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Film News Roundup: Live-Action ‘Dora the Explorer’ Moves Forward With Nick Stoller

In today’s film news roundup, Paramount Players hires Nick Stoller for “Dora the Explorer,” Sean Patrick Flanery will star in racecar action film “Dirt Track,” Steve McQueen signs an overall deal with New Regency, “Mudbound” wins at Middleburg Film Festival, and Orion hires Kevin Shelby.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

The fledgling Paramount Players division has hired writer-director Nick Stoller to work on the script for a live-action “Dora the Explorer” movie.

Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners Andrew Form and Brad Fuller are producing the movie, which has been in the works since 2015.

Details are under wraps beyond the movie centering on Dora as a teenager. The animated “Dora the Explorer” television series ran on Nickelodeon from 2000-2014 with 172 episodes aired following a young Latina girl who went on adventures around the world.

Platinum Dunes has a first-look deal with Paramount. Stoller’s writing credits include “Get Him to the Greek,” “Neighbors,” the Muppet movie reboots, animated films “Storks” and “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” and Kevin Hart’s “Night School.”

Stoller is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.

CASTING

Sean Patrick Flanery will star in ESX Entertainment’s independent racecar action film “Dirt Track,” with filming set to start in Petaluma, Calif., on Oct. 27, Variety has learned exclusively.

Producers are Ali Afshar, Christina Moore, Daniel Carrey, and Ava Rettke. Forrest Lucas is executive producing. Shaun Piccinino is directing from a script by John Ducey, Nicholas Gramenos, and TK McKamy.

The story is set in the world of dirt track racing with late model cars. Flanery portrays the younger of two brothers, whose older brother was killed in a race 16 years ago on the same night that his daughter was born. The daughter has a brand new driver’s license and is determined to find the answers about her father that her mother has refused to give.

Flanery is best known for having starred in the feature films “Powder” and “The Boondock Saints.” He also starred in the final season of Showtime’s series “Dexter.” He is repped by Stone Manners Salners and managed by Ben Press.

OVERALL DEAL

New Regency has signed a multi-year overall deal with Steve McQueen for what’s described as premium feature film content to be produced and financed by New Regency.

The deal extends a working relationship between New Regency and McQueen, as the two previously collaborated on “12 Years a Slave.” McQueen is also currently helming New Regency’s upcoming feature film “Widows,” starring Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo.

“Steve is not only an outstanding director but also a true artist with a real vision. We are thrilled to have him as part of the Regency family and to continue this exciting journey together,” said Yariv Milchan, chairman of New Regency.

The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

FILM FESTIVAL

The Middleburg Film Festival has awarded “Mudbound” its audience award for best narrative film, concluding the annual four-day festival.

“We want to congratulate Dee Rees on her remarkable film,” said Middleburg Film Festival executive director Susan Koch. “With ‘Mudbound,’ Dee Rees has firmly established herself as one of the most talented and important directors working in film and television today – and we look forward to presenting many more of her films in the future.”

Set in post-World War II Jim Crow Mississippi, “Mudbound” follows two returning veterans — one white and one black — as they navigate a quagmire of social codes in an unforgiving landscape. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Jonathan Banks, and Garrett Hedlund.

“Mudbound” is the opening night film at the AFI Fest on Nov. 9 in Hollywood. Netflix is releasing the movie on Nov. 17.

EXECUTIVE HIRE

Orion Pictures, recently relaunched by MGM as a standalone U.S. theatrical marketing and distribution company, has hired Kevin Shelby as senior vice president for marketing and distribution.

The announcement was made by John Hegeman, president of Orion Pictures. Reporting to Hegeman, Shelby began his new role at the company this month and oversees the day-to-day management of Orion’s theatrical marketing and distribution operations.

Shelby most recently served as senior VP of marketing at BH Tilt where he oversaw the planning, development, and execution of marketing, distribution, and advertising for theatrical releases including “The Green Inferno,” “The Darkness,” “Incarnate,” “The Belko Experiment,” “Sleight,” “Lowriders,” and “Birth of the Dragon.” Previously, Shelby served in marketing posts at New Line, Lionsgate, MGM, and Sony.

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