Rumor: WB developing a film trilogy for HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD!

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While 2011 marked the conclusion of the HARRY POTTER film franchise with the release of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2, we knew that wouldn’t be the end end. Indeed, just three years later Warner Bros. found a way to keep the cash cow alive by announcing a FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM trilogy scripted by J.K. Rowling herself. The first film in that franchise hits theaters this November, with Rowling having already penned the sequel and director David Yates returning to helm, but with the new play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ premiering in London this summer (along with the release of the script book worldwide), everyone’s been abuzz wondering if we could see an adult Harry Potter return to the big screen.

The answer is of course we could. HARRY POTTER is one of the most important franchises in Warner Bros.’ library, so much so that they have an entire development arm at the studio devoted to overseeing future films—which as of right now is the FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM franchise. While that series will get off the ground later this year by opening up the wizarding world to 1920s New York, which is entirely Potter-free, a rumor is making the rounds that Warner Bros. is already trying to piece together a HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD MOVIE movie.

The NY Daily News is claiming that the studio is hoping to bring HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD to the big screen as early as 2020, with WB focused on getting Daniel Radcliffe to reprise his role as Harry Potter in a story that revolves around Albus Severus Potter and Scorpio Malfoy, the sons of Potter and Draco Malfoy, and their misadventures at and around Hogwarts. The report also claims that the studio is considering turning the 5-hour play into a potential new trilogy.

It should be noted that the NY Daily News is not the most reliable of sources, and the validity of this report isn’t necessarily rock solid. For one, the timeline doesn’t make sense. The third film in the FANTASTIC BEASTS franchise is currently slated for release on November 20, 2020—there’s no way the studio would infringe upon this new wizarding world franchise by upstaging it with the release of a brand new HARRY POTTER movie in the same year. Moreover, Radcliffe will only be 31 in the year 2020, while Potter is in his 40s in the play. Now movie magic could certainly age up the actor, but with the FANTASTIC BEASTS franchise already underway, why rush into things with a performer who is busy exploring all different kinds of roles at the moment?

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Will Warner Bros. turn HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD into a movie? Undoubtedly. It’s a new piece of canon material that wraps up the HARRY POTTER story in dynamic and spectacular fashion, plus it’s based on a story that Rowling herself helped concoct. But are the particulars of this rumor to be believed? I’d wager no.

There are also quite a few obstacles in the practicality of the CURSED CHILD story that may make it very difficult to adapt to the big screen. Without spoiling anything, there are certain characters who reappear in CURSED CHILD that may be tough to bring back for a feature film adaptation. Moreover, Emma Watson was hesitant to even complete the HARRY POTTER franchise, so would she be willing to dive back into a trio of new films so soon? The original trio are a major thematic part of CURSED CHILD, so it’s kind of impossible to leave them out of a movie adaptation.

if I had to guess, I’d say Warner Bros. has been internally discussing the prospect of turning HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD into a movie, but with the understanding that it’s still quite a ways off from being something that’s in active development. Just think, it’d be kind of neat to see 40-year-old Radcliffe, Watson, and Rupert Grint reprising their roles in 5 or 10 years, with a cadre of newcomers stepping into the franchise as their children. That’d be a solid way to continue the story without ruffling too many feathers in the talent realm, but the difficulties of turning CURSED CHILD into a cohesive movie (let alone a trilogy) remain.

So yeah, expect these rumors to continue to swirl, but I’d be surprised if we heard official word from Warner Bros. about a HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD movie happening before the FANTASTIC BEASTS franchise concludes.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY to receive 3D re-release in 2017!

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If you’ve always wanted to see James Cameron‘s 3D skills applied to one of his classics, your time is coming…eventually. Late last year, we learned that Cameron was working on a 3D digital remastering of his 1991 classic Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which was planned to hit theaters this year in conjunction with the film’s 25th anniversary.

