J.J. Abrams will be replacing Colin Trevorrow as writer-director on 'Star Wars: Episode IX'
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J.J. Abrams will be replacing Colin Trevorrow as writer-director on ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

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One week after Colin Trevorrow was ousted from his position as writer-director on Star Wars: Episode IX due to creative differences between the filmmaker and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the studio has announced that J.J. Abrams will indeed be taking over the project, according to a press release issued this morning.

“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” Kennedy said in a statement. Lucasfilm opting to take the safe route and select a director such as Abrams is a smart decision, I suppose, but the studio also missed the perfect opportunity to introduce the first female filmmaker to the Star Wars franchise, and it’s questionable as to whether or not they even considered one for the role.

The news of Trevorrow’s departure came not long after it was revealed that Jack Thorne, whose most recent work includes the soon to be released adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s acclaimed novel Wonder starring Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay, would be rewriting the first draft of the Episode IX script penned by Trevorrow and frequent collaborator Derek Connolly.

The Book of Henry director is the second filmmaker to leave a Star Wars film due to creative reasons. Over the summer, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller left the untitled Han Solo movie as it was nearing the end of principal photography, with just two more weeks left of shooting left to go. Shortly after the duo left, the studio subsequently enlisted the help of Ron Howard to oversee the remainder of the shoot and post-production.

Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled to hit theaters on May 24, 2019.

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Matt Damon is reteaming with his ‘Ford v Ferrari’ director James Mangold for ‘The Force’

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Matt Damon The Force
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Nearly 14 years after starring in Martin Scorsese‘s brilliant Infernal Affairs remake The Departed, Matt Damon is set to head back into crooked cop movie territory with his Ford v Ferrari director James Mangold.

According to Deadline, Damon is attached to play the lead role of Denny Malone in Mangold’s adaptation of Don Winslow’s 2017 best-selling novel The Force, which is a pretty damn good read if you haven’t gotten around to it yet.

In the book, Malone — a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant — is the dirtiest of dirty cops, having stolen millions of dollars worth of cash and narcotics in the wake of one of the biggest heroin busts in the history of New York City.

Little does Malone know, though, that the feds are hot on his tail “and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the job, his family and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all,” as the book’s official synopsis puts it.

David Mamet wrote and turned in the first draft of the script for The Force in 2017, but Mangold is currently in the middle of a rewrite with his Logan collaborator Scott Frank, so I suppose we’ll see how that turns out.

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Production begins on Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Nightmare Alley’ starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett

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Guillermo del Toro Nightmare Alley Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
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Production is officially underway on Guillermo del Toro’s star-studded new project Nightmare Alley, which features one hell of an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett in the leading roles.

An adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham’s novel of the same name, Nightmare Alley follows Stanton “Stan” Carlisle (Cooper), a young and ambitious con man who teams up with a female psychiatrist (Blanchett) for a mentalist act, only to realize that she’s even more corrupt than he is.

Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, David Strathairn, Jim Beaver, and Mark Povinelli round out the film’s cast, with del Toro alumni such as Ron Perlman and Richard Jenkins also said to be in talks to join.

Leonardo DiCaprio was initially supposed to play Cooper’s role but was forced to bow out earlier this year as production on Nightmare Alley would’ve conflicted with that of Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which stars DiCaprio alongside Robert De Niro and is expected to begin shooting in the spring.

No word yet on when Searchlight Pictures plans on releasing Nightmare Alley, but stay tuned for more info on that.

Excited to start shooting today on our new adventure NIGHTMARE ALLEY with @RealGDT and many of our regular gang. pic.twitter.com/lzPHhXpppI

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Phoenix: Warner Bros. invites you to an advance screening of Cathy Yan’s ‘Birds of Prey’

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Birds of Prey screening
WARNER BROS.

Warner Bros. will release Birds of Prey on February 7 and it’s giving Silver Screen Beat readers in Phoenix a chance to attend an advance screening of the film before it officially opens in theaters.

Our readers in Phoenix can click on this link right now to enter to free passes — good for you and one guest — to attend an advance screening of Birds of Prey happening at Harkins Arizona Mills IMAX on Wednesday, February 5 at 7:00 p.m.

Winners for this contest will be selected and notified on Monday, February 3 via email. Good luck! Below is the official trailer for Birds of Prey as well as some additional details about the film.

Directed by: Cathy Yan

Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, and Ewan McGregor

Opens: Friday, February 7

Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material

Synopsis: Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a twisted tale told by Harley herself, as only Harley can tell it. When Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis, and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz, put a target on a young girl named Cass, the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley, Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya’s paths collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down.

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