1. Lionsgate plots TV-centric future for Divergent
One of the bigger surprises this week – not least to its star, Shailene Woodley – concerned the Divergent franchise. On Wednesday, Variety reported that the series would be wrapped up with a television movie before launching into a spin-off series with a host of fresh-faced kids in jumpsuits. This move comes as a response to the disappointing box office from the most recent instalment, Allegiant, which our very own Tori Brazier deemed “thinly-stretched and uneven”.
If Variety’s story is correct, Lionsgate’s television group will take care of the production and work to insert a whole new cast that could continue the series and its world of diverging (ohh, I get it) castes. Lee Toland Krieger (The Age Of Adaline) has been tapped to direct but, although likely be contracted for a fourth, it’s unknown whether Woodley and co. would return for the project. When asked to comment by E!, the actor simply stated “I honestly have no idea what’s going on with Divergent.” Cryptic.
2. Kirsten Dunst to direct an adaptation of the The Bell Jar
What is it with actors being so intent on adapting classic literature? If it wasn’t enough that James Franco has recently demolished not one but two Faulkner classics, and with Ewan McGregor spreading his directorial wings with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, now Mary-Jane has decided to tackle one of the most lauded novels of the 20th century, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. The adaptation of Plath’s 1963 literary milestone will mark Dunst’s first attempt at stepping behind the camera and is expected to feature Dakota Fanning in the lead role [via Deadline].
3. T.J. Miller will star in the emoji movie – which is a thing that is happening
Because we live in the year 2016, it should come as no surprise that an emoji movie is in the works. Yes, a film about and/or involving emoji is being made with money. Building “hype” for the project, Sony Animation tweeted an announcement on World Emoji Day that T.J. Miller has been signed to the leading role, taking the part of an optimistic emoji born to “meh” emoji parents. Though plot details are relatively few, it looks like Miller’s ‘‘character’’ will try to be more normal before ultimately realising that being oneself is the best thing one can be. EmojiMovie: Express Yourself (actual title) is due in cinemas August 2017, roughly three weeks before the end of days.
— Sony Animation (@SonyAnimation) July 17, 2016
4. Star Trek actors get new contracts, raises, Chris Hemsworth
Although Star Trek Beyond has only just hit cinemas, Paramount execs have been busy on last minute contract renegotiations with the film’s cast in an attempt to lock the team down for another trek or two. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the original cast contracts were for 2009’s Star Trek and two sequels but, rather than renegotiate after the first film, Paramount were content to let the agreed nominal pay rises kick into effect. Come Star Trek Beyond however, and the studio has sought to get the cast locked into something longer term. Now, each of the main cast has netted themselves a hefty boost to reflect the franchise’s money-spinning potential and their collective star power; Pine, for instance, will apparently take home $6 million for the next instalment, ten times the amount he made back in 2009.
One actor who will be hoping for some of that sweet do-re-mi is Chris Hemsworth, according to Collider reporter Scott Kantz who tweeted the news this week after an interview with JJ Abrams. Always willing to jump into a fervently-treasured franchise (hey, it “worked” for Ghostbusters), Hemsworth will return as Captain James Kirk’s father, who stayed around just long enough to get exploded in the first instalment. Now we just need Chris’s Pratt and Evans to enroll in the Academy and everything will be falling into place…
5. Red-band trailer for Sausage Party drops
The first major adult CG picture, Sausage Party, has just released a red-band trailer ahead of release. It’s odd to see Pixaresque characters dropping F-bombs and making dick jokes but there are certainly laughs to be had in the classic story of various foodstuffs realising life is futile and generally ends in searing, frying pan-based pain. Sausage Party hits UK cinemas on August 12 and stars Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill and, well come on, you can probably guess the rest of the cast. Yes, James Franco is in there.
6. Gotcha! A Pokémon franchise was caught by Legendary!
Pokémon are huge right now. Well, some pokémon (the Snorlaxes and Gyarados of the world) were always huge but, as a franchise, it’s never been bigger thanks to the Pokémon Go mobile game that you’ve probably closed to read this. It’s no surprise, then, that Legendary Entertainment has seized the moment to announce it has reached a deal with the Pokémon Company to bring a live-action adaptation to the big screen.
Rather than follow a plucky young trainer and his or her engagement in the world of cuddly-wuddly cockfighting, the franchise will instead be based around the character of Detective Pikachu, star of the Great Detective Pikachu 3DS spin-off game. The game, released earlier this year, sees players inhabit the character of Tim Goodman (where do they get these wacky names from?) a boy who can understand Detective Pikachu and help him solve various mysteries. Production is earmarked to begin in late 2017 [via Deadline]
7. Anton Yelchin will not be replaced
After the terrible tragedy of Anton Yelchin’s passing last month, the Star Trek powers have decided that his character will not be replaced for forthcoming entries in the series. J.J. Abrams, director of 2009 reboot and its sequel, and ongoing producer, has come out to state that while it’s “too early” to reach a decision regarding how to move forward, they will not recast Yelchin’s role as Ensign Pavel Chekov [via SlashFilm].
8. xXx is fuxXxing back
“Guns. Girls. Global domination. Xander Cage is back” – so sayeth a a spunky, punky sniper played by Ruby Rose at the end of the teaser for xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Yup, if this week’s news has had a whiff of nostalgia about it (what with Pokémon, Star Trek and TV movies) then surely the return of Vin Diesel’s Xtreme athlete (with raditude!) is the best of the lot. The D.J. Caruso-directed sequel will ski/surf/explode into UK hearts and cinemas on January 20 next year.
9. Spielberg to team up with Oscar Isaac
News has dropped that hotter-than-scorching star Oscar Isaac is set to team up with Steven Spielberg for the the ‘Berg’s up-upcoming project The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara [via Variety]. The film, due to commence production after Spielberg wraps on Ready Player One – he’s certainly a busy bee at the moment – will also star The Beard’s current favourite actor Mark Rylance (who can include Bridge of Spies, BFG, and this new project on his CV).
10. Jenny Slate and Jack Black will finally give the world the polka movie it deserves
Variety is reporting that Jenny Slate and Jack Black are joining Jason Schwartzman and Jacki Weaver in the polka and ponzi scheme comedy, The Polka King. The film, from writer/director duo Maya Forbes and Wallay Wolodarsky charts the real-life rise and fall of Pennsylvania polka “star”, the Grammy-nominated Jan Lewan, who gained… a degree of popularity in the 1980s (it was a different time) before it transpired that he had duped his fans into investing in a Ponzi scheme. Production is slated to begin this summer for a release sometime next year.
-SON & EF