Although 2017 was obviously not a great year for The Dark Tower (16% on the Tomatometer), the success of the other major Stephen King movie last year more than made up for it. IT was both Certified Fresh at 85% and a tremendous box office hit, earning $700+ million worldwide from a budget of just $35 million. That means Stephen King titles are hot commodities again, especially if they’re remakes (like Pet Sematary, 4/5/2019), or otherwise related to a pre-existing horror classic. The latter leads us to Doctor Sleep, the 2013 novel by Stephen King that serves as a sequel to The Shining, as it focuses on the adult Danny Torrance. Danny Lloyd, the original child actor, is now a long-retired-from-acting biology professor, so obviously Warner Bros needs a new Danny Torrance. (Shelley DuVall also retired from acting in 2002.) Ewan McGregor has landed that role in Doctor Sleep, with Stephen King himself reportedly having given his blessing to the casting choice. The sequel will be directed by Mike Flanagan (Ouija: Origin of Evil), who also recently directed the Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game for Netflix. Doctor Sleep will be McGregor’s 8th prequel/sequel, after the three Star Wars prequels, Angels & Demons, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, T2: Trainspotting, and this summer’s Christopher Robin. In related news, “Old Spice Guy” Isaiah Mustafa has also been cast as the adult Mike Hanlon in next year’s IT: Chapter Two (9/6/2019).
For all the time we’ve known that Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was set in Los Angeles with the Sharon Tate murder as a backdrop, one casting mystery we’ve yet to solve is who will play Charles Manson. (Margot Robbie’s playing Sharon Tate herself, and Dakota Fanning was cast last week as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme.) The film, like many of Tarantino’s, is going to have a huge ensemble cast, so we’ve been getting nearly weekly casting updates, and this week was no different, with the addition of James Marsden (X-Men, HBO’s Westworld). How Marsden’s casting is being covered suggests more mystery than other recent additions, which is leading to speculation that he has, in fact, been cast as Charles Manson. Roman Polanski also hasn’t been cast yet, but Marsden bears more of a resemblance to Manson, and presumably, the Polanski role is Tarantino regular Christoph Waltz’s to play or turn down. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Al Pacino, Luke Perry, Burt Reynolds, and others) is scheduled for August 9th, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Tate Murders.
Gal Gadot is currently busy filming the sequel which we now know is called Wonder Woman 1984, but “her people” are already actively lining up more future films. Gadot’s first major non-DC-Comics action movie since Wonder Woman will be Universal Pictures’ Red Notice, starring Dwayne Johnson. We last heard about Red Notice in February when Universal acquired the project in a bidding war that made it the year’s biggest deal so far. Red Notice reunites Dwayne Johnson with his Skyscraper and Central Intelligence director Rawson Marshall Thurber, and it also has DCEU connections, as Johnson himself is attached to star in the DC Comics adaptation Black Adam (playing an anti-hero with ties to next year’s Shazam). Going back to Wonder Woman 1984 (11/1/2019), Warner Bros. released the first images this week, and they reveal that Chris Pine is back for the sequel, which is set nearly seventy years after the first film. There are a variety of ways that Chris Pine could be back in Wonder Woman 1984, but the most obvious comes to us from the classic Wonder Woman TV show, in which the same actor played two relatives both named Steve Trevor (possibly a grandson or great nephew). Warner Bros also unveiled new images from December’s Aquaman (12/21/2018), featuring the villain Black Manta and members of the Atlantis royal family.
Captain Marvel has already been a movie of “firsts” for Marvel Studios, as it’s their first female solo movie, with their first female (co-)director, and their first prequel. As the film nears its final days of filming, Marvel is already preparing for post-production, and a key role in that process is the score. To that end, Marvel Studios made history this week with the hiring of film and TV composer Pinar Toprak. Toprak’s key distinction on Captain Marvel is that she will be the first female composer to ever score a major superhero movie (though she did contribute some music to Justice League). Marvel Studios has scheduled Captain Marvel for release on March 8th, 2019, when no other film is scheduled (would you take Marvel on directly?).
