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

Lisa Carroll talks to the prolific screenwriter about the upcoming blockbusters

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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.

ew-cover-1373-xmen

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.

fantastic-four

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.

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Exclusive : Dwayne Johnson, Atlantean!?

Mike Lowery on a possible collaboration between ‘Hobbs’ and Feige

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While he does wear a VIP lanyard at DC now, due to his lengthy involvement with the “Shazam!” franchise (he’s set to play the villainous Black Adam in a future Shazam sequel and spin-off, too), Hawaiian hulkster Dwayne Johnson is also on Marvel’s wish list – and has been for a number of years. No big surprise, right?

You may have noticed, the “Hobbs & Shaw” star took to Instagram a couple of days back to congratulate Marvel on the success they’re having, commercially and critically, with “Avengers : Endgame” – showering much of the praise on bigwig Kevin Feige. It’s a gushing – and then some – post that suggests the artist formerly known as ‘The Rock’ is indeed in good, or hopes to be, with Marvel Studios.

Something is up, right?

It sure is!

With so many Marvel productions about to gear up – expect the next phase, or part thereof, to be announced at SDCC in July – there’s undoubtedly going to be a lot of spots to fill ahead, so Feige’s been meeting with a number of A listers (rumblings of Tom Cruise wanting to collaborate with Feige too, in the future) and one of those recent meets has been with Johnson.

They’ve been talking about a number of different possibilities – the actor has his pick of the board – all of which Johnson would produce and headline.

The one gig I know about, that’s been floated Johnson’s way, is Namor!

Namor as he appeared in an episode of the “Fantastic Four” animated series.

Yep, Bill Everett’s Sub-Mariner has been taking shape over at Manhattan Beach and Johnson’s been on that go-to list for it for a while now.A snug fit too, if I don’t say so myself.

While the “Jumanji” actor had previously said “Black Adam”, over at DC/Warner, would go into production next summer the studio have yet to make any moves on it, so don’t be surprised if one of the projects Marvel want Johnson for – like the ‘Sub Mariner’ movie – comes together first.

Marvel had been looking at doing a “Sub-Mariner” movie long before, even, “Iron Man”. Back in the late ’90s, they hired Philip Kaufman to direct, and Sam Hamm (“Batman Returns”) to write the piece. That went away, just as the Universal Pictures version- which went into development in 2001 – did too. Chris Columbus was attached to direct their take at one point, as was Jonathan Mostow. These were different times, comic book movies weren’t the sure-thing successes they would seem to be today. In 2014, Marvel Studios finally got the rights back to the character from Uni (well, most of the rights – Universal still get to distribute), and have been tinkering with the film proposition ever since.


Namor, the mutant son of a human sea captain and a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis, has remained a historically important and popular Marvel character that regularly gets about with the Avengers, Fantastic Four and X-Men. While it’s possible the character might be introduced in a future “Avengers” movie, it’s much more likely he’ll be treated to a solo jaunt first.

Hopefully more info on the “Sub-Mariner” film plans emerge in San Diego this summer.

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Exclusive : Baz’s Elvis project shooting January

Search now underway for a fresh-faced to play young Elvis

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News from a very reliable source down under, Baz Luhrmann’s reported Elvis biopic for Warner Bros is a go, with filming due to kick off in January 2020.

While the “Moulin Rouge” and “Great Gatsby” director recently set Tom Hanks to play Colonel Tom Parker, the producing committee –  Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, and Gail Berman – are now on the hunt for a fresh-faced Elvis Presely. Casting agents have been given the heads up that the film has a a vacancy for a 19-28 year old to play the king before his famed persona.

The untitled film, which will feature a record crate’s full of Presley hits, is being penned by Luhrmann and regular collaborator Craig Pearce.

Luhrmann has a few projects on his to-do list – including a feature film take on classic series “Kung-Fu” – but seems the Elvis pic, which will tell the tale of the Memphis megastar “in typically wonderfully wild Baz tradition”, will be his next picture.

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Exclusive : Here’s the plot of Coming 2 America!

Who will replace Prince Akeem on the throne!?

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Happy Easter!

“Coming 2 America”. Big sequel. Highly anticipated. One of the few Eddie Murphy-headlined sequels they have been able to get off the ground – looking at you “Beverly Hills Cop 4”–  and rather quickly.  It’s headed towards the cameras soon, with both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprising their roles from John Landis’s timeless 1988 comedy. The casting folks behind “Empire” are casting this, slotting the supports into place as we speak.

There’s little Paramount have released about the movie, only that it somehow involves a ‘son character’ – but you know what? I have more! (courtesy the same Paramount insider that tipped us off to the “Grease” prequel plans for the original leads last week) I have the plot.. and it promises to be as welcomingly humorous as it does hearty.

While in the first film Akeem had to find a wife, and bring her back to the homeland, in this one he’s out to bring his American son back to Zumanda. If the son is willing to replace him as prince, then Akeem gets to be King.

Akeem’s long-lost son LaVelle is essentially living the flip side life to his father – he’s permanently ‘trapped’ in Queens, he is broke, he is working at a burger place just to make ends meet, and his boss (Big Reem, guy that lives at home with his mom) is no McDowell. It’s on his 30th birthday that LaVelle starts to get a deeper itch to do more and be more.

He gets that wish when he discovers he’s heir to the throne of Zamunda – where the father he never knew, Akeem is a prince – and is soon about to be King. Cue the airplane!

And yes, there’s a girl – – Zamundan Mirembe, whose parents have disowned her for becoming a ‘groomer’ – – but knowing she won’t pass muster with the royals, LaVelle doesn’t initially give it a thought. LaVelle has to first stop chasing gold and stop trying to be someone he’s not (and it’s Mirembe that ends up being the voice of reason), and realize he’s already got plenty. Maybe she’s his calling… and maybe royalty isn’t? Yep, that old nugget.

A better match for the throne might be Akeem’s eldest daughter, Meeka, an intelligent born-leader whose theories (especially in relation to Akeem’s rival, General Izzi are concerned – she knows he’s up to no good, Akeem thinks otherwise) and suggestions for her future ‘King’ father are right on the money.

You can see where this is going….

Meantime,  Dave Chappelle is rumored to be reuniting with Murphy for the flick.

According to That Hashtag Show,  Murphy’s “Nutty Professor” co-star would play Baba, an old shaman from Zamunda that advises King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) and later Prince Akeem (Murphy), in the Craig Brewer-directed sequel.

Production kicks off on the film, which will also star Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley and John Amos, later this year.

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