This week in movie news:
A Big Bang Theory star joins the cast of Rings; the 2016 Japanese Godzilla reboot finds its director; two more actors join The Magnificent Seven remake; Mark Wahlberg may star in a new film about the Boston Marathon bombing; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Vacation and more get new release dates; and Broadway star Audra McDonald joins Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast.
Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki has joined the cast of Rings, the third installment of the franchise that began with The Ring in 2002 - a role said to be a complete departure from his comedic work on the CBS sitcom. Galacki will star as Gabriel, a professor who assists the girlfriend/boyfriend duo played by Matilda Lutz and Alex Roe in the horror film.
Director F. Javier Gutiérrez has confirmed that Rings will take place 13 years after the original film. Earlier reports had claimed the film would be a prequel story centering on the origin story of central villain Samara. It's unclear if the current modern-day film - which is set to hit theaters this fall - will delve into this backstory in some capacity.
Toho - the Japanese studio behind the original 1954 Godzilla film (and a whopping 27 sequels) - has announced that Anno Hideaki will write and direct the character's 2016 reboot film. Hideaki previously directed the Evangelion anime series and films. The studio also released a teaser image of the monster king's new incarnation (see below).
In addition, Attack on Titan director Higuchi Shinji be handling the special effects for the 2016 Japanese reboot. Of course, the upcoming film is not connected to director Gareth Edward's 2014 Godzilla release - the sequel for which hits theaters in 2018.
Luke Grimes (American Sniper) and Vincent D'Onofrio (Netflix's Daredevil) are in talks to join the cast of director Antoine Fuqua's remake of The Magnificent Seven. Though there are currently no details on the character Grimes would play, D'Onofrio is reportedly being eyed to play the film's villain.
Grimes and D'Onofrio will appear alongside a star-studded ensemble cast that already includes Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt. The film has been confirmed to hit theaters on January 13, 2017.
CBS Films is fast-tracking Patriots' Day, a new film based on the Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent citywide manhunt. The story will be told from the perspective of Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, based on his first-hand account as well as research and footage shot by 60 Minutes. Mark Wahlberg is attached to star as Davis.
The movie - written by Matt Charman (Steven Spielberg's upcoming Bridge of Spies) - is the second major studio film about the real-life terrorist attack in active development. Fox is currently moving forward on Boston Strong, which Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) is attached to direct. It is based on the book by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge.
Sony/Screen Gems has announced that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will officially hit theaters on February 19, 2016, with Cinderella star Lily James in the lead. In addition, the studio will release horror film When the Bough Breaks on September 16, 2016.
New Line has also moved its Vacation reboot up from October 9, 2015 to July 31, 2015, giving the Ed Helms film a prime summer release date. Conversely, EuropaCorp has pushed back its Transporter reboot, The Transporter Refueled, from June 19, 2015 to September 4, 2015.
Source: Sony/Screen Gems, New Line, EuropaCorp
Audra McDonald has joined the cast of Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast, set to hit theaters in 2017. The film's cast already includes Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans and Josh Gad.
McDonald will play Garderobe (French for wardrobe), one of the prince's servants who is subsequently transformed into a wardrobe. The Bill Condon directed production is closely mirroring itself after the 1991 animated version, making it likely that McDonald - who is a Tony-winning stage actress - will have a significant supporting role in the film.