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WIRE Buzz: Eli Roth boards Borderlands; Wes Ball clarifies 'Apes' reboot; more

By Josh Weiss
Eli Roth Borderlands

Eli Roth has officially found his next project in the form of a film adaptation of the hit Borderlands video game franchise, Lionsgate and Gearbox announced today.

"I’m so excited to dive into the world of Borderlands, and I could not be doing it with a better script, producing team, and studio. I have a long, successful history with Lionsgate – I feel like we have grown up together and that everything in my directing career has led to a project of this scale and ambition," said Roth in a statement. "I look forward to bringing my own energy, ideas, and vision to the wild, fun, and endlessly creative world of the game. [Gearbox CEO] Randy Pitchford and everyone at Gearbox have been incredibly supportive of my ideas – it really feels like a perfect storm of creators coming together. We are out to make a new classic, one which the fans of the game will love, but also one which will find new audiences globally."

Eli Roth Borderlands

The preferred gaming series of director John Carpenter (it's true—look it up), Borderlands is a bit like Dune in that it deals with the future colonization of other, untamed planets and the wealth to be found on them. Add in former criminals, deadly beasts, alien technology, treasure hunts, and a Deadpool-like sense of humor, and you've got the basic gist. The games also have plenty of gore to satiate Roth's famous cinematic bloodlust.

Craig Mazin (creator of HBO's Chernobyl) wrote the latest draft of the movie's screenplay. Avi Arad (of Sam Raimi's beloved Spider-Man trilogy) is among the executive producers.

“I’m incredibly proud we can bring this beloved video game to theaters for our fans around the world. Eli and Craig, already accomplished and remarkable visionaries, will be amazing stewards of Gearbox’s innovative Borderlands characters and stories,” added Pitchford.

“With Eli’s vision and Craig’s screenplay, we believe we have cracked the code on bringing the anarchic world of Borderlands to the big screen in a big way that will be a fresh, compelling and cinematic event for moviegoers and fans of the game,” concluded Nathan Kahane, president of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

While Roth is known for small-scale and extremely graphic horror projects like Hostel and Cabin Fever, he's recently skewed more toward the commercial/family-friendly side of things. For example, his last film was the Amblin-produced The House With a Clock in Its Walls.

Additional reporting by Jacob Oller

Director Wes Ball (The Maze Runner) isn't monkeying around when it comes to his impending big-screen reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise for Disney's 20th Century Studios. Taking to Twitter, the filmmaker clarified rumors that the movie would start entirely from scratch and ignore the established canon.

"It’s never been easier for film journalists to actually get in touch with the actual people who actually know ... but maybe it’s the point to NOT fact-check these days? Regardless. Don’t worry. I won’t ruin the surprises, but it’s safe to say Caesar’s legacy will continue ..." he wrote.

The Apes project is Ball's follow-up to the VFX-heavy Mouse Guard, which Disney decided to scrap mere weeks before production was set to begin. That project (based on the BOOM! comic by David Petersen) had been greenlit by 20th Century prior to the Mouse House buyout.

"I’ll say this about Apes ... I grew up on the original and absolutely love the previous trilogy," Ball wrote when the reboot was first announced last December. "I would only do this if I felt I could offer something special, while still honoring what’s come before. We have something that’s shaping up to be an awesome chapter to this franchise."

Planet of the Apes

Matt Reeves (The Batman) was the last filmmaker to bring the simian series back to cinemas in the Rise of ... trilogy, which established how Caesar (played by Andy Serkis) came by his great intelligence and set up a thriving monkey civilization. The final entry, 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes, served as a nice bookend to the 1968 original that kicked off the entire franchise.

More than a decade after its initial release, Orphan is receiving a prequel film from Brahms: The Boy II director, William Brent Bell, Deadline has confirmed. Titled Esther, after the main antagonist of the first movie, the project was written by David Coggeshall (Scream: The Series).

Released in December of 2009, Orphan was about a strange little girl named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) who is adopted by a childless couple (played by Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard). People start to get hurt around Esther, and it's eventually revealed that she's not a little girl at all; she's actually a fully grown serial killer with a hormonal problem named Leena Klammer.

The prequel is set to explore Leena's early years as she "orchestrates a brilliant escape from a Russian psychiatric facility and travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family," reads the synopsis provided by Deadline. Leena's fresh start in the States is somewhat upended when she squares off with "a mother who will protect her family at any cost."

"I felt like it was more of a thriller, and if I had to pick a genre, that's the genre that I like the best," the first movie's director, Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows), told us back in 2012. "[The story] had a twist that I didn't see coming, which is rare; with so many scripts you already know what's going to happen, and this one I didn't see it coming, and that appealed to me."

While its premise was intriguing and strangely different, Orphan wasn't exactly loved by critics. The horror release didn't set any box-office records, either, bringing in nearly $80 million against a $20 million budget. It currently holds a 56 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.