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Casting Net: 'Parenthood' actress Rosa Salazar joins 'Insurgent'; Plus, Gabourey Sidibe, Dane Cook, more

• Rosa Salazar (Parenthood) has joined the cast of Insurgent as Lynn. Currently filming in Atlanta, the Divergent follow-up from director Robert Schwentke (R.I.P.D.) will again star Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars), Theo James (Underworld: Awakening), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now), Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars), Kate Winslet (Labor Day), Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher), and Zoe Kravitz (After Earth), as well as newcomers to the series Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), and Octavia Spencer (The Help). In the book, Lynn is described as a bitter Dauntless-born initiate with a shaved head, eyebrow piercing, a tough attitude, and a mischievous sense of humor. The sequel is scheduled for a March 20, 2015, release. [THR] READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Sacha Baron Cohen joining 'Alice in Wonderland' sequel?; Plus, Penelope Cruz, Bruce Willis, more

• Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) is in early talks to join the cast of Disney’s Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. James Bobin (The Muppets) will direct, with Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger) and Mia Wasikowska (Stoker) reprising their roles as the Mad Hatter and Alice, respectively. Details of the plot are being kept secret, with filming expected to begin toward the end of the year with a May 27, 2016, release date. [Variety]

• Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona) will co-produce and star in the Spanish-language film Ma ma, directed by L.A.-based Spanish director Julia Medem (Sex and Lucia). Luis Tosar (Miami Vice) and Asier Exteandia (Broken Embraces) will co-star in the film, which will shoot in Spain this spring. Cruz will play the lead told of Magda in the intimate woman’s drama laced with moments of comedy. [Variety]
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Casting Net: Sacha Baron Cohen exits Freddie Mercury biopic; Plus Rapunzel gets a new prince in 'Into the Woods,' more

Sacha Baron Cohen will no longer play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the long-gestating biopic about the band, reportedly due to creative differences with the surviving members of Queen. Apparently, the band was quite involved in the process, rejecting proposed directors such as David Fincher and his Les Misérables director Tom Hooper, and insisting that the movie be PG. No word yet on other options to play Mercury. [Deadline]

• Tony-nominated actor and former As The World Turns star Billy Magnussen is set to replace Jake Gyllenhaal (who dropped out recently, reportedly to star in Nightcrawler) as Rapunzel’s prince in Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of Into the Woods. Magnussen recently appeared on Boardwalk Empire as Roger and had a memorable turn in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress as Thor. [Deadline]

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'Les Miserables' will open in select IMAX theaters Christmas Day

To quote Les Miserables, “I dreamed a dream” that the ambitious movie adaptation of the stage musical would show in IMAX theaters, and it’s happening!

Universal Pictures announced Tuesday that the Tom Hooper-directed film, starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, and Helena Bonham Carter, among others, will be digitally remastered to begin a limited domestic IMAX run in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Montreal the same day as its nationwide domestic release on Dec. 25. The movie will roll out in IMAX theaters internationally starting Jan. 10, 2013.
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Sacha Baron Cohen developing 'The Lesbian' for Paramount

Sacha-Baron-Cohen

The Dictator, meet The Lesbian.

Wacky Renaissance man of mockery and comic satire Sacha Baron Cohen and his production company are developing a film tentatively titled The Lesbian for Paramount Pictures, a studio spokesperson confirmed to EW on Thursday.

The film is inspired by the true story of Hong Kong billionaire Cecil Chao’s $65 million offer to any guy who woos and marries his lesbian daughter, Gigi Chao, who eloped with her girlfriend to France. Baron Cohen, set to produce the film, loves a good political parody, having co-wrote and starred in 2006 satirical hit Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, 2009’s Bruno, about a short shorts-wearing fashionista, and this year’s fictional The Dictator, making fun of despots such as Saddam Hussein.

The Lesbian “is conceived as a potential starring vehicle for Baron Cohen, who will produce through his Four By Two Films banner. A writer has not been attached,” said Paramount in a press release.

While Borat grossed a mega whopping $261 million globally at the box office, The Dictator has taken in less than that worldwide, at $177 million, according to box office tracker BoxOfficeMojo.com.

For more film news

Read more:
Sacha Baron Cohen sent Ryan Seacrest jacket ‘made by slave child labor’
At ‘Dictator’ press conference, Sacha Baron Cohen stays in character — and checks out one journalist’s junk

Box office report: 'The Avengers' crushes 'Battleship' and 'The Dictator' with $55.1 mil

Once again, it was all about The Avengers at the box office, as three new releases failed to even approach the Marvel superhero blockbuster’s third-weekend gross of $55.1 million, according to studio estimates.

