In Development

Manimal

Let’s see a show of hands…how many of you remember the NBC series Manimal? Yeah, not too many. And with good reason. Manimal was a ridiculous show about a college professor who had the ability to turn himself into animals. What would you imagine a stuffy, academic type would do once he gained such phenomenal abilities? Why, he fights crime alongside a sexy police lady and one of his old ‘Nam buddies, of course. Manimal debuted in 1983 to abysmal ratings and even worse reviews, and only aired 8 episodes before the plug was pulled. It being something from the ’80s that someone somewhere might remember, however, still makes it a prime candidate to get a big screen adaptation, so THR is reporting that Sony Pictures Animation has won what was most likely an intense bidding war to acquire the rights to the property.

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Eli Roth and Ti West

Ever since Cabin Fever became a hit in 2002, its director, Eli Roth, has seen himself rocketed to the top of the movie game. Not only did he go on to direct the wildly successful Hostel series, but he also found himself in a position to become an actor, a frequent collaborator of Quentin Tarantino’s, and a producer of a whole slate of genre pictures. Through it all though, West has kept his focus largely on horror, and with his upcoming project, The Green Inferno, he’s finally set to return to the genre as a director. Ti West, comparatively, isn’t as big a name in the grand scheme of the industry. But if you talk to horror aficionados, this maker of low-key, indie horror is one of the most exciting names to come along in quite a while. By directing films like House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, West has proven that disgusting gore and shocking schlock aren’t the only ways to get attention in the scare game. Age old tactics like building tension, establishing mood, and paying things off with a big climax can be just as effective, if not more so. The big news is that Roth and West seem to be teaming up.

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Park Chan-Wook

Just as Hollywood was preparing to bid a tear-filled farewell to South Korean director Park Chan-wook after he finishes work on his English-language debut, Stoker, word comes out of Variety that he might be sticking around in the scene for a little while longer to direct a long-shelved Western script called The Brigands of Rattleborge. A product of screenwriter Craig Zahler, The Brigands of Rattleborge was a script that appeared on the Black List of best unproduced screenplays all the way back in 2006, and apparently it has remained unproduced up to this point because there’s just so much violence inherent to the story that making it would be seen as too big of a risk for anyone with balls less brassy than the guy who made Oldboy. What exactly is a brigand of rattleborge? You see, The Brigands of Rattleborge was titled in a kind of obsolete vernacular. Brigand is an old-timey word for someone who robs people in the woods or the mountains, and Rattleborge, well, your guess is as good as anybody’s on that one. There is a synopsis for the script though, and it says that the story is about a doctor and a sheriff who are looking for revenge against a group of bandits who terrorized a small town during a terrible thunderstorm.

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Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire are primarily known for being three of the most famous actors in the world, but did you also know that they’re all animal lovers? Well, they are. Or, at least, they’re looking to market a new movie to animal lovers. THR is reporting that the trio has teamed up to produce a new (still untitled) feature for Warner Bros. that will detail the horrific world of animal trafficking. Reportedly the film will look at the grizzly business from all the different angles, from the poaching of the animal out of the wild, to the way it gets chopped up and turned into boots or whatever (See my loafers? Former gophers). It’s going to be kind of like how Steven Soderbergh took an extensive look at drug trafficking in Traffic, or how The Wire looked at how Baltimore street crime affected every aspect of the city, only more horrific because of the inclusion of cuddly things that get mistreated. Why are these three guys the ones who are involved? Well, apparently the idea for the film comes from Hardy, who has friends who are former Special Forces operatives turned anti-poaching mercenaries in South Africa. And Maguire and DiCaprio? They’re just best buds who have done a lot of animal rights stuff in the past. Combine all three and you don’t quite get Captain Planet, but it’s close.

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Lisa Cholodenko

Director Lisa Cholodenko’s latest film, and her biggest success to date, was the domestic drama with paternity issues The Kids Are All Right. Starring names like Mark Ruffalo, Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson, The Kids Are All Right was an ensemble acting piece, and essentially a small in scope character study, so it may come as some surprise that the newest project the direct has in the works sounds like it’s going to be pretty plot-heavy. The Wrap reports that Cholodenko has signed on to make a political thriller called November Criminals. Set in Washington D.C., this Steve Knight- (Eastern Promises) penned script tells the story of a student who has to explore the underbelly of Washington society in order to investigate the death of a classmate. Those details, in conjunction with the film’s title, probably serve as a good indication that this story isn’t going to be a very kind representation of our current political system.

