Directors were at the centre of the movie news agenda this week. There were two major directorial changes on upcoming blockbusters, with the Star Wars franchise shedding yet another big name and the Suicide Squad sequel finally settling on a director with experience for helming big action sequences.
Elsewhere, we got our first look at Rami Malek as an icon of the music industry and yet another horror franchise returned from the dead with our first trailer for the new Insidious film.
Here’s your movie news round-up…
Colin Trevorrow departs Star Wars: Episode IX
Just a few months after the upcoming Han Solo movie had its director changed midway through production, there has been another shocking personnel change in the Star Wars franchise. A statement on the official Star Wars website this week confirmed that Lucasfilm and director Colin Trevorrow have “mutually chosen to part ways” on Episode IX – the closing entry in the current trilogy, set for release in May 2019. The statement described Trevorrow as a “wonderful collaborator” before using that old chestnut of creative differences to explain the Jurassic World filmmaker’s departure.
This was a surprising revelation, but one many had predicted. When Trevorrow’s bizarre thriller The Book of Henry received poor reviews earlier this year, questions were raised about whether he has the necessary talent to take control of such a crucial part of the ongoing Star Wars universe. Whatever the reason behind this, though, there is clearly a new axiom of which everyone in Hollywood should be aware. Don’t piss off Kathleen Kennedy.
Gavin O’Connor hired for Suicide Squad 2
For the first time in weeks, the speculation surrounding the DCEU has not focused on the Joker. Deadline revealed this week that Gavin O’Connor, who recently made The Accountant for Warner Bros, has been selected by the studio to take the helm of Suicide Squad 2. The search for a director has taken in names as disparate as Jaume Collet-Serra and Mel Gibson, but O’Connor will now write and direct the sequel to the widely-derided but financially successful first movie.
O’Connor seems like a solid choice, but an unremarkable one. The Accountant was successful despite being a bit rubbish, which actually sounds a lot like Suicide Squad. Away from that most recent film, O’Connor has shown he has a good grasp of gritty action with Warrior, so there’s every chance that he may be able to improve upon the more contentious elements of the original film. Suicide Squad 2 is believed to be set for a 2019 release.
First pic of Rami Malek in Freddie Mercury biopic
The long-gestating Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has had a tough path to the big screen, but the project is now moving forward with Rami Malek in the lead role. We got our first glimpse of Malek in costume as the charismatic Queen frontman this week, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly. Malek also spoke to that publication about working on his singing voice for the film, directed by Bryan Singer, which will mix Malek’s vocals with recordings of Mercury in order to create the singer’s unique and memorable tone.
Malek certainly looks the part in this picture, which shows he has definitely captured Mercury physically. The big question is whether the music will match up to his appearance. Capturing the voice of arguably the most unique vocalist in musical history is a tough task and it’s currently unclear whether Malek is able to match up to the legend. Bohemian Rhapsody is due in cinemas in December 2018.
Insidious returns with trailer for The Last Key
When Insidious: Chapter 3 was released a few years ago, it looked as if the series was going out on a high. Creator James Wan was busy spinning the Conjuring franchise into a full-blown cinematic universe and Insidious had been somewhat left behind. Undeterred by this, though, we got a trailer this week for new prequel Insidious: The Last Key. The medium played by Lin Shaye in previous movies is now fully established as the glue holding the series together and this looks like another tale of spooky things leaping out at people and journeys into the bizarre demonic dimension of The Further. This time, it’s all going on in Shaye’s family home… for some reason.
The Insidious films have been a really mixed bag, with the dizzying lows of Insidious: Chapter 2 pitted against the surprising delights of the third movie. This trailer doesn’t suggest we’re breaking any new ground this time around, but we can keep our fingers crossed for something entertaining. Insidious: The Last Key is due to arrive in British cinemas in January 2018.
It director in the frame for Dracula prequel
Certain horror properties are so beloved by Hollywood that studios queue up for the chance to remake them over and over again. This week, Deadline broke the news that Paramount has won a unique opportunity. The studio has obtained permission to adapt Dracula prequel novel Dracul – the first prequel approved by the estate of original author Bram Stoker. Paramount is now developing the movie as a directing vehicle for Andy Muschietti, who is currently setting the box office on fire with his blockbuster adaptation of It.
This looks like a fun idea for a film and an interesting way to get even more mileage out of the Dracula character. The involvement of Muschietti, who is now one of the biggest names in horror cinema, will give this project an extra boost and, if they find the right casting for the lead role, Paramount could have a major horror hit on its hands.
Pryce and Hopkins up for Netflix Pope film
Jonathan Pryce is set to move on from playing a religious fanatic in Game of Thrones to playing a real-life religious figure for Netflix. Deadline wrote this week that Pryce has signed on to play Pope Francis in the streaming service’s upcoming movie The Pope. The story will follow the resignation of Pope Benedict, who will be played by Anthony Hopkins, and the subsequent election of Pope Francis. Filming is due to begin in Argentina in November.
Pryce and Hopkins are a pair of great actors, who will no doubt be able to bring real gravitas to the roles of the two most recent leaders of the Catholic Church. Pryce’s casting is particularly interesting, given his recent Game of Thrones work as a rather more fanatical religious leader. This looks set to be another big prestige project for Netflix, which is rapidly becoming a real force in high-quality filmmaking.
Shape of Water wins top prize at Venice
When it debuted as the opening movie at the Venice Film Festival, Guillermo del Toro‘s fantasy monster romance The Shape of Water quickly received rave reviews almost across the board. The film has now been garlanded with a major award, winning the Golden Lion at Venice – the festival’s biggest honour. Deadline reported this week that the Venice press room “positively erupted with joy” when the much-adored film was handed its award. Del Toro, accepting his prize, said the film was a result of his decision to “risk it all and go and do something different”.
I am incredibly excited to see The Shape of Water and I will be thrilled if it’s the film that enables Del Toro – one of my favourite directors – to get the awards season recognition he has always deserved. The Golden Lion is a big seal of approval, with previous winners including Brokeback Mountain and The Wrestler. In that company, this is a film that looks set to be an awards player. The Shape of Water is due for UK release in February 2018.
Who will replace Colin Trevorrow in the Star Wars director’s chair? Does Rami Malek look the part as Freddie Mercury? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.