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Must Reads 1/31/24: Gunn Finds His Supergirl, Chita Rivera Dies, Byron Allen Makes Paramount Offer, Peele’s Monkey Paw Boards Monkey Man, More Industry News

We are indeed a day late and a couple dollars short here at “Must Reads” due to unforeseen circumstances, but that just gives us more industry news and plenty of trailer to share with you.

Probably the biggest casting news of the week was that filmmaker and DC Entertainment Co-CEO James Gunn announced the actor playing Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl in his 2025 superhero reboot, Superman Legacy, that being one Milly Alcock. The Australian Alcock played the younger Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen on HBO‘s House of the Dragons and also starred in the Australian series, Upright. Although Alcock’s Supergirl will be introduced in Superman Legecy, there’s no word whether Hancock will continue that role onto the announced Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow film, although Gunn has said that the actors he cast in roles would maintain those roles. The Supergirl in the Tom King-written mini-series of that name is generally older, while the Supergirl in Gunn’s upcoming movie is presumably younger.

Geraldine Visnawathan in Miracle Workers (TBS)

Less than a week after the Sentry role was recast in Marvel Studios‘ The Thunderbolts with Steven Yeun having to leave due to scheduling issues, The Bear‘s Emmy-winning star Ayo Edebiri has also had to leave the project for similar reasons, due to a “scheduling conflict.” Although her role was never announced, she’s already been replaced by Miracle Workers and Blockers star Geraldine Viswanathan, who will next be seen in Ethan Coen‘s Drive Away Dolls, which hits theaters on February 23. Directed by Jake Schreier (Beef), Marvel’s supervillain team-up picture, which brings together the MCU characters played by Florence Pugh, Sebastian StanDavid Harbour, Julia Louis-DreyfusWyatt Russell, Hannah John-Kamen, and Olga Kurylenko, has been scheduled for a July 2025 after a number of delays due to last year’s strikes.

Chita Rivera (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

On Tuesday, the world received the sad news that Broadway legend, the iconic Chita Rivera, who notably originated the role of Anita in the original 1957 Broadway hit, West Side Story, has died at the age of 91 after a brief illness, announced by her daughter, Lisa Mordente.

Rivera was nominated for ten Tony nominations over her prestigious career, winning twice for her performances in The Rink and Kiss of the Spider-Woman, and in 2018, she received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. She made her Broadway debut in Guys and Dolls in 1953, and other key roles included starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie in 1960, and key roles in Chicago and Nine. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Rivera with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the inspiration she’s given and influence she’s had on hundreds of Latina actors on Broadway and beyond is immeasurable. For instance, Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose would go on to star as Anita in film adaptations of West Side Story, Moreno in 1961 and DeBose sixty years later, and they BOTH would win the Oscar for those performances.

Less than a week after it was announced that Skydance Media CEO David Ellison had made a bid for Paramount Pictures, Allen Media Group CEO and Entertainment Studios founder, businessman Byron Allen, has thrown his own hat in the ring, making a $14.3 billion offer for Paramount Global, according to Bloomberg. Allen offered $28.58 per voting share for Paramount, a 50% premium to where the stock has been trading, and $21.53 for non-vating shares, which would bring the value of the deal to $30 billion. It’s unclear where Allen would get the funds for this bid, but the market seemed to be skeptical of Allen’s takeover with non-voting shares jumping 22% on Wednesday to $16.7, which was still below the offer price.

An interesting development from the quite active Jordan Peele and his Monkey Paw production company is that they’ve come on board as a producer for Dev Patel‘s directorial debut, Monkey Man, bringing the project over to Peele’s home at Universal Pictures for a release on April 5. You might remember that Netflix originally had bought the rights to Patel’s feature, in which he also stars, but our pal Jordan Ruimy at World of Reel shared the insight that one of the reasons Netflix might have dropped the film due to its “portrayal of a fictional right-wing Hindu Nationalist character in the film that worried Netflix about their future dealings in India.” Because of this, the streamer gave the film back to the producers after a long delay, and Peele and Universal quickly picked it up as another action franchise ala Bob Odenkirk‘s Nobody.

Although we have more trailers to share with you below, we’ll share the first trailer for Monkey Man, which was released with the announcement about the sudden switch in distributors and platforms for Patel’s action movie.

After the success of Jason Statham and David Ayer‘s The Beekeeper, Amazon MGM has come on board the duo’s next project, an adaptation of Chuck Dixon‘s novel Levon’s Trade, which should be going into production later this year. You might remember that Ayer spoke about going to the UK to begin pre-production on Levon’s Trade in his interview with Above the Line earlier this month.

Rogue Trooper cover for 2000 AD

Exciting news came with the casting announcement for the planned animated adaptation of the Gerry Finley-Day and David Gibbons 2000 AD comic, Rogue Trooper, that’s being developed by Moon director Duncan Jones. This has been a long-time dream project for Jones, and he has found his cast to perform the (presumably) mo-cap roles similar to how some of non-human characters were portrayed in Jones’ 2016 Warcraft movie, according to Variety. The animated film will be created using the 3D tool Unreal Engine 5 with Aneurin Barnard (DunkirkThe Goldfinch) playing the title charactter, joined by Hayley Atwell (Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1), Jack Loweden (also Dunkirk), Daryl McCormack (Good Luck to You Leo Grande), Reece Shearsmith (Saltburn), as well as Jemaine ClementMatt Berry (What We Do in the Shadows), Diane MorganAlice LowAsa Buttefield, and Sean Bean. That’s a fantastic cast that will be made in a similar vein as Robert Zemeckis films like Beowulf and The Polar Express, so it should be an interesting project for the British filmmaker.

