High-profile names have been confirmed for a number of upcoming films as the American Film Market continues its eight-day Santa Monica event, including Elizabeth Banks, Darren Aronofsky and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ricky Gervais, Brian Cox, Sam Claflin and Liam Neeson.
Running November 4 to 11, the AFM again proves a fruitful source of film casting announcements as production companies pitch to bigger studios and distributors.
For example, the early days of this year's 36th annual Annual Film Market have already pegged "Hunger Games," "Pitch Perfect 2" and "Love & Mercy" star Elizabeth Banks for "Rita Hayworth With A Hand Grenade" (Screen Daily.)
Despite its title, the film is not being pitched as a biopic of World War II-era actress and pin-up Rita Hayworth.
Instead, Banks would play a war photographer who spends 30 years stuck on a South Pacific island after her plane is downed.
Written and directed by the pair behind the London Independent Film Festival award winner "Dimensions," Ant Neely and Sloane U'Ren, "Rita Hayworth..." was inspired by the true stories of groundbreaking photojournalists Gerda Taro and Margaret Bourke-White as well as Japanese WWII soldier Hiroo Onoda.
Also pitched at the start of AFM 2015 has been Darren Aronofsky's "478," a revenge drama in which he would direct Arnold Schwarzenegger (Deadline.)
That film is now going ahead after securing funding from Emmet/Furla/Oasis Films, a company co-founded by the producers of "Everest," "Rambo IV" and "End of Watch."
Elliot Lester of "Blitz" and "Nightingale" directs from a script by "Enemy" and "Invasor" writer Javier Gullón.
Golden Globes host and "The Office" creator Ricky Gervais is stepping on board for "Blazing Samurai" in order to play the animated feature's chief villain (Variety.)
It's a US-Chinese made comedy that already has Michael Cera, Samuel Jackson, Djimon Hounsou and Michelle Yeoh among its cast, as well as Mel Brooks who is also executive producing the film for an August 2017 release.
And another World War II picture beckons in "Churchill," which has film and theater icon Brian Cox in its lead role as the British Prime Minister, with another highly rated Scot, Brian Welsh of "In Our Name" and "The Escape Artist," to direct (Screen Daily.)
Other casting confirmations to emerge from AFM's opening days include Sam Claflin ("The Hunger Games") joining Freddie Highmore and Paul Bettany in "Journey's End" and Liam Neeson announced as both General MacArthur in Korean War movie "Operation Chromite" and Watergate spy scandal whistleblower Mark Felt in "Felt."