Good news for those eager to find out exactly why Benicio del Toro is picking on Blake Lively in that first image from Savages: Universal has just shifted the opening date for Oliver Stone‘s latest from September 28 to July 6. Savages is the only film currently scheduled to go up against Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which hits three days before on Tuesday, July 3. It’s a bold move on the studio’s part, but it may also be a smart one — Savages could be ideal counter-programming to the comedies, actioners, and superhero flicks due out around the same time this summer.

Based on a book by Don Winslow, Savages stars Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as a pair of small-time pot dealers who get roped into working for a Mexican cartel that kidnaps their shared girlfriend (Lively). The impressive cast also includes Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Demián Bichir, and Emile Hirsch.

After the jump, new release dates for Clint Eastwood’s Trouble With the Curve, Drafthouse Films’ The FP, and lesser known Oscar nominees Bullhead (also from Drafthouse Films) and Chico & Rita.

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Briefly: Oliver Stone‘s new film is Savages, based on Don Winslow‘s novel of the same name, about two small-time pot growers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) and their shared girlfriend O (Blake Lively). Their little world gets messed up when O is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel as a means of strong-arming the two guys into working for the cartel.

This first image from the film shows Lively as she’s held by the cartel, where she is evidently smoked out in a rather menacing way by one primary henchman, played by Benicio Del Toro. The rest of the cast is notable: Uma Thurman is O’s mom; Salma Hayek is the cartel boss and John Travolta is a DEA agent. Emile Hirsch and Demián Bichir have roles as well. Savages doesn’t hit until September 28, so we might have to wait a while for a trailer. [Universal via Empire]

Oliver Stone Directing ‘The Power Broker’ for HBO

The term ‘power broker’ is a familiar one, but even now I think a lot of people might not have much of a response to the name Robert Moses. That’s the man chronicled in Robert A. Caro‘s 1974 book The Power Broker, which positioned Moses as essentially the most powerful man in New York, and described how he used that power to shape the city.

Soon many more people might be familiar with Moses’ name, as Oliver Stone is developing a film based on the book. He’ll direct the project, which would air on HBO. Read More »

Scarlett Johansson may seem like an unlikely lead for a Judd Apatow film, but in this context her casting actually makes a lot of sense. Johansson has signed on to star in Can a Song Save Your Life?, which will be written and directed by John Carney (Once) and produced by Apatow. The film follows “a washed-up A&R man who forms a passionate bond with a young singer-songwriter (Johansson) from out of town.”

The project calls for Johansson to sing, which shouldn’t be a problem for the actress. Johansson is in fact a professional singer, having released an album of Tom Waits covers titled Anywhere I Lay My Head back in 2008 and a collaboration with Pete Yorn called Break Up in 2009. Though the male lead has yet to be cast, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Carrey have been rumored as possibilities. (FWIW, I vote Ruffalo.) Shooting on the film will begin in New York City next year. [The Playlist]

After the jump, new gigs for the stars of Twilight, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the late-’90s/early-’00s teen alien show Roswell. Gosh, remember that?

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We had a couple of days where mid-level casting for a lot of projects was going crazy. Maybe there was something in the air; maybe casting directors and agents just all got together and had a field day. It’s been a bit slower today, but still there are a couple of items to catch up on. After the break, you’ll find info on how:

  • Robin Williams appears to be cast in Gently Down the Stream, with Robert De Niro and Susan Sarandon.
  • Joel David Moore (Avatar) will be in Oliver Stone’s Savages.
  • and Katie Cassidy takes the lead in Freaky Deaky. Read More »

From Weeds to weed — Demian Bichir is making the move into Oliver Stone‘s world. The director is making Savages, based on the book by Don Winslow. He already has quite the cast lined up: Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson play up and coming pot dealers coerced into working for a drug cartel when their girlfriend O (Blake Lively) is kidnapped. John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro are all in the cast, and now Demian Bichir has signed on, too. Read More »

Oliver Stone is quickly locking down the cast for Savages, the adaptation of Don Winslow‘s novel about two pot dealers (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) whose mutual girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped by a drug cartel (Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro) in an effort to coerce the guys into bowing to the cartel’s will. John Travolta and Uma Thurman also signed on, with that casting announced just hours ago.

Now Emile Hirsch, the great young(ish) actor who seems to do a spate of films then drop off the radar for a while, is in the film playing a role that is yet to be announced. That makes quite a cast so far — while it is difficult to get excited about John Travolta of late, the collection of people is a pretty serious lineup. Is this going to be the movie where Oliver Stone really roars back to life? [Variety]

After the break, while Ralph Fiennes remains a possible addition to the next James Bond film, he’s also in line for a part in Mike Newell’s new version of Great Expectations. Read More »

Jennifer Lawrence was closing in on a starring role in Oliver Stone‘s Savages — an adaptation of Don Winslow‘s novel of the same name, in which the polyamorous gal playmate of two pot-dealing buddies is kidnapped and held ransom by a drug cartel — but that fell apart when she got swept off to compete in The Hunger Games. Many names were in the mix to take over the role, but Blake Lively became the frontrunner. Now she’s confirmed for the film, and John Travolta and Uma Thurman are joining her for the ride. Learn more about the parts they’ll be playing after the break. Read More »

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