Articles from August 2011

Dick Cook, former head of Disney, to return to making movies? Maybe so!

Here’s some great news for everyone who loves good movies: Dick Cook, the beloved former head of Walt Disney Pictures and the man who brought us Captain Jack Sparrow, may be returning to the movie business. “Bloomberg is reporting that Cook is looking to raise $625 million in equity financing to make and distribute family-oriented films, according to a banker with knowledge of the matter,” reports Deadline.com. He is rumored to be looking for investment from “private equity, hedge funds and wealthy individuals.”

Mr. Cook was abruptly dismissed from Disney in September 2009, after seven years as the head of the studio and 38 years with the company. At the time, Johnny Depp told the Los Angeles Times that the move left him “shocked and very sad,” that Mr. Cook was “the utmost gentleman” and “the sweetest man on the planet,” and that Johnny had agreed to appear in the original Pirates of the Caribbean after a conversation in Cook’s office. “He said, ‘We’re thinking about doing this Pirates of the Caribbean movie. [. . .] I said I was in. This was before there was a script or anything.”

According to Johnny, he made that commitment because he trusted Mr. Cook. “He’s instantly trustworthy. And you generally don’t meet people at the studios you trust. [. . .] He’s a rare beast.” It would be wonderful to have Mr. Cook making movies again; we wish him good luck getting his new venture launched.

The Zone thanks FAntasticJD for sharing the news; you can read more about the story on the Zone’s Porch General Discussion forum.

David Koepp to write THE THIN MAN remake, starring Johnny Depp

Here’s some intriguing news from Warner Bros. — the studio has just hired high-profile screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man) to write their new version of the Dashiell Hammett Jazz Age mystery The Thin Man, which will star Johnny Depp as suave sleuth Nick Charles. The project will reunite Johnny with his On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall . . . and will return Marshall to the period he explored with such verve and style in Chicago. This film also marks a reunion for Johnny and David Koepp, who wrote and directed 2004’s Stephen King adaptation Secret Window, in which Johnny starred as Mort Rainey. Koepp just finished co-writing and directing Premium Rush, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon.

The Thin Man has “been in development since May with a quintet of producers on board — Marshall with John DeLuca through their Lucamar shingle; Depp and Christi Dembrowski through their Infinitum Nihil; and Kevin McCormick through his Langley Park Pictures,” reports Dave McNary of Variety. The original version of The Thin Man — now a classic listed on the National Film Registry — debuted in 1934 with William Powell as Nick Charles and Myrna Loy as Nora, his socialite wife and partner in crime-solving and repartee. The role of Nora has yet to be cast.

The Zone thanks Cindy and Theresa for sharing the news; you can read more about The Thin Man on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Watch the trailer for THE RUM DIARY, starring Johnny Depp, here!

GK Films and Infinitum Nihil have released a trailer for Bruce Robinson’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, and what a treat it is! Stylish, witty, gritty, passionate, and directed with a pace that Howard Hawks would envy, The Rum Diary showcases intriguing characters drawn into dangerous situations — or, as journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) tells us, “trouble.” But if you’re going to get into trouble, it might as well be in paradise . . . and this vision of 1950s Puerto Rico looks like paradise.

You can watch The Rum Diary trailer here:

The Rum Diary, which stars Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhardt, Giovanni Ribisi, and Richard Jenkins, opens on October 28th.

Many thanks to FANtasticJD, Sleepy, and Theresa for sharing the trailer; you can read more about The Rum Diary on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Almost justice–the West Memphis 3 go free at last under Alford plea

A year ago, Johnny Depp played and sang his heart out in a concert on behalf of the West Memphis 3, three men whom he believed had been wrongfully convicted of murder in Arkansas in 1994. Today the West Memphis 3 — Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jesse Misskelley — walked out of jail as free men, concluding a shocking and troubling chapter in American judicial history, and freeing Mr. Echols from death row. Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were teenagers in 1994 when they were convicted of killing three eight-year-old boys — Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore. At the time, local law enforcement theorized that the teenagers (who wore black and listened to heavy metal music) killed the children as part of a satanic ritual. Mr. Echols was sentenced to death; Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Misskelly were sentenced life in prison.

But over the years doubts emerged about their guilt. DNA evidence has been recovered at the scene, none of it linking any of the accused to the crime. After a sustained publicity campaign to draw attention to the new exculpatory evidence, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted the defendants a new hearing, which was to occur in December. Many legal experts believed the convictions of the West Memphis 3 would be overturned.

Now the trio are free under a very unusual plea agreement called an Alford plea, in which defendants, while still maintaining their innocence, acknowledge that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict them and agree to plead guilty in order to be released from jail. This face-saving guilty plea ensures that the state of Arkansas cannot be sued for false imprisonment should the trio later be fully exonerated by new evidence or by having someone else convicted of the murders.

“‘We’ll let you go only if you admit guilt,'” James Baldwin told CBS News. “That’s not justice, no matter how you look at it.” Mr. Baldwin wanted to continue to fight to clear his name, but saving the life of Damien Echols, who was on death row, took precedence. Hopefully their innocence can be established by having the true culprit convicted in a court of law, which will bring justice for the murdered boys and their families as well as the West Memphis 3.

The Zone congratulates all those who fought to shed light on the miscarriage of justice in this case. Many thanks to FANtasticJD and deb0630 for sharing the news. You can read more about the freeing of the West Memphis 3 on the Zone’s Porch General Discussion forum.

