SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING writers Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers to return for the sequel

The screenwriting duo that helped envision the MCU’s new SPIDER-MAN for his first standalone film are set to return for the upcoming sequel. Per The Hollywood Reporter, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING scribes Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers are in final negotiations to pick up with Peter Parker on his next solo journey and pen the sequel to Sony and Marvel’s summer hit.

This is great news and a smart move on the studios’ part. HOMECOMING nailed the high school soap opera element at the heart of the best Spidey stories, and they managed to do it in the context of the larger MCU (while playing within the parameters of the Marvel/Sony deal) in a way that felt natural. They delivered the cheeky quips, the dogged goodness, and all the other quintessential Spidey traits and put him up against one of the best on-screen Marvel villains yet in Michael Keaton‘s Adrian Toomes. The report notes that Sony and Marvel are (wisely) looking to keep the creative team together and are already in talks with Jon Watts to direct again. And of course, Tom Holland is set to return as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

McKenna and Sommers have been keeping busy in recent years. The writer-producer duo cut their teeth in the world of TV comedies like ‘American Dad’ and ‘Community’ and they’ve earned healthy homes across studios in recent years, penning the scripts for THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, and JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

HOMECOMING is still kicking along at the box office, both domestically where it came in at # 7 last weekend with another $2 million, and overseas, where it recently debuted in Japan and will finally arrive in the powerhouse Chinese market on September 8. Even without China’s box office, HOMECOMING is a victory for Sony and Marvel, earning a lot of love from critics, fans, and casual moviegoers, and yielding over $319 at the domestic box office and over $737 worldwide. Those numbers put it well above the last Spidey solo film, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, which earned $202 million domestically and $708 worldwide, and the numbers will only continue to rise in the coming weeks.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING 2 is scheduled to swing into theaters on July 5, 2019.

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Joss Whedon to get official writing credit for his work on JUSTICE LEAGUE

It’s official: Joss Whedon will receive a writer credit on Warner Bros.’ JUSTICE LEAGUE. The former Marvel movie-maker stirred things up earlier this year when it was reported that he’d be stepping in for Zack Snyder, who had to depart the film due to family issues. That news, coupled with the film’s reshoots that have been kept behind a veil of mystery and rumor, led many fans to wonder not only what the finished product of JUSTICE LEAGUE would look like, but who would be getting the lion’s share of the creative credit.

Now, it’s officially confirmed that Snyder is still receiving his directing and writing credit, along with co-writer Chris Terrio, with Whedon now receiving a writing credit as well. How much of Whedon’s work comprised the script–and how much of Terrio/Snyder’s existing material was excised–remains to be seen, just as it’s unclear how extensive these reshoots and Whedon’s directorial involvement really are. Are we talking about a 10% change or 50%? The numbers will probably never be made official, but the style and storytelling differences should be somewhat apparent once the film hits theaters this fall.

JUSTICE LEAGUE opens on November 17th.

Box Office: HITMAN’S BODYGUARD takes weakest weekend in 15 years

As expected, THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD is enjoying another weekend at the top of the chart in its second frame, bringing in a little over $10 million over the weekend, according to estimates. Meanwhile, ANNABELLE: CREATION held tight in the second spot with $7.3 million in its third frame, bringing its cumulative domestic box office up to $77 million. That’s more than five times what the horror sequel cost to make and there’s still VOD and home video to take into account.

The sole opener of the weekend to chart, LEAP, an animated Canadian import about young ballet dancers, landed in third with $5 million. Comparatively, BIRTH OF THE DRAGON and ALL SAINTS, the other notable openers, came in at eighth and fifteenth in this weekend’s charts, respectively. This is bad news for the domestic box office, and it will likely continue into next weekend, wherein the only noteworthy releases are a 3D version of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and the Weinstein Company’s TULIP FEVER, a movie that has been delayed innumerable times at this point. If either of them chart in the top five, I will be genuinely surprised.

The good news here is that the lack of any worthwhile new releases next weekend might give some worthwhile movies some more time in the top five.  Indeed, it won’t be until September 8th, when Andres Muschietti‘s IT is unleashed, that the domestic box office will get a much-needed shot in the arm.

Here’s your top five estimates:

1. ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ $10.05M
2. ‘Annabelle: Creation’ $7.35M
3. ‘Leap!’ $5.01M
4. ‘Wind River’ $4.41M
5. ‘Logan Lucky’ $4.36M

FOCUS and CRAZY STUPID LOVE directors to take on DCEU’s THE JOKER AND HARLEY QUINN

The Joker is one popular guy. A day after word broke that Warner Bros. was developing a JOKER origin story movie for Todd Phillips (WAR DOGS) to direct as part of a series of non-DCEU standalone films, news comes that THE JOKER AND HARLEY QUINN movie is in the works. THR reports that Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the directors behind CRAZY STUPID LOVE, FOCUS, and the Tina Fey dramedy WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, are in final negotiations to write, direct, and produce an untitled movie centering on THE JOKER AND HARLEY QUINN, with Jared Leto and Margot Robbie reprising their roles from SUICIDE SQUAD.

The film is described as a “criminal love story” and will revolve around the two characters that were introduced in the 2016 villain-centric movie, and as such will be a movie that takes place within the DC Extended Universe. The plan is for this to move forward after the studio makes SUICIDE SQUAD 2, which is a priority. Warner Bros. had zeroed in on Jaume Collett-Serra (THE SHALLOWS) to direct that sequel, but he instead opted to take on Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE. They’re currently out to directors as SUICIDE SQUAD 2 is firmly on the fast track.

Why the hustle? THR reports one issue involves actors’ holding agreements—many of the actors from SUICIDE SQUAD signed contracts to appear in future films and sequels, but those contracts would appear to have expiration dates or at the very least dates at which the DC films lose their “priority” on the very busy ensemble’s schedule.

What this means for GOTHAM CITY SIRENS, the female-centric DCEU spinoff, is unclear. Deadline suggests that this JOKER AND HARLEY QUINN movie is a new version of that, and that SUICIDE SQUAD helmer David Ayer is no longer attached to write and direct. That film originated from Robbie herself, who put the idea to Warner Bros. of a DCEU movie centering on female characters based on the comics run GOTHAM CITY SIRENS. She was attached to produce and Ayer signed on to write and direct, but it’s unclear if that project evolved into this JOKER AND HARLEY QUINN movie or if GOTHAM CITY SIRENS is still in development.

This move comes as Warner Bros. is setting its plans for the future of its DC Comics adaptations. JUSTICE LEAGUE opens in November, AQUAMAN is in production now, SHAZAM is set to start filming early next year, and WONDER WOMAN II now has a firm 2019 release date. The studio is also looking for a top-tier director for FLASHPOINT, and is developing various other DC films like Joss Whedon’s BATGIRL, Chris McKay’s NIGHTWING, and of course THE BATMAN that has Matt Reeves directing and Ben Affleck maybe (or maybe not) playing Batman-and may not be part of the DCEU.

But Warner Bros. is also shaking things up, as evidenced by yesterday’s news of the JOKER origin story. In addition to these aforementioned DCEU films, which will be in continuity with each other and presumably cross-pollinate characters, Warner Bros. is putting together a label under which they can create one-off DC Comics adaptations with ambitious new takes on the characters. This JOKER origin movie will have an actor other than Leto in the lead role and will have no connectivity whatsoever to the DCEU—it’s basically a superhero art film with no strings attached and no franchise to build toward. This, I’ve argued, is a dumb play by Warner Bros: their main universe is still a mess and this is going to confuse the movie going public. The only reason I can see for WB to head in this direction is that they can’t get any creative-types to work on DC properties due to the DCEU’s reputation and they’re trying to attract creatives by discociating DCEU connections. Matt Reeves has as much as stated that this is the reason he joined THE BATMAN: WB told him it would be a standalone venture.

But the studio does also have its DCEU movies, and it appears a JOKER AND HARLEY QUINN film is in the cards. Ficarra and Requa have been in the WB family for a while now, dating back to 2011’s CRAZY STUPID LOVE, so their involvement in the DCEU isn’t a huge surprise. Moreover, they also helped get the smash hit NBC series ‘This Is Us’ off the ground, directing the pilot and executive producing the series. This JOKER AND HARLEY QUINN movie is clearly a departure for the duo, but the recurring thread through all their films is a pretty firm focus on character with a strong emotional core.

James Gunn: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 to “set up the next 10-20 years of Marvel”!

The folks at Marvel Studios have made a pretty big to-do about the fact that AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and AVENGERS 4 will be the “culmination” of the vision they imagined for the MCU when they launched the game-changing shared universe nearly ten years ago. So what comes next? Aside from the sequel to SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING which will pick up minutes after AVENGERS 4, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 holds some of the answers, it seems.

