Casting : Damon, Mackie, Sarsgaard, Fassbender, Chastain

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Matt Damon is circling the lead in a Ridley Scott-directed picture titled “The Martian”. Scott would replace Drew Goddard- who exited to helm Sony’s “Sinister Six” movie – on the 20th Century Fox space movie, which is based on a 2012 book by Andy Weir. The film is described as a cross between “Cast Away” and “Apollo 13″, with an astronaut stranded at a martian colony who struggles to survive. Meanwhile, NASA is running about trying to find a way to bring him home. (THR)

Anthony Mackie (“Captain America : The Winter Soldier”) is in talks to join Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the Jonathan Levine directed Christmas comedy – still untitled – that fixes on three friends who get together every year for a Christmas reunion. (The Wrap)

Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder will star in ”Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story”, about the work of social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who ”in 1961 designed the controversial Obedience Experiments at Yale University, observing the responses of ordinary people who believed they were sending harmful electrical shocks to an affable stranger. Milgram also came up with the Small-World Experiment, the basis for Six Degrees of Separation.” Josh Hamilton, Jim Gaffigan, Dennis Haysbert and Danny A. Abeckaser arr also onboard. (Deadline)

Michael Fassbender is circling “The Light Between Oceans” for director Derek Cianfrance. Based on M.L Steadman’s novel, the story goes like this : After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. (THR)

Rumours that Jessica Chastain (“Tree of Life”) has been offered the female lead in “Mission : Impossible 5″ are gathering more steam. While she’s the top pick for the role, Chastain still has to agree to doing it. (Deadline)