This Week’s Ketchup includes movies a movie about the making of Mary Poppins, a new take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and new roles for Steve Carell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tina Fey, Harrison Ford, Dwayne Johnson, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
This Week’s Top Story
SIR BEN KINGSLEY IS TONY STARK’S NEXT VILLAIN IN IRON MAN 3
Director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) will be starting filming of Iron Man 3 in North Carolina in just five weeks, so it’s about time that we start hearing about casting, and this week, we did. Sir Ben Kingsley, recently of Hugo and currently filming Ender’s Game, is in final negotiations to play “the villain” in Iron Man 3. The initial release also goes out of its way to specify that Ben Kingsley will not be playing The Mandarin, Iron Man’s traditional arch-nemesis whose existence has been teased in previous films. All that is known about who Kingsley will play is that he is somehow involved with nanotechnology. An interesting aspect of the whole Kingsley-isn’t-the-Mandarin announcement is that when he wears a goatee or van dyke, Sir Ben Kingsley does in fact bear a resemblance to the way the Mandarin has often been drawn. Another possibility is that this could be a situation similar to the casting of the villain in Batman Begins, where there was some subterfuge surrounding who exactly Liam Neeson and Ken Watanabe were playing. In this case, is it possible that Sir Ben Kingsley is playing a character that doesn’t call himself The Mandarin, but basically is, you know… The Mandarin?
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 MR. AND MRS. SMITH MAY REUNITE IN THE COUNSELOR
The Counselor is the name of a movie that has been moving through development at an unusual pace, when one considers that most movies take at least a few years (if not much longer). The Counselor was the first spec script sold by author Cormac McCarthy (The Road, No Country for Old Men) (whose novels are normally sold as existing properties). Then, director Ridley Scott picked The Counselor as his next film after Prometheus and its profile jumped up a little bit higher yet. Along the way, Michael Fassbender signed on to star as a successful attorney who gets involved with the illegal drug business, much to his regret. This week, the profile of The Counselor went even higher as both Brad Pitt and Javier Bardem are now in talks to costar, with Angelina Jolie also discussing taking on a small role. Particularly because of Ridley Scott’s involvement (though Pitt and Jolie don’t hurt), 20th Century Fox is also now in negotiations to distribute The Counselor, which starts filming in June.
#2 TOM HANKS GOES DISNEY, AS DISNEY, IN SAVING MR. BANKS
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson have signed on with Walt Disney Pictures to star in Saving Mr. Banks, a film about the making of the classic 1964 Disney musical film Mary Poppins. Tom Hanks will be playing Walt Disney himself, who spent 14 years trying to get Australian author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to sign off on a film inspired by her series of Mary Poppins books. The film will tell the story of Disney’s pursuit of the rights, Travers’ apprehension about the project, and her eventual dissatisfaction with the final product (particularly the animated sequences). Saving Mr. Banks will be directed by John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Blind Side) from a script by Kelly Marcel, creator of the FOX TV series Terra Nova.
#3 LEONARDO DICAPRIO REUNITES WITH THE AUTHOR OF SHUTTER ISLAND FOR LIVE BY NIGHT
Warner Bros has acquired the rights to Live By Night, the latest novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island), as a starring vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, who will also be producing through his Appian Way Productions. Written as a sequel (and the second novel of a trilogy) to his 2008 novel The Given Day, Live By Night brings (some of) the same characters in Boston and Tulsa, Oklahoma from the 1910s of The Given Day into the Prohibition Era of the 1920s. Warner Bros now has the film rights to all three books of the trilogy, including the third book that has yet to be written.
#4 STEVE CARELL TO HAVE A …TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
Steve Carell is in talks with 20th Century Fox to star in the studio’s live action adaptation of the Judith Viorst children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Steve Carell would play Alexander’s father Ben in this story about a boy going through a day full of unfortunate incidents. This movie with a very long title I don’t want to type or paste again will be directed by Lisa Cholodenko, as her first feature after winning critical success in 2010 with The Kids Are All Right.
