After putting the brakes on their 3D live-action Tarzan pic last year, Warner Bros is charging ahead again with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård set to play the loinclothed Edgar Rice Burroughs hero. The pic, now in preproduction, will open on July 1, 2016, the studio said today. Skarsgård was attached to star in the David Yates-helmed pic when the studio cautiously stalled plans to move forward last spring. At the time Jessica Chastain was circling the female lead, but now the Jane role has gone to Margot Robbie who had a breakout turn in Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street this fall.
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Tarzan will tell the familiar tale of the eponymous hero, orphaned as a baby and raised in the jungle, who returns to urban London as a man. Samuel L. Jackson and his Django Unchained co-star Christoph Waltz will also star. Jerry Weintraub, David Barron and Alan Riche are producing. Read More »
Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard and Bel Powley have joined the cast of the pic from first-time writer-director Marielle Heller. Caviar and Cold Iron Pictures have come aboard to finance and produce The Diary of a Teenage Girl, based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel. The 1970s-set film, which is filming in San Francisco, follows a brutally honest teenage artist (Powley, in her U.S. feature debut) as she attempts to navigate her way through an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. Bert Hamelinck and Madeline Samit of Caviar (Nymphomaniac) will produce along with Miranda Bailey of Cold Iron and Anne Carey of Archer Gray. Amanda Marshall and Michael Sagol are executive producers along with Jorma Taccone. Read More »
The fast pace of digital-age reporting means a lot of half-truths and half-baked conversations being reported as fact. First, I’ve gotta call bullshit on these recent reports (sorry, PMC-owned sister publication Hollywood Life) that Alex Pettyfer has been set to play Christian Grey in the eagerly awaited Universal Pictures adaptation of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey. That book is selling faster than Harry Potter, another novel series about a guy with a magic wand. There hasn’t been a shred of discussion at the studio about Pettyfer playing Grey. The actor filmed the “deflowering” scene from the book for Gus Van Sant, who did that on spec in an attempt to get himself the helming job. A lot of major directors have been discreetly approached, but everyone is waiting on a script by Kelly Marcel. They would not set any cast without input from a filmmaker.
Also not happening is Thor and The Avengers antagonist Tom Hiddleston starring in Relativity Media’s reboot of The Crow. A simple conversation has been overhyped and reported like it was going to happen. The guy to keep an eye on here is True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard, who is getting numerous offers since his plans to star for David Yates in Tarzan died on the vine when Warner Bros halted the project over budget. No formal offer yet, but it sounds to … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Things are not looking very good right now for Tarzan, the re-imagining of the Edgar Rice Burroughs tale that has Harry Potter helmer David Yates preparing to make it this year, with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard playing the title character and Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jessica Chastain circling the female lead. I’m hearing they’ve shut down plans to make the film this year, and are shuttering the production office. Sounds like it had to do with a high budget they just couldn’t reduce to the level that made the studio comfortable. Casting and timing could also have been an issue, as word is the studio had been courting Jamie Foxx to play the film’s third lead but hadn’t made a deal. This is the film that Warner Bros has tried to get going for years, even hiring scribes Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer to separately script their own visions for the franchise.
Nobody was commenting officially, but insiders at the studio tell me they are trying again for 2014 and that Yates is still in the fold. The studio hadn’t greenlit the film and did not have pay or play deals, so it wasn’t that hard to apply the brakes. Warner Bros is always voracious for franchises that can play on a global stage, but the studio also has been pretty bold about unplugging films that cost too much or don’t get the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Paula Patton has joined the cast of Disconnect, the indie drama that’s being directed by Murderball‘s Henry Alex Rubin. She joins Alexander Skarsgard, Andrea Riseborough, Frank Grillo and Jason Bateman in the Andrew Stern-scripted drama about disparate lives that intertwine as the digital technologies intended to bring people closer together push families further apart. Patton’s coming off Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and Jumping The Broom. She’s repped by WME and Flavor Unit. The film’s being produced by Liddell Entertainment and Wonderful Films, with Mickey Liddell, Jennifer Hilton, Bill Horberg and Marc Forster producing.
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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Anchor Bay Films just acquired U.S. distribution rights to 13, Gela Babluani’s remake of his 2005 thriller 13 Tzameti. The film isn’t playing here at Toronto, but it will be one of a flurry of titles being shopped during the festival, something that proved very effective in Cannes, where some of the biggest acquisition deals were made on the basis of sellers showing promo reels to hungry distributors.
The remake stars Sam Riley, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Ray Winstone, Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Shannon, Ben Gazzara, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Mickey Rourke and Jason Statham. Anchor Bay president Bill Clark and EVP Worldwide Acquisitions and Co-Productions Kevin Kasha made the deal with WME Global’s Alexis Garcia.
“13 was a great pick-up for Anchor Bay Films,” Kasha said. “The film has an amazing cast and it truly keeps you guessing. We’re excited to be working with Babluani in releasing it.”
The original won the 2006 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, and Babluani won best director at the Venice Film Festival later that year. A desperate man steals an envelope promising a mysterious job that can make him a fortune. Assuming a false identity, he discovers he’s enlisted to be a numbered participant in an underworld Russian roulette competition where gamblers place bets on the contestants. The potential payoff is so high he goes through with it despite the long odds of survival.
Finally, Universal Pictures has released a teaser trailer for Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed film that takes the popular board game and mashes it up with a science fiction alien premise. The movie has been the subject of heightened cynicism for the longest time, partly because of its tie-in to the Hasbro board game, its high price tag and the rumor that Universal put so many chips on the table it has been reticent to take chances on films like At the Mountains of Madness and Dark Tower (though studio insiders say Battleship had nothing to do with those decisions). There was even one straight-faced report that longtime studio chief Ron Meyer would be supplanted by Dick Cook because of the Hasbro deal and Battleship (this proved unfounded). All this negative ink came before anybody saw a frame of a movie that stars Liam Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna. Berg told me recently that he hoped buzz would turn around once people started getting a look at the work they did, and this teaser provides the first opportunity. My feeling? Berg and Kitsch certainly made a good team on the TV series version of Friday Night Lights, which is giving Kitsch shots to become a movie star in this film, the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and Disney’s John Carter, based on John Carter of Mars. Maybe they’ve got something here.
Brooklyn Decker has been set by director Peter Berg to join the cast of Battleship, Universal’s tentpole film based on the Hasbro game. Taylor Kitsch stars, along with True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard and Rihanna. The film starts production around Labor Day in Hawaii, and will be released May 18, 2012. Scripted by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, Battleship’s a big scale action adventure that pits that crew of a battleship again alien invaders. Brian Koppelman and David Levien are working on the most recent draft. Read More »