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Development roundup: Gears of War finds writer; animated detective hits Disney, Bao director lands feature

Contributed by
Nov 29, 2018

You couldn’t pick more disparate projects for this development roundup if you searched the galaxy for the holders of the Infinity Stones, as the genre elements of the forthcoming projects span far and wide. So settle in to learn about the upcoming screen presences of a violent video game, a delightfully animated representation of Indian culture, and the feature debut of the Bao director.

First up, the Gears of War movie has found its high-profile screenwriter. The long-gestating movie based on the Xbox franchise of video games — featuring some very gruff and hardcore military men fighting off an invasive Locust Horde — has tapped the writer of equally testosterone-laden films xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Collide, F. Scott Frazier.

According to The Wrap, the screenwriter has joined onto the Universal film which has been in development since before the rights were purchased by the studio back in 2016. Frazier will take over from the last screenwriter to be publicly announced, Avatar 2’s Shane Salerno.

Frazier will work with producers Dylan Clark, game co-creator Rod Fergusson, and Scott Stuber to adapt the franchise (perhaps just the first game, perhaps an original tale) into a movie introducing fans to what could potentially be a longer series — the fourth game in the series came out in October 2016 while the fifth was announced at this year’s E3.

Next, something much more lighthearted. According to a release, a new detective is coming to Disney Junior. Mira, Royal Detective — a mystery-solving series involving class, magic, and plenty of comic relief as it teaches kids about Indian culture — has started production with an aim at a 2020 release date.

The fantastical kingdom of Jalpur will feature princes, mongeese, and detectives voiced by recognizable leads like Freida Pinto, Kal Penn, Aasif Mandvi, Jameela, and Sarita Choudhury — led by Mira herself, voiced by Leela Ladnier. Kamran Lucas, Roshni Edwards, and Utkarsh Ambudkar are also main players in the cast.

The show will aim for a preschool demographic, with episodes aimed at both critical thinking (solving mysteries) and Indian culture (the setting and characters). There are also talking mongeese. Did that get mentioned? Becca Topol developed the show and serves as its story editor, bringing strange magic and Scooby-Doo secrets to youngsters in the coming years.

Finally, in similarly animated fashion, the director of dumpling-based Pixar short Bao, Domee Shi, is developing a feature with the studio. According to Deadline, the Incredibles 2 storyboarder is hard at work on the potential new film.

“We’re just developing the story for it right now,” Shi said. “It’s super early on, but I’m really excited to play in this new 90-minute film format.” Shi, the first female helmer of a Pixar short, would be an exciting new voice to launch a Pixar feature - whenever it's aimed to come out.

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