Robert De Niro signs on for a new boxing film; Joe Flacco gets a post-Super Bowl acting gig; Another sci-fi/fantasy series gets optioned for adaptation; Summit Entertainment hires a Black List writer for Exorcism Diaries; Divergent begins production; and a date is set for Brad Pitt's Fury.
Robert De Niro has signed on for the new film Hands of Stone for director Jonathan Jakubowicz.
The film will center on real-life boxer Roberto Duran, who won 103 of his 119 fights during boxing's "Golden Era." Duran fought a few of the boxing greats, and is perhaps best known for calling out, "No mas," while fighting Sugar Ray Leonard.
Edgar Ramirez (Zero Dark Thirty) will play Duran and De Niro will play Ray Arcel, Duran's trainer. With this film, De Niro will come full circle – making the transition from boxer (in Raging Bull) to trainer. But before that, De Niro has one last bout in the ring opposite Sylvester Stallone in Grudge Match.
Hands of Stone begins production in September.
Joe Flacco will play Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas in the film Unitas We Stand.
Before moviegoers get too up in arms it should be mentioned that Flacco -- who just recently won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens -- will only portray Unitas during any football-relevant scenes. A trained professional will likely be doing the actual acting (no offense to Flacco).
However, the choice of Flacco for the football scenes has drawn some controversy. Unitas' son, John Unitas Jr., called the casting of Flacco a "joke," saying that if the production wanted to go with a quarterback they should have cast someone like Peyton Manning.
In all reality, though, most moviegoers won't even recognize Flacco onscreen, and it ultimately won't matter who is under the helmet. And after all, Flacco is the reigning Super Bowl MVP - so why not let him enjoy the spotlight for a little longer?
Yet another sci-fi/fantasy book series, The Morgaine Stories by C. J. Cherryh, is headed down the path to feature-film adaptation.
The Morgaine Stories, or Morgaine Cycle, is comprised of four books whose stories revolve around a set of "gates" that allow people to travel between different worlds. The series is reportedly influenced by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars).
Unlike most of the fantasy series we write about, however, The Morgaine Stories is a completed series (the last book in the set Exile's Gate was published in 1988). Producer Aaron Magnani optioned the rights to the series earlier this year, and has hired Peter Arneson to adapt the first book, Gates of Ivrel. We'll keep you posted as the story develops.
Summit Entertainment has hired screenwriter Barbara Marshall to write the forthcoming film Exorcism Diaries.
Marshall made waves in 2012 with her Black List script Peste, and was a staff writer on the short-lived Fox series Terra Nova. Very little is known about Exorcism Diaries, but it reportedly uses the book The Real Story Behind The Exorcist as inspiration.
That book purports to tell the real story that inspired William Friedkin's 1973 film, which was based on a William Peter Blatty novel. Exorcisms have been done to death with films like The Last Exorcism and its sequel, so we hope that this film brings something original.
Speaking of fantasy book series, Lionsgate's forthcoming film Divergent, based on the book by Veronica Roth, began production in Chicago this week.
Divergent's cast includes Shailene Woodley (Amazing Spider-Man 2), Theo James, Jai Courtney, and Kate Winslet. A few days after production began, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Ashley Judd and Aaron Eckhart were cast as the parents of Woodley's character, Tris Prior.
The series imagines a world where the population is separated based on specific personality traits. Woodley's character, however, is referred to as "divergent," meaning she does not fit into any one faction.
There are obvious parallels that can be drawn between Divergent and The Hunger Games, so it's easy to see why Lionsgate is jumping on this project now. And like The Hunger Games, Lionsgate has tasked a high profile director – in this case Neil Burger – to helm the first film in a proposed series.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
David Ayer made a splash with last year's End of Watch, and looks to build upon that success with the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Ten next year. For Pitt, Fury marks yet another film on the docket before his alleged retirement.
Fury is targeting a November 14, 2014 release date.
Source: Columbia Pictures