News Round-up – Favreau on for Lion King, Fantastic Beasts final trailer, Transformers and more

It’s been another quiet week in the world of cinema, with Hollywood rather light on major announcements prior to the onset of awards season. There was, however, another bit of big news from Disney‘s ongoing cinematic juggernaut as Jon Favreau became attached to another major remake of an animated classic.

Elsewhere, the publicity machine rattled on for the return to the world of Harry Potter, the new take on Murder on the Orient Express added some A-list cast members and Michael Bay pissed off the entire United Kingdom during the making of Transformers: The Last Knight.

Here’s your weekly movie news round-up.


Circle of remakes brings Favreau to Lion King

Jon Favreau will direct a live-action Lion King for Disney
Jon Favreau will direct a live-action Lion King for Disney (Photo: Anna Hanks)

Jon Favreau returned to the blockbuster fold earlier this year, with his excellent live-action remake of classic Disney animation The Jungle Book. It now seems that the Mouse House wants him back to remake The Lion King in a live-action form, or at least as live-action as a film featuring entirely CGI animals and scenery can be. Favreau first broke the news in an emoji-filled tweet and the announcement was confirmed in a Disney statement shortly after.

There has been plenty of outcry on Twitter surrounding the news, which is bizarre given Disney’s pretty strong hit rate with their live-action remakes to date. Favreau did a fantastic job with The Jungle Book and if he can bring that same blend of modern technology and warm nostalgia to The Lion King, then it could be another major success for Disney, which is in the form of its life right now.


Fantastic Beasts conjures final trailer

Eddie Redmayne in the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Eddie Redmayne in the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

As the blockbuster noise of the summer has rattled along and the looming shape of Star Wars filled the horizon, there wasn’t much room to get all that excited about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. However, now that the summer dust has settled, the final trailer for JK Rowling’s return to her Potter universe provides plenty of reasons to be excited about the movie. The new trailer showcases a handful of the magical creatures that give the film its title and we get to see Eddie Redmayne‘s magizoologist Newt Scamander casting spells.

The trailer also gives a tantalising glimpse of a group of muggles who seem to be mobilising against the threat posed by magic to American society. There’s plenty of action, plenty of wonder and plenty of thrills. This could be the winter blockbuster that finally brings cinematic audiences back into the Potter world after theatregoers got to enjoy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child earlier this year. I’m sure that, if nothing else, it will be great to be back.


Transformers causes very British controversy

Michael Bay on the set of Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Michael Bay on the set of Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Photo: niXerKG)

Michael Bay has a rap sheet a mile long when it comes to crimes against cinema. This week, though, he provoked a different kind of horror on the front page of The Sun when images emerged of Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill, draped in Nazi flags as part of the filming for Transformers: The Dark Knight. Bay was later interviewed by the BBC and said that Churchill was a “hero” in the movie and that “he would be smiling” if he could read the script.

As much as I think Bay is one of the worst things about modern movies, this definitely seems like a massive controversy about nothing. Bay will have gone through an enormous amount of red tape in order to get permission to film at Blenheim and that permission would not have been forthcoming if his plans had been anything other than honourable. In the meantime, the publicity cannot be hurting the film at all.


Gleeson and Robbie in AA Milne biopic shots

Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie in the upcoming AA Milne biopic
Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie in the upcoming AA Milne biopic

In distinctly undramatic news, this week heralded a couple of set photos from the untitled biopic of Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne. The film, previously titled Goodbye Christopher Robin, stars Domhnall Gleeson as the author and Margot Robbie as his wife Daphne. We don’t know a great deal about the project as yet and, unusually for a major modern movie, it doesn’t have a release date yet.

These photos showcase something of a cosy feel, which seems to position the film in the ballpark of being one of the traditionally and quintessentially British movies that the Academy loves. There might not be a solid release date set in stone for the AA Milne movie yet, but I’d imagine that an awards-friendly slot at the tail end of next year is a pretty safe bet.


Depp, Dench and Ridley board Orient Express

Johnny Depp pictured at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival
Johnny Depp pictured at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival (Photo: Asim Bharwani)

Kenneth Branagh is assembling a formidable roster of stars for his new take on Agatha Christie’s classic story Murder on the Orient Express. This week, Variety reported that a whole new raft of A-listers, including Johnny Depp, Judi Dench and Star Wars breakout Daisy Ridley, has joined the cast. This is another major coup for the project, which Branagh will direct as well as taking on the starring role of detective Hercule Poirot.

It remains to be seen whether Murder on the Orient Express will do its job in bringing a whole new audience into Christie’s world. What cannot be doubted, however, is the unbelievable ensemble of actors that Branagh has put together. Here’s hoping that the array of talent on display doesn’t prove to be a distraction from the film itself. Principal photography on the film is set to begin in November.


Denzel makes Oscar bid in Fences trailer

Denzel Washington in the trailer for awards-tipped drama Fences
Denzel Washington in the trailer for awards-tipped drama Fences

The topic of diversity is set to be a big deal at this year’s Academy Awards in the face of the ongoing #OscarsSoWhite controversy. One of the key films in place to ensure that this year’s ceremony succeeds where previous years have failed is Denzel Washington‘s drama Fences, for which a teaser trailer was released this week. As well as taking his seat in the director’s chair, Washington stars in the film as a retired baseball player struggling with how his life has turned out. Viola Davis co-stars as his wife, Rose, as both performers reprise their roles from the Tony-winning play.

The trailer looks a little like straightforward Oscar bait, but there are glimmers of two deeply impressive performances from the leads. Fences lands in cinemas in December and I’d imagine Washington and Davis have already picked out what they’re going to be wearing on the film industry’s biggest night of the year.


Mute to arrive on Netflix

Duncan Jones appears at Comic-Con in 2014 to promote Warcraft
Duncan Jones appears at Comic-Con in 2014 to promote Warcraft (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

After the rather dismal mess that was Warcraft, acclaimed director Duncan Jones will be returning to his sci-fi roots with Mute. We now know another little detail about the film thanks to star Alexander Skarsgård, who told Empire that the film could get a simultaneous release in cinemas and on Netflix. The film itself seems like a more typical Jones story, focusing on Skarsgård’s mute bartender seeking to track down his missing girlfriend. A cross-over with Jones’ debut film Moon has been teased.

This has to be better than Warcraft and it’s great to see a director as talented and inventive as Jones going back to the genre and style that made his name. If Mute can come close to the quality of Moon and Source Code, then it will all but banish the memory of those annoying orcs and that endless, repetitive mess of a film.


Are you looking forward to Jon Favreau’s take on The Lion King? Did you enjoy the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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