• Ben Affleck is in preliminary negotiations to star in Focus, about a con man who becomes romantically involved with a rookie female scam artist. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love) are writing and directing. [Deadline]
• Not so much a casting “net” as a casting “release” item: Beyoncé has bowed out of Clint Eastwood‘s long-gestating remake of A Star is Born due to scheduling difficulties and the lack of a male star. About an up-and-comer who falls for a dimming male star, the film was put on hold after Beyoncé became pregnant. Will Fetters had penned the latest version of the script. The first version of the film was released in 1937, with Janet Gaynor and Fredic March; then again in 1954, with Judy Garland and James Mason; and finally in 1976, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. [Variety] “I was looking forward to the production of A Star Is Born and the opportunity to work with Clint Eastwood,” said Beyoncé in a statement Tuesday evening to EW.com. “For months we tried to coordinate our schedules to bring this remake to life but it was just not possible. Hopefully in the future we will get a chance to work together.”
• Ralph Fiennes is in talks to join the ensemble of writer-director Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel, playing the concierge of the eponymous establishment with the Wes-Anderson-y name of M. Gustave. [Variety]
• Ryan Reynolds is in initial talks to star in the psychological thriller The Voices, about a man who works at a bathtub factory who owns a talking cat (that’s evil, obvs) and a talking dog (that’s good, of course). Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, Chicken with Plums) will direct from a Black List script by Michael R. Perry (Paranormal Activity). [Deadline]
• Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen will star in Outcast, a period action pic set in medieval China. Veteran stunt man Nick Powell will make his feature directorial debut from a script by James Dormer (Cinemax’s Strike Back). [TheWrap]
–Solvej Schou contributed to this report.