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Originally published in 1936, In Dubious Battle is the least-known title in the author’s unofficial Dustbowl Trilogy — which also includes Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath. Set during a Great Depression labor dispute, its 99% v 1% themes remain relevant today.

Franco stars alongside Nat Wolff and an impressive ensemble cast that includes Robert Duvall, Vincent D’Onofrio, Bryan Cranston, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Selena Gomez, Josh Hutcherson, Ashley Greene, John Savage and Zach Braff.

Wolff plays Jim Nolan, a young recruit who joins Franco’s activist Mac McLeod to organize a group of California fruit-pickers oppressed by Duvall’s ruthless tycoon. The film chronicles their infiltration of the workers’ world, the ensuing strike and how they help and hinder the situation — and at what cost. Check out the trailer here.

Franco, who continues to straddle genres and media, says he chose the book after he had done Of Mice And Men on Broadway. The ideal medium for that, he tells me, is the play because of the setting and what actors can bring to a story that doesn’t move around a lot. Steinbeck, he feels, grew as a writer with both Mice and Grapes Of Wrath. But In Dubious Battle, which was written first, “shows him as more of a beginner, and in particular one of the things he learned how to do in the latter two books was develop character. There are indelible characters in the later books.”

Whereas with In Dubious Battle, the characters “are not as fully dimensional as the other books, but the situation is better for a movie” with the action moving around on a vaster canvas. “Steinbeck, by the time he got to Grapes Of Wrath, was doing a lot of research,” Franco says. “He was going out to these encampments. So he had seen by that point firsthand how horrible the conditions were and that people were being ripped off and all their wages were being halved. So by the time he wrote Grapes Of Wrath, he was fully on the side of the workers.”

With In Dubious Battle, it sounded “like he was going for a bit more of an even tone.” Franco’s movie version veers “a bit” from the book, especially the ending. He says the reason for that “was not to change the intention or spirit of the novel, but I really feel like Steinbeck just wasn’t on his sort of dramatic game as well as he was later in his books.”

Franco himself is surprised by the folks he was able to pull together in the cast. “When I step back and think about some of the guys I got in the movie, I think just ‘wow.’ It’s kind of crazy,” he says. “People like Robert Duvall are people I studied when I was in acting school, and they were held up as the greats of the profession. To work with them is a real honor.”

A shift since he began directing has been a bonus. “My whole attitude towards other actors changed,” Franco says. “Meaning, I don’t know, maybe when I was a young actor I was really competitive and it was all about fighting for roles or whatever. But now as I direct, it’s like I want to get along with every actor. I want to love every actor so they can be in my movie, and so whenever I work with anybody, especially people that I really respect, I try to stay in touch with them.”

NYU Film School also boosted his confidence. “When I first started directing, I was really shy and I was a little insecure about my skills. … Now I’m not shy about asking actors to be in my projects; the worst that can happen is they say no.”

This is Franco’s fourth movie as director to premiere in Venice. He says his long-lasting relationship with the festival “might be something to do with being in Europe that they are better able to allow me to be a director in ways that maybe are tricky for people in the States to do. I feel like early on they sort of got on board and were very supportive of the movies I was doing.”

He allows that the films are “of a certain type. I understand there’s not a huge call for Faulkner adaptations in the marketplace today,” he says, laughing. But, he adds, “I feel like I’ve been fortunate. And I think my team has been really good about putting these movies together in a certain way and at a certain price so that it can be really loyal to the novels and that’s really — changing the ending aside — I think we were very loyal to the spirit of In Dubious Battle.”

Franco has recently branched out into television, directing an episode of the Stephen King/JJ Abrams miniseries 11.22.63, and two episodes of the upcoming HBO series The Deuce, which he’s doing with The Wire’s David Simon.

He’s also just completed the Seth Rogen-produced The Masterpiece about The Room, or as Franco says, “the best worst movie ever.” That project is “a very different kind of movie for me. It still fulfills my artistic ambitions. It’s about making things and it’s about art and all of that and it’s also got a different kind of commercial side to it,” Franco tells me.

