Ruffalo the Hulk, New Pic from 3D ‘Thor,’ Pixar Helps ‘Tron,’ ‘Hobbit’ Casting and a ‘Despicable’ Sequel

Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston in Thor
Photo: Paramount Pictures via the Los Angeles Times

Will the Hulk be played again by Edward Norton? Joaquin Phoenix? Nope

It now appears the role will likely go to Mark Ruffalo as Deadline reports Ruffalo is “now in late-stage discussions between Marvel and his brand-new agency United Talent” to play the Hulk in Marvel’s The Avengers to be directed by Joss Whedon. The film is already set for a May 4, 2012 release with production expected to begin sometime early next year.

This isn’t the end of the superhero news, however, as the same Deadline report adds both Thor (May 6, 2011) and The First Avenger: Captain America (July 22, 2011) will be in 3D with Captain America‘s visual effects to be rendered in 3D and Thor undergoing more of a traditional 2D-to-3D conversion a la Alice in Wonderland and The Last Airbender. And speaking of Thor, the Los Angeles Times offers the above look at Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston from the film directed by Kenneth Branagh. Hemsworth plays the title character while Hopkins plays Odin, the father who exiles him, and Hiddleston plays the film’s villain, Loki. The “Times” article has much more on the 3D story, so for more on that click here.

Moving on, the surprise success of Illumination Entertainment’s inaugural effort, Despicable Me, already has Universal brass thinking sequel. Mike Fleming at Deadline writes that Illumination is also working on a pair of shorts focusing on the film’s ever popular minions to expand upon the newfound franchise. At this point it is unclear how they will be seen, but going the Pixar route and showing them before their upcoming features surely seems to be the most logical option.

If Illumination indeed chooses that route, the studio’s slew of upcoming releases would surely provide ample opportunity to exhibit the little yellow dudes. The studio’s next outing will come on April 1, 2011 in the form of Hop, a live-action CG film starring Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny. Following Hop will be Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, with potential films based on the Ricky Gervais-created Flanimals, Where’s Waldo and a Tim Burton fueled version of The Addams Family just over the horizon.

Will Illumination be able to join the ranks of Pixar and Dreamworks as an animation powerhouse? Only time will tell, but the future looks promising.

It’s just another day, and another update on the Mission: Impossible: IV front, with the latest coming from Kim Masters at The Hollywood Reporter. Yesterday’s news included word that Tom Cruise may serve as a mentor to a young operative this time out (please, anyone but Shia Labeouf), and today’s news indicates that Paramount will be looking closely at the overseas performance of Knight and Day to gauge if Cruise still holds any weight with foreign audiences. Perhaps these figures will play some part in determining Cruise’s exact role in MI: 4. Moreover, Paramount is going to shoot for a budget in the $140 million range for the film, which is slightly more conservative than the $165 million spent on the franchise’s third installment.

Although The Hobbit has not yet been given the greenlight, that seems to be a foregone conclusion as Heat Vision picks up where Deadline previously left off and reports Peter Jackson has been meeting with actors in both New York and the U.K. for his two-part fantasy novel adaptation. While Jackson hasn’t yet officially signed on to direct the films, this news makes his intentions pretty clear to me. The hangup on the film’s development continues to be MGM’s financial woes, since the studio owns half the rights to the film, and on that note word just arrived MGM was won a sixth debt extension.

While nothing new has been confirmed regarding the upcoming Christopher Nolan-produced Superman reboot, Geek Tyrant offers up a spicy rumor that none other than Jonathan Nolan is in line to direct. The younger Nolan, who worked with his brother on the scripts for The Dark Knight and The Prestige, has no previous directing experience but I’m confident the Man of Steel will be in good hands with Christopher overseeing the whole project. The report also notes that Zachary Levi has auditioned for a role in the film. Could TV’s “Chuck” become Clark Kent? He certainly looks the part.

The next bit of information comes in the department of “good news or bad news?” as Pixar’s Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) have been summoned to beef up the script for Tron Legacy ahead of some planned re-shoots. I usually cringe at re-write news this late into a film’s development (we all saw what happened with The Wolfman), but this actually makes a lot of sense as Hollywood Insider‘s Nicole Sperling reports that the Pixar duo is being looked to with the hopes of adding a greater element of “character, emotion and theme” to director Joe Kosinski’s vision. Reshoots aren’t necessarily bad things people, most every film has them.

Speaking if Kosinski, Heat Vision has the news that he has been attached to direct Archangels, which is being described as a “Bourne-style thriller crossed with alien elements.” Tony and Ridley Scott will serve as producers under their “Scott Free” banner.

In case you couldn’t possibly live without seeing Ratatouille in 3D, it looks like you might soon get your fix… and Brendon Connelly at Bleeding Cool suggests it might not be the only one either. He also offers this quote from Pixar technician Bob Whitehill on the idea:

Ratatouille is one that we’re exploring doing [3D conversion on] and Brad Bird is very open to some changes, you know, some very subtle changes but slight reframings. If a character’s reaching forward and a pinky goes off screen, we’ll adjust the camera and the character a little bit to have the hand on. So that said, if the director’s open to minor modifications on a library title then that’s wonderful and we’re really excited about doing that.

Lastly, Production Weekly has offered the production start dates for four movies via Twitter.

Clash of the Titans 2 is set to begin filming in February 2011. Sam Raimi’s Oz, The Great and Powerful with Robert Downey Jr. is scheduled to start in June 2011. And Marvel’s graphic novel adaptation The Runaways is aiming for a January 2011 start, but they might want to change that title first to avoid any confusion with the recent punk-rock biopic of the same name. Just a thought… And finally, The Scorpion King: Rise Of The Dead, the second sequel in the franchise, will begin filming in Thailand in October.