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HomeIndustry SectorFilmMust Reads 2/6/24: Pitt to Reunite with Tarantino, David Leitch Goes Jurassic?...

Must Reads 2/6/24: Pitt to Reunite with Tarantino, David Leitch Goes Jurassic? O’Hara Joins Last of Us, More Industry News

The industry is slowly trying to pull itself up by the bootstraps after the one-two punch of the pandemic and last year’s strikes. Unfortunately, the box office hasn’t fully recovered just yet, as Apple Studios discovered, when its $200 million investment in Matthew Vaughn‘s star-studded action-comedy Argylle failed to deliver at the global box office.

We’ll do things a little different this installment of Must Reads, beginning with all the movie news that has built up first, touching upon the latest business and exec. news, and then wrapping things up with some television news and trailers. Cool?

So much has been going on in the last week that our previous lead story may be overshadowed by a few other announcements. The big news last week was that Brad Pitt would be appearing in what is meant to be Quentin Tarantino‘s tenth and final film, The Movie Critic. Some might remember that Pitt has starred in two of Tarantino’s biggest theatrical hits, Inglourious Basterds in 2009, and 2019’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, for which Pitt won his first acting Oscar. This is great news for Tarantino, who probably is hoping to end on high note, even if he might end up pissing off the all-important film critics who have supported him his entire career. For Pitt, it’s another chance to remain cool and relevant during the second act of his career, similar to how he starred in Damien Chazelle‘s Babylon a few years back, despite that movie being a commercial and critical flop.

You may remember that we reported that screenwriter David Koepp was working on a script for a new Jurassic Park film, and Universal Pictures just confirmed this with the announcement that “AN ALL-NEW JURASSIC WORLD EVENT FILM” will hit theaters on Wednesday, July 2, 2025, replacing a previous untitled placeholder. And then on top of that, it was reported that filmmaker David Leitch (Bullet Train) was circling directing the planned start of a new trilogy, which is not expected to include any of the stars of either Colin Trevorrow‘s Jurassic World trilogy, or the original trilogy launched by Steven Spielberg, who will act as exec. producer on the new movie through his Amblin Entertainment, along with Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley. There’s no doubt that Universal is quite pumped for Leitch’s upcoming The Fall Guy movie, starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, which will launch the summer movie season in May, but first, it will premiere at the annual SXSW Film and TV Festival in March. Studios do not bring movies to the Austin film festival unless they know they have the goods that will play well for an audience. It would make sense for Universal to want to stay in the David Leitch business if the movie does as well as some expect with two of the stars of 2023’s biggest movies.

Attack of the 50ft Woman poster (Allied Artists)

It was also announced last week that Tim Burton – whose long-awaited sequel, Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, reuniting him with Michael Keaton and others from the original cast, joined by Jenna Ortega, will hit theaters on September 6 – will be tackling a remake of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman for Warner Bros, which would totally be on brand with Burton’s renowned love for ’50s and ’60s genre cinema. The oddest part about this news is that the movie will be written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. The original 1958 movie was quite iconic, leading to a number of remakes and sequels, including a Christopher Guest-directed 1993 remake for HBO.

If you read Above the Line‘s interview with Flamin’ Hot screenwriter Linda Yvette Chávez a few months back, you may have remembered her mentioning she had written a screenplay for America Ferrera to make her directorial debut, based on the Erika Sánchez‘s bestselling novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. With Ferrera having received her first Oscar nomination for Greta Gerwig‘s Barbie, her Q-rating has certainly been elevated. While that project was once supposed to be funded by Netflix – who released Ferrera and Chávez’s series Gentefied – Amazon MGM‘s Orion Picures imprint (responsible for Cord Jefferson‘s American Fiction) has now come on board to make the project happen, presumably as a theatrical release.

Paramount Pictures has picked up Infrared Pictures‘ high-concept thriller Novocaine, starring Jack Quaid and Amber Midthunder (Prey), which is directed by Robert Olsen and Dan Berk from Villains with production beginning in South Africa starting in April. In the film, Quaid plays a sheltered bank executive named Nathan Caine, who has a rare genetic condition that prevents him from feeling physical pain when he is enduring it. When his bank is robbed and one of his co-workers kidnapped, he has to act and finds his greatest liability becomes his greatest strength. Olsen and Berk previously scripted and co-directed Significant Other for Paramount+, starring Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy.