Then, he adds, “I think the kind of stuff I’m doing is changing while I’m still also very interested in these adaptations of American classics. I guess you could just say I’m still doing what a lot of people say I’m always doing which is a lot of different kinds of things.”

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James Franco, Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz and Dennis Quaid will star in the sci-fi action-thriller Kin.

Jonathan and Josh Baker will direct the film based on their own short film, Bag Man. Daniel Casey penned the script, which follows a recently released ex-con (Reynor) and his adopted younger brother who are forced to go on the run. Chased by a vengeful criminal (Franco), the feds and a cadre of otherworldly soldiers, their only protection is a found weapon of mysterious ancestry.

Quaid will play the brothers’ father and Kravitz joins the brothers’ journey as a trusted ally.

Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps Entertainment will produce along with Jeff Arkuss, David Gross and Jesse Shapira of No Trace Camping. The film is slated to begin shooting Oct. 24.

Sources say that WME and Good Universe are planning on shopping the project at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival and will meet with the studios in advance of the fest’s Sept. 8 kickoff.

Franco’s upcoming work includes The Disaster Artist, which he stars in and directed, and comedy Why Him? He is repped by CAA, Untitled and Sloane, Offer.

Reynor was most recently seen in Sing Street and appears in the upcoming Free Fire, which will play at TIFF. He is repped by WME, MacFarlane Chard and Sloane, Offer.

Kravitz recently joined Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; her other upcoming projects include Rock That Body and HBO series Big Little Lies with Shailene Woodley. She is repped by Paradigm and Untitled.

Quaid will next be seen in A Dog’s Purpose and appears on Pivot TV series Fortitude. He is repped by WME and Hansen, Jacobson.

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Multi-hyphenate James Franco, no stranger to classic American literature, has taken his first directorial shot at moving John Steinbeck to the screen with an adaptation of In Dubious Battle. Originally published in 1936, the novel is the lesser-known title in Steinbeck’s unofficial Dustbowl Trilogy — which also includes Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath — but has been hailed as among his strongest works. It’s a study of man’s struggle against himself set during a Great Depression labor dispute whose themes are still relevant today.

Multi-hyphenate James Franco, no stranger to classic American literature, has taken his first directorial shot at moving John Steinbeck to the screen with an adaptation of In Dubious Battle. Originally published in 1936, the novel is the lesser-known title in Steinbeck’s unofficial Dustbowl Trilogy — which also includes Of Mice And Men and The Grapes Of Wrath — but has been hailed as among his strongest works. It’s a study of man’s struggle against himself set during a Great Depression labor dispute whose themes are still relevant today.

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James Franco is developing three movies based on novels by crime fiction writer Tom Franklin — “Smonk,” “Poachers,” and “Hell at the Breech,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Franco and partner Vince Jolivette are producing through their Rabbit Bandini Productions, which recently obtained the movie rights in a deal put in place by Joel Gotler of Intellectual Property Group on behalf of Nat Sobel of Sobel Weber Associates. The company has tapped screenwriters for each project.

“We plan on shooting all three of them in the next one to three years,” Jolivette told Variety. “There are no plans at this point for James to act or direct, just for us to produce. We feel the material is rich enough to attract A-level talent.”

Playwright David Van Asselt is working on a script for “Poachers” and Franklin will write the “Smonk” script. Ian Olds and Paul Felton are penning the adaptation of “Hell at the Breech.”

“We’re labeling these as our gritty Southern Gothic series of films,” Jolivette said.

“Poachers,” Franklin’s first book, is a collection of short stories. The title story, which won the Edgar Award for best mystery short story, focuses on three wild boys confronting a mythic game warden as mysterious and deadly as the river they haunt.

“Smonk” is set in 1911 in Old Texas, Ala., where every Saturday night for a year, E.O. Smonk has been destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, and beating men.

