News Round-up – Pennywise unveiled, Arrival trailer, Leto joins Blade Runner and more

There’s little major Hollywood glamour in this week’s movie news, but there has certainly been plenty of fun stuff going on in the world of cinema over the last seven days.

We got a first full look at Pennywise in the new adaptation of It and a trailer for Denis Villeneuve‘s new sci-fi movie, which looks fascinating. There were also some interesting pieces of casting news and a sad slice of news about an independent British distribution company.

Here’s your movie news round-up.


Coulrophobes beware… Pennywise is here

Bill Skarsgård will star as Pennywise in the new adaptation of It
Bill Skarsgård will star as Pennywise in the new adaptation of It (Photo: Warner Bros/EW)

Buzz has gradually been building around the upcoming new adaptation of It, with our first peek at Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise arriving a few weeks ago. We now have an image of the character in his full, terrifying glory courtesy of Entertainment Weekly. It’s a Victorian-inspired outfit that is certainly veering more towards being a scary clown than one that hides his evil behind cuteness. It isn’t beholden to a single time period though, with Elizabethan aspects and touches of the medieval as well.

It is shaping up to be a very exciting project indeed and, if the entire film reflects the sinister tone of these first pictures of Skarsgård, it’s going to be the kind of project that keeps a whole new generation up at night.


Amy Adams is speaking our language in Arrival

Amy Adams in the trailer for sci-fi drama Arrival
Amy Adams in the trailer for sci-fi drama Arrival

Few directors have as interesting an early filmography as Denis Villeneuve. After bursting onto the scene with Incendies, he helmed a pair of interesting movies with Jake Gyllenhaal and wowed with blistering crime thriller Sicario. He has been handed the keys to the Blade Runner sequel, but will next be seen with sci-fi drama Arrival, for which the first full trailer landed this week. The film stars Amy Adams as the linguist tasked with finding a way to communicate when aliens make first contact.

It’s an intriguing trailer that teases a cerebral sci-fi tale, focusing on the pragmatic considerations of first contact rather than creating a sinister spectacle about little green men. Villeneuve is an interesting director with a unique edge to his work and it will be tough not to see Arrival as a dry run for his next big sci-fi outing. Arrival is due in cinemas in November.


Leto signs on for Blade Runner sequel

Jared Leto speaks at San Diego Comic-Con in 2016
Jared Leto speaks at San Diego Comic-Con in 2016 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

It’s fair to say that Jared Leto is being given a tough time at the moment in the wake of his portrayal of the Joker in DC’s divisive blockbuster Suicide Squad. The Oscar winner got some better news this week when Variety reported that he has been added to the cast of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner sequel.

Leto is interesting casting for a film that will already include Ryan Gosling and the original film’s star Harrison Ford. His off-kilter sensibilities could help to give this Blade Runner a more modern twist to differentiate it from the original movie, which was a distinctly 1980s vision of the future. Villeneuve’s Blade Runner movie will be released in October 2017.


Natalie Portman is done with Marvel

Natalie Portman as Jane and Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Natalie Portman as Jane and Chris Hemsworth as Thor

We have been hearing for months now that Thor: Ragnarok is going to be a buddy movie with Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. It was unclear how Jane Foster would fit into that story and we now seem to have our answer, thanks to comments Natalie Portman made in an interview with Wall Street Journal. Portman said that as far as she knew, she was “done” with the Marvel movies, but didn’t burn her bridges, saying she could be asked back for “an Avengers 7 or whatever”.

This doesn’t come as a massive surprise, given that Portman has been treated as something of a spare part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the franchise moves towards Infinity War and brings together even more characters from the rapidly expanding Marvel roster, characters who are extraneous to the narrative are likely to fall by the wayside. Thor: Ragnarok will be released in October 2017.


J-Law meets Pratt in first look at Passengers

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in Passengers
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in Passengers (Photo: Jaimie Trueblood/EW)

As far as bankable names in Hollywood go at the moment, it’s tough to think of two names that guarantee box office returns more than Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The duo will star together in sci-fi romance Passengers, helmed by Morten Tyldum, who is currently best known for his work on The Imitation Game. Thanks to the fine folk over at Entertainment Weekly, we now have the first photos from the set of the movie.

The duo play passengers on an interstellar journey, mistakenly awakened from their suspended animation as the ship begins to dangerously malfunction. Tyldum has certainly teased a movie that will run the full gamut of emotions with the help of two of Hollywood’s best and brightest. Passengers will be released in UK cinemas in December and it can’t come soon enough.


A spoonful of sugar for Ben Whishaw?

Ben Whishaw at the premiere of Cloud Atlas
Ben Whishaw at the premiere of Cloud Atlas (Photo: Telefónica in Deutschland)

The cast for the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns is continuing to take shape. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it looks as if star Emily Blunt could be joined in the movie by fellow Brit Ben Whishaw. The star of Paddington is in talks with director Rob Marshall to appear in the film as a grown-up Michael Banks.

Whishaw is great casting for this film, which is certainly putting some interesting pieces in place. There were plenty of sceptics when the project was announced and even more when the horrific title came to light. However, Marshall is assembling a wonderful cast and, if he can create enough distance from the original classic, it could be a sweet, old-fashioned family movie of the best kind.


Distributor Metrodome set to close its doors

David Schaal in Ben Wheatley thriller Down Terrace
David Schaal in Ben Wheatley thriller Down Terrace

There was sad news for independent filmmaking in Britain this week, when The Guardian reported that film distribution company Metrodome has gone into administration. The company, responsible for distributing such popular indie titles as Tangerine and What We Do in the Shadows in recent years, has made all of its staff redundant with immediate effect. A number of upcoming films that were on the company’s slate now face an uncertain future.

It’s always sad to see an indie company forced to close its doors, particularly one with such a rich history. Metrodome has helped to nurture great talents, including Ben Wheatley‘s debut Down Terrace, in its championing of British cinema. The studio also made smart choices with foreign fare, including Argentinian drama The Secret in Their Eyes. Metrodome will certainly be missed.


Are you sufficiently creeped out by Pennywise? Do you think Jared Leto will work in the Blade Runner follow-up? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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