Well, that time has come and gone and for reasons we don’t yet know, the 3D version never arrived. However, it seems the re-release is still on the books, as a new poster dropped on the official Terminator 2 Facebook page today with the following announcement (and a clever new anniversary):

August 29th 1997: The day Skynet first became self aware.
August 29th 2016: the day you first saw the brand new poster for Terminator 2 in 3D. Coming to theaters in 2017.

Check out the poster below:

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When the remaster was first announced, Cameron said, “If you’ve never seen it, this’ll be the version you want to see and remember.” As someone who’s become increasingly unenthused by 3D, I remain unconvinced by that sentiment, but after all, Cameron is the director who single-handedly made 3D a viable model again with 2009’s AVATAR, so if anyone’s going to do it right, he’s the guy. Plus, some of that T-1000 action could be mighty fun in 3D.

RIP Gene Wilder (1933-2016) – Legendary Comedian and Actor

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Multiple outlets report today that Gene Wilder, the legendary comedian and movie star, passed away yesterday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut at the age of 83. The AP confirms, through Wilder’s nephew, that the iconic performer died from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

To say that Wilder will be deeply missed would be accurate but a tremendous understatement. A regular colleague of Mel Brooks, Wilder was a comedic performer of the highest caliber, up there with Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and Brooks himself. He started on the stage and on TV but broke out as the repressed and crazed Leo Bloom in Brooks’ near-mythic comedy THE PRODUCERS, after making the most of a bit part in Arthur Penn‘s equally legendary BONNIE AND CLYDE.

His comedic energy in THE PRODUCERS came off as a sort of intensely physical fever. There was an immediate sense of him putting his entire body on the line for a good gag, the way the early masters of physical comedy – who he idolized – did. From there, he wracked up a line of iconic performances: the titular mischief-maker in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, the drunk gunslinger Jim in BLAZING SADDLES, and Doctor Frankenstein in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.

He would continue to work into the 1990s and, even more sparingly, in the aughts, but following the passing of the brilliant Gilda Radner, his wife, he took a clear step back from the spotlight. That sensitivity, that intense emotional connection to people and the art of making people laugh, could be felt in everything he did. His performances were often weighed by a balance between outsized ambitions and the emotional and physical damage that those ambitions can cause. He was aware of his power and his talent; in fact, that knowledge often fueled his energetic sense of comedic invention.

Despite this, he clearly never took a single laugh for granted, whether he was making a two-episode appearance on ‘Will & Grace’ or sparring with Mostel. There was empathy and graciousness in everything he did on screen and, from what I can gather, off screen as well. That’s what will remain beyond the notes of the characters he played and the jokes he so expertly heightened through delivery and gesticulation: the warmth of a human who felt everything and saw the humor in everything without losing the very real emotions behind it all.

UPDATE: Ben Affeck reveals a new DCEU villain in classic DC baddie Deathstroke!

When the press visited the set of JUSTICE LEAGUE back in June, we got confirmation from producer Deborah Snyder that Steppenwolf would be the main villain in the film. However, it looks like he won’t be the only antagonist in the movie. Today, Ben Affleck tweeted out the following:

That looks a lot like Deathstroke. For those who are unfamiliar with the character, his real name is Slade Wilson, and he first appeared in The New Teen Titans in 1980. He’s been a villain that’s been all over the DC Universe and he’s gone toe-to-toe with Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Flash, Green Lantern, and more. He’s been on the supervillain teams Injustice League, Suicide Squad, Secret Society of Super Villains, H.I.V.E., Checkmate, Team 7, and the League of Assassins. And yet for all of his affiliations and grudges, he doesn’t have any superpowers, or at least no more superpowers than someone like Batman. He’s really smart and he’s a good fighter.

So what is he doing in JUSTICE LEAGUE? If I had to guess, it’s a cameo role and probably someone Batman will be facing early in the film. Deathstroke isn’t a villain who demands the attention of an entire team of superheroes. But if there’s a scene early on where Batman is taking out Deathstroke, that would make sense, and it would also insert Deathstroke into the DCEU for later use (SUICIDE SQUAD 2 or THE BATMAN perhaps?).

