The morph the merrier: Up to seven more Power Rangers movies could be made

The big-screen reboot of the Power Rangers franchise has yet to be released, but studio Lionsgate is so optimistic that its CEO Jon Feltheimer announced that as many as seven more sequels could be made. “We are really, really excited about the Power Rangers movie,” Feltheimer said during a conference call with entertainment industry analysts. “We could see doing five or six or seven.” He claims that the reaction to the reveal of the new movie’s crystalline armour costumes has been largely positive, though a cursory glance at the relevant tweets doesn’t bear that out. The first entry of the planned series will be released in 2017. Dean Israelite is directing the film, with the main cast comprising Becky G as the Yellow Ranger, Ludi Lin as the Black Ranger, Naomi Scott as the Pink Ranger, Dacre Montgomery as the Red Ranger and RJ Cyler as the Blue Ranger. Elizabeth Banks will play the evil alien witch Rita Repulsa.

Rosa Salazar gets re-engineered for Battle Angel

A live-action adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s manga series Battle Angel Alita has been in development for years now under James Cameron, who was initially interested in directing. Now preoccupied with making the Avatar sequels, Cameron has passed the directorial baton on to Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn). Actress Rosa Salazar (Insurgent, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) has landed the lead role, beating out the likes of Maika Monroe, Bella Thorne and Zendaya. The sci-fi action tale is set in the 26th Century and revolves around a female cyborg named Alita who is salvaged from a junkyard by cybermedic expert Daisuke Ido, who rebuilds her. The rebuilt Alita does not remember anything from her former life, but retains her expertise in the martial arts Panzer Kunst and becomes a bounty hunter, tracking down vicious criminals. In the original Japanese manga, Alita was named ‘Gally’. “Robert, with his technical virtuosity and rebel style, to take over the directing reins,” Cameron said of Rodriguez. “We’re looking forward to learning a lot from each other while we make a kick-ass epic.” No production date has been confirmed, but this is a significant step forward for the long-in-gestation project.

Dwayne Johnson is the Man of Bronze in Doc Savage

Doc Savage, the fearless adventurer and genius scientist whose exploits filled the pages of pulp magazines in the ‘30s and ‘40s, will be embodied by Dwayne Johnson in the upcoming film. Shane Black has been developing a Doc Savage movie for some time now, and when Johnson teased on Instagram that he would be collaborating with Black, fans connected the dots. The Rock made it official with a followup Instagram post, a group photo of Johnson, Black, writers Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry and producer Hiram Garcia meeting to discuss the project. Johnson called Doc Savage, a.k.a. Clark Savage Jr., the “world’s first superhero” – a label he earlier applied to Hercules.
“Comic book fans around the world know that the cool thing about ‘Doc’ Savage is that he’s the inspiration for Superman,” Johnson claimed. “First name Clark, called ‘Man of Bronze’, retreats to his ‘Fortress of Solitude’ in the Arctic etc etc,” he wrote in the Instagram caption. There have been multiple attempts to bring Doc Savage to the big screen, with the only one that materialised being the 1975 film starring Ron Ely as Savage. Arnold Schwarzenegger was attached to a Doc Savage project in the late ‘90s that fell through. This film will retain the original’s ‘30s period setting and include Savage’s trusty band of allies, the Fabulous Five. Johnson is busy with a multitude of projects and Black is entering production on The Predator, so Doc Savage is expected to go into production in 2017.

John Boyega enters the Drift for Pacific Rim 2

Finn is trading in his Stormtrooper armour for a Jaeger pilot suit in the sequel to Pacific Rim. John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Attack the Block) will lead the cast as the son of Stacker Pentecost, the character played by Idris Elba in the first film. Guillermo del Toro, who directed Pacific Rim and will produce Pacific Rim 2, said in a statement, “I am very proud and happy to welcome John into a fantastic sandbox. The Pacific Rim universe will be reinforced with him as a leading man as it continues to be a multicultural, multi-layered world. ‘The World saving the world’ was our goal and I couldn’t think of a better man for the job.” Replacing del Toro in the director’s seat is Steven S. DeKnight, who has written and produced TV shows including Spartacus, Daredevil and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We do not know for sure if the rest of the cast, including Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, will return though del Toro did say earlier, “I think that everybody or most everybody that survived is back.”

Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin dies in freak accident

Russian-born actor Anton Yelchin died at age 27 on 19 June 2016 in Studio City California, just weeks before the release of Star Trek Beyond. The actor was known for portraying Ensign Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek reboot films, taking on the role originated by Walter Koenig in the original series. Yelchin was standing behind his car, which was in his driveway and left in neutral gear; the car then rolled backwards and pinned him against a security gate. His parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, were star figure skaters in the USSR who escaped to the U.S. after their family faced religious and political oppression. Yelchin appeared in Along Came a Spider and Hearts in Atlantis as a child actor; his later credits include Only Lovers Left Alive, Charlie Bartlett, Terminator Salvation and Like Crazy. Director J. J. Abrams posted a photo of a handwritten tribute to Yelchin, which concluded with, “You weren’t here nearly long enough. Missing you.” Co-star Zachary Quinto, who portrays Mr. Spock in the Star Trek reboot series, called Yelchin “Our dear friend. Our comrade,” describing him as “One of the most open and intellectually curious people I have ever had the pleasure to know” and “So enormously talented and generous of heart.” Kat Dennings said on Twitter: “Anton Yelchin was one of my best friends. Can’t say anything that conveys what this feels like.”

Director Rick Famuyiwa leads The Flash into the Speed Force

DC Films has secured Rick Famuyiwa as the director for the solo Flash film starring Ezra Miller, after Seth Grahame-Smith departed the project. This was to be screenwriter Grahame-Smith’s directorial debut, but he dropped out citing creative differences. Famuyiwa’s recent comingof- age comedy-drama Dope was positively received by critics, and his credits also include The Wood, Brown Sugar, Our Family Wedding and the HBO Original Movie Confirmation. This will mark his first foray into big-budget blockbuster territory. Famuyiwa, the son of Nigerian immigrants, served on the panel of directors for the Directors Guild of America African American Steering Committee in 2003 and is known for exploring themes of tolerance and ethnic diversity in his films. Famuyiwa is diving head-first into the research: he posted a photo of a stack of Flash trade paperbacks on Instagram, with the caption “Today was a BLUR”. The Fastest Man Alive sprints onto the big screen in 2018.

Get thee to a nunnery: The Conjuring 2’s villain gets a spin-off

The Conjuring franchise is expanding with a spin-off focusing on the demonic nun who terrorises Ed and Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring 2. The series, which comprises the first film in 2013, 2014’s spinoff Annabelle and this year’s The Conjuring 2, draws from the case files of the Warrens, self-proclaimed paranormal investigators active in the ‘70s. Interestingly, the demon nun character was only added during last-minute reshoots and did not exist in the script for The Conjuring 2. Director James Wan came up with the idea three months before the scheduled release date, with actress Bonnie Aarons wearing prosthetic makeup to play the ghoulish woman of the cloth. In addition to The Nun, an Annabelle sequel is due in 2017.

Dame in the Fast Lane: Helen Mirren joins Fast 8

Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren has made no secret of her desire to be a part of the Fast and Furious franchise, and what Helen Mirren wants, Helen Mirren gets. “I so want to be a mad driver in a Fast and Furious movie,” Mirren told Yahoo Movies last year. “I keep putting it out there, and they never ask me.” In the Elle interview in which she confirmed her casting, Mirren was adamant about not being a film snob in any way. “I love the movies. I love going to the films,” she declared. “I like very serious films, I love foreign films, and I love big, fun movies – as long as they’re wellmade and they’ve got good scripts. That’s the most important thing.” Mirren very much wants to get behind the wheel, saying, “I’ve always rather loved driving. I said, ‘I’ll be in it, but only if I’m allowed to drive in it.’ But we’ll see. We’ll see how it transpires.” Mirren is the second Oscar-winner to be cast in Fast 8 after Charlize Theron, who is playing the film’s villain. The ever-expanding cast also includes returning stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Elsa Pataky, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Kurt Russell and Jason Statham. Mirren will be crowned Highway Queen when Fast 8 hits theatres in April 2017.

