Paramount Pictures announced new release dates in the summer of 2020 for two of its highest profile sequels this week, and the “takeaways” for both couldn’t be more different. Let’s start with A Quiet Place 2 (title pending), the sequel to this year’s surprise hit science fiction thriller. Almost immediately, it was clear that Paramount was going to want to return to that film’s premise (monsters that are super sensitive to sound), given that it made over $332 million from a $17 million budget. A Quiet Place 2 is now scheduled for release on May 15, 2020, which puts it up against Warner Bros’ Scooby reboot, and the week before another monster movie, Godzilla vs Kong (also from Warner Bros). The more surprising news is that Paramount has also bumped Top Gun: Maverick back nearly a full year from July 12, 2019 to June 26, 2020. The reason is reportedly to give the sequel’s “complex flight sequences” more time to be produced. Since Top Gun: Maverick is currently filming, that means there will be nearly two years between the earliest footage and the film’s actual release. Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Miles Teller, and Jennifer Connelly will be going up against Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights, as well as an untitled Marvel movie from Fox on June 26, 2020.
It’s been about a year now that we’ve known about Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, dating back to last summer when we didn’t have a title yet. At first, we knew only that it was set in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969, and that the story would somehow implement the Manson Family murder of Sharon Tate. Since then, it’s been clarified that Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are playing a western TV actor and his stuntman best friend, respectively, with the rest of the ensemble cast to include Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning (as Squeaky Fromme), and Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate). Last week, we learned that Lena Dunham has been cast as Manson associate Catherine “Gypsy” Share, but still hadn’t heard about the casting of Manson himself, or Tate’s husband, Roman Polanski. We can now report that Australian actor Damon Herriman will portray Charles Manson (who, coincidentally was played in 2004’s Helter Skelter by Herriman’s Justified co-star Jeremy Davies). Strangely enough, in the same week, director David Fincher also cast Herriman to play Charles Manson in the second season of Netflix’s Mindhunter. We also now that Roman Polanski himself will be played by Polish actor Rafal Zawierucha. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is scheduled for release on July 26, 2019 (two weeks before the massacre’s 50th anniversary).
The popular British series Downton Abbey had a large ensemble cast, but as the big screen adaptation prepares to begin filming, the cast has grown even more. The most famous new cast member is probably Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton, who co-starred as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and starred as the title character in 2004’s Vera Drake. Staunton will be joined by Simon Jones (the original Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy mini-series), Geraldine James (Anne with an E), David Haig (Penny Dreadful), Tuppence Middleton (Sense8), Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders), and Stephen Campbell Moore (The Bank Job). These names come to us without any indication of their roles, but you can probably imagine that they will play either new staff members at Downton Abbey, or various members of the upper classes (because it’s Downton Abbey). The Downton Abbey movie will be directed by four-time series director Michael Engler, who is replacing the previously announced Brian Percival. Downton Abbey doesn’t have a release date yet, but sometime in late 2019 seems most likely.
Back when Dwayne Johnson was still known as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and made his feature film debut in The Mummy Returns, he was already talking up a dream project that we have yet to see happen. Johnson, whose mother is Samoan (making him part of a long-running wrestling family), has long wanted to star as King Kamehameha I, who was the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, after the various islands of the archipelago were united in 1795. This week, Johnson’s production company sealed a deal with Warner Bros. for that Kamehameha I biopic to be called The King. The project also now has Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) to direct, possibly as his next film after his upcoming Welcome to Marwen (12/21/2018). The screenplay was also written by Randall Wallace (Braveheart), inspiring comparisons to that film about Scottish hero William Wallace (no relation). Warner Bros is expecting to start production of The King in 2020 at locations in Hawaii and New Zealand, suggesting a release in 2021. In related news, Dwayne Johnson’s producing partner confirmed this week that their Big Trouble in Little China is not so much a remake of the Kurt Russell movie as it is a “continuation” (read as “sort of like a sequel”).
