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Exclusive : Simon Kinberg on Fantastic Four, X-Men : Apocalypse

Lisa Carroll talks to the prolific screenwriter about the upcoming blockbusters



If you want the best kind of luck as a screenwriter, try finding an awesome mentor like Akiva Goldsman (“Beautiful Mind,” “Da Vinci Code”) – it sure hasn’t hurt Simon Kinberg any.

Kinberg seemed to be headed for good things even before meeting Goldsman. While still in film school, he sold a pitch to Warner Brothers and went on to write the screenplay for “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. His starry career includes the past “X-Men” films and the upcoming “Fantastic Four.”

Luckily for Moviehole, Kinberg was able to take a little time from his packed writing/producing schedule to talk about how to handle big egos — and to give a hint of what’s to come with the next “X-Men: Apocalypse” movie.

Moviehole: How did you get started with screenwriting?
Simon Kinberg: I was always interested in writing. I grew up reading books, watching movies, my dad was a film professor – it was part of my life, but not necessarily what I wanted to do with my life. I tried writing short stories and prose but everyone reading it, said it felt like a movie.
I went back to graduate school and fell in love with the form, the way it looks on the page. From there I became a screenwriter. I co-wrote “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four,” and I work with writers on other scripts that I’m producing.

MH: What was the most challenging thing about writing “Fantastic Four”?
SK: The most challenging thing is the tone, getting the tone right — we wanted to do something different than the last two movies to make it more dramatic and grounded. We approached the film from the characters’ perspective first, rather than a spectacle.
It’s difficult, but it always makes the movie and characters more relatable. We did a lot of research too. I like a lot of the Ultimate comic book series, the “Fantastic Four” film is based on the Ultimate Fantastic Four series.

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four

MH: To what do you attribute your success (besides great writing)?
SK: I’m very lucky, that I think is part of it, and I had a great mentor who brought me in to world of movies – Akiva Goldsman. He protected me and taught me a ton. Without that kind of guidance, I don’t know where I would’ve ended up. He is a close friend and I spent the last few Christmases and with him and his family.

MH: How do you come up with ideas?
SK: I don’t know how I come up with ideas. I was always a kid that imagined stories in my head a lot. I get to write fan fiction that gets turned into movies.

MH: What do you think of the Marvel film universe?
SK: I grew up with reading the Marvel universe. Spider-Man was a favorite, in terms of the Marvel cinematic universe, and Kevin Feige (producer of “The Avengers” films) is one of my idols. I love the way they (Marvel) tells stories over multiple movies, it’s very inspiring.

MH: Who are your favorite writers?
SK: I have two different answers. For novelists, I love modernist authors like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I like Dashiell Hammond and Raymond Chandler on the pulpy side. For screenwriters I like Scott Frank, Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin.

MH: What would be your advice to new writers?
SK: Write stuff you love. I think the mistake is that new writers try to write for the marketplace. I think people who work in film can sense that, and want new stories they are passionate about. Writers have to figure out what they like to see and write that. It’s a fair amount of the time that writers write what they think the market wants.

MH: You’ve been a script doctor for many films – what do you think you bring on board?
SK: I don’t remember how I got into it at first. I do less of it now because I’m fully immersed in the things I’m doing. It’s fun to get dropped in with new filmmakers and a new cast, and to work in a quick and intense way, which for me is a lot of fun. You have to handle a lot of stress and get by on little sleep and know how to handle complicated personalities – I listen to them and make them feel heard. You have to be an active listener. I’m a pretty empathetic person; I’m very attuned to how people are feeling. That helps on a movie set where a lot of people have strong opinions.

MH: What will be happening with the next “X-Men” movie?
SK: The next X-Men movie will be the next stage in evolution for the main characters, bringing in new characters like young Cyclops and a young Jean Gray, plus Apocalypse — with some great new actors too. It’s an exciting new crop of talent. We definitely want to surpass the last film, we talked about that a lot and talk about that on the set. We want things to be more emotional and intense.
There are aspects that might be more dark as the threat is more global than it’s ever been, but there will be a lot of light in the movie too with the young X-Men and the fact that the film takes place in the 1980s.


MH: What are your new projects in the future, besides “Fantastic Four” and “X-Men: Apocaplypse”?
SK: I produced “Gambit,” “Deadpool” and “The Martian.” I’m working on the Star Wars movies, I’m writing and producing one of the films and I’m a consultant on the others.

MH: What do you want to say to Moviehole readers?
SK: That I love these characters and comics as much as they do, I’m writing it for the fan in me and for them.
I think the fans will like “Fantastic Four” and will like what we are attempting to do with it, making it more grounded and emotional.


