It has been an unusual week in movie news, with the superhero world largely quiet, making way for some big news in the land of fairytale cinema as a long-dormant franchise looks set to make a big comeback.
Elsewhere, a surprising A-list star has joined one of Hollywood’s most high-octane series and a trailer has been released for a TV spin-off just about no one has actually been waiting to see.
Here’s your weekly round-up of movie news…
A fairytale return for Shrek?
DreamWorks’ hugely successful Shrek franchise seemed pretty much dead and buried in 2010 after the double duds of Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. However, the franchise could be set to make its big return to multiplexes, with a little help from Chris Meledandri – the mastermind behind the minions. DreamWorks is set to be bought by NBC Universal and their chief executive, Steve Burke, said that Meledandri would help the studio “resurrect Shrek“.
On the face of it, this sounds like a terrible idea given how thoroughly out of ideas the Shrek franchise seemed in its later stages. However, Meledandri has proven to be one of the more interesting voices in animated cinema in recent years and, if anyone has the level of inventiveness to bring the series back to life, it’s him.
Donald Glover swings into Spider-Man role
Donald Glover has been linked to the Spider-Man universe ever since a fan campaign was launched to get the Community star the lead role. This week, Deadline reported that Glover has joined the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming. He joins new Spidey Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May and Michael Keaton, who is all but confirmed to be playing the villainous Vulture.
In other Homecoming news, Logan Marshall-Green, of Prometheus fame, looks set to join the cast as one of Keaton’s villainous friends. Marvel‘s partnership with Sony looks to be bearing fruit with all of the pieces in place for this to mark the first genuinely strong Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2 in 2004.
Wicked to defy gravity at the box office
Wizard of Oz-inspired musical Wicked has been an enormous smash hit both on Broadway and in the West End since it was first performed, with a cast including Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. This week, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that a big screen adaptation of the screen, directed by Billy Elliot helmsman Stephen Daldry, is in the pipeline at Universal. The project is set to be released in December 2019.
The concept of a Wicked movie has seemed like an absolute no-brainer for many years now. The musical has been a box office smash for years and this film adaptation has been a long time in the making. As long as the songs are present and correct, alongside the irreverent anarchy of the storytelling, this could be a really great movie musical. Given the success of Frozen, casting Menzel in the lead role she made famous seems like an obvious move and one that could draw in a whole new audience.
Helen Mirren will drive really, really fast
When you think of the names most likely to be joining the latest Fast & Furious movie, it’s unlikely that Helen Mirren is particularly high up that list. However, it is happening. The prestige actress will be putting her pedal through the floor and power-sliding for all she’s worth when she takes on a role in Fast & Furious 8. She revealed her casting in an interview with Elle, adding that she has “always rather loved driving”.
This is a really fun piece of casting in a franchise that is cinema at its most popcorn-guzzlingly simple. Mirren has shown that she is more than willing to send up her traditional persona and have a great deal of fun. Fast 8 can only benefit from having such a seasoned performer in its midst and we can only benefit from seeing one of the world’s greatest actresses letting loose and just having a good time.
Conjuring 2 spin-off already in the works
Ghostly sequel The Conjuring 2 has barely even had chance to make its mark at the multiplex, but a spin-off has already been given the greenlight over at New Line Cinema. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the villain of the film, a demonic nun, is set to receive her own movie, imaginatively titled The Nun. Given the success of previous spin-off Annabelle, which was an enormous hit in 2014, this is perhaps unsurprising.
Given the dismal quality of Annabelle, it would be easy to dismiss this as a cynical, money-grabbing move from studio bosses. However, given the strong reviews that have greeted The Conjuring 2, it’s possible that the studio is aware that they are on to a very good villainous character, albeit one that wasn’t even in the movie until last minute reshoots saw director James Wan bring her into the story. It’s definitely worth keeping an open mind on this one.
Ricky Gervais returns in David Brent trailer
As someone who never understood the appeal of The Office, I can’t say the notion of a movie outing for Ricky Gervais as David Brent really got my pulse racing. Very little has changed on that front following the release of a trailer for the film, entitled David Brent: Life on the Road. The film seems to be a straightforward rip-off of This is Spinal Tap, with Brent now looking to follow his dream of establishing a musical career, whilst being obnoxious in a fly-on-the-wall documentary format. The film hits UK cinemas in August.
It’s a trailer that seems remarkably committed to not including jokes, aside from a few minor chuckles. Gervais’ trademark persona of idiotic douchebaggery is, appropriately enough, turned up to 11 and there seems very little reason to be excited about what it has to offer.
Anton Yelchin dead in tragic car accident
There is some very tragic and sad news to report this week. Anton Yelchin, best known for his work as Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek universe and his recent turn in the remarkable horror Green Room, was found dead at his home after friends alerted the police when he didn’t arrive at a rehearsal. Reports suggest that Yelchin was involved in a freak accident with his own vehicle. He was only 27.
Yelchin was an excellent acting talent who had a glittering career in front of him. His work to date has been very impressive, especially in Green Room, and it is a shocking tragedy to have him taken so young and in such horrible circumstances. Contemporaries, including friend Anna Kendrick and director Jeremy Saulnier, have paid tribute to the star on Twitter.
Are you excited for the return of Shrek? Is Helen Mirren a good fit for Fast 8? Will you be seeing the Wicked movie? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.