Screen Talk: Double trouble


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The Independent Culture

Plans are afoot for an ambitious double feature film project starring Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton.

Ned Benson wrote and will direct the films The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hers. The parallel features explore a couple's relationship during a difficult time in their marriage from both sides. Set in New York City, the husband is a restaurant owner, while his wife has gone back to college. William Hurt is in talks to join the cast and both films will be stand-alone movies according to their indie backers.

Made to measure

Howard Franklin, whose writing résumé includes The Man Who Knew Too Little and last year's The Big Year, has taken on a sizeable task. He's writing A Matter of Size, a remake of a 2009 Israeli comedy, and the project has attracted heavyweight studio backing for his work from Paramount. The original film, which was directed by Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor and starred Itzik Cohen, played at several film festivals in 2009 and 2010 to positive notices. Producer David Permut originally had been in talks to set up the remake project with Dimension Films but Hollywood being Hollywood time passed and nothing happened. Now, Franklin is on the writing duties and Jon Turteltaub is attached to direct.

Star treatment

Rooney Mara is the latest name being bandied about Hollywood to have joined the cast of Steven Soderbergh's latest movie, Side Effects, set in the world of psychopharmacology. Mara steps into the role originally earmarked for Blake Lively. Despite financing difficulties, which culminated in one of the main backers dropping out, Soderbergh didn't let things get him down. He's been busying himself with a big cast, which includes Jude Law (above centre) and Channing Tatum. Catherine Zeta-Jones is also circling a role. The script, known as Bitter Pill at one point, is a thriller centring on a troubled and depressed woman who is coping with the imminent release of her husband from jail and begins to take a new prescription drug, an act that causes unforeseen consequences. Scott Z Burns wrote the script and is one of the producers also.

Spreading his wings

Universal Pictures has ensnared the directorial eye of Bryan Bertino (above right) to direct a found-footage project Mockingbird. Having written the script, Bertino is hoping to start shooting in the coming months. The script follows a couple who receive a video camera and a document containing specific instructions, which if they are not followed will result in someone's death. Hollywood folks are now intrigued about exactly how the film will document a pair of amateur film-makers as they receive the camera and instructions. Bertino first scored a major hit during the summer of 2008 with The Strangers, which starred Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, which he both wrote and directed. That film's sequel continues to languish in development as Bertino's work schedule continues to grow.

A few dollars more

Hollywood's fractious relationship with Wall Street financiers and the sheer scale of exposure to debt when it comes to punting millions of dollars on a film project in the hope it finds an audience continues. But there was some welcome news recently after a Miller Tabak analyst upgraded his rating on the stock of entertainment giant Viacom from "neutral" to "buy", citing a stronger than expected film performance in the latest quarter. And much of the positivity came from the movie division Paramount rather than the cable networks on the back of healthy theatrical box-office returns on movies such as Hugo, The Adventures of Tintin and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. But the other studio conglomerates will have to wait and see if analysts raise the game for them too.