This week in movie news:
The writers of Zombieland are developing a film based on failed soft drink New Coke; Ron Howard and Tom Hanks begin shooting Inferno; new cast members join Zoolander 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2; Six Billion Dollar Man finds its screenwriter; a Twilight actor joins Suicide Squad; and new release dates for Shaun the Sheep, Ghost in the Shell and other movies.
Screenwriters Paul Wenick and Rhett Reese (Deadpool, Zombieland) have optioned Thomas Oliver book "The Real Coke, The Real Story" for a film adaptation. The non-fiction work covers the introduction of failed soft drink New Coke, which Coca-Cola introduced in 1985 as a new and improved version of its classic formula.
Oliver - a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution at the time - covered the disappointing results that Coca-Cola saw with the switch. Wernick and Reese will write and produce the new film, which will be a period piece set in the 1980s (and include the perceived competition posed by rival Pepsi and their "Pepsi Challenge" campaign).
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) April 27, 2015
Inferno - the latest film adaptation based on author Dan Brown's popular Robert Langdon book series - has begun filming in Venice, with star Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard back on board. The movie is the third Langdon adventure based on the best-selling book series, after The Da Vinci Code in 2006 and Angels & Demons in 2009.
Howard's latest follows an amnesia-stricken Langdon as he must piece together his memory and stop a madman from unleashing a global plague tied to the titular literary work by Dante. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi) and Omary Sy (X-Men: Days of Future Past) also star.
Source: Ron Howard
Pop star Justin Bieber has joined the cast of Zoolander 2 in an undisclosed role. Given his lack of acting experience, it's likely (though unconfirmed) that Bieber will play himself in the film. After all, the first Zoolander featured a number of noteworthy cameos from real-life celebrities, including singer David Bowie. Bieber joins a cast that includes Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Penelope Cruz and Billy Zane.
Meanwhile, Laura Linney has signed on for a role in next year's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. It's a surprising move for the Oscar-nominated actress, as she has traditionally stuck to lower-profile dramas and indie film roles. Details of her role remain under wraps, but she will appear onscreen alongside Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell and Tyler Perry when the sequel hits theaters.
Six Billion Dollar Man - the new film based on 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man - has found its screenwriter in Damian Szifron. The Argentinean filmmaker recently landed an Academy Award nomination for his 2014 foreign-language anthology film Wild Tales.
Mark Wahlberg remains attached to star in the movie as Steve Austin, a military officer who undergoes an accident and is rebuilt as half-man and half-machine. Peter Berg - who previously worked with the actor on Lone Survivor - is set to direct.
Alex Meraz - who appeared as Paul in several installments of the Twilight saga - has signed on for a role in upcoming DC/Warner Bros. release Suicide Squad. The film is currently in production under director David Ayer.
No details regarding Meraz's character have been released. He joins an ensemble cast that includes Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis and Jared Leto as the new Joker. (See also: the first official Suicide Squad cast photo.)
Lionsgate has announced several new release dates. Its upcoming Aardman Animation production Shaun the Sheep Movie will hit U.S. theaters on August 7, 2015. Previous Aardman productions include Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run.
Meanwhile, the Lionsgate action/comedy American Ultra - headlined by former Adventureland costars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg - will be released on August 21, 2015, followed by Whiplash director Damien Chazelle's musical romance La La Land (featuring former Crazy, Stupid, Love costars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) on July 15, 2016.
The live-action Ghost in the Shell film has also shifted its release date up a couple of weeks to March 31, 2017, not long after Universal set Fast & Furious 8 to arrive on the April 14th date that Ghost had originally staked out. Ghost in the Shell will be released by DreamWorks, headlined by Scarlett Johansson, and directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman).
Source: Lionsgate, DreamWorks, UniversalWatch: Dark Phoenix Videos Reflect On Franchise's Legacy For X-Men Day
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