The star power that came out in defense of the West Memphis Three was remarkable and now there’s added juice behind an eventual dramatic film version. Oscar-winner Colin Firth has just joined previously cast Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon in Devil’s Knot, the first narrative feature (after several documentaries) concerning the complicated yet fascinating subject of the West Memphis Three. It’ll be directed by Atom Egoyan and is based on the non-fiction book by Mara Leveritt.

Firth will play Ron Lax, a private investigator who was instrumental in finding key evidence that raised considerable doubt as to the guilt of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley. Witherspoon will play Pam Hobbs, the mother of victim Steven Branch and the wife of the man believed to have committed the crimes. There’s more after the jump. Read More »

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Months after we first heard of Atom Egoyan‘s planned feature about the West Memphis Three, the project has found its first star. Reese Witherspoon has boarded The Devil’s Knot, based on reporter Mara Leveritt‘s 2003 nonfiction book which chronicled the 1994 trials that put two teenagers in prison for life and another on death row for the murder of three eight-year-old boys, despite a lack of physical evidence. After years of appeals, the three men were finally freed this summer. More details after the jump.

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One of the films to play Fantastic Fest in Austin last month was the Dutch ghost story thriller Zwart Water, aka Two Eyes Staring. Germain wasn’t thrilled with the film, calling it a good story that wasn’t handled well. It’s one that sounds like prime material for a remake, and indeed that is something that is already in motion.

Even as the film played Fantastic Fest, the remake rights were in the hands of Charlize Theron‘s production company. Now The Exorcism of Emily Rose writer/director Scott Derrickson has been hired to co-write and direct the remake, which will star Theron. Read More »

Whenever I picture the story of David and Goliath (which is not often), the characters look in my mind’s eye like old-timey illustrations out of a children’s Bible or a classic painting. Although I love a good round of fantasy casting as much as the next movie geek, it’s just never occurred to me to consider which modern-day actors might fit the parts.

As the director of Relativity’s Goliath, however, Scott Derrickson has been tasked with doing just that. And the names he’s come up with so far are, apparently, Dwayne Johnson for Goliath and Twilight star Taylor Lautner for David. Hmm. Read more after the jump.

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Last week saw the dramatic end to the story of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., aka the West Memphis Three. The trio were the subject of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky‘s documentary Paradise Lost in 1996. That film told of how the three young men had been tried and convicted for the murders of three 8-year old boys in 1993, despite a lack of any physical evidence. (The three were convicted in part because of supposed Satanist leanings and interests in metal and the occult.) The fact that the three are free is wonderful, but that freedom was obtained not through exoneration, but by pleading guilty to the murders and being released with time served for the 18 years each has spent in prison. It’s hardly justice.

Berlinger and Sinofsky were almost finished with their third documentary about the case, and are talking about how the end of the case will be reflected in their film. And Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan has announced his plan to make a dramatic feature based on the case. Finally, Peter Jackson, who along with Fran Walsh, Eddie Vedder, Johhny Depp and others contributed to the WM3′s defense fund, has responded to the end of the case. Read More »

We all know how this one ends. Puny David slays the giant Goliath with only a slingshot. It’s the journey towards that epic showdown, however, which makes up the plot of the new film Goliath. A period action film “with contemporary sensibilities,” the Biblical tale is set to be directed by Scott Derrickson who did The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Day The Earth Stood Still remake. Before it goes into production, though, the original script, written by John D. Payne and Patrick McKay, is apparently going to be overhauled to make it more like 300 or The Bourne Identity. Read more about this project after the break. Read More »

The Day The Earth Stood Still director Scott Derrickson, star Keanu Reeves, and producer Erwin Stoff opened the first major panel of Comic Con 2008. Here are the three things I learned about The Day The Earth Stood Still remake from the panel:

Erwin Stoff actually proposed the idea f a Day The Earth Stood Still Remake to a producer shortly after the release of Speed, but a regime change prevented the project from developing into a film until nearly 15 years later.

Derrickson confirmed that Gort is definitely in the movie. He claims they went through hundreds of different possibilities in the conceptual stage but came back to something that wasn’t very different from the Gort from the original film. Weta is still working on the design.

Klatu’s spaceship and suit is more organic than technological.

They also showed three clips from the film. I have to admit that I wasn’t very impressed by the previously released movie trailer, and the new footage didn’t get me any more excited.

The first clip began with Klatu, played by Keanu Reeves, being wheeled through a dark hallway into an US government interrogation room where he is hooked up to some kind of lie detecting equipment and questioned by an official.

“Are you Human?” the interrogator asks.

“My body is…” Klatu responds.

“Do you feel pain?”

“My body does…”

“Are you aware of a pending attack on the US?”

“You should let me go…”

Klatu takes control on the interrogator and finds out which exit to escape the building. He then sends out a signal which disables all the guards. They all fall to the ground.

The second clip was a much smaller innocent scene between Klatu and Jaden Smith’s character Jacob in the back of a pick-up truck.

“You aren’t so scary,” says Jacob. ” You don’t even look like an alien….”

Klatu responds: “Its so i can talk to you…”

“What were you before?”

“Klatu…

“I told helen we should kill you…”

“Did you mean it?”

“Before….”

“Whats gonna happen to us?”

“I was thinking the same thing.”

The third clip was more of a highlight reel / extended trailer comprised of half finished special effects shots and clips from the film. Someone from the US government shows up to Connely’s door.

“Dr Bensson come with us, Everything will be explained on route.”

Helen is told not to be afraid. Cut to a Connely watching the interrogation from behind a two way mirror. Klatu takes control of the government official.

Big balls of light descent upon earth in various cities worldwide. The usual shots of people looking up at the sky. A big ball of liquid rises from the oceans. Connoly in hazmat suit. Cut to the scene in the trailer where Klatu tells Connely that “If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives.”

Smoke overtakes huge truck tearing it apart. Same thing happens with a stadium. The electricity in a major city goes out. And the ending shot is a tease of Gort, but much like the trailer, we don’t see much of anything.

And finally the clip ended with Jaden Smith’s character asking Klatu “What’s gonna happen to us”.

I have just confirmed that the movie trailer for Scott Derrickson‘s The Day the Earth Stood Still remake will be attached to prints of Hancock, which hits theaters next week.

The contemporary re-imagining of the 1951 science fiction classic stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, an alien whose arrival on our planet triggers a global upheaval. As governments and scientists race to unravel the mystery behind the visitor’s appearance, a woman (Jennifer Connelly) and her young stepson (Jaden Smith) get caught up in his mission – and come to understand the ramifications of his being a self-described “friend to the Earth.” Kathy Bates also stars. The Day the Earth Stood Still scheduled to hit theaters on December 12th 2008.

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