Kick-Ass star Aaron Johnson is set to join Marvel‘s The Avengers: Age Of Ultron in the role of Quicksilver AKA Pietro Maximoff. Earlier this month Elizabeth Olsen closed in on the role of Scarlet Witch, sister to Quicksilver. Both characters also appear in Marvel’s X-Men comics. The Avengers sequel helmed by Joss Whedon is slated for May 1, 2015.
EXCLUSIVE: Marvel Studios is courting Aaron Taylor-Johnson for the role of Quicksilver in The Avengers 2, I’m told. Taylor-Johnson, who reprises the title role in Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall, has scheduling issues and I’m not sure this will work out, but Marvel wants him.
There have been reports on the comic-savvy websites that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who are twins, were in the current draft of Avengers 2 via Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios. Fox is also gung-ho on that character, as Bryan Singer, director of X-Men: Days Of Future Past announced on Twitter that he’d cast Evan Peters to play that role in his film for Fox. More intriguing is that Peters played in Kick-Ass alongside Johnson. I’ll let you know if this embryonic situation turns into something real and Taylor-Johnson gets fitted for spandex.
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Pictures is eyeing Kick-Ass star Aaron-Taylor Johnson to star in Godzilla, the Gareth Edwards-directed reboot of the franchise based on the iconic Japanese reptile. I’m told that Johnson, who starred in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and Anna Karenina and followed by reprising in Kick-Ass 2: Balls To The Wall is the frontrunner for the job. He won’t make a final decision on whether or not to take the offer until he sees the final polish that Frank Darabont is writing based on the Max Borenstein script.
Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are taking the creative lead on this project — they just put Mary Parent on after she became a producer of Pacific Rim — and Warner Bros is distributing everywhere except for Japan. There, rightsholders Toho will handle the release. While there has obviously been a legal dust-up in the producing ranks, the film is still on course to begin production in March, with the film dated for a May 16, 2014 release. If he takes the gig, Johnson could well have a second franchise, not at all a bad thing for a young actor. He’s repped by WME and Brillstein, and Christian Hodell in the UK.
EXCLUSIVE: After Deadline revealed that Universal Pictures was stepping in to finance Kick-Ass 2 with Jeff Wadlow directing his script, the big question was whether the original Kick-Ass cast of Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, among others, would be back for an encore. There has been a lot of rumors lately that Johnson, who stars in the upcoming Oliver Stone-directed Savages, would leave and that other actors were being lined up for a recasting. This has been exacerbated by the fact that the original cast didn’t have sequel options, which meant that returning cast members from the Matthew Vaughn-directed 2010 original would require new negotiated deals. The original cost $28 million and grossed $103 million worldwide.
Here’s what I am hearing. Johnson is nearly done with his deal to reprise as the title character. Moretz in a similar situation as is Mintz-Plasse. Also in talks is Nicolas Cage to return in a cameo role (his reps say he has yet to receive an offer). There are several other star roles for new characters, and it’s sure looking like it will work out well for a fall shoot.
Universal has released its first trailer for Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling Don Winslow novel about two pot growers from Laguna who are muscled by a Mexican drug cartel. When the cartel kidnaps the woman they share, the growers come up with a novel but dangerous way to pay the ransom. The film stars Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir. The script was written by Shane Salerno & Winslow & Stone. Universal was impressed enough to move the film from fall into the July 6 slot. The trailer will play in front of American Reunion.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired the Don Winslow bestselling novel Satori and will develop it as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play a Westerner, raised in Japan and taught an assassin’s skills, who gets caught up in the chaos of post-WWII as the U.S., Soviet Union, France and China maneuver for power in Southeast Asia in the early 1950s. Shane Salerno will write the script with Winslow, and John Lesher’s Grisdi Productions and DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran are producing. Salerno is executive producer.
DiCaprio will play Nicholai Hel, raised in Japan by a martial arts expert and genius at Go, the complex chess-like Japanese game. The master, a Japanese general, passes on all his secrets and the student repays him by murdering his mentor as an act of devotion; the military leader would have been disgraced and killed as a war criminal.
For that act, Hel is thrown in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison and tortured for three years. He is finally sprung by the CIA after agreeing to assassinate the Soviet commissioner to China. Hel is trained for the task by a beautiful French woman he falls in love with. Though he now sees a happy ending to the dangerous assignment, Hel is betrayed by his backers and, using his Go skills for strategy, makes his way through Vietnam hunted by American, Chinese, Russian and French intelligence agencies as well as a Corsican mob and Vietnamese criminal syndicate. It’s a sophisticated thriller, and the studio sees potential for its own Jason Bourne-type action franchise.
