What do you get when you take Jack Black, The Bourne Identity, and a couple of pretty talented comedy writers? About what you'd expect, really. The Hollywood Reporter announced today that Black was teaming up with Kung Fu Panda writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger for an untitled, live-action, action-comedy at Universal. Described as a comedic The Bourne Identity, the project, which was picked up as a pitch for a seven-figure deal, will see Black as an American who finds himself washed up the shores of Cuba with no idea of who he is and how he got there. He comes to the conclusion that he must be a superspy, though in reality he is far from one.
The Dark Knight surprised no one by performing impressively at the box office. We all knew it would win the weekend. It had everything working toward that end: a talented star who died too soon in his final full performance; film number two in a hot franchise; and the adulation of pretty much every critic out there. There was no way this movie was going to open at anything but number one at the box office.
I am officially declaring today Talking Animals Day. Among the other gabby movie animals in the news today, it seems hungry bears have also stumbled into today's headlines in a big way: pop culture's oldest, Yogi Bear, and newest, Po, will both be heading to the big screen. True, we reported back in August that DreamWorks Animation was planning a sequel to the overwhelmingly successful Kung Fu Panda, but it was announced today that both Jack Black and Angelina Jolie among other original cast members, would be coming back. The original film's writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger have also signed on for the sequel, which will be directed by the original's head of story, Jennifer Yuh Nelson. The sequel, to be released in 2011, will follow panda bear Po, the world's biggest kung fu fan, as he continues his journey as the chosen one who fulfills an ancient prophecy while mastering the art of kung fu. And also, no doubt, eating all of Monkey's cookies along the way.
This October, after 58 years and three different TV shows, the world will finally get a feature-length film about Japanese pop-culture icon Astro Boy. The computer-generated spectacle has been in the works for three years, and features top-notch animation as well as an all-star voice cast. And it is going to fail miserably. We don't want it to, because the footage shown at this past weekend's New York Comic-Con was visually impressive, but it will, because it has too many things working against it. Which is too bad, because you'd think that a movie about a boy who's also a superhero robot would do great, right? Yeah, sadly, it won't. Wanna know why? Read on.
Disney's in the news today. Variety reports that the Mouse went to China recently and came back with a deal for "rights in all territories" for a new family-friendly pic. Not to be outdone by DreamWorks and Jack Black's admittedly impressive kung fu, Disney will offer its own panda fare to satisfy your "aww, isn't that sweet" tooth. The live-action Touch of the Panda is the story of an orphaned boy who rescues a young panda. Did I say "sweet"? Your overpriced theater Milk Duds will taste like lemons and battery acid by comparison!
There are a whole lotta sequels going on. Particularly for the animated animals of the Dreamworks slate. Jeffery Katzenberg, head of Dreamworks, was at a preview for the upcoming Madagascar sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and said that they were planning not just an additional sequel in the Madagascar series, but a sequel to this summer's Kung Fu Panda as well. Having enjoyed both originals and also being always on the lookout for new movies to keep my nephews entertained on long car rides, I'm okay with it. I mean, there are only so many times my poor sister can listen to Cars.
We've got writers! We've got directors! We've got... well, writers and directors, mostly. First up, there is the long-awaited news about talent being attached to First Avenger: Captain America. Sadly, the acting talent question remains a mystery, but The Chronicles of Narnia scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (a name I will henceforth be calling the handsy guy on my Saturday morning bus) have been attached to pen the script for director Joe Johnston. As most know, the Captain America story is that of rejected army candidate Steve Rogers who undergoes an experiment that gives him enhanced strength and reflexes. And of course, an indestructible shield. The film will be set during World War II, after which the character will then appear in the modern-day set Avengers film, which will come out in May of 2011. I don't know if the weird time-space continuum that links Narnia with our world and makes time pass differently is going to help them, there. Should be interesting.