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‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Cast Announced

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Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.

Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.

The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return to a galaxy far, far away with Episode IX.

Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).

Release is scheduled for December 2019.

Casting News

Ana de Armas Joins Daniel Craig In Rian Johnson’s Knives Out

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Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) has officially signed on to join actors Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Michael Shannon in Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson’s Knives Out.

The film, which Johnson also wrote, is scheduled to start shooting next month. Knives Out has been described as a contemporary whodunit, with Craig portraying an archetypal grizzled detective, tasked with getting to the bottom of a classic locked-room murder mystery.

Johnson is set to produce with his creative partner Ram Bergman, and studios are expected to bid fiercely for the rights to distribute the feature in the coming months. Craig was previously pencilled in to begin shooting Bond 25 for director Danny Boyle at the tail end of this year, but when Boyle departed that project following creative differences it freed up the Casino Royale actor’s schedule to join Knives Out.

Somewhat ironically, Ana de Armas can next be seen in an untitled project from Danny Boyle, which is likely to release prior to Johnson’s crime thriller.

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The Grinch Eyeing $50m+ Opening Weekend

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Illumination Animation’s forthcoming The Grinch, with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the green grouch, has landed on early tracking – and Universal could be looking at quite the Christmas present.

Yes, by all accounts, The Grinch is looking at a minimum $50m opening weekend, with that number potentially ballooning as the weeks roll on and the film’s marketing pushes deeper into the public consciousness.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the franchise (and character) has proven itself before to have both presence and staying power; 2000’s live-action version, starring Jim Carrey in the title role, opened to $55 million and went on to score $260 million total, not adjusted for inflation.

The Grinch is due out in UK cinemas on the 9th November, rated PG.

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Venom Producer Gives Weak Excuse For Carnage Not Being The Film’s Villain

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When a Venom movie sans-wallcrawler was first announced, many assumed that the smart move would be pitting the black symbiote against well-known comic antagonist Carnage; a red palette-swap of the film’s titular antihero, inhabited by serial-killer Cletus Kasady.

However, that turned out to not be the case. Sony still went with the age-old classic superhero movie villain formula (exactly like the hero, but, y’know, evil – see also; Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, etc etc.) but eschewed the better-known Carnage for, of all characters, Riot – a silver-coloured symbiote inhabited by Carlton Drake, head of the LIFE Foundation, and birthed from an oft-forgotten 90s comic book arc.

When asked the reasoning behind the decision to scrape through the bottom of the Marvel barrel and to drudge up a Z-lister like Riot for their initial, flagship Spidey-cinematic-universe-minus-Spidey feature, producer Matt Tolmach gave an almost unbelievably pathetic excuse:

“[If you have Carnage] you have two origins, and it really limits. We thought about it long and hard. It limits what you can do with the origin of Venom. So, what do you do with that? Well, then the movie itself becomes the origin of Venom, and then Carnage enters the equation. That was always the idea, that you would be setting it up, from the very beginning.”

Now, putting aside that the movie gives an origin to Riot as part of its structure, and the fact that the movie’s post-credits scene gives a pretty complete set-up for Cletus Kasady (portrayed by Woody Harrelson, donning an incredibly cheap-looking ginger wig), it’s still a staggeringly weak reason. Complaining that a villain also needs setting up – something that most superhero origin films manage to pull off quite neatly – smacks of an almost impressive level of laziness. Granted, once you’ve done ‘Venom vs. Carnage’, there’s not a tremendous amount of places left to take a webslinger-less Venom franchise, but it’s still going to feel deliriously samey when/if Venom 2 rolls around.

Venom stars Tom Hardy and is in cinemas now, rated 12A.

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