Winter is slowly but surely inching to an end, so let’s look ahead to what the next season has in store for us. The next few months promise to be an interesting one for indie releases, as both Spring Breakers and Zal Batmanglij‘s The East are slated to open.

Further down the road, The Weinsteins are getting into the paranormal YA game next winter with Vampire Academy, and Universal’s Untitled Illumination Entertainment Project (not the final title, obviously) has been slotted for summer 2015. Hit the jump for all the details, in chronological order.

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Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling made huge names for themselves at Sundance a couple years back with the release of his low budget sci-fi thriller Sound of My Voice. I loved the film, and while it got a small release by Fox Searchlight, not many people saw it in theaters (the horrible title probably didn’t help). It definitely wasn’t a movie for everyone — the story followed a couple who infiltrates a cult run by a leader who claims to be a time traveler from the future, and the execution played on the many mysteries in the same way the television show Lost did, sometimes not offering answers. But underneath it all was a very clever concept and some really good storytelling. Searchlight and Ridley Scott apparently recognized this enough to give them a budget dozens of times larger than their debut.

The East shares some ideas with Sound of My Voice, following someone who goes undercover to infiltrate a cult-like organization. The ever likeable Brit Marling plays Sarah, a new-hire agent for a Washington DC private security film who is tasked to infiltrate an anarchist group calling themselves “The East” (think Project Mayhem from David Fincher’s Fight Club). The film opens on the mansion of the head of a huge oil company which recently spilled gas in the Atlantic, killing a ton of wildlife and polluting the Earth’s waters. The East breaks in and creates their own oil spill all over his home, releasing a video online and making headline news around the world.

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The Sundance Film Festival has treated Brit Marling exceptionally well over the past few years. She was the big breakout story of the 2011 event, with the one-two punch of Mike Cahill’s Another Earth and Zal Batmanglij‘s The Sound of My Voice, and she got to return in 2012 with Nicholas Jarecki‘s Arbitrage. This year, she’s back once again with Batmanglij for The East, a thriller about a shadowy anarchist collective (called The East, hence the title) and a private intelligence operative (Marling) who goes undercover to stop it. The first trailer has just hit the web, and you can watch it after the jump.

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While the competition and spotlight films at Sundance are usually where the best of the fest reside, the big names are in the premiere categories. 2013 is no exception. Among the highly anticipated films that will premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival are the Ashton Kutcher Steve Jobs biopic jOBSRichard Linklater‘s trilogy-closing love story Before MidnightJoseph Gordon-Levitt‘s directorial debut Don Jon’s Addiction; the latest film from the team behind Sound of My Voice, The EastPark Chan-Wook‘s thriller Stoker; and the star studded film from the writers of The Descendants, called The Way, Way Back.

And that’s just a few of the features. The documentaries include subjects like Jeremy Lin, WikiLeaks, Mariel Hemingway, The Eagles and more.

After the jump, read the full list of premieres at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Read More »

Nicole Kidman‘s Blossom Films and Olympus Films have teamed up to acquire the movie rights for Kevin Wilson‘s bestselling book The Family Fang, which they plan to develop as a starring vehicle for Kidman. The two companies previously collaborated on Rabbit Hole, for which Kidman received a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Wilson’s debut novel centers around a couple of performance artists who regularly incorporate their unwilling children into their bizarre acts. Years later, misfortune prompts the now-grown son and daughter to return home, where they find their parents gearing up for one final masterpiece. [Deadline]

After the jump, New Line pulls together an intriguing shortlist for Burt Wonderstone‘s female lead, and The East‘s terrorist organization gets one more member.

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The more people get cast in Zal Batmanglij‘s The East, the more interesting it sounds. The latest addition is the always excellent Patricia Clarkson, who’ll play the boss of co-writer and star Brit Marling.

The thriller revolves around an agent (Marling) from a private security firm who is tasked with infiltrating a terrorist group called The East. Once she’s in, however, she finds herself falling for the group’s leader, probably because he looks exactly like Alexander Skarsgard. Other recent additions to the cast have been Ellen Page as Skarsgard’s ex and another member of the organization, and Toby Kebbell as a doctor who takes a tainted drug and develops Parkinson’s-like symptoms. [The Playlist]

After the jump, Octavia Spencer goes to Vegas and Michael Angarano goes home.

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M.C. Gainey, a.k.a. Mr. Friendly on Lost, has entered negotiations to star in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained as what sounds like one of the nastiest characters in a film filled with vile characters. Gainey is up for the part of Big John Brittle, an overseer at the Carrucan Plantation who sets the plot in motion by raping Django’s wife Broomhilda and branding Django’s cheek with the letter ‘R’ (for “runaway”). Django (Jamie Foxx) goes on to team up with Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter interested in the large reward on Big John, to free his wife from the clutches of villainous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Gerald McRaney, Dennis Christopher, and Laura Cayouette are also signed on to star in the “Southern-fried spaghetti Western,” while Kurt Russell is in talks to replace Kevin Costner as Candie’s right-hand man Ace Woody. Production is expected to begin next month for a Christmas 2012 release. [Variety]

After the jump, RocknRolla star Toby Kebbell goes East, while Rose McGowan heads to Napa.

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Ellen Page is in final negotiations to star with Brit Marling and Alexander Skarsgard in The East, Zal Batmanglij‘s thriller about a mysterious eco-terrorism organization called The East. Marling, who co-wrote the script with Batmanglij, leads as an undercover agent who infiltrates the group but then finds herself developing feelings for the group’s leader (Skarsgard). Page will play Izzy, a member of The East and Skarsgard’s ex, who becomes jealous of relationship between Marling and Skarsgard. Page replaces Felicity Jones, who had to drop out of the project due to press commitments for Like Crazy.

The addition of the Oscar-nominated Page should add even more buzz to a film that’s already been getting plenty of it. Marling and Batmanglij broke out at this year’s Sundance with Sound of my Voice, and True Blood star Skarsgard has a handful of interesting projects in the works. Page’s next big-screen appearance will be in next year’s Woody Allen-directed Bop Decameron, alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin.

The East is set to begin shooting in Nashville in October. [Variety]

After the jump, Anthony Mackie dreams up a new project for himself and Tom Everett Scott pairs up with Marisa Tomei.

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