Star Trek XI — last week’s casting rumours

This post is way, way overdue, but I haven’t mentioned the latest Star Trek casting rumours yet. Then again, they are only rumours, and the closest thing to actual news here is that at least one of the people mentioned has auditioned for a part in the film.

While the rumours have originated at various sites, for simplicity’s sake, I will stick to the summaries posted at IGN.com.

First up, Paul McGillion of Stargate: Atlantis has auditioned for the part of Scotty — and like James Doohan, the actor who created the role (and whose son is rooting for McGillion), he is a Canadian who can fake a Scottish accent. McGillion would turn 39 during the film’s production; Doohan was 46 when he created the role.

Second, Mike Vogel of the Poseidon and Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes is rumoured to be the “front runner” for Kirk. Vogel is 28; William Shatner was 35 when he created the role.

Finally, Karl Urban of The Lord of the Rings and Pathfinder and Doom and The Bourne Supremacy is rumoured to be in the running for … what, exactly? Scotty? McCoy? Pike? The villain? All of these possibilities are raised at IGN.com, but nobody’s saying. At any rate, Urban is 35, which is old for this movie’s cast.

Speaking of Walden and the Narnia movies …

… here is one odd tidbit in that Variety story that I just mentioned that deserves a post of its own:

Hopes are highest for “Prince Caspian,” which will cost at least $100 million. Granat promises that the battle-filled sequel is easily distinguishable from its predecessor and the third pic on the sked, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

Walden and Disney recently shifted the release date for “Dawn Treader” from 2009 to 2010 due to the schedules of the young actors. The shift will also avoid a conflict of having to promote the second film and shoot the third at the same time.

Producers had announced at Comic-Con in July that auds could expect one “Narnia” installment each May for the next few years. Granat is committing publicly to only four or five, saying that “Silver Chair” might be the best bet for the fourth, followed by “Magician’s Nephew,” but he admits that there are a multitude of possibilities.

“There are a lot of stories to be taken from the seven books,” he notes.

Wait a minute … is Granat opening the door to the possibility that some of the Narnia movies might be based on stories other than the ones that C.S. Lewis wrote? I find that hard to believe.

Fox Walden — is it ready to take on Disney?

I don’t know how it works in the United States, but here in Canada, boutique labels like Paramount Vantage and Fox Searchlight are generally handled by different publicity firms from the ones that handle parent companies like Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Occasionally there is some overlap, but most of the time, films put out by the boutique labels tend to be treated like arthouse or independent films, rather than mainstream wide releases, and they generally do less business at the box office.

So I probably shouldn’t have been too surprised to learn this week that Fox Walden — the label that was set up recently when Walden Media, which specializes in adaptations of children’s books, came into the Fox fold on a permanent basis — is being handled by the same people who handle the other boutique labels. Apparently children’s-lit movies are more of a niche genre than anything else. But it does make me wonder how seriously we can take the claim, reported in this Variety story today, that Fox Walden is poised to challenge Disney’s dominance within the family-movie field.

The ironic thing? Walden Media’s biggest hit to date, by far, is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), which was distributed by … Disney. In fact, Disney released four of Walden’s six top-earning films to date — including one film, Around the World in 80 Days (2004), that was one of the biggest flops by any studio in recent memory, earning only $24 million in North America on a budget of over $100 million. (In fairness, the film earned another $48 million overseas.)

The two basically successful films that were not distributed by Disney are Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), which was distributed by Fox and grossed $33 million worldwide on a budget of nearly half that, and Charlotte’s Web (2006), which was distributed by Paramount and grossed $82.6 million in North America and another $61.8 million overseas on a budget of $85 million.

Interestingly, the Variety story suggests that Walden Media was interested in hooking up with Disney on a long-term basis, but turned to Fox when Disney said it was cutting back on its film slate. However, another Variety story that went up today notes that Disney has been re-focusing all its efforts on family films — and recently scored a success, box-office-wise, with The Game Plan, the first film to be greenlit by the new Disney regime.

The first big test of the Fox Walden approach comes this weekend with the release of The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising. But given that the film is receiving the boutique-label treatment — wide release or not — I am not sure how much I would bet on its box-office prospects. (The fact that it hasn’t gotten very good reviews is also problematic, but its 18% rating at Rotten Tomatoes is not that far behind the 29% rating that The Game Plan currently has.)

Lars and the Real Girl — the trailer

This film just looks curioser and curioser.

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(Hat tip to D. Andrew Kern at Beside the Queue.)

Will the Rings wizards re-unite in Compass?


While New Line Cinema continues the long, torturous process of patching things up with Peter Jackson and thereby giving us a film version of The Hobbit — a recent Entertainment Weekly cover story summarizes everything that has happened on that front over the past four years — the studio is also proceeding with its plans to make Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials the cinematic heir to Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003).

If the Italian website Queste Oscure Materie, as translated by IGN.com, is to be believed, it looks like the film version of The Golden Compass may feature Ian “Gandalf” McKellen as the voice of the armoured bear Iorek Byrnison, while Christopher “Saruman” Lee may play a member of the Magisterium described as “a grumpy man dressed in dark colours, whom we see sitting at a table with another character, whose daemon is a panther.”

UPDATE: Whoops, it looks like IGN.com might have been quoting an article from the Italian website that was already in English. BridgeToTheStars.net links to this page, which adds the news that “the final scenes in the movie have been heavily reworked . . . at the request of the producers, not of the director.” Hmmm.

OCT 9 UPDATE: Ian McKellen’s voice can now be heard in Teaser 2, which just went up at IGN.com. Meanwhile, Film Ick passes on a rumour or two concerning just how extensive the changes to the film’s ending might be. It sounds like scenes that were glimpsed in the teasers might be removed from this first film altogether.

UPPERDATE: An exclusive and more complete version of the new trailer is now up at Yahoo! Movies — and hey, look, here’s Lee:

The Year of Living Biblically — an excerpt

If you’re curious to know what the film version of The Year of Living Biblically might be like, the Globe and Mail has posted an excerpt from the A.J. Jacobs book, which comes out on Tuesday.


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