Danny Boyle in contention to direct BOND 25!

As MGM and Annapurna Pictures move closer to pulling the trigger on BOND 25, the studios are switching up their plan of attack when it comes to finding a director. Last summer, the studios announced a November 2019 release date for BOND 25, which started a ticking clock of sorts as they secured Daniel Craig to return, then turned their sights to finding a director. Last we heard, ’71 director Yann Demange was the top choice to take the helm, but now Variety reports that Oscar-winning SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE filmmaker Danny Boyle is high on MGM’s list to direct.

This is certainly a twist to the conversation, as most assumed Demange had been settled on as the man who’d bring BOND 25 to the big screen. But Variety says that since Annapurna Pictures won the distribution rights to the Bond franchise, there has been “one last push” to go after a more well-known name to take the helm. Indeed, the previous deal with Sony came to a conclusion with SPECTRE, and Annapurna landed the distribution rights after months of wooing the franchise’s producers.

Landing on Demange in the first place didn’t come easy. Arrival and BLADE RUNNER 2049 filmmaker Denis Villeneuve was very high on the list to take the helm, but having already committed to DUNE as his next project, Villeneuve had to decline the offer (this time around at least—watch out for Villeneuve when BOND 26 comes up). Christopher Nolan has also been in the mix as a possibility, but the Oscar-nominated DUNKIRK filmmaker reaffirmed just this week that while he’s interested in Bond, he’d ideally only direct when it comes time to reboot the franchise entirely.

Demange has heat on his next project WHITE BOY RICK, which is in the can, but Boyle would certainly be that high profile filmmaker Annapurna is looking for. He’s a tremendous visual stylist with a wonderful British flair, and just thinking about Boyle’s frequent cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle shooting a Bond movie makes me incredibly excited. Boyle is coming off a pair of critically acclaimed but commercially stunted films in last year’s sequel T2 TRAINSPOTTING and 2015’s STEVE JOBS, but after films like 28 DAYS LATER it’s clear the guy certainly has a great action film in him, and BOND 25 would be a pretty great showcase.

Variety cautions that no offer has been made and a deal isn’t currently in the works, but Boyle has “keen interest” in the project and so a match could potentially make. We’ll have to see how all this plays out, but with the clock ticking on that release date, MGM is going to have to make a decision soon.

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DC Films shores up immediate line-up; FLASHPOINT and BATGIRL are next-in-line

Despite earning $657 million worldwide, JUSTICE LEAGUE was basically a flop because a movie that brought together that many A-List superheroes should have cleared a billion easily. Instead, it showed that although people really liked WONDER WOMAN (which earned $821 million worldwide), they were tepid on the overall direction of the DCEU. In response, Warner Bros. is moving slowly and cautiously rather than trying to line up a parade of superhero movies with arbitrary release dates. AQUAMAN is still on schedule for December 21 of this year, filming has begun on SHAZAM for an April 5, 2019 release date. Additionally, casting should begin soon for WONDER WOMAN II, which is currently set to open on November 1, 2019 with Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins set to return. And outside of that the picture gets fuzzy with lots of projects in various stages of development

THR now reports that Warner Bros. is eying FLASHPOINT and BATGIRL as the follow-ups to WONDER WOMAN II. Per THR, “Insiders say the next wave will likely include the Flash film and Batgirl, among others,” which naturally leads to speculation about what those “others” could be. Perhaps it’s SUICIDE SQUAD 2? The JOKER origin movie starring Joaquin Phoenix? Matt Reeves’ THE BATMAN? There are plenty of possibilities, but if THR is willing to name FLASHPOINT and BATGIRL, then it stands to reason that these are the two that the studio is most bullish on.

Which makes sense since Flash and Batgirl are both relatively lighthearted characters. Based on the hard-turn following the disappointment of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, it appears Warner Bros. has made the decision that it’s better for their superhero movies should be more upbeat. That doesn’t mean they can’t have pathos (there’s certainly dramatic weight to WONDER WOMAN), but they’re moving away from gritty, dark characters in favor of more personable ones like SHAZAM (a boy who becomes a superhero when he shouts “Shazam!”), Flash (who was one of the few bright spots of JUSTICE LEAGUE), and BATGIRL, who will probably walk the line between comedy and thriller with Joss Whedon in charge.

