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HOT HELMING: With ‘Wolverine 2′ Job Filled At Fox, Next Big Directing Gig Is Lionsgate’s ‘Pride, Prejudice, Zombies’ With Scarlett

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: I’ve begun hearing directing candidates to replace David O Russell for Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies: Mike Newell (Prince of Persia) is the early front runner, but they are still meeting filmmakers and I am hearing Descent’s Neil Marshall is in the mix. Details below.

EXCLUSIVE: One of Hollywood’s biggest directing gigs looks done. Darren Aronofsky’s deal to direct 20th Century Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 is close enough that discussion has turned to shooting the sound stage portions of the film in New York so the filmmaker and Hugh Jackman don’t have to inconvenience their families. A March start date is being eyed so that Aronofsky has time to open Black Swan and be available for the inevitable awards season obligations. When the New York scenes are completed, they’ll head to Japan to shoot the bulk of the Christopher McQuarrie-scripted movie. Deadline told you last week that Aronofsky had set his sights on Wolverine after passing on the Warner Bros period crime drama Gangster Squad.

With the Wolverine job all but sealed, what’ll be the next hot job helmers will compete for? I’m told a lot of directors are lining up for Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, the Seth Grahame-Smith revisionist novel that enhances Jane Austen’s tale of class and manners in 19th Century England with the much-needed infusion of bloodthirsty brain-eating zombies. I’m told that after Natalie Portman backed out of playing Elizabeth Bennet, David O Russell had Scarlett Johansson ready to play the heroine and Bradley Cooper to play Mr. Darcy. Then, Russell himself left to focus on his collaboration with Vince Vaughn Old St. Louis and  Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune at Sony. Read More »

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Warner Bros/Legendary Land Jonathan Liebesman For 3D ‘Clash’ Sequel

Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: Warner Bros closed a deal late last night for Battle: Los Angeles director Jonathan Liebesman to direct Clash of the Titans 2. Production begins February 1 in the UK and possibly Iceland at a budget comparable to the $130 million spent on the original. I’d written yesterday about the ongoing talks that were stuck on money. Later in the day, they found a common ground–the studio came up with more dough. The sequel is a natural considering that the protagonists played by Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton survived, and the original grossed nearly $500 million worldwide. But Clash benefited by being one of the first major live action films to get a 3D retrofit. Read More »

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No ‘Avon Man’ For Hugh Jackman

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Hugh Jackman won’t be knocking on doors this fall in the lead role of Avon Man, the 20th Century Fox comedy that Kevin Lima will direct. I’m told that Jackman has dropped out as the star. That’s going to come as pretty good news for superhero fans because  Jackman will spend the late fall getting in killer shape to reprise his role as Logan in a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That film is being scripted by Christopher McQuarrie and tells a samurai story set in Japan. There is no director, but Jackman’s move means that Fox is getting the film ready for production next year.

Jackman’s road to six-pack abs could still include a detour to Selma, where he would play sheriff Jim Clark, whose arrest of Martin Luther King Jr. is catalyst for the plot of the Lee Daniels-directed Civil Rights drama which, after a series of fits and starts, appears poised to gather its financing through The Weinstein Company and Pathe and the financier Skyline Pictures. Jackman gained 30 pounds to play the role in the spring, then had to lose the weight for Real Steel. Will he strap on the feedbag again and then have to lose it to play Logan?

Jackman won’t be far away from Avon Man, because he is a producer on the comedy with his Seed Productions partner John Palermo and Krasnoff Foster’s Gary Forster. The studio, which has a current draft of … Read More »

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