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land.
It’s official: Atonement director Joe Wright and star Keira Knightley are reteaming for Anna Karenina, the Working Title films adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel that was written by Tom Stoppard. The film will be distributed by Focus Features in the U.S. and Universal Pictures International worldwide sometime in the second half of 2012. Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Paul Webster; the trio were 2008 Oscar nominees as producers of Atonement.
EXCLUSIVE: Simon & Schuster has made a deal for Don Winslow to write a prequel novel to Savages, his bestseller that forms the basis of the film that Oliver Stone will begin shooting for Universal Pictures July 6, with Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro starring. Simon & Schuster’s Jofie Ferrari-Adler acquired the book from CAA. The Story Factory made his publishing deal.
Savages, a book that got wide acclaim last year before its paperback publication (The New York Times named it one of the top 10 books of 2010), focuses on a couple of Laguna-based pot growers who are muscled by a Mexican drug cartel that kidnaps O, a young woman who’s their best friend and occasional bed partner. Faced with an impossibly high ransom, the growers begin hijacking the cartel’s own shipments to ransom back their friend. That book has something of a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid climax, so a sequel wasn’t in the cards. The idea of the prequel book came from Shane Salerno, who wrote the movie script with Winslow and Stone. The prequel fleshes out the relationship between the pot growers (played by Kitsch and Johnson) and O (played by Lively), and will add interaction with characters from Winslow’s other novels that include The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Power of the Dog. Winslow is already deep into the writing and …
EXCLUSIVE: Oliver Stone is putting together a killer cast for Savages, the drama based on Don Winslow’s bestselling novel. Stone is arranging a Pulp Fiction reunion of John Travolta and Uma Thurman, as the two actors are in talks to join the ensemble cast. Also joining is is The Town’s Blake Lively, who beat out a group of young actresses to play the role of O. Travolta will play Dennis, a burned out DEA agent, and Thurman will play O’s mom, Paqu.
They join Taylor Kitsch, already set to play who’ll play the role of former Navy SEAL Chon (Kitsch has already begun training with the real SEALs); Aaron Johnson, who plays the role of Ben; Salma Hayek, who’ll play the role of Mexican cartel queen-pin Elena; and Benicio Del Toro, who plays the vicious cartel enforcer Lado. The script is by Winslow and Shane Salerno. There are several more roles to go.
Universal Pictures is financing and distributing the film, which begins production in early July. Savages focuses on the relationship between best friend Laguna pot growers Chon and Ben, who live a cozy life with their trippy galpal, O. Their pot is so good that the Mexican cartel tries to coerce them into working for the cartel. When they refuse, the cartel kidnaps O and charges a heavy ransom to …
Despite the laughable claim of exclusivity just now by another outlet, I can report that Deadline’s March 19 scoop about Oliver Stone’s Savages heading to Universal is getting closer, but it’s not closed yet. They are now in exclusive negotiations, but they are still ironing out details. Still, as Deadline told you, Universal will be the distributor when all is done. Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and Benicio Del Toro are set to star in the adaptation of the Don Winslow bestseller, with a script by Shane Salerno and the author. Salma Hayek is also in talks. Two other studios had been in discussions.
Johnson and Kitsch are set to play Ben and Chon, two best friends who are growers of primo pot in Laguna and who share an unusual relationship with a trippy beauty named O. Not only are they all best friends, she has been lovers with each guy. Their lucrative zen existence is interrupted by a visit from the drug enforcer Lado (Del Toro) who tells them they will have to work for his boss, a Mexican cartel matriarch (the role Hayek is in talks to play). When they refuse, O is kidnapped, the growers are forced to come up with an outrageous ransom which they accumulate by ripping off the matriarch holding their friend hostage.
Stone is right now testing actresses to play O, the role that was going to be played by Jennifer Lawrence …
EXCLUSIVE: Benicio Del Toro is signing on to play a deadly drug cartel enforcer in Savages, joining Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch in the drama that Oliver Stone is directing, based on the Don Winslow bestseller. The project is moving toward a potential deal with Universal, though two other studios remain in discussions. Johnson and Kitsch are set to play Ben and Chon, two best friends who are growers of primo pot in Laguna. They share an unusual relationship with a trippy girl named O. Not only are they all best friends, she has a relationship with each. Their quiet lucrative life is interrupted by a visit from the drug enforcer Lado (Del Toro) who tells them they will have to work for his boss, a Mexican cartel matriarch. When they refuse, O is kidnapped, and they are forced to come up with a fortune in ransom. They plot to do it by hijacking the cartel’s drug supply, right under the nose of Lado, who is highly suspicious.
