As the blockbuster year winds down and we make the move into awards season, the big studios have been rather quiet this week, with the exception of some rather troubling news over at Fox.
There was some intriguing casting news for a biopic that has seemingly been in development forever and a couple of teasers for some of the stranger blockbusters that are on the way. Meanwhile, there was news of a horror remake that nobody was expecting, with a very unorthodox choice of personnel.
Here’s your round-up of movie news…
Queen biopic finds its Freddie
The biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, now known as Bohemian Rhapsody, has had a difficult path through the development process. Sacha Baron Cohen was originally attached to play the iconic singer, but he allegedly stepped away over creative disagreements with Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor. It seems that the project is now coming back together, with Deadline reporting that Bryan Singer is in talks to direct the film, with Mr Robot star Rami Malek set to play Freddie.
It’s great to see this project finally moving forward after so long, as the story of Freddie Mercury is one that screams cinema potential. Hopefully the involvement of May and Taylor will not prevent the film honestly depicting Mercury’s tumultuous life and Malek seems like an interesting left-field choice to play the singer. If done right, this one could be an Oscar contender when it sees the light of day.
Out of this world look at Valerian
Despite its preposterously lengthy title, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is one of the most highly anticipated blockbuster films coming up in 2017. The first trailer for the film, directed by The Fifth Element helmer Luc Besson, landed this week, showcasing Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as special operatives maintaining order in the universe. The trailer shows plenty of exotic space creatures and a great deal of sci-fi action sequences.
Besson is a fun director and Valerian looks like it could be a fun movie. Unfortunately, though, the look of this trailer echoes the disastrous Wachowskis movie Jupiter Ascending and even the CGI-dominated visual style of the Star Wars prequels. The film might work, but on the strength of this, it all feels a bit cheap. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is set for a release in July 2017.
Like father, like son for Landis clan
John Landis‘ classic horror An American Werewolf in London is one of the most memorable films of the 80s, famed for its genuinely terrifying make-up effects and iconic scene of transformation. The film is now set for a remake, and it’s something of a family affair. Deadline reported this week that the new take on the movie will be both written and directed by Max Landis, son of the original director.
This is certainly an intriguing way to do a remake. The younger Landis has a very unique voice as a writer and director, but he has also had something of a mixed career, from the heights of Chronicle to the disaster that was Victor Frankenstein. His strange sensibilities seem perfect for an American Werewolf remake on paper and this could be a really fun horror-comedy blend.
Dumbledore in for Fantastic Beasts sequel
We are only a week or two away from the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which will allow cinema audiences to return to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter universe. It seems as if yet another familiar face may yet make their presence felt in the movie’s sequels, with ScreenRant writing that Albus Dumbledore will turn up in future installments. Director David Yates said that they were currently trying to work out who would be best to play the role, given this Dumbledore will be considerably younger than Michael Gambon‘s version of the character.
As much as I’m excited for Fantastic Beasts, it looks as if the promises of a separate story may very quickly be broken in favour of increasing commitment to cross-continuity. It looks as if everything that happens here is going to be some sort of reference to Rowling’s saga set on this side of the Atlantic. It will be fun to see a different take on Dumbledore, but it would probably be better if this was kept entirely to one side.
X-Men set for a franchise reset
Despite the enormous success of Deadpool, Fox and its X-Men franchise are looking a little worse for wear after disappointing reviews and returns for X-Men: Apocalypse. According to The Hollywood Reporter, things have become fraught at Fox and they are considering pushing the reset button on their flagship franchise. With Deadpool existing on its own and Hugh Jackman about to wave goodbye to Wolverine, the ground is fertile to start all over again.
Considering the X-Men franchise has been running for in excess of 15 years, it might be better to just let Professor X and his friends rest. A rebooted and retooled version of the series would merely feel like they were going over the same ground, which simply isn’t enough at a time when superhero franchises are mapped out in detail almost a decade in advance. The core X-Men franchise has had its day and, at the end of the day, Fox can still drop in every now and then via the Deadpool movies.
DreamWorks dumps an asteroid on The Croods
The Croods was a rather unremarkable animated release back in 2013. It made a tonne of money at the box office, though, and a sequel was greenlit by the guys over at DreamWorks. The sequel was pencilled in for a 2017 release, but it was subsequently shunted to 2018. Variety wrote this week that the project has now gone completely the way of the dodo and production has ceased immediately. Many of the employees working on The Croods 2 will move on to other DreamWorks projects.
This isn’t vastly surprising news, given that any hype for a Croods sequel died a very long time ago. With animated sequels, studios must strike while the iron is hot and before the next Minions-sized hit arrives. It’s a competitive world for kiddie animation and five years would have been far too long a gap, even for the most diehard fans of the original film.
Jones and Spall set for Jurassic World 2
Nobody expected Jurassic World to be as big a box office hit as it was. Its sequel, due in June 2018, will come with enormous expectations at its back as a follow-up to the film that is currently the fourth highest grossing of all time. It is set to begin shooting early next year and, according to Variety, two top British performers are in talks to appear alongside returning stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. It seems that Universal has its eyes on Toby Jones and Rafe Spall for the film, which is being directed by Juan Antonio Bayona.
These two would be excellent additions to the cast of the Jurassic World sequel. More interesting will be details of the plot, when they finally emerge. The film cannot simply be a retread of the “amusement park gone wrong” story, which we have seen many times, so it will have to find a different angle from which to approach the franchise. Hopefully, the idea is stronger than making Bryce Dallas Howard run in heels… again.
Do you think the Freddie Mercury biopic will be a worthy tribute? What do you think of our first look at Valerian? Is Max Landis the right man for the American Werewolf job? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.