This Week’s Ketchup either represents one of the worst seven days in recent movie news memory, or columnist Greg Dean Schmitz was just grumpy that he didn’t get invited to the Royal Wedding (he loves wacky hats!). Aging action stars trying to revive their golden oldies (Terminator 5), a Justin Bieber basketball movie, and a movie that reimagines Zorro as a sort of Mad Max figure are just three of the seven Rotten Ideas. On the brighter side are stories about The Lone Ranger, The Hunger Games (fingers still crossed on that one, at least) and a cool sounding new role for Jeff Bridges.
This Week’s Top Story
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER SAYS “I’LL BE BACK” TO TERMINATOR… AGAIN
The rights to a fifth movie in the Terminator franchise were shopped around to studios this week, with Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to star. This is the highest profile post-politics role for the former Governor of California, with his other planned projects including the TV show and movie spinoff based on the superhero concept of The Governator. Justin Lin, the director of the last three movies in the Fast and the Furious franchise, is also attached to direct this hypothetical fifth Terminator film. The studios that are reportedly most interested in currently acquiring the rights are Universal, Lionsgate and Sony (which distributed Terminator 2: Judgement Day and handled international distribution of the 3rd and 4th films). It’s worth noting that Warner Bros, the main studio behind Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator: Salvation is not in that list of most interested studios. This is the first real news for the Terminator franchise since February, 2010 when the property was sold at a bankruptcy auction for $29.5 million. That is, unless you count a report last year about an animated Terminator project that was quickly debunked by the holders of the Terminator rights. There is no screenwriter for a Terminator 5 yet, and no indication of whether there is even a known premise other than that it would somehow involve Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to one of his most famous roles. This is the Weekly Ketchup’s Top Story, but if it wasn’t, it would most likely also be the Most Rotten Idea as well. The reason for this mostly has to do with the dwindling results from the Terminator films (post Judgement Day). There is also the simple fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is some 27 years (and counting) older than he was when he starred in the first film in 1984. The screenwriter might come up with an explanation for why the T-850 model looks like a 63-year-old man, but the writer might be challenged to come up with a really good explanation. That, however, wasn’t the only Schwarzenegger news this week. Before he ever returns to that franchise, Arnold Schwarzegger is also now signed to star in Cry Macho, which will be directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer). Cry Macho is the story of a horse trainer (Schwarzenegger) who agrees to rescue (AKA kidnap) his boss’ son from his rich ex-wife, who it turns out also wants to be rid of the 11-year-old kid. Filming of Cry Macho is expected to start this summer if adequate financing can be acquired next month at the Cannes Film Festival.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 ARMIE HAMMER FROM THE SOCIAL NETWORK MAY BE THAT MASKED MAN
Two weeks ago, the role of the young Ra’s Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises went to Josh Pence, who was the body double used to portray half of the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. Now, the actor whose face was actually used in that film for both of the twins, Armie Hammer, is in talks to take on a role in which it will be his face that is (mostly) obscured. That role is The Lone Ranger, in Walt Disney Pictures’ big screen adaptation of the classic wild west crimefighter. Johnny Depp has long been already cast as the Lone Ranger’s trusty Native American companion Tonto (Depp is one quarter Cherokee). There’s a common perception about this movie that the real “star” will be Tonto, and so the search for Ranger Reid himself was focused on young actors who would have good chemistry with Depp. The Lone Ranger may also very well be the true breakout role that takes Armie Hammer to a whole new level of fame. Gore Verbinski, who previously worked with Johnny Depp on the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and also Rango, will be directing The Lone Ranger from a script by Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road, The Clearing). Johnny Depp was also confirmed this week to be cast for a small cameo role in the movie adaptation of the TV show 21 Jump Street (which launched Depp’s career), starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as cops undercover in a high school.
#2 IF ROOSTER COGBURN CAME BACK AS A ZOMBIE, HE MIGHT JOIN R.I.P.D.
Universal Pictures is in talks with Jeff Bridges to join the supernatural comedy R.I.P.D. based upon the Peter Lenkov-written comic books of the same title published by Dark Horse off and on since 1999. Ryan Reynolds has been attached to star for over a year (making it his fourth comic book franchise after Blade: Trinity, Green Lantern and the planned Deadpool spinoff). Reynolds will be playing a modern cop who is brought back from the dead to work for a special police force of undead detectives who investigate crimes involving monsters and the supernatural. If he signs, Jeff Bridges would be playing Reynolds’ partner, an old west gunslinger who’s been on the job for over a hundred years. Zach Galifianakis had originally been attached to play that role, but he dropped out over scheduling conflicts with Ryan Reynolds. The decision to go with Jeff Bridges can be seen as a clever move in a better direction. Bridges has played western characters before, most notably in the recent remake of True Grit (for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar), whereas Zach Galifianakis is new to the cowboy genre (and may have played the role completely differently than Jeff Bridges). It’s even arguable that the switch from Zach Galifianakis to Jeff Bridges could raise R.I.P.D. from “questionable concept” status to “highly anticipated” for many fans of Bridges’ work in movies like The Big Lebowski, Iron Man, The Fisher King and the TRON movies. R.I.P.D. will be directed by Robert Schwentke (Red, Flightplan, The Time Traveler’s Wife) from a script by the screenwriting team of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (Aeon Flux, Crazy/Beautiful).
