The success of Looper has encouraged indie directors to shoot for the stars.
13 Sep 2013 - 5:09 PM  UPDATED 13 Sep 2013 - 5:30 PM

Let's call it the Looper effect. In the wake of Rian Johnson's time-traveling action film about a young assassin in 2044 confronted by his revenge-bound older self being a critical and commercial success (it earnt approximately $170 million worldwide on a large independent film budget of just $30 million), the young writer-director's contemporaries are also moving towards science-fiction. The genre may be the last one you'd associate with U.S. independent cinema, which retains the persona of talkative, low-key dramas that inevitably premier at Sundance, but new filmmakers see an opportunity to explore familiar stories via unexpected means.

On the back of Take Shelter and Mud, Jeff Nichols is now preparing to shoot Midnight Special, which the American director has described as a “sci-fi chase movie” about a father who discovers that his eight-year-old son has supernatural powers and has to go on the run with him. It's not clear if the science-fiction tag indicates the child's ability or a futurist setting, but Nichols has already secured his ever-present actor Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done), and now he's added Kirsten Dunst (Bachelorette, Melancholia) and Australian Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty) to his cast.

Nichols is joined by Ain't Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery, whose next film, To Be Two, is an adaptation of a science-fiction short story about a futuristic Earth where teleportation by machine has been perfected, with a copy being made at the receiving end and the original subject vapourised. When the machine malfunctions, leaving the original alive while creating a copy, philosophical, legal and personal recriminations take hold. Lowery has already cast his preferred leading man, Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, Ocean's Eleven), with more names to follow.

Old TV Remakes Dept.
Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch) will helm a new version of the 1960s espionage adventure The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) will play American and Russian spies Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin respectively, who team up in the 1960s set adventure. Joining them are Hugh Grant (Cloud Atlas), Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby), Jared Harris (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and hopefully a costume designer who knows how to dress large, muscular men in stylish suits.

Big year for Brühl
German actor Daniel Brühl, whose profile internationally will be raised in the coming months with English-language roles in Ron Howard's 1970s formula one drama Rush and as one of the co-founders of WikiLeaks in Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate, has joined the cast of Michael Winterbottom's next film. The prolific English director, who is currently shooting a sequel to The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon set in Italy, will direct Face on an Angel, which is based on Barbie Natza Ladeau's book about the trial of Amanda Knox, the young American woman accused of murdering her roommate in Italy. Winterbottom has already explained that his movie will be about Brühl's filmmaker researching Knox's case, and how it impacts on his own life and family. Brühl is currently filming Ich Und Kaminski, the new film from Good Bye Lenin! director Wolfgang Becker, where he plays a journalist hoping that the subject of a profile he's writing will die.