It will be interesting to see what kind of announcements Warner Bros. makes for what comes after WONDER WOMAN II and what it means for the future of the DCEU.

Jessica Chastain officially in talks to play adult Bev Marsh in IT: CHAPTER 2!

After months of expressing interest on both sides in reteaming for the IT sequel, it looks like Jessica Chastain and Andy Muschietti are reuniting. Variety reports that Chastain, who starred in Muschietti’s 2013 horror film MAMA, is in early talks to play an adult Beverly in IT: CHAPTER 2. Chastain is the first piece of casting to be announced for the sequel outside of the returning child actors and Bill Skarsgard, who will reprise his role as Pennywise.

Variety also notes that Muschietti is expected to return although his deal has not yet closed. Additionally, “Sources stress that negotiations are early and that the script is still being worked on, but both sides have officially begun discussing her coming on to the project.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the book, IT is basically broken down into two halves. The first half, which we saw adapted last year, focused on the kids of Derry, Maine taking down “It”. The sequel picks up thirty years later and follows them as adults who must return to Derry to finish what they started.

The question now becomes what other talent they can sign for the sequel. Chastain is a two-time Oscar nominee, so there should be a level of name recognition when it comes to casting the adult versions of Bill, Ben, Richie, Mike, Eddie, and Stanley. As for Chastain, while nothing has been finalized yet, I assume there will be room in her schedule if they start filming late this year or even early 2019 (depending on the amount of post-production vfx the project requires). Right now, she’s attached to star in a PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES-type comedy with Octavia Spencer. She’ll be seen later this year in X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX.

IT: CHAPTER 2 is set to open on September 6, 2019. The first IT grossed $700 million worldwide.

Box Office: BLACK PANTHER slashes records with massive $192M opening!

BLACK PANTHER will end Sunday with an estimated $192 million, which would put it in second place as far as opening-weekend domestic grosses in the MCU, sandwiched between the two AVENGERS movies. With the added oomph of the holiday weekend, however, BLACK PANTHER is on track to bring in $218 million by the end of Monday, ably surging past AVENGERS‘ $207 million domestic take on its opening weekend. It’s also worth pointing out that BLACK PANTHER smashed the previous record for highest-grossing February release, which was previously held by DEADPOOL with some $132 million. Oh, and it’s now the fifth largest domestic opening of all time as well.

This is all to say that BLACK PANTHER is an even bigger hit than the most optimistic projections had it pegged to be, whether you get hung up on the nuances of holiday weekend vs. regular three-day weekend or not. Its foreign total is currently at $169 million, meaning that its full global take over its first full four days in theaters will be something very close to $400 million. For Ryan Coogler, the brilliant filmmaker behind Marvel’s latest, this should effectively put him in a position to call his own shots from now on.

In comparison, it seems borderline unfair to talk about the rest of the top five. A gulf of about $175 million separates BLACK PANTHER from its closest rival, PETER RABBIT, which brought in $17.2 million, putting it just a hair above FIFTY SHADES FREED in third place with $16.9 million in its second frame. In its ninth frame, JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE continues to do profound business, landing in fourth with $7.9 million to add to its $370 million domestic take, narrowly defeating Clint Eastwood‘s THE 15:17 TO PARIS, which came in fifth with $7.8 million in its second frame.

This will almost certainly be Eastwood’s film’s last weekend in the top five, as next weekend brings Alex Garland‘s much-hyped ANNIHILATION and the big-box comedy GAME NIGHT in wide release. Still, I would essentially guarantee that BLACK PANTHER will take next weekend as well and will only have a major rival when Ava DuVernay‘s A WRINKLE IN TIME, another forward-looking Disney production helmed by a masterful black filmmaker, sees release in early March. One has to hope that the success of Coogler’s latest and the near-inevitable success of DuVernay’s film will mean that big studios will get more serious about bringing ambitious stories pitched prominently to black audiences in the future. There’s an irrefutable reason to keep that hope alive at this point, and that’s thanks largely to Coogler, his cast and crew, and the astounding movie they’ve made.

Here’s your top five at the box office for the three-day total:

1. ‘Black Panther’ $192.02M
2. ’Peter Rabbit’ $17.25M
3. ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ $16.94M
4. ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ $7.94M
5. ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ $7.68M

Paramount planning to reboot TRANSFORMERS after this year’s BUMBLEBEE film!

