The Sundance Film Festival slate isn’t usually announced until November. It’s not even mid-July, and we already have official confirmation of one film which will premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. You might be wondering how that’s possible, and which film I’m talking about…

What if I told you that it is a new film from producer Ridley Scott?

What if I told you it’s being directed by the helmer of State of Play, Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland?

What if I told you that Ridley Scott wants you to help co-direct the film?

Got your attention? Find out more after the jump.

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Focus Features Announces 2010 Release Dates

Eagle in the ninth

Focus Features today announced their 2010 release slate. Highlights include:

  • March 12th 2010: The Squid and the Whale writer/director Noah Baumbach‘s Greenberg which stars Ben Stiller
  • April 16th 2010: Thomas BalmèsBabies, a documentary film which simultaneously follows four babies around the world – from birth to first steps.
  • Wednesday, September 1st 2010: Anton Corbijn‘s The American starring George Clooney as a retiring assassin
  • Third Quarter 2010: Kevin Macdonald‘s Roman epic adventure The Eagle of the Ninth
  • November 2010: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck‘s (Half Nelson, Sugar) dramedy adaptation of Ned Vizzini‘s 2006 novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story
  • TBA 2010 (we assume in December for Award Season): Sofia Coppola‘s Somewhere starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning

After the jump you can read the full press release, which includes detailed plot synopsis for all of these films.

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state-of-play

As recently as January 2009, industry observers speculated that The New York Times might go out of business before the end of the year, crushed under the weight of insurmountable debt. In the January/February 2009 issue of The Atlantic, Michael Hirschorn asked, “Virtually all the predictions about the death of old media have assumed a comfortingly long time frame for the end of print…But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?” The NYT’s troubles reflect the broader problems of the newspaper industry as a whole, which continues its Bataan death march into financial ruin.

Many might rejoice at the notion of an entirely digital future for journalism, where information is easily accessible, facts are often accompanied by easy-to-read opinion, and citizen journalism (and maybe a touch of internet vigilantism) are allowed to take hold. But the facts don’t conveniently line up with that kind of thinking. Hirschorn writes: “Internet purists may maintain that the Web will throw up a new pro-am class of citizen journalists to fill the void, but for now, at least, there’s no online substitute for institutions that can marshal years of well-developed sourcing and reporting experience—not to mention the resources to, say, send journalists leapfrogging between Mumbai and Islamabad to decode the complexities of the India-Pakistan conflict.”

These tensions in the journalism industry are adeptly brought to the forefront in Kevin MacDonald‘s new film, State of Play.
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State of Play Movie Trailer

Universal Pictures has released the trailer for State of Play, the new dramatic crime thriller starring Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe. Based on the BBC mini-series of the same title, the film tells the story of ” a team of investigative reporters work alongside a police detective to try to solve the murder of a congressman’s mistress.” Ben Affleck, who replaced Edward Norton in the final hour leading up to the production, plays the fast-rising politician who is caught up in a murder conspiracy. Crowe of course plays a journalist who is investigating the killing. Brad Pitt was attached to play the reporter role but also dropped out at the last minute. Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn and Jason Bateman co-star.

State of Play is directed by Kevin Macdonald, the Academy Award winning documentary turned feature filmmaker behind Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void and One Day in September. The screenplay adaptation was penned by Michael Clayton and Bourne scribe Tony Gilroy and Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom). The movie looks like a decent crime thriller, but not much more. May-be I was just expecting a lot more considering all the talent (currently and formerly) involved with the project. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/images/stateofplay.flv 470 200]

Watch the trailer in High Definition on Yahoo. State of Play hits theaters on April 17th 2009.

There’s a lot of casting news tonight, and instead of boring you with three separate news stories, I thought it might be better to combine them into one Casting update. So here we go.

Chow Yun Fat in Dragonball Z

Chow Yun Fat has been cast as Master Roshi in 20th Century Fox’s live-action Dragonball Z movie. Chow’s character trains Goku, played in the film version by  Justin Chatwin, an alien warrior who must protect Earth from “an endless stream of rogues bent on dominating the universe and controlling mystical objects known as Dragon Balls.” He may look like an old man but he is stronger than most beings on Earth. In English, his name means “Invincible Old Master”. The announced cast also includes: James Marsters, Emmy Rossum and Jamie Chung. Dragonball is currently shooting in Mexico City.

Kevin Macdonald is currently in talks with Ben Affleck to replace Edward Norton, who has officially left Universal’s State of Play. The film which was scheduled to begin production in Mid-November, will now begin production in January 2008. Affleck will play a fast-rising politician who is caught up in a murder conspiracy. Russell Crowe will play a journalist who is investigating the killing. Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn and Jason Bateman are also attached.

Brad Pitt, who also just left State of Play, is now in talks to replace Heath Ledger in Terrence Malick‘s Tree of Life. Sean Penn is still scheduled to play a supporting role in Tree of Life. Apaprently Pitt would have earned $20 million against the gross to star in State of Play, but is considering this film which offers “nearly no upfront money.” In this Brad Pittday and age, you have to respect an actor who would turn down that kind of cash, and instead opt to work for Malick for next to nothing (at least up front).

What is it about? In one version of the screenplay, the story opened with “a sleeping god, underwater, dreaming of the origins of the universe, starting with the big bang and moving forward, as fluorescent fish swam into the deity’s nostrils and out again.” Malick supposedly wanted to create something that has never been seen before, and dispatched cameramen all over the world. They shot micro jellyfish on the Great Barrier Reef volcanic explosions on Mount Edna, and ice shelves breaking off in Antarctica. special effects consultant Richard Taylor describes sections of the script as “pages of poetry, with no dialogue, glorious visual descriptions.” Sounds interesting

sources: THR, Variety, Variety, Vanity Fair

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