In today’s film news roundup, Zac Efron will portray an investigative journalist, Vanessa Hudgens is hired for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick, Tick… Boom!” and Zahra Phillips has a new gig.


Zac Efron has signed on to star in “King of the Jungle” as a Wired Magazine investigator who tracks down John McAfee at his jungle compound in Belize.

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are on board to direct from a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Casting for the role of John McAfee is currently underway with start of principal photography slated for early 2020. STX Films is in negotiations for the domestic rights.

The project is based on “John McAfee’s Last Stand,” the story of rogue tech magnate John McAfee, creator of the McAfee Antivirus software, who left civilization and moved to the jungle in Belize. Efron will portray investigator Ari Furman, who arrives in Belize and finds himself pulled into McAfee’s paranoia.

MadRiver International will handle sales at the American Film Market. The news was first reported by Deadline.


Vanessa Hudgens, Alexandra Shipp and Robin de Jesus are joining Andrew Garfield in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick, Tick… Boom!” for Netflix.

Variety first reported in June that Netflix had won the movie rights to “Tick, Tick … Boom!” with “Hamilton” creator Miranda attached to direct and Garfield the top choice to star.

“Dear Evan Hansen” writer Steven Levenson is adapting the script based on the original stage show by late “Rent” creator Jonathan Larson.

“Tick, Tick … Boom!” is set in 1990 and tells the story of an aspiring theater composer who is waiting tables in New York City while writing “Superbia,” which he hopes will be the next great American musical and finally give him his big break.


Zahra Phillips has been hired as director of production for Fox Searchlight Pictures, where she will identify, develop, and supervise the production.

She will report to presidents of production for film and television Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum.

Prior to joining Searchlight, Phillips was the director of development at Franklin Entertainment, where she oversaw projects in film and television.