1. Denis Villeneuve’s Cleopatra may be comin’ atcha
Denis Villeneuve is so hot right now. Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners – the man’s churning out all kinds of hits. Add to that that Blade Runner 2049 is already scooping up superlative plaudits ahead of its UK release on October 5 and it’s only natural that other studios want to tie the director down to more money-spinners. Quickly out of the blocks is Sony Pictures. The studio want Villeneuve to develop Cleopatra, an epic that James Cameron, Paul Greengrass and David Fincher have all circled in the past. Based on Stacy Schiff’s bestselling biography, it tells the story of the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt.
Villeneuve’s already pretty busy working on a new version of Frank Herbert’s Dune but, according to Deadline, he’d have time to juggle both projects. Even so, it’s sensible to at least count him out of the running for the vacant James Bond job. For now.
2. It sequel due 2019
Having already gobbled up over $500 million worldwide and making it to the number-two spot on the top-grossing horror films of all time, it’s not surprising that It is getting a sequel. New Line announced that a followup to the Stephen King adaptation will float into cinemas on September 6, 2019. Evidently, New Line and Warner Bros. feel the post-Labor Day period will do gangbusters a second time out. Andy Muschietti will return to direct the second half of the story but those familiar with the source material will know that a whole load of new cast members need to be scared up. And if you weren’t, now you do. [via Deadline]
3. Natalie Portman faces Annihilation in Alex Garland’s latest
Searching for her husband, Natalie Portman’s heavily-armed biologist pushes into an environmental disaster zone that looks all Princess Mononoke. Unsurprisingly things are not, not not OK. Sci-fi hi-jinks ensue. The first trailer for Alex Garland’s latest – he of Ex Machina, Dredd, 28 Days Later and Sunshine fame – looks fantastic. The film is based on Jeff VanderMeer’s award-winning novel of the same name, itself the first of a literary trilogy, but it’s unknown whether Garland has plans beyond the first instalment. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Oscar Isaac star alongside Portman and we’ll get to see the fruits of their labour when Annihilation is released in the UK on February 23, 2018.
4. Leo and Marty to make movie about Teddy
Despite the fact that Robin Williams quite clearly perfected the role in Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, Leonardo DiCaprio is determined to play Teddy Roosevelt. The man won’t rest until he’s played every man of consequence in American history, dammit! Not even his failure to get the project off the ground back in 2014 will keep him down. At least not according to Deadline. The word is that Leo will star in and co-produce the story of America’s 26th president. And Martin Scorsese will direct. Both are pretty busy at the moment – Scorsese on The Irishman, Leo on The Black Hand – but we can probably expect Roosevelt in time for awards season 2019.
5. Avatar 2 incoming. Ditto 3, 4 and 5
With an estimated production budget of $1 billion, there’s a lot riding on the Avatar franchise. Arguably a stupid amount – for several reasons. Nevertheless, production has begun on sequels one, two, three and four. James Cameron and the rest of the Avatar cast – including Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Cliff Curtis and a whole host of fresh-faced youngsters all set up to age before our very eyes – have begun filming on Manhattan Beach. Lest we forget, all four sequels are being shot simultaneously. Avatar 2 is due out December 18, 2020 and the next a year later. Avatars 4 and 5 however will bow in December 2024 and 2025, providing nothing changes between now and seven years away. And that seems likely…
6. A sequel to Dunkirk, already? Oh, Hollywood
Ho ho, no this isn’t a sequel to Dunkirk – that’ll take at least six weeks to greenlight. Instead, this is the new trailer for Joe Wright’s Churchill biopic, Darkest Hour. Starring Gary Oldman as Britain’s wartime PM, the film has been hoovering up awards buzz; it seems very likely that Oldman will nab a second Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Winston. And that’d be a fair payoff for the 200 hours Oldman had to sit through to have his makeup applied over the course of filming. Ben Mendelsohn, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James and Stephen Dillane also star, and it’s released in the UK on January 12, 2018.
7. Call me by “Your Name producer”, says Abrams
Not content with directing another ruddy Star Wars film and producing 50% of Hollywood’s output for the next five years, J.J. Abrams has found himself another project. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Abrams is set to produce a live-action Hollywood remake of Your Name. Your Name was a stupidly big smash last year, taking over $350 million worldwide and gaining a helluva lot of praise on the back of a tale about two different people swapping bodies. Now we get to see it again, but in English! Abrams will be producing alongside the original’s Genki Kawamura, which bodes well. Plus its script will be written by Arrival’s Eric Heisserer. Really, if this were anything other than a “live action Hollywood remake” of a beloved Japanese anime, we’d be all over it. As it is, we’re partially over it as we await further details.