J.J. Abrams continues to load up Star Wars Episode IX with new actors. In recent months, he’s recruited Keri Russell (star of Abrams’ TV show Felicity) and Richard E. Grant (Withnail and I, Gosford Park), as well as returning stars Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels (as Lando Calrissian and C-3PO, respectively). We can now add Dominic Monaghan, who worked with Abrams on LOST (and played Merry in the Lord of the Rings movies). LOST wasn’t the only popular TV show that provided a new cast member, though, as Matt Smith (of both Doctor Who and The Crown) has also been cast in a “key role.” As to what roles either of the newcomers might be playing in Star Wars Episode IX (scheduled for December 20, 2019), it’s anyone’s guess.
Last week, we reported that producer Guillermo del Toro had begun production on his company’s adaptation of the popular Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark anthology books. The first announced cast member was Zoe Colletti (Wildlife, Annie), and this week, more of the film’s ensemble cast were revealed. As with Colletti, the cast is all made up of young up-and-comers (since the premise is about a “group of teen who must solve the mystery surrounding a wave of spectacularly horrific deaths in their small town”). They include Austin Abrams (Paper Towns), Michael Garza (Eddy in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1), Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, and Gabriel Rush, who has co-starred in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. There’s no U.S. release date yet for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but IMDb is starting to list international dates in late 2019.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo are no doubt up to their shoulders in post-production in next year’s Avengers 4. They’re also unlikely to be leaving the MCU anytime soon after that, so like many writer-directors, they are acting as producers on non-MCU projects (that they might have otherwise directed themselves). One example is an action thriller for Netflix called Dhaka (AKA the capital of Bangladesh). Dhaka will be something of an Avengers reunion project, as the lead actor will be Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s Thor), and the director will be Sam Hargarve, a stunt coordinator who acts as Chris Evans’ stunt double on Marvel’s films. The Russos also wrote Dhaka, in which Hemsworth will play a mercenary hired to save the life of a businessman’s son. Filming of Dhaka will start in November at locations in India and Indonesia, and the extensive shoots are expected to last until March of 2019.
2016’s Swiss Army Man earned a somewhat ho-hum 69% on the Tomatometer, but that was to be expected for a film with such a bizarre concept. Swiss Army Man was directed by the team called “the DANIELS” (Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan), and their next film will be an “interdimensional action movie” called Everything Everywhere At Once. For Swiss Army Man, the DANIELS recruited Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and indie darling Paul Dano for what was basically a 95% two-person cast, and for Everything Everywhere At Once, their two leads will be co-stars from the current hit comedy Crazy Rich Asians. Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8) will reunite for Everything Everywhere At Once, but the nature of their roles isn’t yet known. Both actresses are also expected to return for the already announced Crazy Rich Asians 2.
Although it’s now been 14 years since Looney Tunes: Back in Action, over that time, we’ve occasionally heard about Warner Bros. putting other movies featuring Looney Tunes characters into development. Most recently, that has included both Speedy Gonzalez and Pepe Le Pew. In the past, there had been talk about plans for an “Acme Corporation” movie, based on the fictional company frequently seen in Roadrunner cartoons, and that project appears to be back in development in the form of Coyote vs Acme, which, as its title suggests, is also a “solo” movie for Wile E. Coyote. Although they were called “Roadrunner” cartoons, Wile E. Coyote was frequently the actual protagonist of the shorts, as the stories centered on Coyote’s attempts to catch the Roadrunner (as opposed to the Roadrunner’s attempts to evade Coyote). It’s unknown how much of a role Roadrunner will have in Coyote vs Acme, which will be produced by The LEGO Batman Movie director Chris McKay and written by Jon and Josh Silberman (of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).
Frequently, major casting news comes with the caveat that the stars in question are “in talks” or “in negotiations,” and sometimes those “talks” fall apart (typically due to scheduling or salary). What’s far less common is that the actor in question announces his non-involvement within the same calendar week. That’s exactly what happened this week with Warner Bros’ Joker origin movie and 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin. On Tuesday, we first heard that Baldwin had been cast as Thomas Wayne, A.K.A. Bruce Wayne’s father (curiously without any “in talks” or “in negotiations” language). Then, just two days later, he told USA Today, “I’m no longer doing that movie,” citing the aforementioned “scheduling” issues. The role had reportedly also been offered to Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen, although it’s unclear if it instead be offered to someone else. The inclusion of Thomas Wayne has led to some speculation that Joker and Bruce Wayne might actually be brothers in the movie, but that’s not been confirmed (obviously). Warner Bros has scheduled Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the title character, for October 4, 2019.