Rushes: Hollywood hates original ideas, loves Ben Affleck

Let's start this week on a sad note with some bummer news from over the weekend: Alex Proyas' big-screen adaptation of Paradise Lost is kaput [Collider]. Evidently Legendary Pictures eventually baulked at the project's budget, which struggled not to break the $120m mark due to the necessity of huge amounts of CGI and motion capture; to give you a sense of how disappointing this is, that's some concept art for the film illustrating this week's Rushes, which was shown at Comic-Con last year. It's especially sad news because, as Collider's coverage notes, studios think nothing of greenlighting projects like Grown Ups 2, while other ambitious or original films have met with brick walls: "Universal passed on Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are struggling to get their blended, multi-part film/TV adaptation of The Dark Tower off the ground, andmost recently we saw Warner Bros. put their fantasy pic Arthur & Lancelot on hold in order to work out budget issues." It's possible that the film will find independent backing, and the success of the similarly-CGI-heavy and cerebral Cloud Atlas might be encouraging to Proyas, but so far there's been no word that he's moving forward into shopping the project around. 

Perhaps Howard and Grazer will be able to get The Dark Tower happening again now that it seems their James Hunt/Niki Lauda biopic, Rush, looks set to be a hit [THR]. The '70s-set Formula One flick had a showing of the near-final edit for investors and distributors at this week's Berlin Film Festival, and the word according to The Hollywood Reporter is that the audience response was enthusiastic across a variety of "segments": "'This movie will be a big hit. Interestingly, women really enjoyed it too,' said one prominent producer who was invited to the screening." Here's a BBC feature from last year featuring interviews with Howard, and stars Chris Hemsworth (Hunt) and Daniel Bruhl (Lauda) that ought to whet your sports movie whistle: 

At this time of the year, The L.A. Times' The Envelope is the place to be for awards season pontificating, and according to their Oscar Buzzmeter, it looks like 2013 will be Ben Affleck's year [The Envelope]. His Argo seems to be emerging as the frontrunner for many of the major gongs on February 24th, as he's taken home a number of various Guild awards for Best Director, including the Directors Guild nod, as well as a BAFTA. It's a surprise to most people who thought that Spielberg's kingly Lincoln was a sure bet to sweep the board. Then again, Argo - with its invented car chases and scary brown people - plays faster and looser with history than Lincoln - with its strange absence of Black people - so really it probably had Oscar written all over it from the get-go. 

Speaking of Oscars, Zach Galifianakis is back with a special Academy Awards edition of Between Two Ferns [FunnyOrDie], starring Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, and more: 

If you've been playing along at home with pilot season, The Hollywood Reporter has a complete rundown of what's going ahead for 2013 [THR], and there are some interesting projects in the mix: "[E]stablished showrunners including Chuck Lorre (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly) and Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) are returning to the pilot pool with a single-mom comedy at CBS and an adaptation of Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D., respectively. Meanwhile, The CW and CBS are looking to launch spinoffs of established series The Vampire Diaries and NCIS: LA, respectively, while NBC is turning to Parenthood's Jason Katims to reboot the 2002 Hugh Grant movie About a Boy. For its part, Fox is looking to Parks and Recreation duo Mike Schur and Dan Goor to spice up its comedy offerings with a cop sitcom starring Andy Samberg." Way to go, NBC, keep those original ideas coming!

In "bewildering and possibly irrelevant" entertainment news, noted star of French cinema Bruce Willis has been awarded the Commander of the Arts and Letters in Paris [Daily Mail], one of those slightly meaningless gongs like the honorary doctorates that universities like to hand out to stars in order to boost flagging PR. However I can't stay mad because a) it's not like the American film industry has exactly showered Willis with awards throughout his long career and b) he looks so damn chuffed in all the photos: 

Those of you who've resented the incursion of 3D into the multiplex will be horrified to hear that the Beeb is bringing it into living rooms to celebrate Doctor Who's upcoming 50th anniversary [Guardian]: "The BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said on Monday the anniversary of the time-travelling show would be a national event and compared it to the Queen's diamond jubilee and the Olympics. Doctor Who's executive producer and lead writer, Steven Moffat, said: 'It's about time. Technology has finally caught up with Doctor Who and your television is now bigger on the inside. A whole new dimension of adventure for the Doctor to explore.'" I can hear the Whovians writhing in disappointed agony already!

And finally, it appears the popularity of the zombie apocalypse shows no sign of abating, with "zomcom" Warm Bodies only just dropping from the US box office top spot, and the series return of The Walking Dead breaking ratings records [Deadline]. The gory show started back on Sunday night and took a mind-boggling slice of the audience pie: "Up against the Grammys, the 9 PM midseason premiere pulled in 7.7 million viewers among Adults 18-49, a basic-cable record for a series and up 6% from the show’s previous high for its October 14 season premiere. In total, 16.6 million viewers watched Walking Dead last night combining the 9 PM premiere and 11 PM, midnight and 2 AM encores on AMC."

So, you know, maybe don't throw away your zombie thriller/romantic comedy/found footage script/hilarious reboot of classic literature just yet. 

profile of clembastow