Sundance may be the center of the film universe for the next few days, but Las Vegas isn’t exactly having a shabby week when it comes to movie news.
Celine Dion’s life and music will provide the basis for the upcoming feature tentatively titled “The Power of Love.” Zack Snyder (“Justice League”) is returning to directing with a heist movie set during a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas. And Bishop Gorman grad Jillian Bell (“Workaholics,” “22 Jump Street”) stars in one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the annual film festival in Park City, Utah.
Originally reported Wednesday as a Dion biopic, “The Power of Love” is now being referred to as an “homage.” Valerie Lemercier will direct and star as Aline, a singer who grows up in a large Canadian family and becomes a music superstar before she’s rocked by the death of her husband.
“The Power of Love” will be produced by Gaumont, the French studio behind “Narcos,” “Hannibal” and “The Intouchables,” the French-language smash that served as the basis for the Bryan Cranston-Kevin Hart movie “The Upside.”
According to Variety, “The Power of Love” will begin production in March with filming scheduled in Las Vegas, Canada, France and Spain.
“Army of the Dead,” meanwhile, will be Snyder’s first movie since leaving “Justice League” following the death of his daughter. “I thought this was a good palate cleanser to really dig in with both hands and make something fun and epic and crazy and bonkers in the best possible way,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.
Snyder, who would go on to direct “300” and “Man of Steel,” launched his feature career in 2004 with the zombie remake “Dawn of the Dead.”
While “Army of the Dead” is most definitely set in Las Vegas, there are no firm plans yet — despite one local report — to film all or even any of the Netflix movie here. With production reportedly set to begin this summer, Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office, said it was too early in the process to know where it may film.
And one of the biggest success stories to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival is “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a comedy about a hard-partying overweight woman (Las Vegas native Bell) who gets some sobering news from her doctor and — well, the title’s pretty much a spoiler.
Amazon Studios purchased the worldwide rights this week for $14 million. That’s the same amount the company shelled out at the festival for “The Report,” a thriller starring Adam Driver about the CIA’s use of torture that’s already generating Oscar buzz. Amazon also paid $13 million for just the U.S. distribution rights to this year’s Sundance hit “Late Night,” a comedy written by Mindy Kaling that’s set in a talk show writers’ room.
New Line forked over $15 million this week for “Blinded by the Light,” a coming-of-age story about a British-Pakistani teenager that’s set to a soundtrack of 17 Bruce Springsteen songs.
For comparison’s sake, in 2016, “Birth of a Nation” sold for a record-shattering $17.5 million. The previous second-biggest sale had been “Mudbound,” which Netflix bought for $12.5 million the following year.