Monday, 30 March 2015

New image from Neill Blomkamp's planned Alien movie arrives online

Chappie director Neill Blomkamp spoke to Empire magazine earlier this month to talk about his plans for his new Alien movie, which won't, in his words, "tread on the toes" of franchise godfather Ridley Scott's upcoming Prometheus 2.

"I changed the one thing [Scott] felt was bumping Prometheus a little bit," reveals Blomkamp. "One thing that makes me feel good about it is that Ridley is producing it. He likes the idea of what I want to make."

On top of this tantalising quote, there was another curious aside from the South African director – Alien 5 will most likely not actually be called Alien 5.

"I sent the title I wanted to Ridley," says Blomkamp. "It's kinda quite bold, but it gives away too much if I say the title. But in the event that it doesn't work, I'm dead in the water..." Colour us intrigued.

Blomkamp's Alien movie has no set release date, but that's certainly not going to stop anyone getting worryingly excited about it.

Chappie, meanwhile, is out now.

"I'm consciousness. I'm alive. I'm Chappie."

After the huge critical and commercial success of his debut, District 9 (2009), Neill Blomkamp bumped back to earth with the misfiring Elysium (2013). So would his third film prove Blomkamp to be a 'visionary genius', as many had rushed to label him after District 9, or has he already used up his cinematic box of tricks? The answer, frustratingly, is still somewhat hazy, and probably won't fully be resolved until after his Alien film, but for now it seems to be a bit of both.

It perhaps doesn't help matters that Chappie feels much more like a deliberate shift back to the look and feel of District 9, inviting immediate and largely unfavourable comparisons. Much like District 9, this starts almost as a documentary, with newsreel footage setting up the premise – a near future Johannesburg is in turmoil and robot police have been deployed, successfully, to keep the real red rain off the streets. Again, much like that film, that approach is dropped almost immediately in favour of a simple narrative. Ultimately, like District 9, Chappie becomes a story about the transformation of an innocent and what it is to be human, with the odd hardcore, ultra violent action scene thrown in for good measure.

As with District 9, that innocent is played by Blomkamp's regular cohort Sharlto Copley, here adding his voice and motion capture performance to the ever chirpy Chappie. Copley's infantile artificial intelligence is a captivating creation. Believably youthful with the mind and mannerisms of a child, Chappie is a triumph of visual effects. The ever impressive WETA Digital (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) mining a surprising depth of feeling from a couple of pivoting bars, bunny like ears and an LED display. Brilliantly animated, Copley's Chappie blends almost seamlessly with the real world environment. His goofy childlike charm though occasionally feels overtly child friendly, suggesting a softer certificate might have potentially played to its strengths – the heavy handed Pinocchio story never quite meshes with the darker subplots and third act bloodletting.

Along with the idea of what it is to be human, and the concept of consciousness as something that can be built and uploaded/downloaded as and when necessary (echoing quite a few of this year's big movies, from Alex Garland's Ex Machina to the forthcoming Avengers: Age Of Ultron), Blomkamp also tackles the idea of nature versus nurture, and asking whether being a good person is something that is inherent, or can be learned, like any skill. To do this, Blomkamp places Chappie at the centre of a battle for what some might consider his soul. On one side, his peaceable, likeable creator, Deon (Dev Patel), who wants Chappie to learn about art and culture, nurturing his creativity. On the other, the aggressive South African underground group, Die Antwoord.

Effectively playing a near future, down on their luck version of themselves as hardened criminals, who see Chappie as their key to pulling off a major heist, the duo – Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser – start teaching Chappie how to be a criminal, giving him gangster bling, teaching him how to hijack cars (in one of the film's funniest sequences), and imparting swear words he can't quite get his head around ("Fuck mother" becomes his catchphrase). It's a very clear family dynamic, with Deon as the benign father, Yo-Landi as the loving mother, and Ninja as the alcoholic reprobate uncle, determined to drag his nephew off the rails. The problem is that Die Antwood – Ninja in particular – are vile and incredibly stupid. At one point Ninja, who has pinned all his hopes on Chappie, abandons him in the Johannesburg badlands as a test of his manhood, without considering for one minute that he might not make it back.

Of course, not all movie characters have to be likeable, or even relatable. Just look at Travis Bickle from Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) for proof of concept. But they at least have to be interesting, and Die Antwood fail in that department. Neither are their acting skills up to standard, so when they have to do the emotional heavy lifting in the third act, it immediately loses the necessary heft. Simply put, they are not the answer. 

Still, it is somewhat refreshing in this cookie cutter age to see a director who has the guts to make such risky decisions, and there are more than enough enjoyable and impactful moments when the Blomkamp of District 9 reveals himself. It's certainly more fun than the murky Elysium, for example, from little visual flourishes (Die Antwoord's heavy duty firearms are candy coloured) to big, bruising action set pieces, including an impressive third act showdown that might make you wish Blomkamp had directed last years RoboCop remake. And then there's Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine), clearly relishing playing against type as the film's main villain, a bemulleted, shorts wearing Aussie alpha male who sees Chappie as an affront to God. When Jackman's on screen, pulling a gun in the middle of a crowded office or bellowing Aussie swear words while blowing people away, the film feels a little less robotic and a little more human.

While Chappie doesn't quite reach the explosive highs of District 9, Blomkamp's third movie has just about enough spectacle and quirk to overcome some fairly major flaws, not least of which are the unappealing Die Antwood duo.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel begins shooting next month

It's fair to say that there were some studio nerves about the release of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot last year. Half a billion dollars in worldwide box office later, however, and Paramount Studios breathed a massive sigh of relief and immediately green lit a sequel into development. Now news arrives via Coming Soon that follow-up will start shooting next month, with David Green (Earth To Echo) set to direct.

Green replaces Jonathan Liebesman, who has moved on to the TV Terry Brooks adaptation The Shannara Chronicles, among other projects. Green's cameras will be rolling, so we're told, in New York City, and slightly further out in Buffalo. "There is no better way to project the character of this city than through television and film," says the New York City Council's Dan Garodnick. "And what's more New York than pizza-loving ninjas and a talking rat?"

This being a Platinum Dunes production, Michael Bay (Transformers) will once again be producing alongside Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. As last time, Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec are writing the screenplay, and Megan Fox and William Fichtner are expected to return as, respectively, April O'Neil and Eric Sacks. But neither are yet officially signed on.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 already has a release date of 3 June next year.

"What kind of nutter pretends to be someone elses blind date?"

StudioCanal have recently released their first trailer for Ben Palmer's (The Inbetweeners Movie) Man Up.

