– China’s premiere director Zhang Yimou (Hero, the Beijing Olympic Games) has named Christian Bale to star in Nanjing Heroes. The $90 million period epic tells the story of the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese troops killed thousands of Chinese in the capital city (1937). Bale will play an American priest who assists citizens in escaping impending death. Zhang also announced the hiring of special effects house Dark Side FX (The Dark Knight). The film will mix English and Mandarin (40/60), he said. No Chinese film or director has ever taken home an Academy Award in a major category. (Zhang himself had back-to-back Oscar nominations for Ju Dou in 1990 and Raise the Red Lantern in 1991.) “It’s the overall strategy for Chinese cinema to approach the world and broaden its influence,” Zhang told THR. The casting of Bale was not a box office ploy, but rather “a coincidence because the script happened to have an English-speaking part in the lead.” Shooting Nanjing Heroes will begin shooting January 10. Bale will be due on The Dark Knight Rises set May 2011.
– The Dark Night Rises‘ main box-office competition, when it opens in July 2012, will come from Marc Webb’s untitled Spider-Man reboot, starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Luckily the two movies are very different. If The Dark Night Rises sits on the gothic end of the comic movie spectrum, then Spider-Man is on the adorable end. The reboot, Stone has confirmed, is–no surprise– only the beginning of her stint as blonde Gwen Stacy. (Her Easy A red head days aren’t over–check her out in The Help below with Allison Janney, in theaters August 2011.) “There’s a few Spidermen, so I may have to keep it for a couple of years,” she told Jay Leno. She also said that while co-star Garfield was keen to train together for their roles, she refused: “I was like ‘No, that would not be ok’…‘Because you can lift a car and I am a weakling beyond belief.’”