Baz Luhrman’s Elvis Presley biopic casts Austin Butler as The King of Rock N’ Roll

MOULIN ROUGE and ROMEO + JULIET filmmaker Baz Luhrmann has found his Elvis. After an exhaustive casting search not unlike the one that landed Carey Mulligan the role of Daisy in Luhrmann’s bombastic retelling of THE GREAT GATSBY, it was announced today that Austin Butler will be playing Elvis Presley in Luhrmann’s long-developing biopic of the iconic recording artist, performer, and actor.

The film is set up at Warner Bros. and will chart Presley’s rise and zenith, putting a particular focus on his relationship with his manager Col. Tom Parker, to be played by Tom Hanks. The drama “will delve into their complex dynamic spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and the loss of innocence in America.”

Butler was arguably the least well-known actor who made the final shortlist, which included Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and ‘One Direction’ frontman Harry Styles. Butler’s most substantial role to date was as the star of the short-lived fantasy TV adaptation ‘The Shannara Chronicles’, and he also had roles in shows like ‘Switched at Birth’ and ‘The Carrie Diaries’. But it was his performance on the stage that first caught Luhrmann’s attention:

“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist,” said Luhrmann in a statement. “Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent. I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, and through a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.”

Luhrmann co-wrote the screenplay with his longtime collaborator Craig Pearce, and Butler will next be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. Given the recent success of music biopics like BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY and ROCKETMAN one imagines there’s a market for an Elvis movie, but what excites me is Luhrmann’s involvement. The one thing we know he won’t make here is something uninteresting.


Trailer for WWI-era prequel THE KING’S MAN arrives, film due February 13, 2020!

Disney-owned 20th Century Fox has released the first THE KING’S MAN trailer and poster, offering our first look at director Matthew Vaughn’s KINGSMAN prequel. The film—which was put together rather quickly and quietly—traces the origins of the spy franchise that Vaughn brought to life in 2014’s KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE and 2017’s disappointing sequel KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. The official logline teases that “a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions,” which in turn spurs the creation of Kingsman. So is the film suggesting that World War I was a vast conspiracy crafted by a dangerous few? It looks that way.

Ralph Fiennes anchors the prequel cast filling the “mentor” role that Colin Firth played in the first KINGSMAN, with Harris Dickinson (‘Trust’) playing the new recruit a la Taron Egerton in the initial film. I do like that Vaughn has leaned into a new, distinct aesthetic here that sets THE KING’S MAN apart from the first two KINGSMAN movies, and if this franchise was borne out of Vaughn’s desire to make a James Bond movie, it appears THE KING’S MAN will afford him the opportunity to make a World War I movie as well. It should be noted that Vaughn has said in addition to this prequel, he also intends to make KINGSMAN 3, so the Eggsy story isn’t done just yet.

Along with the trailer and poster, the full cast has now—at long last—been confirmed. Joining Fiennes and Dickinson in the ensemble are Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance. THE KING’S MAN opens in theaters in February 2020.

Box Office: SPIDER-MAN swings ahead of CRAWL and STUBER with $45M!

As far as box office totals are concerned, the second weekend of July was won by a web-slinging teenager and a toy cowboy. SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME has earned $45 million domestically over the course of the weekend, bringing its to-date total up to $274.5 million. Even more jaw-dropping is its worldwide total, which comes to over $847 million with the help of a foreign box office total of $572.5 million. This is FAR FROM HOME‘s second week in theaters which means the superhero sequel has a high likelihood of crossing the $1 billion mark.

Meanwhile, Pixar’s TOY STORY 4 has held steady as the second-highest performer at the box office, adding $20.6 million to its $346.3 million domestic total. When it comes to its box office totals worldwide, TOY STORY 4 has earned more than $771 million. TOY STORY 4 has officially been in theaters for one month as of this weekend and it’s already doing better than previous TOY STORY installments were doing in their respective gross-to-date totals and the end of their fourth weekend in theaters. Back in 2010, TOY STORY 3 had earned $339 million domestically by the end of its fourth weekend while TOY STORY 2‘s fourth weekend gross-to-date total came in at $140 million in 1999. And just to give some perspective on how this franchise has grown over the years: by the end of TOY STORY‘s fourth weekend in theaters in 1995, its gross-to-date total was only $97 million.

