Film Friday: This Week's Movie News and New Trailers

  • Publish Date: September 13, 2013
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The movie Disney doesn't want you to see

Featured in our Fall Movie Preview, Randy Moore’s Escape from Tomorrow has become known more for its bizarre making-of story than its bizarre plot line. Shot secretly (i.e., without permission) at various Disney theme parks, this black-and-white tale of a recently unemployed family man slowly losing his mind at “The Happiest Place on Earth” will come to theaters (in limited release) and VOD on October 11th, barring any last-minute legal wrangling from the Mouse House. The first trailer plays with the film’s surreptitious origins by announcing it has “Not Been Approved For All Audiences By The Walt Disney Company.”

New Harry Potter spin-off films

Like all the major movie studios, Warner Bros. is in the franchise business. Its most successful franchise, Harry Potter, seemingly ended with its eighth film, but prepare yourself for a ninth. No, it’s not a continuation of the story, but the screenplay will be written by J.K. Rowling (her first) and be inspired by Harry’s Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the adventures of Newt Scamander, the book’s author. The press release also notes that the film will be “the first picture in a new film series. Set in the wizarding world, the story will feature magical creatures and characters, some of which will be familiar to devoted Harry Potter fans.” J.K. Rowling clarified that “‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt's story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry's gets underway.” Sounds like good news for Warner Bros. (the previous films grossed more than $7 billion worldwide), for Harry Potter fans, for J.K. Rowling fans, and, hopefully, for movie fans, considering the quality of the previous Harry Potter films.

Stallone, writer

Every Jason Statham film should have Statham warning his next victim, “Whatever you’re thinking, rethink it.” That line, unless it was improvised, comes from Statham’s Expendables co-star Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the script (based on the novel by Chuck Logan) for this Gary Fleder- (Runaway Jury) directed rundown of what Statham does best: looking menacing, beating the crap out of people, and protecting children. Trying to take Statham down are Kate Bosworth (playing a mother who doesn’t take kindly to her son getting beat up by a girl), James Franco (as the town’s gator-tattooed meth dealer), and Winona Ryder (as Franco’s partner). Homefront hits theaters November 27th.

Stallone, actor

Grudge Match, a comedy from director Peter Segal (Get Smart), stars Sylvester Stallone as Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp and Robert De Niro as Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen, two retired boxing rivals who, thirty years later, find themselves punching each other out while wearing motion capture suits (seems fitting). When boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) offers them a chance to settle their differences in the ring, it’s time for a training montage. The supporting cast includes Alan Arkin as Stallone’s trainer, Jon Bernthal as De Niro’s son, and Kim Basinger. Watch Rocky take on Raging Bull when Grudge Match comes to theaters December 25th.

A first look at The Railway Man

Colin Firth stars as Eric Lomax in this dramatization of his autobiography by director Jonathan Teplitzky (Burning Man) and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (24 Hour Party People). Lomax, a POW during WW II, suffered severe torture at the hands of the Japanese while being forced to help build the Thai-Burma railroad, also known as the Death Railway. The true story also stars Jeremy Irvine as the young Lomax, Nicole Kidman as Lomax’s wife, and Stellan Skarsgård as a fellow soldier and friend. The Railway Man received decent reviews at TIFF, where it was picked up by The Weinstein Company. A U.S. release date has not been set.

August: Osage County: an Oscar contender with bad reviews?

Director John Wells’ (The Company Men) adaptation of Tracy Lett’s play stars Meryl Streep as the matriarch of the Weston family. After their alcoholic father (Sam Shepard) dies, the clan returns to the house where they grew up. Julia Roberts plays Streep’s daughter, who is separated from her husband (Ewan McGregor) and has a daughter of her own (Abigail Breslin). Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson play Streep’s other daughters, Margo Martindale plays Streep’s sister, and Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch play Martindale’s husband and son. Letts earned both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony award for the play, and he wrote the screenplay for Wells, but some early reviews out of the fall festival circuit question whether this condensed two-hour version (with a different ending) is as good. Still, August: Osage County hopes to impress Academy voters when it comes to theaters on December 25th.

