Screen Talk: A stormy voyage

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The Independent Culture

For big-budget, effects-driven properties, the studios are being increasingly cautious and, whisper it softly, sensible when it comes to committing millions of dollars to a film production.

All eyes are currently on plans for a fresh take on the 1966 sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage. The question is whether or not director Shawn Levy, the man behind the camera on Night at the Museum and the upcoming robot boxing picture Real Steel, will wait for casting and finance issues to be ironed out or end up taking another job? Hollywood insiders say casting for the movie has proved slightly contentious with Levy wanting an A-lister to play the lead of a team of scientists who are shrunk to atomic size and sent in a miniature submarine inside the body of a scientist to save his life. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox is not necessarily wedded to the idea of a huge name and a big salary to boot.

Just what the Docter ordered

Pixar has been a hit factory for animation ever since its first full-length feature, 1995's Toy Story. So when it talks about projects in development, Hollywood and beyond sits up and takes notice. Especially when one of the projects is from Oscar winner Pete Docter, the man who brought audiences Up. Docter's project is the "Untitled Pixar Movie That Lets You See Inside the Brain". The story will take the audience inside the head. "How we forget, why certain songs get stuck in our heads", Docter explains. It has been pencilled in for a summer 2014 release.

Strip search

Naked ambition is barely a surprising attribute for those aiming to make it in Hollywood. And there's no end to the parade of names showing just that as they line up to star in Steven Soderbergh's male-stripper project Magic Mike. True Blood werewolf Joe Manganiello (above left) will join Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey and Matt Bomer, who are all getting set to strut before the cameras next month. Manganiello is in talks to play a character named Big Dick Richie. The movie revolves around a male stripper club called Xquisite, and stars Tatum in the title role.

The son of invention

Ahmet Zappa, the son of late rock musician Frank Zappa, is turning up the volume on his own burgeoning career as a writer-producer. Zappa junior has signed with agency ICM "in all areas", to help tighten his many-stringed bow. The agency will help him juggle movie projects, TV work, music and other writing projects. His production company, Monsterfoot Productions, has a first-look deal with Disney and he is working on The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a fantasy drama based on his own original story, which features Jennifer Garner (above centre) and Ron Livingston. Due to be released in the US in August 2012, it centres on a childless couple granted the wish of a baby boy, though the child is not what he appears to be. Zappa's debut young adult novel, The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless, published in 2006 and soon after picked up by Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films to adapt for the big screen, is also in the works. The story focuses on monster hunters seeking to rescue their kidnapped father.

Say yeah, baby

The wooing of Mike Myers (above right) continues with New Line still trying to persuade the comic genius to return as Austin Powers. The numbers make it easy to understand why New Line would want Myers to don the false teeth and shaggy wig to play the role. The original trilogy said "yeah baby!" to more than $676m at the global box office. But Myers is what Hollywood insiders call a mercurial figure. Which means he's hard to nail down and exploit. Should a fourth instalment with Myers transpire, Jay Roach is likely to be on the call sheet to direct as the man behind the first three Austin Powers movies.