JUSTICE LEAGUE opens November 17, 2017.

UPDATE: As speculated above, TheWrap reports that the one-eyed villain will be the main antagonist of the upcoming solo Batman movie. It still remains to be confirmed who will be wearing the mask of the villain and which DC films he will be appearing in.

Box Office: DON’T BREATHE vastly over-performs with $26.1M, beats SUICIDE SQUAD!

We’ve got a bona fide horror hit on our hands. DON’T BREATHE easily won the weekend box office with a stellar $26.1 million debut, which is far above tracking numbers that had the film opening in the range of $11 million or so. The original home invasion horror pic opened even higher than director Fede Alvarez’s previous film, the 2013 EVIL DEAD remake, which scored $25.7 million in its opening frame. Screen Gems is no doubt happy as the pic was made on a slim budget of just $10 million, and coupled with positive reviews, this certainly gets things off to a great start.

DON’T BREATHE marks the latest horror hit of 2016, as the low-budget LIGHTS OUT similarly outpaced expectations with a $21.6 million weekend. That pic grossed $111.3 million worldwide against a budget of just $4.9 million, making for a massive hit for Warner Bros.’ New Line label. Similarly, New Line’s THE CONJURING 2 opened well back in June and has amassed $319.4 million worldwide, albeit against a higher budget of $40 million, while THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR amassed $105.6 million worldwide. In short, the horror genre is doing just fine.

But as DON’T BREATHE scored the top spot on the box office charts, SUICIDE SQUAD was finally knocked down to #2. The DC film scored $12.1 million over the weekend, marking an end to its three-week reign atop the box office—although it fared better than BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, which fell out of the top spot after just two weeks. Director David Ayer’s villain-centric pic has now grossed $282.9 million domestically for a worldwide total of $595.8 million, a touch short of the $600 million that was projected for this frame. The film is semi-near the final $330.3 million domestic total that ended BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s run, but Zack Snyder’s film ratcheted up $542.3 million internationally while SUICIDE SQUAD has only amassed $353 million on that front thus far.

WAR DOGS suffered a pretty steep drop in its third week, falling to seventh place with just $27.7 million in total domestic gross at the moment, while Sony’s SAUSAGE PARTY continues to bring in the dough as it’s now scored $80 million domestic—more than Disney’s pricey sequel ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. And speaking of success stories, STX Entertainment’s comedy BAD MOMS has been the quiet hit of the summer, as the film has now grossed $95.4 million domestic with a worldwide cume of $116 million.

In terms of new releases, the Jason Statham action sequel MECHANIC: RESSURECTION debuted to just $7.5 million, which is below the $11.4 million opening of THE MECHANIC in 2011. That said, Lionsgate Premiere is banking on RESSURECTION faring well on the home entertainment market, so it’s possible VOD numbers justify the production overall. The boxing drama HANDS OF STONE, however, opened to just $1.7 million in 810 theaters, while the surprisingly good Obama love story SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU scored $3 million from 813 theaters.

On a broader scale, THE JUNGLE BOOK’s domestic gross has now surpassed DEADPOOL with $363.3 million, which means that Disney now dominates the top 3 domestic grossers of 2016 with FINDING DORY at $479.1 million and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR at $407.7 million. Worldwide, Disney dominates the top four spots with CIVIL WAR at $1.1 billion, ZOOTOPIA at $1 billion, JUNGLE BOOK at $959.6 million, and FINDING DORY at $928.6 million. All hail the Mouse House.

Check out the full Top 10 chart of weekend estimates below.

1. Don’t Breathe $26.11M
2. Suicide Squad $12.11M
3. Kubo and the Two Strings $7.9M
4. Sausage Party $7.66M
5. Mechanic: Resurrection $7.5M
6. Pete’s Dragon $7.28M
7. War Dogs $7.25M
8. Bad Moms $5.76M
9. Jason Bourne $5.23M
10. Ben-Hur $4.53M

Disney courting Sam Mendes for live-action JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH remake!

