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Friday, September 24, 2021

This Week in Movie News: Aaron Pierre and Kelvin Harrison Jr. to Lead ’Lion King’ Prequel, Ninja Thyberg to Direct ‘Witches of Eastwick’ Remake and More

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Need a quick recap of the past week in movie news? Here are the highlights:


The Lion King casts young Mufasa and Scar: Disney has cast two rising stars in the lead roles of the next Lion King movie. According to Deadline, Aaron Pierre, who plays the character Mid-Sized Sedan in M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller, Old, will voice young Mufasa. Kelvin Harrison Jr., who portrays Fred Hampton in last year’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, will voice the part of Taka — a.k.a. the villain Scar. This will be a prequel to the hit 2019 live-action-style remake of the 1994 animated classic and will depict the origin story of the two lion brothers’ feud. Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) is at the helm of the follow-up, which again is scripted by Jeff Nathanson. Jenkins previously worked with Pierre on his recent limited series The Underground Railroad.


Corey Hawkins joins The Color Purple: Speaking of reimagined classics, the upcoming film of the musical version of The Color Purple has reportedly cast its Harpo. Deadline reports that actor Corey Hawkins (Kong: Skull Island) will play the part originally portrayed by Willard E. Pugh in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of the Alice Walker novel of the same name and by Brandon Victor Dixon in the Broadway show. The new movie will be directed by Blitz Bazawule (Black is King) from a screenplay by Marcus Gardley (The Chi) based on Marsha Norman’s book for the stage translation. Hawkins previously proved his musical chops in the movies Straight Outta Compton and this year’s In the Heights (see below). The Color Purple is set to open December 20, 2023.


The Witches of Eastwick summons a director: Speaking of remakes set up at Warner Bros., the studio is developing a new take on The Witches of Eastwick and has found its director. According to Screen Daily, Swedish filmmaker Ninja Thyberg, whose feature debut, Pleasure, made a splash at Sundance this year, will be at the helm. Thyberg is also writing the screenplay, which could be a fresh adaptation of John Updike’s novel of the same name without looking to the first film and its lighter approach to the material. George Miller directed that Oscar-nominated original, which was released in 1987 and stars Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer as the titular women alongside Jack Nicholson as a charismatic man who might be the Devil.


Jake Gyllenhaal to star in Oblivion Song: This week’s big comic book movie news concerns another property from The Walking Dead and Invincible co-creator Robert Kirkman. Variety reports that Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Spider-Man: Far From Home) will star in Oblivion Song, based on the Image Comics graphic novel of the same name by Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici. Gyllenhaal would presumably play the part of Nathan Cole, a man who makes daily rescue attempts to save people living in an apocalyptic “hell-scape” within the city of Philadelphia. Gyllenhaal and Kirkman’s respective production companies, Nine Stories and Skybound, are also involved, and they see potential for the adaptation to kick off a new franchise.


Tiffany Haddish has an I.F.: Girls Trip and Bad Trip star Tiffany Haddish will produce and star in a family film titled I.F. (which stands for Imaginary Friend). According to Deadline, the comedy will mix live-action and animation and will be helmed by Mike Mitchell. He previously directed The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, for which Haddish voiced the villainous character Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi. The original screenplay is by Darren Lemke, who co-wrote the Mitchell-helmed sequel Shrek Forever After and the DC superhero movie Shazam!. It’s unclear whether Haddish will play someone with an imaginary friend or if she will portray the imaginary friend. She recently voiced a role in the live-action/animation hybrid The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.


Christian Bale is Living Dangerously: Christian Bale has also announced a new project as producer and star. Deadline reports that the Oscar-winning actor will play real-life preacher John Lee Bishop, who went from leading a massive congregation to becoming a meth and heroin addict to becoming a drug smuggler for a Mexican cartel. The movie, titled The Church of Living Dangerously, is based on David Kushner’s 2019 Vanity Fair magazine article of the same name. The adaptation is being written by Charles Randolph, who won an Oscar for co-scripting Adam McKay’s truth-based feature The Big Short, in which Bale stars.

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