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The Star eCentral: Movie Buzz

Baz Luhrmann in negotiations to direct Elvis Presley biopic

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:35 PM PDT

The King may live again, if the Great Gatsby director gets his way.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is in the building – as in, the Warner Bros building – and director Baz Luhrmann is in negotiations to join the iconic singer, who is the subject of an untitled biopic being written by Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades Of Grey), TheWrap has learned. Warner Bros had no comment.

Marcel is hard at work writing an original screenplay about Elvis Presley, the hip-gyrating King of Rock 'n' Roll, that will not be based on any pre-existing material. While the project is believed to be a biopic, it's unclear which periods of Presley's life would be depicted in the film.

Gail Berman is producing for Tecumseh Productions, while Andrew Mittman of Whalerock Industries will executive produce. WB executive Courtenay Valenti will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. Warner Bros has secured rights to all musical components in Presley's catalog for this project, multiple individuals familiar with the situation told TheWrap.

Luhrmann has been in negotiations for several weeks and should his deal close, it's expected that his wife, Oscar winner Catherine Martin, would board the project as costume designer and possibly as production designer as well.

Baz Luhrmann on the set of The Great Gatsby.

Luhrmann has several projects in development – including Legendary's Kung Fu movie – and it remains unclear which project will serve as Luhrmann's follow-up to The Great Gatsby. The film was Luhrmann's biggest earner, and with such an impressive gross for a literary drama, it's no wonder Warner Bros is eager to get back in business with Luhrmann.

Luhrmann, who was nominated for an Oscar for producing his dazzling 2001 musical Moulin Rouge, is also developing a Napoleon miniseries for HBO. He's repped by WME and Hirsch Wallerstein.

Marcel is the creator of Terra Nova, who earned high marks for her Saving Mr Banks screenplay. Her work on the latter led to her being hired to adapt E.L. James' bestselling novel, Fifty Shades Of Grey – which hits theatres next Valentine's Day.

Berman and Mittman are developing a Jesse Owens movie as well as an adaptation of the bestselling book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. — Reuters

Hugh Jackman is ready to de-claw after 'Wolverine' sequel

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:25 PM PDT

The Australian actor has played the mutant in seven films, including the upcoming X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine in seven X-Men films, but he's "99.9% sure" the sequel to The Wolverine will be the last time he pops the Marvel mutant's claws.

"I still am very ambitious for the character. And tonally I feel like we corrected the ship with the last one. But I feel we can still go further, in a way," Jackman told SFX Magazine. "If I did another one I'm 99.9% sure it would be the last, so that will inform what it is for me."

If the sequel even happens, that is.

While Jackman is not shy about working with director James Mangold to develop a sequel to last summer's blockbuster, which sent the practically immortal superhero to Japan, the actor emphasised "we're still working it out". 

"I'm excited to see what we can come up with, but I haven't signed on signed on," Jackson said.

"I'm genuinely at that point where unless it's better than the last one I'm not going to do it." 20th Century Fox announced in November that Mangold was coming back to write the treatment, but no plot details were revealed. Based on Jackman's answers in this interview, it doesn't sound like many have been decided yet.

"I'd probably move it to a different visual palette," Jackman said. "We are looking at a lot of different storylines. No one has jumped out. You can tell from my answer that we're still working it out."

The Wolverine grossed over US$414.8mil (RM1.32bil) worldwide last year, so a sequel seems inevitable. But Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse is already lined up for a May 2016 release date.

How much more X-Men can Jackman commit to? Apparently, not much.

"If the script is as good? Hmmm. I don't know if that will get me across the line, man," Jackman said. "I think it has to be better." — Reuters

Songs from animated films are on the right track

Posted: 01 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Movie soundtracks from animated films are booming.

Considered deeply uncool at one point, music from animated movies is back – and singing along is now not only OK for kids, it's something adults record themselves doing on their phones and share on YouTube.

The boom in popular songs from animated movies comes after a long fallow period when the form yielded few hits in the music world, despite box-office juggernauts like the Toy Story, Shrek and Ice Age franchises.

Though all incorporated music in their films, it was rarely the kind that had come to define the genre at Disney Animation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it was making music-driven hits like The Lion King, Beauty And The Beast and The Little Mermaid.

"You had this shift ... where there were very successful animated movies but their soundtracks weren't," said president of Disney Music Group, Ken Bunt. "Their scores were important, but they weren't musicals and the music in them wasn't something that gets played on radio or that you're singing in your car."

A sign of the shift: For the first time in 20 years, a soundtrack from an animated film has been No. 1 on the Billboard charts for 11 weeks.

Two weeks ago, Disney's fairy tale Frozen displaced 1994's The Lion King to become the top-selling animated movie soundtrack of all time. It's not the only music from an animated film that's hot right now: Happy, Pharrell Williams' ubiquitous mood booster from Despicable Me 2, has been No. 1 on the single charts for eight weeks and appears everywhere from Fiat commercials to kids' choir homages.

Earlier this year, The Lego Movie popularised a catchy electronic parody song called Everything Is Awesome, and Rio 2 is receiving lots of praise from critics for the quality of its eclectic, Brazil-influenced soundtrack.

In some cases, as with Frozen, the music helped drive the box office, as audiences started learning songs from the radio before they saw the film; in others, as in Despicable Me 2, the song's hit status came well after the film's box-office release and evolved into a story of its own. Regardless, the cloud on animated musicals has clearly lifted.

"There hadn't been a musical in such a long time," said chief creative officer of DreamWorks Animation, Bill Damaschke, which has a Bollywood-style musical composed by A.R. Rahman and an Australia-set project from Tim Minchin, the composer of the Tony Award-winning show Matilda The Musical, in development.

"A really great one came out (Frozen) and it hit a nerve. Everybody's asking, 'What are fresh, original ways to use music in animated movies?'"

One of the key features of the Frozen and Happy phenomena has been social media. According to Bunt, fans have uploaded more than half a million versions of the Frozen empowerment ballad Let It Go to YouTube. Oprah Winfrey recently brought Williams to tears by showing him a collection of fan-made Happy videos from around the world.

"It's sort of like a community singalong in the virtual town square," said Tom Sito, a professor at USC's School of Cinematic Arts who was an animator and storyboard artist at Disney Animation in the 1990s. "And it keeps the material fresh in people's minds."

Rihanna is in the midst of writing a concept album for an animated movie titled Home. She will also lend her voice to a character in the movie. - EPA

Rihanna is in the midst of writing a concept album for an animated movie titled Home. She will also lend
her voice to a character in the movie. — EPA

In addition to the Rahman and Minchin musicals it has in development, this year DreamWorks will release How To Train Your Dragon 2 with two songs by Jonsi, the frontman from the Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros, and Home, an alien invasion movie with a character voiced by pop singer Rihanna, who is writing a concept album for the film.

"For us, music is a big focus right now," Damaschke said. "I'd expect to see more and more of it." — Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


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