The line between director and producer is sometimes pretty thin. Jerry Bruckheimer and Jason Blum, for example, aren’t directors at all, but their names as producers are accepted as brand names representing certain styles (bombastic action and spooky horror, respectively). Guillermo del Toro is best known as a director (most recently for the for last year’s Academy Award Best Picture-winner The Shape of Water), but he’s also expanding his umbrella as a producer. For example, Del Toro is producing CBS Films’ adaptation of the popular children’s book series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a longtime passion project of his, and it just began filming this week. Scary Movies to Tell in the Dark will be directed by André Øvredal, the Norwegian filmmaker best known for Trollhunter (which shouldn’t be confused with Netflix’s Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, also produced by Guillermo Del Toro). The movie will have an ensemble cast, and the first actress to join it (with more to come soon) is Zoe Colletti, who co-starred in Wildlife and the 2014 remake of Annie. As for what the premise will actually be, you can read all about that right here.
Hollywood has seriously cut back on romantic comedies in the last several years, but last weekend, Warner Bros. released Crazy Rich Asians, and the movie has proven to be a relative success, earning $48 million in its first week from a production budget of just $30 million. (It’s also Certified Fresh at 93%.) The film was an adaptation of a 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan, and it was followed by two sequel novels called China Rich Girlfriend (2015) and Rich People Problems (2017). Based on the film’s early success, Warner Bros. is already moving forward with plans for a sequel to be based on China Rich Girlfriend, with director Jon M. Chu returning as director. Chu is already preparing his next film, an adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights (6/26/2020), but WB is hoping Crazy Rich Asians 2 will be produced immediately after he finishes that. No official talks have begun with the Crazy Rich Asians cast, but it’s expected that most of them will return for the sequel (here’s Ken Jeong being asked about it).
Quentin Tarantino has been known to utilize large ensemble casts, and he’s doubling down on that practice for his homage to Los Angeles and the entertainment industry of the 1960s, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. We already know of two dozen stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, and Dakota Fanning, but even more names were added this week. Lena Dunham, the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, has been cast as a character named “Gypsy,” who is believed to most likely be Manson Family member Catherine “Gypsy” Share. Another especially notable new addition is Maya Hawke, the daughter of Ethan Hawke and his ex-wife Uma Thurman, who starred in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill movies. Columbia Pictures has scheduled Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for July 26, 2019, the week after Disney’s remake of The Lion King.
Acclaimed R&B singer Aretha Franklin, A.K.A. the “Queen of Soul,” died last Thursday at the age of 76, leaving behind a legendary body of work that includes “Chain of Fools,” “Day Dreaming,” “Think,” her cover of Carole King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman,” and her signature song “Respect.” Franklin was known to be actively consulting on the planned biopic of her life, which led some writers to wonder where her death leaves that project. Longtime Franklin music producer Harvey Mason Jr, who is also producing the biopic, confirmed this week that the film is “definitely moving forward.” Jennifer Hudson remains attached to star as Aretha Franklin during her youth and the height of her success, but there is not yet currently a director or an active screenplay (though Ray director Taylor Hackford has written a script himself).
Ever since we first heard about director Jay Roach‘s (Game Change, Recount) plans for a film about the sexual harassment cases within the office of FOX News, the emphasis has been on the female leads. Those announcements have included Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, and Margot Robbie as a fictional composite character representing younger staffers. What’s been missing so far is the casting of the various male figures in this true story, a couple of whom are very famous. The late Roger Ailes, the FOX News executive at the center of many of the allegations, will be played by John Lithgow. The cable channel Showtime is also planning a miniseries called The Loudest Voice in the Room, in which Russell Crowe will play Roger Ailes. Roach’s FOX News drama does not yet have a title, or a confirmed release date, but it’s very likely to be scheduled for late 2019.
In 2016, after finishing his work on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, frequent DC Comics composer Hans Zimmer announced that he was “retiring” from composing for superhero movies. Specifically, at the time, Zimmer cited the 11 years in between Batman Begins and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Never say never, though, as it was reported this week that Hans Zimmer is returning to superhero movies after all, joining next year’s Wonder Woman 1984 as composer. Hans Zimmer was, after all, the one who first wrote the Wonder Woman “theme” we first heard in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros has scheduled Wonder Woman 1984 for November 1, 2019 (and no other studio is currently planning on opening a film that weekend).
One of the earliest films that helped make Ed Harris a popular and respected actor was 1981’s The Right Stuff, in which he played pilot and early astronaut John Glenn. Nearly 40 years later, Harris is getting ready to co-star in another film about pilots (though it’s unclear if he himself will play one). Both he and Jon Hamm have now signed to co-star in next year’s sequel Top Gun: Maverick, which will also feature Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Val Kilmer, and Jennifer Connelly. Much of the rest of the cast is rounded out by younger talent who have worked mostly in television or independent film. The new batch of young pilots will go by such nicknames as “Phoenix, Slayer, Payback, Fanboy, Warlock, Cyclone, Viking, Coyote, Lardo, Bob… Harvard and Yale.” Top Gun: Maverick is scheduled for release on July 12, 2019 (the week after Spider-Man: Far From Home).
There are obviously a lot of sports movies, and some of them cover more obscure sports like Men with Brooms, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Over the Top. Fencing is a little harder to pin down, because it’s been featured in many historical films, but there are very few that actually address it as a modern sport. Casey Affleck has come aboard via his Sea Change Media Company as a producer for a drama called Fencer set in the world of Olympic women’s fencing. Jasmine McGlade, who was one of the producers of La La Land and made her directorial debut in 2012 with Maria My Love, will direct from her own screenplay. Affleck will also have a supporting role. This announcement also comes two weeks after Casey Affleck issued a public apology for his past behavior and directly addressed the #metoo movement.
Comments on next year’s live action Dora the Explorer movie frequently express a sentiment along the lines of, “I thought this was a joke.” And indeed, there’s a reason to think that, as back in 2012, College Humor produced a Dora the Explorer trailer (starring Ariel Winter from Modern Family) that was exactly that: a joke. Regardless of all that, Paramount Pictures and producer Michael Bay (Transformers, The Purge, Friday the 13th) are still moving forward with Dora the Explorer, as her two parents were cast this week. Eva Longoria (TV’s Desperate Housewives) will play Dora’s mom, and Michael Pena (Ant-Man and the Wasp) will play her dad. Dora the Explorer herself will be played by Isabela Moner, who will be 18 when the film reaches theaters next year on August 2nd, 2019 (and you can see what she looks like as Dora the Explorer right here).
The James Bond series is one of the most successful movie franchises, boasting a feature run that spans 24 official films since Dr. No started it all in 1962. As a result, Eon Productions has regularly enjoyed the luxury of announcing release dates for planned installments even before a director has been hired, because, well, of course someone will sign on. In the case of James Bond 25, for example, MGM announced its November 8, 2019 release date long before we ever heard Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) would direct it. Unfortunately, this week we learned that Boyle has dropped out of the project due to the oft-cited and typically ambiguous “creative differences” — in this case, we know that Boyle and his frequent co-writing collaborator John Hodge “delivered a draft of the script that didn’t meet the approval of producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, as well as star Daniel Craig.” Eon will obviously be looking for a new director now, but who that will be is unclear, as many of the previously reported options (including Jean-Marc Vallee and Edgar Wright) are now actively working on different projects. As expected, MGM then confirmed that James Bond 25 is no longer scheduled for November 8, 2019, and it may be delayed all the way until late 2020 (if filming doesn’t start in the next 60 days, according to this report). Meanwhile, all of this is leading some writers to opine that perhaps this is a good opportunity for 007 to be rebooted.