Ron Howard's Grand Prix racing drama "Rush" will open on September 20, 2013, which suggests a quality picture heading toward possible fall film festival and awards attention. Howard could use a bump in his fortunes, as Imagine Entertainment is no longer the 500-pound gorilla on the Universal lot. On "Rush" Howard ("Apollo 13," "A Beautiful Mind") collaborated again with screenwriter Peter Morgan, who wrote Howard's Oscar-nominated success d'estime "Frost/Nixon," one of several box office disappointments ("Cinderella Man," "The Dilemma," "The Missing") delivered by Imagine to Universal. (Their biggest hits have been for Sony, including the "Da Vinci Code" and its sequel.)
Partly inspired by Working Title's dramatic Formula 1 racing doc "Senna," "Rush" details the glamorous 1970s Golden Age of Formula 1 era epitomized by the rivalry between charismatic Brit playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, "Thor") and disciplined Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl, "Inglourious Basterds") who clashed on the Grand Prix racetrack. The movie explores their personal lives on and off the track--Olivia Wilde ("TRON: Legacy") and Alexandra Maria Lara ("The Reader") also star-- and follows the two drivers as they push themselves to win. There is no margin for error: one mistake, and you die.
Universal did not fully finance this film, but rather acquired North American rights. "Rush" is produced by Andrew Eaton, Howard, Brian Grazer, Eric Fellner, Morgan and Brian Oliver, and executive produced by Cross Creek Pictures, Exclusive Media, Todd Hallowell and Tim Bevan.
Universal has picked a January 18, 2013 release date for Guillermo del Toro's presentation "Mama," directed by Spanish rookie Andres Muschietti, who expands on his 2008 short of the same name. The supernatural thriller is about finding two suburban little girls five years after they disappeared into the woods the day that their father killed their mother. Rescued from a decrepit cabin, the girls go home with their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, "Game of Thrones") and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain, "The Tree of Life") to start anew. Just how did they survive on their own? Someone or something still comes to tuck them in at night.
Universal has refined their release plan for "TRON: Legacy" director Joseph Kosinski's dystopian sci-fi thriller "Oblivion," which will move up from April 26, 2013 to April 19, 2013 with an IMAX Exclusive on April 12, 2013. Shot in digital 4K resolution on location in the U.S. and Iceland, "Oblivion" is set in the future after Earth has been battling alien Scavengers for decades. When drone repairman (Cruise) flies below the clouds to extract some valuable resources, he meets a stranger (Andrea Riseborough, "W.E."), who leads him to confront the past and try to save the planet. Kosinski, William Monahan ("The Departed") and Michael Arndt ("Toy Story 3"), among others, adapted Kosinski and Arvid Nelson's original comic book. There's no question Kosinski has vision and the tech savvy to put it on screen; it's his dramatic storytelling skills that remain unproven, which may explain why Universal needed such an arsenal of writers.