrival and last year’s Blade Runner 2049 was going to be a reboot of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Kyle Maclachlan starred as Paul Atreides in David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Dune, but until this week, we didn’t know who Villeneuve’s Atreides would be. That role has gone to Timothee Chalamet, who is coming off his acclaimed lead role in Call Me By Your Name, and a supporting role in Lady Bird. Dune (and its sequels) is a sprawling space opera epic with dozens of characters, but Paul Atreides is definitively the lead character, around whom the casting of Dune can now expand.
Although he died at the early age of 40, journalist-turned-novelist Jack London (1876-1916) left behind an impressive body of work including White Fang and probably his most famous novel, The Call of the Wild. The Call of the Wild has been adapted to film a few times, including in 1935 (starring Clark Gable), and in 1972 (starring Charlton Heston). That means arguably enough time has passed that we’re due for another majoradaptation, telling the story of a sled dog (and his human companion) during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. If deals go through, the star of the new Call of the Wild will be Harrison Ford, with filming expected to start in early September. This new Call of the Wild will be directed by Chris Sanders, who is making his live-action debut after co-directing Lilo & Stitch, The Croods, and How to Train Your Dragon.
Michael B. Jordan is having a great 2018, coming off the runaway box office success of Black Panther, and with the Rocky spinoff sequel Creed II coming out this November 21, 2018. For his next film, Jordan will star in a smaller-scale drama, adapted from the true story book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, written by lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson. Just Mercy tells the true story of the case of a death row inmate, with Michael B. Jordan playing his lawyer. We now know that it’s Jamie Foxx who is in talks to play the inmate. Just Mercy is looking like it might be one of Warner Bros’ contenders for awards season in late 2019.
Just two weeks ago, we learned that Scarlett Johansson had signed on to star in a true crime movie called Rub and Tug, about the life of 1970s Pittsburg crime kingpin Dante “Tex” Gill. That news led to a quick and boisterous backlash online, as people objected to Johansson playing a trans man (in conjunction with references to Gill being a “crossdressing lesbian,” and how this relates to Johansson’s role in Ghost in the Shell). To her credit, Johansson heard the objections, and within two weeks, she dropped out of Rub and Tug. Specifically, Johansson’s statement read, “In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project.” Hollywood’s transgender community applauded Johansson’s departure, but there may be a downside, as Rub and Tug may just be cancelled, as opposed to moving forward with a different actor in the role. Having said that, a slowdown for Rub and Tug now doesn’t mean that it won’t happen someday, or that Gill’s story might not possibly be adapted in another form.
They have slowed down a bit in recent years, but throughout the 1990s and 2000s, there was a steady stream of live-action movies adapted from beloved cartoon classics (The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Underdog, Josie and the Pussycats, etc). Many of those projects were ostensibly fueled by nostalgia, and the thing about nostalgia is that it’s not limited to just one generation. The Millennials who were kids in the 1990s are now adults, for example, and that leads us directly to Nickelodeon’s Rugrats, which ran from 1991 to 2004, and was also adapted as three animated movies (Rotten at 59%, Certified Fresh at 76%, and Rotten again at 40%, respectively). Paramount and Nickelodeon are planning a new animated TV series, and also a live-action Rugrats movie, the latter of which suggests, perhaps, that the Rugrats would either be CGI characters, or otherwise manipulated infant actors. Paramount has scheduled the Rugrats reboot for November 13, 2020, which is the week before Fantastic Beasts 3.