1.) 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]
4.) 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.