1. Wanda announces $750 million fund to tempt productions to China
By far the biggest movie news this week comes courtesy of the Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate that boasts the esteemed title of World’s Largest Cinema Chain Operator, as well as World’s Biggest Private Property Developer. On Monday, the Dalian-based group’s leadership made an announcement—flanked by filmmakers, top industry execs, and even the Mayor of LA—that a $750 million subsidies fund exists to tempt companies to film in Wanda’s Qingdao Movie complex when it opens fully in 2018.
Deadline has an exhaustive breakdown of what the specifics of the deal are, but it basically aims to position Wanda as “the new leader in the global film industry” and appeal to productions that might otherwise look to Canada or Romania for their generous subsidies. Accessing the subsidies fund, for anything from stage rental to post-production editing, is contingent upon adding “Chinese elements” however. Wanda’s chairman and CEO Wang Jianlin stated that companies could not “just try to make money in the Chinese market and disregard the Chinese elements.” So, hey, hoped you all like the pointless shoehorning that we saw in Independence Day: Resurgence!
2. Let’s all look at Stephen Merchant’s mutant face
James Mangold is still doing his bit for 20th Century Fox’s publicity people. This week, the director shared a picture of Stephen Merchant as he will probably appear in Logan—giving apparent confirmation to the rumours that Merchant will be playing the mutant-tracker, Caliban. Merchant himself shared another image showing how The Oggmonster looks when he wears a nifty hat-and-bandana ensemble. Spiffy.
That’s not all though! Thursday also saw our first look at Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine—surprisingly we went with Jackman for the feature image over Merchant—and ol’ old Hugh looks a little ravaged. Say, all of this oversharing really suggests we’ll be getting a teaser trailer sooner rather than later…
3. Take that, Disney! Sony might have themselves a Mulan director
Disney may not have been able to snag Ang Lee for their Mulan adaptation, but it looks like Sony have managed to get their man: Alex Graves. Sony’s Mulan project is being lined up more for an international market than the House of Mouse’s offering (it’s another significant Chinese co-production) and the studio are looking to cast a predominantly Chinese cast—though there’s probably room for a Matt Damon or two. Although Graves has directed episodes of House of Cards, The West Wing and Homeland—he’s probably best known for his work on Game of Thrones, helming that episode where that guy’s skull gets smushed by The Mountain’s meaty hands. It’s doubtful there will be any of that in Sony’s Mulan flick though. [via Deadline]
4. Get hooked on Guardians Of The Galaxy all over again
That kooky bunch of typical Hollywood misfits—the handsome lead, the muscle, the green femme fatale, the talking raccoon and… the tree—are back! Though only for 90 seconds. Yes, we’ve got our first look at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and, thankfully, it’s catchy enough for a few re-watches. Plus, when you get tired of moving pictures you can switch to looking at the film’s first teaser poster which has the gang waiting in line for the bathroom or something.
5. Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson hop onto Paddington 2…
A sequel to Paddington, potentially the best film ever made about a talking bear—and there are a lot of them—is now in production according to The Hollywood Reporter, with principal photography already underway. On its own this is great news, but two further nuggets of goodness have surfaced this week: Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson have also joined the project. Grant will be playing an actor long past his prime while Gleeson will play an infamous safe-cracker who joins forces with the Peruvian marmalade gobbler. Paddington 2 is set to arrive at a November 10, 2017 release date in the UK—which can’t come soon enough.
6. …and Colin Firth joins Mary Poppins
It’s been a great week when it comes to doubling down on the whole quintessentially British thing that the country obviously voted for in its droves for this past June. But Grant isn’t the only one to fly the flag—Variety reports that Colin Firth is in negotiations to join Disney’s Mary Poppins as William Weatherall Wilkins, the president of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. Just to recap, the project already counts Emily Blunt as Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda as the street lamplighter, Jack; Meryl Streep plays Poppins’ cousin while Ben Whishawk and Emily Mortimer take the roles of Michael and Jane Banks, 25 years on from the original. Now it just needs an older, establishment figure—say, a Michael Gambon or a John Hurt—and for Julie Andrews to pop up and it’ll be a shoo-in for a Bafta at least.
7. Told you it wouldn’t be long until there was a Logan trailer
Here it is; James Mangold’s publicity blitz has culminated in a 117 second teaser for Wolverine’s last hurrah as he battles Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce, ageing, and Patrick Stewart as a backseat driver. Set to Johnny Cash’s haunting cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, it’s an exhilaratingly depressing look at a future where mutants have been hunted to extinction, and where Wolverine can no longer wear mutton chops.
8. Divergent director admits Lionsgate know they’ve goofed
Although nothing has been confirmed—even to its principal cast—it does indeed look like the final entry in the Divergent franchise will take the form of a television show, potentially leading into a spin-off series. Neil Burger, the director of the first entry in the series, opened up to The Hollywood Reporter this week to say that he “was just talking to the people at Lionsgate… I don’t think they feel like they should’ve split [the final book] into two [films].” Still, he added, “they’re still really trying to figure out what they’re gonna do with it.”
Such uncertainty comes after the third entry in the series made just $66 million at the domestic box office (though it managed $179 million worldwide) so if this was all just a ploy for free publicity: kudos. Last month, pipeline protester and sometime actor Shailene Woodley stated that she “didn’t sign up to be in a television show” but would still be open to finishing the saga, were it in the form of a feature film. We live in wait.
9. Fast 8 is totally getting an Oscar, you guys
It was but five years ago that Vin Diesel sagely predicted that Fast Five would win itself an Oscar, or at least get nominated, such was its quality. But even Nostradamus had his off days, and Diesel’s premonition never came to pass. Now though, it’s apparent that Vin’s foresight was merely off by a few instalments; it’s Fast 8 that will get that shiny gold statuette. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Diesel praised the work of director F. Gary Gray and predicted that, in the wake of being left out of Oscar consideration last year for Straight Outta Compton, Gray would soon receive tangible creative validation. “He is definitely going to be [recognised]” said Diesel, “I think he went into making this movie with a little bit of a chip [on his shoulder], going ‘Oh really? Ok. Now I’m going to take the biggest saga in the world and I’m about to throw Oscars at you.'” Of course, Vin Diesel has acted as part of an ensemble for an Best Director-winning picture before, with Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, so if anyone’s going to know that tingly Academy Award feeling, it’s him.
10. Deadpool 2 casting team has 10 Dominos to play with
According to Collider, the team behind Deadpool 2 has managed to narrow the role of Domino down to ten actors. While some of the names are familiar (Lizzy Caplan, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Sienna Miller, Mackenzie Davis) some are decidedly less so (Eve Hewson, Kelly Rohrbach, Stephanie Sigman, Sylvia Hoeks). Sofia Boutella and Ruby Rose kinda fall in the halfway point but, hey, they’re on the list too.
Domino, like Deadpool, works as a mercenary and boasts outstanding marksmanship abilities and hand-to-hand combat skills, plus she’s capable of altering the odds of situations in her favour through a power known only as scraping the barrel. Most significantly, she has usually been depicted in the comics as a confidante and lover of the mutant Cable, whose inclusion in Deadpool 2 was hinted at in the post-credits sequence of the first film. That part is yet to be cast but, seeing as he’s usually an older gentlemen and needs to share some chemistry with Domino, why not reunite pair that made 10 Cloverfield Lane so gosh darned entertaining? Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s already in the running so, John Goodman, come on down!