UPDATE: “Doctor Who” star Matt Smith, who played the Doctor from 2011 to 2013, is set to join Paramount and Skydance’s new “Terminator” reboot. He will play a new character in the franchise, “with a strong connection to John Connor.”
Smith joins — who else? — Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai
Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi and Byung Hun Lee for the Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World,” “Game of Thrones”) film.
The film is eyeing a July 1, 2015 release.
EARLIER: Paramount Pictures is looking a lot like a distributor for hire these days. The studio has partnered with MGM not only on the upcoming Brett Ratner sword-and-sandal epic “Hercules” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, supported by a bevy of Brit thespians, but also co-produced the sequel to “Hot Tub Time Machine,” which opens December 25. And they partnered on releasing “GI Joe: Retaliation” and the ill-fated “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” Now they’re continuing to work together, per Variety, on MGM’s remake of Oscar-winner “Ben-Hur,” starring the mighty Charlton Heston.
Russian powerhouse Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”) will direct from a script by “12 Years a Slave” Oscar-winner John Ridley and Keith Clarke, who sold the original spec script to MGM. Based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” the movie tracks an innocent nobleman thrown into slavery who finally after years rises up to take vengeance on his betrayer. Producers of the new “Ben-Hur” are Sean Daniel and Joni Levin with Clarke and Jason Browne as executive producers.
Meanwhile Paramount is also partnering with the other Ellison scion, David, whose Skydance Productions has picked up the rights to the “Terminator” franchise, whose 2009 McG/Christian Bale/Sam Worthington outing “Salvation,” released domestically by Warner Bros., cost $200 million plus global marketing against a worldwide gross of $371 million. (Warners paid $60 million for domestic and foreign rights were sold for $100 million). Although Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Productions is listed on the credits as executive producer, she bowed out of actively producing the film with her brother, preferring to continue to support quality projects like Oscar contenders “American Hustle” and “Her.”
Principal photography just started in New Orleans on the reboot of James Cameron’s hearty franchise launched in 1984, with Alan Taylor (“Thor: Dark World,” “Game of Thrones”) at the helm. While Arnold Schwarzenegger returns (in hopes that his latest box office numbers can be improved when he is back in character), the movie also stars current go-to action star Jason Clarke (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”), Jai Courtney (“Divergent,” “Jack Reacher”), J.K. Simmons (“Juno,” “Up in the Air,” “Whiplash”), Dayo Okeniyi (“The Hunger Games”) and Byung Hun Lee (“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”).
Written by Cameron and Scorsese fave Laeta Kalogridis (“Avatar,” “Shutter Island”) and Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”), the fifth “Terminator” movie is produced by David Ellison and Dana Goldberg (“World War Z,” “Star Trek Into Darkness”) of Skydance Productions. Executive producers are Skydance’s Paul Schwake (“World War Z” and “Star Trek Into Darkness”), Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison, Kalogridis and Lussier.
Paramount will distribute the film –which has an uncertain title, as “Terminator: Genesis” was not used in the studio press release–worldwide on July 1, 2015.