News Round-up – Fantastic Beasts series expands, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin, Craig’s Bond future and more

We’re currently in the lull between the bombast of the summer blockbuster season and the onset of the big movies of the winter months. It’s those movies that dominate this week’s movie news, with some new information about the continuation of the Harry Potter franchise and the first of a presumably endless series of Star Wars spin-off films.

Elsewhere, Disney has announced another big live-action remake and Daniel Craig has spoken out about his Bond future after months of speculation from just about everyone on the internet. There’s also good news for the UK box office and bad news for women in comedy.

Here’s this week’s round-up of movie news.


Rowling charms up five Fantastic Beasts movies

Eddie Redmayne in new JK Rowling tale Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Eddie Redmayne in new JK Rowling tale Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

JK Rowling got the internet chattering this week when she announced that the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise, previously a trilogy, would now span five films. Rowling was speaking at a Facebook event to promote the upcoming first film in the new series, starring Eddie Redmayne as magizoologist Newt Scamander. The author revealed that she has planned out the storyline for all five of these movies at the event, which allowed those present to get a sneak peek of the first ten minutes of the upcoming film.

This announcement has drawn waves of concern online, with many worried that Rowling is simply milking a cash cow rather than thoughtfully expanding her magical universe. It certainly seems to draw parallels with the rapidly expanding Avatar franchise, which is still yet to yield a single sequel to the highest grossing movie of all time. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is due to arrive in UK cinemas on November 18.


Rogue One unleashes final trailer

Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Much like it did with The Force Awakens, Disney has tightly controlled the marketing strategy for spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This week saw the launch of the final trailer ahead of the film’s winter release, which deepened the backstory of Felicity Jones‘ rebel protagonist Jyn Erso. We got confirmation that Mads Mikkelsen is playing Erso’s father, which Mikkelsen himself let slip a few months ago.

It’s a really fun trailer that showcases the tone, which director Gareth Edwards has repeatedly likened to a war movie. The film doesn’t shy away from revealing details, but there’s also the sense that plenty of the plot has been kept under wraps and it will be intriguing to see just how much the wider universe becomes involved in the story. Rogue One will be released in December.


Aladdin gets an odd director

Disney classic Aladdin is set to be remade by Guy Ritchie
Disney classic Aladdin is set to be remade by Guy Ritchie

Disney’s rolling juggernaut of live-action remakes shows no sign of slowing down, particularly in the wake of The Jungle Book‘s extraordinary box office success. The latest project to move forward is the remake of Aladdin. This week, it was announced in The Hollywood Reporter that Guy Ritchie will be at the helm of the new movie. The report states that the new version of the film will retain many of the musical elements of the 1992 original, which was part of Disney’s animated renaissance.

Ritchie is an interesting and unorthodox choice of director, which mimics the kind of off-the-wall choices that Disney has often made in selecting filmmakers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It remains to be seen what elements of his unique style Ritchie will bring to the story. I wouldn’t rule out Jason Statham voicing a magic carpet just yet.


Craig could maintain Bond hotseat

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

Daniel Craig’s future in the role of James Bond has been one of the hottest topics in the world of cinema for months, whether it was his now infamous “rather slash my wrists” comments on the publicity tour for Spectre or the rumour that he was set to net $150m if he signed on to make two more films. This week, the man himself finally waded in to clarify his position… sort of. Craig told fans at the New Yorker festival that playing 007 was “the best job in the world”. He added: “I get a massive kick out of it. And if I can keep getting a kick out of it, I will.” This is the strongest hint to date that Craig could step into the iconic tuxedo again.

As about-turns go, this isn’t a particularly surprising one. Sony has shown that they are more than willing to delve deep into their pockets to secure Craig’s services and few actors could refuse such an offer. There’s also the fact that Craig’s comments about his lack of desire to return were made in the immediate aftermath of a gruelling creative process. Now that he’s a year removed, Craig might well be warming to another go on the Bond merry-go-round. I’d certainly like to see him back.


Bad Moms follow-up gives men a chance

Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn in Bad Moms
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn in Bad Moms

Do you know what Hollywood needs? If your answer was “more comedies featuring men in the main roles”, you’re in luck. This week, Variety reported that studio STX Entertainment is set to follow up the rampant success of woman-centric comedy Bad Moms with a male-orientated spin-off called, predictably enough, Bad Dads. Apparently a global total of $180m from a $20m budget isn’t enough to prove how funny women are.

It’s incredibly sad to see that the success of a movie that almost entirely features women simply leads to a sausage fest of a sequel. Bad Moms was a refreshing and frequently hilarious comedy that wisely sidelined its male characters in favour of a woman-centric story that clearly resonated enough to score a mammoth box office haul. Coupled with the PR bollocks about “extending consumer passion for the Bad Moms brand” that STX is peddling, this is one of the more depressing stories of the week. Bad Dads is set for release in July 2017.


Coen Brothers take on dark side of the web

Silk Road became a popular marketplace for illicit traders online
Silk Road became a popular marketplace for illicit traders online

Historically, movies about the internet can go either way. For every masterpiece like The Social Network, there’s a film like Blackhat that has no idea how to make cyberspace exciting. The next filmmakers to delve into that world will be the Coen Brothers when they take on the story of shady online marketplace Silk Road. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the duo are set to pin the script for the thriller Dark Web, which will tell the story of controversial Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht.

It will be interesting to see what the Coens can do with the deepest reaches of the internet’s underbelly. The key to creating a worthy cyber-thriller is the characters. They have to be interesting in order to make up for all of the sitting in front of screens typing. If anyone can manage it, the Coens have to stand a decent chance.


UK box office speeds to £1m annual total

Renee Zellweger reprises her most memorable role in Bridget Jones's Baby
Renee Zellweger reprises her most memorable role in Bridget Jones’s Baby

There was good news for the UK’s multiplexes this week as the annual box office total hit £1bn in the fastest time ever – 17 days quicker than last year. Screen Daily reported last week that two releases have netted more than £40m at the box office – The Jungle Book and Finding Dory. They have since been joined by Bridget Jones’s Baby. Other formidable performers have included Captain America: Civil War and the surprise adult superhero smash Deadpool.

This is an impressive statistic, particularly given the rather disappointing slate of films that have packed the summer schedule. It’s encouraging, though, to see that people in Britain are still going to the cinema in great numbers and hopefully the total will be exceeded even more quickly in 2017.


Do we need five Fantastic Beasts movies? Is Guy Ritchie the right choice for Aladdin? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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