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WIRE Buzz: Nicolas Cage voicing alcoholic dragon in Highfire; Dune's sandworms come up for air; more

By Josh Weiss
Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage will play an alcoholic, TV-loving dragon in Amazon's TV adaptation of Eoin Colfer's Highfire novel at Amazon, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed today.

The Mandy actor is also attached as an executive producer to the fantasy project, which is set in a world where dragons once ruled the Earth under the leadership of Lord Highfire (Cage). Now, however, Highfire (going by the less epic title of "Vern" these days) only rules over a crocodile-filled swamp in Louisiana, mostly spending his days in a haze of vodka and cable television. Vern's quiet existence is turned upside down when he forms an unlikely friendship with Squib, a teenager who runs liquor for the mob.

Nicolas Cage Highfire

Davey Holmes (Epix's Get Shorty, Shameless) is writing the series and will serve as an executive producer alongside Cage and Andrew Mittman of 1.21.

Colfer is known for writing the Artemis Fowl series of YA novels, which recently received a film adaptation from director Kenneth Branagh (the movie is now streaming on Disney+). Highfire was published in January of this year.

Back in May, we learned that director Denis Villeneuve spent more than a year developing the look of the giant sandworms for his two-part film adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune. Thanks to a new cover from Empire Magazine's next issue, we finally have our very first look at the subterranean, man-eating invertebrates that would give the Tremors franchise's Graboids a run for their money. To quote Dutch from Predator, the sandworm is "one ugly mother f***er."

Check it out:

When Empire's new issue goes on sale in early September, fans can get their hands on a number of variant covers that are sure to be as coveted as the Spice mines on Arrakis. In any case, they highlight the films' talented cast featuring Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, and Zendaya.

Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Chang Chen, David Dastmalchian, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Charlotte Rampling are also featured in the ensemble.

Dune is scheduled to hit theaters Friday, Dec. 18. No release date has been set for Part II.

According to Deadline, Lionsgate has acquired a spec script for an upcoming horror project entitled Mother Land. Shawn Levy (Stranger Things, Free Guy) and Dan Cohen will produce the feature under their 21 Laps banner.

Written by Kevin Coughlin and Ryan Grassby, the screenplay is described as "a timely and high concept piece" about a family that's been haunted by evil spirits for a very long time. "Their safety and surroundings come into question when one of the children questions if the evil is real," writes Deadline. Not much else is known about the plot at this time.

Coughlin and Grassby previously wrote Mean Dreams, which starred the late Bill Paxton. The thriller (directed by Nathan Morlando) debuted at Cannes in 2016.  

Lionsgate is set to release another horror film, Antebellum, on VOD next month.