There’s a big gap between FAR FROM HOME, TOY STORY 4, and new kids on the block, CRAWL and STUBER. CRAWL‘s opening weekend total sits at $12 million domestically and $4.8 million in foreign markets, putting its worldwide opening weekend total at $16.8 million. This means CRAWL has earned back its estimated $13.5 million budget and is on track to continue filling its coffers in the coming weeks.

STUBER sputtered during its opening weekend. Domestically, the buddy cop comedy only earned $8 million and drew in a paltry $3 million in foreign theaters. This brings its opening weekend worldwide total $11 million — a bit of a sweaty opening weekend for a Fox film. It’s quite possible STUBER could pick up steam if any word-of-mouth buzz percolates it in the coming weeks; for now, this figure is a bit of a worry.

Other previously released summer 2019 films are holding steady at the box office but are slowing down in their earnings. YESTERDAY ended its third weekend with $6.75 million domestically. Disney’s live-action remake of ALADDIN added another $5.9 million domestically and $14.6 million internationally, making its 2-month worldwide total hit $960.2 million. Horror offerings ANNABELLE COMES HOME and MIDSOMMAR earned $5.5 million and $3.5 million, respectively here in the U.S. Rounding out the July 12-14 weekend box office is THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2, which added another $3.1 million to its $147 million domestic total and MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL, which took in $2.2 million domestically.

One film to keep an eye on is Disney’s live-action remake of 1994’s THE LION KING. The film has already opened in China to great success, which could be a bellwether for its U.S. release on July 19. THE LION KING‘s opening weekend total in China hit $54.7 million in three days. This is one of the stronger opening weekends for a Disney live-action remake in China in recent memory. Previous releases like ALADDIN and THE JUNGLE BOOK earned $18.8 million and $46.5 million respectively, during their opening weekends.

1. Spider-Man: Far From Home $45.3M
2. Toy Story 4 $20.66M
3. Crawl $12M
4. Stuber $8.04M
5. Yesterday $6.75M
6. Aladdin (2019) $5.87M
7. Annabelle Comes Home $5.55M
8. Midsommar $3.55M
9. The Secret Life of Pets 2 $3.1M
10. Men In Black International $2.21M

Teaser and poster for Blumhouse’s THE HUNT arrives, film due September 27, 2019!

I went to see CRAWL last night at my local theater, which means I had to sit through literally 28 minutes of trailers. Now, I love trailers, but usually I’ve seen them online before I ever get a chance to see them in an actual movie theaters. But that was not the case last night. No, last night I caught the full trailer for Blumhouse’s THE HUNT, from writer-producer Damon Lindelof and director Craig Zobel. I audibly gasped when I realized what I was watching, and two-and-a-half minutes later, I turned to my girlfriend and said something to the effect of, “well, that looks f-ing awesome.”

This afternoon, Universal Pictures released a minute-long teaser trailer for THE HUNT, which stars Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts and Oscar winner Hilary Swank. ‘The Most Dangerous Game’-esque story follows 12 strangers who wake up in a clearing with no clue where they are or how they got there. They don’t know that they’ve been chosen for a very specific purpose…THE HUNT.

According to Universal, the action-thriller involves a group of globalist elites who gather for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt humans for sport. But the elites’ master plan is about to be derailed because one of the hunted, Crystal (Gilpin), knows The Hunters’ game better than they do. She turns the tables on the killers, picking them off one by one as she makes her way toward the mysterious woman (Swank) at the center of it all.

Zobel directs from a script by Nick Cuse (‘The Leftovers’) and Lindelof, who is also producing alongside Jason Blum. Zobel and Cuse are executive producing with Steven R. Molen. Universal will release THE HUNT on Sept. 27 against STX’s crime thriller 21 BRIDGES and the studio’s own animated movie ABOMINABLE. Again, this teaser just sets the tone for the full trailer that I imagine will make its way online very soon. It looks insane in the best possible way.

‘Haunting of Hill House’s Oliver Jackson-Cohen cast in title role of THE INVISIBLE MAN!

Blumhouse has found its leading man for the INVISIBLE MAN remake currently in the works. Per Deadline, ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ star Oliver Jackson-Cohen has nabbed the title role in THE INVISIBLE MAN, which is a new twist on the classic story. The film hails from Blumhouse and Universal Pictures in the wake of the now-scrapped “Dark Universe.” The Tom Cruise-fronted THE MUMMY was intended to kick off a series of interconnected films based on the classic Universal monsters, but Dark Universe architects Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were pushed aside and the whole plan was scuttled after THE MUMMY bombed with both audiences and critics.

