Film news recap: Dustin Hoffman directs, Robert Downey Jr. in space

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An opera-themed directorial debut is on the cards for actor Dustin Hoffman while Robert Downey Jr prepares to play an astronaut.

Dustin Hoffman is looking to make his directorial debut with Quartet for BBC Films later this year. It will star Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney. The story follows a group of retired opera singers living in a retirement home who plan a concert for Verdi's birthday.

Ronald Harwood, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Pianist, will adapt his play for the script. The film will be shot for UK television. In the US, Hoffman recently signed on for a role on a pilot show, Luck, for HBO, the US-based premium cable network.

Robert Downey Jr. is joining the cast of Gravity, due to shoot this summer before he heads off for the S herlock Holmes sequel. The film will be directed by Alfonso Cuaron ( Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mama Tambien).

Angelina Jolie had been attached to the project, before it changed studios. The film is about a team of astronauts who are blown up on the space station except for Downey and his partner.