Let's face it, dating can be a tough, pitiless, painful, heart breaking, terrifying, apocalyptically awful experience that leaves your soul shrivelled and your emotions put through a blender.

Written by Tess Morris (The Love Punch) and directed by Ben Palmer, Man Up follows thirtysomething Nancy (Lake Bell), sick of the frustrations of dating and the endless pointless set ups provided by her friends. But in a weird circumstance, she meets divorcee Jack (Simon Pegg), who mistakes her for his blind date. Deciding to take a chance, Nancy goes along with it, and what follows is a chaotic night of drinking, dancing, bowling and what both of them see is a real connection. But then the truth comes out, and it threatens to ruin everything. Can they overcome that one tiny obstacle that stands in the way of happiness?

With the likes of Rory Kinnear (Sktfall), Olivia Williams (Hyde Park On Hudson), Sharon Horgan (Imagine Me & You), Ken Stott (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Ophelia Lovibond (No Strings Attached) and Stephen Campbell Moore (The Bank Job) also on board for this one, Man Up will be out in UK cinemas on 29 May.

Universal Pictures developing Mark Millar's Chrononauts

Fast becoming his own comic book movie mogul to rival the likes of Marvel and DC Entertainment, Kick-Ass (2010) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) creator Mark Millar has just sold yet another property into screen development. News arrives via Deadline that his Chrononauts series has recently been picked by Universal Pictures, to be produced by Fast & Furious honcho Chris Morgan.

Not to be confused with card game, Millar's Chrononauts (illustrated by Sean Gordon Murphy) involves a pair of scientists who become the first ever time travellers. There's not much else to reveal about it at this point, since the first issue has only just been published by Image Comics.

Along with Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service, Millar was also the man behind Timur Bekmambetov's Wanted (2008), and wrote the Civil War arc that will set the basis for next Captain America outing. His work on The Ultimates has already been much plundered by Marvel too. 20th Century Fox are also currently at work on his Starlight and Superior comics.

Morgan, meanwhile, has written every Fast & Furious instalment from The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) onwards. As a producer he is currently juggling the Mummy reboot and Legend Of Conan, for which Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to reprise his signature barbarian.

Chrononauts is yet to receive a start date.

"If you step out that door, you're an Avenger!"

Marvel have recently released their latest TV spot for Joss Whedon's Avengers (2012) sequel, Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

Adding to Marvel fans' supersonic screams of excitement is this latest quip-filled TV spot. Though we should warn you, there are so many air punching moments that some spoiler avoiders may want to click away now.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron finds Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) trying his hand at creating an international peacekeeping force of droids controlled by the self-aware artificial intelligence Ultron. While his idea is to supplement the Avengers and let his superhero comrades enjoy some much needed time off, he ends up causing them more trouble than anticipated. And that's before two new super powered types – Wanda 'Scarlet Witch' Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro 'Quicksilver' Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) show up...

The film, which once more boasts Whedon's writing and directorial touch, sees Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders back together again alongside an array of new and old friends including James Spader (as Ultron, via performance capture), Paul Bettany (Transcendence), Don Cheadle (Iron Man 3), Andy Serkis (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) and Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted).

Avengers: Age Of Ultron arrives in the UK on 23 April.

First trailer and one sheet for Transporter Refueled arrives online

EuropaCorp have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Camille Delamarre (Brick Mansions) Transporter Refueled.

You pretty much know what to expect from a Transporter film – fist fights, flash cars and beautiful women. But what you also usually expect is Jason Statham gravel growling and scowling his way through the running time. Things have changed somewhat for this reboot, with Ed Skrein (Ill Manors) stepping into his sharp suit as Frank Martin.

It's mostly business as usual for Frank – there is a package (in this case, two bewigged women) to be delivered somewhere for shady types and a lot of dangerous folk who would rather he didn't make it. Cue car chases, beat downs, quick cuts and extended sequences where villains make exposition speeches before Frank unleashes his particular set of skills on everyone around. But there are also the odd nods to the fact that time has moved on and things have changed a little.

Skrein doesn't quite seem to have the same unknown quantity that makes Statham work in the role, although we will have to wait and see the whole film before making any solid judgements. Brick Mansions (2014) director Camille Delamarre is calling the shots, working from a script that producer Luc Besson (Léon) handed to Bill Collage and Adam Cooper (Exodus: Gods And Kings) to write.

The film – also known as The Transporter Legacy – will be out here on 19 June.

"Margo always loved mysteries. Maybe she loved them so much, she became one."

20th Century Fox have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Jake Schreier's (Robot & Frank) Paper Towns.

With a script adapted by Fault In Our Stars (2014) duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, Paper Towns follows Quentin (Nat Wolff) and his enigmatic neighbour Margo (Cara Delevingne), who loved mysteries so much she became one.

After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears, leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. The search leads Quentin and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating and quirky adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship – and true love. And, according to this, shoplifting.

With Austin Abrams (The Kings Of Summer), Caitlin Carver (Hit The Floor), Griffin Freeman (Sugar Daddies), Cara Buono (Let Me In) and Meg Crosbie (Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa) also in the cast, Paper Towns will be out this summer, which according to the Film Distributors' Association listing, means August 21.

Nick Frost back for The Huntsman

Back in January, there was some concern that the Snow White And The Huntsman (2012) prequel – simply called The Huntsman – would be rather lacking in the dwarf department thanks to story directions and scheduling issues. Good news then that The Hollywood Reporter have recently announced that Nick Frost, who played Nion in the first film, will be back for this one, with Sheridan Smith (Hysteria), Rob Brydon (The Trip) and Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady) also signing on.

This news signals that the likes of Ian McShane, Ray Winston, Johnny Harris, Eddie Marsan and Brian Gleeson are unlikely to return, though we're certainly counting none of them out given the change in Frost's status.

Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (previously visual effects supervisor on Snow White And The Huntsman) is handling directorial chores for this one, which finds Chris Hemsworth's title character in the years before he first met Snow White, and his early encounters with Charlize Theron's beguiling, dangerous Ravenna. Emily Blunt (Edge Of Tomorrow) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) are also set for the film, which will be out on 22 April next year.

Smith, an accomplished actress and singer, was last seen in The Harry Hill Movie (2013) and has TV Movies Flack and The C-Word set to hit screens this year. Brydon is on screens this week, with a small role in Kenneth Branagh's (Thor) Cinderella, plus a part in HBO's political comedy The Brink. And Roach, who shared the screen with Frost in Cuban Fury (2014), is part of police comedy drama No Offence.

Jonathan Herman rewriting new Scarface

While the idea risks the ire of anyone who has the image of Al Pacino as Tony Montana burned into their brains, Universal Pictures are firmly pushing ahead on a third stab at Scarface (1983), the tale of an immigrant to America chasing success by any means necessary. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that the studio has now hired Straight Outta Compton co-writer Jonathan Herman to take the latest crack at the script.

