Briefly: We heard very recently that Luc Besson might make new live-action thriller, possibly with some sci-fi aspect, and that Angelina Jolie is in talks to star. We still don’t know many details about the movie, and in fact Jolie isn’t even 100% locked. But now Universal has picked up a controlling distribution interest in the project, which should give it a lot more momentum.

Deadline reports that while Luc Besson’s company EuropaCorp will co-finance the movie (it also developed the story that Besson wrote) it will be Universal that releases the film in the US and many other territories. EuropaCorp plans to shoot the still-untitled movie in April 2012. Plotwise, all we know is that the film has been called “a dramatic thriller that is rooted in true scientific elements.”

And while the details aren’t all ironed out, Deadline suggests that things are pretty close to being sorted, and that this will be Jolie’s next starring role before she does Ridley Scott’s Gertrude Bell biopic, Disney’s Maleficent, or the film version of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta mysteries.

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Luc Besson was never really very far from the director’s chair, but it has felt that way for some time, because it has been a while since he made a movie with the massive American mainstream recognizance of The Professional or The Fifth Element. Besson’s longest absence from the director’s chair was from ’99 to ’05, but in the past decade he has really become as well known for writing and producing mid-budget action films like The Transporter and Taken as he is for his own directorial efforts.

Things might be swinging back to the old days. The Lady, the film in which Besson directed Michelle Yeoh as Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi, is getting a lot of attention as it moves from festivals to a regular engagement near you. And now Besson has Angelina Jolie in talks to star in a ‘dramatic thriller’ that Besson wrote and will direct next year. Read More »

In the past several years, Luc Besson‘s name attached to a movie usually meant two things: he didn’t direct it and it’s a cheesy action film. Since The Fifth Element in 1997, Besson has directed a few films, but he’s produced many more and it felt like the man who made Leon: The Professional and La Femme Nikita was just waiting for some inspiration. Maybe he was waiting for Aung San Suu Kyi.

A Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of a Burmese General who was murdered in 1947, eventually leading to the military taking control of the country. Years later she left Burma to go to school but in 1988, after marrying a foreigner and having two sons in Oxford, she returned and immediately took her father’s place as the head of a pro-Democracy movement in the beautiful but violently oppressed country. Over twenty years and several terrible hardships later, she’s still struggling today.

This is the story of The Lady, and it’s a return to form for a more mature Besson.  It’s not flashy, it’s not action-packed, it’s just Michelle Yeoh as Suu Kyi, David Thewlis as her husband Michael (and his twin brother) and one of the most incredible true stories of standing up against evil imaginable. The film recently played at the AFI Fest Presented by Audi, opens on December 2 and you can read more after the jump. Read More »

So, that Americanized version of Pierre Morel’s French thriller District 13 we reported on back in 2009 is still happening, and it may have just found one of its stars. Paul Walker has entered negotiations to join the cast of the remake, which will be titled Brick Mansions and relocated to a city in the States (probably Chicago).

But the news isn’t all bad! Also on board is David Belle, who starred in the original and its sequel but will be playing a different character here. Plus, the script comes from Luc Besson, who co-wrote the original, and Robert Mark Kamen, who collaborated with Besson on Taken. More details after the jump.

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Throughout last year, we heard rumors of writer/producer/director Luc Besson going back to big sci-fi, but his latest directorial effort turned out to be something very different. Rather than returning to a genre in which he has already established a beachhead, Besson chose instead to chronicle the life of Burmese political activist Aung San Suu Kyi, with Michelle Yeoh in the lead role.

The result is The Lady, and a trailer for the film shows Besson applying his well-established methodology of blending effective actors with big, memorable images. Read More »

Two sequel shoot dates have cropped up in the last 24 hours. The first is for Taken 2, which Luc Besson told ComingSoon will shoot in October. Director Olivier Megaton has “everyone back for the sequel,” including Famke Janssen, says Besson. Which means that Taken 2 is going to be about Liam Neeson fighting the reanimated corpses of all the people he killed in the first movie, I suppose. (If one wants to read ComingSoon’s paraphrasing literally.) I’d see that movie.

After the break, we’ve got the possibly bigger news: The Wolverine is now likely to push back to a Spring 2012 start date, to accommodate both Japanese weather and Hugh Jackman‘s schedule making Les Miserables. Read More »

Luc Besson‘s latest film makes quite a break from what we’ve come to expect from the writer/director/producer thanks to a decade of making mostly cheap, visceral action films. The Lady stars Michelle Yeoh as Burmese revolutionary leader Aung San Suu Kyi — this is a real-life story of political oppression and resistance. The first teaser trailer, which shows Yeoh in character taking the stage in front of a throng of wildly cheering supporters, has just dropped. Along with it comes the film’s first poster, designed by Shepard Fairey, based on his design featuring the real Aung San Suu Kyi. See both below. Read More »

If you’re more interested in the typical fall slate of festival entrees than summer’s glut of tentpole action fare, this is a great week. The Toronto International Film Festival announced the first wave of films that will play the fest in September. This is a batch of about 50 titles, which makes up only a small chunk of the programming. Usually TIFF features between two and three hundred films. But these are some of the highest-profile entries.

Below you’ll find rundowns on the new films from George Clooney, Bennett Miller, Jay & Mark Duplass, Todd Solondz, Francis Ford Coppola, Cameron Crowe, Sarah Polley, Fernando Meirelles, Lars von Trier, Marc Forster, Steve McQueen, Alexander Payne, and Lynne Ramsay. No announcement yet of the Midnight Madness programming choices, always some of my faves, but this is a great start. Read More »

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