Scarlett Johansson will Rock That Body

Scarlett Johansson is headlining an R-rated comedy that is being described as a cross between The Hangover and Weekend at Bernie’s. The film revolves around five friends who rent a beachfront chalet in Miami for a wild bachelorette weekend and end up accidentally killing a male stripper. Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon and Zoë Kravitz round out the cast. Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs penned the screenplay, which was originally titled ‘Move That Body’ and landed on the 2015 Black List of best-liked unproduced scripts in Hollywood. Aniello will direct Rock That Body, which is set for a June 2017 release.

Brendan Fraser bound for Bollywood

Brendan Fraser has kind of fallen off the radar: while once poised for stardom as the leading man in the Mummy film series, he hasn’t appeared in a movie since 2010’s widely-panned Furry Vengeance. Now, Fraser is set to play Charu, the villain in the Bollywood crime thriller The Field. Director Rohit Karn Batra, who is making his feature film directorial debut with The Field, explained, “The more the script evolved, the more obvious it became Brendan was the best choice for the idiosyncratic role of Charu. For a director to explore this journey with him in a place like India is nothing less than a once in a lifetime opportunity.” The character, an American gun-runner who becomes entangled in a war within the Indian underworld was originally intended for actor Ray Liotta. The film’s cast also includes Prem Chopra, Ronit Roy, Neeraj Kabi, Vineet Singh and Radhika Apte.

Shrek series headed for a resurrection

It ain’t ogre till it’s ogre. The Shrek franchise, one of DreamWorks Animation’s most lucrative properties, will receive a reboot under the guidance of Illumination Entertainments Chris Meladandri, producer of the Despicable Me films. This announcement followed the purchase of DreamWorks Animation by media conglomerate NBCUniversal for US$3.8 billion. At the Guggenheim Partners TMT Symposium, NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke said of Meladandri, “He is creatively going to try to help us figure out how to resurrect Shrek and take a lot of the existing DreamWorks franchises and add value as we create new franchises.” The Shrek franchise currently comprises four feature films, a Puss In Boots spin-off movie and animated series, multiple animated short films, theme park attractions and a stage musical.

MOANA

Disney heeds the call of the ocean with their new animated film, drawing upon Oceanic mythology. In the ancient South Pacific, the young Princess Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho), born into a long line of gifted navigators, embarks on an epic journey in search of a fabled, long-lost island. Along the way, she encounters the effusive and powerful demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who joins her on her quest. Moana is also accompanied by a pig named Pua and a rooster named Hei Hei.
Moana is written and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog), and is the duo’s seventh Disney animated film. After a planned adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Mort fell through, Clements and Musker pitched several original ideas, and began developing a movie based on Polynesian traditions, making research trips to Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti. The film will feature music by multi-hyphenate Lin-Manuel Miranda, who recently swept the Tony Awards with his smash hit musical Hamilton. Composer Mark Mancina and Oceanic music group Te Vaka are also contributing to the soundtrack. 14-year-old Hawaiian Cravalho will be the youngest actress to voice a Disney Princess. The animated short Inner Workings, directed by Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph story artist Leo Matsuda, will be attached to the film. Moana hits the high seas in November 2016.

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK

Tom Cruise has returned as the man on a mission (no, not that man or those missions) in the follow-up to 2012’s Jack Reacher. The titular vigilante drifter (Cruise) meets up with Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), the commanding officer of the United States Army Military Police Corps, Reacher’s former unit. Turner has been arrested for treason and is being held against her will. Reacher attempts to help Turner clear her name, finding out he has been implicated in a homicide that occurred 16 years ago and that he might possibly have a daughter he’s never known about. The duo are uncovering a sinister, far-reaching conspiracy in the process, facing off against a shadowy foe known only as ‘The Hunter’ (Patrick Heusinger).
The film is based on Never Go Back, the 18th book in author Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series of novels. Replacing Christopher McQuarrie, who helmed the first film, is Edward Zwick, who previously directed Cruise in The Last Samurai. Cruise proved a controversial choice for the character, who is described by Child as being blonde and 6’ 5” tall. “He’s alone and he’s sort of in his element and then he couples up with me and all hell breaks loose,” Smulders said of the Reacher character. “We’re on the run for this entire movie.” Interestingly, this marks Cruise’s first sequel outside of the Mission: Impossible series. A harrowing incident occurred on set in Louisiana when a wardrobe trailer went up in flames. The crew was able to partially extinguish the fire before four fire trucks arrived to finish the job. Jack Reacher returns to take no prisoners in October 2016.