#3 THE AVERAGE AGE OF THE CAST OF THE HUNGER GAMES JUST DOUBLED
In last week’s Ketchup, there was a lengthy story about the 7 new roles that had been announced for The Hunger Games, 5 of which were kid/teen roles. This week, the emphasis was more on older actors who might help appeal the young adult novel adaptation to the parents who might want to see the movie with their kids. One of the roles is known for sure, and the other three are not. John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) is in talks to play the alcoholic mentor Haymitch. Reilly came to The Hunger Games after recently dropping out of a sidekick role in Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful, starring James Franco. Woody Harrelson is in talks to either play Seneca Crane, the designer of the Hunger Games, or Plutarch Heavensbee, Crane’s successor, who has a much larger role in the book. The two unknown roles are being discussed with Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) and rock musician Lenny Kravitz, whose most notable role to date was a small role in 2009’s Precious. The Hunger Games will be directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) from a script adapted by Billy Ray (cowriter of Volcano, Flightplan, State of Play).
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#7 PAUL WALKER DRIVING VEHICLE 19, PROBABLY FAST AND FURIOUS
Just a few days before Fast Five opens in theaters today, Paul Walker signed on to star in an independent action movie called Vehicle 19. Like the latest (and upcoming) entries in the Fast franchise, Vehicle 19 combines high speed action and a crime story element. Paul Walker will play “an American who gets caught up in the transportation of a criminal witness, facing off against a corrupt police force that wants to silence his testimony.” Relative newcomer Mukunda Michael Dewil will direct from his own script when filming starts in South Africa later this year. Dewil’s first film is another South African independent film called Retribution which hasn’t been released yet. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based mostly on Paul Walker’s critical track record (Fast Five is a recent anomaly). Vehicle 19 was also the subject of some sneaky publicity as this story broke this week. Variety reported that the Vehicle 19 script made the 2010 Black List of unproduced scripts, but what they didn’t say is where it placed. A review of the actual Black List shows that Vehicle 19 doesn’t actually show up in the top *seventy seven* scripts that were picked by at least 5 of the agents and execs that help compile the Black List. So, that means there are at least 77 unproduced scripts that were higher rated than Vehicle 19.
#6 MARK WAHLBERG COMES UP WITH A JUSTIN BIEBER MOVIE IDEA AFTER WATCHING HIM ON TV
Oh, Mark Wahlberg, you really do enjoy producing stuff (from The Fighter and We Own the Night to HBO shows like Entourage, In Treatment and How to Make It in America). Back in February, Marky Mark was watching a celebrity basketball game during the NBA All-Star weekend, and was impressed with the court skills of a young singer named Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber rocketed to fame and fortune in 2009 and 2010 and earlier this year starred in a very successful concert film/documentary called Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. I inserted that sentence in there because I know what happens when I “assume” people know who Justin Bieber is. The basketball game in question took place on February 18, which was just one week after Justin Bieber: Never Say Never had its very strong opening weekend. So, it was easy for Wahlberg to go to Paramount Pictures (the distributors of Wahlberg’s recent Oscar winning film The Fighter), and say something like (paraphrasing here), “Hey, let’s make a movie about Justin Bieber as a basketball player. I’ll produce and star in it too.” And so, here we are. The untitled project is being described as a cross between The Karate Kid and The Color of Money (if Karate or Pool were Basketball, presumably), and “will revolve around street basketball and will give Bieber the chance to show off his hoops skills.” The script will be written by Ian Edelman, the creator of How to Make It in America. The reason for this story being Rotten is not as easy as pointing to Justin Bieber’s RT Tomatometer score, because Justin Bieber: Never Say Never was actually considered Fresh. Instead, the Rotten Idea status is just based on the question of whether Justin Bieber can make magic strike twice in a movie where he’s actually supposed to be playing someone other than himself.
#5 THIS WEEK IN JEREMY RENNER NEWS: ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT AND A STEVE MCQUEEN BIOPIC?
