When Universal was shedding projects in 2011, one that was dropped was Memphis, a chronicle of Martin Luther King, Jr. from producer Scott Rudin and director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93). The film was ambitiously scheduled, with a hopeful release date set for this year’s MLK holiday, and with Greengrass not being noted for his post-production speed.

But there was also question over whether the King estate approved the script. All told, the deck was stacked against the project, and Greengrass moved on to Captain Phillips. I joked when Universal cut the film loose that Annapurna Productions should step in, but in reality it looks like Wild Bunch is now going to finance Memphis, giving Rudin and Greengrass another chance to tell the story. Read More »

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Now that David Gordon Green seems to be stepping away from comedies for a bit, he’s opening himself up to all sorts of interesting options. The long-gestating Suspiria remake appears to have been put back on the shelf for now, but he’s got the gritty Southern Nic Cage drama Joe coming up on his radar. And his next potential gig may be the most surprising one yet.

Green is in talks to direct Little House on the Prairie, a cinematic adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s classic children’s book series, from a script by Shame writer Abi Morgan. Talk about a unexpected combination. More after the jump.

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The very busy David Fincher now has one less project on his plate. For over a year now, he’s been in the running to direct Cleopatra, starring Anglina Jolie. However, a new report indicates that talks have broken off.

It’s not the end of the line for the film, though, as Sony is now on the lookout for someone else to take over at the helm. Even with Fincher off, they’ve clearly got their hearts set on locking down a prestige filmmaker: Ang Lee is said to be among their candidates. More details after the jump.

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It looks like Wes Anderson might get right to work on a film to follow Moonrise Kingdom, and we’ve had a list of possible actors: Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and Angela Lansbury.

While most of those names remain tentative, now we know that Depp is confirmed for the film, and that it will likely be the actor’s follow-up to The Lone Ranger. And better yet, we’ve got a title: The Grand Budapest Hotel. We also know that Scott Rudin (No Country For Old Men, The Social Network) will be among the producers, continuing the partnership between director and producer that goes back to The Royal Tenenbaums. Read More »

There are long-simmering projects, and then there’s A Confederacy of Dunces. A cinematic adaptation of John Kennedy Toole‘s canonical novel has been in development since the early ’80s, and has gone through many hands in the decades since with no success. But Hollywood keeps trying, and now the latest big names to try and crack it could be Zach Galifianakis and The Muppets helmer James Bobin. More details after the jump.

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Scott Rudin is bouncing back from his disappointment over HBO’s decision to pass on The Corrections by getting the gears turning on another project with some serious literary pedigree. Rudin has just tapped Superbad helmer Greg Mottola to pen an adaptation of The Marriage Plot, the acclaimed novel from Pulitzer-winning The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex author Jeffrey Eugenides. Although the discussions at the moment are only about Mottola writing the film, his upcoming schedule suggests that he could possibly come on board to direct as well. More details after the jump.

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After a decade of false starts on the big screen, an adaptation Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections looked to finally be making some headway on the small screen. HBO began developing it as a series with producer Scott Rudin last fall, and quickly signed director Noah Baumbach as well as a high-profile cast including Ewan McGregor, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest. The novel, which won the National Book Award in 2001, centers around an elderly couple and three adult children as they gather for “one last Christmas” near the turn of the millennium.

But alas, it seems this incarnation of the project isn’t going anywhere, either. After viewing the pilot, the premium cable has chosen to pass on the series. While HBO apparently liked the episode and the performances, it was concerned about the long-term sustainability of the premise. The book’s plot jumps back and forth through time, filling in the characters’ backstories, and HBO worried that it would be difficult for viewers to follow. The decision was not related to this week’s straight-to-series order of True Detective; with Luck off its plate, HBO would have had the resources to do both. [Deadline]

After the jump, the West Wing gang prove they’ve still got their walk-and-talk skills.

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Producer Scott Rudin is finally getting the ball rolling on his long-gestating family comedy The Pet, and he’s picked Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess to help out by taking over at the helm. Originally pitched by Matt Lieberman, the screenwriter behind Dimension Films’ remake of Short Circuit, The Pet revolves around a man who’s kidnapped by aliens. Once he arrives at the aliens’ home planet, he gets adopted by a family as a house pet. More after the jump.

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