Leonardo DiCaprio Producing Volkswagen Scandal Movie 0 17

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Wow, talk about things moving fast in Hollywood!

It may have only been a few weeks since the scandal erupted around the Volkswagen fuel emissions cheating but there’s already a movie in the works. DiCaprio is on board to produce the film alongside Jennifer Davisson through his Appian Way company.

There’s no mention of stars, writer or director yet – one might assume that DiCaprio might star himself but he’s a known environmentalist who has produced these types of themed films before (the climate change documentary The 11th Hour chief among them) so it wouldn’t surprise me if he kept himself strictly as a producer for this one, too.

Paramount is the studio behind the movie, having nabbed the presumably sought-after rights to the upcoming book by Jack Ewing. Variety has the details on what it exposes:

“…The company placed illegal software in their clean diesel cars that could tell when a car was being tested for fuel emissions and would turn on the emissions control to cheat the test and meet EPA standards. During normal driving conditions, emission control software was shut off  — resulting in as much as 40 times more pollution than allowed by law. Volkswagen is currently facing up to $18 billion in fines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

If there’s one thing Hollywood loves it’s a true story and, more specifically, a controversial one. Getting this one made and out in the world will be crucial for it to feel relevant to audiences. DiCaprio being attached can’t exactly hurt its box office chances.

The actor will next be seen in the amazing-looking The Revenant.

Source: Variety

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I'm a freelance film reviewer and blogger with over 10 years of experience writing for various different reputable online and print publications. In addition to my running, editing and writing for Thoughts On Film, I am also the film critic for The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, covering the weekly film releases, film festivals and film-related features. I have a passion for all types of cinema, and have a particular love for foreign language film, especially South Korean and Japanese cinema. Favourite films include The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Kenneth Branagh To Direct Disney’s ‘Artemis Fowl’ Movie 0 16

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An adaptation of the mega successful 2001 book Artemis Fowl, and its subsequent series, has been in the works for quite a while now, with mega producer Harvey Weinstein having acquired the rights and tried to get it made for almost 15 years.

After some flipping and flopping on who exactly owns the rights (Disney acquiring Weinstein’s Miramax a decade ago put the brakes on the project), it now appears that things are finally moving forward with the long-awaited big-screen version and it’s being reported that Sir Kenneth Brannagh has been locked down to direct.

Tracking-Boarding has the exclusive on the news on the project, which has intriguingly been described as “Harry Potter meets Die Hard.” That’s just a gift to the people who will end up marketing this thing to the masses. Brannagh appears like the perfect director for it, having just come off a huge success with the $542 million-grossing Cinderella. He will also produce alongside Weinstein.

If you don’t know already, here’s the story of Artemis Fowl as reported on TR:

It follows the brilliant and cunning 12-year-old eponymous criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II, whose cunning plot to extort gold from the secret Fairy People puts him directly in the cross-hairs of some of the most dangerous creatures on earth. Over the series, Fowl becomes a sort of anti-hero rather than a full-fledged villain, often having to work together with the fairies to stop a slew of treacherous megalomaniacs.

The original draft of the Artemis Fowl script was written by Michael Goldenberg, who wrote 2003’s version of Peter Pan as well as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, one of the most action-packed installments in the wizarding franchise (in which Brannagh, of course, starred himself). Variety has extra info on this announcement stating that Irish playwright Conor McPherson is in talks to write a new draft. As for the lead character himself, is it just me or does the above artwork make him look spookily like the kid who play Bruce Wayne on Gotham?

The recent successful pate of YA fantasy stories like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner – not to mention the sure-to-be-successful upcoming Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – is probably a major contributing factor in Artemis Fowl finally getting the kickstart in needed. I have to admit I haven’t read the source books but after Harry Potter came to an end, it seems time for another all-encompassing cinematic fantasy phenomenon to come along.

Before he gets to Artemis Fowl, however, Branagh will be working on the recently announced remake of Murder on the Orient Express. He also has a drama called Italian Shoes, with Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench.

Sources: Tracking-Board and Variety

Josh Gad to Play Roger Ebert Opposite Will Ferrell in ‘Russ & Roger’ 0 12

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Ever since his scene-stealing voice performance as Olaf the Snowman in Disney’s Frozen, Josh Gad has been in-demand, appearing in everything from a Steve Jobs biopic (playing Steve Wozniak) to this year’s (terrible) video game-themed blockbuster Pixels. Now we’ve got word that the actor is set to play one of the most loved and fondly remembered figures in the film journalism industry; the late-great Roger Ebert.

Variety reports that Gad will be playing him in the STX Entertainment “crazier than fiction” comedy Russ & Roger, which will focus on the time the critic turned screenwriter for director Russ Meyer’s controversial 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Gad was reportedly up for the role for some time but scheduling has finally permitted him signing on the dotted line.

Will Ferrell is already on-board to play opposite Gad as sexploitation maestro Meyer, as is Michael Winterbottom (The Killer Inside Me, The Look of Love) as director. The script is written by Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons writer Christopher Cluess, with Winterbottom and producers polishing it up. Here’s the outline as reported:

A debauched comedy in which truth is crazier than fiction, the film is an outrageous look at two no-holds-barred outsiders who defied the Hollywood establishment to make one of the first X-rated films ever released by a major movie studio (“Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”) — having the party of a lifetime in the process.

That’s certainly not the type of biopic I’d expect about Ebert. The wonderful documentary Life Itself (seriously, if you haven’t seen that then seek it out ASAP) skillfully and emotionally fulfilled the need for a more dramatic and real look at the man’s life. But still, “debauched comedy” is not the phrase that comes to mind when I hear that they’re making a movie about Roger Ebert.

As for Gad playing him, I think it’s a fine piece of casting, especially since it’s not going the ultra serious route; Gad can certainly hold his own as a dramatic actor (he’s great in Zach Braff’s underrated dramedy Wish I Was Here, for example) but his talents lie in being outlandish. It also doesn’t hurt that he looks quite a bit like Ebert when he was younger.

What do you think of the casting?

Gad will next be seen/heard in the Angry Birds movie, as well as playing Le Fou in Disney’s new version of Beauty and the Beast.

Source: Variety