The Weekly Ketchup celebrates Pi Day by… mentioning it here and then never again. That’s because the rest of the column is devoted so thoroughly to discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of movies like Captain America 3, the Fletch and Peter Pan reboots, the remakes of Explorers and Something Wicked This Way Comes, and other new roles for Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, and Guy Pearce.
This Week’s Top Story
CAPTAIN AMERICA 3 ANNOUNCED AS MARVEL’S MAY MYSTERY IN 2016
Back in late June of 2013, Marvel Studios announced release dates for three mystery movies on May 6 and July 8 of 2016 and May 5 of 2017. Then, in January, Warner Bros announced that they were pulling the Man of Steel sequel with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and scheduling it on May 6, 2016, challenging Marvel’s “mystery” movie. This week, we learned what movie Warner Bros will be taking on (if they stick with that date). It turns out that the movie in question is Captain America 3 (or whatever it ends up being called), the next CA movie after Captain America: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14), and the next Marvel Studios movie after Ant-Man (7/17/15). The curious thing about how this news was disseminated this week is that most headlines said something like “Captain America 3 is challenging Batman and Superman,” but since the movie had that release date for some seven months before Warner Bros moved their Man of Steel sequel, the opposite is sort of closer to the truth (Batman and Superman challenged Captain America 3 back in January; they just didn’t know what movie it was going to be). Obviously, it’s semantics, but in publicity and “saving face,” semantics can be a big deal, and this column over at Forbes.com illustrates that. Meanwhile, we’re already getting hints (via an unconfirmed story from Brazil) that Warner Bros might be considering moving the Man of Steel sequel up a week to the last weekend of April. Such a move would avoid a direct confrontation between the two movies, but also give Warner Bros a one week advantage and the distinction of being the first movie of the summer… instead of Captain America 3. In related news, Sebastian Stan, who costars in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, confirmed this week that the movie is part of a nine film contract similar to contracts signed for several other Marvel Studios actors (like Samuel L. Jackson, who is on movie #6 with Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 GUY PEARCE JOINS JOHNNY DEPP’S WHITEY BULGER BIOPIC BLACK MASS
A-list stardom may continue to elude Guy Pearce (if he even really wants it), but the Australian actor continues to rack up roles in impressive and memorable films year after year. This week, it happened again, as Guy Pearce is now in talks with Warner Bros to play Whitey Bulger’s brother in Black Mass, in which Johnny Depp will play the notorious Boston mobster and assassin. Black Mass is quickly pulling away from the competition, as it was at one time just one of several possible Whitey Bulger projects, including one in which the Bostonian would have been played by Matt Damon. Joel Edgerton has also been cast in Black Mass, which will be directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace).
#2 J.K. SIMMONS TO INVESTIGATE THE TIME TRAVELING CYBORGS OF TERMINATOR: GENESIS
One of the smartest casting decisions Sam Raimi ever made for his first Spider-Man was choosing veteran TV actor J.K. Simmons (OZ, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) to play Peter Parker’s cantankerous boss (and Spider-Man’s tabloid enemy) J. Jonah Jameson. J.K. Simmons as J.J.J. was just the gift that kept on giving. This week, someone at Paramount may have had a similar “ah-ha!” moment, as they have cast Simmons in their franchise reboot Terminator: Genesis. Simmons joins the already announced Emilia Clarke (Sarah Connor), Jason Clarke (John Connor), and Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese), as an alcoholic detective who has been following the bizarre 1984 case involving a woman called “Sarah Connor” and robots (actually cyborgs, but the confusion is understandable). Terminator: Genesis will be directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), and is currently scheduled for release on July 1, 2015.
#3 HE’S JASON SUDEIKIS (AS THE NEW FLETCH)… AND YOU’RE NOT
The idea of rebooting Gregory MacDonald’s Fletch character after two 1980s movies with Chevy Chase has been bouncing around Hollywood since the late 1990s, when Kevin Smith wanted to adapt the origin story Fletch Won with his pal Jason Lee. Now, finally, seventeen years later, we know that Saturday Night Live alumnus Jason Sudeikis is in talks to star in that very same Fletch Won project. The news comes after a year in which Jason Sudeikis starred in both Epic and the comedy hit We’re the Millers, which was recently announced as getting a sequel, as is Horrible Bosses, which was also a comedy hit for Sudeikis. Warner Bros is now seeking a director for the project, which is described as “a gritty action comedy with heart and more tonally in line with McDonald’s novels than the Chase movies.”
#4 GENNDY TARTAKOVSKY’S CAN YOU IMAGINE? (AN ANIMATION STUDIO BASED ALMOST ENTIRELY ON ONE GUY?)