Stone is honing the script with Shane Salerno and Winslow. Jennifer Lawrence was going to play O, until she was set for the lead in the Gary Ross-directed The Hunger Games at Lionsgate. I’m told that Stone has cast a wide net for O, looking at established names and unknowns. Salma Hayek is also in the mix for the role of the Mexican …
EXCLUSIVE: At a time when the Hollywood movie star landscape is being made over with new faces, Kick-Ass star Aaron Johnson is cementing his place in this new order. He has been offered two lead roles in high profile films with strong scripts and A-list directors, in parts that have been pursued by all the young guys. I believe he’ll do both films.
I’m told that Johnson has been offered one of the two male leads in Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed drama about two best friend pot growers who share a gorgeous lady and a huge problem: their pot is so good that a Mexican drug cartel has kidnapped their gal and will kill her if the growers don’t go to work for the cartel. That pic, which has a script by Shane Salerno and Don Winslow (who wrote the novel on which the movie is based) will shoot in June. Jennifer Lawrence is Stone’s first choice to play O, the kidnapped free spirited sexpot, but her commitment to The Hunger Games (Deadline told you last Friday that was happening) has made her participation uncertain at the moment.
Johnson has also been offered the romantic lead role alongside Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina, the adaptation of the Tolstoy classic tragic love story that has a script by Tom Stoppard and will be directed by Atonement helmer Joe Wright for Working Title. That film will likely shoot in the fall, so Johnson …
Today at BAFTA Headquarters, jury member, film director, actor, and award-winning singer-songwriter Ben Drew announced the hotly anticipated nominees for the newly named Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award 2011. The nominations recognise five international actors and actresses whose talent has captured the imagination of the British public. The nominees are:
• Gemma Arterton
• Andrew Garfield
• Tom Hardy
• Aaron Johnson
• Emma Stone
Orange’s accolade for up and coming talent is the only award at the Orange British Academy Film Awards that is voted for by the public and, for the first time this year, allowed Orange Wednesdays customers to be part of the selection process. The winner will be announced Sunday, February 13. Previous winners of the award include James McAvoy in 2006, Eva Green in 2007, Shia LaBeouf in 2008, Noel Clarke in 2009 and Kristen Stewart in 2010.
Bryan Singer is getting his green light on Jack the Giant Killer, and he’s now figuring out who’ll climb the vine and slay the oversized villain. I’m told it has become the role that young actors are circling. I’ve also heard that Singer’s sweet on Aaron Johnson, who played the title role in Kick-Ass, and portrayed the young John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. Now, Johnson is hardly a lock; New Line is seeing a lot of other young actors as well. Production will begin this spring. The remake was developed by New Line as a dark re-telling of the Jack and the Beanstalk fable, with a script by Darren Lemke and Mark Bomback. Singer sparked to it when he was simultaneously developing X-Men: First Class to direct. When the Jack script needed work, though, Singer was momentarily tempted to do the X-Men project first. But Warner Bros, which once pulled Singer away from X-Men 3 to do Superman Returns when Fox took too long to close, wasn’t leaving the possibility for payback. Warner Bros locked Singer into a holding deal.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony’s Columbia Pictures is getting closer to finding its new Spider-Man. I On Friday, studio decision-makers viewed the screen tests of most of the young actors they are seriously considering to play Peter Parker in the Marc Webb-directed relaunch of Spider-Man.
I’m told that nobody has won the job yet. It is possible that more candidates will be added. But there is a strong list of actors who screen tested, and most likely the new Peter Parker is among them. I’m told that the candidates whose screen tests were viewed Friday are: Jamie Bell (the Billy Elliot star who wrapped the Kevin Macdonald-directed The Eagle of the Ninth) , Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin, Kick-Ass’s Aaron Johnson, Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) and Alden Ehrenreich (Tetro). Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) and Michael Angerano (Lords of Dogtown) are also in the final list that the studio is working from. I’m not sure if Angarano tested. I’ve heard Dillane decided not to because he is likely headed to attend drama school at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
The studio wants to lock in its superhero soon, so that supporting roles can be cast around him. Production will begin before the year ends and the film has locked a July 3, 2012 release. The script by Jamie Vanderbilt is still being worked on, and (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb …