This Week in Film: News round-up

As ever, there’s a slew of sequels, remakes and adaptations heading our way in the next year or so, with three (count em) Disney classics all set to get the live action re-jig treatment.

First up is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. While there’s no news on casting yet, the surprising choice of Sofia Coppola to direct implies this could be something more than a dull re-imagining. Although not known for skewing young, the Lost in Translation and Bling Ring helmer certainly has the chops for quirky character driven pieces, so we await this one with cautious optimism.

jungle bookThe Jungle Book is also getting tossed into the re-adaptation pot twice thanks to the suits at Disney and Warner Brothers, who are squaring up with two separate versions of the Rudyard Kipling classic. Disney has tapped Iron Man honcho Jon Favreau for megaphone duties, while Warners may be going the performance capture root, interestingly snagging Gollum genius Andy Serkis to shepherd his first big budget movie. No solid news on actors for either yet, although Idris Elba is rumoured to be lending his voice to the tiger Shere Khan in Favreau’s Version.

Peter Pan, meanwhile, is getting a facelift at the hands of Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement). Retitled Pan, the story is somewhat of an origin for J.M Barrie’s classic characters, seeing a young Peter kidnapped from war torn London to fight alongside none other than Captain Hook and protect Neverland against the nefarious Blackbeard. Newcomer Levi Miller will be lining up next to the infinitely dishy Garrett Hedlund as Pan and Hook respectively, while Blackbeard will be played by none other than Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman.

Speaking of Wolverine, it looks like Jackman isn’t quite ready to hang up his impressive sideburns after all, with news of several new X-features recently announced. Although last years The Wolverine wasn’t especially popular with critics, it made a mint at the box-office meaning a sequel was never far from a done deal. And now director James Mangold has pretty much confirmed it, tweeting that they’re working on a story for the follow up already.

The Wolverine 2 will have to wait until at least 2017, however, since Jackman will have his hands (claws?) full with another full blown X-Men feature. Although this year’s X-Men Days of Future Past hasn’t been released yet, franchise head-honcho Bryan Singer has been drip feeding details of a follow up set to film next year. Titled X-Men: Apocolypse, the film, set in the eighties and once again see Michael Fassbender up against the James McCavoy, is likely to be released in 2016.

Elsewhere in the world of sequels, news that will surprise absolutely nobody thanks to it’s uber-success earlier this year, is that a follow up to The Lego Movie is very much in the works. No news on story yet, although we do know that animation director Chris McKay is now in charge of the whole shebang, and Chris Pratt will more than likely return as Emmet. Bad news is, we’ll have to wait until 2017. Sad face.

There’s more good news on the sequel front from the Pixar crew, who have announced that they are beavering away on a sequel tothe incredibles The Incredibles. As is their way with these things, news is very thin on the ground although we do know that original boss-man and all round legend Brad Bird (The Simpsons, Ratatouille) is returning to write (and probably direct) after he’s finished on his top secret project “Tomorrowland” for Disney. Again, this is probably some way off since the Pixar slate is pretty full for the next few years with The Good Dinosaur, Inside out and Finding Dory all yet to see release.

In mega-franchise news, notoriously shadowy Star Wars: Episode 7 director J.J Abrams released some vague tidbits about the film last week, with the new story apparently taking place “30 years after Return of The Jedi and starring a trio of young leads along with some very familiar faces”. So basically confirming what we already knew, then. A filming date of early May has been confirmed, however, so some solid casting news should be on its way soon enough.

Meanwhile over at camp Jurassic Park, co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow has opened up about how his Jurassic World relates to the older movies. Apparently the film, set two decades after the original, is neither a remake nor a direct sequel, but is very firmly rooted in the same universe. With none of the primary original cast returning apart from BD Wong as the Raptor loving, lab coat wearing Dr Henry Wu, it sounds like Trevorrow is taking this in a pretty fresh direction. Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan and Nick Robinson the film is set to shoot shortly for a release in June next year.

Fans of the mildly popular Game of Thrones books/TV shows were given something to chew on recently by the magnificently bearded George R. R. Martin, who hinted that there’s a good chance that the TV series may run for a couple more seasons, then spin off onto the silver screen. “It all depends on how long the main series runs… Do we run for seven years? Do we run for eight? The books get bigger and bigger in scope. It might need a feature to tie things up, something with a feature budget. Those dragons get real big, you know.”. Based on the success of the TV show, as well as the continuing capacity for epic fantasy to rake in the mega bucks (The Hobbit did quite well recently), it wouldn’t be surprising if he turns out to be right.

JobsFinally, it would appear that Sony Pictures are keen to reignite the success they had with the Social Network a couple of years ago by once again pairing up Aaron Sorkin with director David Fincher on a new biopic of legendary Apple man Steve Jobs. Rumour has it that Fincher has Christian Bale in his sights as Jobs, while the story will be based on the authorised biography by Walter Isaacson, focussing on three distinct periods in the man’s life. If this comes together, it could be pretty special, given Bale’s ability to bring intense characters to life (not to mention his uncanny resemblance to Jobs himself) and the stellar work Sorkin and Fincher produced last time they worked together. Fingers crossed for this one.