This week, Sony Pictures Animation held an event unveiling their upcoming slate of CGI animated movies, and three of the four movies all involved the same person. Genndy Tartakovsky is an animator who made his feature film debut in 2012 with Hotel Transylvania, but it was with TV shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and most notably, Samurai Jack, that Tartakovsky first established himself. It’s for that reason that the Ketchup is going to let the 45% Tomatometer score for Hotel Transylvania “slide” and we’re calling this a “Fresh Development” this week. And now, for the actual news. The biggest revelation at the event was the existence of a new project tentatively called Genndy Tartakovsky’s Can You Imagine?, which is being described as a journey through a little boy’s imagination (including an early image of him and his dad riding inside a huge green cartoon caterpillar train car (if caterpillars had huge overbite teeth). Genndy Tartakovsky will also be directing the sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 (for September, 2015), and the Popeye movie (for 2016). The fourth movie not involving Genndy Tartakovsky will be The Smurfs 3 (August, 2015), which will be the first Smurfs movie to be entirely CGI animation, and not a live action hybrid like the first two movies were. Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet) is directing The Smurfs 3.
#5 ED HELMS TO STAR IN THE ACTION COMEDY EPIC FAIL
Lionsgate has announced the start of development on an action comedy called Epic Fail, from a story idea partly from Ed Helms (The Hangover), who will also co-produce, and will star. The focus of Epic Fail will be “an elite but highly unorthodox special forces team takes their dysfunction and excessive firepower on a desperate mission to save America, led by the only soldier more badass and more mustachioed than a Navy SEAL, The Walrus,” who will be played by Ed Helms.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 ROONEY MARA CAST AS NATIVE AMERICAN PRINCESS TIGER LILY IN PAN
Fourteen years into the 21st century, race continues to be a divisive issue in Hollywood casting stories, but the controversy goes in both directions. Sometimes, it’s because characters who were created as caucasian (in an era where almost all characters were white) are cast differently. On the other hand, sometimes new films will change the ethnicity for characters whose backgrounds were pretty clearly defined (but not always for positive reasons). This practice is often called “white-washing.” In both examples, since we’re talking about a movie that hasn’t been released yet, we usually don’t know the context of the changes. So, only time will really tell if this news item is Fresh or Rotten, but for now, we’re casting a cynical eye its direction. Rooney Mara, star of David Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, has been cast as Tiger Lily in the Warner Bros Peter Pan origin story called Pan. The reason for the controversy is that Tiger Lily is the “princess” of a tribe of Native Americans living on the island of Neverland, and well, Rooney Mara isn’t Native American. In the 1990s animated TV series Peter Pan and the Pirates, the voice of Tiger Lily was provided by Native Canadian actress Cree Summer. The Variety story about Mara’s casting includes this line, “The world being created is multi-racial/international — and a very different character than previously imagined.” Rooney Mara joins the already cast Hugh Jackman (Blackbeard) and Garrett Hedlund (Captain Hook), with the lead role of Peter still being sought. Pan will be directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna, Anna Karenina).
#3 KEVIN HART AND JAMIE FOXX TO HEADLINE THE BLACK PHANTOM
Following the success of movies like Ride Along, Kevin Hart is one of the most sought after comedy actors in Hollywood today, and two such movies made the news this week. Unfortunately, there’s reasons to label both of them Rotten Ideas. First up, there is the hitman comedy Black Phantom, in which both Kevin Hart and Jamie Foxx are in talks to costar together. Director Tim Story, who previously worked with Kevin Hart on both Think Like a Man and Ride Along, is also in talks, and that’s where the story gets Rotten. Of the five movies Story has directed in the 11+ years since Barbershop, not a single one has had a Tomatometer score above 53%. We also learned this week that Universal Pictures has scheduled the Ice Cube/Kevin Hart comedy sequel Ride Along 2 for January 15, 2016. The borderline bizarre coincidence about this release date is that January 15, 2016 is also the release date for the animated comedy The Nut Job 2, and both Ride Along and The Nut Job opened on the same date this year (January 17, 2014). As of right now, Ride Along is the #5 movie in international box office for movies released in 2014, though this will most likely change as more movies are released.
#2 SOMETHING ROTTEN THIS WAY COMES (AGAIN)
Walt Disney Pictures has announced plans to develop a new movie based upon the Ray Bradbury novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, which Disney first adapted as a movie in 1983. SWTWC is basically a Faustian tale about a carnival that comes to town, run by an evil barker who promises to fulfill the local townsfolks’ secret desires. Standing in his way: kids! The writer that is adapting Bradbury’s novel for Disney this time around is Seth Grahame-Smith (aka the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies guy), and that’s why this is a “Rotten Idea” this week. Seth Grahame-Smith is just not having great luck so far in Hollywood, with two movies (Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) which both received solidly Rotten scores on the RT Tomatometer.
#1 IT’S A BAD WEEK FOR REMAKES OF 1980S GENRE/KIDS MOVIES: EXPLORERS
Of the dozens of 1980s movies now considered to be genre classics, Joe Dante’s science fiction film Explorers is mostly remembered now for featuring the big screen debuts of both Ethan Hawke and the late River Phoenix. This is partly because the movie was a box office flop (released the same weekend as the Live Aid concert… oops!) and partly because Dante was rushed to finish the film in time for a summer release date. So, this story of three teenagers who build their own spaceship has some things going for it as a potential remake, following the theory that “flawed” movies are the best candidates for remakes. The bad news is that the writers that Paramount has hired to work on the Explorers remake are the same people who wrote and directed this week’s new movie Better Living Through Chemistry. And that movie has a Rotten Tomatometer score of just 21%.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.