This week marks not only the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit, but also the shared birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. It’s Tolkien week so we’ve got lots of Hobbit and more in today’s Sequel Bits. After the jump read about the following:

  • Six new photos from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey have been revealed.
  • Peter Jackson reveals a new Hobbit trailer will be released Wednesday.
  • Winona Ryder is aware Beetlejuice 2 could possibly happen.
  • Check out a stunt from the set of Fast and Furious 6.
  • Two major stars will apparently have sex in Scary Movie 5.
  • Atlas Shrugged Part II gets a new poster, which is actually better than the last.
  • The Wolfpack is going to Arizona in The Hangover Part III.

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There’s no denying that Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy of “rational self-interest” have gone a long way toward shaping our culture and politics, for better or for worse. But as we learned with Atlas Shrugged Part I, even fame and influence have their limits. The movie landed on the market with a dull thud, leaving Part II in jeopardy.

Producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro soldiered on, however, compiling a new cast and hiring a new director for the second part of his adaptation. The Duncan Scott-directed Part II stars Samantha Mathis (taking over for Taylor Schilling) as railroad exec Dagny Taggart, Jason Beghe (replacing Grant Bowler) as steel owner Henry Rearden, Esai Morales (stepping up for Jsu Garcia) as mining heir Francisco d’Anconia, and D.B. Sweeney (subbing in for Paul Johanssen) as the mysterious John Galt. Richard T. Jones, Patrick Fabian, Kim Rhodes, and Ray Wise also star. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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Remember when producer John Aglialoro had only four weeks to put a film based on Ayn Rand‘s novel Atlas Shrugged into production? He had owned the option for years, and if he didn’t get a film moving by summer 2010 he was going to lose it. Aglialoro had one director hired, Stephen Polk, and a script he co-wrote with Brian Patrick O’Toole. But Polk was fired at the last minute, and Paul Johansson (One Tree Hill), who was also hired to play John Galt, ended up directing.

The film… didn’t do well. Actually, it did OK at first when targeted at a very specific audience, based only on that audience’s interest in seeing Rand’s novel hit the screen. But even people predisposed to love Atlas Shrugged saw the film as a rushed, inferior product. Given the themes of Rand’s over-arching philosophy, we call that “irony.”

But, as promised last July by producer Harmon Kaslow, Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 went before cameras anyway, with a new cast and new director. Duncan Scott directs, and now Samantha Mathis takes over for Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart; Jason Beghe plays Henry Rearden; and D.B. Sweeney replaces Johansson as John Galt.

A teaser trailer for the film is now available, and you can watch the latest episode of this years-in-the-making multi-film trainwreck below. But the teaser doesn’t show much of the new cast, and proves that this installment will be aimed squarely at the Fox News / tea party audience that Aglialoro courted the first time out. Read More »

Lots to see in today’s Sequel Bits, including a DVD featurette, a blooper reel, a TV spot, posters, and a (not at all revealing) set photo. After the jump:

  • Another new TV spot debuts for Men in Black 3
  • Gary Busey goes nuts in Piranha 3DD outtakes
  • Watch a featurette from the Underworld: Awakening DVD
  • Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto tweet wrapping Star Trek 2
  • Check out the Korean G.I. Joe: Retaliation posters
  • Donnie Yen is set to return for Ip Man 3D
  • Who wants to be an extra on Atlas Shrugged Part 2?

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Here’s perhaps the most unusual collection of sequel news we’ll run this month. Let’s start with Atlas Shrugged: Part 2, which producers say will shoot this year and be ready for release in October, the better to take advantage of a charged pre-election political climate.

The first movie was made fast, with an unproven director (Paul Johansson of One Tree Hill, who also played John Galt) handling an adaptation of Ayn Rand‘s gigantic tome about American industry, economics and self-reliance. It did well for a moment in limited release, but was critically savaged and rejected in some respects even by Ayn Rand aficionados.

Producer John Aglialoro says that the second part of a planned three-film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged is going to happen, however. Thing is, it will have a different director in Duncan Scott (who produced an adaptation of Rand’s novel We The Living in 1986) and an all-new cast which will be announced within the next week. So… they thought the first movie sucked, too? [THR]

We’ll have further news when that cast is announced; for now, hit the break for info on much more routine developments that possibly impact the Avatar sequels, the currently-shooting Riddick sequel, and Ghostbusters 3. Read More »

After Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 tanked both critically and commercially, producer John Aglialoro said publicly that he was having second thoughts about making the sequels. Film critics and moviegoers breathed a sigh of relief, and all but the most die-hard Ayn Rand fans moved on with their lives.

Now, however, Aglialoro seems to be feeling a renewed sense of optimism. According to producer Harmon Kaslow, Aglialoro is back at work on Part 2 of the trilogy, due out in time for next year’s election season. Read more after the jump.

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Next time someone talks about how critics don’t matter (it’s bound to happen with the summer movie wave encroaching) just point to Atlas Shrugged: Part I. The miserable-looking partial adaptation of Ayn Rand‘s massive novel has taken in a paltry few million in the past two weeks, with a near-50% drop-off between weekends.

Now producer John Aglialoro, who spent years trying to make the film, says he might abandon his plans to continue the adaption with two more movies. And while there’s a part of me that wants to accept the overwhelming commercial power of the movie critic, in this case I have to wonder if Atlas Shrugged wasn’t actually done in by the fact of being a lousy movie. Read More »

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