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New Projects: ‘The Birds’, ‘Monopoly’, and ‘Ashley’s War’

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Every time it feels like Hollywood has decided to remake a property that couldn’t be more sacred, they one up the ante. Michael Bay has been prepping a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense/horror classic The Birds, and Variety reports that the project has now found its director: Dutch filmmaker Diederik Van Rooijen. Van Rooijen has directed the thrillers Tape and Daylight previously, but never a film in the English language.

Hitchcock’s film from 1963, arguably his last great movie and the story of how birds terrorized a small town in Northern California, has never been officially remade, but its influences are everywhere. Heck, even Jurassic World has a scene with pterodactyls worthy of Hitch.

No details on additional plot points or when production is expected to begin have yet been revealed.

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So far the list of movies based on board games includes Clue, Battleship, Jumanji, and maybe someday, God willing, a Settlers of Catan movie. But no one has been able to quite Pass Go with an adaptation of everyone’s favorite game to ruin families and friendships: Monopoly. Both Variety and Deadline are reporting that Lionsgate and Hasbro together have tapped none other than Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show, Good Kill, Gattaca, The Host, The Terminal) to write the screenplay.

The last we heard of a Monopoly movie, its producer Randall Emmett said it would be shooting this summer, and he likened the story to The Goonies, but a director had not yet been announced. Ridley Scott was even at one point attached with a story about a man magically transported into Monopoly’s game world. Now the story is intended to be a family friendly adventure about a boy who uses “Chance” and “Community” on the rise to the top from his humble roots on (sigh) Baltic Avenue.

Back in March, Reese Witherspoon snapped up the rights to the non-fiction war story Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. The book is about the life of Ashley White, who died in battle in Afghanistan. Witherspoon has now recruited Abi Morgan to adapt the screenplay. Morgan just finished Meryl Streep’s Suffragette, and has also penned Shame and The Iron Lady. No word on a director just yet.

One of the best rising foreign directors today is the Iranian Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Past, About Elly). His last film The Past broke him out of Iran to direct French actors, and in come 2016 he’ll be making a film in Spanish and English courtesy the help of another foreign auteur: Pedro Almodovar. The news comes from Iran Daily via The Playlist that Almodovar will produce an untitled, Spanish and English language film set to start production in October 2016. In between now and then, Farhadi will be completing yet another untitled, undisclosed film, making the Almodovar produced one his eighth.

Screen Daily is reporting that French director Claire Denis will make her first English film and her latest since 2013’s Bastards as an adventure/sci-fi set in space. Denis will be writing the screenplay along with novelist Zadie Smith and Nick Laird. The language barrier alone might be a big leap, but to take her latest story to space is really out of this world.

Finally, a spiritual sequel to the ensemble, mash-up films Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve is being produced: Mother’s Day. Deadline reports that Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, and Kate Hudson are all currently in negotiations and that Garry Marshall, who previously directed Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, is back on board to direct. Beats just a breakfast in bed.


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