Natalie Portman to star opposite Fassbender in MACBETH!

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Yesterday, we reported the exciting news that Michael Fassbender was set to lead a new screen adaptation of William Shakespeare‘s MACBETH. We also reported that talks were “underway with at least one Hollywood leading actress,” to play the role of Lady Macbeth. Today, Screen Daily is reporting that the actress is Natalie Portman, and she has agreed to take the part. Directed by Justin Kurzel (“The Snowtown Murders”) the adaptation will take place in the 11th century, and will “be a visceral approach to the story including significant battle scenes.”

This will be the second collaboration between Fassbender and Portman. The two co-starred in Terrence Malick‘s upcoming film about the Austin music scene. Don’t expect Macbeth to hit the fast track just yet, it still needs to be shopped out to buyers, and Fassbender, Portman and Kurzel all have busy schedules. Portman will be next seen in THOR: THE DARK WORLD on November 8, 2013!

Joe Carnahan to direct crime-thriller SUGAR BANDITS!

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While director Joe Carnahan’s 2011 film THE GREY received some much-deserved praise from critics and a solid box office take, he’s had a bit of trouble getting his follow-up feature off the ground. Carnahan flirted with possibly taking on a hard-boiled 1970s iteration of DAREDEVIL at Fox, but the ticking clock proved to be an immovable stumbling block and Marvel has now regained control of the superhero character.

However, Carnahan has now added a new project to his development slate, as he is currently in negotiations to write and direct an adaptation of the Chuck Hogan novel “Devils in Exile” for Universal called SUGAR BANDITS. Read the synopsis here:

When Neal Maven and a crew of fellow Iraq War veterans begin ripping off Boston-area drug dealers for profit, their lives are quickly put into jeopardy. As Maven’s involvement deepens, two worrisome things happen: he begins to suspect that their leader has a sinister ulterior motive, and he lusts after the leader’s girl—a tough former model with a drug problem. As the rip-off jobs get riskier, Maven and his crew are soon pursued by both a smart federal DEA agent and by a pair of psychopathic Jamaican hit men on a drug lords’ payroll. When everything goes bad—and it goes very bad—Maven embarks on a one-man crusade to right the wrongs in which he unwittingly participated. Not everyone will survive his crusade, and Maven himself may not live to see the final outcome….
Vividly told and featuring a stunningly complex plot, Devils in Exile is Chuck Hogan’s most satisfying and powerful thriller yet.

This sounds like the kind of gritty, character-driven story that’s right up Carnahan’s alley, and I’m looking forward to seeing what his take on the material entails. The filmmaker also recently signed on to write and direct an adaptation of the graphic novel UNDYING LOVE for Warner Bros., but it’s unknown which project will come first for the director. Either way, I hope Carnahan gets back in the director’s chair soon.

Source: Collider

Lily James leads Branaugh’s live-action CINDERELLA!

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For the past couple of months, casting has been underway to find an actress for the title character in Kenneth Branagh‘s live-action CINDERELLA. Emma Watson was circling the role, but decided to pass. Earlier this month, Bella Heathcote (DARK SHADOWS), Lily James (“Downton Abbey”), and Margot Robbie (“Pan Am”) were in the running for the part. Today, Disney has announced that the role has gone to James.

There’s currently no word on Branagh’s take on the material, and if he’ll try to go the big, colorful, and expensive route of Disney’s recent fairy tale re-imaginings such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND and OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. James be starring along Cate Blanchett, who will play the evil stepmother. Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) is currently the frontrunner to play the Prince. Filming is expected to begin this fall for a 2014 release.

Source: Collider

The sixth DIE HARD film, DIE HARDEST, gets a screenwriter!

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If you think a terrible fan reaction and a mediocre domestic box office haul would slow down the DIE HARD franchise, think again! DIE HARDEST (somewhat implying some finality to the series), the sixth film starring Bruce Willis’ John McClane is currently being written by Ben Treblicook (KNOCKOUT). Details are scarce at the moment, but we know that the story begins in New York, before moving to Tokyo, which will be the predominant location.

As the project’s at the treatment stage, we’ll have to wait to see if this one does progress to production, but Trebilcook thinks his take will please fans. “It is extremely faithful to the franchise and characters and is a natural progression. It’s also a very plausible storyline,” he told us. Bruce Willis is contracted to return for DIE HARDEST, the sixth and possibly last film. No projected release date.

GEARS OF WAR movie gets a new producer!

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Hollywood has been trying to get a GEARS OF WAR movie off the ground for quite some time. Now producer Scott Stuber has been tapped to produce, as development of the script will now begin with developer Epic Games. Stuber most recently found success at the box office with the comedies TED and IDENTITY THEIF, and he also produced the thriller SAFE HOUSE and last year’s tentpole bomb BATTLESHIP. Whether a GEARS OF WARS movie will finally come to fruition this time or not remains to be seen, but things are most definitely moving forward on the adaptation and we should hear news regarding a screenwriter and/or studio sooner rather than later.

For those unfamiliar, “Gears of War” is a military sci-fi third person shooter that centers on the soldiers of Delta Squad in their last-ditch efforts to save the human inhabitants of the planet Sera from unstoppable subterranean creatures known as the Locust Horde. Per Variety, Stuber has landed the gig of producing Gears of War, but the project does not yet have a studio home. Stuber and Epic will now go out to studios in order to secure distribution for the project, and Universal seems like a possibility given Stuber’s relationship and first-look deal with the studio.

Question for the fans: Any ideas on the casting of this one?

Source: Collider