Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Michael Bay

This sounds familiar — Michael Bay is developing a new story idea, acting as producer, with the possibility of directing depending on how things shake out.

That’s the deal with UbiSoft’s Ghost Recon, and now for a project called Sabotage. Paramount just bought the pitch by Neal Bascomb based on his book proposal that tells the WWII story of an Allied effort to stifle Hitler’s nuclear ambitions. In short, multiple raids were carried out against a plant in Norway designed to produce “heavy water,” which would be a precursor to nuclear weaponry.

The full book title is Sabotage: A Genius Scientist, His Band of Young Commandos, and the Mission to Kill Hitler’s Super Bomb, and the book and potential film are envisioned as “gripping WWII action-thrillers.” Read More »

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There’s a hell of a lot of great stuff in this second trailer for The Monuments Men. Start with George Clooney and Matt Damon building an “Ocean’s Eleven in WWII” squad to preserve and recover art stolen by the Nazis, and add guys like Bill Murray, John Goodman and Bob Balaban as members of the squad. But I think Cate Blanchett gets the win here, with her super droll question: “how can I help you steal our stolen art?”

Check out the full trailer for the December release below. Read More »

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When is a first look at a film not actually a first look at the movie? In this case, it’s when Universal sends out a shot (above) of Angelina Jolie with Louis “Louie” Zamperini, who is the subject of her new directorial effort, Unbroken. But in this case it’s a good call, because Zamperini is a war hero, and deserves his place in the spotlight.

The story is one Universal first thought about making in the late ’50s; this telling is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s much more recent book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionJack O’Connell will play Louis Zamperini, an Olympian in 1936 and a pilot in WWII. In 1943, his plane crashed in the Pacific, and “he survived without food and water for 47 days, enduring shark attacks, aerial attacks and hunger before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years and tortured by his captors.” Read More »

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Among the many films that game publisher UbiSoft has developed from its own internal properties is Ghost Recon, based on concepts from Tom Clancy novels. The games feature an elite, ultra-high tech US military force. The film rights are at Warner Bros., with Michael Bay developing and producing. And now the Y: The Last Man and Human Target writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia have been hired to knock the concept of the military unit into shape for a film. Read More »

Garrett Hedlund Joins Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’

Garrett Hedlund

Briefly: Angelina Jolie has impressive talent working with her behind the camera for her second directorial effort, Unbroken. Roger Deakins is shooting the film, and Joel and Ethan Coen are doing a pass on the script that also bears work from William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese.

The film is based on the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It tells the story of Lou Zamperini, an Olympian in 1936 and a pilot in WWII. In 1943, his plane crashed in the Pacific, and “he survived without food and water for 47 days, enduring shark attacks, aerial attacks and hunger before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years and tortured by his captors.”

Jack O’Connell (Skins) plays Zemperini, and now Garrett Hedlund, who was hoping to play the central figure himself, has signed on to play another role. We don’t have details on the part he’ll play, but with Deakins and the Coens adding their skills, it might not matter. [Variety]

 

 

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While we’re lucky to live in a time where so many legendary filmmakers make their work and process accessible, there will always be a mystery behind some of the masters. Filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, John Ford, Frank Capra and many others passed away long before the age of video blogs, Twitter and behind the scenes DVD featurettes, leaving film fans with a precious few chances to study them in action.

Another man who makes that list is Akira Kurosawa, director of such iconic films as Seven Samurai, Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress and Yojimbo. Kurosawa passed away in 1998, which means some of his process was documented on his later films. That includes 1985′s Ran, a Japanese epic inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear. Now, a huge wealth of footage has come online – five hours of it – featuring the master filmmaker working behind the scenes on Ran. Check it out below. Read More »

Enders Game Poster Header

When meeting Harrison Ford isn’t the highlight of your day, that’s a day for the ages. On the New Orleans set of Ender’s Game, the man who played Han Solo, Indiana Jones and Rick Deckard was there and I shook his hand. Incredibly, though, that moment was topped when I realized director Gavin Hood had figured out a way to make kids fly in zero gravity.

In Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi masterpiece Ender’s Game, a young boy named Ender leaves Earth and enters Battle School to train for an inevitable attack from an alien race called the Formics. They train in a zero gravity space called the Battle Room where dozens of pre-teen boys and girls zip and float around in formation, blasting each other with guns. It’s here that Ender learns to be a great leader and where the action of Ender’s Game hinges.

What I found out on May 17, 2012 – the 59th day of a 70 day shoot – was that Hood not only pulled off these sequences, he’s pulled them off with the actual actors and practical effects. A whole new way of basically puppeteering actors to look like they’re in zero gravity had to be invented to do this, but with the polish of digital effects Hood and his team have realized the dreams of every single Ender’s Game out there.

After the jump, read our set visit which includes a video blog and 30 things I learned on the set of Ender’s Game about the production origins, the Battle Room and more. Read More »

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Briefly: The flirtation between Japanese animation giant Studio Ghibli and a smaller distributor didn’t last long. For many years, Disney had the US distribution rights to all of Studio Ghibli’s movies. A couple years back that deal ended, however, and in 2011 rights to the Ghibli catalog went to the small company Gkids. The outfit mounted revival screenings of most of the studio’s animation slate last year, and distributed From Up on Poppy Hill, from Goro Miyazaki. (That film hits DVD next week.)

But Ghibli has gone back to Disney for US distribution of Hayao Miyazaki‘s latest film, The Wind Rises. The movie tells a dramatized version of the biography of Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the Zero fighter plane that became the iconic image of Japanese air power in WWII.

The film has already opened in Japan (to some controversy) but we don’t have US release info yet. Borys Kit of THR tweeted the info that Disney will distribute. The film will have its North American premiere at TIFF in a couple weeks.

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