Surprise! It’s the return of the end of week movie news dump.

I thought I’d shock everyone and do a post that’s not built around a trailer — there’ll be time enough for that on the weekend.

* Tom Cruise may or may not be many things, but I’ve never really thought of him as a rocker. Yet, that’s exactly what he will be in the promised film version of “Rock of Ages.” I’ve long had mixed feelings about Cruise as an actor — he can be very good in some things and disastrous in others — and I have mixed feelings about this project, too. To be specific, I like good movie musicals but strongly dislike eighties hair bands and what some of us used to call “corporate rock.”

On the other hand, Mike Fleming touts Anne Hathaway, who I have few or no mixed feelings about, as a possible costar. I wonder what she’d look like as a glam rocker…

anne_hathaway

* A star has been set — or at least gotten to the serious negotiation stage — for the long discussed “Jack the Giant Killer” coming from Bryan Singer and his old screenwriting cohort, Christopher McQuarrie, writes Mike Fleming. He’s that kid who was so great in 2002’s “About a Boy” grown-up into 20-something Nicolas Hoult. Hoult has also appeared on the UK “Skins” and will be turning up in the upcoming “Mad Max” reboot/sequel or whatever.

Mike Fleming, however, is not correct when he describes the tale as a “scary” variation on “Jack and the Beanstalk.” It’s an entirely different, far less commonly told, fairy tale. As Wikipedia tells us:

Jack the Giant Killer is a British fairy tale about a plucky Cornish lad who slays a number of giants during King Arthur’s reign. The tale is characterized by violence, gore, and blood-letting.

No wonder they’re making a movie of it.

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Movie news notes…the “I’m burned out ” edition!

Oh, it’s really not so bad, but I’ve been working the big post below this all day and there’s still a bit more work ahead, so let’s get started and make it snappy.

* Domestic ticket sales for movies this year are expected to top a whopping $10 billion, I guess proving the old adage that the relatively cheap entertainment of movies is a good business to be in tough economic times. If a studio exec takes you to lunch, you have my permission to order an appetizer.

* The Wall Street Journal has anecdotal reports of kids asking Santa for items like socks, school shoes, and eyeglasses. The recession affects everyone. So, out goes the glitz, in comes the chic intimate soirees for Hollywood awards promotion which still sound bloody expensive to me. But, note the item above. Also, it’s not like all that money would go to charity if they weren’t having the parties. It keeps caterers and bartenders working.

* In a move that could impact both the cable TV and movie business in a fairly big way, highly lauded former HBO head Chris Albrecht is joining Starz TV and will oversee new original content there. Nikki Finke has the (self-confirmed) scoop. Albrecht, who had been at HBO for 22 years, lost his job in 2007 when he was arrested after a violent public incident with his girlfriend, which he blamed on a relapse in his recovery as an alcoholic. La Finke says his personal problems are behind him; I’m certain the Starz folks think that’s true.

* “X-Men” movie fans will want to check out this interview with Bryan Singer.¬† After seeing “Avatar,” he’s contemplating whether or not to do his “Jack, the Giant Killer” in 3-D.

* Anne Thompson has some interesting, if somewhat in-the-weeds, details on the fall out of the Dreamworks/Paramount divorce.

* There’s an old joke along that lines of “that movie wasn’t released, it escaped!” Well, apparently the new Kevin Costner supernatural thriller is being given a token release that’s practically a state secret. So says the Playlist. I’m not convinced he’s washed up, though I suppose his leading man days could be more or less behind him and his character actor days ahead of him — but another old joke, updated: the four stages of an actor’s career. “Who’s Kevin Costner?” “Get me Kevin Costner!” “Get me a young Kevin Costner! “Who’s Kevin Costner?”

For a contrasting, somewhat NSFW, point of view, see below.

  

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An action-packed movie Monday

Lots going on…

* Via Merrick at THR.

New Line has picked up a pitch from Darren Lemke, the writer behind the studio’s Bryan Singer project “Jack the Giant Killer,” that reimagines the classic tale of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” as an action-adventure movie.

I’m thinking Steven Seagall for the lead, with Jet Li as Kato, though I’m not sure how either of them are at dancing to the music of Tchaikovsky. Okay, actually, this version won’t be a ballet¬† (obviously) and they’re going for more of a “Chronicles of Narnia” vibe.

* Brad Pitt will be producing, but not playing the lead, in an action-oriented flick about the young Vlad Dracul (his buddies call him “the Impaler”). I’d prefer if they would be honest and call this “Dracula Begins,” but the actual title is “Vlad.” The studio will be the “Twilight” driven Summit. How much you wanna bet this vampire-to-be has a tortured love-life?

* Hand drawn animation appears to be coming back to Disney in a big way. Yay. Film-maker Brendon Connolly has some interesting hints.

93211_first-look-princess-and-the-frog

* And one more item from THR/Heat Vision that I can’t really ignore. Cowriter-producer Peter Jackson has announced that auditions for “The Hobbit” have begun and the only role that’s precast is Ian McKellan as Gandalf. So, actors, if you’ve got a snub nose, a pasty complexion, are never chosen first for basketball, and have hairy feet, I suggest you get into gear. They are denying rumors that James McAvoy could be in the running for Bilbo, though he does have an overall Baggins thing going on, I think. Another actor who screams “hobbit!” to me is writer Peter Morgan’s favorite star, Michael Sheen of “Frost/Nixon,” “The Queen,” and “The Damned United.” Of course, whoever it is, I guess it will have to believable that he’ll look like Ian Holm when he gets on in years.

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