Bryan Singer teases X-MEN: APOCALYPSE script treatment!

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With the news that X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST has now become the highest grossing film of 2014 thus far at the worldwide box office, anticipation is high for the follow-up X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. As the title (and DOFP post-credits sequence) suggests, the film involves the comics supervillain Apocalypse, and we know that the story will follow the FIRST CLASS cast plus Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine into the 1980s. Singer is expected to return to direct, and he’s been working on the script with DAYS OF FUTURE PAST screenwriter Simon Kinberg and X2 scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris.

It now appears that at least the treatment for the script is finished, as today Singer shared an image of the first page, which actually clues us into what we can expect from the proposed APOCALYPSE prologue. Hit the jump to take a look.

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Dated June 6th, this Instagram image shows the cover page for Singer, Kinberg, Dougherty, and Harris’ X-MEN: APOCALYPSE treatment. Though Kinberg previous told us that we likely wouldn’t be returning to the ancient Egypt setting glimpsed at the tag of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, this prologue for APOCALYPSE includes references to The Nile, a sprawling battle, and The Four Horsemen. The Horsemen were glimpsed briefly at the end of DOFP when we saw the mutant Apocalypse building the pyramids, and they play a major role in the comics as the mutant’s personal guard.

Obviously filmmaking is a very fluid process so there’s no guarantee this prologue will remain a part of the finished film when X-MEN: APOCALPYSE hits theaters on May 27, 2016, but it’s fun to get a sneak peek at the work-in-progress script. One imagines we’ll start to hear more firm word on APOCALYPSE in the coming months, as pre-production will likely get underway late this year in anticipation of what will probably be an early 2015 production start-date.

Box Office: TRANSFORMERS is 2014’s Weekend Box Office Champ!

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It’s official. TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION is 2014’s undisputed box office champion… at least in terms of its opening weekend. The sequel earned an estimated $100 million from 4,233 locations, making it the first film of the year to hit triple digits in its debut and replacing CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER as this year’s highest opener. As expected, TRANSFORMERS 4 is also a big hit overseas, earning a reported total of $201 million worldwide in its first three days.

1. Transformers 4 $100M
2. 22 Jump Street $15.4M
3. How to Train Your Dragon 2 $13.1M
4. Think Like A Man Too $10.4M
5. Maleficent $8.23M
6. Jersey Boys $7.61M
7. Edge of Tomorrow $5.21M
8. The Fault in Our Stars $4.8M
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past $3.3M
10. Chef $1.69M

Trailer for DRACULA UNTOLD, due October 17, 2014!

Universal has released the first DRACULA UNTOLD trailer. The movie tells the origins of the man who would become the infamous vampire. This trailer goes beyond the scant logline, and explains that Dracula started out as a good guy, but in order to protect his family, he had to become the bloodsucking bad guy we all know today.

It looks more interesting than I thought it would be, and I really like the costumes. At the very least, there seems to be some potential for a good story rather than just pretty visual effects and cashing in on the brand. The film opens October 17th, and stars Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Diarmaid Murtagh, and Dominic Cooper.

Box Office: TRANSFORMERS to decimate pre-July 4th weekend!

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Every once in a while, a summer movie gets a weekend on its own with no competition and that’s the case this weekend with Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION. The franchise is a strange anomaly because regardless of how bad reviews are and how much the fans of the popular toys and their spin-off cartoons and comics hate the movies, they seem to still turn out in droves, which is why all of Michael Bay’s three previous movies have grossed over $300 million domestically.

Here are the predictions from Weekend Warrior:

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $103.4 million
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – $15 million
3. 22 Jump Street – $14.8 million
4. Think Like a Man Too – $14.1 million
5. Jersey Boys – $7.8 million

PACIFIC RIM 2 officially set for April 7, 2017!

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PACIFIC RIM 2 is officially a “go”. Though director Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 “monsters vs. robots” film was in no way a box office disaster, the colorful, bombastic epic failed to catch on with general audiences in TRANSFORMERS fashion. It just squeaked past the $100 million mark stateside, but fared much better internationally, bringing its worldwide total to $411 million. Fans (myself included) hoped this would be enough to convince Legendary Pictures to greenlight a sequel, and we’ve been hearing more updates on the follow-up in the past few months.

Most recently, del Toro revealed that he’s writing the PACIFIC RIM 2 script with Zak Penn (X2), and now the filmmaker has announced that the pic will hit theaters on April 7, 2017 in IMAX 3D. Moreover, he revealed that an animated series set within the Pacific Rim world will be unveiled sometime before that date.

Universal Pictures made the release date announcement this evening, as the studio will be taking over distribution duties from Warner Bros. following Legendary’s split last year. It appears that WB willingly let the franchise go, as they had the first option on the sequel. Additionally, it was announced that del Toro will indeed be returning to the director’s chair for PACIFIC RIM 2, so we’ve got plenty more inventive kaiju vs. robot action on the way. The April date is a shift from PACIFIC RIM‘s July release, but I’m hopeful that it will fare better earlier in the year, when audiences haven’t yet suffered from box office fatigue.

