This week in movie news:
Sony's animated Popeye film gets put on hold; the director of Mama boards a new Stephen King adaptation; Matt Damon will lead The Great Wall; Joe Carnahan will direct action thriller Motorcade; Sam Strike may play the title character in Leatherface; Andy Serkis' The Jungle Book: Origins begins filming; the Murder on the Orient Express adaptation finds its writer; and Valiant comic book characters are being adapted for film.
Despite the release of some promising test footage, Sony's Popeye animated film has been put on hold. Genndy Tartakovsky (Hotel Transylvania) was attached to the project but announced that he is "off that project," citing creative differences with the studio.
Tartakovsky will instead be making a new film called Can You Imagine?, based on his own original idea. At the moment, there's no further update on the status of Popeye, which was previously expected to hit theaters in 2016.
Andres Muschietti - who directed 2013 horror film Mama - will bring The Jaunt to the big screen. Based on the 1981 Stephen King short story of the same name, the story takes place in the 24th century and involves a teleportation travel process known as "jaunting."
At this time, Plan B has optioned the film rights for the project, which hasn't been set up at a studio just yet. It marks joins several other King properties - including 11/22/63 and The Dark Tower - which are in-development for film or television.
Matt Damon will lead the cast of director Zhang Yimou's historical epic The Great Wall. Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) and Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs) are also among the ensemble cast.
The story centers on "an elite force making a last stand for humanity" on the landmark that lends the film its title. The Great Wall - which is set for release on November 23, 2016 - will be the largest film ever shot entirely in China for global distribution.
Source: Legendary Pictures
Joe Carnahan will direct a new action-thriller titled Motorcade for Dreamworks. The film - which will be written by Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) - focuses on a terrorist attack on the U.S. president's motorcade as it makes its way through Los Angeles.
The film has long been in development at the studio, with Tom Cruise and Ryan Reynolds attached to the film at various points. However, the latest report did not confirm who would star now that Carnahan has joined the project.
Sam Strike - star of the BBC series EastEnders - is in talks for the lead role in Leatherface, the upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel. Julien Mury and Alexandre Bustillo are directing the film, which has yet to receive an anticipated release date.
Set in the 1970s, the film will follow the events that led a teen named Jackson to grow up into the mass murderer known as Leatherface. Strike will play the title character, and at this time, there are no details regarding what roles have yet to be cast.
Source: The Wrap
The Jungle Book: Origins has begun filming, with Andy Serkis making his big screen directorial debut on the 2017 live-action/motion-capture project. Warner Bros. has also officially released the following synopsis of the film:
"The story follows the upbringing of the human child Mowgli, raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera, Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own. All but one: the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins."
The film is one of two upcoming releases based on Rupyard Kipling's novel, with Disney and director Jon Favreau's version hitting theaters next year. Serkis' film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Serkis himself and Rohan Chand as Mowgli.
Source: Warner Bros.
Screenwriter Michael Green will write Fox's upcoming adaptation of the 1934 Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express. His previous credits include Green Lantern as well as episodes of Smallville and Everwood.
The book was originally adapted by Sydney Lumet in 1974 - it centered on a detective investigating a murder aboard the eponymous train - and featured a star-studded cast, including Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery and Ingrid Bergman, among others. No word yet on who will star in the new adaptation.
Valiant Entertainment has announced a new partnership with DMG Entertainment to develop film, television, publishing and licensing projects based on Valiant's comic book properties. The deal will mark the beginning of a shared cinematic universe, with a number of films already in development.
Valiant has a library of more than 2,000 characters, including Bloodshot, Shadowman, and Archer & Armstrong. All three titles already have films in development, and several television projects are also in the works.
Source: Valiant Entertainment/DMG Entertainment