Jude Law in talks to join CAPTAIN MARVEL as male lead Dr. Walter Lawson, aka Mar-Vell!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe just added yet another impeccable performer to its ranks. Per Variety, Jude Law is in negotiations to play the male lead opposite Oscar-winner Brie Larson in Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL. The film has HALF NELSON filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck directing a 1990s-set story that follows an Air Force pilot whose DNA is fused with an alien’s during an accident, imbuing her with superhuman powers.

So who is Law playing? Well it sounds like the film is going full-on ANT-MAN, as Law will be filling the role of Doctor Walter Lawson, otherwise known as Mar-Vell—the first Captain Marvel. In the comics, Mar-Vell is a Kree who is sent to spy on Earth to decide if it’s a threat to the Kree empire. But after he helps the humans a little too often, he’s found guilty of treason by his own people and sentenced to death. He finds his way back to Earth, where he dons the mantle of Captain Marvel, an alien savior/superhero who gets into some really weird stuff.

Marvel Studios has already confirmed that the Skrulls will be the villains of Captain Marvel, who in the comics are at odds with the Kree race and spur the great Kree-Skrulls war. This film will likely focus at least in part on that major comics arc, and Ben Mendelsohn (ROGUE ONE) is onboard to play the film’s villain, likely the leader of the Skrulls empire.

Variety notes that Law’s character will serve as a mentor to Larson’s character as she works to figure out her new powers, so that should set up a pretty terrific character dynamic. Samuel L. Jackson is also set to co-star in the film as Nick Fury, this time with two eyes as CAPTAIN MARVEL essentially serves as a prequel to the entire MCU.

This is the second major franchise role Law has landed in the last 12 months. He’s currently in the midst of filming the sequel FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, in which Law’s younger iteration of HARRY POTTER icon Albus Dumbledore will be introduced. Warner Bros. is planning four or five FANTASTIC BEASTS films in total, so his commitment to that franchise is going to be lengthy. And now we may see him return in the MCU at some point—or maybe he’ll just show Brie Larson how to be Captain Marvel then bite the dust. Either way, he marks the latest in a string of incredible performers who have made the leap to the MCU, following folks like Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Michael Douglas.

CAPTAIN MARVEL starts shooting early next year with a screenplay by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and will hit theaters on March 8, 2019.

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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI tracking for a likely $200 million plus opening weekend

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is the current opening weekend record holder with a commanding $248 million in the U.S. Traditionally, direct sequels don’t tend to make more than their predecessors on opening weekend (for example, THE AVENGERS opened to $207 million, but AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON opened to $191 million). So where does that leave STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI in terms of predicting its opening weekend?

According to THR, analysts predict that THE LAST JEDI will open above $200 million, and that alone would put it in rare company. The only movies to ever eclipse $200 million on opening weekend are THE FORCE AWAKENS, THE AVENGERS, and JURASSIC WORLD. Last year’s ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY made an impressive $155.1 million, but THE LAST JEDI, with the power of being a “main” STAR WARS film carries more power, especially since audiences have sparked to new characters like Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren.

Although THR doesn’t specify if they think THE LAST JEDI can beat out THE FORCE AWAKENS, I predict it will fall just a little shy. THE FORCE AWAKENS had the benefit of being something completely new and a way to get people back on board after the disappointing prequel trilogy. But without that “shiny, new” thing that people need to know about on opening weekend, the demand for THE LAST JEDI will be somewhat lessened even if the reaction is more enthusiastic (a tough bar to clear since people really enjoy THE FORCE AWAKENS).

The other question is whether THE LAST JEDI will have the legs of THE FORCE AWAKENS. J.J. Abrams’ STAR WARS movie went on to pull in over $2 billion worldwide while ROGUE ONE topped out at a little over $1 billion. I don’t expect this will be a case of diminishing returns, and I wouldn’t be surprised if THE LAST JEDI lands closer to THE FORCE AWAKENS’ return assuming the film is good.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens December 15th.

First footage from JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM features Chris Pratt and a baby raptor!

Producer Colin Trevorrow has released a brief first look at JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM featuring Chris Pratt being affectionate towards a baby blue raptor. Is this a glimpse into the adolescence of Grady’s (Pratt) raptor buddy Blue or is it one of Blue’s progeny? No word, but honestly there haven’t been very many pot details divulged at all. This footage doesn’t really tell us anything about the film; it’s keeping the film in the public consciousness ahead of what’s sure to be a fun and competitive summer blockbuster season.

It will be interesting to see how they market this one in the months ahead. While most expected JURASSIC WORLD to be a hit, few thought it would be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year and hold the biggest opening weekend record for six months (thanks to THE FORCE AWAKENS). The question now becomes if JURASSIC WORLD was just scratching a nostalgic itch for viewers, or if the audience is eager to return to this world and these characters.

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM opens June 22, 2018 and stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, BD Wong, James Cromwell, Ted Levine, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Daniella Pineda, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall, and Jeff Goldblum.

New STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI TV spot tempts Rey, film due December 15, 2017!

At the heart of all STAR WARS films, new or old, is a classic battle of good vs evil, and our place within it. Though our heroes want to follow the path of Light, sometimes the call of the Dark can be more powerful. In a new STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI TV spot, we see Rey (Daisy Ridley) struggling with this balance in her own life. As she told EW in a recent interview, “The Resistance is really not that much to her. I mean, she’s been left her whole life, and very quickly is eager to sort of help other people, which is wonderful. She wants to be part of something. I mean, everyone wants to be part of something.”