“Hell at the Breech” takes place in 1897. When an aspiring politician is mysteriously murdered in a rural area of Alabama, outraged friends — mostly poor cotton farmers — form a secret society, Hell-at-the-Breech, to punish the townspeople they believe responsible.

Franco has starred in and Jolivette has produced two adaptations of William Faulkner novels about the rural South in the early 20th Century — “The Sound and the Fury,” which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and “As I Lay Dying,” which debuted at the 2014 Venice Film Festival.

Franco has been producing, co-directing, and co-starring in the post-apocalyptic thriller “Future World” with Milla Jovovich, Suki Waterhouse, Snoop Dogg, and Method Man. Franco’s recently completed projects include “The Adderall Diaries,” “I Am Michael,” “In Dubious Battle,” “The Long Hour,” “Palo Alto,” and “The Masterpiece.”

Franco also directed and co-produced “The Masterpiece,” which centers on the making of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult film “The Room.” Rabbit Bandini, Point Grey, and Good Universe are producing the New Line film. Franco plays Wiseau. His brother Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Ari Graynor, Jackie Weaver, and Bryan Cranston also star.

James Franco is also starring with Cranston in Fox’s upcoming comedy “Why Him?,” which opens on Dec. 25.

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James Franco and Seth Rogen, the creative duo behind such cult comedy hits as The Interview and This is the End, are Hollywood bound in the first trailer for Zeroville, a biting satirical period romp hailing from Franco himself.
It’s pitched as his most ambitious directorial effort to date, and after clocking eyes on the extensive first trailer, we’re inclined to believe those claims. Featuring a host of regular faces in Jacki Weaver, Megan Fox, Craig Robinson, Will Ferrell and Danny McBride, Zeroville is set against the Tinsel Town of ’69 where Ike “Vikar” Jerome stars out on a journey that offers up tragedy and discovery in equal measure.
Placing a laser focus on celebrity culture and all things Hollywood, Seth Rogen is on board as a character known as Viking Man – “gatekeeper to all the right parties, a cigar-chomping surf hippie; Vikar’s eccentric Hollywood guide” – while the casting sheet reveals the larger-than-life personalities of Rondell, (Will Ferrell, Dotty (Jacki Weaver), Financier (Danny McBride) and femme fatale Soledad (Megan Fox). There’s also a Wim Wenders cameo buried in today’s first-look.

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A Pedro Almodovar film based on Alice Munro’s stories, James Franco’s adaptation of a John Steinbeck novel and movies starring Richard Gere, Christian Bale and Naomi Watts are the latest additions to the 2016 TIFF lineup.

The Toronto International Film Festival unleashed a fresh wave of movies Tuesday, including new galas and special presentations, movies from master auteurs, bold offerings for its City to City spotlight, contemporary world cinema titles and features slated for the experimental wavelength program.

A pair of galas joins the high-profile slate: the star-studded tale Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, starring Gere, and historical wartime drama The Promise, set against the final days of the Ottoman Empire and featuring Bale and Oscar Isaac.

Walter Hill’s assassin story (Re)Assignment, a Canadian production, is among the films added to the special presentations, along with Brain on Fire, Gerard Barrett’s Irish-Canadian film about a woman’s battle against a sudden and mysterious neurological illness, lifesaving diagnosis and recovery.

Other special presentations include:

Quebec director Phillip Falardeau’s The Bleeder, about the real-life boxer who inspired the Rocky films and starring Watts, Liev Schreiber and Elisabeth Moss.
I, Daniel Blake, British filmmaker Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning contemporary drama about an aged carpenter unable to work after a heart attack, but blocked from medical benefits due to bureaucracy.
In Dubious Battle, the labour conflict-migrant worker tale directed and starring Franco alongside Vincent D’Onofrio, Selena Gomez, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Robert Duvall and Bryan Cranston.
Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey, a visual effects-laden exploration of the universe and natural phenomena narrated by Cate Blanchett.
Burn Your Maps, featuring young Canadian actor Jacob Tremblay (Room) as a young boy convinced he is actually a Mongolian goat herder.