Staying in the genre realm, filmmaker Sébastien Vaniček, who last directed the film Vermin for horror streamer Shudder, just signed with CAA as he’s been attached to direct an Evil Dead spin-off film for Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert’s Ghost House Pictures. What’s interesting about the franchise based on Raimi’s directorial debut is that it’s shifted between studios over the years, so that the 2013 Evil Dead remake was released by Sony (where Ghost House had a long-term first look deal) but then last year’s Evil Dead Rise was released by Warner Bros’ New Line subsidiary. Either way, this will be a big step in exposure for Vaniček’s career after making a number of indie horror films.

Courtesy Lionsgate

Less of a surprise was the announcement that filmmaker Kevin Greutert, who has directed three of the Saw films and been editing the franchise going all the way back to the first movie in 2004, would be back to direct Saw II, following the relative success of last year’s Saw X. The ten-installment horror franchise has grossed $1.1 billion worldwide with most of the movies retaining a fairly low production budget, so there’s little reason for Lionsgate not to continue the franchise now that it’s found itself new fans.

If you’re unaware, the annual Berlinale film festival is taking place in Berlin beginning next week on Feb. 15, which means that the EFM (European Film Market) is also ramping up with early news of some of the projects going to market, many with all-star casts.

One of the projects announced was a Billy Wilder biopic called Wilder and Me from director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and producer Jeremy Thomas, which Hanway and CAA are launching at EFM with two-time Oscar winner Christopher Waltz as the legendary film director, as well as Maya HawkeJohn Turturro, and Jon Hamm in the cast. Hawke plays Calista, a “young musician whose life takes on a whole new meaning while working on the set of Billy Wilder’s film Fedora,” while Turturro plays Wilder’s lifelong friend and screenwriting partner, I.A.L. Diamond, and Hamm plays actor William Holden.

It was also announced Callum Turner (The Boys in the Boat), Kristine Kujath Thorp, and Gustav Lindh will star in Dara Van Dusen’s survival thriller, A Prayer For The Dying, based on Stewart O’Nan‘s novel that takes place in 1870 Friendship, Wisconsin, a small town of Scandinavian settlers still suffering the repercussions of the recent Civil War. The film will begin filming this summer with Anton and New Europe Films having acquired the European rights before it heads to EFM next week.

Jessica Alba (photo courtesy The Honest Company)

We’ll quickly jump over to a few other industry developments, such as actor Jessica Alba launching her very own production company called Lady Spitfire, this following her successful business venture in creating the leading consumer goods brand, The Honest Company. This will help bring the star of two Fantastic Four movies and Sin City back into the film and television space, as she partners with producer Tracey Nyberg with aims “to work collaboratively with diverse artists and creators in producing boundary-pushing, high-quality content, focusing on female driven, culturally diverse and Latino inspired stories.”

Alba made the statement at the announcement of Lady Spitfire’s launch: “I’m thrilled that in this stage of my life and career, I get to create and build, and Lady Spitfire is part of this next chapter. Reimagining and redefining how women and minorities show up in the world through great stories is my passion. I believe that my children and the next generation shouldn’t have to face the same barriers as I have. Inspired by the heroes whose shoulders I humbly stand on, I feel it is my duty to make it easier for dreams to be realized and potential to be met for women and minorities, particularly those in my community.”

Staying in the management and agent realm, it was announced that IAG (Independent Artist Group) has hired A3 Artist Agency‘s Head of Motion Picture literary department, Adam Kanter, as the new Head of Motion Picture at the company, making a big push into lit with Kanter’s slew of clients that include Malcolm Lee (Girls Trip), Pete Segal (Get Smart), and Bobby Farrelly (Champions). The hiring was announced by IAG CEO Jim Osborne and EVP, Head of Content Development Kyle Loftus.

In a similar vein, talent rep Sam Masaru Sekoff has joined Entertainment 360 as a manager in its lit dept. Sekoff got his start at The Gersh Agency, which he became an agent in the television department before joining Range Media Partners in 2021. Some of his clients include Paul Downs Colaizzo, Sebastian Silva, Nick Lieberman, Takeshi Fukunaga, Rachel Lambert, Phillip Youmans, Ava Coleman, Elise Brown, Adel Kamal, and Blaize Ali-Watkins. 360 made the statement, “We’re thrilled to welcome Sam to 360. He has a sharp eye for talent and we respect his tenacious advocacy on behalf of clients. He’s hit the ground running and quickly become an essential member of the team.”

Catherine O’Hara in Schitt’s Creek (CBS)

That brings us to some TV news, begin with the exciting casting news that television legend, Catherine O’Hara of Schitt’s Creek (and unfortunately, also the aforementioned Argylle) has been cast for Season 2 of HBO‘s Emmy-winning series, The Last of Us, in an undisclosed role. Considering O’Hara’s status as an actor, we have to imagine that she’ll be bringing out more of her dramatic side for whatever she ends up doing on the show. She already has won two Primetime Emmys, so this might be her path to a third.