This latest version of the tale told previously by Howard Hawks in 1932 and Brian De Palma in 1983 will focus on a Mexican arrival into the US who will go to any lengths to pursue the American Dream. His route is via the Los Angeles criminal underworld as he rises steadily through power and violence. The film will explore his physical and emotional wounds, and the role they had to play in making him the man he becomes.

Herman, who has also contributed script development on the studio's attempt to reboot Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), will be working on a screenplay that has already seen attempts by David Ayer (Fury) and, most recently, Paul Attanasio (Donnie Brasco), with Chilean director Pablo Larraín (No) set to call the shots. There is no word on who might inherit the lead role, but everyone involved will be aware they are competing with a movie which, while itself is a remake, has introduced iconic scenes and lines into cinematic history. Say hello to your huge pressure...

Sam Jones says new Flash Gordon will be a sequel

It's almost a year since we last heard anything about the new Flash Gordon currently developing at 20th Century Fox. Speaking to Sam Jones – star of Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon (1980) – however, Den Of Geek have quietly picked up a possible scoop. They have obviously chosen not to shout about it, probably because it sounds, if not ridiculous, then hugely unlikely. But according to Jones himself, the 20th Century Fox Flash Gordon is not a reboot or a remake, but a possible sequel.

"Matthew Reilly [VP of production at Fox Studios] acquired the screenplay rights to Flash Gordon last year," says Jones, "and he hired [producer] John Davis and his staff to write the script. They're looking to bring out a sequel actually. I met with Matt, we're in talks about that. A lot of people over the years, including Stephen Sommers and Neal H. Moritz, have acquired the screenplay rights, but for whatever reason they did not do a follow up on the option. So I'm very excited about it."

We're in talks? Jones declines to say exactly what that means, so it's unclear if he genuinely thinks he is in contention for another shot at the title or just up for a cameo. But, he says, "I told Matt, however he wants to use me, keep one thing in mind: whatever a younger, leading man can do, I cannot only match him, I can do more! If he does 20 pull-ups, I can do 30 pull-ups. If he can do 100 push-ups, I can do 150 push-ups. Just keep that in mind!"

Back last April, the word was that Bad Robot's J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, part of the writing process for the third modern Star Trek who have since been replaced, were working on Flash Gordon's screenplay. Their take, it was said, was to rescue Flash from his current reputation as something stupid but much loved, and restore his reputation as a more serious space adventurer.

Has that changed? Decades belated sequels are, of course, not without precedent – Tron: Legacy (2010) for example. But whether Flash Gordon could pull off the same trick is, let's say, questionable... And the idea that Jones could play Flash again, unless it's a smaller elder statesman role in some sort of 'Son Of Flash' narrative, would seem almost impossible.

More questions than answers then, but we certainly live in interesting times. Jones has currently got a Kickstarter campaign in preparation for a self starring documentary called Life After Flash, and will show up once again in Seth MacFarlane's Ted (2012) sequel Ted 2, which is out on 10 July.

Emma Thompson and Kevin Kline set for Beauty And The Beast

News arrives via The Wrap that Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Kevin Kline (The Last Of Robin Hood) have joined Walt Disney Pictures' new, live action take on Beauty And The Beast.

Emma Watson (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) is aboard to play Belle, a young woman who agrees to take her father's place in the home of a cursed prince that has been turned into a beastly creature (Dan Stevens). She is also courted by the arrogant misogynist Gaston (Luke Evans), who, when she rejects his advances in favour of the charming Beast, sets off on a course of revenge.

Josh Gad (Love & Other Drugs) signed on most recently as Gaston's bumbling sidekick Le Fou and now Kline is set to play Belle's father Maurice, with Thompson inheriting the role of Mrs. Potts, the enchanted talking (and singing) teapot who lives in the Beast's castle. And from the sounds of it, director Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) is maintaining the musical aspects from the 1991 animated version, with Academy Award® wining composer Alan Menken back to craft the score and re-recording the songs from that film along with new material from Menken and Sir Tim Rice.

Condon is working from a script by The Perks Of Being A Wallflower's (2012) Stephen Chbosky and is set to kick off shooting this coming May at Shepperton Studios, aiming for a freshly set US release date of 17 March 2017.

Natalie Martinez set for Message From The King

With cameras about to start cranking, the indie revenge thriller Message From The King has added another member to its cast. News arrives via Deadline that Natalie Martinez (End Of Watch) is now aboard to join the likes of Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Luke Evans (Dracula Untold) and Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies).

Belgian director Fabrice Du Welz (The Ordeal) is calling the shots from Stephen Cornwell and Oliver Butcher's (Unknown) script. The plot follows a man named Jacob King (Boseman), who touches down in Los Angeles from South Africa in search of his younger sister. He has only a few hundred dollars to his name and a plane ticket that means he must return home in a week, but is devastated to learn that his sister has died. Burning with the need for vengeance, he tracks down the people responsible across the next six days.

Martinez, who has also been seen in the likes of Death Race (2008) and Broken City (2013), is on to play Trish, a former neighbour of Jacob's sister Bianca who is roped in to help track down the woman's murderer.

The actress is currently on US screens in TV drama Secrets & Lies and will be in cinemas with Home Invasion and Tarsem Singh's (The Fall) science fiction thriller Self/Less, which is awaiting a confirmed UK release date.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts set to adapt The Stars My Destination

As he prepares to make his first leap from the lower budget likes of Kings Of Summer (2013) with Kong: Skull Island, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is looking to add other big projects for the future. News arrive via The Hollywood Reporter that is attached to handle Paramount Pictures' take on Alfred Bester's classic science fiction novel The Stars My Destination.

Bester originated the tale as a serial in magazines before it was published in book form in 1957. It follows Gulliver 'Gully' Foyle, the last survivor of a destroyed merchant ship who is marooned in space, captured by a strange culture and tattooed across his face. When a passing vessel ignores his distress beacon, it lays the seeds for a boiling revenge rage that sees him use untapped powers to strike back at those who left him stranded in his hour of need. Among his abilities is teleportation: known in the book as 'Jaunting'.

This is one that studios have long been interested in, despite occasional claims that it's almost impossible to adapt for the screen. Richard Gere (Primal Fear) optioned it back in the 1990s and since then it has been through the hands of 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures, where Mary Parent, former vice chairman of the latter and now a producer, has since brought it to Paramount.

Vogt-Roberts, who also has his eyes on a film based on Metal Gear Solid, is preparing to send Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Michael Keating (Birdman) to Skull Island, home of the giant ape for a new adventure tale from Legendary, with a release date set for 10 March 2017.

