1. Star Wars: Episode IX – a familiar hope

J.J. Abrams will return to the Star Wars franchise, having inked a deal to direct Episode IX. ‘Twas ever thus. According to Deadline, Rian Johnson was initially offered the gig, but turned it down. Instead, it ended up on Abrams’ lap. He liked it enough to say yes.

The Super 8 and Force Awakens director was without a directing project, which presumably is why he needs a little time to get back into the director swing of things. The film’s release date has been pushed to December 20, 2019, some seven months after its initial May 24 date. The move to late December puts Star Wars sandwiched between Wonder Woman 2 (released one week earlier) and Universal’s adaptation of Wicked (one week later). Expect one or both of those to shift a few weeks over.  

2. Patty Jenkins signs onto Wonder Woman 2, of course

Speaking of Wonder Woman 2, it finally has a director! No, Warner Bros. didn’t have to look very hard for this one; Patty Jenkins, who directed the first instalment to a worldwide gross of well over $800million, has signed up to direct the sequel. Jenkins was already co-writing the continuing adventures of Diana et al. and now, according to Variety, she’ll be paid $8m to write, direct and produce. It all adds up to Jenkins being the highest paid female director of all time. Still, with Wonder Woman’s global success, and its general quality, it seems like a pretty good deal for WB. Plus, Jenkins still has time to continue her TNT TV project starring Chris Pine. Everyone’s a winner!

3. Get squinting; it’s a trailer for Downsizing

What if you could do something that would make you rich, help the environment, and let you hang out with Jason Sudeikis at his most laid-back? That’s the dilemma that Matt Damon mulls over for at least a couple of seconds in the trailer for Alexander Payne’s Downsizing. The film imagines a world where humans can be shrunk to a mere five inches tall and co-stars Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz and the aforementioned Sudeikis. Our own Jack Blackwell said it’s “so simultaneously fascinating and horrifying that you don’t mind spending some more time there.” We’ll get the chance to do so – when it’s given a wide release in UK cinemas on January 19, next year.

4. Batman? More like Fatman! Amirite? Am I?

Phwoar! Though he’s better known for his muscular torso and similarly strong performances, that didn’t stop Christian Bale from flashing his new look at the Toronto International Film Festival this week. Bale, 43, best known for his steamy underwear workout in American Psycho, and his banging Batman Begins bod, was out promoting his latest film, Hostiles. That’s when Variety asked how he’s getting in shape for upcoming Adam McKay flick, Backseat. With typical British wit, Bale offered the following:

You go get ‘em, Christian! Though after Backseat, you might want to consider signing up to a sequel to The Fighter for your next pic: The Fat Fighter!

5. Liam Neeson retires from action films

It’s the end of an era. A very gruff and grizzled era. This week Liam Neeson, the actor turned fence-jumper and face-puncher, announced his retirement from action movies. Speaking at TIFF this week, Neeson stated that he would turn his focus to more serious roles from now on. His exact words were “guys, I’m sixty-fucking-five. Audiences are eventually going to go ‘come on.’” Eventually indeed.

For those hoping to see Neeson punch just a few more anonymous henchmen, don’t worry. Hard Powder, in which Neeson plays a snowplough driver fighting drug dealers (yes, really), and The Commuter, in which he plays an insurance salesman who has to uncover the identity of a mysterious passenger on his afternoon train, are both set to be released within the next few months. After that, it’s likely Oscars a-plenty for the man. [via Sky News]          

6. One Room to View

James Franco is, somewhat surprisingly, still an actor. Amongst the writing, the painting, the teaching and the directing (the last of which is on display here), the guy still acts. And, according to early reviews of The Disaster Artist, acts well. Really well in fact. Some of that is likely due to his playing someone with a similar estimation of their talents: Tommy Wiseau, writer-director-star of The Room. We’ll get our own chance to judge at the end of this year, when The Disaster Artist gets a UK release but in the meantime, feel free to relive the cult classic through Franco’s first trailer which pitches the film as a rather more colourful Ed Wood.

7. Logan starts to claw its way back into the Academy’s minds

Good news for awards junkies: the first DVD screener for the 2018 Academy Awards has been sent out. It may surprise you to learn –providing you haven’t read the above headline – that the holder of that particular honour is James Mangold’s Logan. A DVD? How quaint. 20th Century Fox is being particularly aggressive with its awards pitches this time out and Jackman looks set to benefit; he’ll get support for both Logan and the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The previously reported campaign for War For The Planet Of The Apes is set to follow in due course.

While Fox may have started canvassing for Academy support, Universal has already started tapping up the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Those two organisations don’t require the fancy packaging that must accompany the Academy mailers, but they did get Blu-rays of Get Out instead so it’s not all bad. [via Deadline]