Hollywood Franchise Fever: A Studio-By-Studio Update on the Latest Developments
From 'Star Wars: Rogue One' to Marvel's Diverse Standalones — not to mention the Potterverse — reshoots, casting and the hunt for new directors is underway.
There were plenty of box office woes — and a few wins — this summer, but now that Labor Day has come and gone it's time to take a look at what shape the studios' biggest franchises are in.
Over the past three months, every studio made some critical casting choices for their respective franchises. And some, like Lucasfilm's Rogue One, which underwent reshoots, got a buff and polish. What will it all mean moving forward?
Marvel: The studio soared ever higher this summer as Captain America: Civil War grossed more than $1.1 billion and successfully introduced the company’s black hero, The Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman. Black Panther, the character's solo outing due in theaters in 2018, firmed up its cast with the additions of Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira. Meanwhile, Brie Larson signed to star in Captain Marvel. It will be Marvel's first solo movie built around a female hero, and the film is currently looking for a director. Niki Caro, Lesli Linka Glatter and Lorene Scafaria are now among the finalists.
Lucasfilm: The Star Wars universe faced a threat greater than the Death Star: reshoots. Lucasfilm's Rogue One (which opens in December) undertook an extensive five-week shoot in June and saw the writer of those shoots, Tony Gilroy, expand his role during the added production and into post. The reshoots are part of a long Star Wars history of dramatic production sagas. Elsewhere, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who are directing the standalone Han Solo movie set to star Alden Ehrenreich, began their search for their Lando Calrissian, with actors ranging from Daveed Diggs to O'Shea Jackson to Donald Glover popping up on the shortlist. A decision should be made soon.
DC: After a rocky start to the DC Cinematic Universe with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warners bounced back — somewhat — with Suicide Squad, which has grossed more than $678 million worldwide. Now the studio has to decide whether all the director drama and scathing reviews are worth a sequel. Despite that, Warners is moving on multiple fronts on its slate: it’s casting on The Flash, starring Ezra Miller, adding Kiersey Clemons as Iris West. The studio also signed Doug Liman to direct Justice League Dark, which will group DC’s supernatural heroes in one film. Ben Affleck, the director, actor and co-writer of an upcoming solo Batman movie, teased that the villain of his project will be fan-favorite character Deathstroke, to be played by Joe Manganiello.
The Conjuring: The James Wan-directed sequel, The Conjuring 2, released in June, firmly established a new horror universe when the $40-million production grossed almost $320 million worldwide. Now, a third film is in the works — Wan has said he will not direct it, but then again, he also said that about number two, although we’re pretty sure he means it this time. There's also a new spinoff, The Nun, in development, as well as Annabelle 2, the sequel to the 2014 spinoff of the original Conjuring, which went into production on the Warners soundstages.
The Potterverse: In London, J.K. Rowling's boy wizard, now all grown up, is appearing on stage in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But while there are no plans yet for a film version of that, Rowling's magic imagination is extending to America, where her Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, opening Nov. 18, takes place. Warners has touted its confidence in the new film by announcing a sequel, set for November 16, 2018. And Zoe Kravitz was added to the cast, of the upcoming Beasts with the possibility of a bigger role in the sequel.
Monsters Universe: The studio is assembling a strong cast, including Javier Bardem, who is in negotiations to star as Frankenstein as it develops its own cinematic universe of classic horror figures. Bardem will join Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, who will star in the universe's inaugural film The Mummy, which will see Cruise play a special forces soldier and Crowe portray the classic literary characters Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The true test will come when The Mummy hits theaters on June 9, 2017.
Pitch Perfect: While Pitch Perfect 2 grossed a solid $287.5 million worldwide after opening in May, its threequel is on shakier ground after some growing pains this summer. Elizabeth Banks was attached to return as the director, but exited the project in July saying development "bumped up against my parental responsibilities." After the studio pushed the film’s release from July 21, 2017 to Dec. 22, 2017, a director, Trish Sie, was announced Sept. 1.
X-Men: While Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse grossed a solid $542.8 million, audience enthusiasm was waning and it showed; the previous entry, X-Men: Days of Future Past, grossed a massive $747.7 million by comparison. On top of figuring out ways to rejuvenate the next installment, Fox also has to whether to bring back the franchise’s top stars — Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult — all of whom had three-picture deals which have run their course. Fox also lost its director on the X-Men spinoff Gambit, as Doug Liman exited the project to decamp to Warners, and the studio is searching for a new filmmaker with the hopes of making a January start of production date.
Star Trek: Buoyed by glowing reviews for Star Trek Beyond, Paramount announced a fourth installment in the franchise, adding that Chris Hemsworth, who played the father of Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) in J.J. Abrams' 2009 Star Trek, will return for the proposed sequel. But despite plenty of geek love, this summer's installment is trailing behind 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness’ $467 million global box office. Granted, Beyond still has to open in China but has enthusiasm at the studio, which has been preoccupied by an ugly power struggle at the top ranks, begun to diminish?
Mission: Impossible: Paramount’s one sure-fire franchise suddenly doesn’t seem so sure-fire. Tom Cruise, who has piloted the hit franchise since its inception in 1996, is now in an unexpected and protracted negotiation (back-end compensation is one of the sticking points) that has already stopped pre-production and, if not resolved soon, could push the start date of the movie.
Ghostbusters: Sony's ambitious plans for a new universe based on the classic 1984 movie were obvious ahead of the release of the new film starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Sony created Ghost Corps, a collective with Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, to oversee a potential universe that would include live-action films, TV and animated projects. But when the film stumbled at the box office after hitting theaters in July (it's earned $224.7 million worldwide to date), the studio went quiet on any sort of sequel. Sources say the stars were signed on for two more sequels, but as of now it's seems unlikely that will be happening.