AQUAMAN scribe Will Beale to pen the THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON!

Universal Pictures has recruited AQUAMAN screenwriter Will Beall to pen the script for their reboot of ThHE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, per Deadline. The swamp creature becomes the latest of the classic movie monsters that the studio has lined up to join their rapidly expanding modern monsters universe that launches this summer with the Tom Cruise vehicle THE MUMMY.

FaAST AND FURIOUS’ Chris Morgan and TRANSFORMERS’ Alex Kurtzman are overseeing the monsters universe, which is reimagining the classic Universal monsters in a modernized action horror franchise. The studio has hired writers for VAN HELSING (Jon Spaihts), THE WOLFMAN (Dave Callaham), and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (David Koepp), and will introduce Russell Crowe‘s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde in THE MUMMY.

There have also been reports that the studio is prepping THE INVISBLE MAN for Johnny Depp. Universal is sure lining up the star power for this universe with Angelina Jolie (THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN), Javier Bardem (FRANKENSTEIN), possibly Dwayne Johnson for THE WOLFMAN and Scarlet Johansson as the female lead of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.

Kurtzman previously revealed a bit about how they’re approaching CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, teasing a massive on-location production:

Okay, well, Creature from the Black Lagoon. I want that to be in the jungle. Okay, we’re in the Amazon. Where do you want to shoot that, on the backlot or in the Amazon? No, we have to actually go there. Okay, if we go there what’s THAT going to…? Well, now you’re talking about a big movie. You know what I mean? And there’s underwater and there’s all the things that you would look for, for something like Creature.

That last sentence is interesting, because Beale definitely has some experience writing underwater action after tackling DC’s AQUAMAN solo film, which is a bit of a reaffirmation that the studio has big-scale underwater set-pieces planned for their lagoon creature. Beale is also working on the script for Chris Morgan’s THE LEGEND OF CONAN remake and is currently writing and executive producing the CBS series ‘Training Day’.

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Beyonce in talks for the voice of Nala Jon Favreau’s “live-action” remake of THE LION KING!

Simba and Nala may be downright drunk in love when Disney’s live-action THE LION KING rolls around. Indeed, the Mouse House is fast-tracking this adaptation of the animated classic, and as casting is underway they’ve set their sights as high as possible for the role of Nala. Per Variety, none other than Beyonce is the studio’s top choice to take on the female lead voice role in the film. Jon Favreau is directing, utilizing the same technology he implemented in the smash hit THE JUNGLE BOOK last year, and he’s already gotten the film off on the right foot by setting Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa.

Variety notes that no deal with Beyonce has been made just yet, and on top of her already busy schedule the singer/actress is pregnant with twins, but Disney and Favreau are said to be ready to accommodate whatever kind of schedule she needs to make this deal work out. This being a simple voice role certainly helps, as Favreau didn’t utilize motion-capture for his actors on THE JUNGLE BOOK and instead let the animators truly bring the characters to life.

Indeed, calling THE LION KING a “live-action” remake is a bit of misnomer. For most of THE JUNGLE BOOK the only live-action element was the young Neel Sethi as Mowgli with the errant rock here or there, but in THE LION KING there are no humans, so one imagines Favreau might craft the entire thing using computer animation. Or maybe he is using motion-capture on this film, albeit not with the same actors that are providing the voices.

While a Grammy winning artist in her own right, Beyonce is also no stranger to the big screen. She made her debut in 2002’s Austin Powers in GOLDMEMBER and showed off her dramatic chops in Bill Condon’s 2006 musical DREAMGIRLS. Condon, of course, recently helmed BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to tremendous box office success, and this trend of Disney mining its animated classics for live-action (or live-action-esque) updates doesn’t show any signs of slowing down as audiences are responding in droves.

Also in the immediate future for Disney’s live-action redos are MULAN, directed by Niki Caro and opening in 2018, as well as a Guy Ritchie-directed ALADDIN, both of which are casting up as we speak. So get into formation, Disney fans—we’ve only just begun.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES trailer delivers epic Man vs. Apes conflict, film due July 14, 2017!

A new WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES trailer has arrived. The follow-up begins two years into the all-out war between humans and apes that was teased at the end of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, and finds Caesar (Andy Serkis) on something of a revenge mission against The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), who has amassed a human army at a compound deep in the snow.

I’m so incredibly excited for this movie, and it looks like director Matt Reeves has seriously upped his game from the already impressive DAWN. Although there’s certainly plenty of action spectacle on display (this is a summer blockbustrer, after all), I’m shocked at how thoroughly dark and heavy the movie looks. While we know that the Apes will ultimately emerge victorious, this trailer strongly hints that WAR is the end of Caesar’s journey and that while the Apes will go on without him, his death will mark the closing chapter of their rise. Moreover, Reeves looks like he’s continuing to embrace the thoughtful subtext that elevated the APES franchise to one of the best sci-fi series of all time.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES also stars Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer, and Terry Notary and opens in theaters on July 14th.

Jeremy Renner won’t appear in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 6, will appear in ANT-MAN AND THE WASP!

At one point, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL was supposed to be a handoff film. The franchise would essentially transfer from Tom Cruise to Jeremy Renner, and therefore become kind of a soft reboot for the series. Instead, the series transformed into more of a team dynamic, and while there’s no mistaking that Ethan Hunt is still the lead character, Renner’s William Brandt fit nicely into the team dynamic as the guy whose reactions are largely, “You gotta be kidding me.”

