It has been a busy week in the world of movies, even away from the hideous allegations that have arisen around super-producer Harvey Weinstein. That’s certainly a story we’re staying away from in this round-up, which instead focuses on the goings-on at Universal, where the Dark Universe has hit a roadblock, and at Fox, where the Gambit movie finally seems to be moving ahead after years in development hell.
Elsewhere, we got a pair of trailers for two very different upcoming films and learned that Jared Leto is set to play a recently deceased public figure whose life was polarising to say the least.
Here’s your movie news round-up…
Universal puts the brakes on the Bride
Given the box office failure and critical mauling meted out to The Mummy earlier this year, it’s not all that surprising to hear there’s trouble going on in the Dark Universe. This week, Deadline reported the studio is pressing pause on Bill Condon‘s Bride of Frankenstein, which was set to star Javier Bardem as the Monster, with Angelina Jolie mentioned as a possible choice for the title character. We also learned this week via Collider that compliance with the shared universe is not a priority for Condon.
It seems as if Universal is taking a step back from rapidly building its Dark Universe in order to get its individual movies right. This is a good move, as these properties are capable of making money without the need to be tied into the behemoth of an enormous shared universe. The Mummy was a fun film, but one occasionally hamstrung by its need to lay foundations. Bride of Frankenstein was originally planned for a February 2019 release, but will now arrive later than that.
Leto lines up divisive Hugh Hefner biopic
The bizarre eccentricities of Jared Leto have made him a divisive Hollywood figure in recent years, from his Oscar-winning work in Dallas Buyers Club to his widely derided Joker in Suicide Squad. With that in mind, Leto is perhaps an interesting choice to play the recently deceased Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner. According to The Hollywood Reporter this week, Leto has signed on to play Hefner in a biopic being developed by Brett Ratner.
Everything about this news is weird. A film about Hefner’s life was always going to happen eventually, but this news feels as if it has arisen cynically to make the most of headlines in the wake of Hefner’s passing. Leto is an oddball figure and his method approach sits weirdly with the idea of playing a man who is known by most people as more caricature than man. If the script is good and the film is unafraid to ask questions of its protagonist, though, this could be an exciting project.
Verbinksi nabs long-gestating Gambit movie
Channing Tatum has been attached to play card-throwing mutant Gambit in the X-Men universe since at least 2014. The project has languished in development hell, but it now seems as if it may have new life. Deadline revealed blockbuster filmmaker Gore Verbinski is close to signing on to helm the movie. It would mark a move back into more conventional blockbuster territory for Verbinski, who was last seen at the helm of bizarre horror movie A Cure for Wellness following the critical failure of The Lone Ranger.
It’s great to see that Gambit could be getting off the ground at last. Tatum seems like a no-brainer for a big superhero role and there’s enough cool factor to the character that it could pay dividends. Verbinski is a filmmaker who can craft blockbusters in his sleep, so it’s almost surprising that Gambit will mark his first foray into the world of superhero movies. This is a film that deserves to get its time in the sun and the arrival of a new director has moved it one step closer.
Cuteness overload in Paddington 2 trailer
The first Paddington film was an utter delight and one of the most enjoyable films of 2014. This week, we got a full trailer for the sequel. With Hugh Grant in a villainous turn, Paddington 2 sees Ben Whishaw‘s lovable bear working a number of odd jobs in order to buy a unique pop-up book for his Aunt Lucy’s birthday. When it is stolen, he works to uncover the thief. The trailer goes big on slapstick and equally big on Grant’s brilliantly sneery performance. What’s not to like?
There’s every indication from this trailer that Paddington 2 will be every bit as enjoyable as its predecessor. After a year that has seen Donald Trump cause global tension, seen a dismal snap election take place in the UK and generally caused sadness to us all, what we need is a cute bear with a British accent who really loves marmalade. Paddington 2 will arrive in the UK in November.
Winslet and Cameron reunite for Avatar
This week, we need to talk about the Avatar sequels that are apparently still happening. James Cameron is hard at work shooting the four, five or five thousand sequels he is currently making and we now have a big name addition to the cast. According to Deadline, Oscar-winner Kate Winslet is set to reunite with Cameron for the first time since Titanic. Cameron said in a statement that he “can’t wait” for Winslet to bring the character of Ronal to life. We don’t know anything further about Winslet’s character than that name.
It’s tough to get excited about anything surrounding these Avatar sequels. It has been too long since the original film and that film wasn’t anything worth shouting about beyond the incredibly innovative visual approach. The involvement of Winslet certainly gives these movies a sense of A-list gravitas they may otherwise have lacked, but it will take more than this to get me on board with the project. The first Avatar sequel is due in December 2020.
Boyega fights hard in Pacific Rim trailer
Pacific Rim was a very rare beast in that it was a bona fide blockbuster movie that had well-drawn characters as well as genuinely impressive spectacle. Guillermo del Toro has stepped away from the director’s chair for sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, but the film has finally been made and, this week, we got our first full trailer. The preview gives us a good look at John Boyega, playing the son of the no-nonsense military leader of the first movie. Other than that, it’s mostly just lots of smashy-metal action with enormous Jaegers fighting even more enormous Kaiju.
This trailer is a worrying one, as far as I’m concerned. The first Pacific Rim was about characters but, taking this trailer at face value, this one seems to be far more focused on smashing and crashing. It’s a trailer that’s more reminiscent of Transformers than of the previous Pacific Rim film. Hopefully, though, that’s a reflection on the trailer more than the finished movie. Pacific Rim: Uprising is due to hit cinemas in March 2018.
Cooper offered role of wrestling tycoon
Earlier this year, we heard that a biopic of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, titled Pandemonium, was in the works. This week, wrestling news site PWInsider revealed they had heard from a source close to the project that Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper has been approached to play the central role. There’s no word on whether Cooper has responded to the offer. The Hangover star has actually had some involvement with WWE before, having made a brief appearance on an episode of Raw to promote The A Team.
This seems like a really good bit of casting on paper. Cooper has the gruff, macho charisma required to embody McMahon and he is completely believable as someone with the arrogance to lead a company that would go on to snare a near-monopoly in its industry. Pandemonium has the potential to be the biggest movie ever made about professional wrestling and a star like Cooper could help take it to the next level.
Are you still interested in the Dark Universe? Which of the week’s very different trailers was your favourite? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.