The original Not Ready for Prime Time Players from Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Jason Reitman has been working hard putting together the cast for his SNL 1975 for Sony Pictures, and he has put together quite a terrific young and relatively new cast to play the “Not Ready For Primetime Players.” For the younger viewers of NBC‘s long-running late night comedy, Saturday Night Live, that was the name for the original seven comedians and actors assembled by Producer Lorne Michaels for the show. All but Gilda Radner and John Belushi are still alive, with Dan Aykroyd having returned for Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021. It’s been reported that British actress Ella Hunt (Dickinson) has been cast as Radner, Emily Fairn (Black Mirror) as Laraine Newman, and Kim Matula (Fighting with My Family) as Jane Curtin. A day or two later, Lamorne Morris (New Girl) was cast as original cast member Garrett Morris (no relation), Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) as Aykroyd, Cory Michael Smith (Gotham) as Chevy Chase, and Matt Wood as the one and only Belushi. This is a terrific choice by Reitman, because he went for a lot of relatively unknown young actors to play these iconic comic figures, and it might surprise some that NBC Universal didn’t jump at the chance of distributing the film, though Reitman and his co-writer Gil Kenan spoke with many of those around at the time, so maybe there’s stuff that doesn’t make the company look so good. Hence, Sony gets to release a movie that has already garnered a ton of interest.

More casting news from the past week, includes Nia Long joining Lionsgate‘s Michael Jackson biopic, Michael, playing matriarch Katherine Jackson, wife to Colman Domingo‘s Joe Jackson, in the biopic directed by Antoine Fuqua.

Also, Keke Palmer from Jordan Peele‘s Nope has joined the cast of Aziz Ansari‘s feature directorial debut, Good Fortune, having originally been cast in Ansari’s Being Mortal before that film was shut down due to inappropriate behavior by Bill Murray. She is joining Ansari, Keanu Reeves, and Seth Rogen (who was also part of the cast of Being Mortal) for the comedy, also for Lionsgate. Palmer’s role is being kept under wraps, as are any other plot details.

Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey in talks to star in the Blumhouse true-life thriller, The Lost Bus, with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass in talks to direct. Jason Blum and Jamie Lee Curtis are producing the film based on the adaptation of Lizzie Johnson‘s Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire, about the 2018 Camp Fire that started the biggest and deadlines fire in California history, which has been adapted by Brad Ingelsby (Mare of Easttown). McConaughey would play bus driver Kevin McKay, who along with teacher Mary Ludwig, helped navigate a bus full of children through the wildfires that destroyed the mountain town of Paradise, killing 85 people. 

Apple Original Films is currently in talks to pick up the project for distribution and streaming, the subject matter previously having been covered in the Ron Howard-directed doc, Rebuilding Paradise.

Idris Elba in Hostage (Apple TV+)

Apple also announced that it had renewed its hit drama series, Hijack, starring Idris Elba, for a second season. The first season of the show from Criminal‘s George Kay and Jim Field Smith was one of the streamer’s top dramas on the Nielsen Streaming Originals Top 10 list.

Amelia Dimoldenberg (photo courtesy self)

Since we do like to keep on top of developments at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the annual Oscars announced that UK comedian and broadcast Amelia Dimoldenberg will be the “face” of the 96th Oscars social media campaign in her role as “Social Media Ambassador and Red Carpet Correspondent.” So, basically, if you like what you see at left, you’ll be seeing a lot of her on Oscar night… with a British accent.

Our old pal at TheInSneider has a report on the next project for filmmaker Derek Cianfrance (A Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine), reporting that he will direct Roofman, a film telling the true story of Jeffrey Manchester, the late ’90s criminal who began robbing McDonalds locations across the United States by drilling, hacking and sawing through their roofs. He committed somewhere between 40 and 60 of such crimes while also living out of a Charlotte, North Carolina Toys “R” Us store during his crime spree. It sounds like a terrific, but possibly crazy story for a movie adaptation, but one that Cianfrance would be more than capable of handling. Manchester was in his ’20s when he committed his crime spree, so Cianfrance may have to look for a younger talent for the role than his previous leading men, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender.

With Matthew Vaughn‘s star-studded action-comedy, Apple and Universal‘s Argylle, hitting theaters this Friday — you can read my review here — there have been a ton of new trailers released over the past week. Amazon MGM released the first trailer for its Road House remake, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Doug Liman, while at the same time announcing that it would be premiering on its streamer, Prime Video, on March 21. It was also announced as the opening night film for this year’s SXSW Film & TV Festival, but out of protest of the movie not getting a proper theatrical release, Liman announced that he would be boycotting the annual Austin, Texas festival.

Sure to be attached to Argylle is the first trailer from Guy Ritchie‘s first (?) movie of 2024, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, a similar star-studded action comedy, starring Henry CavillEiza Gonzaléz, Henry GoldingAlan Ritchson, and more. That will be released by Lionsgate on April 19, and you can watch the first trailer for that below.

And we’ll wrap things up with another Jason Reitman project, as his upcoming sequel, Ghosbusters: Frozen Empire, opening on March 22 and directed by his SNL 1975 co-writer Gil Kenan, received a second trailer this past week.

That’s it for now and possibly for this week. Have a great weekend!

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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