Meanwhile at another one of HBO’s flagship series, Mike White‘s The White Lotus, it was announced that Serbian actor Miloš Biković, who was cast in a small recurring role as a Russian in the third season, which will take place in a Thailand hotel with production to begin soon in parts of Koh Samui, Phuket, and Bangkok. This comes shortly after Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called out HBO for casting Biković, stating on social media, “Is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?” which included soundbites by the 36-year-old actor who has regularly been working in Russia, in which he appears to back Russia’s occupation of Crimea. In turn, the actor called the Ministry’s actions, stating, “a targeted campaign has been unleashed against me, seemingly as an external maneuver to influence decisions that can create a disturbing precedent shadowing the essence of artistic freedom,” and saying that it was, “The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.”

Furthermore. Biković said about his exit from the popular show, “I was honored to be chosen to be a part of White Lotus, a TV series that I hold in high regard and with colleagues whom I deeply respect. However, my participation is not possible due to reasons beyond the realm of art and I will not bow to any narrative that seeks to compromise my integrity.”

It has since been announced that Bulgarian actor Julian Kostov (Shadow and Bone) would be joining the show’s third season in place of Bikovic.

An interesting mini-series being produced for streamer Peacock is Fight Night: The Million Dollar Heist, about an infamous armed robbery that took place the night of Muhammad Ali‘s historic 1970 comeback fight. The project from Shaye Ogbonna already has the killer cast of Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Terrence Howard, and it’s just been announced that Oscar nominee Don Cheadle will join the project, playing JD Hudson, one of Atlanta’s first Black detectives who was assigned to Ali’s security detail and whom investigated the robbery.

A few more casting tidbits include the fact that Lost star Naveen Andrews will be joining Season 2 of the Paramount+ series, Last King of the Cross, and Leslie Grossman (American Horror Story, The Good Place) has been cast as Judalon Snyth in Ryan Murphy‘s new Netflix series, Monsters.

One thing we haven’t reported on but is something that was fairly predicable was that Warner Bros. Discovery has wanted to remain in the “Harry Potter” business, considering what a huge success it has been, and they’ve been accepting writers pitches over the last few weeks on the direction of the series, which will readapt the JK Rowlings book series but in a longer-form series platform for HBO and streamer Max.

A number of writers have stepped up to make pitches for the direction of the series, including Succession writer Francesca Gardiner, the latest name to join Martha Hillier (The Last Kingdom), Kathleen Jordan (American Princess), Tom Moran (The Devil’s Hour), and Michael Lesslie (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes), an intriguing mix of American and British writers, who pitched their visions in L.A. last week.

A scene from Dave (FXX)

Dave Burd‘s FXX comedy series, Davehas been hugely popular over its first three seasons, but the comedian star and co-creator of the show has stated that he has no plays for a fourth season, because he wants to focus on other things, including his musical career. Burd made the statement: “Making Dave has been and continues to be a dream come true. But there are other creative ventures that I am dying to pursue as well. For the past 5 years, I’ve poured every fiber of my being into the show, and after three amazing seasons, this feels like a good time to press pause to give myself the bandwidth to do some of the other things I have always wanted to do. I am beyond excited about what I have planned for the future and am enormously appreciative of FX for their continued partnership.”

Avatar: The Way of Water
Avatar: The Way of Water / 20th Century Studios

Although everyone is still talking about the Grammys, we should point out that the 51st Annual Saturn Awards were also handed out this past weekend with James Cameron‘s  Avatar: The Way of the Water winning for Best Science Fiction Film, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny winning for Best Fantasy Film (Ookay), the Australian Talk to Me winning the Saturday for Best Horror Film, James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 winning for Best Superhero Film, and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 winning for Best Action Film. Presumptive Oscar Best Picture winner Oppenheimer won for Best Thriller, while its director, Christopher Nolan, received the Visionary Award from the group.

We’ll wrap things up today with two very different trailers, an intriguing new genre film from NEON, starring Nicolas Cage and Maika Monroe (It Follows) called Longlegs from filmmaker Oz Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter), which will hit theaters on July 12. If you can figure out what the movie is about from this trailer, then good on you, but having a quote from T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” is certainly some interesting marketing for what looks a bit like a Se7en-ish crime-thriller.

And a little more straight-forward is the first trailer for the Amy Winehouse biopic, Back to Black, starring Marisa Abela as the late Grammy-winning pop singer, this one directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) with Focus Features releasing it on May 17.

Deadline provided some additional reporting for this column.

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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