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When Grindhouse hit theaters back in 2007, its main attractions were Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s feature length segments of the anthology, Planet Terror and Death Proof. But after the release came and went, a lot of the buzz surrounding the project wasn’t about the two films that played back-to-back, but the series of trailers for fake films that got sandwiched in between. Rodriguez has already launched his fake trailer, Machete, into a real-life feature film that was successful enough to spawn a sequel – but what about Eli Roth and his segment, Thanksgiving? After Grindhouse got released, much of the praise for the tribute to B-movies came from how authentic to shoddy old ’70s advertisements Roth’s holiday-themed horror trailer was. The stupid voice narrating, the terrible acting, the bad dialogue, the person roasted like a turkey…it had it all. Roth has intimated in the past that he has plans to turn Thanksgiving into a real-life feature, but that’s been going on for years now, and we’ve still got nada. So what’s the deal? Well, according to a new interview the director did with Behind the Thrills, he’s finally cracked the story, is preparing a screenplay, and presumably will keep things moving from there.

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Tom Hanks Headshot

Though he’s best known as an actor, Tom Hanks is a man who contains multitudes, and also has many other hobbies. When he’s not thinking about the moon or studying the great wars, sometimes he produces movies. Heck, he’s even got his own company, Playtone, that’s set up to help him do just that. A since we know what a sucker the man is for 60s history, it should come as no surprise that Variety is reporting Hanks and his Playtone partner, Gary Goetzman, are putting together a new movie that chronicles the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. From writer/director Peter Landesman, Parkland is set to be an ensemble film that studies the events of the day of Kennedy’s tragic death from multiple angles. Included in its cast of characters is said to be Kennedy’s wife, an FBI agent, a young doctor, a reporter, multiple members of the Secret Service and Kennedy’s staff, Lee Harvey Oswald’s older brother, and an infamous clothing manufacturer with a camera named Abraham Zapruder. Sounds like we’re going to be reporting on the casting of this thing for months.

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WWE Studios has had an interesting history. First set up in the hopes that it would be able to develop theatrically released starring vehicles for WWE wrestlers in the action and horror genres, this fledgling wing of Vince McMahon Jr.’s empire has since gone through myriad strategy changes. It’s gone from making R rated films to making PG and PG-13 rated films exclusively, from giving its movies wide releases to giving them straight to video releases, it’s moved away from action and tried its hand at family films and comedies, and most recently it’s even teamed up with Lionsgate to re-boot the Leprechaun franchise. And today the studio announced that they’re going to be adding yet another type of film to their repertoire, by creating an animated feature. Which is an historic announcement indeed, as this new project will be the first time wrestlers have appeared in animated form since Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling hit the television airwaves in the early ’80s.

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Though he’s primarily known for the recent acting work he’s done in movies like Warrior and Animal Kingdom, Joel Edgerton is a man who’s been on the scene for a while, and not just as an actor, but as a writer too. As a matter of fact, the next project he has on his plate is a film called Felony, that he both wrote the screenplay for and is set to star in. Not much is yet known about the film, except that it’s about a decorated police officer who runs a cyclist off the road while driving intoxicated and then lies about it, and it’s going to be directed by fellow Australian Matthew Saville. Given Edgerton’s ability to work both as a performer and as a creator, one has to wonder if he’s ever considered taking that extra step and trying to direct a film as well as write and star in it. Well, it turns out he has. While he was doing some press for his current job, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Cinema Blend asked the actor if he ever wanted to try his hand at sitting in the director’s chair, and he had this to say, “Yeah, absolutely! I’ve got plans to do that. There’s something that I want to make, if I can, next year.”

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In the grand tradition of movie-making teams like Jim Abrahams and David Zucker, Keenen Ivory Wayans and his entire family, and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (okay, maybe not those last two), comes a new duo of creative types hoping to make a mint and produce laughter by spoofing the works of others, Sacha Baron Cohen and Phil Johnston. THR reports that the duo has just sold a pitch to Paramount that will see them making a spy comedy in the vein of a silly James Bond. Think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character, but less…something, and more…I don’t know. Okay, so just think Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English character. According to sources at the studio, this still untitled comedy will tell the story of a spy who “is forced to go on the run with his long-lost brother, a moronic soccer hooligan.” Six years ago Cohen was coming off of his hit series Da Ali G Show and its subversive and successful feature film spin-off Borat, and he seemed like he was pretty much the most vital and progressive comedian working in films. But since then his career has taken a huge downswing because of disappointments like Brüno and his recent mess of a movie The Dictator. I guess the big question here is, given Cohen’s sudden downturn in quality output, is there any reason why we should be excited for him doing a spoof of spy movies?

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One of the biggest complaints people had coming out of Ridley Scott’s epic in scope sci-fi spectacle Prometheus was that it raised more questions than it answered. Well, today brings good news for those of you looking for closure. It turns out Scott knew what he was doing all along: he raised a bunch of questions about the origins of humanity, got us on the hook for wanting answers, and now he’s going to sell us all tickets to a sequel. Pretty clever, movie industry. Confirmation of a Prometheus 2 comes from THR, who have published a comprehensive look at which of the big movies from this summer are likely to spawn sequels. In addition to the Prometheus confirmation, they reveal that movies like Ted, Magic Mike, American Reunion, and Snow White and the Huntsman are all likely to be given follow-ups as well.

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Ever since Chris Tucker uttered the phrase, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” in the trailers for the original Rush Hour, that pairing of him and martial arts legend Jackie Chan has become, for better or worse, an enduring part of our pop culture lexicon. Despite the initial joy everyone experienced by watching a loud black guy and a bumbling Asian guy teaming up and becoming friends, however, by the time the third film had come and gone, it started to feel like the Rush Hour formula was getting pretty tired, and should probably be put to bed. At least, it felt that way to audiences. To people who make lots of money producing a franchise, things tend to look a whole lot different. That’s why, when Crave Online asked Rush Hour producer Arthur Sarkissian if he has any new projects on the horizon, it comes as no surprise that he responded, “I am working on Rush Hour 4 right now with Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.” He went on to explain his statement by saying, “I’m trying to do it closer to how I did Rush Hour 1, more down to earth, more gritty, introduce two new characters and make it real the way the first one was. I personally was not happy with the third one. I thought 1 and 2 were very good. I think 3 got out of hand a little bit. It’s not a matter of just bringing them […]

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Though his acting career is seemingly still going along swimmingly (he’s got roles in The Man With the Iron Fists, Les Misérables, Man of Steel, and Noah coming up), Australian (by way of New Zealand) superstar Russell Crowe has decided that the time has finally come for him to dip his toe into the world of directing. Which makes sense, the guy has his own band, did you really think it was going to be long before he started making his own movies? So, what’s the project that’s gotten Crowe’s attention and inspired him to make his debut in the director’s chair? A script about the life of legendary standup comedian Bill Hicks. An exploration of the comedian’s fast-burn life and career already came to the big screen in the form of a 2009 documentary called American: The Bill Hicks Story, but Crowe’s interest in Hicks stems from a treatment he heard all the way back in 2008 by his former classmate and screenwriter Mark Staufer.

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Captain Canuck Movie

If Marvel Comics can do something as ridiculous as publish a star-spangled, nationalist hero called Captain America, then it doesn’t make any sense why somebody else can’t let their Canadian freak flag fly and publish a comic book called “Captain Canuck.” Or, at least, that’s what Comely Comix thought back in 1975 when they debuted the character. Though he’s remained something of an underground figure for these last few decades, the good Captain has been published sporadically all the way up through the 2000s, and now it’s looking like he might be making a super-sized jump to the big screen. The Vancouver Sun (via Cinema Blend) reports that Minds Eye Entertainment is looking to put a movie adaptation of the character’s adventures together, and they’ve hired screenwriter Arne Olsen to get the job started. Olsen was picked out of hundreds of candidates who sent in 15-page proposals for what Captain Canuck’s adventures might look like in film form, and the 50-year-old says of his hard-won job, “Ninety-nine per cent [of the answers you get] is bad news. It’s so rare where you get some-thing like this. And right now the industry is very tough, so it’s doubly exciting.” Sounds like something of a heartwarming story indeed, but what was Olsen’s vision for the Captain, exactly?

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Gary Ross shocked the world by directing one of the year’s most wildly successful films, The Hunger Games, and then opting out of coming back and making its sequel. What could he possibly have to do that’s more important than making another bajillion dollars by directing Jennifer Lawrence shooting arrows at people? So far, we’re not exactly sure. He’s become attached to a biopic about the life of famed magician Houdini, but there’s no concrete word whether or not that’s actually going to be his next job. And now another possibility has popped up. THR is reporting that the director is currently in talks to helm an adaptation of the children’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” over at Disney. The book, which was written by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson and has already been adapted into a successful (it won five Tonys!) stage production, is a Peter Pan prequel that tells the story of Peter and a girl named Molly going off on an adventure that involves the keeping of a trunk filled with magical starstuff out of the clutches of the evil pirate Black Stache (so called because of his back mustache, who knows what he’d be called if he got his own boat and had his hand replaced by a hook…). A screenwriter by the name of Jesse Wigutow is said to be penning the adaptation.

