Screen Talk: PA takes charge

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The Independent Culture

The Hollywood tradition of former assistants breaking out as talent continues. An untitled sci-fi crime thriller by Bobby Glickert, a former PA, has been snapped up by Universal.

Glickert wrote the outline for the pitch and will direct and produce his own project. As a PA he made some friends in high places, so Scott Stuber and Fast Five director Justin Lin will produce alongside him. Glickert was first a PA on Transformers and Iron Man then acted as an assistant to Lin on Fast and Furious, all the while directing short films of his own. When the buzz broke in Hollywood, Lin's tennis coach left a message on the web offering his best wishes – and pointing out that he was available for auditions at any time.

Panda kicks ass at the box office

DreamWorks Animation and Paramount are feeling Zen after breaking records in China. The jointly backed Kung Fu Panda 2, (above left), kicked out the Chinese record for an opening weekend, garnering 125 million Yuan (£11.7m) at the box office. It's a market on the up after the first Kung Fu Panda adventure, released in China in June 2008 in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, was the first animated film to gross more than 100 million Yuan (£9.3m) there. While it requires diplomacy, an ability to swallow hard censorship rules and being resigned to the fact all Western releases must go through the state-run China Film Group and its sister company Huaxia Film Distribution, Hollywood's finest are still going all out for a slice of the action. It's all about potential. Box-office gross was up 64 per cent last year to £1bn and China is expected to overtake Japan as the world's No 2 movie market after the US in the next four years.

Hiccup returns

First, the good news for fans. Storyboarding has begun on a sequel to How to Train Your Dragon, slated to hit cinemas in 2014. The sequel will move beyond the small North Sea island that was the setting for the original as it traces the further adventures of Hiccup, as he grows toward becoming the leader of his Viking clan. And, in even better news for fans, the writer-director Dean DeBlois has said that the follow-up is being intentionally designed as the second film in a trilogy.

Scardino works his magic

The veteran television director Don Scardino, (above centre), whose CV currently includes 35 episodes of the long-running comedy show 30 Rock, is to make his feature film debut. Scardino, whose other television credits range from Rescue Me to The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, has been tasked with directing Burt Wonderstone. He already has Steve Carell attached to play a magician who needs to rediscover his inner magic and a script, rewritten from Chad Kultgen's original, by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.

Wahey, it's Sahay

The internet is abuzz with the casting of Chuck actor Vik Sahay in American Reunion, the new American Pie movie from Universal, currently shooting in Atlanta. Sahay (above right), billed as "too good-looking to join the cast of this film", according to some webheads, joins a comedy cast which reunites the stars of the first movie. Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy are all on board to chart how the characters' lives have changed as they return to their town for a high school reunion. Sahay will play the nerdy kid in high school who grows up to be Stiffler's boss. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg wrote the script and are directing.