THE RUM DIARY, with Johnny Depp, featured in August 19th issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY!

The photo at left — by Peter Mountain — shows Johnny Depp (as journalist Paul Kemp) and Amber Heard (as Chenault) in Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary; to see a larger version of the photo, CLICK HERE. The image appears in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, cover date August 19, 2011, which focuses on this fall’s new movies. Of the much-anticipated film, Clark Collis writes, “Depp stars as a writer at a Puerto Rico newspaper in the ’50s-set The Rum Diary, an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel. The actor was a friend of the late author’s and played him in 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Collis also notes that Johnny shot The Rum Diary before Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, but “deliberately delayed its release.” Explains Johnny, “You can’t open it next to some blockbuster thing. It’s a special little film.” The Rum Diary will open in North America on October 28.

The Zone thanks Holden and Emma for sharing the news. You can read more about The Rum Diary on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Disney shuts down production on LONE RANGER

We may not be hearing “Hi-ho, Silver” any time soon; several industry sources are reporting that Disney, citing budgetary concerns, has abruptly shut down production on Gore Verbinski’s Lone Ranger, even though the new version of the classic Western, starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Ranger, was scheduled to begin filming in New Mexico in late October. The news is doubly shocking since Jerry Bruckheimer, Johnny Depp, and Gore Verbinski have earned billions for the Disney studio, individually and as a team.

According to Mike Fleming of Deadline.com, who broke the story late on Friday, “Disney pulled the plug because the budget, which I’ve heard the filmmakers were trying to reduce from $250 [million], wasn’t close to the $200 million that Disney wanted to spend.” Fleming also suggests that Lone Ranger is being sacrificed to help balance Disney’s production budget, since costs on tentpoles already in production have soared. “John Carter has a budget that has ballooned to north of $300 million [. . .], and The Great and Powerful Oz, the James Franco-starrer, has a budget is hovering at $200 million,” notes Fleming.

Disney was also concerned about Lone Ranger‘s marketability, claims The Hollywood Reporter: “Even though Depp is the biggest star in the world, the project is a Western, and the genre is having some dark days, particularly in light of the recent poor showing of Cowboys & Aliens.”

So far none of the parties involved (Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, Johnny Depp) has issued any official statement; the press reports cite unnamed studio “insiders.” The Zone thanks Specktater and Theresa for sharing the news; you can read more about the shutdown of Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Deadline.com article is available HERE and the Hollywood Reporter article HERE.

Johnny Depp wins Teen Choice Award for Animated Movie: Voice for RANGO!

Congratulations and a tip of the Stetson to Johnny Depp, who added to his impressive collection of Teen Choice Awards on Sunday night by winning in the new category of Choice Animated Movie: Voice for his work voicing the title character in Gore Verbinski’s Rango. Other actors (male and female) nominated for their work creating the distinctive personalities of animated characters were Zachary Levi (Tangled), Justin Timberlake (Yogi Bear), Anne Hathaway (Rio), and Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda 2). It’s great to see their contributions recognized!

Johnny did not attend the Teen Choice Awards since he is presently filming Dark Shadows in the UK.

The Zone thanks Joni for breaking the news; you can read more about the Teen Choice Awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Congratulations! Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie win Teen Choice Awards for THE TOURIST

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie each emerged victorious at tonight’s Teen Choice Awards, honored for their performances in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Tourist. Johnny won as Choice Movie Actor: Action for his portrayal of the wry and often-bemused Frank Tupelo; Angelina won as Choice Movie Actress: Action for her interpretation of the cool, competent, and always elegant femme fatale, Elise Ward. Neither was present to accept the award in person. The Tourist was also nominated as Choice Movie: Action, but lost to the car-chase thriller Fast Five.

The Zone thanks tocnavforjd for sharing the news; you can read more about the Teen Choice Awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp attends rugby match in Twickenham–new photos!

Johnny Depp was spotted in the luxury boxes taking in the Investec International rugby match between England and Wales at Twickenham on Saturday, August 6. That photo at left is Johnny, in dark glasses and newsboy cap; he was with his Dark Shadows director Tim Burton. You can see a larger version of the photo HERE — that’s Tim to Johnny’s left — and another (blurry) photo of Johnny HERE. We know these aren’t sharp images, but it’s always a pleasure to see Johnny out and about, enjoying life. Many thanks to Shadowydog and Magicmoment for sharing the photos!

Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and GK Films acquire rights to THE VAULT

Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and GK Films have acquired the rights to co-produce an adaptation of the Image comic three-issue mini-series The Vault, written by longtime Depp friend and IN executive Sam Sarkar, and illustrated by Garrie Gastonny. The underwater sci-fi story centers on a group of divers who, while diving off the coast of Nova Scotia, uncover a sarcophagus with unusual remains and inadvertently unleash an ancient evil: Sarkar describes the plot as “a contemporary Pandora’s Box story.” Sarkar and Gastonny previously worked together on the supernatural Western graphic novel Caliber: First Canon of Justice.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Johnny Depp and Infinitum Nihil’s president Christi Dembrowski will produce the movie adaptation of The Vault with GK’s Graham King and Tim Headington.

The first issue of The Vault is available now; the second installment is due for release on September 28th. You can see a larger version of the first issue cover HERE. You can find a sneak preview of The Vault‘s artwork and an interview with Sam Sarkar HERE.

The Zone thanks SeaGoddessCalypso for sharing the news and FireflyDances for the sneak preview of The Vault. You can read more about this project on the Zone’s News & Views forum.