News Round-up – Joker throws DC into chaos, Wahlberg is highest paid actor, Queen casting and more

DC has dominated the movie news agenda this week, but not always for the best reasons. Suddenly, the Joker seems to be the hottest character in Hollywood and it seems everyone wants a slice. The Clown Prince of Crime has been everywhere this week and DC appears to simply be improvising just about everything it has done in response to events.

Elsewhere, Mark Wahlberg topped the list of highest paid actors in Hollywood, horror cinema’s biggest franchise crossed a major box office milestone and the Queen biopic assembled the rest of its major cast.

Here’s your movie news round-up…


Joker and Harley Quinn projects appear

Jared Leto and Margot Robbie as Joker and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Jared Leto and Margot Robbie as Joker and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad

In the world of Game of Thrones, chaos is a ladder. In Hollywood, chaos is a week in which every day seemed to herald a new announcement of a movie involving the Joker. Perhaps most interestingly, Warner Bros is working on a Joker origin movie according to Deadline, with Martin Scorsese on board as a producer and Hangover director Todd Phillips attached behind the camera. The film is reportedly set broadly outside the main DC continuity, with a gritty 80s crime feel and probably not Jared Leto in the lead role. My vote would be for Jack O’Connell, who is capable of great unhinged physicality.

Later in the week, The Hollywood Reporter revealed there are plans afoot for a film focusing on the relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn. This movie, which has Glenn Ficarra and John Requa of Crazy, Stupid, Love on script duties, will be part of the DC Extended Universe and therefore seems likely to star Leto and Margot Robbie, who played the roles in Suicide Squad. DC basically needs to work out what on Earth is going on because, at the moment, it looks like they’re running around like headless chickens.


Mark Wahlberg is highest paid actor of 2017

Mark Wahlberg at the premiere of Contraband in 2012
Mark Wahlberg at the premiere of Contraband in 2012 (Photo: Eva Rinaldi)

We learned last week that Emma Stone was the highest paid actress in Hollywood this year. This time around, it’s the turn of the men and Forbes revealed Mark Wahlberg topped the list, with $68m – largely from this year’s terrible Transformers film. Last year‘s number one, Dwayne Johnson, came in second with a still-impressive $65m. You have to get down to Ryan Reynolds, in 15th place with $21.5m, before you find a bloke posting a total below that of highest paid woman Stone, which is a sad indictment of Hollywood’s pay gap.

It’s bizarre to see Wahlberg topping the list given that his only major movie is Transformers, compared to Johnson’s enviable array of big money films. The most saddening thing, though, is the ridiculous pay gap that sees 14 men earning more than the highest paid woman in the industry. While films like Wonder Woman definitely represent progress in Tinseltown, there is clearly still a long way to go when it comes to treating men and women equally when it comes to movie pay cheques.


Conjuring universe passes $1bn box office

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring

Horror franchises do well at the box office, but that’s mainly as a result of low budgets rather than huge numbers in ticket sales. That’s not the case for the rapidly expanding Conjuring universe, which this week crossed the $1bn mark at the global box office thanks to the success of Annabelle: Creation. Thanks largely to the impressive box office of the two main Conjuring movies, the franchise has now crossed the big milestone, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Warner Bros marketing president Sue Kroll said she was “enormously proud” to continue to bring “wonderfully frightening stories” to the big screen.

It’s encouraging to see such success for a genuinely compelling and interesting horror franchise. Under the stewardship of genre maestro James Wan, the original series has grown into a wide-ranging universe with multiple spin-offs already made and others on the way in the coming years. The movies aren’t always perfect, but they are being weaved together in an intriguing way and this franchise is certainly the most interesting thing to come out of the haunted house horror world in recent years.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Hooper dies

Gunnar Hansen raises his weapon in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Gunnar Hansen raises his weapon in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Just a few weeks after the sad passing of George Romero, the horror community has been dealt another major blow this week with the news that Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist director Tobe Hooper has died at the age of 74. The Texas-born filmmaker’s death was confirmed by the Los Angeles County Coroner. Hooper made himself famous when he assembled a small group of students to make Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which quickly became notorious and remains one of the scariest movies ever made.

Hooper produced an absolute masterpiece with Texas Chainsaw Massacre and made at least one other five-star classic nearly a decade later with Poltergeist. That’s not to mention his stranger work, including crocodile attack horror Eaten Alive. For his most well-known work alone, Hooper deserves to be recognised as a genre icon. Chainsaw is a filthy, intense, palpably sweaty film that creates a mood and atmosphere better than almost any movie in history. The genius behind that film will be sorely missed.


Cast assembled to join Queen biopic

Rami Malek speaks at Comic-Con in 2012
Rami Malek speaks at Comic-Con in 2012 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

We learned a while ago that Rami Malek will take on the iconic role of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in long-gestating biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. This week, we got a load of new casting news for the movie, courtesy of Variety, and now the whole band is in place. Most notably, X-Men: Apocalypse star Ben Hardy has been cast as drummer Roger Taylor, alongside Gwilym Lee as guitarist Brian May and Joseph Mazzello – who played programmer Dustin Moskovitz in The Social Network – will be bassist John Deacon.

This project has seemingly been floating around Hollywood forever and it’s great that it is finally getting off the ground, with Bryan Singer as director. Many of these cast members are relatively unknown quantities, which will allow them to disappear into the roles of the hugely recognisable Queen performers. Questions have been asked about whether this will be a sanitised, band-approved take on Freddie Mercury but, given how good Straight Outta Compton was with the full approval of those involved, I still have high hopes for Bohemian Rhapsody. The film is set for a December 2018 release.


Will Ferrell set for Swedish comedy remake

Will Ferrell promotes The Campaign in 2012
Will Ferrell promotes The Campaign in 2012 (Photo: Eva Rinaldi)

As work begins on an American remake of Toni Erdmann, another European comedy film is set to be revamped across the Atlantic. Variety reported this week that Will Ferrell has signed up to produce and star in The 100-Year-Old Man – based on Oscar-nominated 2013 movie The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and its original novel. Ferrell will don tonnes of make-up to play the eponymous nursing home resident, who escapes and, while on the run, it is revealed he took part in many historical events throughout the 20th century.

The story is in many ways the European Forrest Gump, which makes it strange that it’s getting adapted over in the US, where they already have a Forrest Gump. Ferrell seems like a no-brainer of a casting choice for the lead, though, and the signs seem good for this to be a sweetly amusing take. The original film was, of course, not particularly well-seen outside of Sweden and so this will bring the story to a much wider audience.


Greengrass to direct Anders Breivik movie

Paul Greengrass at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2013
Paul Greengrass at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2013 (Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson)

After he returned to the franchise well with Jason Bourne last year, Paul Greengrass has lined up his next project. According to Deadline, Greengrass is set to make a movie about the notorious Norwegian right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik. Netflix has won a bidding war to make the movie, which Greengrass has also written, about the man who murdered 77 people in 2011. Greengrass is prepping the film for an autumn shoot in Norway, using local actors and with a relatively low $20m budget.

This is certainly going to be a tough project to get right, but it’s one that seems to fit Greengrass like a glove. He has form with this sort of hard, sensitive material in films like Bloody Sunday and United 93, which will stand him in good stead to make this work. The fact the film has landed at Netflix will also mean Greengrass has freedom to make the movie he wants to make, so perhaps start readying this for your Oscar season predictions in a few years’ time.


Are you excited for any of these Joker projects that are popping up all over the place? Has DC lost the plot? Does Mark Wahlberg deserve his spot at the top of the highest paid actors list? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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