Acclaimed Spanish director Almodovar’s Julieta, part of the Masters lineup, adapts three of Canadian Nobel Prize-winner Munro’s short stories into a “time tripping tale” about a mother-daughter relationship.

Other auteurs bringing films to TIFF this fall include Wim Wenders (The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women), Cristian Mungiu (Graduation), Brillante Ma Mendoza (Ma’ Rosa), Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper), Terence Davies (A Quiet Passion) and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (The Unknown Girl).

Lagos takes the spotlight for the festival’s City to City program this year, with eight “Nollywood” titles to screen and up-and-coming actors OC Ukeje and Somkele Iyamah Idhalama — rising stars from Nigeria’s largest city — invited to participate in special events, seminars and workshops.

TIFF 2016 runs Sept. 8-18.

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Yesterday was the Special Screening of Columbia Pictures Sausage Party I have add over 30 photos from event to the gallery


Seth Rogen and James Franco appeared on Thursday’s “Today” show to discuss their new R-rated animated movie Sausage Party


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ames Franco will be honored with a career tribute at the Deauville festival where his second directorial effort In Dubious Battle will be screened.

His John Steinbeck adaptation will premiere just days before in Venice on Aug. 31. Franco joins Michael Moore in being honored by the French festival with a career tribute and a screening.

“Although James Franco achieved world fame as an actor by playing Harry Osborn in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, he has never stopped exploring new horizons. More than an actor or a director, James Franco is now an accomplished and a complete artist,” said festival organizers in a statement.

Brad Furman’s The Infiltrator, starring Diane Kruger and Bryan Cranston will open the festival with Todd Phillips’ War Dogs, starring Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill, the closing film, with cast and crew expected to attend.

As previously announced, the president of the Deauville jury will be former minister of culture Frederic Mitterand, who also is a TV and film producer and director. The festival’s lineup is expected to be announced Aug. 23.
The Deauville Film Festival runs from Sept. 2 – 11.

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James Franco is one of those rare actors who seems capable of taking on just about any new challenge a film presents him – but, if this new rumour is to be believed, he may be set to take on his most formidable challenge yet.

On this week’s edition of Meet The Movie Press, the typically well-informed journalist Jeff Snieder reports that Franco may be in the running for the lead in ‘The Predator,’ director Shane Black’s upcoming revival of the sci-fi action franchise.

He says Franco “may not be Shane Black’s top choice,” but hugely powerful casting agency CAA are pushing for their client to be cast in the role.

While Snieder stresses this should be treated purely as a rumour right now, he states, “[Franco] is very high on a list. That’s all I know at this point.”

And Snieder emphasises it may not just be the agency, but also the studio with a vested interest in the actor: “James Franco starred in ‘[Rise of the] Planet of the Apes’ for Fox; he also stars in Fox’s big Christmas comedy, ‘Why Him?’ … so Fox seems to like the James Franco brand.

“It could be interesting. I think Shane Black wants to do someone a little bit different.”

Snieder also mentions that Ben Affleck, Christian Bale and Tom Hardy were on Shane Black’s wishlist for the role earlier on – and, alas, he doesn’t seem to think that Dwayne Johnson is in the running for the film, as had been rumoured.

Followers of the ‘Predator’ series will recall that the last film in the series, 2010’s ‘Predators,’ cast someone “a little bit different” in the lead: Adrien Brody. While there wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with the Oscar-winning ‘The Pianist’ actor’s performance in the Nimrod Antall-directed reboot, it didn’t reignite the franchise the way Fox had hoped.

Of course, it’s almost impossible to judge Franco’s suitability for the lead in ‘The Predator’ as we know nothing about the role, other than that in the current draft of the script (from Black and Fred Dekker) his name is Quinn McKenna.

If McKenna’s meant to be an uber-tough military man in the same vein as Dutch, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hero from the 1987 original, then Franco is far from the obvious choice; but who’s to say what the character might be like at this point?

‘The Predator’ is scheduled to hit cinemas in February 2018.

Picture Credit: 20th Century Fox, Sony, WENN

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