Ice Cube will star in a new retelling of A Christmas Carol; casting and filming updates on next year's The Conjuring 2; Liam Neeson will star in The Revenger for the director of Zombieland; a pair of actors join Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher 2; Django Unchained actor Ato Essandoh joins Bourne 5; Frances McDormand will headline Martin McDonagh's next film; a new trailer and featurette for Focus Features' The Young Messiah; several high-profile upcoming films get new release dates.
Universal Pictures has acquired a new spec script titled Humbug, that offers a modern take on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Ice Cube will star in the film, reuniting with director Tim Story (Barbershop, Ride Along) for the fourth time.
In the film, Ice Cube will play a real estate mogul who is visited by three ghosts during the holiday season. Most recently, the rapper/actor served as a producer on Straight Outta Compton, one of this summer's biggest hits and one of the films that has contributed to Universal's record-breaking success this year.
The Conjuring 2 is gearing up to begin filming, as returning star Vera Farmiga recently shared an image of the title cards for the film's table read. Farmiga and Patrick Wilson played paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in the original 2013 James Wan film, and the sequel will see the duo take on an entirely new case.
Frances O'Connor (A.I.: Artificial Intelligence) and Simon McBurney (The Theory of Everything) have also joined the cast of the film. The two actors will play the parents of a girl who is being haunted, the phenomenon that the Warrens investigate in the film. The Conjuring sequel is set to begin production this month.
Liam Neeson will star in The Revenger, a new action comedy directed by Zombieland filmmaker Ruben Fleischer, for Universal. Plot details remain under wraps for the film, but it is based on a script by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant (Night at the Museum).
Neeson's track record at the box office lately has been a bit unsteady. While Taken 3 performed well, other recent releases like A Walk Among the Tombstones and Run All Night rank among his lowest-grossing films in the past few years. His upcoming projects include Martin Scorsese's historical drama Silence and fantasy A Monster Calls.
Jack Reacher 2 is eyeing a pair of new cast members in newcomer Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn) and Straight Outta Compton actor Aldis Hodge, who played MC Ren in that smash hit. The film is set to begin production next month under director Ed Zwick, who previously worked with star Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai.
Details on which characters the two up-and-comers would take on remain unclear, though the Jack Reacher sequel will be based on Lee Child's 2013 novel Never Go Back. Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Age of Ultron) is also in talks for the film, presumably as the female lead, and the project will reportedly be casting its primary villain shortly.
Ato Essandoh -- who has appeared in films such as Django Unchained and Blood Diamond -- has joined the cast of Bourne 5. The film marks the return of franchise star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass to the espionage series, after Jeremy Renner and director Tony Gilroy's The Bourne Legacy in 2012.
Essandoh's character has yet to be revealed, but the actor joins a supporting cast that already includes Ex Machina breakout Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Tommy Lee Jones, and Julia Stiles. The still-untitled fifth Bourne film is set to hit theaters on July 29, 2016.
Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Fargo) will star in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the new film from writer/director Martin McDonagh. The actress will star as a woman who goes to war with her local police on a quest for justice after her daughter is murdered.
McDonagh's new film sounds like it would mark a more serious project for him. The filmmaker's previous films include dark comedies like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. McDormand's upcoming projects include a voice role in Pixar's The Good Dinosaur and the Coen brothers musical Hail, Caesar!
Source: The Guardian
Focus Features has released a new trailer and featurette for its upcoming biblical drama, The Young Messiah. Director Cyrus Nowrasteh co-wrote the film with Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, which centers on the seven-year-old Jesus Christ and his journey of self-discovery upon returning to Nazareth.
The film is based on the novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice and stars Adam Greaves-Neal, Sean Bean, David Bradley, Lee Boardman, Jonathan Bailey, and David Burke. Originally named after its source material, the project's title was changed early this month to better reflect its focus. The Young Messiah will arrive in theaters domestically on March 11, 2016, just two weeks before Easter Sunday.
Source: Focus Features
A number of high-profile upcoming films have experienced release date changes. Universal will now release Tom Hardy's gangster film Legend to select theaters on November 20, 2015 before its wide release on December 11, 2015. Meanwhile, Anomalisa -- co-directed by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) -- will be released in New York and Los Angeles on December 30, 2015, qualifying it for awards consideration. No word on a wide release for the film.
The Weinstein Company has also announced that Natalie Portman Western Jane Got a Gun will now arrive in U.S. theaters sometime in February 2016, following a European release this November. Likewise, Gramercy Pictures' London Has Fallen -- the sequel to 2013 hit Olympus Has Fallen -- has been pushed from January 22, 2016 to March 4, 2016. Oliver Stone's Snowden starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the controversial NSA whistleblower will not hit theaters this year as previously planned. Instead, the film will be released sometime in 2016, though no date has yet been named.
Source: Universal, Paramount, The Weinstein Co., Gramercy Pictures, Open Road
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