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Star Wars: The Mandalorian Taps Dave Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taika Waititi and More To Direct

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Jon Favreau’s forthcoming live-action Star Wars television show The Mandalorian, which released its first production image yesterday (above), has announced some of the high-profile names set to direct episodes of the hotly anticipated series.

Of note to Star Wars die-hards was the news that Dave Filoni, showrunner of fan favourite animated shows Clone Wars and Rebels, would be directing the first episode of the series. Thor: Ragnarok’s beloved eccentric director Taika Waititi will also helm an episode, along with Bryce Dallas Howard (daughter of Solo: A Star Wars Story director Ron Howard, and star of Jurassic World), Rick Famuyiwa (Hope), and Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones).

A brief synopsis of the series, which has also been written by Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book), was revealed by the creator on social media yesterday:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

In Star Wars canon, the Mandalorians are a fierce race of armoured warriors that exist in tribal ‘families’, and who – until the dawn of the Clone Wars – largely kept out of the way of the rest of the galaxy. Following the devastation of their kind in the galactic civil war their numbers dwindled, until few remain by the time of the series (roughly seven years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and twenty-three years before The Force Awakens). The race are an integral part of the Star Wars mythos, and even once warred with the Jedi Knights.

No casting announcements for The Mandalorian have been made yet, but rumours abound that Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pascal will be donning the iconic armour.

The show will debut on Disney Play, the company’s upcoming streaming service, and is expected next year.

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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