Star Trek XI has a Scotty and (maybe) a Kirk!

Variety reports that Simon Pegg — the co-writer and co-star of the genre spoofs Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz — has been hired to play Scotty in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie.

Pegg has worked with Abrams before, on Mission: Impossible III (2006) — and that was rather amusing at the time, because several months before he took the role, a reporter asked Pegg if England had become too small for him, following the success of Shaun of the Dead, and Pegg replied, “It’s not like I’m going to be starring in Mission Impossible 3.” And, well, now look what he’s doing!

Anyway, Pegg will turn 38 while the film is in production, whereas James Doohan was 46 when he created the role back in 1966.

Meanwhile, the part of Kirk has been offered to Chris Pine, who is 27; William Shatner was 35 when he created the role.

OCT 15 UPDATE: Joe Carnahan, the writer-director of Narc (2002) and Smokin’ Aces (2006), writes at his blog that Pine will not be starring in his next film, White Jazz, because Pine has accepted the role of Kirk. There is no official announcement yet, though.

It finally happened.

I have now cashed an American cheque and received in Canadian currency less, rather than more, than the amount that was written on that cheque. The US$300 that I received today turned out to be worth CDN$285.03 — and it probably would have been worth even less if I had waited to cash it in another day or three. The American dollar has definitely fallen below parity, now.

On a semi-related tangent, I recently bought the two-disc edition of Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967; my comments) for CDN$19.99 plus taxes at Future Shop, but it occurs to me now that I could have ordered it for US$14.99 via — or slightly less than that, in Canadian currency. True, the shipping fees would have nudged it back over twenty bucks, and there is the possibility that it might have been intercepted by the good folks at Canada Customs; but if I were buying multiple items and not just the one movie, then it just might be cheaper to get my discs that way.

Certainly, when you add to the financial considerations the fact that far too many Canadian DVDs are afflicted with ugly bilingual packaging — a problem that fortunately does not affect Disney discs, yet, not really — then the prospect of importing one’s discs from the United States becomes more and more appealing.

Lars and the Real Girl — marketing to churches

The Hollywood Reporter, via Reuters, has caught on to the fact that Lars and the Real Girl — the movie starring Ryan Gosling and a blow-up doll — is being marketed to church groups:

How do you market a wholesome, old-fashioned film about a churchgoer who falls in love with his sex doll? Grass-roots screenings with religious groups, maybe?

That’s one of the novel approaches being taken with the marketing campaign for director Craig Gillespie’s unexpectedly poignant comedy “Lars and the Real Girl,” which opens Friday in Los Angeles and New York.

“Half Nelson” Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a painfully shy loner who lives in the garage next to his brother and sister-in-law’s house. Crushed by the loss of his parents, he orders a lifelike doll named Bianca over the Web and convinces himself that she’s his girlfriend. The local doctor (Patricia Clarkson) persuades his family, his small town and even his church to help him by going along with the delusion and accept Bianca as a real person.

There’s nothing really prurient in the film, which earned a mild PG-13 rating for “some sex-related content.” Lars and Bianca sleep in separate houses. There’s a discreet scene in which Bianca’s potential in-laws bathe her, but while some silicone is exposed, her anatomical correctness is never shown.

The film’s producer, Sidney Kimmell Entertainment (SKE), plans more than 100 promo screenings by the time the film goes wide on October 26 including, yes, outreach to church leaders.

“We’ve found an enormous response from mainstream Christian groups,” says Bingham Ray, who heads up SKE’s distribution operations. “Some pastors may discuss the film as part of their sermons.”

The trailer doesn’t intentionally misrepresent the film’s tone, but it does feature Bianca in ridiculous situations (holding a baby, sitting in church), making it tough to convey the film’s themes of acceptance, tolerance and kindness. . . .

The Final Inquiry — release date update

CT Movies has a new article on the state of things at Fox Faith, and near the end, it mentions that The Final Inquiry — which was simply The Inquiry when it premiered at an Italian film festival in late 2006, and was slated for an April 2007 release in the United States at one point — will now come to theatres in January 2008 and then to video by the following Easter. FWIW, I also spoke to someone recently who told me that the film has been re-cut; I don’t know what sorts of edits were made, but my hunch is the Dolph Lundgren fight scenes may have been a little much for some people. (And to judge by the poster shown here, it seems the film has yet another title in Spain, which I believe translates as In Search of the Tomb of Christ — but I don’t believe the location of the tomb is ever in question in this film; it is the location of the body that puzzles the Roman investigator.)

The new Terminator trilogy is good to go.

And, in the tradition of “Judgment Day”, the next movie just might have the most religious-sounding title yet. Variety reports:

Warner Bros. has acquired North American distrib rights to “Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins,” triggering an early 2008 production start for a film that seeks to reinvent the cyborg saga with a storyline to be told over a three-pic span.

WB plans to distribute “Terminator Salvation” in summer 2009.

The Warner deal dashes MGM’s hopes of corralling distribution rights to the film. The Lion planned to pepper its slate with tentpoles such as “The Hobbit” and “Terminator,” but neither project has worked out for the distributor. . . .

The producers said that the new film will carry the size and scale of “Terminator 3,” and will have an event-sized budget. It will likely be less than the $200 million pricetag of “Terminator 3,” which was saddled with extravagant costs that included above the line payouts, rights payments and heavy fees incurred through a complex financial structure.

Warner Bros. is also producing a smallscreen “Terminator” adaptation, “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” for Fox’s midseason sked. . . .

A screenplay has been completed by “Terminator 3″ scribes John Brancato and Michael Ferris, and the financiers and studio are close to locking a director. While industry buzz has “Charlie’s Angels” director McG as the odds-on favorite for the assignment, the producers said no final decision had yet been made.

The first two “Terminator” films, directed by James Cameron, used contemporary settings to pit Sarah and John Connor against indestructible cyborgs. “T3″ was also set in the present day and ended just as the machines initiated a nuclear apocalypse. “Terminator Salvation” was deliberately not given a number after its title, because Halcyon is eager to make it clear that the fourth film heads into an entirely different setting.

“This is set in the future, in a full-scale war between Skynet and humankind,” Anderson told Daily Variety.

Borman said: “The third film was really the conclusion of what happened in the ‘now.’ You will find the most-loved characters, but the intention here is to present a fresh new world and have this be the first of a trilogy.” . . .

Eric Bana is the bad guy in Star Trek XI.

Two months ago, it was rumoured that Russell Crowe had been approached about playing the bad guy in the new Star Trek movie. Now comes word, via Variety magazine, that Eric Bana has signed for the part — a character named Nero. “Plot details and even character descriptions . . . are being kept under wraps,” reports the trade paper, but if there is one thing we can say about this villain, it is that he apparently needed to be an Aussie.