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High Noon - 8th May 2006
  Berry & Del Toro Get Lost
Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro will star in Things We Lost In The Fire, a drama being produced by Sam Mendes for DreamWorks. Berry will play a woman whose husband dies suddenly and is helped through the crisis by his troubled best friend (Del Toro). Prepare for more tears and quivering bottom lips than a Halle Berry Oscar acceptance speech.

Danish helmer Susanne Bier (Open Hearts) will make her English-language debut with this script by up-and-coming talent Allan Loeb.
  Mac Sold On Transformers
Guess Who's Bernie Mac and Josh Duhamel (aka Tad Hamilton) have signed up for Transformers: The Movie. Jon Voight, John Turturro and Shia LaBeouf (I, Robot) are also on board for Michael Bay's $100m story of shape-shifting robots based on the 80s toy line and cartoon series. Mac will play a salesman who sells LaBeouf his first Transformer. And at last, Voight will have a role that makes him appear almost lifelike...

The live-action shoot begins this month with a view to release in July 2007.
  Weitz Is Golden
New Line has done a U-turn on fantasy epic The Golden Compass, based on the first instalment of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. The suits have dropped Brit helmer Anand Tucker (Shopgirl) and are handing back the reins to Chris Weitz (About A Boy) who wrote the script and was originally slated to direct. New Line says Tucker has left the film due to "differences in creative direction", but bear in mind that Weitz pulled out in 2004 because of daunting technical challenges though began to change his tune as the project took shape.

Weitz explains: "Though I'm disappointed that New Line and Anand didn't end up seeing eye to eye, when I was told the job of directing The Golden Compass was open, there was just no way that I could pass it up. I feel very confident in the creativity and expertise of the technical crew that is assembling to take on this challenge." Well, as long as the technical crew know what they're doing...
  Lucas Looking For Pearl
Josh Lucas will have top billing in an untitled thriller based on the book Who Killed Daniel Pearl? by Bernard-Henri Levy. Door In The Floor helmer Tod Williams will call the shots on this recent real-life tale that records Levy's journey into Pakistan to investigate the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal correspondent. Levy is convinced Pearl may have uncovered complicity between the Pakistani secret service and Al Quaeda.

Bizarrely though, the Pearl character will be fictionalised so as not to conflict with another project being presided over by the journalist's widow Marianne Pearl. "To conquer terrorism you have to learn to know it, to understand it, from within, if possible," says Levy. "And that, I hope, will be the contribution of this film."
  Mission Just Passable
Mission: Impossible III has opened at No.1 on both sides of the pond, but industry watchers aren't impressed by the booty. It took $48m (£25.8m) in the US, almost $11m (£6m) below the debut of M:I II and only $2.6m (£1.4m) above the original film, which opened a decade ago at 1000 fewer cinemas. In the UK it took a healthy $10.1m (£5.4m), but that's still not enough to satisfy the bean counters.

It's led to speculation that audiences are tiring of TC with his Scientology spiel and sofa-jumping antics. Of course the execs deny this. "Our market share in Germany is very high and in France the $6.1million [£3.3m] is a very strong number," says UIP honcho Andrew Cripps. "I think the weather took its toll and I see no evidence of anything else playing a part." Yeah, where are those alien overlords when you need them, eh Tom?