The Word Garage

The Word Garage

Early Edition: James Hong Joins ‘R.I.P.D., Shelved Julia Roberts Film Released, More

As we round the bend into a very hot weekend in Hollywood, East Coasters are waking up to a hurricane watch. But whether it’s wet and wild or hot and dry, your best bet this weekend is to duck into your favorite neighborhood movie theater for a couple of hours — making sure you read Moviefone’s weekend movie preview beforehand. In the meantime, here’s what happened Thursday night: ‘R.I.P.D.’ digs up new cast members, a shelved Julia Roberts film finally gets distribution, Universal cuts another project loose, ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ sees more change, and more. Read on.

‘R.I.P.D.’ is firming up its cast with the addition of veteran actor James Hong and ‘Glee’ regular Mike O’Malley. ‘R.I.P.D.’ centers on a murdered cop (Ryan Reynolds) who is recruited to work in the Rest in Peace Department, a police force that battles spirits unready to depart this world. Jeff Bridges co-stars as his centuries old partner. Hong — who has appeared in over 500 movies and television roles — will play “Grandpa Chen,” Reynolds’ avatar, the form humans see. O’Malley will play one of the ghosts. Marisa Miller just joined the cast as Bridges’ avatar. Also in the cast of the Robert Schwentke-directed film are Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker and Stephanie Szostak. [The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline]

This from out friends at indieWIRE: “How often does a film starring Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds sit on a shelf for three and half years? I guess about as often as one starring Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo and Anna Paquin. Just a few weeks after Fox Searchlight finally gave Kenneth Lonergan’s long-delayed ‘Margaret’ (which stars Damon, Ruffalo and Paquin, among others) a release date September 30, it’s been announced that ‘Fireflies in the Garden,’ Dennis Lee’s star-studded directorial debut, will hit theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco on October 14th (followed by other cities). The film was produced and financed by Senator Entertainment; its domestic distribution arm was, at one point, going to release it as well. But then it shut down in June 2009, making ‘Fireflies’ homeless.” Read more here.

They’re erecting a gigantic “Exit” sign over at Universal Studios, just north of the pass from Hollywood: Yet another project has been put into turnaround. This one is ‘Wicked Lovely,‘ the adaptation of a series of best-selling Harper Collins novels by Melissa Marr, set in the secret work of faeries and centering on a teenage girl who can see the hidden faery world. This comes on the heels of the studio passing on Ron Howard’s ‘The Dark Tower,’ Guillermo del Toro’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness,’ ‘Clue’ and ‘Ouija.’ Looks like the studio is jettisoning risky, high-budget projects in favor of better bets such as the Tom Cruise-sci-fi-starrer ‘Horizon’ (fomerly ‘Obilvion’), ‘Battleship,’ ‘Snow White and the Huntsman,’ ‘The Bourne Legacy’ and ‘R.I.P.D.,’ as well as more ‘The Fast and the Furious’ outings. Everyone’s gotta cut back in this economy. [THR]

‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ may need an Rx for stability. The Occupant Films production — about a straight-laced pharmacist whose uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder — first had to replace Jeremy Renner with Sam Rockwell for the lead; now Olivia Wilde will take on the role left vacant by Jennifer Garner after news of her third pregnancy. Rockwell will play the pharmacist and Wilde plays the trophy wife. Judi Dench and Michelle Monaghan co-star. [ThePlaylist]

FilmNation Entertainment is beefing up its production line with the thriller ‘The Faces,’ which will be directed by Paul Solet (‘Grace’). The film revolves around newlyweds who discover the existence of an elite underworld society that uses terror as a means of entertainment. FilmNation’s slate includes the recently completed ‘House at the End of the Street,’ starring Jennifer Lawrence; ‘The Raven,’ with John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe; and ‘Mud,’ starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey, which is in pre-production. [Deadline]