1. More box office blunders: where is 2016’s elusive summer hit?
Not for the first time this year we are reporting that 2016 is lacking a major summer hit. That is apart from Disney, who don’t seem to be putting a foot wrong at the moment what with Civil War, Zootropolis, The Jungle Book, and Finding Dory ranked 1-4 as the most profitable films of the year. Similar to Batman v Superman earlier this year, Suicide Squad opened to strong numbers despite the critical assault that had been launched upon it, but has really got by on a lack of competition and has since suffered a major drop at the box office.
To little or no surprise it’s pretty clear that Ben-Hur is going to follow many of 2016’s would-be hits, opening to poor numbers in the States. As Paramount’s ill-advised historical remake gets set to join the ever-increasing batch of summer flops we are left wondering what the hell is going wrong in Hollywood? It looks like the perfect time for an industry shakedown and renaissance…
2. Doug Liman folds, leaves Gambit project for Justice League Dark
Just over a month ago it looked like Gambit was a-go, with Doug Liman ready to direct Channing Tatum as the rampagin’ Cajun superhero, Remy LeBeau. But no, The Hollywood Reporter writes that Doug Liman has joined the revolving carousel of departing directors by leaving the Marvel adaptation in order to direct the Warner Bros./DC project, Justice League Dark. The DC property follows John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, The Spectre and Etrigan the Demon. Gambit only involves Gambit, probably. While producer Simon Kinberg affirmed that Gambit had a great script, it seems it just wasn’t quite great enough to keep Liman on board, not when there’s a chance to reinterpret Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing and the box office dynamo that is Constantine.
3. Sam Mendes in talks for live-action James and the Giant Peach adaptation
Perhaps you wouldn’t believe that it has been 20 years since stop-motion master Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) brought Roald Dahl’s 1961 children’s classic James and the Giant Peach to the big screen. Well, guess what? As is Hollywood’s way, it’s happening all over again – in live action.
Recent Dahl adaptations including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The BFG have all been looked upon favourably by the critics so it’s hardly a surprise that Disney is eyeing up Dahl’s novel for a new adaptation. High Fidelity writer Nick Hornby is on screenplay duties while Sam Mendes is in talks to direct [via Deadline]. The prospect of another version of James and the Giant Peach might not appeal to some who look back fondly on the 1996 adaptation, but with the talent involved it is definitely worth keeping an eye on this one.
4. Dan Harmon scrubs up for Doctor Strange
The greatest writer in the history of the English language, Dan Harmon is the latest writer to be drawn into the orbit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Harmon was recently called upon to help out with the script for Benedict Cumberbatch’s upcoming Doctor Strange adaptation, so if the Doc gets a little meta, we know why. According to THR’s source, the Community and Rick and Morty writer was brought on board “for additional photography”, contributing to a script already penned by three other writers. So that bodes well.
5. Blair Witch gets an extended trailer
The new Blair Witch film, directed by Adam Winyard (You’re Next and The Guest), has kind of arrived out of nowhere, pretty much in exactly the same way that 10 Cloverfield Lane did. An extended trailer has now landed to offer a glimpse into what next-gen Blair Witch will offer. While it’s highly unlikely that this film will capture the zeitgeist in the way that the original did, it looks like there are frights to be had and Winyard is definitely a director worth watching.
6. The Rock and Kevin Hart will roll the dice on a Jumanji remake
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the highest paid actor in the world, is bearing down on his next project. Having wrapped on #FastAndFurious8, the actor announced his next project via Instagram: Jumanji. Yes, it looks like the artistic partnership behind Central Intelligence are bearing down on a Jumanji sequel, with Jack Black saddling up for the ride. To quote Johnson, “me, Kev and Jack look like triplets together… Man this is gonna be FUN.” So there you have it, the world better get ready for the film that taught us “there is no ‘ready’.”
Finished strong and on to the next. That’s an officially wrap on #FastAndFurious8. Thank you to our director @fgarygray for the vision and execution. Thank you UNIVERSAL for being tremendous partners as always, thank you to all my fellow co-stars for the daily effort and grind. Scott Eastwood you handsome sumbitch! Natalie Emmanuel I have a cold Budweiser ready for you and Tyrese Gibson you still have the biggest smile and forehead I’ve ever seen.? And a huge THANK YOU to our hard working production crew – the backbone of our business. Your kind words meant a lot to me last night – thank you! In the end, we all rallied, as great teams do, kicked ass and will deliver an amazing movie to the world. Proud of our entire FAST FAMILY. And now in two weeks I’ll reunite with ol’ friends Kevin Hart & Jack Black and we have the honor to introduce a whole new generation to the amazing world of #JUMANJI. *(for the record we are NOT making a reboot, but rather a continuation of the awesome JUMANJI story). It’s also crazy to me how much me, Kev and Jack look like triplets when we’re together. ??????. Man this is gonna be FUN. #WheelsUp #ThatsAWrap #FromFastAndFurious #StraightIntoJumanji #BigBrownBaldTattooedMan #DarkChocolateComedicRockStar #BrillaintCrazyCurvyCaucasion #TheseHashtagsAreRidiculous #INeedSleepAndCARBS #ButIWillSettleForTequila
7. Neil Burger signs on for the Intouchables remake
Intouchables, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s pandering, condescending, and wincingly corny hit was essentially inspiration porn for those unintelligent enough to see how offensive it all was. Rather than give the audience a good old-fashioned clash of cultures, the French filmmakers seemed content to beat us over the head with horrible stereotypes, a tired liberation plot, and a fundamentally dangerous message about racial essentialism. One version would surely have been enough, right?
Wrong. Neil Burger (Limitless, Divergent) has signed on to direct Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in the American remake [via Deadline]. In the meantime, why don’t you prepare yourself by dusting off a copy of Driving Miss Daisy because it’s basically the same thing. You know, if you really can’t wait that long…
8. Trailer for Manchester by the Sea washes up
Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea was unofficially the best thing to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, other than Robert Redford himself, who swept in and out with that smile of his. After his brother dies, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is tasked with raising his nephew and does what appears to be a pretty lousy job. Amazon Studios paid $10 million for the rights after a ferocious bidding war, and we’ll get a chance to see why on January 13, 2017.
9. Paul Schrader returns with Dog Eat Dog
Paul Schrader’s had a bumpy ride over the last couple of years with The Canyons and Dying of the Light – but for his role in writing Scorsese classics such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing Out The Dead, he gets a pass for life. His next film Dog Eat Dog, an action thriller starring Nic Cage and Willem Dafoe, has been picked up by RLJ Entertainment and will be released later in the year [via Variety]. The film has already made an appearance at Cannes during the Director’s Fortnight, where the reception was… mixed, and will run again at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Here’s hoping for a much-needed hit for director and star alike.
10. Ruben Fleischer has copped a gig directing COPS, a film about cops, based on COPS
Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer has apparently been tapped to adapt iconic reality TV show theme showcase COPS into a feature film. According to Deadline, those behind the film are looking at “an edgy narrative feature with a buddy comedy bent” – just like Lethal Weapon or (if God is real) Rush Hour. Fleischer is down to direct and produce while Cameron Fay, who has penned the upcoming Brother Nature pic, is set to write the script.
-SON & EF