There's a new rumbling on the Island of Sodor: Deadline reports that HIT Entertainment, which owns the rights to the lucrative 'Thomas the Tank Engine' properties (TV, merchandise), is planning on a live-action theatrical film and has tapped Shane Acker ('9') to direct. The 'Thomas and Friends' TV series has been a mainstay for preschoolers since 1984, when it debuted with Ringo Starr as the conductor (storyteller) for the show that interspersed live-action segments with Thomas cartoons (Geroge Carlin and Alec Baldwin also have had stints as the conductor). Deadline points out that Acker is an interesting choice to helm a film based on a kiddie property, since '9' was a dark take set on a post apocalyptic world (in which a rag doll battles a soul-stealing monster). According to Deadline, "Acker acknowledges that he wants to broaden the movie's audience beyond pre-schoolers, but has no interest in causing nightmares."
Pass the silver bullets, please: Disney announced on Wednesday that it will release 'The Lone Ranger' on December 21, 2012, stacking a claim for a big chunk of that year's holiday boxoffice (other films set for that month: Peter Jackson's 'Hobbit' outing, Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi'). 'The Lone Ranger' is directed by Gore Verbinski and stars Armie Hammer ('The Social Network') as the masked man and Johnny Depp as Tonto.