Film Bits: SXSW Makes First Film Announcements; Denis Villeneuve Tapped for ‘Dune’ Remake

SXSW Releases First Round of Films to Play at Festival

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SXSW Film has made the first round of announcements regarding this year’s lineup, with several heavy hitters earning spots in the festival. Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and Terrence Malick’s Song to Song were both among the headlining films for this year’s festival. Other highlights include the Giancarlo Esposito directed film, This is Your Death, which takes a dark look at reality TV and the Frank Oz directed documentary Muppet Guys Talking. Over 125 films will be screened this year in Austin, Texas, and this is only the first round of announcements. More films, including the Midnighters, will be announced on February 7. SXSW 2017 takes place March 10-19 in Austin.


Ben Affleck Steps Down as ‘The Batman’ Director


Ben Affleck has officially stepped down as director of his upcoming Batman solo flick, tentatively titled The Batman. Affleck had been expected to write, direct, and star in the film, though now the Oscar winner says that his energies will be best spent on the performance. As of now, he’s still on board as screenwriter, so his vision will largely still be intact, at least from a narrative stand point. Now, the only question is who will direct the latest incarnation of The Dark Knight? The loss of Affleck as a director comes on the heels of a slew of problems DC/WB are having in building their DCEU cinematic universe, including a complete reset on their The Flash movie. With two major releases set for later this year, Wonder Woman and Justice League, their long terms plans need to be finalized soon if any traction is going to be gained.


‘Aquaman’ Casts Black Manta

yahya abdul mateen ii the getdown

Elsewhere in the DCEU, Aquaman has found its villain in actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Get Down), who will face off against Jason Momoa’s (Game of Thrones) titular hero as Black Manta. So far, Aquaman had had considerably less problems in its production than the rest of the shared universe, and things are looking well as the film prepares to enter production. James Wan (Saw) is directing the film. Little is yet known about the plot for Aquaman, though the character briefly appeared in last year’s Batman v Superman and is set to appear again this year in Justice League.


‘Arrival’ Director Tapped for ‘Dune’ Remake


The long running rumors about a remake of Dune were finally solidified last night when Brian Herbert, son of Dune author Frank Herbert, and co-author of several Dune prequels, sequels, and spinoffs, announced that Arrival director Denis Villeneuve has officially signed on as director of the planned series. That’s a giant move for the director, whose acclaim has been rising ever since 2015’s Sicario. Dune has had a long history with adaptations, with David Lynch helming a cult-favorite adaptation in the 80s and a well-received SyFy miniseries in the early 00s. Other directors have tried to get an adaptation of Dune off the ground over the years, most famously with writer Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt in the 70s, later chronicled in the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. It’s a difficult series to crack, to be sure, but Villeneuve has proven himself to be a master at the kind of understated-but-epic storytelling required by Dune.


HBO Developing Behind-the-Scenes ‘The Godfather’ Film

HBO Films has entered development of a new movie about the making of The Godfather. Based on the 2015 blacklist script by Andrew Farotte, Francis and the Godfather will follow the tumultuous experience of director Francis Ford Coppola as adapted Mario Puzo’s classic novel. From studio interference, on set turmoil, and dealings with real life Mafioso, the tale behind one of the greatest movies of all time is one worthy of film itself. No word yet on who will direct or star in the film, but given HBO’s track record with their original films, this could be another homerun.


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