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Scarlett Johansson Joins ‘Ghost In The Shell’; Matt Damon Out, Casey Affleck In For Kenneth Lonergan’s ‘Manchester-By-The-Sea’ & More

Scarlett Johansson Joins 'Ghost In The Shell'; Matt Damon Out, Casey Affleck In For Kenneth Lonergan's 'Manchester-By-The-Sea' & More

…and here’s you first piece of major casting news for 2015: Scarlett Johansson has officially signed up for the manga/anime adaptation/redo, “Ghost In The Shell.” The actress was offered the role in the long-developing movie last fall, but contracts have been signed and things are moving forward. Variety reports that Rupert Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman“) will direct the movie that follows “a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.” So, if you’re expecting some of the subtext of gender and sexuality to figure into this version…yeah, probably not. DreamWorks is backing the movie right now, with Paramount possibly coming on board as well.

What’s going on with “Margaret” director Kenneth Lonergan‘s “Manchester-By-The-Sea“? Well, with Matt Damon‘s schedule tied up for the foreseeable future with Ridley Scott‘s “The Martian,” Casey Affleck confirmed to the Boston Globe that he has taken over the lead role. The film looks to be another intense drama from the filmmaker, following a plumber who returns to his hometown after his brother passes away in order to look after his 16-year-old nephew, only for a secret from his past to emerge. No word yet on when shooting will begin.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” still has a few more surprises up its sleeve, with Twitch reporting that “The Raid 2” stars Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, and Cecep Arif Rahman have joined J.J. Abrams‘ film. The Wrap confirms the casting and teases “one is expected to perish onscreen.”

Lastly, Josh Gad is being eyed to play Roger Ebert in “Russ & Roger Go Beyond,” according to The Wrap. He hasn’t read the script yet, there’s no director and no contract, but Will Ferrell is attached to play Russ Meyer in the movie about the critic and filmmaker’s collaboration on “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.”

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