Animation house Laika only has two completed features to its name, but thanks to the strength of those two outings (Coraline and ParaNorman), it’s already earned a reputation for unusually smart, creative family fare. Now they’re joining forces with Focus Features a third time for The Boxtrolls, an adaptation of Alan Snow‘s book Here Be Monsters!

Open Season co-director Anthony Stacchi and Coraline/ParaNorman story artist Graham Annable are teaming to direct, with an excellent voice cast that includes Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Game of Thrones). Hit the jump for more details.

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Not all child actors transition easily into more grown-up roles, but Elle Fanning looks like an exception to the rule. The younger Fanning sister has been acting since her toddler years, and in recent years has been a standout presence in films like Somewhere, Super 8, and We Bought a Zoo.

She tackles slightly more mature material in Sally Potter‘s coming-of-age tale Ginger & Rosa, playing a 17-year-old teen in ’60s London. Sincere and serious, Ginger throws herself into the fight for nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, she’s growing apart from her lifelong best friend Rosa (newcomer Alice Englert) and struggling with the breakdown of her own family. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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Writer/director Sally Potter takes her time, with only six features released after her 1983 debut, The Gold Diggers. Her 1992 movie Orlando helped push Tilda Swinton from the Derek Jarman coterie into the larger indie movie world, but Potter’s own films since have sat pretty firmly on the fringes of art house territory.

Will Ginger & Rosa (once called Bomb) be at all different? It does features prominent roles for recognizable actors like Christina Hendricks, Oliver Platt, Annette Bening, and a rapidly maturing Elle Fanning, who co-stars along with newcomer Alice Englert. And it has the sort of subject matter that audiences take to well: a girl’s coming of age as social mores evolve and political tensions rise.

If nothing else, the film looks gorgeous, so check out the trailer below. Read More »

First Image of Angelina Jolie as ‘Maleficent’

Disney’s live-action exploration of the hidden life of Sleeping Beauty villain Maleficent has been on the docket for some time, but it seemed like a film that might never get made. That changed when Angelina Jolie‘s schedule opened up and she committed to the role in a serious way. (Thank her kids for that commitment, or don’t, depending on how you feel about the film.) Robert Stromberg is directing, and the film is under way now at Pinewood studios in London. (They were setting up when I was there to see some of Skyfall, but we couldn’t catch a glimpse of anything special.)

Now we’ve got the first image of Jolie in costume as the evil character, and a few new details thanks to a press release from Disney. Read More »

We’ve already got the villainess (Angelina Jolie), the young princess (Elle Fanning), her father (Sharlto Copley), and the three fairies (Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, and Juno Temple), and now, at long last, we have the prince. Young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites has just boarded Robert Stromberg‘s Maleficent, a Sleeping Beauty retelling seen from the perspective of its big bad.

Thwaites is almost totally unknown in the U.S., though he’s a little more famous in his native country. He first broke out with a starring role in the Australian drama series SLiDE, and has since done a stint on the long-running soap Home and Away. (As have the likes of Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, and Chris Hemsworth before him.) He’ll next appear in the Lifetime Channel’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, but I’m betting that the Maleficent casting means this kid will be attracting some much higher-caliber projects soon. [Deadline]

After the jump, Olivia Wilde teams up with Spike Jonze.

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Juno Temple Boards Disney’s ‘Maleficent’

As the pieces fall into place for a summer start, Disney’s Maleficent is rounding out its cast with one more talented Brit actor. Juno Temple has just boarded the live-action project, which retells the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the perspective of its villainess (played by Angelina Jolie). Sharlto Copley and Elle Fanning also have key roles. Hit the jump for further details.

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Though Maleficent‘s three leads hail from the States (Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning) and South Africa (Sharlto Copley), the Disney production is looking to the U.K. to fill up much of its cast list. American India Eisley and Brits Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Lesley Manville, Kenneth Cranham, and Sam Riley have all just boarded the Robert Stromberg-directed live-action film, which retells the classic Sleeping Beauty tale from the perspective of its villain. The descriptions of their roles also happen to offer quite a few more clues about the movie’s plotline, so hit the jump for more details.

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Sharlto Copley in Talks for ‘Maleficent’

Forget Demián Bichir – this week belongs to Sharlto Copley. Just a couple of days ago, the District 9 star was confirmed as the villain in Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake, even as he was packing his bags to shoot Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s dark thriller Open Grave in Hungary. Today, Copley’s has entered talks for Disney’s live-action Sleeping Beauty retelling Maleficent, which stars Angelina Jolie in the title role. More details after the jump.

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