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Dueling Everest movies: Jake Gyllenhaal film begins shooting; Sony's 'The Summit' still in base camp

When it comes to ascending a summit, first to the top usually wins. News this week confirmed that Working Title’s Everest, to be released by Universal, is a go. The film, from director Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns) began production Monday in Italy, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke and John Hawkes playing four of the climbers who attempted the disastrous 1996 ascent of Mount Everest in the Himalayas, only to be thwarted with terrible conditions that led to the loss of many lives.

Now that this film is in production, will it kill a competing Everest film at Sony?

Sony declined to comment on its project, which takes place in the 1920s and chronicles British climber George Mallory’s attempts to scale the world’s tallest mountain. One source close to the production says the studio is still committed to the movie, but the film, which Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) is set to direct after finishing the upcoming Tom Cruise-starrer Edge of Tomorrow, will no longer begin production in the next couple of months as originally planned.

Rather, the start date on the film — which now carries the title The Summit and still has Tom Hardy (Inception) attached to play Mallory and Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6) to play his Australian rival George Finch — has been pushed to either early summer  or perhaps even to 2015.

According to another source, the studio’s hesitation on the project centers on concern over how to sell the the film domestically. Overseas, the film’s prospects appear much healthier considering the storyline and international cast but in the U.S. audiences are often reluctant to give period films a chance.

Complicating matters, a schedule change may force star Hardy to drop out. As reported earlier, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is still interested in the lead role should Hardy need to leave.

Sony is also being more cost conscious after a rough 2013 and launching a $60 million movie with a competing film in the pipeline may not look too appealing. Last summer the studio was on the wrong end of dueling White House disaster movies. Their White House Down with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx opened at the end of June, earning $73 million. It had followed Film District’s Olympus Has Fallen, which opened in March and grossed $98 million.

Still, sources close to the project says the film, which was scripted by Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air), is still important to the studio.

The trick now is to keep that enthusiasm from falling off the mountain.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy headline Sundance sections

When Sundance announced the films in competition for the 2014 festival yesterday, its organizers noted that they were impressed by the caliber of cinematic artistry — mostly due to technology — that freed up filmmakers to experiment with different genres. No category of the festival is more rooted in genre than Park City at Midnight, the late-night section that specializes in horror and the supernatural, and this year’s slate has several potential breakouts. “The Midnight lineup came together in a way that is about the strongest group we’ve ever had, top to bottom,” says Trevor Groth, Sundance’s director of programming. “I think a lot of those films are going to be real hot acquisitions — titles like Dead Snow 2, The Guest, Cooties. I think all of those are going to be big business, because they work on such great, fun genre levels.”

In addition to the Midnight movies, Sundance also announced lineups for its Spotlight, New Frontier, and the inaugural Sundance Kids sections on Thursday. One highlight in the eclectic Spotlight category, which features extraordinary films that may have previously played a festival or two elsewhere, is Locke, the real-time thriller starring Tom Hardy from Eastern Promises writer Steven Knight. “This is Tom Hardy in a car the entire time, speaking on a phone…as his world crumbles around him,” says Groth. “The dimensions of story that they weave into it, both through his performance and the dialog, is truly remarkable. It was one of the more unique watches we had this entire process.”

The New Frontier section welcomes back Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his hitRECord franchise. He launched the collaborative art project at Sundance in 2010, has returned for live shows since, and now has hitRECord on TV, a new kind of variety show that invites anyone with an Internet hook-up to join the fun.

Another interesting entry in that section is The Better Angels, the Abraham Lincoln movie about the women who steered him as a child toward his destiny, starring Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Brit Marling, and Wes Bentley. If it seems like an odd fit with New Frontier on paper, Groth explains that isn’t the case. “It’s a very artful approach to telling the story,” he says, pointing out that writer/director A.J. Edwards edited Terrence Malick’s last film, To the Wonder. “New Frontier is a section for ‘art’ and innovative storytelling, and A.J. tells this story in a very lyrical, poetic way. The audience’s expectation for having it in New Frontier will be, I think, the best way of having that film seen. When you read it on paper, it feels very straightforward: It’s Lincoln as a boy. But it ends up being much more meditative and experiential than that.”

Click below for a complete lineup of recently announced films. More categories, including Sundance Premieres, will be unveiled on Monday. The Sundance Film Festival runs Jan. 16-26.
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'Mad Max: Fury Road' to storm theaters Summer 2015

Attention lovers of post-apocalyptic wastelands, biker gangs, and Tom Hardy: Mad Max: Fury Road is set to hit theaters on May 15, 2015 — almost exactly 30 years after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was released.

Warner Bros. announced release plans Wednesday for the 3-D movie.

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Tom Hardy will play Elton John in biopic 'Rocketman'

Bane is ready to ditch his mask for rose-colored glasses.

Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception) has signed on to play Elton John in Rocket Pictures’ biopic Rocketman, which will be released in the U.S. by Focus Features.

Rocketman will tell John’s legendary story, from his childhood to his unbelievable rise to fame. John is set to re-record a number of his biggest hits to match the emotional moments in the film, which will be directed by Michael Gracey, the man behind the upcoming film The Greatest Showman on Earth starring Hugh Jackman.

With an original screenplay written by Academy Award nominee Lee Hall (War Horse), Rocketman is scheduled to start shooting in fall 2014.

Casting Net: Johnny Depp commits to 'Black Mass' and Pfister's 'Transcendence'; Plus, Tom Hardy in PTSD film, and Bradley Cooper

Johnny Depp fans, get excited. The actor has committed to his next two projects: Wally Pfister’s sci-fi thriller Transcendence, and Barry Levinson’s Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, both of which he’d been circling for a while. Transcendence will be the directorial debut for Pfister, an Oscar-winning cinematographer (for Inception in 2011), who has been Christopher Nolan’s go-to since Memento. The details of the project remain sparse, but the logline teases that the film is about a scientist who has his brain uploaded into a computer. Depp will go straight from Transcendence to Black Mass, based on the true crime book Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The FBI and A Devil’s Deal by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. Depp will portray the real-life former Boston mob boss and FBI informant, Whitey Bulger, who is still very much alive. [Variety]

• Tom Hardy is set to develop and star in the post traumatic stress disorder drama Samarkand, about a British soldier attempting to readjust to society after serving in the Middle East. Photographer Greg Williams wrote the script with his brother Olly, and will make his feature debut directing the project. Williams directed Hardy in the short film Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother (available here) about a man (Hardy) who decides to run away to join the French Foreign League. [Deadline]

Best Actor nominee Bradley Cooper has committed to producing and starring in an English-language remake of the 2011 German film Kokowääh. He’s also reportedly considering whether or not to direct the project. The original film was directed by and starred Til Schweiger (Hugo Stiglitz in Inglorious Basterds) as a writer who discovers that he has an 8-year-old daughter. The film follows his work, his burgeoning relationship with his daughter (and her foster father), and his attempts to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend and writing partner. The script is currently undergoing a re-write. [Deadline]

PREVIOUSLY: Chris Cooper is Norman Osborn in ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′ 

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Casting Net: Marion Cotillard tackles corporate bonuses; Plus Juliette Binoche, and more
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Casting Net: Christian Bale in talks for ‘Everest’; Plus Jennifer Lawrence and Jason Clarke

Casting Net: Christian Bale in talks for 'Everest'; Plus Jennifer Lawrence and Jason Clarke

• Christian Bale is in talks to star in Baltasar Kormákur‘s (The Deep) Everest. Based on the harrowing ordeal of a group of climbers in 1996 famously documented in Jon Krakauer‘s book Into Thin Air, Everest will source from a variety of books and first-person interviews. Filmmaker and mountaineer David Breashears also made a famous Frontline documentary about the tragic climb that claimed eight lives, that included footage from the storm and interviews with survivors.  [Deadline]

 Bale’s Dark Knight Rises co-star Tom Hardy is still attached to play Sir George Mallory in the Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity)-directed adaptation of Jeffrey Archer’s book Paths of Glory, which EW reported in August. Mallory attempted the Everest climb three times in the early 1920s, and disappeared during the 1924 expedition. This project is currently called Everest as well. Anyone up for a Bane/Batman fight to see who get’s that title? [Deadline]

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Casting Net: Bradley Cooper in high demand; Plus Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and more

Warner Bros. has acquired The Man From Primrose Lane with the intent of developing it into a feature for Bradley Cooper. Chad Feehan (Paranormal Activity 4) will write the screenplay based on James Renner’s novel about a true crime writer who decides to investigate the mysterious murder of a mitten-wearing, West Akron, Ohio recluse. [Deadline]

