News Round-up – Battle for Bond, Will Smith could play Genie, Gunn sticks with Marvel and more

After last week’s onslaught of trailers, it’s a little quieter on the movie news landscape this week. There are a few big Marvel-related announcements and a turbulent time of change for one of the biggest franchises in cinema as James Bond hunts for a new studio home in the midst of speculation about Daniel Craig‘s future in the iconic tux as 007.

Elsewhere, Will Smith might be joining the new wave of Disney live-action remakes in a major role and two horror filmmakers who can rightly be described as Splat Pack royalty are set to join forces for a movie that sounds delightfully messed up.

Here’s your movie news round-up…

 

Studios in battle for Bond rights

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

It’s no secret that James Bond is one of the most lucrative characters in cinema. Since Daniel Craig took over the role in 2006, every film has clocked more than $500m worldwide, raking in tonnes of money for Eon and distribution partner Sony. The contract that had Sony behind the series ran out with last movie Spectre and now, according to The New York Times, there is a tug of war at play with five studios in the market for the rights. Sony has thrown its hat back in the ring and is competing with Warner Bros, Fox, Universal and upstart distributor Annapurna. There’s only a one movie deal on the table, with no guarantee that Craig is returning to the lead role.

The Bond movies don’t make a huge amount of money for these distribution partners, but the bragging rights are huge. Any studio that can claim a Bond film has a guaranteed hit on its hands and it would be huge for Annapurna, which is gradually expanding and could really use a big name, big money franchise to boost its reputation. With only one film on the table, though, there’s definitely a sense that Eon is keeping its options wide open with Bond.

 

Smith to replace Williams in the Genie’s lamp

Will Smith has been one of Hollywood's most bankable stars for years
Will Smith has been one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars for years (Photo: Walmart)

The role of the Genie in Aladdin is a tough one for anybody to take on, given how iconic the late Robin Williams was as the wise-cracking magic being. For Guy Ritchie‘s live-action remake, though, they are bringing out the big guns. Deadline reported this week that none other than Will Smith is in talks to play the Genie, which would certainly be a huge coup for the studio. Smith certainly used to be box office gold and he had a big hit last year as part of Suicide Squad. He also has musical talents, which will help with the film’s songs.

Disney remains on a roll with its live-action remakes and, after the mammoth success of The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, stars are unlikely to require much persuading to take on a part. Smith has the charisma to play the Genie and will almost certainly be very different to Williams, which is necessary. He could also do with a bona fide hit at the box office to boost his reputation after a few years of tat like After Earth and Collateral Beauty. This casting could be good for all involved.

 

Gunn still hooked on a feeling for Guardians 3

Director James Gunn promotes Guardians of the Galaxy at Comic-Con in 2013
Director James Gunn promotes Guardians of the Galaxy at Comic-Con in 2013 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

James Gunn is almost certainly going to have made one of the biggest movies of this year when Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 lands in cinemas next week. He has already pledged at least part of his future to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, announcing on Facebook that he will remain in the director’s chair for a third film in the cosmic corner of the franchise, featuring his ragtag bunch of heroes. Gunn said he would work to create a story that “goes beyond what you expect”, following the two mammoth Infinity War movies. He added that the third film will “conclude this iteration” of the Guardians, which is an intriguing tease.

Gunn is one of the more unique voices in the MCU and there’s no doubt that Guardians of the Galaxy felt like a slightly different kind of Marvel movie. It’s exciting that he is on board for a third movie and that, unlike Joss Whedon, he hasn’t been completely burned out by the studio’s machine. Perhaps Whedon’s departure served as a cautionary tale for Kevin Feige and his team and they have now learned how important it is to nurture director who can make great films that also work within the constraints of the wider MCU.