Every few years, an actor emerges out of recent obscurity to become attached to seemingly every other hot new movie being developed. Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Sam Worthington are three examples of this phenomenon from the last ten years. Without a doubt, the latest actor to experience this is Jeremy Renner, following the critical success of 2009’s The Hurt Locker. Jeremy Renner is already attached to appear in three high profile franchise entries: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Marvel’s The Avengers (note that new title, too) and The Bourne Legacy. Renner isn’t stopping with just three, however, as this week he joined the voice cast of Ice Age: Continental Drift, the fourth movie in the 20th Century Fox animated comedy series, as Gutt, “a self-styled master of the high seas” (but no word yet on what actual animal he plays). Renner isn’t the only new voice cast member, as he will also be joined by Jennifer Lopez (as Shira, a female sabre toothed tiger), Wanda Sykes, Aziz Ansari, rapper Drake and Keke Palmer. 20th Century Fox will release Ice Age: Continental Drift on July 13, 2012. That wasn’t the only Jeremy Renner news this week, however. The actor is also getting into the production business, starting a company called The Combine. The first movie on The Combine’s slate is an untitled biopic about the life of movie star Steve McQueen, whom Jeremy Renner has already attached himself to portray. This is not the first time that someone in Hollywood has announced plans to make a movie about Steve McQueen, but one advantage that Jeremy Renner has is that one of the two books he’s acquired the rights to was previously to be the basis of one of those competing projects. Video director Ivan Zacharias is attached to make his directorial debut on the Steve McQueen biopic, based on a script by James Gray (We Own the Night; cowriter of The Yards). This is the part where I would normally explain who the subject of a biopic was, but really, if you’re reading this column, I am going to presume that you know exactly who Steve McQueen was. This combined news story is not in the Rotten Idea category because of the Steve McQueen biopic, however (which this writer thinks sounds like a great idea, actually). Nope, it’s all about Ice Age: Continental Drift, and the increasingly low RT Tomatometer scores for the two sequels (57% and 42%, respectively).
#4 MOE COMPLETES THE MADE-FOR-TV ACTOR TRIFECTA THAT IS THE THREE STOOGES
A few weeks ago, one of the Weekly Ketchup stories was the news that Larry and Curly in The Three Stooges would be played by Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) and Will Sasso (MADtv), respectively. This week, the trio became complete with the iconic role of Moe Howard going to Chris Diamantopolous, a Canadian actor who had a supporting role on one season of 24. This final grouping is quite different from the time a few years ago when Bobby and Peter Farrelly had Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro in negotiations (or attached) to play the same characters (in that order). Another character switch came this week in the form of Jane Lynch (Glee) being cast as the Mother Superior at the orphanage where the three boys grow up. At one time, the Farrelly Brothers had mentioned hopes that they could cast Cher in that same role. The Three Stooges is not a biopic, or even one feature length movie, but is instead an anthology of three short films, each representing a different era or comedic style that the original Three Stooges are known for. Filming of The Three Stooges starts next month, and the movie will be distributed by 20th Century Fox in 2012.
#3 ORSON SCOTT CARD ORIGINS: ENDER’S GAME
Fans of the modern classic science fiction novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card have been rallying behind hopes for a movie adaptation pretty much since the novel’s 1985 publication. They might now be hoping that they had been careful what they wished for. Looking for a teen-friendly franchise to replace the soon-to-be-ending Twilight Saga, Summit Entertainment has acquired the rights to Ender’s Game, with Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) attached to direct. Ender’s Game is set in a distant future where the human race has barely survived two wars with an alien insectoid race called the Formics. The international fleet develops a leadership school where young children are trained through difficult games in order to become tactical masters who can guide the fleet to victory against the Formics, and a young teenager nicknamed Ender is the most promising student. There’s no screenwriter attached to this latest attempt to adapt Ender’s Game, but Summit Entertainment is hoping to start production as soon as early 2012 for a release in 2013. Although the fans who believe Ender’s Game (and its sequels) to be an excellent concept for a big screen epic are probably correct, there’s just something about this latest attempt that sets off this writer’s warning bells. And that’s why it’s one of this week’s Rotten Ideas.
#2 ZORRO REBORN… EN EL BóVEDA DEL TRUENO?
Rebooting old movie franchises remains a popular pastime in Hollywood. Heck, it’s even being done with titles that aren’t that old, such as The Amazing Spider-Man, which will have a 2012 release just five years after Spider-Man 3. This week, 20th Century Fox revealed plans to apply a reboot to a classic film (and TV) franchise that is nearly as recent (The Legend of Zorro was released in 2005). One of the big differences, however, with Zorro Reborn is that the most recent movies were actually made by a completely different studio (Sony), and the reason this is possible is because the original Zorro pulp stories by Johnston McCulley are now (possibly) in the public domain (there appears to be some dispute about that issue). 20th Century Fox may be anticipating a challenge from Sony on that issue, because their Zorro Reborn plan actually takes the character out of the California of the 19th century. Zorro Reborn (get ready for this) will instead reimagine the character as a hero in “a desolate and post-apocalyptic” setting, and this Zorro won’t even be a swashbuckling swordsman, either. Zorro Reborn will reportedly have “echoes of both Sergio Leone [The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, etc] and No Country for Old Men.” Zorro Reborn will be the directorial debut of Rpin Suwannath, a previsualization specialist who has worked on franchises like X-Men, Spider-Man and Chronicles of Narnia. The Zorro Reborn script has been written by the screenwriting team of Lee Shipman and Brian McGreevy, who don’t yet have a produced movie to their credit, but they have sold a Dracula spinoff movie called Harker to Warner Bros. Zorro Reborn is one of the week’s Most Rotten Ideas because, well, it’s just sort of a ridiculous idea. If Zorro isn’t a hero fighting for the oppressed people of 19th century California, and he doesn’t even use a sword… what exactly makes him Zorro? Does he spraypaint a Z on old abandoned cars? Or maybe make a Z out of bullet holes? Yep, it’s probably that.
#1 SEE THE TOP STORY FOR THIS WEEK’S MOST ROTTEN IDEA
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.