Mr. Nobody

Jared Leto stars as Nemo in this sci-fi story about the last mortal human being recounting events from his life even though he’s unsure of which ones he lived. Director Jaco Van Dormael’s film also stars Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley, and Linh-Dan Pham as Nemo’s various wives, Rhys Ifans and Natasha Little as his father and mother, as well as Toby Regbo and Juno Temple. Premiering at the Venice Film Festival in 2009 to mixed reviews, Mr. Nobody will finally make it into U.S. theaters on November 1st.

Ghost Team One

This “found-footage” “comedy” featuring a house party out of Project X and camera setups from Paranormal Activity follows in the footsteps of A Haunted House and Scary Movie 5 before taking a slight detour. Roommates Brad (J.R. Villarreal) and Sergio (Carlos Santos) team up with ghost aficionado, Fernanda (Fernanda Romero), in hopes of sleeping with her and maybe finding out what’s spooking their house. Ghost Team One, directed by Ben Peyser & Scott Rutherford, arrives in theaters on October 11th.

Quick notes: Rumors, release dates, casting news and more

  • The planned Star Wars stand-alone films (the ones separate from J.J. Abrams’ new entry in the continuing series) will be “origin story films” according to Disney CFO Jay Rasulo. - Variety
  • The fourth Jurassic Park movie will be titled Jurassic World and will be released in 3D on June 12, 2015.
  • According to Jerry Bruckheimer, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will be delayed until 2016 due to script issues. Bleeding Cool has some of the plot details from Jeff Nathanson’s original script.
  • Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes has been delayed indefinitely thanks to the poor box office performance of Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. - Variety
  • Tom Hiddleston will replace Benedict Cumberbatch in Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak. - THR
  • Djimon Hounsou has joined the ever-growing cast of Fast & Furious 7. - Variety
  • Jennifer Lopez will play a single mom who has an affair with her teenage neighbor in The Boy Next Door. Rob Cohen (Alex Cross) is in talks to direct. - The Wrap
  • The cast for David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn now includes the previously announced Al Pacino as well as Holly Hunter, Chris Messina, and Harmony Korine. - Deadline
  • Naomi Watts will star in Errol Morris’ narrative directorial debut, the thriller Holland, Michigan. - THR
  • Nicole Kidman will take the place of Naomi Watts in Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, a look at the life of Gertrude Bell. - Deadline
  • Allison Janney has joined Christina Hendricks in Campbell Scott’s adaptation of Joan Didion’s A Book of Common Prayer. - Variety
  • Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) will star opposite Michael Douglas in the thriller The Reach, the story of a hunter and his guide. - THR
  • Emma Watson will star in Francesca Gregorini’s adaptation of Emma Forrest’s memoir Your Voice Inside My Head. - THR
  • Christopher Plummer will play John Travolta’s father in heist film The Forger. - Variety
  • Olga Kurylenko and Vincent Cassel will star in Stephen Campanelli’s action pic, Momentum. - Variety
  • Bill Paxton has joined Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo in Dan Gilroy’s crime thriller, Nightcrawler. - Variety
  • Evan Daugherty, the writer of Snow White and the Huntsman, will pen G.I. Joe 3. - Heat Vision
  • Bruce Willis will star in American Heist director Sarik Andreasyan’s The Prince, an action-thriller scripted by Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore. - Variety
  • Ellen Page is in talks to star in Queen & Country, based on Greg Rucka’s comic of the same name. - Heat Vision
  • Matthew Cullen will make his feature directing debut with London Fields, an adaptation of Martin Amis’s novel, scripted by Amis and starring Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton, Jim Sturgess, Theo James, and Roberta Hanley. - Deadline
  • Kirsten Dunst will re-team with her Bachelorette writer-director, Leslye Headland, for Sleeping With Other People, in which she will play a “remorseful serial cheater” alongside Jason Sudeikis' “good-natured womanizer.” - Deadline
  • Robert Zemeckis is in talks to direct Chaos Walking, which Charlie Kaufman will be adapting from Patrick Ness’ best-selling young adult trilogy. - The Wrap
  • Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) will star alongside Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy in director Paul McGuigan's adaptation of Frankenstein.- THR
  • Luca Calvani (When In Rome) will play the main villain in Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - Deadline
  • Lionsgate confirmed that Julianne Moore will play President Alma Coin, the leader of the rebellion against the Capitol, in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2.
  • Check out these 70 short, short films (more than 60 seconds, less than 90) on the Venice Biennale YouTube page and watch the ones from your favorite directors. - The Dissolve

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