Another Fucking Live-Action Remake is in Development at Disney, This Time The Sword and the Stone (1963).

Just when I thought I was done yelling at clouds, another has aggressively drifted into my field of vision. Not even two weeks have passed since Disney revealed Genies, a live-action prequel to Aladdin (1992), but that has not deterred Our Imperial Overlords at the House of Mouse from announcing a live-action remake of The Sword and the Stone. Game of Thrones writer-producer Brian Cogman is on screenplay duties, and that's a canny hire considering that he's not only familiar with medieval fantasy, but good writing. On a less encouraging note, however, the film will be produced by Bingham Taylor, who previously worked on the disappointing Tomorrowland (2015) and is currently producing John Favreau's The Jungle Book (2016), another of Disney's twelve live-action sequels/prequels/remakes in development. And that's all we know; there is no director attached, nor is there a release date.

And that's part of the problem here. If you're a regular reader of these columns (and apologies if you are), you may have noticed my increasing cynicism in the face of Disney's successive live-action announcements. I initially attempted to afford them serious consideration because people obviously care about Disney, but you can do so much for what's become an increasingly aggressive campaign to monopolise nostalgia. See, my cynicism is not rooted in the assumption that these films will be bad, or a belief that Disney shouldn't mine their vaults, but that they've announced eight of these live-action films since April: Mulan, Winnie the Pooh, Tink(erbell), Pinocchio, A Night on Bald Mountain, Prince Charming, Genies and now The Sword and the Stone. There's a special kind of arrogance to that strategy, an expectation that we're all terribly excited by idea of the cherished cartoons of our childhood being remade a good four or five years before they're actually released. But that's all The Sword and the Stone et al. are to us right now: ideas, press-releases bereft anything meaningful or substantial. Just another advertisement delivered with a self-satisfied "you're welcome!"

I Don't Understand: A Co-Creator of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is Directing a Minecraft film.

If you're at all familiar with Rob McElhenney's work as an actor, writer, director and co-creator of the FX show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you'll be forgiven for thinking that this an outrageously incongruous creative partnership. His show is a scathing comedy about five idiotic, narcissistic shysters who own a Philadelphia pub, revel in the grungiest gutters of humanity, and unwittingly compete to crown the most wretched (an early episode in which two of the gang attend opposite sides of an abortion rally to get laid sets the tone well). It's great fun. It's also the last thing you'd want to show to the primary audience of the insanely popular video game Minecraft: children. So the idea that Warner Bros, who bought the rights to a Minecraft film last year, would hire McElhenney as the director of this film - which is intended to recreate the success of Warner's family sensation The Lego Movie (2014) - would initially appears as implausible as, I don't know, a film based on those silly emoji things.

But when you look at where McElhenney's career is going, Minecraft doesn't seem so inexplicable. First, it needs to be noted that It's Always Sunny is almost certainly coming to the end of its natural course after ten years and that McElhenney needs to move on soon. He also has two children, and likely shares an impulse with many other creative people to make something for them - you know, something they can actually watch. He therefore delivered an impassioned pitch to Legendary Pictures last year to write and direct an eighties influenced family adventure called Figment. They bought it on the spot, despite the fact that he's never written or directed a film before. Now, bear in mind that Legendary Pictures don't fuck about, they specialise in big, blockbuster entertainments such as Jurassic World (2015), Pacific Rim (2013) and Inception (2010) and clearly saw something in McElhenney and commercial potential in his pitch. I don't know how far along Figment is in terms of development, but it's fair to assume that his work on that film landed him the Minecraft job, as Legendary currently has a strong partnership with Warner Bros. And so, presumably after Figment, and under the stewardship of producers Roy Lee (The Lego Movie) and Jill Messick (Mean Girls [2004]), the dude who gained over three stone because he thought it would be funny will direct one of the biggest family films in recent memory. Weird, yes, but maybe not so unfathomable.

No, I Really Don't Fucking Understand: Sony Just Bought a Pitch for an Emoji Film.

"This summer, everybody's favourite uncopyrighted, ersatz Unicode characters are emoting their way to the big screen!" It doesn't really have much of a ring, does it? Well, it might be something we hear soon given that a film based on emoji - those smileys that populate social media - is now in development. And people had the gall to suggest that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt! Sony Pictures Animation were recently locked in a three-way auction with Warner Bros and Paramount for a pitch delivered by Anthony Leondis, but they managed to beat the competition with an offer nearing a million dollars. Which is not to say that they bought the exclusive rights to an emoji film, they only bought Leondis' pitch. Emoji aren't copyrighted or owned by one company, meaning that Warner and Paramount could feasibly develop their own emoji films if they were so inclined. I mean, I don't know why they would, but it's nice to have the option I suppose.