#5 TINA FEY TO STAR IN LATEST NANCY MEYERS ROMANTIC COMEDY, THE INTERN
Paramount Pictures has made a deal to finance and distribute The Intern, the latest romantic comedy from writer/director Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give). In what sounds like a continuation of themes from Meyers’ previous films, Tina Fey will play the founder of a fashion e-business who is surprised to find that the “senior” who is recruited to become her intern is actually a man in his 70s. The two eventually develop a friendship and platonic bond (though Meyers still describes it as a love story). Nancy Meyers reportedly already has an idea as to who will play the older man, but isn’t revealing the name until deals are underway with that actor.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 A MOVIE BASED ON THE NON-NARRATIVE NEED FOR SPEED VIDEO GAMES?
Electronic Arts has begun development on a movie based upon their popular series of Need for Speed racing video games. EA is getting things started by hiring screenwriter John Gatins (Real Steel, Hardball) to start work on a pitch that will be shopped around to various studios, including Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. Universal Pictures is not expected to be one of the studios talked to since Universal already has the Fast and the Furious franchise. Unlike many intellectual properties, Need for Speed brings with it very few narrative demands since most of the games are mostly basic racing games with very little narrative structure. In that way, Need for Speed is very much like the titles in the recent trend of movies based on board games and toys… and that’s why it’s one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
#3 DWAYNE JOHNSON TO FIGHT THE MONSTERS OF LORE
Warner Bros is picking up the screen rights to the IDW Publishing comic book series Lore as a sci-fi action movie for Dwayne Johnson to star in. Described as “Men in Black with mythological creatures,” Lore is set in a world where a long line of “Shepherds” have protected Earth from various monsters of myth, with a modern woman finding herself in the middle of the creatures’ return. Lore was adapted by screenwriters Cory Goodman (Priest) and Jeremy Lott, who doesn’t yet have any produced films to his credit. In addition to Warner Bros, Lore is being produced by Mad Chance (Jonah Hex, Cats & Dogs) and Circle of Confusion (TV’s The Walking Dead).
#2 GALE FROM THE HUNGER GAMES, HAN SOLO, AND COMMISSIONER GORDON ARE OBSESSED WITH PARANOIA
Director Robert Luketic (21, Legally Blonde) is set to start work this summer on a “corporate espionage thriller” called Paranoia, based on a novel by Joseph Finder. Liam Hemsworth, who recently costarred as Gale in The Hunger Games, is signed to play the lead character as a low level employee who becomes a corporate spy (to avoid going to prison for a crime). Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman are both also in final negotiations to costar. Paranoia is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based mostly on the RT Tomatometer scores for director Robert Luketic, whose filmography also includes Killers, The Ugly Truth and Monster-in-Law.
#1 SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH… AS A SUPERHERO?
Sony Pictures has announced ongoing development of a superhero movie based on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who got her start in the 1960s as a spin off in Archie Comics. The series about a precocious, well… “teenage witch” has previously been adapted as three different animated TV series and most famously, as a long running live action ABC/WB sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart. This new superhero take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch will be “an origin story in the vein of Spider-Man, about a young girl coming to terms with her remarkable powers.” Probably everything a person needs to know about this project is contained in this sentence from Deadline.com: “While the tone of the movie will be edgier, they are keeping her talking black cat Salem, who here is a transformed prince creating unique love stories for Sabrina.” This live action film is being developed concurrently with a new animated series announced in September that was described as “Twilight meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Director Mark Waters (Mean Girls, Freaky Friday) worked on the presentation that sold Sony on the project, but he is not yet signed to direct, depending upon scheduling. Meanwhile, over at Warner Bros, they already have the rights to a very similar character, and she’s been around (almost) as long as Sabrina the Teenage Witch… she’s called Zatanna.
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