Eddie Murphy set for Lee Daniels' Richard Pryor film

Eddie Murphy isn't particularly known for loading up his schedule with too many films, but he has been gearing up his post Shrek (2001) career in recent years. News arrives via Variety that he is now attached to Lee Daniels' (The Paperboy) Richard Pryor biopic – but not as the comedian himself. Instead, he will play LeRoy 'Buck Carter' Pryor.

A photo posted by Lee Daniels (@theoriginalbigdaddy) on

Mike Epps (The Hangover) is still attached to play Pryor himself, with Murphy as his war veteran boxer dad. This is just the latest attempt to turn Pryor's life into a film, with actors and directors hovering over the idea for years. Bill Condon (The Fifth Estate) was developing something with Murphy in mind to star, but that has since been superseded by a project spawned by Pryor himself before his death, choosing Epps to play him and hiring Walter Hill (48 Hrs.) to direct.

The project has been through the development wringer since then, but now The Butler's (2013) Daniels is on board to direct, with Oprah Winfrey (Selma) and Kate Hudson (Bride Wars) rumoured to be taking roles. There is no word on when this one will be shooting, but with casting falling into place, we would imagine pretty soon, especially if producer Harvey Weinstein wants it ready as a potential awards contender. As for Murphy, he will next be seen in Bruce Beresford's (Evelyn) Cook.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Peter Dinklage in talks for The Deep Blue Good-By

The cast for James Mangold's (3:10 To Yuma) Travis McGee book adaptation The Deep Blue Good-By is starting to come together, with stars Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) already in place. Now news arrives via The Wrap that Peter Dinklage (Game Of Thrones) and Nicola Peltz (Transformers: Age Of Extinction) are in talks to join them.

Bale is playing charismatic rogue McGee, a Floridian sleuth and salvage consultant who is always getting into deeper water than he intends with dangerous women and very bad men.

The Deep Blue Good-By represents the first of the McGee books, and with 21 tomes in MacDonald's series so far, 20th Century Fox will be hoping this one has legs so it can make more. After a somewhat torturous development process, Mangold is set in the director's chair, working from a script that has seen input from Dennis Lehane (The Drop) and Scott Frank (Minority Report).

As for who Pike, Peltz and Dinklage will be playing? Their roles have yet to be revealed, though following his driven, antagonistic turn in X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014), part of us hopes he will be causing trouble for Bale.

Dinklage will be back on our screens as Tyrion in Game Of Thrones next month, and crops up in Chris Columbus' (Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets) Pixels which lands on 12 August. Peltz has also worked on Kevin Asch's (Holly Rollers) Affluenza and is set to shoot drama Low Riders.

Genndy Tartakovsky departs Popeye

Bad news for anyone anticipating Hotel Transylvania (2012) director Genndy Tartakovsky bringing his life long Popeye obsession to fruition at Sony Pictures Animation. Tartakovsky has announced he is departing the project to focus on other films for the studio.

It's certainly something of a surprise, given his feelings for the character, proudly shown off as part of a test footage demonstration last year (see below). It sounds, though, as if studio politics and creative disagreements got in the way.

"I was in love with what we were doing, but I think the studio is going through changes and I don't know if they want to make the Popeye that I want to make," he says. "So they've got to make a decision. Right now, I'm off that project and moving on to the other one that we soft announced, which is Can You Imagine?, an original idea of my own and a very personal story. It was hard to let Popeye go, but that's the business."

Sony Pictures as a whole has been going through something of a corporate reshuffle in the wake of the last years hacking incident, and there is a new regime at the head of Sony Pictures Animation, which has likely led to a shake-up of projects.

Can You Imagine?, which Tartakovsky announced last year, is still mostly under wraps but takes a journey through a boy's imagination. Before anything else though, Tartakovsky has to deliver Hotel Transylvania 2, which is out here on 9 October.

New one sheet for Furious 7 arrives online

Universal Pictures have recently released their latest one sheet for James Wan's (The Conjuring) Furious 7.

The film, which finds Vin Diesel's Dom, Paul Walker's Brian and the rest of the gang dealing with the fallout from part six, as Owen Shaw's villainous brother Ian (Jason Statham) plots revenge against the crew. With the Toretto family house blown to smithereens as just his calling card, Dom and the crew are soon headed to foreign climes on a mission to try to thwart this new threat.

Given an added touch of maudlin reminiscence by the death of Paul Walker while on a break from shooting, the new film pushes the idea of "one last ride" to the hilt, though we doubt this will completely wrap up the franchise. Not while the films continue to be huge money makers.

With Dwayne Johnson back once again as Luke Hobbs and new recruits Kurt Russell (Death Proof), Tony Jaa (Ong-bak), Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3) and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) swelling the cast, expect the usual vehicular flair and quippy teamwork when Fast & Furious 7, as it will be called here in the UK, arrives on 3 April.

"No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. 70 members of the cast and crew were."

Arguably the craziest animal movie ever made, Roar (1981) featured hundreds of real big cats, racked up more than 70 on-set injuries, and gave Melanie Griffith (Working Girl) 100 stitches

Noel Marshall's Roar, widely regarded as one of the most disastrous and dangerous films ever made, is getting a re-release thanks to a collaboration between Olive Films and distributor Drafthouse, who have just issued a new trailer and one sheet for the film.

With a 'cast' of more than 100 real lions, tigers and other big cats, Roar became notorious for its shocking on-set injuries, and apparent disregard of all health and safety guidelines – during filming, actors and crew members were mauled, gored and scalped by their animal co-stars.

First released in 1981, its gestation dates back to the early Seventies, when the former "Hitchcock blonde" Tippi Hedron (The Birds) and her then-husband, the Hollywood agent and The Exorcist (1973) producer Marshall, had a dream. A dream about lions.

After spending time in Africa, the pair set their hearts on creating a film featuring a house overrun with real lions, tigers and other big cats. Upon being told that their vision was "impossible" – big cats won't mix unless they've been brought up together – they began secretly adopting lion cubs, and spent the next few years living alongside a pride in their family home. Eventually, as the numbers of big cats grew, they opened California's Shambala Nature Preserve.

11 years later, the results of their labour was Roar. In an essay titled The Grandeur Of Roar, Drafthouse's CEO Tim League said: "You've never seen a movie like Roar and there will never, ever be a movie like Roar again. We are extremely proud to expose Roar to a whole new audience and salute its esteemed place on the 'holy fucking shit shelf' for all the right reasons."

