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.


* 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.

* In my box-office wrap-up yesterday, I wrote the following:

2012” cost $200 million to make, a rather obscene sum that was unthinkable not so long ago, and in four weeks in wide release has earned a mere $148,787,000. I haven’t seen “The Blind Side,” but it just makes me happy that a modest movie about people is proving, I think, to be significantly more profitable than at least one pretty obviously bloated spectacle.

I really hope that readers understood I was talking about the domestic gross. Internationally, the Roland Emmerich feature has earned upwards of $650 million. However, as Sharon Waxman reports, Emmerich will be taking home a good percentage of that  — a cool $100 million (half the film’s outlandish budget, in fact) — for himself to share with whomever he’s going to share it with. From a studio’s point of view, at least, I still can’t help but wonder if “The Blind Side” will turn out to be the better deal.

* The lovely and extremely talented Amy Adams is pregnant and bowing out of the newest film from director John Hillcoat (“The Road“) and his collaborator on “The Proposition,” screenwriter and Aussie alternative music legend Nick Cave, writes the Playlist. The film is currently set the star the powerful twosome of Ryan Gosling and Shia LaBouef, who will be playing brothers and prohibition-era bootleggers.

* Overture has picked up the rights to “Stone,” an all-star thriller to be headlined by Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, and Milla Jovovich. Not mentioned in the Variety piece, however, is that, as per If Magazine, actor Enver Gjokaj will be playing De Niro as a young man  in what I gather are some fairly significant flashback sequences. Very coincidentally, I praised Gjokaj’s work on Joss Whedon’s TV show, “Dollhouse” to the skies yesterday in this epic-length “best of” feature. The hard-to-pronounce Gjokaj doesn’t particularly look like De Niro, but regular viewers of the show know what a gifted chameleon the all but unknown young theater-bred actor really is. I’m guessing the audience will assume he’s De Niro’s son. Let’s just hope he has some good show-biz luck to match his obvious abilities. (H/t Whedonesque.)


* A.J. Schnack smacks down a really stupid idea, and specifically the L.A. Times coverage of it, way better than I did. He also has a to-the-point comment by documentarian Chuck Braverman.

* Considering the press-release-cum-advertorial tone of this piece, Screenrant appears to be involved in some way with with Movie Clips, a new service providing thousands of visually very high quality movie excerpts which has made licensing deals with the studios. It’s still very much in beta, but, poking around a bit, I found some nice scenes, but it’s a far, far cry from YouTube in terms of depth and variety, though the consistent quality of the visuals are very nice.

As an example, I tried a search for “Citizen Kane” and found nothing. So, I tried Orson Welles, and I got two scenes from the far from the disastrous 1967 production of “Casino Royale” — not exactly a key Welles (or Peter Sellers) moment in anyone’s view. Still, it looks pretty…or it would, if I could get it to embed properly. Oh well, you can see the clip here.