Movie News Roundup: Avatar sequels, Bill and Ted 3, Godzilla Resurgence and Idris Elba!

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Movie News Roundup:  April 17th, 2016

The nature of movie news tends to be tiny pebbles of actual material surrounded by a snowball of conjecture.  Sounds great, so we decided to hop on board.  This is the first edition of a weekly-ish weekend feature where we’ll try to round up all of the announcements, new trailers and casting news for you, saving you from having to dive into a whole metric ton of speculation to get to the nitty gritty.

New Movie Announcements

Indiana Jones 5 not ret-conning Crystal Skull

No more, please.
No more, please.

With Spielberg and Harrison Ford thumbs up to continue the Indiana Jones franchise, director Frank Marshall causes some minor furor over the new project being a “continuation” of the money-making but fan-hated Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  Besides Ford stepping back into the role and Marshall saying he’s adverse to replacing any of the key actors in the series, there’s not a ton of new information here.  His continuation statement may just be a way of saying that Indy 5 will not reboot the story (and be a way to distance the project from early rumors that Chris Pratt could be the new Indiana Jones in a franchise reset.)

Bill and Ted’s 3rd Adventure heading to production?

Please oh please oh please...
Please oh please oh please…

Alex Winter, half of the time-displaced dynamic duo of the Bill and Ted films, publicly declared the projected third outing for the pair is close to starting production.  Winter and co-star Keanu Reeves have previously been cryptically optimistic about another outing, but Winters recently said that there is indeed “a script, a director and a studio” and that production may begin late this year or early 2017.  Much like Paul Reubens’ long journey to returning as Pee Wee Herman on the big screen, there’s been quite a few false starts, but this news is the closest to a hard confirmation either star has made on the viability of the project.

Avatar to be visually stimulating and forgettable 4 more times…

Yup, my take on it.
Yup, my take on it.

James Cameron is hoping to save his big-budget baby, Avatar, from being relegated to history as a gargantuan technological achievement that failed to create a lasting appeal.  To that end, he’s announced that not just one, but four! new Avatar films are on the horizon.  The project has a script writing team assembled and a tentative first release in 2018, though that date may be an artifact of an aborted sequel that was planned for 2016, and has continually been pushed back since.  Cameron says the four will form a coherent whole, but also function as separate stand-alone stories.  The stars from the first, Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington, had previously signed on to reprise their roles way back in 2014, but no word yet on if they’re still projected to star in the new projects.

Casting News

The Dark Tower by Stephen King has a hero and a villain…and a release date.

news towerThe decades spanning magnum opus from Stephen King,  The Dark Tower, has finally begun filming.  Idris Elba has been confirmed as The Gunslinger, the leading man/anti-hero of the series, and his first nemesis, The Man in Black, has been revealed to be Matthew McConaughey.  In addition to a firm roster, the film also has staked out an initial release date of February 2017.

Ghost in the Shell off to controversial start?

news ghostThis week, Paramount released the first image from a live-action adaptation of the legendary Japanese Anime, Ghost in the Shell, featuring Scarlett Johannson.  Johannson is starring in the role of cybernetically augmented-cop Motoko Kusunagi.  While the animation style of the era tended to downplay any distinctly Asian facial characteristics in general, Kusunagi is officially of Japanese nationality, and there has been backlash about another instance Hollywood whitewashing.

news ghost2While I could defend the casting based on the non-Asian appearance of the original film (and the fact that she is a complete cyborg who retains nothing of her original body,) the studio has decided to fight the whitewashing fire with gasoline by leaking that they tried to use CG to give Johansson a more Asian appearance.  Ouch.  That is not a strong position to be in when defending your casting decision.  The film is slated for an early 2017 debut.

More Idris Elba!

Idris followed up a tempestuous snub to play the next James Bond by going on to star in nearly everything else.  Elba is slated to play the gunslinger Roland in King’s Dark Tower film, and now word is spreading about his role in the new Star Trek movie.  Writer and co-star Simon Pegg praised Idris’ character in the new film, confirming that English actor will be the villain in Star Trek Beyond, which is slated to release this July.

New Trailers

Godzilla Resurgence

Following the somewhat luke-warm reception to Hollywood’s second attempt at making a Godzilla movie, the parent company Toho had decided to return to making films about the giant monster.  The new project, titled Godzilla Resurgence, is directed by Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan) and is set to premier this July in Japan with tentative news of a US release (home or box office uncertain) for the end of this year.

The Neon Demon

Amazon studios is following its rival Netflix into major film distribution with The Neon Demon, starring Elle Fanning and Keanu Reeves.  The film is a supernatural horror flick about a young woman who moves to LA to become a model, but falls in with a group of glamorous women whose interest in her success may be malevolent in nature.

Doctor Strange

Marvel has released the first trailer of the upcoming Dr. Strange movie, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton.  Stephen Strange is a life-saving doctor whose own brush with death leads him on a spiritual journey to Tibet, where he is indoctrinated into a form of sorcery that will allow him to save lives on a cosmic scale as the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange.  Releases this November.

Suicide Squad

After the first trailers caused a massive re shoot in order to lighten the mood of the piece, Suicide Squad is back on track with a new trailer that seems to highlight the witty banter and dark humor fans loved in the earlier previews.  Shooting schedule withstanding, expect this one out in August of this year.

 

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