The film (funded by Hedren and Marshall themselves after financiers, somewhat understandably, pulled out) tells the story of a man named Hank (played by Marshall), who owns "four tiger cubs, two elephants and 110 tigers, lions, leopards and cheetahs". After his wife and three children pay him an unexpected visit, a bitter rivalry between two lions leads to things going very, very wrong.

Due to the obvious dangers involved in filming, the cast was limited to a few seasoned animal trainers, Marshall and Hedren, and the couple's four children (one of whom is the actress Melanie Griffith), who had grown up alongside the animals.

Despite these "precautions", the film, shot by the European cinematographer Jan de Bont, later became notorious for its on-set injuries, racking up a total of more than 70 separate incidents. League describes how:

"While nobody was killed, there were several close calls, most notably de Bont being scalped by a lion resulting in 220 stitches on his head. Hedren endured a fractured leg and deep scalp wounds. Griffith was mauled by a lion, resulting over 100 stitches and reconstructive surgery. Noel [Marshall] was gored so many times that he was eventually hospitalized with gangrene."

Despite costing $17 million to make, when it was first released, the film ended up taking only two million dollars worldwide.

The good news? No animals were harmed during the making of Roar. In fact, the Shambala Preserve, which provides a homes for big cats who have been mistreated in captivity, is still going strong today.

Roar will have a limited US cinema release this April and will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand this summer.

New one sheet for It Follows arrives online

Icon Films have recently released their latest one sheet for David Robert Mitchell's (The Myth Of The American Sleepover) It Follows.

David Robert Mitchell's It Follows arrived this month with a tonne of critical acclaim from those lucky enough to have seen it at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

The plot sees Maika Monroe (The Guest) as Jay, a 19 year-old who has long romanticised the idea of love, relationships and sex. But now that she's finally exploring such issues, she discovers something terrible. And soon enough she suspects – knows – that something malevolent is following her. She and her friends team up to get to the bottom of the threat, only to find themselves mired deeper and deeper in something far beyond their control.

That air of early John Carpenter is augmented by a trunkful of subtext and clichés playfully subverted in an old fashioned horror with plenty of new ideas. Without giving too much away, Mitchell, whose debut feature The Myth Of The American Sleepover (2010) offered a gentler look at growing up, has unleashed a monster that will make chastity look like a really strong option.

With Olivia Luccardi (Orange Is The New Black), Lili Sepe (Spork), Baily Spry (Age Of Ice), Jake Weary (Altitiude) and Daniel Zovatto (Beneath) amongst those feeling the fear.

It Follows is out now.

New one sheets for Backcountry arrive online

IFC Films have recently released their first set of one sheets for Adam MacDonald's feature debut Backcountry.

Cited as doing for woodland, what Jaws did for the ocean, Backcountry finds a young urban couple camping in the Canadian wilderness. Alex (Jeff Roop) is a seasoned outdoorsman while Jenn (Missy Peregrym), a corporate lawyer, is not. After much convincing, and against her better judgement, she agrees to let him take her deep into a Provincial Park to one of his favourite spots – the secluded Blackfoot Trail. On their first night, deep in the forest, they have an unsettling encounter with Brad (Eric Balfour), a strange alpha male with eyes for Jenn who may or may not be following them.

Alex's desire to quickly reach Blackfoot Trail intensifies as they push further into the wilderness. After three days their path disappears. Lost and without much needed supplies, they struggle to find their way back, the harsh conditions bringing out the best and worst in them, pushing their already fragile relationship to the breaking point. When they realise they have entered grizzly bear territory, being lost suddenly becomes the least of their problems.

Backcountry is out in the US 20 March, with no sign of a UK release date as yet.

Barry Sonnenfeld uncovers Project Alpha

After jumping back into the fantastical world of the Men In Black series and the currently in development Nine Lives, which finds Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) swapping bodies with a family cat, Barry Sonnenfeld is looking for a little dose of reality. Well, we say reality. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that his next potential project is based on a hoax.

Sonnenfeld is aboard to direct a film based on magician James 'The Amazing' Randi's Project Alpha idea, which ran in the late 1970s and early '80s and saw Randi and two fake psychics pull a fast one on paranormal researchers. The hoaxers, including Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards, made the scientific team believe they had legitimate psychic powers not for an hour or an afternoon, but for two years. The fraud was eventually revealed publicly in Discover magazine.

The hoax is also covered in Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom's documentary of Randi, An Honest Liar (2014), which has Sonnenfeld as an executive producer: "Not only did I love An Honest Liar, but I knew there was an excellent narrative film to be made out of this story, with James Randi playing the 'behind the curtain' puppeteer." There's no word as yet as to when the film might be made. As always, watch this space.

"Pac-Man is a bad guy?"

Sony Pictures have recently released their first trailer for Chris Columbus' (Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets) Pixels.

Spawned from Patrick Jean's inventive short, Pixels is a big, brash Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) style alien invasion thriller bolted onto a high-concept Adam Sandler (Grown Ups) comedy. The story finds US President Will Cooper (Kevin James) tracking down old friend and '80s video game champ Sam Brenner (Sandler) so he can put together a team of old school arcade masters (including Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage) to defeat the technological menace.

With director Chris Columbus aboard to marshal the spectacle from a script by Sandler plus Tim Herlihy (The Wedding Singer) and Timothy Dowling (This Eams War), Pixels also stars Michelle Monaghan (Source Code), Jane Krakowski (Alfie), Brian Cox (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) and Sean Bean (The Lord Of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring), who we're not entirely sure will survival to see the end credits.

Pixels will land in UK cinemas on 12 August.

Blue Thunder remake rumbling at Sony Pictures

Surveillance and the militarisation of the police is a tightly topical theme at the moment, much as it was when chopper thriller Blue Thunder flew into cinemas back in 1983. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Sony Pictures have decided to update the idea with a reboot, hiring Marvel regular Craig Kyle to write the script. 

But forget any visions of an aviator shades clad pilot taking to the skies in a tricked out helicopter, Roy Scheider style. Instead, this one will tap into the drone zeitgeist and follow the world's most advanced unmanned weapon, which, we assume, will find itself at the centre of a moral quandary. Either that, or it will become self-aware and decide that wiping out humanity is the key to peacekeeping. After all, there are no strings...

Kyle, a producer and writer who has been part of Marvel's creative committee as it brought its cinematic universe to life (and is currently scripting Thor: Ragnarok), will work on the idea for producer Dana Brunetti (The Social Network), who has set the project up. He will be working alongside Jason Blumenthal (The Equalizer), whose Escape Artists company was also developing something along the same lines.

This is just the latest take on drone warfare and their use beyond the combat zone to take to cinematic skies. Also on the way is Good Kill, starring Ethan Hawke (Boyhood) on target for 10 April and Gavin Hood's (Ender's Game) Eye In The Sky, which has yet to secure a UK release date.