PACIFIC RIM screenwriter Travis Beacham will also be contributing to the script, though in a more limited capacity since he’s busy running the upcoming TV series “Hieroglyph”. Del Toro is currently in post-production on his first “adult” film in the English language, CRIMSON PEAK, but the 2017 date gives him plenty of time to complete that picture and move back into the PACIFIC RIM world.

Frank Darabont to direct SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN 2, Kristen Stewart not involved!

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Universal’s SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN 2 has found a director. The follow-up was a curious prospect, given that the first film—a more grounded, ethereal reimagining of the Snow White story—was met with a ho-hum response from audiences, but a solid $396 million take at the global box office overall. The fiim itself, though, became overshadowed by the behnd-the-scenes drama involving director Rupert Sanders and star Kristen Stewart. Universal remained keen on continuing on with its franchise plans, but it was unclear which direction they would be taking.

Movement sped up recently as a shortlist of directors surfaced that included Gavin O’Connor (WARRIOR) and Andres Muschietti (MAMA), but it appears that it is veteran filmmaker Frank Darabont (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) who will come away with the job. However, in an interesting turn of events, Stewart may be left out of the follow-up entirely.

Darabont was included on the previous shortlist of directors being eyed for SWATH 2 alongside O’Connor and Muschietti, and The Wrap reports that he has come away the victor, as Universal is in early talks with the filmmaker to take the helm of the HUNTSMAN sequel after sparking to the “Walking Dead” creator’s vision for the follow-up.

As SWATH was gearing up for release in 2012, there was talk that Universal not only wanted to create a proper franchise, but also had plans to spinoff a series of films focusing on Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman’s character. It appears that those two visions may have merged, as The Wrap notes that Darabont’s sequel plans to emphasize Hemsworth’s character while leaving Stewart out of the picture entirely. The script is not finalized, so Stewart could still possibly make an appearance in the pic, though it’s expected to be of the cameo variety. THR adds that Charlize Theron, on the other hand, will return.

I’ll admit a SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN franchise was relatively low on my list of anticipated projects, but Darabont’s involvement adds a significant degree of interest to this sequel. After being booted from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”, Darabont subsequently put together the solid A&E noir series “Mob City”, but it was cancelled after just one season. No doubt he’s eager to step back into the film world, and I’m definitely eager to see him play with more genre-oriented material on the big screen.

Universal hopes to get SWATH 2 into theaters by 2016, which means filming would need to begin next year. Hemsworth is currently filming AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and has been eyed for Shane Black’s DOC SAVAGE, but his contract likely renders the HUNTSMAN film a priority whenever Universal and Darabont are ready to start production.

Scoot McNairy joins BATMAN V SUPERMAN, Will Poulter joins DiCaprio’s THE REVENANT!

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A couple of interesting casting stories have surfaced this afternoon. Firstly, Deadline reports that Scoot McNairy (ARGO) has joined the cast of director Zack Snyder’s now-filming BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, though the nature of his role is under wraps. Given that the superhero pic will lead directly into JUSTICE LEAGUE (which will also be directed by Snyder), plenty of characters are poised to be introduced that will have larger roles later on. It’s possible that McNairy could play a major role in the DC Cinematic Universe, or maybe he just has a key supporting role in the MAN OF STEEL follow-up. I’m selfishly hoping it’s the former, as the actor has become a welcome scene-stealer as of late in pics like MONSTERS, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, and KILLING THEM SOFTLY. He currently has a lead role on the new AMC drama series “Halt and Catch Fire”. Roles like Nightwing have been tossed around.

We know that Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman will be leading Warner Bros.’ BATMAN V SUPERMAN, but the film also includes Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and other DC characters in addition to actors Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, and Laurence Fishburne. BATMAN V SUPERMAN opens in theaters on May 6, 2016.

Additionally, British actor Will Poulter is the second actor to be officially cast in filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu’s thriller THE REVENANT. Leonardo DiCaprio leads the pic, which revoles around an 1820s frontiersman who is mauled by a bear during a fur trapping expedition, robbed, and left for dead. When he recovers, he sets out to exact revenge on those who betrayed him. Empire reports that We’re the Millers star Poulter is in talks to star opposite DiCaprio, though the nature of his role is unknown. It was also recently rumored that Tom Hardy might be signing on, though confirmation has yet to be received.

Poulter will next be seen in Fox’s YA adaptation THE MAZE RUNNER, but THE REVENANT marks a serious get for the young actor. Iñárritu is coming off the highly buzzed-about BIRDMAN, which opens in theaters October 17th and was shot to look like one continuous take.