– The acting power house duo of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, the under-appreciated The Damned United) and Toni Collette (United States of Tara, Little Miss Sunshine) is joining Dennis Lee’s Jesus Henry Christ, reports Variety. The comedy is based on Lee’s 2003 Oscar-winning student film of the same name, but as The Playlist points out, its plot resembles Sundance hit The Kids are All Right, which boasts its own power house trio (Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo): children search for biological truth. With Lee’s lack of hits (his first feature Fireflies in the Garden hasn’t been released, and Rotten Tomatoes 25% isn’t a good sign), and The Kids are All Right‘s high profile, this feature needs Sheen and Collette to reinvent the wheel.
– Oz: The Great And Powerful has a director, and it’s Sam Raimi, confirms Deadline. Robert Downey Jr. will play the circus wrangler turned mysterious and omniscient Oz in the would-be tentpole (ie: Alice In Wonderland). Raimi directed the first three Spider-Man films, needless to say.
– The LAT reports that federal regulators voted yesterday to allow professional traders to bet on ticket sales for movies’ opening weekends. Hollywood opposition has been led by the Motion Picture Assn. of America, who fear trading could hurt box office performance and add to a film’s vulnerability. Veriana, the company that suggested the trading, is critical of Hollywood complaints – their CEO Rob Swagger claims: “This is probably the best handout that members of Congress have given to Hollywood in years…It reeks of special interest.”
– Brittany Murphy’s “last” film, Abandoned has gone straight to DVD, although Something Wicked is also listed as being in post-production on IMDb, with no release date specified.
– Focus has released the trailer for Sofia Coppola’s new film, Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, which will debut at the Venice Film Festival: