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Why Viola Davis is pitch-perfect casting as Hunger Games prequel villain

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Megawatt actress Viola Davis has joined the cast of ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’, as the prequel film’s main villain, in one of the best casting choices made in the franchise since the original quadrilogy’s lead actress.

By Justina Terhember        

As Viola Davis gets set to antagonize Rachel Zegler in ‘Hunger Games’ prequel ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’, fans are praising the casting as being ‘pitch-perfect’. Per a report on The Hollywood Reporter, Davis will play Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the head gamemaker of the 10th annual Hunger Games. The actor, who is best known for portraying Amanda Waller in the DC Extended Universe Suicide Squad films, joins a massive ensemble cast that includes Zegler, Tom Blyth and Peter Dinklage.

“The Hunger Games films have always been elevated by their exceptional casting, and we are thrilled to be continuing that tradition with Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul,” said Nathan Kahane, President of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group, explaining why she is a great choice. “Her formidable and powerful presence will add layers of complexity and menace to this story.”

‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ will be set several decades before the events of the original film quadrilogy and before Blyth’s Coriolanus Snow became the tyrannical President of Panem. The film will instead focus on an 18-year-old Snow, who is seen as the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. The prequel will follow Snow as he is assigned to mentor District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Zegler) in the 10th annual Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games franchise producer Nina Jacobson shared Kahane’s excitement at Davis joining the prequel film’s cast. “From the beginning, Viola has been our dream for Dr. Gaul because of the finely layered intelligence and emotion she brings to every role. A brilliant and eccentric strategist, Gaul is instrumental in shaping a young Coriolanus Snow into the man he will become,” Jacobson stated. “We are incredibly fortunate to have an actor with Viola’s extraordinary range and presence to play this pivotal role.”

Davis, Blyth, Zegler and Dinklage star alongside an impressive cast that includes Hunter Schafer, Jason Schwartzman, Irene Boehm, Cooper Dillon, and more.

‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ will premiere on Nov. 17, 2023.

MOVIES

I’ve seen ‘Spawn’ movie concept suits – Jamie Foxx

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A Spawn reboot may finally see the light of day, with actor Jamie Foxx saying that he has seen concept suits for the comic book character. He was asked in an interview if he has seen a costume for the film, leading to a surprising answer. “I’ve seen a lot of concepts,” he reveals. “Because Todd, what he does it, every single day he’s doodling and he’s fixing and he’s doing some things that, to me, I think is gonna be like way out when you see it. And how he crafts that cape and how that cape becomes almost like – I’ll say this – as big as the screen that you’re watching.”

A live-action Spawn reboot seems to have been talked about for decades since a sequel to the 1997 release was cancelled. Creator Todd McFarlane has teased the film on multiple occasions throughout the years, with actor Jamie Foxx recently sharing news that may mean the film is much closer to a release than anticipated.

MacFarlane has said he wants the reboot to be rated R, which would be reminiscent of the 2019 R-rated release ‘Joker’, which went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

Foxx thinks those working on the film are ready for their turn. “But it starts in a way that is so cool. And it’s not big budget, you know? And that’s what I love about it. It’s sort of like how when they did the Joker. And so, we’re just like, just getting this right, cooking it right, but staying in contact, keeping the energy going and when we lay it on you, there’s gonna be some moments where you go ‘oh man’.”

More developments are expected at New York Comic-Con in October. Regarding an announcement, McFarlane told CBR at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, “We were debating whether to make a big announcement because we’ve been adding pieces to it here at San Diego. So all the parties that were involved, we had the conversation: ‘Do we make the announcement here or do we wait and keep our gunpowder dry until New York Comic Con?’ And we eventually said we’ll do it at New York.”

Fingers crossed!

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‘WandaVision’ director in talks to direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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Marvel Studios appears to be one step closer to finalizing plans for the highly anticipated “Fantastic Four” reboot, with news that “WandaVision” helmer Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the project, Variety has confirmed.

At the San Diego Comic-Con in July, Marvel boss Kevin Feige teased the movie, which is currently slated to debut on Nov. 8, 2024, revealing that “Fantastic Four” would kick off Phase 6 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Jon Watts, who helmed all three of Sony and Marvel’s “Spider-Man” films, had previously been announced as the “Fantastic Four” director, but exited the project in April. Rumors that Shakman had been tapped to take the job hit the internet earlier this week, with the choice heralded by fans given the director’s successful piloting of the Disney+ series.

For his work on “WandaVision,” Shakman landed an Emmy nomination for outstanding directing for a limited or anthology series or movie, as well as a nod in the outstanding limited or anthology series category as an executive producer on the series. Shakman is also an Emmy nominee for his directing work on Hulu’s “The Great.”

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DC’s troubles continue as ‘Aquaman 2’ and ‘Shazam! 2’ shift dates

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Surprising only a few, ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ and ‘Shazam!: Fury of the Gods will land in theaters later than planned. Per a Variety report, Warner Bros. announced a slew of release date changes on Wednesday, pushing the ‘Aquaman’ follow-up from March 17, 2023 to Dec. 25, 2023.

The ‘Shazam!’ sequel will open on the date previously occupied by Jason Momoa’s undersea hero. The story about Zachary Levi’s Billy Batson was originally set for Dec. 21, 2022. This means ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ will debut a few days after Disney’s ‘Star Wars’ spinoff ‘Rogue Squadron’ (Dec. 23, 2023).

Meanwhile, ‘Shazam!: Fury of the Gods’, initially set to face off against James Cameron’s ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, is now top dog over its new opening weekend.

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