As he pitched, it follows that Anthony Leondis will direct and co-write the screenplay with Eric Siegel, a producer on Men at Work. Leondis is probably best known as the director of Igor (2008), and is currently directing the animated tentpole B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations for DreamWorks, a film currently bereft of a release date because it appears to have been engulfed by development hell. However, despite Leonids' experience with theatrically released features, his background working on straight-to-DVD films such as Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (2005) and Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters (2011) may provide an alternative direction for this project. After all, the popularity of emoji is inextricably tied to social media, so I suppose it would be sensible for Sony to knock the film out cheaply and quickly, release it on digital platforms and share it around social media while emoji still rule the zeitgeist.

Or they could go all out on a big-budget blockbuster film to appeal to that zeitgeist, although I have no idea how that film would look. To be honest, I still can't believe that I'm writing about an emoji film because that's just such a fucking bizarre idea. But I suppose the benefit of something as baffling as emoji is that, as with Lego and the aforementioned Minecraft, there's no underlying mythology or narrative behind these dumb cartoon faces that must be adhered to. Moreover, unlike those examples, there's no giant corporation hovering over the film to protect the brand's image. Sony can do whatever the fuck they want with emoji, and that's encouraging. I mean, it'll probably end up being a silly children's film, but at least it's not explicitly selling something else - well, apart from all the inevitable emoji merchandise that'll come with the film. And even if it is a silly children's film, that it's being produced by Sony Pictures Animation should guarantee some degree of competence. I mean, it shouldn't be as bad as that planned Gummy Bear movie starring John Travolta.

The Weekly Regurgitation

- The miserable Jurassic World (2015) officially overtook The Avengers (2012) the third highest grossing film of all time this week. So, obviously Universal Pictures has scheduled a sequel for 2018 because they think money is a pretty swell thing to have. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard will return, but director Colin Trevorrow will only be writing the script - no director is currently attached. (Deadline)

- Benicio Del Toro has been offered the chance to ham it up as a villain in Star Wars Episode VIII (2017), although negotiations are in the early stages. Apparently Joaquin Phoenix was previously approached for the role, but he passed. Production begins next year and Rian Johnson will direct. (The Wrap)

- The wildly under-appreciated Brie Larson may finally get her big break as the female lead in Jordan Vogt-Roberts' Kong: Skull Island (2017), and will star opposite Tom Hiddlestone. And while this new King Kong film recently lost Michael Keaton and JK Simmons to scheduling conflicts, Russell Crowe is currently being eyed to fill one of those roles. (Deadline)

- Basketball star LeBron James and his company SpringHill Entertainment have announced a partnership with Warner Bros. This probably has far-ranging implications, but it's mainly got people excited for the prospect of a much-rumoured Space Jam (1997) sequel, with James (who has a supporting role in the new Judd Apatow/Amy Schumer film Trainwreck [2015]) replacing Michael Jordan - which he seems game for. (Business Wire)

- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson confirmed last year that he's working on an "edgy, raunchy and hopefully, funny as all hell" Baywatch movie, and this week if found a director in Seth Gordon, the guy behind Horrible Bosses(2011) and Identity Thief (2013). Well, at least he can do raunchy quite well, I guess? (Variety)

- Ridley Scott, perhaps Hollywood's most respectable hack, will direct an adaptation of Don Winslow's recently published crime novel The Cartel. This will see Scott return to the same milieu as the underrated curiosity The Counsellor (2013), and we can only hope that The Cartel proves to be as remarkable, because Scott has made some utter dreck recently. (The Hollywood Reporter)

- Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015), reckons he's done with the James Bond franchise. And this time he's for real, totally not like that one time he said he wouldn't return to direct Spectre. Not at all. (BBC)

- The team that brought you The Judge (2014) - that is, producers Robert and Susan Downey and screenwriter Bill Dubuque - is developing a comedic drama about presidential debates. (Variety)

- Disney has brought the film rights for Julie Murphy's upcoming Young Adult novel Dumplin', due for publication September 15th. It's a comedic drama about a usually body-confident "self-proclaimed fat girl," who enters a beauty pageant after suffering a bout of self-doubt. You can certainly see the appeal for Disney, which, after depicting worryingly thin characters in Cinderella (2015) and Frozen (2013), needs to readdress its representation of women's bodies. (Variety)