News Briefs

Danny DeVito is set to direct Oscar-nominated “Atonement” actress Saoirse Ronan, Morgan Freeman and Pierce Brosnan in the family adventure “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.” The 19th century tale of a young girl who joins in a shipboard rebellion.

Hancock” led the foreign box office for a second weekend, earning $70.4 million from 67 markets, according to data issued Monday. The Will Smith superhero comedy opened at No. 1 in 12 foreign markets, including Russia ($11.4 million), France ($9.9 million), and Mexico ($4.6 million). After two weekends, the U.K. has contributed $33.4 million, Germany $24.2 million and Korea $14.7 million. Its foreign total rose to $180.6 million.

Talk of Heath Ledger’s Oscar chances are apparently getting out of porportion. Leonard Maltin, film critic for TV program “Entertainment Tonight.”  had this to say: “All this Oscar talk is a phenomenon of the Internet age that I like to call ‘a wish-fulfillment rumor.’ If people say it often enough, they think it will happen. That’s not to say it might not happen,” he said, citing a “great performance” by Ledger. “But I assure you that the people who are spreading all this are neither Oscar voters nor (Hollywood) movers and shakers.”

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game console will soon be streaming thousands of movies over the Internet straight to your TV. A deal announced between Microsoft and Netflix has opened the way for subscribers to stream 10,000 movies and TV shows to Xbox consoles for viewing on television sets. The program will begin in two months. While Xbox has had movies and shows available for download before, the range has never been so comprehensive. The $50 a year Xbox gold membership, will be required for the new service.

Writer and director J.J. Abrams says his upcoming Star Trek movie will focus on the relationship between Kirk and Spock. At a Television Critics Association panel, Abrams said: “We never saw how Kirk and Spock became so connected, and this movie [reveals that].”

Warner Bros. Pictures is adapting the Capcom  video game Lost Planet for the big screen. The game revolves around an expedition to an ice planet that harbors an energy source with the potential to save mankind. Capcom is also developing all new film versions of the Street Fighter and Onimusha games.

According to Variety, Universal Pictures has resigned Wanted’s Marc Platt for five years. And one of the producer’s first tasks will be to get a Wanted sequel up and running. Platt said that the creative team is still working on the challenge of continuing the movie’s story, considering most of the principal characters – including Angelina Jolie – ended the original in no position for an encore. The film was however designed as a potential franchise and it is still performing strongly worldwide, having grossed $192.6 million to date. “The writers are at work already, and those creative discussions are taking place,” said Platt.

Michael Bay the blockbuster film director and producer spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the “Friday the 13th” remake due out Friday, March 13, 2009. “You’re just not going to believe the first 12 minutes!” He added: “I haven’t seen the director’s cut because he’s still cutting, but I know this one will really be scary,” Bay says. “It’s also funny, as well. It’s a fun college adventure that goes awry. It’s not a movie I would ever show my mom! We don’t make these for our mothers; we make these for the fans out there.”

The develoment of “Scream 4” has been confirmed via press release. Here are excerpts from the release: In a move that enhances its slate of theatrical motion pictures, Showtime Networks Inc. has entered into an exclusive seven-year film distribution arrangement with The Weinstein Company (TWC). The joint announcement was made today by Matthew C. Blank, Chairman and CEO of Showtime Networks and Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Co-Chairmen of TWC. The new output deal is effective with TWC’s 2009 release schedule and includes such highly anticipated films as “Nine,” directed by Rob Marshall (“Chicago“) and featuring an all-star cast including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren, and Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Bastards.” Additional titles included from TWC are the remake of David Cronenberg’s “Scanners,” re-starting the “Scream” franchise with “Scream 4,” and “Piranha 3D.” This deal furthers the relationship between Showtime Networks and TWC’s Dimension Films which began in 1997 with SHOWTIME airing “Mimic,” and “Scream 2.” “Dimension Films has enjoyed an outstanding relationship with Showtime and we are glad to be re-united with Matt Blank,” added Bob Weinstein. “We are excited to build upon our past success with this new partnership and our upcoming slate.”  

Kate Hudson has joined the cast of Rob Marshall’s “Nine,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Marion Cotillard. The movie is scheduled to begin lensing Oct. 10 in Britain. Hudson last starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in “Fool’s Gold.”

Reggie Lee (“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”) has booked a role in Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell,” starring Justin Long. Lee will next be seen in “Tropic Thunder.”

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