It feels like James Franco is attached to pretty much everything these days, but now there’s one less Franco project we have to look forward to. According to JustJared.com, the star has pulled out of The Iceman, a biopic of Mafia hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. Franco was lined up to play Robert “Mr. Softee” Pronge, the “mentor assassin” to Kuklinski (Michael Shannon); Ray Liotta and Maggie Gyllenhaal were also set to star in the picture, by director Ariel Vroman. However, with Franco gone, “it looks like this project might fall apart,” a source told the site.

Details of Franco’s exit have not been revealed, although the same source blames “key contractual issues that didn’t involve financial terms.” The rest of the cast sounds too interesting to waste, so I’m hoping the movie can still come together out even without Franco’s involvement. If not, well, there’s always The Ice Man, the competing project starring Mickey Rourke. [Cinema Blend]

After the jump, Franco’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes co-star Tom Felton gets to play a good guy for once, and Ruben Fleischer is still adding people to the cast of Gangster Squad.

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Malin Akerman has signed on to star with Tyler Labine, Lucy Punch, and Daniel Petronijevic in Cottage Country, an dark indie comedy by Canadian director Peter Wellington. Written by Jeremy Boxen (Endgame), the story follows Todd (Labine) as he plans to propose to Cammie (Akerman) at his family cottage. However, Todd’s plans are ruined by the arrival of his slacker brother (Petronijevic) and the brother’s free-spirited girlfriend (Punch).

The film will be Wellington’s first feature since 2003′s Luck. Wellington has been working primarily in television over the last several years, on shows including Rookie Blue and Slings and Arrows. The film is currently shooting in Ontario through late October for a 2012 release. [The Hollywood Reporter]

After the jump, Pacific Rim gets another star and John Hurt joins a project called Labyrinth that is totally unrelated to Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Bet you got worried there for a second that it would be a remake.

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Get ready for Merlin to be the new Snow White, or the new Linda Lovelace, or whatever icon studios and producers decide to compete over next. Warner Bros. has just tapped Ed Whitworth, a former journalist who evidently has experience as a script reader for Oprah Winfrey’s company, to adapt the T.A. Barron youth-lit novel The Lost Years of Merlin.

Surprise, surprise, this would be a Merlin origin tale, following “Merlin’s journey from being a boy washed on the shores of Wales with no memory and no home, to him becoming a young man learning to use his powers and ultimately defender of the natural world and eventual mentor to King Arthur.” (This project was once at Paramount, but the option lapsed and WB stepped in. It is also different from the modern-day Merlin story that Working Title was putting together last year.) [THR]

After the break, Max Landis picks up a pipe, and a good genre director tries his hand at kids’ holiday fare. Read More »

UPDATE: Todd from Twitch relates that he got the same email this rumor is based upon, and that it is even more sketchy than the original report made it appear. Downgrade this from ‘rumor’ to ‘hopeful fan manufacture.’

This is a report that is just at the level of rumor for the moment, and we haven’t been able to verify it one way or the other. But in the interest of total endorsement, I present to you the rumor that Christopher Smith, director of films such as Severance, Triangle and Black Death, is the man LionsGate wants to hire as director of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Read More »

‘Black Death’ Red-Band Trailer and Poster

Christopher Smith (Severance, Triangle) has finished his film Black Death, in which Sean Bean plays a knight tasked with discovering the truth about a nearby village. Stories say that it is untouched by the black plague, and that it is led by a necromancer who can raise the dead. Eddie Redmayne is along for the ride, as a young monk meant to lead the knight to the storied village. But things don’t go quite as planned.

We’ve seen one international trailer for the film; now there’s a red-band version, which is after the break. Read More »

While it’s easy to look at the past through rose-colored glasses (or bloody ones, in this case) and think that there have been many great horror film anthologies, that’s just not the case. There are certainly a lot of horror anthology films, but few amount to much. I’m hoping that Paris, I’ll Kill You, a horror riff on Paris, je t’aime, will be the exception.

This project boasts a hell of a directorial lineup: Joe Dante (Gremlins), Xavier Gens (Frontiere(s), Hitman), Joern Heitmann (Tokio Hotel), Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo (Inside), Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, Midnight Meat Train), Vincenzo Natali (Splice), Paco Plaza ([REC], [REC] 2) and Christopher Smith (Severance, Triangle). I can’t imagine any genre film fan not anticipating this at least a bit with that set of filmmakers corralled into one space. Read More »

We’ve now got a very good idea what to expect out of Magnet’s Six-Shooter Film Series come early 2011. (Assuming the company repeats the pattern established over the past two years.) Earlier this week the company, which is the genre arm of Magnolia, picked up The Troll Hunter, and now it has bought distribution rights to both Christopher Smith‘s Black Death and Brad Anderson‘s Vanishing on 7th Street. Those three films could very well end up being half the company’s Six-Shooter slate for 2011. Read More »

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When Christopher Smith‘s movie Black Death was announced, I was interested simply for the fact that Smith was making a film set in the dark ages starring Sean Bean. I’d liked Smith’s first film Creep and loved his follow-up, Severance. And now, after recently seeing his excellent third film, Triangle, I’m more interested than ever. Now there’s a trailer for Black Death that shows off just what he’s trying to achieve this time out. Read More »

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