Fresh Developments This Week
#1 JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT WANTS TO REOPEN LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who through Christopher Nolan’s films Inception and The Dark Knight Rises is recently tight with Warner Bros, is now developing with the studio a third movie version of Little Shop of Horrors. If JGL’s version goes forward, it will follow the original 1960 movie that starred a then-unknown Jack Nicholson, and the 1986 musical version starring Rick Moranis as nerdy florist Seymour. Little Shop of Horrors is of course the story of the wackiness that ensues when a giant man-eating plant named Audrey II grows and grows, becoming increasingly demanding for more human treats. The new version appears also to be planned as a musical, as one of the producers is Marc Platt, who produced the Broadway hit Wicked, and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) has been hired to work on the screenplay adaptation.
#2 FROM THE HUNGER GAMES TO HOUDINI
Fans of The Hunger Games were understandly surprised when director Gary Ross decided not to sign to return for the sequel Catching Fire (which will be directed by Francis Lawrence of I Am Legend and Water for Elephants). This week, we found out that the project that Gary Ross may take on instead is something that might fit in better with his other previous films Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. Ross is in negotiations with Summit Entertainment to direct Houdini, a biopic about the life of the famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. This biopic is based upon the 2006 book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. That book attracted attention for its depiction of Houdini as a spy for Great Britain, and for assisting the Secret Service and other police organizations. As such, Summit’s adaptation is said to depict Harry Houdini as part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes, and the movie is expected to be as much an action-thriller as it is a straight biopic. The latest screenplay adaptation was by Noah Oppenheim, a producer of the TV series The Today Show and Hardball with Chris Matthews.
#3 EMMA WATSON AND JASON SEGEL WILL BE THERE TOO AT THE END OF THE WORLD
The End of the World is the new title of the post-apocalyptic comedy from writing partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg which got its start as a YouTube trailer spoof called Jay and Seth Vs the Apocalypse. The premise of the movie is that it depicts various Hollywood celebrities as themselves as they hole up in a house with some sort of apocalypse being unleashed outside their door. This week, the cast grew a bit larger as Emma Watson (Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies), Jason Segel (The Muppets) and David Krumholtz (Numb3rs) all signed on to play themselves. Other actors also playing themselves in The End of the World include the original pair of Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, as well as James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson. At one time, Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe was rumored to also be involved, but it looks like that plan may have been changed to include Emma Watson instead.
#4 GUILLERMO DEL TORO TO PRODUCE TRUE HORROR STORY THE BLOODY BENDERS
Guillemo del Toro is teaming up with Angry Films (Real Steel, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) to produce The Bloody Benders, a spec script based on a true horror story from the American wild west of the 1870s. The script comes from Adam Robitel, who is described as a protege of director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns, Apt Pupil). The Bloody Benders tells the true story of a family who operated a hotel on the outskirts of the Kansas prairie, where they robbed and murdered their guests using a system of elaborate trap doors and hammer-to-the-skull type murder mechanisms. Guillermo del Toro is not expected to direct The Bloody Benders. The producers were reportedly attracted by the way the script combines genres: “Western, horror, thriller, and love story.” This is the second project that GDT and Angry Films are developing together, as they are still trying to find a studio home for Del Toro’s adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft horror adventure At the Mountains of Madness, in which Tom Cruise was once attached to star, back when it was being produced at Universal Pictures.
#5 HARRY POTTER SCREENWRITER REOPENS THE JUNGLE BOOK
Warner Bros has started development on a new live action adaptation of the 1894 children’s literature anthology classic The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. For the task, the studio has hired screenwriter Steve Kloves, who is best known for his work on seven of the eight movies in the Harry Potter series. Steve Kloves will also direct, which will be a return long in the coming for him after last working on The Fabulous Baker Boys and Flesh and Bone in 1989 and 1993. The Jungle Book has, of course, been most famously adapted as the 1967 Walt Disney animated film. Curiously, this news from Warner Bros came just before another announcement from Disney itself, about a book that was itself written as an homage of sorts to The Jungle Book. Walt Disney Pictures has secured the rights to the 2008 Neil Gaiman children’s book The Graveyard Book, which won the Newberry Medal. The Graveyard Book has been in development before, but Disney’s involvement may be just what’s needed to finally get the adaptation produced. The Graveyard Book tells the story of a boy raised in a graveyard, with his only friends being all the supernatural ghosts and creatures there (much like how Mowgli grew up in the jungle, and was friends with the animals).
#6 BERNADETTE PETERS AND LEA MICHELE FROM GLEE HEADLINE THE 3D CGI SEQUEL DOROTHY OF OZ
Dorothy of Oz is the title of an independently produced 3D CGI animated sequel to L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which of course, is most famous for being adapted as the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. This week, the voice cast was announced. Bernadette Peters, who recently guest-starred on the TV series Smash, will voice Glinda the Good Witch, with Megan Hilty, who played her daughter on Smash, voicing the China Princess. The voice of Dorothy Gale comes from another musical TV series, Glee, in the form of Lea Michele. Dorothy of Oz will depict what happens when Dorothy Gale returns to Oz to find that her friends (Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion) have disappeared, and Oz is in a state of decay (you can find out more at the official site http://www.dorothyofoz.com/). The rest of the voice cast includes Dan Aykroyd (The Scarecrow), Kelsey Grammer (The Tin Man), Jim Belushi (The Formerly Cowardly Lion), Martin Short (The Jester), Oliver Platt (Wiser), Hugh Dancy (Marshal Mallow) and Patrick Stewart (Tugg). Dorothy of Oz is being directed by Dan St. Pierre (Everyone’s Hero, Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey).