Turd Recruited to Polish Kong: Skull Island (2017) Screenplay

Jurassic World (2015) is a rancid piece of shit, a deeply cynical work that holds only disdain for itself and an imagined audience that willed it into existence. But it's also the third highest grossing film of all time, so obviously the filmmakers are now highly sought after throughout Hollywood. I took last week off because it was my birthday, so I didn't get an opportunity to write about Jurassic World's director Colin Trevorrow being confirmed as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX (2019). Given my feelings about Jurassic World it may be for the best that I didn't, and I'm not going to go into the topic because I just don't have the enthusiasm (although it's admirable that Disney's commitment to the original trilogy's spirit is so strong that they've designated the final episode of this upcoming trilogy as the worst one).

On Tuesday, a couple of days after Disney's announcement, Universal confirmed that one of Jurassic World's four credited screenwriters, Trevorrow's writing partner Derek Connolly, has been hired to polish Kong: Skull Island's screenplay. Amusing, considering that Jurassic World's script was misguided, and largely execrable. Among the screenwriters who previously turned in drafts for Kong were Max Borenstein (Godzilla [2014]), John Gatins (Flight [2012]), and Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler [2014]), and shooting is gearing up for an October start based on what I imagine is now a composite of those three drafts. Casting is nearly complete, as Toby Kebbell joined only this week, and everything important would seem to be fixed in place. However the screenplay remains an ongoing process until cameras roll where many blockbusters are concerned (and in some cases that process continues well after shooting begins), so it's no surprise that Universal has ordered this rewrite so close to the beginning of production, likewise that they hired someone who helped make them approximately all the money with another (admittedly wretched) monster movie.

Animated Scooby-Doo Film Dated for 2018

It's been eleven years since Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), the last film Warner Bros made based on the classic Hanna-Barbera carton Scooby Doo. And with good reason: those films were fucking terrible. I mean, I was ten years when Monsters Unleashed came out, and even I recognised its shoddiness. Still, a decade passes like an aeon in Hollywood, and any kind of prolonged absence from the public consciousness can be spun into a triumphant return (just look at Jurassic World). So, obviously, Scooby Doo is due a doo-over (I apologise for nothing). We learned last year that Warner had something in the works, but last week we got something more concrete: a new Scooby-Doo film will be released by Warner Animation Group, it'll be directed by Tony Cervone (who produced the acclaimed TV show Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated) and written by Matt Lieberman, and it's due September 21st 2018. However, we have no idea as to whether the animation will be 2D, 3D, or somewhere in between.

Following this announcement, Variety's Justin Kroll added on Twitter that Warner may follow Scooby-Doo with a shared Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe that also includes The Flintstones, Tom and Jerry, and The Jetsons. Warner has neither confirmed nor denied this report, but let's suppose he's right (it's been a slow news week). While this strategy would be fairly consistent with Warner's handling of both DC Comics and Lego, it's nonetheless incredibly foolish. Granted, I'm not a fan of serialised, shared-universe filmmaking in general because (among other reasons) it often involves sacrificing a film's individual coherence and creative autonomy for uninteresting setup for future films, but you can at least justify the DC and Lego universes beyond the obvious corporate avarice involved (crossovers are frequent in comics, and you can do whatever you want with Lego). The same cannot be said of a Hanna-Barbera universe, even if the cartoons hinted at a shared world. There's no real audience demand for numerous Hanna-Barbera films, no evidence that a shared universe would add anything compelling. If Kroll and his sources are correct, then this appears to be another example of Warner unwisely charging ahead into extensive projects based on very little. After all, they essentially based a slate of eleven films based on Marvel's success the modest success of Man of Steel (2013).

The Weekly Regurgitation:

- Paul Thomas Anderson can make whatever the fuck he wants, including a secret documentary called Junun (2015) about Jonny Greenwood travelling to India to record an album with Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur. (Rolling Stone)

- Warner Bros is working on a drama about the astrophysicist Carl Sagan, it'll be written by Deadfall (2012) scribe Zach Dean and produced by Lynda Obst and Ann Druyan, who was married to Sagan until his death in 1996. (The Tracking Board)

- Warner has also bought a pitch from Dwain Worrell for an adaptation of Dante Alighieri's Inferno, based on its potential to be a franchise. Apparently it's going to be a love story. I have no idea either. (Deadline)

- Thor: The Dark World (2013) writer Christopher Yost will draft a screenplay for Sony's Masters of the Universe film. I have no opinion about this because I've never watched Masters of the Universe. Sorry. (Variety)

- Sinister 2 (2015) was only released on Friday (and is supposedly awful), but its director Ciarán Foy is already working on his next film for Blumhouse Productions, a supernatural thriller set in Ireland called The Shee. (Deadline)

- A post-apocalyptic version of Zorro is in development, because of reasons. (The Hollywood Reporter)

- Following the unsuccessful Amazing Spider-man films, director Marc Webb has his next two projects lined-up. The first is the modest family drama Gifted, which will star Chris Evans. He will follow that film with another low-key film, The Only Living Boy in New York, which has attracted Rosamund Pike and Jeff Bridges to star alongside Miles Teller. (Deadline)

- Speaking of Spider-Man, the newly cast web-slinger Tom Holland will join Charlie Hunnam and Sienna Miller in The Lost City of Z, the latest from The Immigrant (2013) and We Own the Night (2007) director James Gray. (Variety)

- Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation's (2015) Rebecca Ferguson will star alongside Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train, an adaptation of Paula Hawkins' novel of the same name. (Deadline)

- Disney has been trying to adapt their Disneyland ride Jungle Cruise into a film for a while now, and the project appears to be moving ahead as Dwayne Johnson has been cast as the lead. (The Hollywood Reporter)

- Christian Bale will play Enzo Ferrari in Michael Mann's long-in-development biopic about the driver turned businessman. (Deadline)

- Hugh Jackman may be hanging up his adamantium claws, but he appears to have settled on his next big franchise as he's in negotiations to star in Francis Lawrence's adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey. No, really. (The Wrap)

- John Boyega, the star of Attack the Block (2011) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), has joined Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in The Circle, an adaptation of Dave Eggers' novel of the same name. It will be written and directed by James Ponsoldt, the man behind The Spectacular Now (2013) and The End of the Tour (2105). (Deadline)