But from the ashes of the Dark Universe came a new twist on THE INVISIBLE MAN from Leigh Whannell, who is serving as writer, director, and executive producer on the remake in the wake of the success of his sci-fi film UPGRADE. It’s unclear exactly what the twist on THE INVISIBLE MAN is for this new film, but there is one. Elisabeth Moss is the other big name in the ensemble, and producer Jason Blum previously teased a low-budget approach:

“It was like the Blumhouse version of The Invisible Man, it’s a lower-budget movie. It’s not dependent on special effects, CGI, stunts. It’s super character-driven, it’s really compelling, it’s thrilling, it’s edgy, it feels new. Those were all things that felt like they fit with what our company does. And it happened to be an Invisible Man story, so it checked both boxes. And we responded to it because I think Leigh is just an A+ director.”

While Johnny Depp was in line to lead the Dark Universe version of THE INVISIBLE MAN, that iteration was scrapped. For this new version, the filmmakers were reportedly wowed by Jackson-Cohen’s performance in the Netflix horror anthology series ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, which led to him scoring this prime role. Production on the film gets underway in Sydney, Australia this month with Aldis Hodge, Harriet Dyer, and Storm Reid also part of the ensemble. The film is scheduled to hit theaters on March 13, 2020.

Samuel L. Jackson joins Chris Rock’s SAW spinoff, film set for October 23, 2020!

The new SAW movie just keeps getting weirder. It was announced in May that the horror franchise was getting a spinoff based on an original idea by none other than Chris Rock, who would co-star in and produce the film. Now today Lionsgate has announced that Samuel L. Jackson is joining the cast to play the father of Rock’s character. Filming is currently underway on the still-untitled SAW spinoff, and Rock is playing a police detective investigating a series of grizzly crimes. Also joining the cast is Max Minghella (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) as Rock’s partner William Schenk and Marisol Nichols (‘Riverdale’) as Rock’s boss Capt. Angie Garza.

“We think Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock along with Max Minghella and Marisol Nichols make this film completely special in the Saw canon and we can’t wait to unleash this unexpected and sinister new story on fans of this franchise. This is next level of Saw on full tilt,” said Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

Specific plot details are under wraps, as is how this ties into the mainstay SAW franchise, but the film sees longtime SAW producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules returning to produce this “re-imagining,” while Darren Lynn Bousman—who directed SAW II, SAW III, and SAW IV—returning to take the helm. JIGSAW writers Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg wrote the screenplay. So all the behind-the-scenes players are SAW regulars, working from a new idea by Chris Rock.

While the SAW franchise hasn’t been critically relevant for some time, 2017’s JIGSAW crossed $100 million worldwide at the box office seven years after the most recent SAW entry, 2010’s SAW 3D. There’s no way Lionsgate was gonna let a franchise like this sit dormant forever, and if it had to come back, why not let someone like Chris Rock take a crack at it? At the very least it should be interesting, no?

The currently untitled SAW spinoff is set for release on October 23, 2020.

New MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL trailer reveals plot details, film due October 18, 2019!

Disney has released a new trailer for MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL. The sequel to the 2014 spin on SLEEPING BEAUTY has Angelina Jolie reprising her role as the misunderstood sorceress and this time putting her at the center of a new battle to protect the magical creatures from humans. Now having taken Aurora under her wing, Maleficent has become protective. When Aurora finds a suitor she’d like to marry, a battle between Maleficent and the girls’s soon-to-be-mother-in-law (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) ensues. And on top of all that, this trailer reveals that the film also aims to dig deeper into Maleficent’s origin story.

MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL has been in development for years, with Disney basically holding the door open for when/if Jolie ever wanted to return. She finally said yes, but times have changed. MALEFICENT was one of the first Disney live-action “remakes” to be released, but we’re now in the wake of mega-nostalgia successes like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ALADDIN, so I’m unsure of the prospects of this sequel. Moreover, while I like the idea of Disney telling unique stories related to their classic films, the MALEFICENT franchise just seems kind of middle ground. This trailer does the sequel no favors, as it brings to mind another star-studded fantasy sequel that landed with a thud: THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR.

MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL opens October 18th and also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Harris Dickinson, Ed Skrein, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville.