CATEGORIES Movies
Here's every fledgling screenwriter's dream. You're a script reader for a big production company and you've written screenplays and pitches but with scant success. Then one day you're picked to write what a major studio hopes will be a new 'Harry Potter'-like franchise. Well, welcome to the world of Ed Whitworth, a script reader for Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Prods., who has been tapped by Warner Bros. to write 'The Lost Years of Merlin,' its big-budget adaptation of the first book of the fantasy series by T.A. Barron. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this will be an origin story about the journey of Merlin from his days as a destitute young boy to later years as the magical mentor to King Arthur and his knights. Warners is hoping for a suitable replacement for its billion-dollar Harry Potter franchise. Whitworth, thankfully, has a background with words: He studied at Oxford, worked as a journalist at the Times of London, and took classes at UCLA's screenwriting program before becoming a reader first at ICM, then Harpo. His screenplays made the rounds and, obviously, caught the eyes of the right people at the right time. Congrats.

Tim Burton has put a temporary kink in Disney's 'Maleficent,' the studio's live-action reworking of 'Sleeping Beauty': The director, who's working on the feature-length stop-motion version of his 1984 short 'Frankenweenie' for Disney, has decided to leave the project. The film, which tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of the evil witch, was shaping up to be an interesting project teaming Burton and Angelina Jolie, who would star as Maleficent. According to THR, Disney is beginning a search for a new director and guess whose name has popped up: David Yates, who helmed the past four Harry Potter movies. There's something about witches. The movie is due for release on Oct. 5, 2012.

Summit Entertainment -- home of the 'Twilight' franchise -- has picked up domestic rights to Dwayne Johnson's thriller 'Snitch,' about a suburban father (Johnson) whose teen son is sentenced to 10 years in prison for a drug violation. In order to reduce the sentence, dad goes undercover after a high-level dealer. The project, which is directed by Ric Roman Waugh ('Felon'), is based on a 'Frontline' documentary. [From Cannes via TheWrap]

And, lastly, our favorite kick-ass female, Milla Jovovich, has tweeted that hubby and director Paul W.S. Anderson is hard at work researching video games for the fifth installment in the Resident Evil series: 'Resident Evil: Retribution.' According to Cinema Blend, Jovovich explains that "Paul has kids that are professional players. All they do is play the games until they master every level and unlock every code. They play the games for weeks and give Paul the footage. So, he's literally watching days of the most awesome RE players out there to get inspiration for the next installment of the franchise." 'Retribution' is due out September 14, 2012, with Jovovich returning as the iconic Alice.