Unfortunately, that voice of reason will be absent from MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 6. According to Showbiz411, Renner won’t be able to appear in the upcoming spy thriller because of his commitments to Marvel. That being said, Showbiz411 may be a bit confused with those specific commitments. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and AVENGERS 4 are shooting back-to-back and both of those films will likely involve Hawkeye. INFINITY WAR will also be closely followed by production on ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, which Renner is now confirmed to appear in. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is filming later this year for a 2018 release, it is a separate project that Peyton Reed is helming while Joe & Anthony Russo take on the AVENGERS sequels.

Is it possible that Brandt will return for future MISSION IMPOSSIBLE movies? It’s certainly possible. Ving Rhames was largely absent from GHOST PROTOCOL but was a player in the sequel, ROGUE NATION. Hopefully, we haven’t seen the last of Renner’s sardonic special agent. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 6 opens July 27, 2018 and stars Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, Sean Harris, and Alec Baldwin. Renner will be seen in theaters this August in the thriller WIND RIVER.

THE AVENGERS’ Joss Whedon to write, produce and direct a BATGIRL film for WB’s DCEU!

Once upon a time, Joss Whedon wrote a script for a WONDER WOMAN movie. It did not get made, and we were all very sad. However, it turns out that Whedon is not done with the DC universe. According to Variety, Whedon is nearing a deal to write, direct, and produce a standalone BATGIRL movie. The most popular iteration of the character is Barbara Gordon, who fought alongside Batman and Robin until the Joker shot her in the spine in ‘The Killing Joke’. Determined to still fight crime, Gordon took on the identity of Oracle, and provided digital support to the Caped Crusader.

While it’s unknown what direction Whedon’s BATGIRL will take or how she’ll be introduced, but Variety reports that “The project will also feature other characters from the world of Gotham.” Whether that means we’ll also be seeing Batman (Ben Affleck), Nightwing (currently in development with Chris McKay directing), or any members of the SUICIDE SQUAD or GOTHAM CITY SIRENS (the latter also in development with David Ayer directing) remains to be seen.

That being said, it’s incredibly exciting to not only see Whedon return to superhero films, but in particular a female-driven superhero movie. Furthermore, while other DC films have been plagued with re-writes and switching out directors, it looks like Warner Bros. is giving full creative control over to Whedon for BATGIRL, which is the smart move. The character has name recognition, and the studio can sell it with “From the Director of THE AVENGERS”. Additionally, I assume that they’re going to land an A-list actress for the project (let the fancasting begin!).

While Zack Snyder’s take on Batman has leaned towards the dark and gritty, I’ll be curious to see what direction Whedon takes the character. In her most recent iteration, writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart provided a fun, light look at the character that still dealt with her earlier trauma of being attacked by the Joker (her spine had been repaired with experimental surgery in an earlier run).

WB wants GET OUT’s Jordan Peele to direct live-action AKIRA remake!

Warner Bros. has been trying to adapt the popular 1988 anime AKIRA for a while now. The title has passed through directors including The Hughes Brothers (FROM HELL), Ruairi Robinson (THE LAST DAYS ON MARS), and Jaume Collet-Serra (THE SHALLOWS) with the Collet-Serra version coming closest to production before the studio decided to pull the plug. The project continues to live on (although if GHOST IN THE SHELL tanks this weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised to see AKIRA go back into development hell), and now The Tracking Board reports that the studio wants GET OUT helmer Jordan Peele to take the reigns.

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the anime takes place in Neo-Tokyo and follows the leader of a biker gang, Kaneda, as he teams up with a resistance member, Kei, and others to fight his friend Tetsuo, who is threatening to unleash his newfound psychic powers on the city. It’s weird, visually impressive, and the last half of the film feels like Kaneda and Tetsuo just shouting each other’s names for a long time, but in a good way.

It’s not an easy project to tackle, and it makes sense why Warner Bros. has been struggling with the adaptation for so long. While Peele has become a hot filmmaker thanks to the success of GET OUT, AKIRA feels like a trap for someone who clearly has interesting things to say. I can see AKIRA easily being a big, expensive-looking blockbuster, but it would be difficult half as interesting as GET OUT or the other “social thrillers” Peele says he is devising without losing the mass appeal the studios need to justify a huge budget.

Additionally, Peele doesn’t really need a blockbuster to prove he can make a smash hit. It’s not like he’s an indie filmmaker who’s outside looking in. GET OUT is one of the biggest success stories of the year, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Warners needs Peele more than he needs them, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to Peele tackling a blockbuster, I think there’s more original material out there for him.

Colin Trevorrow’s THE BOOK OF HENRY trailer released, film due June 16, 2017!

The first trailer for Colin Trevorrow‘s new film THE BOOK OF HENRY is now available for your viewing pleasure. Trevorrow, whose big break came with the indie film SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, famously wrote and directed the massively successful blockbuster film JURASSIC WORLD and has screenwriting credits on that film’s untitled sequel. Oh and he’s also writing and directing a little film known as STAR WARS: EPISODE IX. These highly anticipated, big-budget productions help the relatively smaller film THE BOOK OF HENRY get its share of the spotlight, so here’s hoping Trevorrow’s indie sensibilities are on display in this small, character-focused film.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this film, and after this trailer, I’m even more confused. The first half plays like a standard, cute, “Oh, look at this precocious genius,” movie similar to the upcoming GIFTED. There could be a little family drama, but ultimately everything is somewhat grounded in reality. And then all of a sudden it’s a conspiracy thriller where the girl next door is being abused by her step-father (Dean Norris) and Naomi Watts is assembling a sniper rifle. It looks nuts. Like it’s a film that wants the weight of someone dealing with abuse, but would also like to include a Rube Goldberg project.

Starring Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, and Maddie Ziegler, THE BOOK OF HENRY opens on June 16th.