News Round-up – Abrams lines up Star Wars return, J-Law in Red Sparrow trailer, Hellboy and more

We’re on the fringes of awards season now, so trailers are starting to arise for some of the films that will be competing for the major prizes by the time we get to the spring. Elsewhere, there was a follow-up to last week’s Star Wars bombshell as Lucasfilm lined up a very familiar replacement for outgoing director Colin Trevorrow, who will no longer be making Episode IX.

I am writing this round-up a few days early, on Friday, so apologies in advance if Keith Chegwin has been hired to direct a naked Ewok movie or Fox has sold the X-Men rights to Netflix for 45p and a packet of Haribo since then. I’ll catch up in next week’s round-up.

For now, here’s this week’s movie news…


Star Wars goes back to the well with JJ Abrams

JJ Abrams speaks at Comic-Con in 2010
JJ Abrams speaks at Comic-Con in 2010 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Two years after he attracted rave reviews for reigniting the Star Wars flame with The Force Awakens, it’s déjà vu all over again for JJ Abrams. The director will return to the franchise fold to write and helm Episode IX, according to an announcement on the official website for the series. Abrams will take a seat in the director’s chair, as well as co-writing with Argo scribe Chris Terrio.

This is a safe move for the series, but a strong one. Abrams did a stellar job with the franchise reboot and he’s a recognisable pair of hands to shepherd the franchise up until the end of the current series. Of the two directors who have managed to make it to the end of a main chronology film, I’d have probably preferred Rian Johnson to get another go, but we haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet, so there’s no way of actually knowing how well he works within the system. Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled to be released in the UK in December 2019.


J-Law sizzles in first Red Sparrow trailer

Jennifer Lawrence is a Russian spy in thriller Red Sparrow
Jennifer Lawrence is a Russian spy in thriller Red Sparrow

With mother! set for a British release next week and attracting polarising reviews, Jennifer Lawrence is currently in an interesting place in her career. The latest slightly unusual project she’s taking on is Red Sparrow and a trailer for the film arrived online this week. Lawrence will play a Russian intelligence operative trained to use her body in order to manipulate her targets, reteaming with Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence. Her character’s loyalties are tested when a CIA agent tries to get her on side.

This is a brief trailer, but one that provides a great deal of atmosphere. There’s more than a hint of Atomic Blonde about the way Lawrence’s character is styled, but this seems like a slower, more contemplative take on a female assassin. The central premise is one that could easily fall into the icky trap of the ‘male gaze’ if it’s mismanaged, so hopefully the film can stay on the right side of that divide. Red Sparrow will arrive in UK cinemas in March 2018.


Franco takes on Wiseau in Disaster Artist trailer

James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in the trailer for The Disaster Artist
James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in the trailer for The Disaster Artist

One of the buzziest titles currently doing the rounds on the festival circuit is The Disaster Artist. Director-star James Franco is Tommy Wiseau – the man behind The Room – in a comedy about the making of one of the most iconic bad movies ever made. This week, a full trailer for the film showcased Franco’s uncanny impression of Wiseau, along with Dave Franco, Seth Rogen and Alison Brie in supporting roles. It’s a teaser with plenty of comedy that showcases a great deal of broad laughs, as well as an exploration of Franco’s take on Wiseau.

This is an incredibly enjoyable trailer that, first and foremost, suggests a clear love of The Room among the central cast members and creative team behind The Disaster Artist. The film looks set to tell a story that acknowledges what it is so many people find to be charming about The Room while also exploring just how something so terrible was actually able to get made. The Disaster Artist, bizarrely, does not currently have a UK release date, but things won’t stay that way for very long.


First look at David Harbour as Hellboy

Promotional picture of David Harbour as Hellboy
Promotional picture of David Harbour as Hellboy

Given the announcement from Guillermo del Toro some time ago that he was not going to be able to make a third Hellboy movie, it was a huge surprise when Lionsgate announced that a reboot was due to go ahead, entitled Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. A tweet from the movie’s official account this week gave us our first look at Stranger Things star David Harbour in costume as the title character in The Descent director Neil Marshall‘s film. It’s a pretty basic image, showing Harbour in costume stood against a black studio backdrop.

There’s very little shocking about this promo picture, other than how similar Harbour looks to original Hellboy actor Ron Perlman. Harbour appears to be the spitting image of Perlman and, indeed, I had to double check that I hadn’t been duped by what was actually just a photo of Perlman rather than a look at the new film. It’s certainly true that a reboot with an obviously different look might have polarised people, but at least it would’ve suggested there’s more to this than just a desire to cash-in on a beloved IP. Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen is due to be released in the early part of 2019.


Myers joins Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody

Mike Myers on the Emmy red carpet in 1994
Mike Myers on the Emmy red carpet in 1994 (Photo: Alan Light)

In the wake of last week’s first promotional image of Rami Malek in costume as Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody has now added a major name to its cast. Deadline reported this week that Mike Myers has joined the film, which is being directed by Bryan Singer. There’s no word as yet on who exactly Myers will be playing, but the casting is amusing given Myers’s involvement in a memorable sequence set to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in his 90s comedy Wayne’s World.

We’re getting a steady dripfeed of information from the set of Bohemian Rhapsody and the involvement of Myers is an interesting tidbit. The film is currently low on star names, so the ability to partially market the film with someone as famous in the comedy world as Myers in a supporting role could pay dividends for the project as it moves closer to release. Hopefully his role will be slightly more pivotal than just a single scene cameo. Bohemian Rhapsody will be released in December 2018.


Schreiber and Luna join Woody Allen’s latest

Liev Schreiber and Diego Luna will appear in Woody Allen's next film
Liev Schreiber and Diego Luna will appear in Woody Allen’s next film
(Photos: Gage Skidmore and Dick Thomas Johnson)

The chance to work with Woody Allen is one that many actors would get very excited about. This week, Variety wrote that Liev Schreiber and Diego Luna have that opportunity. They have both signed on to appear in the prolific writer-director’s new movie, which is thus far lacking a title. We don’t really know anything else about the film, other than the fact it’s likely to be Allen’s next project after the recently completed Wonder Wheel, which is set to premiere at the New York Film Festival next month.

Both of these actors are solid choices to take part in a Woody Allen film, although none of them necessarily screams comedy, suggesting this might be one of Allen’s more serious works. Luna, in particular, is a star on the rise following his role in Rogue One and his current position as the star of the Scarface remake, if it ever ends up happening. The untitled Woody Allen film in question will be distributed by Amazon Studios, with whom Allen is currently embarking on a fruitful partnership.


Stephen King short story en route to the screen

Stephen King visits Ramstein Air Base in 2013
Stephen King visits Ramstein Air Base in 2013 (Photo: The USO)

In the wake of the success of It, which is currently tearing the global box office apart, it’s fair to assume that Stephen King‘s back catalogue is currently being gone through with a fine-tooth comb by movie studios on the hunt for another monster hit. First out of the blocks, according to Deadline, is an adaptation of King’s short story Suffer the Little Children. Writer-director Sean Carter has been hired for the supernatural thriller, which follows a teacher who becomes suspicious of unsettling children in her class when people in the town start dying mysteriously.

King’s oeuvre is going to immediately become coveted in Hollywood, so anyone who can act quickly to snap up rights has to be considered a wise businessperson. The question is, though, whether this rush to get hold of rights will herald a selection of sub-par King adaptations. The success of It should not blind us all to the recent horror that was The Dark Tower.


Is JJ Abrams a good choice to helm the ninth Star Wars film? Do either Red Sparrow or The Disaster Artist look like possible Oscar contenders? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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