• Bradley Cooper is also currently in discussions to re-team with Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) for his next project, tentatively called Chef and described as a “culinary comedy” about a disgraced Paris-based chef attempting to stage a comeback in London. Cooper can be seen alongside Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling in Cianfrance’s upcoming film The Place Beyond the Pines, out in theaters March 29. [Variety]

Though they haven’t even begun work on Animal Rescue yet, Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace are currently in talks join Daniel Espinosa’s (Safe House) adaptation of the thriller Child 44. Set in Stalin’s Soviet Union and based on Tom Rob Smith’s novel — the first in a trilogy — is about a devoted war hero whose faith in the system is shaken when he is forced to investigate the death of a child.  [The Wrap]

• Charlize Theron is in talks to star in Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, which has been described as a broad comedy in the vein of Blazing Saddles. As his first feature after Ted, MacFarlane is not only co-writing and directing the film — he’ll also star. [THR]

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Casting Net: Ricky Gervais in talks to star in 'The Muppets' sequel. Plus: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Eddie Redmayne, Berenice Bejo

Ricky Gervais, sure to lend his feisty brand of British snark, is in talks to star alongside Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the Muppets gang in the sequel to 2011’s The Muppets, EW can confirm. Gervais would play off of Modern Family Ty Burrell‘s Interpol inspector in the Europe-set comedy. James Bobin, who helmed the previous Muppets film, is back to direct from a script he co-wrote with Nicholas Stoller. Stoller co-wrote The Muppets with Jason Segel, and directed him in this year’s The Five-Year Engagement. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) are in talks to headline Animal Rescue, directed by  Michael R. Roskam from a script by Dennis Lehane based on his own short story. The film circles around the story of a bartender in Boston who saves a dog and is targeted by the dog’s former owner, while a mob-related crime plot also plays out. Given Hardy and Rapace’s equal ability to take on intense, physical parts, their pairing would create amazing friction, alongside direction by Oscar-nominated Bullhead helmer Roskam. [VarietyREAD FULL STORY

'The Dark Knight Rises': Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway talk 'End of a Legend' in Blu-ray featurette -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

The finale to Christopher Nolan’s caped crusader triptych, The Dark Knight Rises, may be about redemption, but it’s also about endings. Finalizing Nolan’s trilogy, Christian Bale’s broken down Batman rises up from the depths, physically and emotionally, to defeat his own resignation and kick Tom Hardy’s evil Bane behind.

Check out this exclusive clip from the featurette The End of a Legend, one of the many extras included in the movie’s upcoming Blu-ray combo pack. The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download touch down on Dec. 4. Hardy, Anne Hathaway (Catwoman/Selina Kyle), Morgan Freeman (Fox), Michael Caine (Alfred), and Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) sound off on working with Nolan. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Robert Pattinson set for 'Hold On to Me.' Plus: Tyler Perry, Amy Adams, Tom Hardy

• Tyler Perry will star in (as well as write, produce, and direct) Single Mom’s Club, about a group of single mothers who come together after an episode at their local school. No word on what Perry’s role would be, but hopefully it does not involve hunting ruthless assassins a la this weekend’s Alex Cross — that would just be weird. Lionsgate is in final talks to distribute. [Variety]

Amy Adams is attached to play legendary rocker Janis Joplin in the biopic Janis Joplin: Get It While You Can, which Lee Daniels is in negotiations to direct. First time feature screenwriters Ron Terry (who is also producing) and Theresa Kounin-Terry penned the script. [THR]

• Tom Hardy is attached to an untitled drama about an ex-special forces soldier who tries to stop illegal poaching in Zimbabwe. Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air) is penning the script, with Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire among the producers. The trio of actors is also keen on a separate film that also tackles the poaching industry from a Traffic-like ensemble perspective, but no writer is yet set for that project. [Deadline]

• John Leguizamo is in talks to costar with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along, a comedy about a teacher who accompanies a cop — who is also his fiancée’s brother — on a day’s patrol. Leguizamo would play an undercover police officer. Tim Story (Think Like a Man) is directing. [Variety]

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Casting Net: Julianne Moore going ‘Non Stop’ with Liam Neeson. Plus: Chris Hemsworth, Jamie Foxx, Michelle Williams

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