We’ve seen fewer remake announcements in recent months, but the industry is slowly moving on from the 1980s into the 1990s. With that in mind, we now have talk of an Arachnophobia remake. Although the original 1990 Arachnophobia did “okay” at the box office (opening at #3 and earning $53 million), it’s also arguably a film whose legacy has been lost to time, as it did not receive a sequel, TV series spinoff, etc. Jeff Daniels and John Goodman starred in the original thriller, which followed the residents of a small California town dealing with an infestation of deadly Amazonian spider hybrids. The Arachnophobia remake will be a co-production between Steven Spielberg’s Amblin and Atomic Monster, the production company of director James Wan (Insidious, Aquaman). Wan will guide the remake as producer, but he won’t be directing. The next movie from Atomic Monster will be The Nun (9/7/2018), the latest entry in the Conjuring-verse.
If it feels like a while since you read a story on Gawker, you can (partly) thank former professional wrestler Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea for that. In 2016, Bollea won a $140 million defamation case against Gawker Media, effectively shutting down the publisher of multiple blogs and websites. That story was recently adapted as the Ryan Holiday book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, and now that book is looking likely to become the inspiration for a major motion picture. Director Francis Lawrence has signed on to that adaptation, which seems like a departure from his previous films. Francis Lawrence is best known for big budget movies like Constantine and I Am Legend, and for working with Jennifer Lawrence four times (the last three Hunger Games movies, plus Red Sparrow). With this Hulk Hogan/Gawker project, Lawrence may be looking to tilt his career more towards an awards-friendly fact-based drama.
Whether or not he carried any of the blame for the Rotten scores that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (27%) and Justice League (40%) earned, Ben Affleck was at the center of some unfortunate news concerning his version of Batman this week. The latest screenplay draft of The Batman reportedly focuses on a younger version of the character, so Affleck is now “likely out” as Batman in future movies. The move is part of a shift at Warner Bros. as the focus changes to a tone closer to Wonder Woman, this year’s Aquaman, and next year’s Shazam. Meanwhile, Affleck is keeping busy with non-Batman projects, including the hopefully not too on-the-nose-titled The Has-Been, which reunites Affleck with The Accountant director Gavin O’Connor. Affleck will play a former professional basketball star struggling with addiction who “attempts to regain his soul” by coaching a high school team.
Until this week, the action thriller now known as Project X seemed like a complete 1980s throwback, featuring two stars with an average age of 67. 64-year-old Jackie Chan remains attached to Project X, but he will now be joined by professional wrestler-turned-actor John Cena. Project X (formerly called Ex-Baghdad) is about a Chinese security contractor and a former U.S. marine who team up to extract workers from an oil refinery and stop a criminal plot to steal the plant’s oil. Cena replaces Sylvester Stallone, the other aforementioned 1980s action movie star (who was also in the news this week for this). He’s also still attached to star in Universal Pictures’ The Janson Directive, a Robert Ludlum adaptation that Dwayne Johnson was previously attached to star in (and who is still executive producing). Project X will be directed by Scott Waugh, whose previous films as director all have Rotten Tomatometer scores (Act of Valor at 26%, Need for Speed at 22%, 6 Below at 24%).
Late night talk show host James Corden (CBS’ The Late Late Show with James Corden) has had a number of live action film roles (Begin Again, Into the Woods, Ocean’s 8), but his biggest feature film successes have arguably been voice roles (Trolls, The Emoji Movie, Peter Rabbit). This week, Corden signed on for another voice role, this time in an otherwise live-action movie, as the title “character” in Super Intelligence, the next comedy from the wife-husband team of Melissa McCarthy and director Ben Falcone. McCarthy will star as “a former corporate executive whose earnest, yet unfulfilled, life is turned upside down when she is selected for observation by the world’s first superintelligence (Corden) — a form of artificial intelligence that may or may not take over the world.” As a director, Falcone has had a 3-for-3 streak of Rotten scores when working with McCarthy (24% for Tammy, 22% for The Boss, 38% for Life of the Party), which is why Super Intelligence is this week’s Rotten Idea. Super Intelligence is scheduled for release on December 25th, 2019 (five days after Star Wars Episode IX and the Wicked movie).