This Week:

Jason Statham might join Melissa McCarthy for Susan Cooper; Warner Bros. is looking to acquire the novel Blood on Snow; Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes will get back on track in 2014; John Ridley takes on MGM’s Ben-Hur reboot; Ethan Hawke and director Andrew Niccol plan to reteam; and Bill Condon will re-write The Greatest Showman on Earth.

Action star Jason Statham might soon be flexing his comedic chops as he is in early talks to join Susan Cooper, a new comedy starring Melissa McCarthy.

Statham is being eyed for the role of a spy working on the same side as McCarthy’s titular character, an unlikely secret agent. Obviously, the Fast and Furious 7 star wouldn’t be working too far outside his comfort zone in the role of a spy, but the film still sounds like a change of pace overall for him.

Susan Cooper reunites McCarthy with her Bridesmaids and The Heat director, Paul Feig, who reportedly met with Statham to discuss him coming on board. Statham will next be seen in Homefront.

Source: Deadline

Warner Bros is in talks for the rights to Blood on Snow, a forthcoming novel from author Jo Nesbo (The Snowman).

Although it has yet to hit bookstore shelves, Warner Bros. is already deep in negotiations to acquire the novel. Not only that, Warners has already selected Leonardo DiCaprio as the prime candidate to headline the film.

Blood on Snow is based on the first book in a two-part series about a hit man hired to kill his boss’ wife. Complications arise, however, as the hit man starts to develop feelings for the wife. The premise is a bit cliché for an actor who typically chooses his projects wisely, but there must be more to it if Warner Bros. is willing to pay a reported $2 million for the film rights.

Source: Deadline

It was on, then off, and now it’s back on again. Constantin Films has announced production will restart on The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes next year.

The studio put the sequel on hold last month after the first Mortal Instruments film, City of Bones, failed to make a splash at the box office. What was strange about the announcement, however, was the fact that Constantin had already begun production on City of Ashes and had even gone so far as to cast Sigourney Weaver in a prominent role.

Still, despite some box office troubles, it appears Constantin believes enough in the property and its fan base to give City of Ashes a shot. And that’s more than could be said for the dozens of other unsuccessful “first film in a planned franchise” movies out there.

Source: THR

12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley has been hired to re-write the Ben-Hur reboot for MGM.

Ridley will be pulling elements from Keith Clarke’s spec script and adapting the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace, which is now in the public domain. Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) will direct.

Although Ridley’s 12 Years a Slave script has been lauded by critics, his prior work (Red Tails, Undercover Brother) wasn’t nearly as successful. However, we’ve seen time and time again that it oftentimes only takes one script for a screenwriter to make the jump out of mediocrity.

Source: Deadline

Ethan Hawke is set to reunite with his Gattaca director, Andrew Niccol (In Time), on a yet-to-be-titled film.

Although we don’t have a title for the film, we do know that it will follow a drone pilot (Hawke) living in Las Vegas who spends half his day fighting terrorists and the other half “fighting” his confrontational family. However, it isn’t too long before the pilot starts to question whether he is creating more terrorists abroad than he is stopping.

While most will point to Hawke and Niccol’s work on Gattaca as some of their best, this particular project sounds more like their other collaboration, Lord of War, which was a satirical look at the highly lucrative gun-running business.

In addition to directing, Niccol will also be writing the script.

Source: Deadline

Fox has hired director Bill Condon (The Fifth Estate) to re-write their P.T. Barnum musical The Greatest Showman on Earth.

The musical will follow Barnum’s life as a circus showman, as well as his love affair with opera singer Jenny Lind. Fox has already hired jack-of-all-trades (pun intended) Hugh Jackman to play Barnum, but no additional roles have been cast.

Much like Jackman, Bill Condon is no stranger to musicals, having written and directed the 2006 film Dreamgirls, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards. He will be re-writing an original draft from Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City), and commercial director Michael Gracey will direct.

Source: THR