News Round-up – Affleck departs Batman directing role, Scarface remake in trouble, Ocean’s Eight and more

The continued woes of the film division over at DC marked the biggest news in the movie world this week, as Ben Affleck bid farewell to his directorial duties on The Batman. Coupled with last week’s revelations about the state of The Flash, it has been a dismal few weeks for DC and their buddies at Warner Bros.

It wasn’t plain sailing for Universal either, who saw a major piece of the puzzle for their remake of a crime classic disappear. Elsewhere, we got out first look at Ocean’s Eight and two faces from one of this year’s biggest Oscar contenders announced that they are set to work together again.

Here’s your round-up of this week’s movie news.


Affleck hands someone else the Batmobile keys

Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

There have been some indications in recent weeks that Ben Affleck has been souring slightly with regards to his role in the growing DC Extended Universe. This week, Variety announced that Affleck will no longer be directing The Batman, although he will still take on the title role he first played in last year’s awful Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck said in a statement that he was looking to “find a partner” to collaborate with on the project and there have been rumours that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves is in pole position to be Affleck’s replacement, which seems like a sensible choice.

There was slightly better news elsewhere in the DC world, with Nicole Kidman in talks to portray the mother of Jason Momoa‘s title character in Aqauaman, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That movie, which James Wan is expected to start shooting in April, is quietly building a rather formidable cast, including Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe and Amber Heard. Aquaman is not traditionally thought of as a top superhero name, but the film seems more stable than most of the DC slate. Aquaman is due for an October 2018 release.


Pic provides first glimpse at Ocean’s Eight

Sandra Bullock and friends in crime caper Ocean's Eight
Sandra Bullock and friends in crime caper Ocean’s Eight

There’s not a great deal to say about this one, but we got our first look at the Ocean’s Eight cast in costume this week. The film is an all-female reimagining of the heist franchise, which has been absent from our screens since Ocean’s Thirteen hit cinemas in 2007. Sandra Bullock is heading up the band of crooks, with support from the likes of Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and, bizarrely, Rihanna. The first picture shows them all congregating on a subway train, looking suitably stylish.

Ocean’s Eight is a very interesting proposition and one that will hopefully show the Ghostbusters haters that these all-female reboots are great fun. Hopefully there will be a great plot to match the incredibly impressive cast. Gary Ross is directing the film, which is due to hit British shores in June 2018.


Villeneuve officially confirmed for Dune

Film director Denis Villeneuve pictured in 2013
Film director Denis Villeneuve pictured in 2013 (Photo: Tabercil)

The news broke a few weeks ago that Denis Villeneuve was in the frame to take the helm of a new adaptation of the Frank Herbert sci-fi tale Dune. Herbert’s son, Brian, announced on Twitter this week that Villeneuve is officially attached to direct the project. Many have noted that Herbert used the word “series” in his tweet, but it is not known whether he was referring to a series of films or the series of books upon which any film could be based.

As I said a few weeks ago, Villeneuve is a great pick to take charge of a Dune film given that he is quickly establishing himself as a sci-fi specialist with the Oscar-nominated Arrival and the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. We don’t know all that much about what Villeneuve is going to do with the Dune series, but it’s certainly an exciting prospect.


Antoine Fuqua picks Equalizer over Scarface

Antoine Fuqua promotes The Magnificent Seven at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016
Antoine Fuqua promotes The Magnificent Seven at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016 (Photo: GabboT)

A remake of classic crime epic Scarface has been in the pipeline at Universal for quite some time. Recently, we heard that director Antoine Fuqua was attached to the project, but that’s no longer the case according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fuqua has moved away from the film in order to focus on making a sequel to The Equalizer for Sony. We also learned this week that Diego Luna, last seen as Cassian Andor in Rogue One, is set to take on the lead role once played by Al Pacino.

I count Scarface as one of my favourite films of all time and so the prospect of a remake is a little terrifying. However, Luna is an intriguing choice for the lead role. Fuqua would have done a solid job as director, but Universal seems to be high enough on this project to want to get someone in place quickly.


Conjuring spin-off The Nun nets a director

Corin Hardy at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2015
Corin Hardy at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2015 (Photo: byronv2)

Since it became a huge box office success in 2013, The Conjuring has spawned an enormous horror franchise. It not only got a sequel of its own last year, but also spawned a spin-off for creepy doll Annabelle, which is set to get a sequel as well this year. The latest beastie from the franchise to get its own film is The Nun from The Conjuring 2 and, this week, Deadline confirmed that director Corin Hardy is set to take on the new film. The last time we heard about Hardy, who made The Hallow, he was working on the reboot of The Crow, but that film will likely take a back seat so that the swift Conjuring production line can continue.

Hardy is an interesting pick for a franchise that, though shepherded by James Wan, has cycled through mostly unknown directors until now. He brings horror credibility from The Hallow and considerable buzz from his work on the troubled Crow movie. If he is able to stamp his influence on The Nun, it could be a lot better than Annabelle – which is a low bar if truth be told.


Gibson and Vaughn join forces for crime thriller

Mel Gibson pictured in 2008
Mel Gibson pictured in 2008 (Photo: Kim Davies)

After working together on Oscar contender Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn are set to play police buddies in gritty crime thriller Dragged Across Concrete. The film, from Bone Tomahawk writer-director S Craig Zahler, will see Gibson portray a police old-timer and Vaughn his brash younger partner, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The pair are suspended from the force after they exhibit controversial tactics and they subsequently turn to the criminal underworld. So far, so familiar.

Zahler proved himself to be a filmmaker with a unique vision for genuinely terrifying violence in Bone Tomahawk and, if he can bring that same style to Dragged Across Concrete, it could be more compelling than it sounds from the straightforward premise.


Iko Uwais smashes faces in Headshot trailer

Iko Uwais in the action-packed trailer for Headshot
Iko Uwais in the action-packed trailer for Headshot

Everything about Headshot makes it look like something of a generic trashy action movie. The new trailer does very little to move away from that, focusing on a man who recovers from the eponymous gunshot wound to the head and finds himself drawn in dark directions as his memory begins to return. The shining light that makes this worthy of note, though, is Iko Uwais. The martial arts genius and star of The Raid and The Raid 2 takes on the lead role in the movie, which guarantees amazing fight scenes.

Headshot looks very similar in style to the Raid films and, if it can successfully mimic that kind of bone-crunching action, it should be an immensely entertaining thrill ride. The Raid proved that only a slim plot is required to provide a vessel for Uwais to punch people really hard in the face and, hopefully, Headshot has learned that lesson.


Who should replace Ben Affleck to direct The Batman? Are you excited to see Ocean’s Eight? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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