 

Captain Marvel film hires directing duo

Brie Larson was unveiled as Captain Marvel at Comic-Con in 2016
Brie Larson was unveiled as Captain Marvel at Comic-Con in 2016 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

The Captain Marvel movie has had its star in place ever since Brie Larson was unveiled in the role at Comic-Con last year, but Marvel has been reticent to announce who will be directing their first female-led superhero film. That all changed this week, though, when Variety broke the news that Mississippi Grind directing duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will helm the film. The duo were selected at the end of a lengthy process, in which a number of female directors were courted to take charge of the movie.

Captain Marvel is one of the most exciting projects currently in the pipeline over at Marvel and it will be interesting to see what they do when they finally hand centre stage to a female hero. Larson is one of the finest actors working today and Marvel has continued its policy of nabbing rising stars of directing and handing them a major movie upon which to stamp their authority. I expect all eyes over at Marvel will be on the performance of DC’s Wonder Woman this year, as that will be the watermark in quality and box office that they have to meet. Captain Marvel is due in cinemas in March 2019.

 

Rock and Stath to lead Fast & Furious spin-off

Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson square off in Fast & Furious 8
Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson square off in Fast & Furious 8

Universal will be grinning from ear to ear after the release of Fast & Furious 8, which immediately raced to a record global opening weekend, out-performing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The franchise is a cash cow and, therefore, it’s no surprise that the notion of spin-offs has crept into the discussion. According to Deadline, the studio is considering a movie based on the characters played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. The film would see Johnson’s Hobbs and Statham’s Deckard Shaw forming an unlikely alliance.

The macho posturing between Statham and The Rock was one of the highlights of Fast & Furious 8 and anything involving Johnson seems to be box office dynamite. This is the kind of easy expansion that could turn the Fast & Furious world into a wide-ranging cinematic universe that can make money on a regular basis for Universal. As a jumping off point for an even bigger franchise, this seems like a very logical idea.

 

Aja and Wan join forces for Splat Pack team-up

Alexandre Aja and James Wan are key members of the Splat Pack
Alexandre Aja and James Wan are key members of the Splat Pack (Photos: Gage Skidmore)

For horror fans, Alexandre Aja and James Wan are among the main members of the Splat Pack group of filmmakers who helped make great scary movies throughout the noughties. They are now working together, writes The Hollywood Reporter, for a very interesting movie called Smart House. Aja, who recently directed Daniel Radcliffe in the bizarre thriller Horns, will take the helm of the movie from a script by Brad Keene, based on Wan’s original idea. The film follows a family placed under the care of a “smart house” as part of a witness protection scheme. When assassins track them down, the house fights back.

It’s a real thrill to see two prime Splat Pack members working together and the idea for the film sounds incredibly intriguing. It’s also good to see that Wan hasn’t completely left horror behind while working as part of DC’s superhero universe with Aquaman. Smart House sounds like the perfect film for the ‘Internet of Things’ generation and a great example of how horror can play on modern fears. This is definitely one to watch as it makes its way to the screen.

 

Mikkelsen stranded for Arctic survival thriller

Mads Mikkelsen promoting Doctor Strange at Comic-Con in 2016
Mads Mikkelsen promoting Doctor Strange at Comic-Con in 2016 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Mads Mikkelsen is to take on a rather bizarre new project, according to Deadline. The Danish actor is set to take the lead role in survival thriller Arctic, which will be directed by Brazilian filmmaker and YouTube personality Joe Penna, better known to his followers as MysteryGuitarMan. The film will see Mikkelsen play a man stranded in the Arctic, who is faced with a huge decision when a rescue attempt goes awry.

It’s intriguing to see someone best known as a YouTuber given the keys to what could be a fairly major film, particularly given Mikkelsen’s star power. He’s a great actor, though, and one who can certainly carry the weight of a film like this on his shoulders. Maybe if it’s successful, we will get all sorts of YouTubers making the transition to screens considerably bigger than their fans’ smartphones. Maybe we will see Zoella take the helm the next Marvel blockbuster?

 

Do you think Will Smith will be a good pick for the Genie? Are you pleased to see James Gunn remain in the Marvel fold? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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