The Countdown

The week in film news

The huge news of the week saw Disney announce a new Star Wars trilogy plus a live action TV series. Episode VIII writer-director Rian Johnson will create a new set of films that stand apart from the Skywalker saga that, according to the press release, “will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored” (surely the disco craze that swept Jabba’s Palace?) In a witty sign off, the announcement ended with “no porgs were available for comment.”

From the rumour department, it was mooted that Disney are also acquiring key assets from 21st Century Fox. The move would potentially bring some of the Fox owned Marvel characters — X-Men, Deadpool, Fantastic Four, and the upcoming Gambit with Channing Tatum — into the MCU. Other franchises such as Avatar, Planet Of The Apes and Home Alone would also seem a perfect fit for Disneyification. Not so much the FrozenPredator crossover.

The week started with the return of a king. Warner Bros. and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Estate are in negotiations with Amazon Studios to bring The Lord Of The Rings to the small screen as a mini-series.

Amazon’s interest is believed to signal the studio’s move away from smaller more realistic shows like Transparent and Mozart In The Jungle — both Z The Beginning Of Everything and The Last Tycoon were cancelled — to broader, large-scale genre entertainments with international appeal. But nothing like Game Of Thrones. No sir.

This week has also seen some parting of the ways. Creative dynamos Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have left the Dark Universe, Universal’s reboot of its classic 1930s horror back catalogue. After just one released film, The Mummy, the series seems to have stalled with Bill Condon’s Bride Of Frankenstein starring Angelina Jolie now put on hold. Universal are promising “filmmaker-driven vehicles, each with their own distinct vision” with no release dates set. In other words, “Oops!”

Yet the biggest departure was Kevin Spacey’s from All The Money In The World, even though the film is already finished. According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Ridley Scott took the extraordinary (not to mention expensive) step of recasting Spacey’s role as J. Paul Getty with Christopher Plummer.

In a bold gambit, Scott made the decision then informed the studio, Sony, of his plans. Spacey only shot for eight days and many of his scenes were solo yet recreating the scenes, including bringing back Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg, is still a huge undertaking, especially as Scott still plans to make the original Christmas release date. Not bad for a filmmaker who turns eighty this month.