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Gravity

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Universal craved a sequel to Angelina Jolie’s assassination tango/loom tutorial Wanted. Unfortunately for the studio, Jolie is leaving them…wanting. We’ve just heard the actress has pulled out of the planned Timur Bekmambetov-directed sequel at Universal, and the studio has pulled the plug rather than recast the film. As for Jolie, we hear she is now intent on starring in Warner Bros.’ Gravity, a space thriller to be directed by Children of Men’s Alfonso Cuarón from a script he wrote with his 28-year-old son, Jonás.

Like Wanted 2, Gravity had previously been set up at Universal, with Jolie set to star. But a few weeks ago, the studio put Gravity into turnaround, possibly because it’s such an artistically challenging project: Jolie would be alone on-screen for much of the movie, playing the sole surviving human member of a space mission, desperately trying to return home to Earth and her daughter. (In that way it’s reminiscent of the brilliant, little-seen Moon with Sam Rockwell. Seriously, why won't you see it?) Now Warners has snapped it up, and it will be produced by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows producer David Heyman and Legendary Pictures.

Read more: Angelina Jolie Says No to Wanted 2, Killing the Sequel -- Vulture http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/02/angelina_jolie_wanted_2_out.html#ixzz0gaw0I0gp

MacGuffin:
Downey Orbits Cuaron's 3D Gravity
By MIKE FLEMING; Deadline Hollywood

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Downey Jr. is negotiating a deal to star in Gravity, the 3D space film directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures will co-finance.

Cuaron wrote the script with his son, Jonas.

Downey will play the leader of a team posted at a remote space station. While he and a female colleague are traveling outside the space station, the other team members are decimated by debris from an exploded satellite.

The script had been developed originally at Universal with the intention of having Angelina Jolie play the female role. Much of the film is devoted to her struggle to get back to Earth and her daughter. Jolie passed around the time Universal cut it loose. Downey was drawn to the chance to work wtih Cuaron, the director of Children of Men and Y tu mama tambien. The actor's starpower gives Warners execs a confidence boost because right now, how many actresses can carry a big sci-fi film themselves, outside of Jolie?

Downey will shoot the film in London this summer, finishing in time to re-team with director Guy Ritchie and Jude Law in the Sherlock Holmes sequel that will shoot early fall, also in London.

modage:
Scarlett Johansson To Team Up With Robert Downey Jr. Again For Alfonso Cuaron's 'Gravity'
Source: ThePlaylist

Around The Playlist water cooler we had been wondering, with Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi epic "Gravity" moving forward, just who would have the star power to take on the leading female role previously attached to Angelina Jolie. Well, the NY Daily News reports (via Bleeding Cool) that Robert Downey Jr's "Iron Man 2" co-star Scarlett Johansson has "verbally agreed" to star in the film.

"Gravity" has been gearing up, with a call out by the special effects team for animators for the project. In June, it was reported that Downey Jr. would juggle his filming on the project, starting later this summer, with his commitment to "Sherlock Holmes 2"' shooting this fall. Basically, RDJ will be part of the bookends of the film's production.

"Gravity" centers on a team of astronauts — including the lead medical engineer and a talkative "mile-a-minute" veteran astronaut — who are asked to abandon their fix-it Hubble telescope mission and quickly reboard their ship after a sudden implosion of Russian satellites triggers a debris avalanche in orbit that threatens their immediate safety. It's basically a very high concept sci-fi thriller and a nonstop race for our protagonists to get back to earth.

The film will be hugely-CGI heavy, with the FX company drawing comparisons to "Avatar" in terms of the workload, calling it "60% CG feature animation." Furthermore, the film will be shot in Cuaron's trademark fluid style, with an opening shot intended to last at least 20 minutes. However, Bleeding Cool reports that Warner Bros. are still not comfortable with the minimal dialogue in the film, but hopefully the studio and the director can iron out whatever differences they have. And certainly in the wake of the massive success of "Inception" the studio might be willing to take a chance on another ambitious, creative film. That said, given the amount of FX involved, the fact that most of the running time requires the cast to be weightless, and that it was written to be shot in 3D, this is also a very expensive film in a genre that typically doesn't perform very well.

We loved the script and are excited that it's inching closer to production but aren't quite sold on Johansson playing the lead of Ryan Stone, the young, brainy medical engineer. Frankly, she wasn't all that exciting as Black Widow in "Iron Man 2" and we're concerned if she will be able to have the presence and strength to own the screen for most of the film's roughly 90 minute run time (script we read is 99 pages -- 1 minute per page of script, do the math).

All this said, a "verbal agreement" is not a done deal as we're sure both sides are ironing out the finer points of any contract before making an official announcement. But with the summer quickly drawing to a close, production should be starting soon to keep everyone's schedules locked in, so we do expect more official word on the status and stars of this project shortly.

Stefen:
ScarJo is like a reverse Reese Witherspoon.

Reese is more talented (just barely) than the wide appealing forgettable projects and rom-coms she chooses to make, whereas ScarJo is less talented than the big and interesting roles she takes.

You kind of gotta respect ScarJo for trying, but I think she's been the worst part of some of the movies she's chosen that were good (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Prestige, Match Point)

MacGuffin:
Natalie Portman offered lead in Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’ (exclusive)
Source: THR

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Natalie Portman's highly praised, tortured turn in "Black Swan" could send her career into a new galaxy. Literally.

As Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller rallied audiences at the Venice and Telluride film festivals last week, Portman has fielded an offer from Warner Bros. to star in the drama "Gravity." The lead in the epic survival story, co-written by Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron, has been a highly sought role for months, with Angelina Jolie pulling out of it recently.

The $80 million 3D survival story, which Alfonso Cuaron will direct, centers on a woman stranded on a space station after satellite debris slams into it and wipes out the rest of the crew. Robert Downey Jr. already has committed to a supporting role, but much of the picture is devoted to the female character, who must survive a solitary ordeal much in the way Tom Hanks did in "Cast Away" or James Franco does in "127 Hours," another Telluride sneak screening.

In the wake of "Swan" notices, Cuaron finally got the green light from the studio to relay the offer to Portman without requiring a screen test. Portman, who couldn't make it to Telluride's "Swan" screenings Sunday, is expected to read the latest version of the script this week and make her decision shortly.

Although Cuaron, Downey and the studio have juggled multiple potential stars, including Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively, none has come up all cherries. But the role now is Portman's if she feels up for it. As an added benefit to the studio, even with a nice raise, her salary would only come in at about half of Jolie's.

"Gravity" is slated to shoot at the end of January, before Downey goes off to other engagements.

Repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, Portman already has three projects on their way to theaters: the Paramount romantic comedy "No Strings" in January, the Universal comedy "Your Highness" in April and the Marvel/Paramount comic book actioner "Thor" in May.

But it is her turn as the ambitious but psychologically fragile ballet dancer in "Swan," a role she developed with Aronofsky for years, that has wowed studios and filmmakers scrambling to cast her.

Scuttlebutt at Telluride after its first screenings is that, based solely on "Swan" reviews during the previous few days, Terrence Malick wants Portman for a Jerry Lee Lewis-related project he's developing with Brad Pitt, and Tom Stoppard ("Shakespeare in Love") also apparently is writing something for her. This is in addition to widespread opinion that Portman will be fielding major awards attention at year's end.

Fox Searchlight will release "Swan" on Dec. 1.

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