Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns have spent the last couple years making genre films with prestige casts to explore modern anxieties in a unique manner. The Informant! tackled fears of impotence and mediocrity through the story of a guy who envisions himself as a powerful insder agent. Contagion charted paranoia about the ever-closer proximity in which we live with others, using a tagline that warned “Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t touch anyone.”

Now the two finish out an informal anxiety trilogy with Side Effects. The film wraps a thriller structure around a look at the insidious pharmaceutical industry, and the ways in which we rely on it, often blindly. A short new trailer for the film dropped today. It’s a brief edit, just a minute long, but the effect is much bigger than the short running time as a husband and wife (Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara) deal with the fallout of the woman’s use of medication. More than a few things are obscured in this trailer, but there’s enough here to get my attention. Read More »

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We’ve got some odds and ends from Sequel-Land after the jump:

  • Warner Bros. is seeking writers for Contagion 2
  • Will Black Dynamite 2 be like Blazing Saddles?
  • Ian McKellan almost declined to do The Hobbit
  • See new photos from Catching Fire‘s Georgia set

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the biggest surprises of 2011. Directed by relative newcomer Rupert Wyatt and delving back into a franchise that most people felt had long since died, the movie’s high quality helped it break out as a undeniable hit, grossing $176 million domestically. As tends to be the case, plans for a sequel were set into motion almost immediately and over the next few months Wyatt signed to return as director, star Andy Serkis was given a new deal and the original screenwriters, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, began to write the sequel to the prequel.

The Hollywood Reporter now says Scott Z. Burns, the writer behind Contagion, The Informant! and The Bourne Ultimatum, has signed to work on the film. Read more after the jump. Read More »

One of the last two films Steven Soderbergh plans to shoot before retiring from directing is The Bitter Pill, a thriller scripted by Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!, Contagion) that follows a troubled and highly medicated woman (Rooney Mara) who is dealing with her anxiety pending the release of her husband (Channing Tatum) from prison.

The promising actress Vinessa Shaw (Two Lovers, pictured above, and 3:10 to Yuma) is now set to play the wife of one of Mara’s doctors, who will be portrayed by Jude Law. After The Bitter Pill, Soderbergh will move on to his Liberace biopic for HBO, and then he’s done. (So he says.) [Deadline]

After the break, Ray Liotta lives with chemistry and Stanley Tucci joins two Harry Potter veterans. Read More »

There are some changes going on with Steven Soderbergh‘s planned film Side Effects. The past couple months have seen reports of Soderbergh ditching The Man From UNCLE and taking up the Side Effects script by UNCLE and Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. In the past couple weeks there have been reports that Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Productions would finance Side Effects, with Open Road (The Grey) set to distribute after Summit decided not to pick up the film.

But Ellison has walked away from the film, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. (Theorize if you like about the middling performance of last weekend’s Haywire opening being a factor.) With the departure of Ellison, some of the previously attached cast is in doubt. But there is one new addition: Soderbergh’ vet Catherine Zeta-Jones (Ocean’s Twelve, Traffic). Read More »

This month’s Haywire marks the first of two collaborations between Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum we’ll be seeing this year, the other one being this summer’s Magic Mike, and it seems we’ll have another to look forward to next year as well. After toying with the idea of teaming up for Warner Bros.’ The Man From U.N.C.L.E. before Soderbergh pulled out, the pair may now be gearing up to reunite on The Side Effects, previously titled Bitter Pill.

Also joining Tatum in the cast will be Blake Lively and Jude Law, the latter of whom recently worked with Soderbergh on Contagion. More details after the jump.

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For a guy who is about to retire, Steven Soderbergh keeps finding new projects. The latest, and very likely the last new one to be announced, is Bitter Pill, a script by Soderbergh’s Contagion and The Informant! screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. That’s the same screenwriter with whom Soderbergh was working on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but when various conditions at Warner Bros. led to the director walking away from that project, he decided to use the time allocated for U.N.C.L.E. to make Burns’ script Bitter Pill instead.

When first announced a couple days ago there was no studio financing for the thriller, but now it looks like Summit is the likely home, with a few other companies (Paramount, Lava Bear and some other financiers) as possible options. Read More »

Steven Soderbergh Drops ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

You may have followed the breadcrumb trail of casting reports for Steven Soderbergh‘s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. up to this point, but here’s the thing: it is no longer Steven Soderbergh’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Warner Bros. has worked for years to make a new film version of the old cold war TV spy series, and the director who created three fun films based on a Rat Pack heist movie seemed like the go-to guy to make it happen. But George Clooney had to drop out of the lead role for physical reasons and in his absence no other casting solution could be agreed upon.

So, after months of back and forth, with Warner Bros. wanting the movie to be cheaper than Soderbergh thought appropriate, and no locked leading men, Steven Soderbergh has moved on. Read More »

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