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New Projects: Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbie, and ‘Gran Turismo’

Virunga

New Projects is a weekly round up of movies and TV shows recently announced and currently in development for the near future. 

See, Netflix isn’t just in the business of producing multiple Adam Sandler movies. Their next big original film deal will likely help them compete even more with HBO, as they’re teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio and his Appian Way Pictures to produce a series of environmental documentaries as Netflix originals.

DiCaprio executive produced Virunga, a documentary about mountain gorillas in the Congo, that was eventually released by Netflix and was nominated for an Oscar this year. Now DiCaprio will continue to produce or executive produce original documentaries or ones acquired through film festivals, all part of a multi-year deal between Netflix and Appian Way.

“Working with Netflix on Virunga has sparked a shared vision about projects that we want to develop and bring to viewers,” said DiCaprio via The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s never been a more critical time for our planet or more of a need for gifted storytellers to help us all make sense of the issues we face. Through this partnership with Netflix, I hope to give documentary filmmakers doing urgent and important work the chance to have their films seen immediately by audiences all around the world.”

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Barbie, once a staple of little girls’ bedrooms as the must-have toy, is in need of a makeover. As ideas about women have evolved, so has the perception of the toy. And with the announcement of a movie based on Barbie, the producers have sought to bring in one of the edgier voices in female screenwriting, Diablo Cody. /Film reported that Cody would be rewriting a draft of the film, in which Barbie is something of a “modern-day Mary Poppins”, helping people in various jobs and roles, all while trying to be very contemporary. My hope now is just that Barbie’s latest accessory is a hamburger phone.

Is an adaptation of a video game with no story a better idea than an adaptation of a board game with no story, like Settlers of Catan? We’ll find out soon enough, as Joseph Kosinski, director of Tron: Legacy and Oblivion, is in talks to direct and rewrite the script for Gran Turismo, based on the sophisticated car racing simulator. The game has impeccable graphics and detail in every vehicle and detail, and Kosinski certainly has the special effects chops to produce something stellar. But is he a fit for a more down-to-Earth racing movie and step away from sci-fi? THR mentions that he’s been itching to do a racing movie for some time.

Deadline reports that yet another Bruce Lee biopic is in the works, this time to be produced by Lee’s family. Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee has recruited producers Lawrence Gray, Ben Everard, and Janet Yang to mount the “definitive biographical movie” on the martial-arts star, one focused on the spirituality of his work. “There have been projects out there involving my father, but they’ve lacked a complete understanding of his philosophies and artistry,” Lee said via Deadline. “They haven’t captured the essence of his beliefs in martial arts or storytelling.”

According to Variety, James Franco is in talks to star in Why Him?, in which Franco would likely play an Internet billionaire competing with his girlfriend’s Midwestern father. The movie is written by Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors), Ian Helfer and John Hamburg, who will also direct.

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber must love John Green novels. According to THR, they will write the screenplay for Looking For Alaska, making this the duo’s third time adapting one of Green’s five novels, including The Fault in Our Stars and the upcoming Paper Towns. The film is yet another YA love story about a boy who falls in love with Alaska Young upon going to boarding school. /Film says Sarah Polley was originally attached to direct but that the film is now awaiting a director and cast.


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