New jobs. New movies. A remake of one of Oklahoma’s most iconic movies.

While the filming of movies and TV shows has been shut down for months, the pandemic hasn’t kept studios and filmmakers from making new deals for future projects.

That includes several Oklahomans and Oklahoma-made movies that have been making some news.

Rebooting ‘Twister’

Universal Pictures put out the word that it plans to produce a new version of “Twister,” the tornado movie from 1996 that was filmed in Oklahoma and featured some landmark special effects.

“Twister” remains the biggest box-office hit filmed in the state, 24 years later, with a worldwide gross of nearly $500 million that was huge at the time (No. 2 film of that year behind “Independence Day”).

There’s no word on whether a new film will again be an Oklahoma production or even a story that’s set in the state, or who will star. This is the early stages of production.

All that’s set is the producer will be the legendary Frank Marshall (hits from the “Indiana Jones” movies to “Back to the Future” movies to “Jason Bourne” movies).

And the director will be Joseph Kosinski, who’s worked with Tom Cruise a couple of times, including December’s upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” and the sci-fi film “Oblivion.”

Some might say there’s no need to remake “Twister,” but the special effects could be even more special a generation later, and there have been many advances made in meteorology, as Oklahomans know well.

When will my movie theater open?

Theaters with local ownership, including Circle Cinema, Eton Square Cinema and Admiral Twin Drive-In, have reopened to customers, as has Cinergy Tulsa, the theater and entertainment center complex in the 71st Street corridor.

But many are still wondering when the major chains will reopen, the ones that operate the city’s theaters with the biggest attendance.

That will be whenever the biggest movies return.

But as spikes in pandemic numbers continue to increase, and theaters in places like California and New York can’t open, the studio dates for those first big-budget movies will keep getting pushed back.

After presumed blockbusters were delayed again this past week, like “Tenet” (now Aug. 12) and “Mulan” (Aug. 21), that left the following as updated reopening dates: Cinemark (July 24), AMC Theatres (July 30) and Regal (July 31).

But stay tuned for changes.

From superhero to Super Bowl champion

The Erwin Brothers filmmaking team, which chose Oklahoma to make their hit movie “I Can Only Imagine,” are preparing to return to the state to make another faith-based movie.

And they have found their leading man.

Zachary Levi, the star of the DC superhero movie “Shazam!” as well as other films and TV shows (like NBC’s “Chuck”), will reportedly star in their next movie: “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story.”

The 6-foot, 4-inch actor would fit the physical mold of Warner, who went from stocking shelves in a grocery store to leading the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl title in his first season as quarterback in 1999.

Warner and his wife are set as producers of the movie, along with the Erwins, whose last film was the spring release “I Still Believe.”

Oklahoman’s bank robbery script lands Lily James in starring role

Oklahoma screenwriter, author and actor Robert Knott’s latest script — based on the true story of a woman who robbed banks while dressed as a man — has attracted one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars for the leading role.

Lily James, seen in recent years in the films “Yesterday” and “Baby Driver,” after earlier roles such as “Cinderella” for Disney and her breakout role on “Downton Abbey,” will play the real-life “Peggy Jo.”

Knott grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Northwest Classen High School. He spent time in art school at the University of Oklahoma before ultimately working for more than a dozen years on rigs for a Tulsa-based drilling company until the mid-1980s.

This will be his first screenplay produced since 2008’s “Appaloosa,” a Western he worked on with his friends and fellow Oklahoma actors Ed Harris and Rex Linn.

He adapted a story by author Robert B. Parker for that film, and Knott was then later chosen by the author’s estate to continue a series of Parker’s books.


John Swab keeps making gritty crime movies in Tulsa, and he keeps challenging moviegoers

Michael Smith 918-581-8479

Twitter: @michaelsmithTW