Remake Roundup: ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Director to Make Another Cleopatra Biopic

The latest in Hollywood recycling involves the directors of new Blade Runner and Star Wars movies plus a holiday cult classic:

Denis Villeneuve in talks for Cleopatra

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 has terrific buzz ahead of its theatrical release next week, and that has everyone excited to see what he takes on next. He’s been working on a new adaptation of Dune (another remake) and he’s supposedly wanted to do the next James Bond movie, but he might go from future Los Angeles to Ancient Egypt instead.

The Oscar-nominated director is in talks to direct a new Cleopatra biopic for Sony Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This is the project tied to Angelina Jolie and is based on the best-selling book Cleopatra: A Life, with a script by David Scarpa (The Day the Earth Stood Still) depicting the leader as a powerful woman who helped to shape history.

Cleopatra’s life — that is Cleopatra VII’s life — has been portrayed on the big screen a number of times before, from an 1899 horror short by Georges Melies and including the famous biographical epics starring Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor. There will no doubt continue to be controversy over her depiction, given that her true ethnicity has been debated by historians.

J.J. Abrams to produce live-action version of Your Name

Surely J.J. Abrams is plenty busy now that he’s directing Star Wars IX, but he’s just announced another project he’s working on. In the wake of rebooting Star Trek and resurrecting Star Wars, he will produce a remake of the anime hit Your Name (aka Kimi no na wa), per The Tracking Board. The Makoto Shinkai-helmed Japanese original is a body-swap romance that’s broken global box office records.

Eric Heisserer, who earned an Oscar for scripting Villeneuve’s Arrival, is handling the adaptation from animated feature to live-action. So far the new version has the cooperation of the original’s producers, Genki Kawamura, who’ll be working on the remake, and The Toho Co., which will distribute it in Japan.

“The meetings so far have been creatively stimulating with fantastic ideas that no doubt will make for a great movie,” Kawamura says. “I am greatly honored to work with these incredible creators in bringing to audiences the Hollywood live action version.” And Shinkai says, “When such a work is imbued with Hollywood filmmaking, we may see new possibilities that we had been completely unaware of.”

Hocus Pocus will be reimagined as a Disney TV movie

While there has been talk of a sequel to Hocus Pocus, Disney’s cult classic Halloween movie, now there’s something else brewing entirely. Deadline reports that the Disney Channel is working on a “reimagining” of the original that will air on the cable network, where the 1993 version has often been broadcast.

The Royals writer Scarlett Lacey will handle the new screenplay. Kenny Ortega, who directed that first movie, is not involved. Neither are, presumably original stars Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, who played sister witches from 17th century Salem brought back in present day.

Interestingly enough, the original’s screenwriter, Mick Garris, was just quoted this week by Forbes regarding the project. But he was under the impression that the Disney Channel development was the long-rumored Hocus Pocus 2 and claimed he was pretty sure the movie’s stars, which included a young Vinessa Shaw, would be back.