David Koepp

Johnny Depp in Mortdecai

Is Johnny Depp a movie star anymore? He is certainly famous, but he doesn’t have the box office clout he used to. The actor consistently does well internationally, but in the States, he hasn’t opened a major release in years, at least one that wasn’t already an established brand. Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, The Tourist, Dark Shadows and The Rum Diary all bombed here. Of course, the quality of those titles aren’t up there with his finer films, so that’s a slight hindrance. Maybe all Depp needs is simply a really good movie to win back moviegoers. Reuniting with writer/director David Koepp is a step in the right direction. The two collaborated on 2004’s Secret Window, which is an especially good Stephen King adaptation. It’s also one of the last times Depp pulled off playing an average joe. For some reason he couldn’t do the same in The Tourist and Transcendence. There’s something very off about those performances. Maybe he’s been playing so many larger-than-life characters lately that an everyman no longer comes naturally to him. Whatever the case, Mortdecai may be a return to form for the actor. Depp is once again playing a heightened character, but the difference this time is he looks genuinely funny as the oblivious art dealer Charles Mortdecai, a man in search of a stolen painting connected to a lost bank account full of Nazi gold. If you want to see Depp playing a “bit of a moron,” watch the teaser trailer for the film below.

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Joseph Gordon Levitt and Michael Shannon in Premium Rush

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a NYC bike messenger, one of the best, and he couldn’t be happier. Sure, it’d be nice if his girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) hadn’t broken up with him, if fellow biker Manny (Wole Parks) wasn’t making moves on that very same ex and if he made better money, but at least he loves his job. The freedom, the feeling of flying down the streets dodging people and cars, the feel of a single-gear bike with no brakes beneath him… he’s living the dream. A late-in-the-day assignment leads Wilee to pick up an envelope from a distraught Nima (Jamie Chung) for delivery to Chinatown in ninety minutes or less. She says it’s important. Her eyes say it’s extremely important. A NYC detective named Robert Monday (Michael Shannon) agrees on its value for completely different and selfish reasons and sets out to retrieve the envelope from Wilee. Cue ninety minutes of chases, competitive pedaling, Triad shenanigans, bikour and ridiculously easy games of Spot the Wilee Stunt Double. (Hint: He’s the one who looks nothing like Gordon-Levitt in the face or in the calves.)

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UPDATED: Deadline Hollywood has issued a special message from Universal Co-Chairman Donna Langley: “We are extremely proud of Snow White And The Huntsman and we’re currently exploring all options to continue the franchise. Any reports that Kristen Stewart has been dropped are false.” Like any rumor, we’ll just have to wait and see if Stewart pops up in the SWATH sequel that may not even happen. Oh, Tinseltown. Well, this is awkward. THR reports that Kristen Stewart (you know, Snow White) has been dropped from the first Snow White and the Huntsman sequel (again, she played Snow White in the film), with Universal reportedly shelving its planned traditional sequel “and is instead focusing on a solo Huntsman movie starring Chris Hemsworth.” Not clear enough just yet? The outlet also reports that Stewart “will not be invited to return if the follow-up goes forward.” The sequel is now being “reconceived as a spinoff movie” for the Huntsman, something that had been hinted at months ago but seemed to have been put on the back burner. Further proof of that? Screenwriter David Koepp, who had been tasked with writing the film’s originally-planned sequel is now also out of a job, “as the project is being transformed into something other than the movie that Koepp had been hired to write.” Sources also tell THR that “the original plan…was to make two films featuring the Snow White character and a third film spinning off the Huntsman, similar to how Fox’s X-Men series has spun […]

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There hasn’t exactly been a fire under the tails of most fans of W.S. Van Dyke‘s classic take on Dashiell Hammett‘s The Thin Man to see a new version of the film starring Johnny Depp, and apparently that attitude has carried over to the actual production. Deadline Bay Ridge reports that they’ve heard tell that Warner Bros. is “pumping the brakes” on the remake, which is set to star Depp, be directed by Rob Marshall (raspberry-blowing noise here), and come with a script by David Koepp. The outlet reports that the production is being put on pause for a number of no-duh factors, including their protracted and so far fruitless search to find a Nora Charles to Depp’s Nick Charles, a budget that apparently has gone over $100m, Depp’s preference for taking some time between films, and the big one – the film hasn’t been greenlit yet (the one fact that WB confirmed to the outlet).

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Despite somewhat middling reviews and critics and pundits everywhere asking “who the hell is this film for?,” Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman has proven itself to be a force to be reckoned with (or at least looked at). The film has so far made nearly $120m in worldwide receipts in the last week and a half, and it opened to a surprising $56m first weekend in the U.S. alone. The studio set screenwriter David Koepp to pen a sequel back in April, but it’s still been a bit of a wait-and-see as to whether the studio would actually charge ahead with a new installment. Now Deadline Dark Forest reports that Universal is indeed plunging back into the thick of the gritty revisionist fairy tale, with the studio “making all the moves that indicate another chapter is in the offing, and on a fast track.” Koepp is still on the screenwriting beat, and Universal is reportedly interested in bringing back Rupert Sanders to direct (the film was the commercial director’s first feature). While Sanders has yet to commit, he’s apparently “interested” in the job, though he does have the same kind of optioned deal that would bring him back for another go – not like the actors from the film, who do (though Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth are clearly part of that package, it’s unclear if Charlize Theron is).

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Kevin Bacon has shared many things throughout his career from fancy dance moves to the angle of his dangle, but the most important has to be the revelation made apparent by his long forgotten 1986 film, Quicksilver. What did that movie teach us you ask? Simple… movies about bike messengers are incredibly boring. Hollywood heeded that warning for twenty-six long years, but now the writer/director of Ricky Gervais’ Ghost Town thinks he’s figured out how to make bike messengers relevant and interesting again. The secret appears to be a combination of Michael Shannon and bicycle parkour (or bikour if your prefer). Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the unfortunately named Wilee, a bike messenger in Manhattan whose latest assignment finds him pursued by a corrupt cop (Shannon) who won’t rest until he gets his hands on Wilee’s package. Check out the trailer for David Koepp’s Premium Rush starring Gordon-Levitt, Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung below.

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Nic Mathieu Cadillac Turbulence

Paramount and J.J. Abrams are planning a super secret sci-fi project, but they’re not the only ones in the game. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warners is staying in the science fiction business with The Wind – a script from David Koepp (Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds). It takes place in a space colony, and that’s all that’s known, which means we know more about it than the Abrams gig. It will be the feature directing debut for commercial talent Nic Mathieu. In checking out his work, The Wind will most likely involve a healthy amount of fantastic CGI concepts (see link and above). As for the hiring, conventional wisdom says that studios like commercial directors because they’re more easily controllable, but Warners is remarkably hands-off with projects like this. Although, that also depends on the budget. The studio hasn’t been exploding with sci-fi in the recent past, but their future looks spacey. Gravity, Pacific Rim and Cloud Atlas are on the horizon, with this and hopefully more to come. The science fiction Renaissance continues.

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Let’s be honest – at this point, the next entry in the Jack Ryan franchise is strictly hypothetical. Despite having a star (Chris Pine), a new re-write from David Koepp (on a script that has passed from Adam Cozen to Anthony Peckham then back to Cozen then to Steve Zaillian, who then dropped it, leaving it to Koepp), and a possible new director, this project has been talked about (with Pine attached) since 2009. Combine that with reported financial cutbacks and an apparent disconnect between what everyone wanted from the script, it’s a miracle we’re even still talking about this film. But perhaps Kenneth Branagh is a miracle man. Vulture reports that Paramount is looking to Branagh to helm the feature, just a week after Jack Bender (who had been attached to direct the film for many months) kicked the bucket on the project and dropped out. While the official position was that he had to do it because of scheduling conflicts with a SyFy project, we can put two and two together – if a SyFy project looks better than the rebirth of a former blockbuster franchise, yeah, your franchise probably has some serious issues. Vulture backs that up, saying that they “hear that Bender had tired of the endless development born of creative loggerheads over the direction of the film. Pine wanted to make a character-driven espionage movie. The producer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, wanted to make Jack Ryan into an action movie. Paramount executives wanted to make it […]

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In Premium Rush, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger that picks up a dangerous package that has him chased all over New York City. The result is a bit like Torque without the engine crashing into Enemy of the State. At least that’s what the trailer makes it feel like. This isn’t the first film from director David Koepp, even though he’s more well known as the writer of films like Jurassic Park, Death Becomes Her, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and two dozen others. His bread and butter is broad entertainment with flair. Cue applause from fixed-gear enthusiasts. What potentially sets this high concept apart is its cast. Gordon-Levitt is a hell of an actor, and he’s joined here by Michael Shannon playing (surprise) a bad guy and Jamie Chung playing (surprise) an attractive ex-girlfriend who gets him into the mess. Check it out for yourself:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the only post-dusk movie news column you’ll need. At least until tomorrow night. We begin tonight with more photos from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the one by David Fincher. Why? Because even though we’ve shown Dragon Tattoo photos before, I still find them interesting. More interesting than any other visual stimuli released on this rather drab Tuesday, at least.

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I’ve reported on the Thin Man remake that Johnny Depp is attached to star in a couple times before. First, there was the news that “Permanent Midnight” author Jerry Stahl would be writing the new screenplay for the film. Then there was word that past Depp collaborator Rob Marshall would be stepping in to direct. A new round of updates on the development of this project seem to confirm that, yes, Marshall is still attached to sit in the director’s chair. However, it seems that Stahl never actually did any writing for the film, so the suits have gotten a new guy to start a script from scratch. According to Deadline Rockland, veteran screenwriter David Koepp has now been charged with the duty of updating the exploits of married P.I. team Nick and Nora Charles. Koepp’s name doesn’t really tell me much about what to expect from this movie. He’s responsible for completely acceptable literary adaptations like Jurassic Park, but he’s also responsible for completely unacceptable literary adaptations like Angels & Demons. I guess his involvement is going to be a bit of a crapshoot.

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Your mission, if you choose to accept it… During an undercover mission in Prague, IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) witnesses his spy team picked off one by one—including his mentor and friend, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight). With the blame of sabotage and treason on his head, Hunt goes on the run to clear his name, entrap the real conspirators and deliver the perfect dose of tentpole bravado.

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Even in normal situations, director Ron Howard is usually one of the busiest working in Hollywood. But with his possible Dark Tower series looming, one that will theoretically span three films and two television series, it’s not likely that he’ll have time to do anything other than Dark Tower related stuff for quite a while. But that project has to go through one more rewrite before the studio signs off on funding it, so there is time for Howard to sneak a movie in before the goliath gets going. More than likely that project is going to be Rush, a film about a formula one racer named Niki Lauda, but now another contender has entered the field for consideration.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as SecretWindowNotSoSecret and iDuddits in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the question of who exactly made the movie gets front and center treatment. Why do we treat directors with authorial authority when it comes to assigning ownership to a film? Why not the writers? Why not the gaffers? Who really is the true author of a movie and has the auteur theory ruined everything?

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By now, you should all know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, 500 Days of Summer, The Lookout) is awesome. So it’s double awesome news that he’s in negotiations to star in TWO action thrillers!

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‘Premium Rush’ is the title they’re going with here? Really? Pair this with the recently announced Duncan Jones film ‘Source Code’ and you’re halfway to programming an early-nineties action film festival.

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