The movie dropped 47 percent — an admirable hold for a picture that’s putting up such huge numbers. By the end of Sunday, The Avengers will have made an estimated $457.1 million domestically, passing $450 million in a record 17 days. (The previous record holder, The Dark Knight, reached that milestone in 27 days.) Meanwhile, The Avengers also passed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest to become Disney’s biggest movie ever both domestically and worldwide. It now sits in fourth place on the all-time worldwide chart, behind only Avatar, Titanic, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2.

The Avengers‘ continued dominance meant fewer moviegoers for Battleship, which sunk on arrival with only $25.3 million. That’s the worst domestic opening ever for a movie with a reported budget of at least $200 million. (Universal spent $209 million on the PG-13 picture.) It’s also a smaller debut than this year’s other notorious flop, John Carter, which started out with $30.2 million. To the dismay of Tim Riggins fans everywhere, Taylor Kitsch has now starred in two of the year’s biggest bombs. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Avengers' wins again with $15.3 mil on Friday; 'Battleship' flounders with $9 mil

Three new movies confronted The Avengers this weekend, and the Hulk smashed them around as if they all starred Loki.

The Marvel superhero phenomenon dropped a mild 48 percent for $15.3 million on Friday. That means it’ll easily win its third weekend in a row with around $55 million, bringing its domestic tally to $457 million or thereabouts. It should pass $450 million on Sunday, becoming the fastest movie to do so in only 17 days. (The Dark Knight pulled off the same feat in 27 days.) Also, The Avengers will pass Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest today to become Disney’s highest-grossing film ever.

The Avengers‘ good news spelled bad news for Battleship, which debuted to a dismal $9 million on Friday. That puts the board game-inspired action film on pace for a $26 million weekend — a result that Universal clearly didn’t have in mind when it green-lighted the $209 million picture. By comparison, the year’s other big expensive flop, Disney’s John Carter, mustered a slightly better $30.2 million its first weekend. Both movies starred Taylor Kitsch, whose young career is getting off to an incredibly unfortunate start. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: Will 'Battleship' sink 'The Avengers'?

Three new wide releases will attempt to dethrone the almighty Avengers this weekend: the board-game-meets-alien-invasion action flick Battleship, the ensemble pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and the latest outrageous comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen, The Dictator.

Nice try, guys. The Avengers should finish No. 1 for the third weekend in a row, and will break a couple more box-office records in the process. Here are my predictions: READ FULL STORY

Sacha Baron Cohen drops out of 'Django Unchained'

Sacha Baron Cohen’s promotional responsibilities for The Dictator will keep him from appearing in Quentin Tarantino’s star-studded Western, Django Unchained. The actor, who uncharacteristically appeared as himself on the Howard Stern radio show yesterday, told the host that he had to drop out. “That was going to be a cameo, but actually, that was going to happen now,” he said. “I had to drop out because of this press tour.”

Listen to the exchange below (scan to 6:40 for the Django news): READ FULL STORY

At 'Dictator' press conference, Sacha Baron Cohen stays in character -- and checks out one journalist's junk

General Aladeen of the People’s Republic of Wadiya loves New York. On Saturday night, the despot stopped by SNL‘s Weekend Update to banter with Seth Meyers. This morning, he cheerfully threatened Matt Lauer’s family on the Today show. And just a few hours ago, the Supreme Leader, Chief Ophthalmologist, and excellent swimmer — he can even do the breaststroke! — stopped by Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria for a press conference with reporters from around the world.

Aladeen, of course, is the latest alter ego of Sacha Baron Cohen, a comedian who promotes his movies with in-character stunt appearances. And though Baron Cohen’s performance at today’s press event didn’t break new ground — the jokes were familiar for anyone who’s watched footage from The Dictator or read about Aladeen’s appearance at CinemaCon — his enthusiasm for playing his new character shined through.

Baron Cohen arrived in the hotel’s Empire Room fashionably late, preceded by a crowd of “subjects” hoisting fawning signs (sample text: “Say No to Democracy”) and flanked by a quartet of hot, stony-faced women wearing itty-bitty military uniforms and berets. After ribbing a guy who had shouted “sit down!” at another reporter — “You want me to sit down? Who is the f–ing dictator?” — the actor launched into his well-oiled routine: “Welcome, devils of the Zionist media, and death to the West! Today, I wish to highlight the plight of a terribly endangered group, the innocent victims of a global human tragedy: dictators.”

Baron Cohen’s general went on to decry the treatment of his authoritarian comrades, noting that their only crimes are embezzling money, oppressing their people, and “doing a tiny little bit of genocide.” Then Baron Cohen mourned a few of the dictators who have fallen in recent years: “Saddam, Kim Jong-il, Gadaffi, and Oprah.”  READ FULL STORY

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