With the Academy Awards over and Harvey Weinstein eight Oscars richer, studios can now turn all their attention to future and present projects. All of Hollywood is eagerly waiting to see if Disney has a potential new tent-pole franchise with director Andrew Stanton’s (Wall-E) hopeful epic, John Carter. Being released by Disney on March 9 and starring Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) as the title character, the film has been in the works for over three decades. In the 80s, producer Jim Morris had Tom Cruise (Top Gun) set to star and John McTiernan (Die Hard) to direct. Now, almost 30 years later, Disney has poured over a quarter of a billion dollars into the film. With tracking or film awareness still not high despite one of the largest advertisement campaigns in film history, Disney needs the film to be well received and have strong word of mouth for it to reach the half-billion-dollar-plateau it initially expected. Disney’s other future tent-pole franchise is The Lone Ranger, which will be released in March of 2013 and is being directed by Gore Verbinksi (Pirates of the Caribbean). Already starring Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the title character and Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd) as Tonto, Disney has now signed William Fichtner (The Dark Knight) to play the film’s central villain, Butch Cavendish, who is the leader of the Lone Ranger’s rival gang. Fichtner is best known for his powerful yet short role in the prologue of Christopher Nolan’s (Inception) The Dark Knight, where he plays the manager of the bank that the Joker robs. If Disney’s John Carter is as big of a flop as many film journalists are predicting, Disney will be relying heavily on this picture next year.
In other film news, James Franco (127 Hours) and Jonah Hill (Superbad) have been cast as the two leads of the future film True Story. The film is being produced by Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life) and his production company, Plan B. This marks a reunion for Hill and Pitt, who enjoyed working with each other during Moneyball. The film is about a disgraced journalist (Hill) who is given the chance to redeem himself by interviewing a murderer (Franco).
In what seems like an obvious casting choice, director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) is pursuing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (The Toothfairy) to star in MGM’s new adaptation of Hercules, based on the graphic novel by Steve Moore, titled Hercules: The Thracian Wars. However, before Johnson can star as everyone’s favorite demigod, he is set to star alongside Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights) and Anthony Mackie (Real Steel) in director Michael Bay’s (Transformers) next film, titled Pain & Gain. Based on true events, Bay’s film revolves around a group of body builders who plan a kidnapping scheme that goes out of control. Surprisingly, the film’s budget is relatively low and it also will feature Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine), Ed Harris (A History of Violence) and John Turturro (Mr. Deeds). The film is being described as a dark comedy and a mixture between Fargo and Pulp Fiction.
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