MH: What are your long term goals?
SK: To keep doing what I’m doing. I love telling stories, I’m very happy with what I am doing right now. If I could do this rest of my life, I would be a very happy person.

Fantastic Four comes out on August 7.


Exclusive : The Ewoks will return!

A small-screen series featuring the Empire-hating creatures could be on the way



Is it the Endor or just the beginning?

Unless the wi-fi has been playing up in the Cantina, you’ll be aware that Disney’s streaming channel Disney + are about to ‘force’ a couple of new “Star Wars” related series on us – most notably, the recently wrapped “The Mandalorian” (which is apparently terrific), from EP Jon Favreau.

And it won’t end there, with the house of mouse and the house of Kennedy already secretly working on other “Star Wars” projects that’ll premiere on the small screen.
One of those upcoming may feature the return of the Ewoks.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the pint-sized moon creatures are one of the most recognizable species in the “Star Wars” universe. And with Disney+ not just in the business of making shows for us, older “Star Wars” fans, but also the excitable younglings, it should be no surprise to hear that a new Ewoks series is being discussed.

The news of the Empire-hating Ewoks’ return to the screen – which comes courtesy a reputable insider, someone who has also provided us with extra info on a scoop we ran last week on “The Quarry” to star Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham, which we’ll run soon – will no doubt be music to the ears of toy retailers, who’ll likely sell furballs in the millions once the show hits. It’s unlikely to be part of the first phase of “Star Wars” shows, which are rumored to kick off around Halloween, but could be part of the second run, rumored to launch in the next 12-18 months.

The Ewoks made their debut in “Return of the Jedi” on the bigscreen before getting their own solo outing in 1984 telemovie “The Ewok Adventure” (aka “Caravan of Courage”). A second telemovie “Battle for Endor” aired in 1985. That same year ABC premiered the popular animated series “Ewoks”, which ran for two seasons.

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Exclusive : Whigham, Shannon reunite for The Quarry

Duo previously co-starred in Paramount mini-series “Waco”



Confirmation today on a solid-sounding project, headlined by two fantastic actors, I was tipped off to a few days back.

“Waco” and “Boardwalk Empire” co-stars Shea Whigham and Michael Shannon will reunite for “The Quarry”, scripted and directed by Scott Teems. This one is shooting later this month in New Orleans with the “To the Stars” team of Laura D. Smith and Kristin Mann producing.

Teems is one to watch out for. His work on “Rectify”, of which he’s written many episodes and directed a couple, are some of the best of the SundanceTV drama.

Film tells the ‘Banshee’-like account of a man, on the run from his own sins, who finds himself in a small border town in Texas, impersonating a reverend. The town are quickly drawn to the man’s unorthodox sermons – but so is the police chief (Shannon), who find’s the reverend’s presence interesting for a different reason.

Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham in “Waco” (2018)

Academy Award Nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno (“Maria Full of Grace”) and Bobby Soto (“Besties”) also star.

Floridian Whigham, who is currently filming limited series “Modern Love” for Amazon Studios, recently wrapped “Joker” for director Todd Phillips and Warner Bros. his upcoming credits include John Pollono’s “Small Engine Repair”, the comedy “Vampires Vs. The Bronx” and “Low Tide” for writer-director Kevin McMullin.

Shannon recently wrapped Rian Johnson’s “Knive’s Out”, and will next appear in Seth Savoy’s action-crime drama “Echo Boomers”.

These two were absolutely magic on screen together in Paramount’s “Waco” mini-series as Mitch Decker and Gary Noesner, respectively, so expect more fireworks here.

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Exclusive : Blood Moon set for May start ; casting update

A girl with unusual powers escapes from a mental asylum



Ana Lily Amirpour fantasy “Blood Moon” is inching forward, with a mid-May shoot now locked in, Moviehole can confirm.

As reported during AFM in October, Kate Hudson, Zac Efron and Craig Robinson have signed the film, which tells of a girl with “unusual powers” who escapes from a mental asylum in New Orleans.

The film, produced by John Lesher (“Birdman”, “Fury”), begins its shoot in New Orleans on May 18.

The search is on for a fourth key player, a young actor to play the role of Hudson’s 10-year-old son. Described as a “cool rad weirdo hero. He’s grown up with a single mom, who’s gone a lot so he’s pretty self sufficient. He’s a creative kid with street smarts. Like his mom, he’s a survivor.”

One of the best new filmmakers on the circuit, Amirpour directed the ‘past perfect’ episode on the first season of “Castle Rock” last year.  Though I haven’t read it myself, the script for “Blood Moon” is apparently a “winner”.

No word on a release date.


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