Just because it was the Fourth of July yesterday didn’t mean that the entertainment business was sitting still, and there were a few significant announcements made — including possible cast additions for Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Hall H conjecture, and more. Here’s a quick round-up of entertainment news from the last few days.
The casting on director Rob Marshall‘s live action adaptation of Walt Disney’s The Little Mermaid continues briskly following the announcement of Halle Bailey to play Ariel.
12-year-old Jacob Tremblay (Room, the upcoming The Good Boys) and super-hot Asian star Awkwafina are the latest actors to be in talks for roles according to The Hollywood Reporter. Based on the 1989 animated musical (which was based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale) that paved a new era for Disney animation, the production is looking at Tremblay to play Ariel’s best fish friend Flounder, originally voiced by Jason Marin. The character had some songs in The Little Mermaid Broadway adaptation, which makes us think that maybe Tremblay has some singing talent that’s yet to be revealed.
On the other hand, Awkwafina already has a musical background, having been a rapper before being cast in movies like Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. She is being eyed to play Ariel’s seagull friend Scuttle, who was voiced by Disney legend Buddy Hackett (The Love Bug) in the animated Little Mermaid, so that’s a pretty big change even though Awkwafina is also funny and has a similarly distinctive voice and way of speaking.
As of now, these are just talks, so we’ll have to see how things pan out after the holiday.
Meanwhile, Deadline reported that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director Juan A. Bayona has been hired to direct the Amazon Studios series based on J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings, the popular fantasy epic that has been adapted a number of times, most notably with Peter Jackson‘s Oscar-winning trilogy.
The Spanish-born Bayona first came to acclaim with his debut horror feature The Orphanage, produced by Guillermo del Toro, which was followed by the disaster drama The Impossible, for which Naomi Watts received an Oscar nomination. Current Spider-Man Tom Holland played Watts’ son in that well-reviewed film. Bayona went from that to an adaptation of Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls, starring Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones, which was also well-received on the festival circuit but barely made a blip in its theatrical release. Bayona also directed a few episodes of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.
Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series is written by JD Payne and Patrick McKay, leading a writers’ room that is rumored to include veteran writers from Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, while Bayona will executive produce with his partner Belén Atienza.
As a fan of all things Tolkien (and Bayona), he seems like a great choice, because he’s done smaller, more personal things but also huge, epic, CG-heavy movies. Although, Jurassic World presumably had a significantly bigger budget than Amazon Studios has for The Lord of the Rings. But who knows? Clearly, the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones is a model for this series — that series’ “lore master” Bryan Cogman was already hired as a consultant — and Tolkien’s book series (known to be a HUGE influence on Game of Thrones creator, author George R.R. Martin) should have its fair share of CG beasts.
July 4th was also the premiere of Season 3 of Netflix’s popular series Stranger Things, and the streaming giant released a few new behind-the-scenes photos from the show, the best of which you can check out below. Many of the pictures are of creators Matt and Ross Duffer, but most of the returning care are also represented including Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder and Charlie Heaton. (You can see even more photos over at Deadline.)
Finally, there are still a lot of rumors circulating about who and what might come to this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego (aka SDCC ’19), particularly in the big Hall H presentations. Besides the Marvel Studios panel, which has led to huge amounts of conjecture, there have been murmurings that Paramount Pictures will bring the 2020 sequel Top Gun: Maverick, along with star Tom Cruise to its panel, which is already set to feature Terminator: Dark Fate.
Hall H regular Kevin Smith will also be back with his usual shenanigans, this year showing the first footage from Saban Films’ Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, a sequel/spin-off to Smith’s 2001 comedy co-starring his “View Askewniverse” regular Jason Mewes.