“Hugo” star Asa Butterfield has landed the lead in “Ender’s Game,” an adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi future-set novels. in which supernaturally gifted “Ender Wiggin” battles aliens–along with the rest of mankind. Summit Entertainment is co-financing and releasing the film in Spring 2013. Versatile South African Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi,” “Rendition,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) will direct from his own adapted screenplay.
-The latest news in the revolving door of Steven Soderbergh projects is psychopharmacology thriller “The Bitter Pill,” which he’ll helm alongside co-producers Scott Z. Burns (who wrote the script) and Greg Jacobs and Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Soderbergh, Burns and Jacobs made “Contagion” and “The Informant”). This means the director has two films awaiting release (“Haywire” – January 20, “Magic Mike” – June 29) and at least two in the works – “Pill” and Liberace biopic “Behind the Candellabra.”
-Neil Jordan (“Interview With A Vampire”) is jumping back on the vampire train with “Byzantium,” about a vampire mother (Gemma Arterton) who wants to bring her daughter (Saoirse Ronan) to the dark side as well. The cast also includes Sam Riley, Caleb Landry Jones, Bradley Jones and Daniel Mays. Moira Buffini (“Jane Eyre,” “Tamara Drewe”) penned the script.
-The verdict is still out on whether 2011 will be a good or bad year for Tom Hanks. Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” opens this Christmas, but his directing and starring vehicle “Larry Crowne” left a bad taste. Now Hanks is developing another strong role for himself: his Playtone and Universal have acquired rights to Erik Larson’s non-fiction book “In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin.” It chronicles the experiences of American ambassador William E. Dodd’s family and the Third Reich in 1930s Germany. Hanks is currently shooting “Cloud Atlas” with director Tom Tykwer and co-stars Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving, Ben Sturgess, Hugh Grant and Halle Berry. Paul Greengrass’ “A Captain’s Duty,” currently in pre-production, will presumably come after that. Hanks has over a dozen projects in various stages of production, mostly as producing vehicles.