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Any time director Guillermo del Toro has been asked if he’s planning on making a third installment in his Hellboy franchise over the last few years, his responses have not been encouraging. His general feeling is that there are just too many new and exciting things to do out there to go back to the Hellboy well for a third time. Seeing as Hellboy 2 has earned a lot of fans over the years, and there’s a great big, world-ending prophecy storyline that could be tackled in Hellboy 3, a lot of people have taken these comments as being a huge disappointment. But news coming out of Comic-Con sees del Toro’s tune changed quite a bit in regards to another go-around with the red-skinned one. Entertainment Weekly got the director and Ron Perlman together to talk about their latest project, Pacific Rim, and he dropped this bomb on them, “I can say publicly that now we are together in trying (to do Hellboy 3).” This was something of a shocking statement, that Perlman fleshed out by adding, “The [first] two movies were really set up to have this unbelievable resolve. Everything that was done in both movies was leading up to this destiny, written in stone, of what Hellboy has been summoned to Earth to do. To not do it, particularly in light of the scope that Guillermo is thinking of for the resolve, would be in my mind a little bit of a shame.”

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It seems as if Anna Kendrick is on a mission to prove to us that she’s the most versatile, multi-talented actress working in Hollywood today. Not just content to turn heads and get an Oscar nomination for her performance in Up In the Air, Kendrick has also been a tween idol in the Twilight series, made us laugh in the strange and hyper-stylized Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, straddled the line between comedy and jerking tears in 50/50, and she’s even set to prove that she can sing in the upcoming Pitch Perfect. When all is said and done, she will have appeared in five films over the course of this calendar year, and all signs point to the fact that she won’t be slowing down any time soon. Case in point, Deadline Deering has word of a new project that has scooped her up as its star, an indie comedy going by the name of Drinking Buddies. Set to be largely improvised and shot in Chicago later this summer, Drinking Buddies stars Kendrick and Ron Livingston (Office Space) in a story that’s said to be about a “fun and flirtatious friendship that goes off the rails.” It’s being directed by king of the micro-budget comedy, Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs, Nights and Weekends), and it will also star Olivia Wilde (that chick from your dreams) and Jake M. Johnson (New Girl, Safety Not Guaranteed) in undisclosed roles.

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Janis Joplin

Producer Peter Newman has wanted to get a Janis Joplin biopic together for quite a while now. For years it was at the top of his to-do list, but despite his efforts, actresses like Pink and Zooey Deschanel floated in and out of the project without it ever actually getting made. Things even got so bad that Newman gave up on the film for a while and pursued a career in academia; but two big developments have pulled him back into the world of film production and put this Joplin project back into development.

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Craig Gillespie’s career as a director has been an interesting one so far. He made the Ryan Gosling-starring indie drama Lars and the Real Girl, which was gutsy, unique, and acclaimed enough that you would think it would have been his first shot fired in a quick and easy takeover of the indie film world. But that’s not the story at all. Lars and the Real Girl wasn’t Gillespie’s debut film that we’re all eagerly awaiting a followup to, it was his second film, and it’s sandwiched in between the mainstream and pretty mediocre fare Mr. Woodcock and Fright Night (you know, the remake). What’s with the strange disparity? And what direction can we expect Gillespie’s career to take in the future? A new report from Variety might give us something of an idea. Apparently the director is in talks to bring to the screen a Black List script (the yearly list of best unproduced screenplays) called Flamingo Thief. Penned by You, Me, and Dupree writer Michael LeSieur and adapted from a novel by Susan Trott, Flamingo Thief tells the story of a lawyer who becomes unhinged after being left by his wife, so he copes by stealing pink flamingo statues out of people’s yards. Despite the fact that his calendar is filled for the immediate future due to his commitments to Anchorman 2 and Three Mississippi, Will Ferrell is attached to star as said litigious thief.

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When it was first announced that Disney had purchased Marvel Comics, the holy grail endgame of such an acquisition that instantly popped into every film fan’s head was that now the group of acclaimed artists working over at Disney’s Pixar wing could get their hands on a Marvel property and make an animated superhero movie that would blow everyone’s minds. With Pixar’s already full slate of projects and the murky details of who owns the film rights to which Marvel characters in what context, the idea was something of a long-shot, but when you get a couple companies under the same corporate umbrella like this and give executives the chance to start throwing around words like “synergy,” eventually anything becomes possible. The news that broke today isn’t quite that holy grail of Pixar making a Marvel movie, but it’s a team-up that brings us one step closer to that reality. For the first time ever, Disney is going to be making an animated Marvel movie. But, instead of Pixar, the artists handling this one are coming from that other wing of animators who work under the Disney corporate banner, Walt Disney Animation Studios. This is the studio that’s most recently brought us Tangled and Winnie the Pooh, and have Wreck-It Ralph set up for a release this fall.

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