But after an initial rejection from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), she may be considering a different path, one seemingly tread upon by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), whose future may also be in flux. “From his perspective, what he’s done is hopeful,” Driver said. “If anything he has justice. I think he’s surprised by how he would feel after Han Solo. He’s hoping for hope. He’s hoping for clarity.”

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens December 15th and also stars Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio Del Toro.

Fox developing MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS sequel, DEATH ON THE NILE with Kenneth Branagh

Hercule Poirot is back on the case at 20th Century Fox. Per THR, the studio will follow up MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and stay in the Agatha Christie business with an adaptation of DEATH ON THE NILE, the 1937 novel that finds Christie’s brilliant investigator on tasked with another murder mystery while on vacation in Egypt.

Kenneth Branagh is expected to return as director and reprise his role as the mustachioed investigator for his journey on a killer riverboat cruise, though no deal is currently in place. Screenwriter Michael Green, who’s coming off one heck of a year with work on MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, LOGAN, BLADE RUNNER 2049 and Starz’s ‘American Gods’, is set to return to pen the script for the sequel.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS assembled an all-star cast including Branagh, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley, Michelle Pfieffer, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Johny Depp and Dame Judi Dench, and has earned critical praise along with $51 million domestically since landing in theaters earlier this month. Add to that the $96 million in overseas ticket sales, and the moderately budgeted $55 million thriller has earned a worldwide total of more than $148 million in just ten days.

One of Christie’s most popular stories, DEATH ON THE NILE follows the social elite and high society on another deadly exotic adventure when Poirot’s vacation leads him to a love triangle gone bad. The novel was previously adapted to film with the 1978 film starring Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Maggie Smith, Angela Lansbury and David Niven alongside Peter Ustinov‘s Inspector Poirot.

Here’s the official DEATH ON THE NILE book synopsis via Harper Collins:

“Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries, Death on the Nile.

The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.

Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems.”

Lizzie Caplan joins Channing Tatum in Gore Verbinski’s X-MEN tale, GAMBIT!

Casting for GAMBIT is heating up…again. The Marvel Comics adaptation has been in the works since 2015, at which point 20th Century Fox cast Channing Tatum in the lead role and also signed the performer to produce. The film progressed with RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES filmmaker Rupert Wyatt directing, but Wyatt subsequently dropped out, at which point Doug Liman (EDGE OF TOMORROW) took over. The film got delayed so more work could be done on the script, and Liman left the director’s chair earlier this year. Cut to last month when GAMBIT finally started gaining traction once more, with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and A CURE FOR WELLNESS filmmaker Gore Verbinski signing on to direct.

And you know what, this movie might actually happen. Per Variety, Lizzy Caplan is now in talks to join the cast of the superhero film, playing the female lead. Further details on the role are under wraps, but back when Wyatt was directing Lea Seydoux (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL) became attached in the role of Belladonna Bourdreaux, who in the comics is Gambit’s love interest and also a member of the Assassins’ Guild. But that was over two years ago and no doubt the script has evolved, so it’s unclear if Caplan is playing Bourdreaux or someone else entirely.

I like this casting a lot. Caplan is a terrific actress adept at both comedy and drama, showing off her skills in films like MEAN GIRLS and THE INTERVIEW, not to mention a co-starring turn on the Showtime series ‘Masters of Sex’. And while her role is under wraps, it’d be kinda neat if it turned out she was playing, I dunno, Rogue, and the X-MEN timeline continuity went out the window altogether.

Producer Simon Kinberg described Gambit as a “heist movie” and a “sexy thriller” back in 2015, but again it’s unclear how the project has evolved since. Verbinski is a wildly ambitious filmmaker with a knack for insane visuals and compelling characters, so I trust the guy inherently to make something engrossing and unique. Between LOGAN, DEADPOOL, and the upcoming THE NEW MUTANTS Fox has showed a willingness to let its X-MEN movies stand apart as distinct, unique feature films in and of themselves as of late, and one imagines that will extend to giving Verbinski a long leash on GAMBIT.

New A WRINKLE IN TIME trailer reveals vast plot, film due March 9, 2018!

Disney has released a new trailer for the upcoming adventure film A WRINKLE IN TIME, and this movie looks big. Based on the beloved Madeleine L’Engle book of the same name, the film follows a young girl (Storm Reid) who goes in search of her father via interdimensional travel. Oscar-nominated SELMA and 13TH filmmaker Ava DuVernay directs from a script by FROZEN co-writer/co-director Jennifer Lee, and this new trailer offers a showcase of the film’s grand, fantastical visual effects while revealing a bit more of the story—which involves three “celestials” played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling.

If I’m being honest, my biggest selling point for this movie is seeing what Ava DuVernay can do with a big budget. She’s proven to be an exciting, bold talent behind the camera, and I’m incredibly curious to see what she brings to the screen under the guise of a family friendly blockbuster. So far it looks like she’s using visual effects in an engaging and unique way, with a pretty strong emphasis on character, and the effects in this trailer look pretty terrific for a film this far out from release. As for the story, I’d say at this point in time a hopeful (and representative) tale of individuality and bravery conquering fear is just what the doctor ordered.

A WRINKLE IN TIME also stars Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Zach Galifianakis, and Levi Miller and opens in theaters on March 9, 2018.