View Finder: Watchmen will be reheating more Leftovers
Nicole Kessell will helm Watchmen's pilot episode and Netflix plans for Spacey's House of Card eviction.
Update 5.2.2018: In the original version of this article, I failed to mention that Claire Underwood had already replaced Kevin Spacey's Frank as president. This is important as it likely plays into how Frank is phased out in the sixth season. I've added some thoughts on fan theories and how I think Season 6 could handle the firing of Kevin Spacey.
The planned TV adaptation of Watchmen already had two key ingredients that whet my appetite. Firstly, it will be produced by HBO, the television network with a stellar track record when it comes to making gripping television on a big budget. Secondly, Damen Lindelof was announced as showrunner, the man who co-created Lost (a killer show with a hugely divisive ending) and co-creator of one of the best HBO productions of recent memory, The Leftovers.
Now HBO is adding an extra dash of that Leftovers secret sauce, giving director Nicole Kassell the reins to the pilot episode.
Kessell led the charge on two of The Leftovers' best episodes, in addition to quality episodes of Better Call Saul and The Killing, all gritty undertakings that prove Kessell is up to the task of handling some of Watchmen's incredibly dark themes.
Greg Kinnear and Diane Lane on board for the Robin Wright-led voyage.
When Kevin Spacey's rap sheet of sexual harassment allegations came to light, the streaming giant made short work putting a wedge between its successful political thriller and its villainous lead. Netflix made the decision to shut down production of House of Cards Season 6 and fire Kevin Spacey back in November 2017, shelving a Spacey-led Gore Vidal biopic in the process.
In the seasons leading up to the allegations against actor/executive producer Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright's Claire Underwood had already become a powerful force unto her own, taking over as the Commander In Chief when Frank stepped down to avoid impeachment charges, so the decision to have her lead the Frank-less ship was an executive order that was a no-brainer.
However, it seems Netflix is beefing up the cast of Season 6 to make up for the loss of Spacey and Neve Campbell (who also won't be returning for the sixth season) by enlisting Hollywood vets Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) and Diane Lane (Unfaithful).
The Oscar-nominated pair will join the cast next week when the sixth season resumes production. House of Cards' latest residents will play on-screen siblings but little else is known about their roles at this time nor how the team plans to account for the AWOL Frank Underwood.
Inadvertently or not, Season 5 actually lays a solid foundation for a Frank-less House of Cards. When Claire took the reins, Frank was pushed further and further out of the inner sanctum, ignored by his longtime partner in crime so that she could run the show her way. In fact, one faction of fans even theorised that Spacey's Underwood was already dead in Season 5 and that his appearance was merely an apparition, a part of Claire's conscience she'd eventually need to exorcise.
This could be a bit of a fantastical for the relatively down to earth series, but it's definitely not out of the question. Frank's character constantly pulled himself out of the moment, breaking the fourth wall, addressing the audience directly. The idea that Frank posthumously existed in that space between the viewer and the world of House of Cards isn't a stretch of the imagination.
It should also be noted that in the novels and BBC TV adaptations, the British Frank Underwood (Frank Urquhart) was knocked off by his own powerful wife, Elizabeth Urquhart, in order to protect both character's legacies. I'd not be surprised if that's truthfully where the Netflix series was originally heading, considering the mounting pressure on Frank Underwood and Claire's ruthless dedication to the position and her own legacy.
My best bet? A cold open to Frank's funeral in episode one, tying up that thread as early as possible. This would shift the focus entirely to Claire, giving the character and viewers one powerful last season.
I'm hoping to see Kinnear and Lane as a fierce opposition to the Underwood's terror-fuelled regime when the final season airs
Netflix bets on Besson
While Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets didn't do much to swing the favour of critics or even make much of a splash at the box office, fans of the movie and comic book source material Valérian and Laureline shouldn't give up hope for a sequel just yet. A report from Variety has revealed that Netflix plans to work with Luc Besson's production company, Europacorp.
The deal will supposedly see Besson churn out several original productions for the streaming service, offering up around $30 million US per episode to work with. That's galaxies away from Valerian's $172 million budget (which was ultimately made at a loss) so if we do get Valerian 2 it will no doubt be a much smaller-scale production.
With that said, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is only Besson's most recent outing. We could see more down to earth productions, like Léon: The Professional and Nikita, which the director/producer owes his career to.
The deal will also allow Netflix to add EuropaCorp's library to its services, bringing movies like the French action-comedy Taxi and high-octane action, like Transporter and Taken, to the global streaming platform.
Here are the most notable trailers from the week of streaming.
Doug Jones had a tough task on his hands adapting World of Warcraft for the big screen and unfortunately, it showed in the final work. However, those who know Jones for his earlier small-scale sci-fi romps Moon and Souce Code can breathe easy as the director is set to return to the genre that made him with Mute.
We've finally got our first look at the upcoming movie which stars Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux (who played the tormented lead in The Leftovers).
The mysterious Hulu series that explores the Stephen King-verse also stars actors who have played some of his most iconic characters, like Sissy Spacek (Carrie) and Bill Skarsgård (It).
And just so I can name drop The Leftovers one last time, it's worth mentioning Scot Glenn is also on board.
If you take anything away from this week's View Finder, please let it be this: Do yourself a favour and watch The Leftovers.
The Leftovers is currently available to stream on Foxtel's streaming platform, Foxtel Now.
Looking for something to stream this week? Check out what's new on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Stan in January.
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