Albert Hughes

Adrien Brody

Let’s take this moment to recount the many actors who have been attached to star in Albert Hughes‘ Motor City. First, Dominic Cooper was set as the lead, then he left and Jake Gyllenhaal looked poised to step in, and then ol’ Gylley left and Gerard Butler swooped in for the role. Along the way, other names like Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner were mentioned for the lead, and even Mickey Rourke got some buzz earlier this summer when he was mentioned for an undisclosed role. Yet, despite all that upheaval, co-stars Amber Heard and Gary Oldman have managed to stay consistently attached for months. Well, scratch that. A new report from Variety passes along word that Adrien Brody is now in negotiations for the villain role that Oldman had been set to play. This, in turn, leads us to an under-reported bit (also from Variety, via The Playlist) from way back in June that notes that both Oldman and Heard had left the project. Hughes better get moving on finding a new leading lady for Butler, who will play a newly-released felon bent on revenge in the Chad St. John script, as the film is set to start shooting on September 17th in Atlanta. Motor City is expected to be released next April.

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Albert Hughes‘s next film (sorry, Akira remake that I pray to God never happens), Motor City, has been spinning its wheels for months now, mainly because it’s been unable to hold on to a leading man. The film has had a number of hot names attached to it for its male lead – including Dominic Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Renner, and Chris Evans – but none of them has stuck, with scheduling conflicts often to blame. The film is a somewhat interesting one, a sort of standard issue revenge story that could be spiced with some stylistic flash and a solid cast, and it centers on a recently-released criminal who goes after the people who put him in the big house. With Cooper, Gyllenhaal, Renner, and Evans all of the table, Variety now reports that Gerard Butler is in negotiations with Warner Bros. and Dark Castle to star in the film. He would star alongside Amber Heard (who has managed to stay attached the film through other casting woes) and Gary Oldman (the principal villain). While he’s a bit older than Cooper and Gyllenhaal, Butler certainly has the grit and brawn to bring a revenge-set criminal to life, so let’s hope this latest casting works out.

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Albert Hughes’ next project, Motor City, is in a bit of a pickle. You see, Dominic Cooper was all set to star in the movie, playing a recently released prisoner going about the business of tracking down the men who framed him and thus sent him away. There have been some scheduling conflicts, however, and Cooper has now been forced to drop out. So what’s a director to do? In this case, Hughes is solving his problem by looking at an even bigger name to step in and take over. Variety is reporting that Jake Gyllenhaal is currently in negotiations to become Motor City’s new leading man. Gyllenhaal is an actor who hasn’t been working much lately, so there shouldn’t be any further scheduling conflicts if he signs on. Then again, Gyllenhaal hasn’t been working much lately, and clearly that must be his choice, so what’s it going to take to get his name on the dotted line? You have to imagine that Motor City’s producers are pretty intent on getting Gyllenhaal signed, sealed, and delivered, as he’s one of the few people out there who still has enough star power to guarantee a few extra box office dollars on opening night, so whichever way this one goes, we should know the results soon.

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Despite the fact that her latest television turn went bunny tail up with the cancellation of The Playboy Club, actress Amber Heard isn’t letting that slow her down, as she’s just signed on for next starring feature role. Heard will play the female lead in Albert Hughes‘ Motor City from a script by newcomer Chad St. John (newcomer or not, Motor City was one of two St. John scripts that landed on 2009’s Black List). The film will mark Hughes’ first solo effort, having directed no less than four features and one documentary with his brother Allen as The Hughes Brothers (including From Hell, The Book of Eli, and Menace II Society). The film is described as a revenge thriller, with Dominic Cooper playing the male lead, “a man released from prison who goes on a revenge mission, hunting down the people who framed him.” While this is not necessarily a very original idea, it will be somewhat refreshing to see an on-screen anti-hero that’s not Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel or similar. Cooper is a vastly talented actor (his dual work in The Devil’s Double is proof positive of that). And, pardon me while I succumb to my ladyhood here, but Heard and Cooper are likely to turn in some scorching chemistry. [Deadline Ferndale]

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Jaume Collet-Serra is a filmmaker that specializes in the ridiculousness. With both Orphan and Unknown, he managed to spin conventional sounding stories into big pieces of oddball-ness, although he was less successful with his “I don’t know who I am!” thriller. Somehow, his slightly deranged Orphan and slightly less deranged Unknown made bank for Warner Brothers. So it’s not much of a surprise that the studio has brought on the up and comer to helm the Akira remake, which I think we have a good chance of seeing in, let’s say, 2025.

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Akira, at this point, is starting to look like a modern-day Watchmen. Plagued with difficulties, personnel changes, and misfires – maybe it’ll be a couple of decades before it actually gets made. Someone being born this year might end up playing Kaneda. But, still, Watchmen eventually got made, so who knows what fate has in store for the live-action remake of the anime classic. What it doesn’t have in store, according to Deadline Osaka, is Albert Hughes as director. One half of the Hughes Brothers directing team was set to make the film, but now he’s reportedly off the project and parting on friendly terms. It leaves a job open, though, and it allows film fans to dream of who their top choice for the job would be. For weirdness’s sake, I’d say either Terrence Malick or Terry Gilliam channeling Brazil. It’s not the only project to lose a director today, though. Variety is reporting that David O. Russell is off of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. The profound change there comes, also, from creative differences, but it will mean finding a new screenwriter as well. Thus, Uncharted is back to square one. Does that mean he might be able to go back and finish Nailed or get an early start on the Untitled Ice Cube Project? One can only hope.

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Akira

Yes, we are most likely getting a PG-13 adaptation of Akira. My reaction and everyone else’s will be a bit similar to Albert Hughes’s response when asked about it possibly being rated-R.”You would think,” said the director, who (along with his brother) became attached to the project earlier this year. If you’ve read the series or seen the excellent 1988 anime then you know this isn’t material you’d associate with teens. It’s very hard-R. Warner Brothers, on-the-other-hand, apparently thinks it has to be PG-13. That’s not very surprising though considering how much money they’ll be sinking into it, but it’s still saddening none-the-less.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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