The ability to play violent, fictionalized versions of American presidents is quickly becoming Benjamin Walker's calling card. According to Variety, the up-and-coming actor best known for his starring role in the on and off-Broadway hit 'Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson' will next take on the nation's sixteenth president in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, Vampire Hunter recasts the American Civil War as the result of Lincoln's deeply personal crusade to rid the world of vampires. (Apparently Bill Compton survives this purge.)
Walker closed the deal with 20th Century Fox for the upcoming summer tentpole after emerging as the frontrunner among a number of high-profile actors screen-testing for the role, including Adrien Brody, Josh Lucas, James D'Arcy and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
Grahame-Smith is also set to script Vampire Hunter, with Russian vampire-movie veteran Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch) in the director's chair, alongside his co-producer, the legendary Tim Burton.
Intrigued? Wary? A little of both? We are too. There's no question that the plot of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a little zany, but we're glad to see the vampire genre moving back in the direction of farce. Then again, we won't have a better sense of the tone Bekmambetov and Burton are aiming for (cinéma vérité?) until we get a trailer sometime next year.
Luckily, we won't have too long to wait: Vampire Hunter will begin lensing in 3D this March ahead of a June 22, 2012 release. Is this going to be the summer's biggest flop? An out-of-left-field blockbuster? We'll start taking your bets now.
So we have this adaptation of a fairly popular book that had all of Tinsel Town atwitter thinking it’ll be a big blockbuster. The book revolves around an alternate history of one of the United States of America’s (God Bless Her in all her glory) most iconic Presidents and re-imagines him as....a vampire hunter. Ok, I’m cool with that. Abe Lincoln was pretty bad-ass, let's make him more bad-ass in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I think the movie is a great idea, but now 20th Century Fox started to handpick actors that are auditioning and all I can think is... Brit's? You’re seriously considering hiring a British actor to pay Abraham Mother Fucking (that’s his true middle name, look it up) Lincoln?
The shortlist includes the fine red-blooded American actors Timothy Olyphant, Benjamin Walker, Adrien Brody, and Josh Lucas. The Brits they are considering are James D’Arcy and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. You really can’t get any more British if your last name is Darcy. I’m not an Anglo-phobe by any stretch of the means. I love Doctor Who. But this is Abraham Lincoln. You just can’t have someone that isn’t American play the part. It’s not like we’re trying to shove one of ours to be James Bond, are we?
The best choices here are Timothy Olyphant and Benjamin Walker. Olyphant because he is such an ass kicker in his own right, he would simply kill the role (and we mean that in a good way). Walker, because he has experience playing a kick-ass Presidents (he debuted as Andrew Jackson in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) so he knows how to walk the walk.
No word on who's the current front runner, but Fox will have to cast up soon enough; the film needs to be in production soon to meet its June 22, 2012 release date.
The series has become a small screen hit since premiering in the U.S. last year (09) and Hawthorne has now been picked up for a third season, which will air next June (11).
But the actress wife of Will Smith admits she's feeling the strain of serving as the star and producer of the show - and she will be thinking twice the next time she agrees to sign up for the heavy workload.
She says, "I think this is the last time you will see me act and executive produce. It's one or the other. I usually just produce, or just act, but doing both is very difficult. I love them both, I just don't like doing them both at the same time."
Earlier this month we reported that 20th Century Fox had emerged victorious in the bidding war that took place for the rights to author Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. And it looks like the studio is wasting no time in developing the hot property before the current vampire fad dies out. (Seriously, please die out.)
The 19th century period actioner - which imagines Abraham Lincoln as both statesman and vengeful vampire hunter - will be getting a wide release June 22, 2012. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) will be directing, and producing alongside the legendary Tim Burton with a script from Grahame-Smith.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has only just begun casting, ahead of its 2012 release, so hopefully it's not too late for us at Hollywood.com to once again endorse Liam Neeson for the titular role. The British thesp spent an awful lot of time researching and preparing to play the 16th President for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln - a project that is going nowhere fast - so why not channel that energy into Vampire Hunter? The Taken star certainly has the combination of presidential austerity and bad-assery to get the job done.
M. Night Shyamalan is working on putting together his next directorial effort, an ultra-clandestine sci-fi project that's being developed at Will Smith's Overbrook.
According to the Heat Vision blog, One Thousand A. E., unlike most of Shyamalan's oeuvre, is not written by the director.
Instead, The Book of Eli scribe Gary Whitta is on script duty with plot details under lock and key. However, says HV, A.E. is being developed as a vehicle for Jaden Smith. There is a starring role for an adult male, although sources said Will Smith will not be stepping in.
Meanwhile, Heat Vision notes that "the secret untitled project" Shyamalan shopped around in June, which came with Bruce Willis, Bradley Cooper and Gwyneth Paltrow loosely attached, never found a buyer and was quietly shelved.
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Summer movie season isn’t all about money, but -- oh, who’re we kidding? While we hate to reduce our favorite time of year to (billions of) dollars, that’s what it boils down to -- and it’s really the only way to determine which trends, actors, genres and more did or didn’t fare well over the summer. Below are our winners and losers for summer 2010…
WINNER: The Smith Family
It’s still tough to fathom how a middling kiddie flick/unnecessary remake earned a boatload of cash, but Jaden Smith appears poised to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Will -- who produced the unlikeliest blockbuster of ‘em all, The Karate Kid (and bought $100 million worth of tickets?? Kidding, Will). The movie earned more than The A-Team and Prince of Persia … COMBINED. ‘Nuff said. Will and Jaden may just want to stop by for a cameo on Jada’s ratings-deprived show HawthoRNe.
Snubbed by Iron Man 2 and embraced by the Step Up franchise? Ouch! Of course, summer wasn’t totally devoid of the get-rich-quickly-and-easily “technology,” and it certainly boosted the ticket sales of some movies (Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After), but some of the biggest blockbusters of the season said “No, thanks” to 3D while it failed to help other movies (The Last Airbender, Piranha 3D, Cats & Dogs, Step Up 3D). There is clearly a backlash going on, from filmmakers and -goers; hopefully Hollywood learned its lesson this summer, which is this: Only a small percentage of movies deserve the extra dimension. And the last-minute, last-ditch 2D-to-3D conversions? We can tell, and we’re not interested.
How to Train Your Dragon, which hit theaters in late March and didn’t even begin to slow down until almost June, set the tone for animated movies that would be released after it -- and retold the box office gospel: Animated movies can pretty much do no wrong. Toy Story 3 is easily the highest-grossing movie of the YEAR, and it’s already surpassed $1 billion worldwide; Shrek Forever After, although not a hit with critics, did very well domestically and extraordinarily well internationally; and Despicable Me, made on a shoestring budget by today’s standards, was massive. There wasn’t -- and almost never is -- any disappointment from the animation set.
LOSER: The Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players
Zac Efron, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Cera give new meaning to the term usually reserved for SNL cast members. This was supposed to be the summer that all three proved they could “open” a movie; instead it proved that they’re not quite ready. Efron is still the prettiest thesp around, male or female, and his career likely won’t be derailed by the laughable melodramatic disaster that was Charlie St. Cloud; Gyllenhaal, too, will ultimately be fine despite his performance in Prince of Persia and the movie’s performance at the box office. Cera, however, might not be entrusted with the lead role of a big-budget production for the foreseeable future, following the commercial -- even if not critical -- letdown of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (refreshingly, though, Cera probably cares very little about his commercial appeal). Bottom line: None of the three had the summer they’d hoped for, and their star power took a hit.
WINNER: Steve Carell
His decision to leave The Office after next season is a tough pill to swallow, but it’s easy to understand: Steve Carell is a big-screen star now, and it really must be a challenge to find time for TV -- let alone his family! Date Night performed very well in the run-up to the summer; the blockbuster Despicable Me again proved that Carell is great (and bankable) even when merely heard; and Dinner for Schmucks, while not a Meet the Parents-size hit, has turned a profit and is still in theaters. It’s no wonder that Carell’s upcoming projects reach the double digits.
LOSER: Jonah Hex
Only one movie deserves its own spot on this list, and that’s Jonah Hex. It’s already been beaten to death, and there were, in fact, bigger box office bombs this summer, percentagewise, but … good God. While Josh Brolin will walk away unscathed, with little more than a “What was he thinking?” slap on the wrist, Hex put the nail in the coffin of Megan Fox’s career (temporarily, of course), and the director, Jimmy Hayward, should be facing eight-to-10 years in director jail. It’s rare for a movie to be so atrocious that it doesn’t even stand a chance at DVD redemption, or guilty-pleasure redemption, but, well, at least Hex is exceptional in that sense.
Sequels, adaptations, remakes, reimaginations -- they rule the summertime, every time, and 2010 was no different. Three wholly original releases (Inception, Despicable Me and Grown Ups) made a splash, while two such movies (Salt and The Other Guys) made waves. All other hits, even the relatively minor ones, fit neatly into one of the aforementioned categories of unoriginality: Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Shrek Forever After, The Karate Kid, The Last Airbender … the list goes on. Here’s hoping the success of Inception ushers in some balance for future summers.
LOSER: Onetime Superstars
Dear Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Aniston, Nicolas Cage, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez (she gets an asterisk since The Back-Up Plan came out in late April), Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Crowe, et al.: Your name on a movie’s poster is no longer enough to bring out large audiences. Our deepest, sincerest condolences. P.S. Don’t give up hope. Maybe you can all get together for an Expendables type of movie in a decade or so.
There isn’t typically much emphasis placed on quality during the summer months; it’s more “Let’s aim to quintuple our money and if the movie happens to be good … bonus!” But this summer featured a pair of B.O. behemoths that also happened to be, well, good. Inception scored at the box office, earned positive reviews from critics, and was arguably the most buzzed-about movie of the summer by fans. Toy Story 3, meanwhile, vastly outgrossed Inception and is one of the best-reviewed movies of the entire year; there’s already talk of a Best Picture nom. Then there were the indies: Winter's Bone, The Kids Are All Right, Animal Kingdom, Get Low, Cyrus and Life During Wartime were all highly praised and could reenter the fray come awards season -- as could documentaries The Tillman Story, Restrepo, A Film Unifnished and Joan Rivers: A Real Piece of Work.
LOSER: Canines and Felines
Note to Hollywood: The cutesy-animal subgenre is no longer a lucrative one. It was a flash in the pan; you’re too late to try and ride the wave of Marley & Me (which could be said about Jennifer Aniston, too). Marmaduke was beyond lame, and a box office dud. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, though? It cost over $85 million to make. I repeat: $85 million. Who on Earth greenlit that movie and budget? A studio head’s 9-year-old kid??
Pinkett Smith plays Chief Nursing Officer Christina Hawthorne in the U.S. series, but her mum Adrienne Banfield-Jones, the head nurse of an inner-city clinic in Baltimore, Maryland, was quick to point out the show wasn't realistic.
The actress took the comments so seriously she hired a whole new technical team for the show's second season, which premiered in America in June (10).
Pinkett Smith says, "She (her mum) did quite a bit (of criticising) last year (09), which is why I got a new technical team this year... Last year she was really on top of it and I'm very thankful because there were a lot of things she was making me aware of that I don't think I would've been if she hadn't been (there).
"Things like how we put the cap back on the needle, or how we inject the needle, or how we resuscitate. (It's) very specific and we got a lot of nurses last year emailing and saying, 'We like the show but you're not really doing this and this.' At the end of the season I had a six-page email (from her mum). But this year she helped make a much better show, so kudos to her."
The 61 year old rose to fame in the 1970s as Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith's co-star on the hit U.S. TV series - but her career was put on hold in 1987, after she was diagnosed with the deadly disease.
She battled the illness throughout the 1980s but was finally given a clean bill of health after a series of major operations.
Jackson went on to adopt her first child, Charles Taylor Jackson, in September 1995, and continued to work on her TV career.
Now the star will share her personal ups and downs in an as-yet-untitled tome, scheduled for release in June 2011.
Some quick scheduling news on two Columbia Pictures projects we're super excited about: Marc Webb's upcoming Spider-Man reboot and Barry Sonnenfeld's much anticipated Men in Black 3.
The untitled Spider-Man reboot, starring Andrew Garfield, is now set to begin shooting this December in Los Angeles, with an anticipated release date of July 3rd, 2012. The third installment of Men in Black, which will be shot in 3D, goes into production this September in New York City. Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin - set to play a younger version of Lee Jones - will hit theaters May 25, 2012.
The July 4th weekend is always a bonanza for Hollywood - no risks there - but Spider-Man looks to be in a precarious situation, with a release date crammed right between J.J. Abrams' Star Trek 2 (June 29th) and Christopher Nolan's Batman 3 (July 20th). Those two behemoths look especially daunting when you consider that Spider-Man aims to reboot a franchise that began only 8 years ago, with a star who remains largely unknown to American audiences. MIB3 is in somewhat safer territory, with a Memorial Day opening opposite Madagascar 3.
The actress and her husband Brady Smith welcomed their first child, Harper Renn Smith, in June (10), but Thiessen reveals her smooth pregnancy turned complicated as soon as she went into labour.
The baby girl was delivered by Cesarean section after 30 hours in a Los Angeles hospital and the star admits the tiring process was "very surreal".
She says, "First my water didn't break; they had to do it for me. Then the baby wasn't descending, because the cord was wrapped around her neck.
"Once she was finally out, I didn't even get to hold her before they whisked her away. You're staring across the room, like, 'Hello? Over here!' The whole thing was very surreal."
Thiessen, who introduces the world to little Harper in a photoshoot for this week's (begs19Jul10) People magazine, insists home life with her daughter has been much less dramatic and she's still marvelling at her bundle of joy.
She says, "She sleeps anywhere from three to four hours at a time at night, which is not bad. It's a lot of work. This is a kind of love that you never really knew about. You haven't known this person for very long, but you love them so much."
Thiessen and Smith wed in 2005.