Skyfall was a smash, and naturally EON Productions, MGM and Sony want to get a new James Bond film rolling with all due speed. All the companies involved want to get their money’s worth out of Daniel Craig while they’ve got him. The Bond machine doesn’t move quickly, however, and it’s no easy task to choose the path for the new installment of a franchise that is 50 years old and almost two dozen films along.

Since Sam Mendes won’t return to make the 24th Bond film (title TBD) who might do the job? EON is talking to a variety of people now, and some of the names are being reported. Ang Lee, Tom Hooper, David Yates, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Shane Black are all “in the mix” as possible directors. That doesn’t mean that any of them will be the person who next brings Bond to life, but it gives us something to think about.

Update: Everyone may have spoken too soon. Deadline reports that Sam Mendes is in talks to return to direct Bond 24. More below.

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Ang Lee Won’t Make ‘Tyrant’ For FX

Ang Lee

Not long ago, an announcement hit that Ang Lee, this years Best Director Oscar winner, would make his television debut as the director of the pilot for Tyrant. The show, housed at FX, is about “an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation.”

The show is likely still going forward, but Lee has announced that he won’t be part of it after all. He has pulled out of directing the pilot, citing a need to take some time off.  Read More »

Benton Jew Hulk concept art header

The Hulk has been notoriously tricky to get right on the big screen, but thanks to his enduring popularity as a character plenty of people have tried. One man, concept artist Benton Jew, has even made the attempt three times.

Jew first worked on bids for Jonathan Hensleigh‘s unmade 1997 Hulk film and Ang Lee‘s 2003 Hulk, before getting hired in 2007 as a storyboard artist on Louis Leterrier‘s The Incredible Hulk. The illustrator recently took to his blog to share his work from those experiences, including mock-ups of Lee’s original choice Billy Crudup as Bruce Banner. Check ’em out after the jump!

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Biblical epics seem to be all the rage these days, but one director that won’t be jumping on that bandwagon is Steven Spielberg. The filmmaker has been linked to Warner Bros.’ Moses biopic Gods and Kings since about 2011, but has finally decided to move on. The studio is thinking big for his replacement, however, and has made moves toward Ang Lee as a possible new director. Read more after the jump.

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The film and TV businesses have melded and merged in a way that would have been unfathomable a decade or two ago. Directors and actors regularly bounce between films and television in a way that implicitly argues that the divisions between the two are technical at best.

Once, the notion that someone would do a TV pilot after winning the Best Director Oscar would have seemed crazy. But Ang Lee has just been announced as the director and executive producer of the pilot for the FX show Tyrant. The project was developed by Homeland exec producer Howard Gordon, and Gideon Raff, who created Homeland‘s inspiration, the Israeli show Hatufim (Prisoners of War).

The show will follow the life of “an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation.” More info is below, via the press release. Read More »

On Sunday Ang Lee took the Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi, which also won three other awards, making it the big Oscar winner this year. But what of the more than 400 visual effects employees who spent Sunday protesting business practices that make VFX work a losing proposition for many artists?

The Oscar wins come, ironically, at a very difficult time for one of the companies most directly responsible for the movie’s success: Rhythm & Hues, the effects house that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just a week ago. Lee didn’t mention the company by name in his speech, or thank the artists who brought his film to life.

That bankruptcy highlights a big issue in Hollywood: films are ever-more dependent upon digital effects, but often treats the process of their creation like the work of a sweatshop. (See the Tumblr Before VFX for many examples of familiar scenes without their effects.) Claudio Miranda won the Best Cinematography Oscar for Life of Pi, but much of what we see in the film is the work of CG artists. Many of the film’s waves, skies, and animals, including the tiger Richard Parker, are digital. Miranda may have broadly overseen the creation of effects, but he didn’t point a camera at some of the film’s signature elements.

The men who oversaw creation of those digital elements did get honored, but also took a heavy backhand from the Oscar producers. Just as Life of Pi VFX Supervisor Bill Westenhofer was trying to bring up the trouble Rhythm & Hues faces as part of his award acceptance speech, he was rushed off the Oscar stage with the theme from Jaws. His mic was even cut off. That moment was an ugly metaphor for exactly what the VFX industry is angry about: the people who create the elements big-budget movies rely on for success get no voice, and no respect.

(If you see Facebook and Twitter icons going green this week, that’s in support of VFX artists.)

So what’s happening in the visual effects segment of the movie industry, and what was the protest about? After the break we’ll break down the issues facing effects companies, and explain the reason that imposition of the Jaws theme was so ironically ugly.

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Here are the winners of the 85th Oscars. It was a rather strange year, with only the sixth tie in the history of the awards (for Sound Editing) an excess of references to Chicago, and a surprise win in the Best Director category for Ang Lee. (And those who expected Jessica Chastain to take the Best Actress award were surprised by Jennifer Lawrence winning the award, for Silver Linings Playbook.) Lee’s Life of Pi actually ended up being the night’s big winner, with four Oscars.

As expected, Ben Affleck‘s Argo took Best Picture, with producer Grant Heslov taking the opportunity to really highlight Affleck (also a producer) and give the director time to have the mic. And though the event was hosted by a comedian, Best Actor winner Daniel Day Lewis made the best jokes of the night — surprise, surprise, the guy was better than everyone else in the room.

For more commentary check out the night’s live blogRead More »

A dozen years after the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Weinstein Co. is getting ready to make a sequel. Though it’s been a while since we heard about any potential follow-up to Ang Lee‘s international hit, it looks like the Weinsteins have quietly been making preparations behind the scenes. Production is on track to begin in May, with a script by John Fusco (The Forbidden Kingdom). Ronny Yu (Fearless) is in talks to direct. More details after the jump.

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When Life of Pi landed in Ang Lee‘s lap in 2009, it had already run through several directors including M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. But as we now know, he managed to turn the tricky source material into a gorgeous, moving adventure. As he eyes his next move, he’s looking to board another project that’s been attached to several high-profile names.

At the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala, Lee expressed his interest in taking over the historical epic Cleopatra. Angelina Jolie‘s been attached to play the lead since 2010, but the film’s had significantly more trouble hanging onto a director. Last summer, David Fincher became the latest filmmaker to drop the picture. More details after the jump.

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