Annabelle Wallis set for Guy Ritchie's Knights Of The Round Table: King Arthur

With filming already well underway, Guy Ritchie's (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows) upcoming Knights Of The Round Table: King Arthur is gathering yet more players. News arrives via Deadline that Annabelle (Annabelle) Wallis is also now part of the cast.

Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim) stars as the titular head of the Round Table, with Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) set as his Guinevere. Eric Bana (Lone Survivor) is on to play Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, while Ritchie's old Sherlock Holmes collaborator Jude Law is the villainous Vortigern and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) is in talks to be Sir Bedivere, one of Uther's old comrades who takes Arthur under his wing. Wallis will be a woman named Maid Maggie.

Edge Of Tomorrow (2014) producer Joby Harold has written a script that finds a young Arthur as a streetwise type running the back alleys of Londonium, unaware of his royal destiny. Until, that is, he somehow grasps hold of the sword Excalibur, and finds himself challenged by its power. He joins forces with the resistance, meets Guinevere and has to learn to master the sword while battling his demons as well as the tyrannical Vortigern. Can he avenge his murdered parents and claim his rightful place on the throne? If the film is a success, Harold and Ritchie have plans for a six-film franchise spun from the stories of Arthur and co.

With Aidan Gillen (Game Of Thrones) and Mikael Persbrandt (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) also aboard, Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur will be out here on 22 July next year. Wallis, last seen in horror prequel Annabelle (2014), has worked on a thriller called Mine and Sacha Baron Cohen's new comedy, Grimsby, which will be out on 12 February next year.

"If you call out to one of the dead... all of them can hear you!"

Focus Features have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Leigh Whannell's Insidious: Chapter 3.

While the focus of the first promo was on young Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) and her father Sean (Dermot Mulroney), this time around it's Lin Shaye's (Insidious) psychic Elise Rainier who is very much centre stage, helping them understand exactly what's going on.

The first two Insidious films focused on the beleaguered Lambert family led by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, and saw spectral forces follow them between homes. Now here comes the third chapter, which spins the clock right back to before they encountered the ghostly terrors and focuses on a new group of characters.

Stefanie Scott (No Strings Attached) is the lead here, playing a young woman who is just home from hospital after breaking both her legs. Her dad (Dermot Mulroney) is trying to help her settle back, and she has an instant connection with neighbour Hector (Ashton Moio), who clearly has a crush on her. But when she thinks he's playing cute by knocking on her wall, she discovers to her horror that it's something else altogether...

Cue the usual cavalcade of jump scares, creepy faces, fake-outs and Elise's first trip – because this is a prequel, remember – to The Further to see if she can help the girl.

Naturally there's a worry that we know everything will be okay – at least for the likes of Elise and Whannell's Specs because we see them in the other films, set later in the timeline – but a chance to dig into the actual origins of the ghastly, ghostly goings-on does seem like a decent place to go with this franchise.

Insidious: Chapter 3 arrives here on 5 June.

New one sheets for SPECTRE arrive online

With the film entering it's third act of shooting, following stints at Pinewood Studios, Rome and the Austrian Alps, Eon Productions have released their first one sheets for Sam Mendes' (Skyfall) latest Bond outing SPECTRE, featuring the steely-eyed spy reunited with his trusty Walther PPK.

All we know about SPECTRE so far is that a cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M (Ralph Fiennes) battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

Directed once again by Mendes, SPECTRE stars Daniel Craig as Bond, of course, Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) as the enigmatic Oberhauser, Andrew Scott (Sherlock) as Denbigh, Monica Belluci (Irreversible) as Lucia Sciarra, Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as Mr. Hinx, Léa Seydoux (Blue Is The Warmest Colour) as Madeline Swann and Stephanie Sigman (Miss Bala), plus returning MI6 allies Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q, Rory Kinnear as Tanner and returning Mr. White, Jesper Christensen.

The script, which will also see 007 drive the new Aston Martin DB10, was written by Skyfall scribe John Logan, along with Bond stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Interstellar's (2014) Hoyte van Hoytema is replacing Roger Deakins as director of photography.

SPECTRE hits our screens on 23 October before heading to the US on 6 November.

Alexandre Desplat to score Star Wars: Rogue One

As an addendum to the recent details surrounding Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) Star Wars standalone outing Rogue One, it has been revealed via Film Music Reporter that Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel) will be providing the score, while John Williams is busy with Star Wars: Episodes VII-IX.

The French composer isn't perhaps as left field a choice as you might think, scoring Edwards' Godzilla last year and citing Williams as a key influence on his career.

He has also stepped into Williams' shoes once before, taking over the soundtrack duties for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 (2010-2011). His impressive and prolific CV also includes The Tree Of Life (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Rust And Bone (2012), The Imitation Game (2014), Unbroken (2014), the Twilight films, and three collaborations with Wes Anderson. Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), saw the composer take home an Academy Award®, A BAFTA and a Grammy.

Star Wars: Rogue One, which will presumably have much to do with space set X-Wing aerobatics, will thunder to Desplat's orchestrated score on 16 December 2016.

Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out on 18 December, this year. As if you didn't know that already.

Kevin Smith announces he is developing a Mallrats sequel

He announced he was retiring from directing to focus on podcasting and his love of weed years ago, yet Kevin Smith is still going strong, with his filmmaking fire seemingly reignited by the likes of Red State (2011), Tusk (2014), the upcoming Yoga Hosers and more. With Clerks III already planned, he now appears ready to revisit another part of his early career, letting slip that he is working on a sequel to Mallrats (1995).

His first big budget outing following the low-fi success of Clerks (1994), Mallrats was largely dismissed by critics and didn't exactly set the box office alight, but has since gathered a cult following. Smith teased a follow-up on Twitter, hit Facebook with more information and then called in to a radio show to offer up confirmation.

"Yeah, that's what we're working on," Smith said. "It's half a script right now, and we're pulling our loot together. We've got up until the beginning of 2016. By the time we get to May 2016, we're going to be shooting."

"Lately I've been doing this thing where I'm like, 'Do you want to do what's good for your career, or do you just want to have fun?' Nobody's clamouring for a Mallrats sequel, but I would love to make one. It's been, like, 20 years."

With action comedy Yoga Hosers now wrapped, Smith will be focusing on Clerks III and long-gestating hockey project Hit Somebody, with the Mallrats sequel planned for early 2016. Is the world ready for the return of Brodie, T.S., Jay and Silent Bob? More pertinently, as Smith himself says, will anyone really care? Looks like we'll find out...