GUARDIANS helmer James Gunn dropped in on Facebook Live today to promote the home video release of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, and in true Gunnsian fashion, he opened up the floor to some fan questions. Gunn reiterated some stuff we’ve heard before — it’s not teenage Groot, it’s adolescent Groot, and a few new tidbits — Yondu will communicate with Peter through the music on his Zune the way Meredith did with her cassette tapes. But the big info popped up at the very end of the Q&A when a fan asked if they ever consider putting Richard Rider, aka Nova, in future MCU films.

Here’s what Gunn said,

“Yes, definitely. Nova comes up occasionally as someone we might use. One of the things I’m doing with creating Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it will take place after the next wo Avengers movies and it will help to set up the next 10, 20 years of Marvel movies. It’s going to really expand the cosmic universe. We’re going to be setting up new characters. It will be the last movie of this version of Guardians of the Galaxy.”

No release date is currently set for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, but Gunn previously hinted at a 2020 release, telling fans “I’ll continue being here with you over the next three years as we create Vol. 3,” in a Facebook post earlier this year. And this sounds an awful lot like VOL. 3 will set up the new incarnation of the Marvel universe after AVENGERS 4 closes the chapter on the first three phases. And it’s a move that makes sense from Marvel’s point of view. Gunn pioneered the way into the cosmic universe with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and he’s proven himself a deft screenwriter who can play by the Marvel rules while bringing something new and unexpected to the table.

WB developing 80’s-set JOKER origin film with Scorsese & Phillips, sans DCEU and Leto

Big, bad news out of DC land. Deadline reports that Warner Bros. and DC Films are in the early stages of developing new JOKER origin story as their latest expansion of the ‘Batman universe’ and they’ve brought some heavy-hitters aboard including Martin Scorsese. THE HANGOVER and WAR DOGS helmer Todd Phillips is set to direct and co-write the script with THE FIGHTER screenwriter Scott Silver. Scorsese will produce with Phillips.

The film is intended to launch a yet-to-be-named new banner at Warner Bros., which will expand the universe of DC films outside the DCEU to “create new storylines with different actors playing the beloved characters”. The JOKER origin story is said to be separate from the previous film incarnations, which means Jared Leto will not take on the role for this iteration of the character. Per the report, he’s set to reprise the role in the SUICIDE SQUAD sequel and the GOTHAM CITY SIRENS spinoff, but the origin story will see a new, possibly younger actor take on the role of the iconic comic book villain. This a perfect example of the “prequel mistake”: assuming audiences want to see the tragic backstories of the characters, especially classic villains. No one wants to see Darth Vader or Hannibal Lecter as children, and no one wants the ‘multiple choice’ question of Joker’s origin answered.

And it gets worse. Per the report, “The intention is to make a gritty and grounded hard-boiled crime film set in early-’80s Gotham City that isn’t meant to feel like a DC movie as much as one of Scorsese’s films from that era, like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or The King Of Comedy.” Phillips and Silver have already started writing the script, but there’s no word on how this new incarnation and the new film banner will fit in with the existing DC schedule. Perhaps WB/DC should get more than one good movie (ahem, WONDER WOMAN) into establishing their interconnected DC Extended Universe before making more, even more confusing spin-off universes.

New BLADE RUNNER 2049 TV spot has explosive new footage, film due October 6, 2017!

We’re a little over a month out from the debut of BLADE RUNNER 2049 and this new international TV spot (a trailer, really) now gives us a clearer picture of just what’s going on in this plot. Previously, we knew that Ryan Gosling stars as the new Blade Runner, LAPD Officer K, whose quest leads him on a search to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Now, however, it’s clear that Jared Leto‘s villainous Niander Wallace not only has an army of Replicants in the making but also the rest of the “guns” of the law enforcement division under his swayminus K. Well now, that’s much more exciting, thank you!

Director Denis Villeneuve reteams with frequent cinematographer Roger Deakins for the sci-fi story with Ridley Scott as executive producer; BLADE RUNNER scribe Hampton Fancher and Michael Green penned the screenplay for the sequel. The film also stars Robin Wright, Barkhad Abdi, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Lennie James, and Mackenzie Davis. BLADE RUNNER 2049 opens in theaters on October 6th.