Disney is adding a new title to its ever-expanding roster of live-action remakes, and it’s an ambitious one. Deadline reports that Sam Mendes is in early talks to develop and direct a live-action adaptation of JAMES AND GIANT PEACH with BROOKLYN and AN EDUCATION scribe Nick Hornby attached to write the screenplay. The report notes that Mendes is in “very early” negotiations.

Henry Selick first adapted the book from beloved children’s author Roald Dahl for the studio back in 1996 with the stop-motion feature of the same name. The story follows James, a young orphan who lives with his cruel, abusive aunts until a magical gift transforms an ordinary peach into a giant vessel for extraordinary adventure. Accompanied by the peach’s now human-sized invertebrate inhabitants, James takes to the seas and the skies on an epic journey. It’s quite the tall order for a live-action feature (Selick’s version started live-action but transitioned to stop-motion when things got fantastical), but this year’s breakout THE JUNGLE BOOK demonstrated the tremendous ability of modern CG tech to integrate the live-action and the animated.

For Mendes, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH comes on the heels of two back-to-back entries in the James Bond catalogue, SKYFALL and SPECTRE. However, it won’t be his first time tangling with Dahl’s material — Mendes directed the Charlie and the Chocolate stage musical back in 2013.

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH joins the Lin-Manuel Miranda fronted THE LITTLE MERMAID remake as the latest in Disney’s ever-expanding line-up of live-action reboots. Check out the in-depth breakdown of Disney’s officially announced upcoming live-action lineup below.

  • CRUELLA with Emma Stone set for the title role and Kelly Marcel writing
  • A WRINKLE IN TIME with Ava DuVernay attached to direct and Jennifer Lee writing
  • JUNGLE CRUISE with Dwayne Johnson set to star and John Requa and Glenn Ficarra writing
  • DUMBO with director Tim Burton and writer Ehren Kruger
  • MARY POPPINS RETURNS with director Rob Marshall, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • MALEFICENT 2 with Angelia Jolie set to return in the title role and Linda Woolverton writing
  • THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS with director Lasse Hallstrom and writer Ashleigh Powell
  • THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 with both director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Marks returning
  • A TINKERBELL project with Reese Witherspoon set to star and Victoria Strouse writing
  • THE SWORD IN THE STONE with Bryan Cogman writing and Brigham Taylor producing
  • A live-action MULAN remake with Chris Bender and J.C. Spink producing while Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek will write the screenplay
  • NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN’s feature-length live-action film treatment written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless

Robert Rodriguez’ ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL looking at Christoph Waltz to co-star!

As it prepares to shoot this fall, Robert Rodriguez’ ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL is starting to round out its cast. It previously set MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS actress Rosa Salazar in the title role of an amnesiac female cyborg who becomes a bounty hunter. Now THR is reporting that Christoph Waltz is in talks to play “Doctor Dyson Ido, the cybersurgeon who finds the cyborg and becomes her mentor.”

Let us set aside the fact that Waltz does not remotely look like anyone who has the last name “Ido”. Hollywood’s approach to adapting anime and manga, as seen from the casting of GHOST IN THE SHELL, appears to be “We’re taking the characters and the story, but leaving out the Japanese people.” That’s not to say that ALITA won’t eventually cast some Japanese actors (GHOST IN THE SHELL has a few in its lead cast), but it’s not really a priority for Hollywood. Whether a futuristic, post-apocalyptic story needs to keep the ethnicity of its characters remains to be seen in how they handle the film. It’s possible that they could also end up changing the last name of Waltz’ character.

For Waltz, the character signals a shift away from the villain roles he’s played lately, which is a nice change of pace. While Hans Landa remains his best performance, he has more range than just playing a baddie, and I look forward to seeing what he can do in the role of a mentor. Waltz recently wrapped filming on Alexander Payne’s DOWNSIZING and will be seen next year opposite Alicia Vikander in the period drama TULIP FEVER.

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL is set to open on July 20, 2018.