Friday, 27 March 2015

First trailer for Infinitely Polar Bear arrives online

Sony Pictures Classics have recently released their first trailer for Maya Forbe's directorial debut Infinitely Polar Bear, starring Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) as a man dealing with bipolar while trying to keep his family intact.

Written and directed by Maya Forbes, Infinitely Polar Bear is the story of Cameron (Mark Ruffalo), a husband and father who ditches his medication, struggles with his sanity and loses his job in the process. As he tries to keep it together, his wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) heads to Columbia Law School and ends up moving out, Cameron now dealing with daughters Faith (Ashley Aufderheide) and Amelia (Imogene Wolodarsky).

Things don't go well from the start – the kids for one thing are seemingly embarrassed by their father's erratic behaviour – but they soon start to bond a little more deeply even as Cameron continues to struggle with his manic depression.

The drama, which has J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness) aboard as a producer, has a limited US release set for 9 June and is apparently headed our way sometime later in the year.

First trailer for Before I Wake arrives online

Relativity Media have recently released their first trailer for Mike Flanagan's (Oculus) Before I Wake.

Last year, director Mike Flanagan broke through with his impressive latest film, an adaptation of his short scare pic Oculus (2014). Now he's back for more chilling times with Before I Wake, formerly known as Somnia, with Kate Bosworth (Straw Dogs) and Thomas Jane (The Mist) beginning to regret the new addition to their family.

Before I Wake finds Bosworth and Jane as Jessie and Mike Hobson, who, following the loss of their own son, decide to adopt an orphan. It's not long before Cody (Jacob Tremblay) is brought to their home and seems to settle in.

But – naturally, what with this being a horror film – there is a problem. While the boy is very sweet, Cody is terrified of falling asleep, because his dreams manifest themselves in reality for everyone else around him while they sleep. Which is all well and good when his subconscious is bringing to life butterflies or even a tangible duplicate of their deceased child, but not so fun when his night terrors start to run rampant. Can they figure out the secret before it's too late? I guess we'll have to watch to find out.

With Annabeth Gish (Mystic Pizza), Dash Mihok (Silver Linings Playbook), Jay Karnes (The Shield), Kyla Deaver (The Conjuring) and Justin Gordon (Oculus) in the cast, Before I Wake will arrive in the US on 8 May, but has yet to lock in a UK release date.

Wes Ball discusses The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

Wes Ball spoke to Empire magazine recently about what we can expect from the latest adventures of Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Newt (Thomas Brodie Sangster) and the rest in his The Maze Runner (2014) follow-up, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

"I think that they're out of the frying pan into the fire, and their adventures are just beginning," says Ball when asked what fans can expect from the sequel, which plunges our heroes from the dangers of the maze into the harsh reality of the world as it is in the book. "It's definitely a cool world, kind of ravaged by the sun, so everything's kind of burned and that's why it's called The Scorch. But it's also full of very hostile people, including creatures they have to meet up and deal with. What was kind of appealing to me was that it didn't have to be a rehash of the first film, we got to go into a completely different look, a different kind of environment, and different threats altogether, but to still tell the story of these characters we fell in love with from the first movie."

While Ball admits that while it was easier to hit the ground running this time with a familiar cast, he still found big challenges broadening the canvas. "Obviously certain parts of it were easier this time, which was fun. But in terms of scope, it's huge. I saw it as the Empire Strikes Back of this three- movie series and there are a ton of locations and a lot of action that happens, and it's that middle instalment of that three story arc, especially the way it starts, because we're thrown into the action and right where the last one left off with these kids in a helicopter and they go off to the next thing in a dramatic way. It's exciting to just jump into this thing."

Naturally, this being an adaptation there will – as with the first film – be changes from the book. And Ball says that lots of elements within the story are being juggled between all the books. "We didn't approach this as a straight adaptation of the second book, we approached it more as using the same ingredients but using slightly different recipe. So things from the first book end up in the second movie and there are things in the second book we're saving for a third movie."

Talking of the third film – which screenwriter T.S. Nowlin is now aboard to adapt from James Dashner's The Death Cure – could we see Ball return to helm yet another outing? "We'll see. I don't want to say anything yet! I wasn't planning on making the second movie right away, but I couldn't deny wanting to work with this cast again and keep making the story. I'll be involved forever, and feel like I should be a custodian, whether I direct the next one or not."

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials lands in the UK on 18 September.

Gareth Edwards' standalone Star Wars film to be called Rogue One

Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm have recently announced that Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) first standalone Star Wars film will be titled Rogue One and is set for release on 16 December 2016. Furthermore, Felicity Jones (The Theory Of Everything), as long expected, is the first confirmed cast member for the film.

Also confirmed is the release date for Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will reach our cinemas on 26 May 2017. Looper (2012) director Rian Johnson will write the script as well as direct. This latest announced release date will be 40 years and a day after Star Wars came out in 1977. This also means there is just a year and a half after Episode VII, the shortest ever gap between two Star Wars movies.

The official press release gives more details about Rogue One: "The idea for the story of Rogue One came from John Knoll, an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor and chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic. He will executive produce along with Simon Emanuel (The Dark Knight Rises, Fast & Furious 6) and Jason McGatlin (Tintin, War Of The Worlds). Kathleen Kennedy and Tony To (Band Of Brothers, The Pacific) are on board to produce and John Swartz (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will co-produce. The film starts shooting this summer in London."

Rogue One, presumably, will have something to do with Rogue Squadron, and as such, should feature spectacular space set aerial assault action and aerobatics. If you're not totally in the loop about Rogue Squadron, Wookiepedia is at hand:

"Rogue Squadron, originally dubbed Rogue Flight, and also known as the Rogues, was an elite Rebel Alliance starfighter squadron founded by Commander Arhul Narra, Luke Skywalker, and Wedge Antilles shortly after the Battle of Yavin out of Red Squadron. Rogue Squadron played a key role during several engagements in the Galactic Civil War, serving as the primary defense squadron of the Alliance High Command."

John Knoll, in case you didn't know already, invented Photoshop with his brother Thomas, so when it comes to special effects and digital image manipulation, he takes some beating. There has been some speculation about this film being about bounty hunters stealing plans for the first death star, or that it might involve the Rebel Alliance in some way. Judging from the title, it will almost certainly be a prequel.

In the meantime, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be out on 18 December.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Disney officially announces Frozen 2

In what is arguably the least shocking film news announcement of the year, Walt Disney Animation Studios have announced that they officially developing a sequel to Frozen (2013), signalling that the studio hasn't quite finished exploring the world of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven.