If you’re a big fan of Michael Bay‘s take on the TRANSFORMERS franchise, as has been on explosive display on the big screen for five movies over more than 10 years, I have some bad news for you: That line is probably coming to a close as Hasbro and Paramount reportedly look to reset the feature franchise following the upcoming BUMBLEBEE movie, which is due out this December. Don’t feel too badly for the studios; they did rake in a combined $4.38 billion from ticket sales alone.

Now, if you’re of the opinion that the live-action TRANSFORMERS movies have been all sorts of garish lights and sounds signifying nothing, then this could come as good news. Let’s keep in mind that we haven’t heard official word one way or the other just yet, but as Transformer World reports, the plans to reboot the franchise were first announced during Hasbro’s investor preview for the 2018 New York Toy Fair. It’s looking like the untitled TRANSFORMERS 6, a sequel to the kitchen-sink of many world mythologies that was TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, has been pulled from Hasbro and Paramount’s schedule. And that’s just for starters.

TFW’s report states that Hasbro specifically mentioned that “a new team at Paramount will reset the Transformers Live-Action Movie Series following the release of Bumblebee: The Movie.” That means no new TRANSFORMERS movies for the foreseeable future; the years between 2018 and at least 2021 will be a drought for Autobots and Decepticons alike. There’s also a new agreement between Hasbro and Paramount, one which has the toy company receiving greater creative control of their content and greenlighting of movies.

Speaking of movies, Hasbro/Paramount unveiled this slide as part of the presentation which confirmed release dates for their upcoming films:

Could that 2021 Paramount/Hasbro Event Film be the reboot of the TRANSFORMERS franchise? If so, that gives the team plenty of time to start shaping the future of their universe, even when factoring in the time it’ll take for the new creative team to see how fans and critics react to Travis Knight‘s BUMBLEBEE movie when it opens on December 21st of this year.

READY PLAYER ONE trailer is “Pure Imagination”, film arrives March 29, 2018!

Warner Bros. has released a new READY PLAYER ONE trailer. The upcoming film from Steven Spielberg follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), an unlikely hero in the virtual world of the OASIS where he and anyone else can be whomever they want, but must protect their online lives from the evil Innovative Online Industries (IOI) company that wants to control OASIS and monetize it.

Set to a cover of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY’s ‘Pure Imagination’, READY PLAYER ONE’s newest trailer is nostalgia fuel at its most concentrated. Swarms of ‘Halo’s Spartans rushing a battlefield, JURASSIC PARK’s Rexy is chasing down the Delorean from BACK TO THE FUTURE, the IRON GIANT assembling himself in a hangar, it’s a bunch of fun. But it also hits some interesting thematic notes facing modern internet users; hedonistic escapism, the effect on human connectivity and of course the corrupt practices of ISPs.

READY PLAYER ONE opens March 29th and also stars Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.

IMAX trailer for PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING shows off colorful kaiju clashes!

A new PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING IMAX trailer has been released online, showcasing new footage from the upcoming sequel and making a very strong case for seeing it in the IMAX format. PACIFIC RIM 2 was not a guarantee when the film first hit theaters, as it somewhat underperformed domestically but hit big overseas—especially in China. Guillermo del Toro departed the director’s chair to focus on THE SHAPE OF WATER, and ‘Daredevil’ Season 1 showrunner Steven S. DeKnight subsequently came in to co-write and direct a new story.

The film looks to be a sequel-boot (re-quel?) of sorts, as it only has a couple of characters from the first movie while shifting its focus to a new, younger cast led by John Boyega. He plays the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost, and obviously lives in the shadow of his father’s great deeds. But when a new kaiju threat arises, Boyega jumps into action and we get more monster vs. robot fights.

It looks like these fights are going to be the centerpiece of the movie, at least judging by this trailer. And they look pretty cool! There are no illusions here about what this is—at least half of this movie is essentially an animated film, as these battles are rendered entirely in the computer. There’s certainly a throwback vibe to the fights (‘Power Rangers’ fans will be pleased), and I’m curious to see how DeKnight differentiates each battle from the next. The world building was PACIFIC RIM’s greatest asset, so here’s hoping that’s expanded upon in this sequel, which should go a long way to keeping things compelling.

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING also stars Scott Eastwood, Tian Jing, Charlie Day, Adria Arjona, Burn Gorman, and Rinko Kikuchi and hits theaters on March 23rd.