Morning 5

Kid Cudi Joins 'Need for Speed', Hathaway Does Shakespeare and MGM Reboots 'Ben-Hur'

Plus release dates for 'Pirates 5', 'Muppets 2' and Brad Bird's '1952'

Kid Cudi1.) Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi has joined Dreamworks' car racing flick Need for Speed. The film already had a solid cast of rising stars in Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad"), Imogen Poots (Fright Night) and Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger), but it seems no would-be action franchise's cast is complete without the requisite hip-hop artist.

The studio claims the project is aiming for the tone of the car-culture films of the 1970s, but they might have to bring Steve McQueen back from the dead to prove to me they're doing anything more than trying to capitalize on the success of the Fast and Furious franchise. At any rate, the film stars Paul as a street racer who joins a coast-to-coast race to get revenge after being framed for the death of a friend. Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) directs for a February 2014 release. [THR]

2.) MGM is taking all that money they made off Skyfall and The Hobbit and spending it wise... well, they're spending it. Let's leave it at that. And by that, I mean they just purchased a spec script by Keith Clarke (The Way Back) for a new version of Ben-Hur. The story has been told a few times before, with the most famous rendition starring Charlton Heston in the version that won 11 Oscars back in 1960. Throw this one into the pile of in-development biblical epics right next to Brad Pitt's Pontious Pilate, Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott's dueling Moses projects, Will Smith's The Redemption of Cain and Darren Aronofsky's Noah. [Deadline]

3.) Warner Bros. is investing in Bradley Cooper, having just acquired the upcoming Howard Blum book Dark Invasion with plans to develop it as a star vehicle for the Oscar nominated actor. The book is a nonfiction spy thriller set in 1915, when Germany sent their Secret Service to America in an attempt to keep the U.S. from helping the Allies. The events that follow are considered some of the first attacks on U.S. soil since the country's formative years.

Cooper will play NYPD Captain Tom Tunney, who is responsible for putting together the team that will bring the German spies to justice. He's considered by the book to be the CIA's first head of homeland security. The story seems tailor-made for the cinema, so they could really be onto something if they attach a solid director to this thing. [Deadline]

Anne Hathaway4.) Anne Hathaway will star in a modern day retelling of William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. You might recall this was already done in 10 Things I Hate About You, but it seems 1999 is no longer considered "modern day," so we're in desperate need of an update. That actually makes me feel kind of old. Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame) has been tasked with penning the adaptation. [The Wrap]

5.) Yesterday I passed along the news Catch Me if You Can scribe Jeff Nathanson was hired to write Pirates of the Caribbean 5 film for Disney. And boy, that guy must work quick because the studio just announced a July 10, 2015 for the film and Johnny Depp is aboard to star! So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and mark your calendars already! Still no word on who's going to direct it though.

On a somewhat related note, the 3D re-release of The Little Mermaid has been pulled from its planned September 2013, presumably due to the diminishing returns from recent re-releases like Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc..

Other future Disney release dates firmed up yesterday include Brad Bird's 1952 starring George Clooney, which will hit theaters on December 19, 2014 and The Muppets 2, which will arrive on March 21, 2014.

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  • DArtagnan

    Pirates, Star Wars, Avengers! Disney is gonna make a lot of money in 2015.

    Are the 2 Moses projects confirmed at this point?

    • Ian

      The only one of those that is confirmed is Noah.

      • MajorFilmFan

        This is the first I'd heard of the Moses projects. I'd heard of 'Redemption of Cain'. Isn't that the one where Cain is a vampire hunter?

        Is anyone else really excited to see how Pirates 5 is? They've hired a new screenwriter. Catch Me If You Can is one of my favorite Steven Spielberg movies, so I'm intrigued to see how the screenplay is. Was anyone else pleasantly surprised with Rob Marshall's direction of 'On Strange Tides'? I didn't expect the man who directed 'Chicago' to do such a good job with Capt. Jack and crew. Honestly, Pirates 4 Was the most fun, natural Pirates movie since 'Curse of the Black Pearl'

  • Ian

    Ugh, Ben-Hur does not need to be remade. If a film with eleven Oscars that is undeniably the climax of an entire genre can be remade, then there's truly nothing off the table. I'm not a fan of the film myself (too melodramatic for me), but I certainly appreciate the sheer scale of the production. The word "epic" gets thrown around WAY too liberally these days. Ben-Hur is a true epic in every since of the word; it's one of the films that practically defines epic (along with probably Gone With the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia). I would say the only modern films that may have reached the sheer scale of the true, mid-twentieth century epics are The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    Aside from is being turned into a visually dead CGI-3D fest, I can't help but wonder how this script treats the story. The title of the book is "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ," and Jesus figures very prominently into the story. Not that people have been afraid to make films involving Jesus, but I could see it being turned into an action-drama with the Christ elements dramatically stripped down. When in fact, the climax of the story is not the legendary chariot race, but the crucifixion.

  • Winchester

    I'm very interested in '1952' but December 2014 is a long way off. That's the only Disney date I'm interested in.

    Pirates isn't my flavour of cinematic junk food so that's a skip.

    Ben-Hur...........partially agree with Ian about whether or not it's a wise idea. The last wave of Biblical epics was a long time ago and while I'm not a great fan of it myself I can recognise the scope of it. Obviously the visuals could be lavishly updated but whether such a film would work today I'm not sure. 'Noah' could certainly provide a clue in 2014 though.

  • Dangerman

    Thank god Disney pulled off The Little Mermaid 3D re-release.

    I'm sick and tired for Disney re-releasing recent movies over and over again. It bugs the hell out of me.

    I would have respect Disney more today if they would have never made those gawdawful direct-to-video sequels and bringing back movie after movie like crap.