John Lasseter (Toy Story) – co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios – joined Disney chief Bob Iger to confirm what had long been suspected at a shareholders meeting in San Francisco, with the first film's co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and producer Peter Del Vecho shouldering the task of following up the company's biggest smash and marketing monolith, with more than $1.2 billion in the bank to date.

This is certainly a marked change from what the directors told Buzzfeed recently. "It's been in the press that we are doing it, and we would ask each other, 'Are we?'" Buck said. "They'd have a date and they'd have a cast and it was like, OK..."

"It all comes down to the story," Lee adds. "Like with the short, it was so daunting until we found the story. Then it was all of the things it usually is and we were thinking of every emotion and moment and feeling. I think that's all we can do. Until we find our way into what's next, emotionally, it will feel too big. We don't really know what it's like to stop for a minute and think about what we want to do next." Sneaky.

The pair have already re-visited Arendelle for the new short Frozen Fever, which will debut in UK cinemas in front of Cinderella on 27 March.

Extended Furious 7 clip arrives online

Universal Pictures have recently released their latest extended clip from James Wan's (The Conjuring) Furious 7.

The scene, which finds everyone seemingly enjoying the ride except for Tyrese Gibson's Roman Pearce, is just the latest attempt by this franchise to push the envelope on audience's expectations... and seemingly on the laws of physics.

The film, which finds Vin Diesel's Dom, Paul Walker's Brian and the rest of the gang dealing with the fallout from part six, as Owen Shaw's villainous brother Ian (Jason Statham) plots revenge against the crew. With the Toretto family house blown to smithereens as just his calling card, Dom and the crew are soon headed to foreign climes on a mission to try to thwart this new threat.

Given an added touch of maudlin reminiscence by the death of Paul Walker while on a break from shooting, the new film pushes the idea of "one last ride" to the hilt, though we doubt this will completely wrap up the franchise. Not while the films continue to be huge money makers.

With Dwayne Johnson back once again as Luke Hobbs and new recruits Kurt Russell (Death Proof), Tony Jaa (Ong-bak), Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3) and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) swelling the cast, expect the usual vehicular flair and quippy teamwork when Fast & Furious 7, as it will be called here in the UK, arrives on 3 April.

New teaser trailer and one sheet for Hotel Transylvania 2 arrives online

Sony Pictures have recently released their first teaser trailer and one sheet for Genndy Tartakovsky's Hotel Transylvania 2.

When the original Hotel Transylvania (2012) more than $358 million worldwide, a sequel was all but inevitable. Now, with a few new cast additions and what will hopefully be a fresh spin on the story, Hotel Transylvania 2 is heading our way later this year.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is set a few years after the events of the first film and it appears things are changing for the better. Now accepting his human son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg), particularly following the birth of his half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dracula (Adam Sandler) has swung the doors of the hotel open to human visitors. And he is also enjoying looking after Dennis while daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) heads with her husband to visit his parents.

But while Drac worries that Dennis isn't enough of a vampire – see the flight test that nearly ends in disaster in the teaser – he has more to be concerned about when his own father, Vlad (Mel Brooks) shows up, and we learn just how old school (or rather, ancient) Vlad's family values are.

The likes of Kevin James (Frank), Steve Buscemi (Wayne), Molly Shannon (Wanda), David Spade (Griffin) and Fran Drescher (Eunice) are back supporting Sandler, with Keegan-Michael Key (Let's Be Cops) taking over as Murray the Mummy.

Hotel Transylvania 2 will be open for business again here on 9 October.

New characters one sheets for Age Of Adaline show Blake Lively through the years

Lionsgate have recently released an impressive collection of one sheets for Lee Toland Krieger's (Celeste & Jesse Forever) The Age Of Adaline. Smartly taking the idea of a character that doesn't age through decades, the posters follow Blake Lively's (Savages) Adaline across the years, showcasing her different looks.

Thanks to her quirk of fate, Adaline Bowman (Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret, and to spare her the pain of watching loved ones wither and die under the cruel hands of time.

But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. At least, that is, until a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, and she has to make a decision that will change her life forever.

Living for decades might initially seem like fun, but it could also be a potential source of much heartbreak. See how Lively deals with it when the film arrives arrives in US cinemas on 24 April and here in the UK on 8 May.

Matt Damon set for The Great Wall

Back in September it was announced that Matt Damon was considering starring in the China set epic The Great Wall. Despite the backing of Legendary Pictures boss Thomas Tull, who co-created the basic idea and intends it to help his business in China and beyond, The Great Wall hasn't exactly been the easiest film to develop. Things are certainly running a little more smoothly now though, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that Matt Damon (Elysium) is officially on board alongside Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Pedro Pascal (The Adjustment Bureau), Andy Lau (House Of Flying Daggers), Jing Tian (The Warring States), Zhang Hanyu (Assembly), Eddie Peng (Unbeatable), Lu Han (Will Not End Here), Lin Gengxin, Zheng Kai, Chen Xuedong, Huang Xuan and Wang Junkai.

Zhang Yimou (House Of Flying Daggers) is directing this one, which finds soldiers in 15th century China searching for gunpowder and discovering much more. While they initially think that the wall, still under construction, they soon realise that thee structure is being put in place not to just keep out invaders, but also mystical creatures.

Tull conceived the initial idea as part of a plan to push into global co-productions with his Legendary East arm. But after delays and director/cast swaps (both Ed Zwick and Henry Cavill were attached for a while), he has had to wait for the details to come together. World War Z (2013) novelist Max Brooks wrote the current draft of the script, and Yimou should be kicking off shooting at the end of the month. Universal Pictures, under its deal with Legendary, will put the movie out on 23 November next year in the States and 13 January 2017 here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Joe Carnahan set for Motorcade

Coming off issues getting his insane action comedy Stretch (2014) out into the world (and seemingly having more success producing and directing TV shows), Joe Carnahan (The Grey) is adding another studio film to his list of potential projects. News arrives via Variety that he has made a deal to direct Motorcade for DreamWorks Studios.

The plot for the high concept thriller finds a disgraced Secret Service agent in the right place at the right time when terrorists attack the US President's motorcade in Los Angeles.

While the concept sounds remarkably similar to the likes of Olympus Has Fallen (2013), Motorcade has actually been stalled in development for years, going through various different versions since at least 2008. At one point, Tom Cruise (Edge Of Tomorrow) was attached to star, and Ryan Reynolds (Buried) briefly flirted with the idea back in 2009. But producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (Catch Me If You Can) have stayed the course and now here we are, with Billy Ray (The Hunger Games) writing the most recent draft of the script and Carnahan attached to call the shots. Given the motorized madness of Stretch and his experience with over the top action on films such as Smokin' Aces (2006) and The A-Team (2010), he clearly seems like someone who can bring his own touch to the idea.