Simon Kinberg

Magic

Listen up, nerds! Everyone’s favorite fantasy card game-slash-reason that you and your three other AP-lovin’ friends never left your rec room junior year of high school is finally getting the movie adaptation treatment it justly deserves. Magic: The Gathering will make the leap from playing cards to the big screen, as Fox has acquired the rights from Hasbro to transform the multiverse of the planeswalkers into something on as large of a scale as the Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings franchises. This is great news coming from the studios that brought us Battleship as their last game-based film offering, although casting hasn’t been set yet, so there’s always still time for Rihanna to be announced as a beautiful wizard. A sprawling Magic franchise at the same level of complexity and quality as LOTR or Harry Potter seems like a hefty order to fill, but Fox has some ammunition on their side that could make this schoolyard card game a reality: Simon Kinberg.

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Bryan Singer

Director Bryan Singer has never been one to shy away from Twitter, gleefully sharing photos and production details from his latest X-Men ventures. For anyone who cares even a little bit about the X-Men universe, it’s a fun way to get a  glimpse into behind-the-scenes information and tidbits like Vines and set images. It looks like the oversharing will continue well into X-Men: Apocalypse, with the director tweeting yesterday a telling photo of his newly-formed writer’s room: Late night #XMen #Apocalypse story session. #SimonKinberg @DanimalHarris @Mike_Dougherty It’s snowing in Egypt! pic.twitter.com/GtJs3VgZ3M — Bryan Singer (@BryanSinger) December 19, 2013

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Star Wars

Briefly: The big news is just flying out of Hollywood in fun, easily-digestible bites today. A rumor that Jack shared with us earlier today that held that Disney is setting up a series of stand-alone Star Wars films and that the first would center on Yoda, has now been confirmed by Disney. Sort of. Walt Disney Pictures Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced today that Disney is working on those stand-alone films, but didn’t reveal which character would be getting the solo film treatment first, saying, “I can confirm to you today that, in fact, we are working on a few stand-alone films. Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are both working on films derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga. We still plan to make Episodes 7, 8, and 9, roughly over a six-year period of time, starting in 2015. There are going to be a few other films released in that time, too.” So, what you’re saying is, all we’re going to be able to talk about for the next six years is Star Wars? Okay. [CNBC, via ComingSoon]

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J.J. Abrams

As was breathlessly reported earlier this week, Disney has now confirmed (via press release) that J.J. Abrams is their official pick to direct their new Star Wars film. There’s not much else to say as of now, so let’s roll out some fun quotes from the release! Kathleen Kennedy: “It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie. J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.” George Lucas: “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller.  He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.” Abrams: “To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor. I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.” What a lovefest. Abrams will produce alongside his Bad Robot and partner Bryan Burk and Kennedy. The press release also confirms that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg will both consult on the project.

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Star Wars

We’ve known about Star Wars: Episode VII and its subsequent planned sequels for less than a month, but already the Internet has cycled through enough rumors that we now have to put the seventh film out of our heads so that we may properly focus on the eighth and ninth movies in the venerable franchise. Why, Internet, why? We don’t even know who is directing the seventh film yet! (Though, we certainly know who is not directing it.) Deadline Hollywood first reported this afternoon that they had the early lead on some possible screenwriting contenders to pen the eighth and ninth films. The outlet was not specific on who would pen which film, if only one scribe would be picked to do double duty, or if they’ve share credits, but the names they’d been hearing were Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan. As far as rumors go, this certainly is not a bad one. The outlet also reported that they heard that Disney has “approached” both Kinberg and Kasdan, and they believe this is to “get the ball rolling on the subsequent installments mapped out by Lucas.” But “approached” isn’t the right word, as THR now reports that Kasdan and Kinberg have both closed deals to pen installments of the new films. THR, like Deadline, is unsure of “their exact division of responsibilities,” but they do add that they will produce the films. An official word from Disney has not been released as of yet.

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Last summer’s X-Men: First Class breathed some necessary life back into the superhero franchise, thanks to a stylistically cool film, an up-and-coming cast, and some generally energetic direction from Matthew Vaughn. While I don’t think anyone was particularly worried about Vaughn coming back to helm the film’s inevitable sequel, Deadline Warsaw has gone ahead and confirmed that Vaughn is indeed on to direct, with Bryan Singer back to produce. Their post also confirms that Simon Kinberg is set to script the film (news we’ve known about since November), which will likely be the film’s greatest hurdle, as Kinberg has yet to impress me with films like Jumper and the first Sherlock Holmes. Next up, he’s got two projects coming out that I cannot even remotely gather interest in – This Means War and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He also helped script X-Men: The Last Stand, which was decidedly not good, but at least he has familiarity with his characters. Paired with Singer and Vaughn, who both have great affection for the franchise, this next X-Men could shake out just fine.

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How bad do I want the sequel to X-Men: First Class to be called X-Men: Second Class? Not that much now that I really think about it, but there’s almost no way that would happen, so we’re in the clear. Who’s not in the clear – as in, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him – is Simon Kinberg, a producer on the first film who has now been hired to write the second. This is amidst his continuing work as writer, producer or both for This Means War, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. His past credits sadly don’t include a lot of winners – Jumper, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Sherlock Holmes – but those films were all messy for different reasons, and it’s unclear whether the writing was really to blame on any of them. Still, they were messy. On the other hand, Kinberg also wrote the airtight Mr. and Mrs. Smith. In a way, this hiring seems to prove that Fox wants to keep some of the same tone of the original while making it a bit more commercial (keeping in mind that First Class has made $350m). Kinberg is the kind of writer who does solid, popular fiction that’s digestible for the masses, and with his previous experience with the characters (and as a producer on the original), he’s a strong choice for the job. Hopefully Fox and Kinberg both realize that First Class was so successful because it was good, […]

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