It has been a huge week in the world of movies, with the film community shocked by the news that Jump Street duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller have been sacked from the Han Solo spin-off movie midway through the production process. The film is now in the safe hands of director Ron Howard, in order to shepherd the project home ahead of its imminent release into cinemas.
Elsewhere, David Fincher finally signed on the dotted line for a big blockbuster project and we got some information as to the packed plot for monster tentpole Godzilla 2.
Here’s your movie news round-up…
Lord and Miller sacked from Han Solo spin-off
The Han Solo spin-off movie has always been one of the riskier projects on the Lucasfilm slate, but it was dealt a huge blow this week when the studio sacked directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Conflicting ideas have swirled around the firing, with “creative differences” the official explanation, but The Hollywood Reporter wrote that issues with clashing visions between the directors and writer Lawrence Kasdan played into the dispute. Kasdan wanted things to adhere to the script, which didn’t mesh with Lord and Miller’s improvisational style. This rather begs the question of why Lucasfilm would hire such idiosyncratic directors if they wanted a more traditional film.
Thankfully for the project, Lucasfilm moved quickly to line up a replacement and movie veteran Ron Howard will now step into the director’s chair. There were three weeks left on the film’s shooting schedule, though there will presumably be substantial reshoots in order to line the film up with Lucasfilm’s way of thinking. Howard is a safe pair of hands, but perhaps too safe to make the project as exciting as it needs to be. The Han Solo spin-off is due in cinemas in May 2018.
Monsters confirmed for Godzilla sequel
Before the big Japanese lizard faces off with King Kong in Legendary’s big monster battle, Godzilla 2 is set to give us another look at the new incarnation of the creature first seen in 2014. Production on the film has now started in Atlanta, according to Collider, and details of the plot have been released. It seems that the film, from Krampus director Michael Dougherty, will see Godzilla battle enemies including Mothra, Rodan, and the three-headed King Ghidorah.
This certainly sounds like an intriguing idea on paper, but there’s an unavoidable sense that this might be a film that goes the way of Spider-Man 3. Legendary seems to be determined to throw all of the studio’s biggest and most well-known monsters together in one movie, which may well leave the big Kong battle looking a little bit like an anti-climax. Hopefully they’ve got something a bit more inventive in the pipeline. Godzilla 2, also known as Godzilla: King of the Monsters is due for a March 2019 release in the UK.
Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis quits acting
Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most lauded actors of all time, with three Oscar victories under his belt. Variety revealed this week that Day-Lewis is now set to retire from acting after his role in an untitled forthcoming film he is making with Paul Thomas Anderson. It was Anderson who helped the 60-year-old to his second Academy Award back in 2007 for There Will Be Blood. Representatives for Day-Lewis said this is a “private decision” and added the star is “immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years”.
There’s no doubt that Day-Lewis is one of the most respected and elegant craftsmen in acting history and his awards record speaks for itself. He’s never been a prolific actor and it’s not uncommon to see him take extended sabbaticals. Retirement from cinema is something that’s very fluid, though, and there’s every chance that we might see Day-Lewis back in front of the camera when the itch returns. Just ask Steven Soderbergh.
Fincher confirmed for World War Z sequel
After months of speculation and plenty of derision, not least in this particular column, the unthinkable has happened and director David Fincher has finally signed up to take the helm of zombie action sequel World War Z 2. Paramount’s new production head revealed the appointment in The Hollywood Reporter, suggesting that the director will be leaving the arthouse world behind for something a little more expensive. Brad Pitt is set to return for the sequel, which will pick up from the rather bizarre ending of the first film.
Fincher is a very intriguing choice for a World War Z. His fastidious sense of perfection could well create an action movie that feels far more elegant and compelling than the somewhat muddled first movie, which ended in a strange fashion. Alternatively, this could be yet another case of a director with a unique voice being buried beneath the whims of a studio. Given what happened this week with Star Wars, that’s certainly a cause for concern.
Carell and Stone face off in Battle of the Sexes
As two comedic performers who have spent several years now on the fringes of breaking into the heart of the prestige end of Hollywood, Emma Stone and Steve Carell would seem to be perfect co-stars for a big historical drama film. We got a glimpse of both stars in the first trailer for Battle of the Sexes, in which Stone plays Billie Jean King and Carell plays Bobby Riggs ahead of their iconic intergender tennis match in 1973. The film, which will balance a fair amount of comedy with its drama, has a prime awards season release date.
It’s a fun trailer, in which Carell seems to be playing a genuinely loathsome misogynist with undeniable camera charisma. Stone looks to be underplaying nicely opposite him as a sportswoman driven by her desire to win and prove that women can compete at the heighest level. As a battle of “male chauvinist pig versus hairy-legged feminist”, this could be one of the surprise delights of the second half of the year. Battle of the Sexes will be released in the UK in October 2017.
Stoll is Aldrin to Gosling’s Armstrong in First Man
This week yielded a handful of casting announcements for the upcoming moon landing drama First Man, which will see dream team Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle reunite after the enormous success of La La Land. Gosling is on board to play Neil Armstrong and this week, we learned via The Hollywood Reporter that Corey Stoll will join him as fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Kyle Chandler has also signed on to play the director responsible for choosing the Apollo astronauts.
Chazelle is amassing an enviable cast for the movie, which looks like it could be yet another awards-grabbing release for the Hollywood wunderkind. Stoll has been short on genuinely impressive roles in recent years, but has been a reliable supporting player. The chance to play a major role alongside Gosling in a potential awards behemoth could be exactly what he needs. First Man is currently due to be released in November 2018.
Lively and Kendrick join new Feig thriller
Few directors have been able to provide as many great roles for women in Hollywood in recent years as Paul Feig. Despite the bloody nose he was given during the furore surrounding his Ghostbusters reboot, Feig’s projects have consistently been entertaining. His next film, according to Deadline, will see Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively star as a mummy blogger and her friend who mysteriously disappears. The project, entitled A Simple Favor, will be directed by Feig from his own script, adapted from a book which was purchased by Fox years ago in a pre-emptive deal.
Any project that teams Kendrick and Lively can only be an exciting one and it will certainly be interesting to see what Feig can do outside his broadly comedic wheelhouse. Feig has something of a reputational rebuild to pull off after many savaged Ghostbusters and, hopefully, a compelling mystery thriller could be exactly the way to mark a real return to form.
Do you think Ron Howard is a good choice to finish the Han Solo movie? What is your favourite Daniel Day-Lewis performance? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.