This week’s Ketchup is heavy on movie development news stories involving fantasy/fairy tales (The Chronicles of Narnia, Maleficent, and Happily Ever After), science fiction (Chappie and Home), comedy sequels (Horrible Bosses 2 and Ted 2), and comic book adaptations in general (almost everything else).
This Week’s Top Story
DISNEY FOLLOWS UP MALEFICENT WITH CRUELLA (FROM 101 DALMATIANS)
In addition to their other franchises like (take a deep breath here) Marvel Studios, Pixar, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the live action reboots of classics like Alice in Wonderland, it’s now looking like Walt Disney Pictures is developing another. In addition to the Sleeping Beauty prequel focusing on Maleficent (played by Angelina Jolie) that Disney is releasing on May 30, 2014, the studio is now developing another villain-centric spinoff. Walt Disney Pictures has hired screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (27 Dresses, The Devil Wears Prada) to work on Cruella, focusing on the fur-loving villain Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians. Unlike with many of the other recent live action movies Disney has either made or has coming up, Cruella De Vil has the distinction of having already been portrayed (by Glenn Close) in a live action Disney movie. There’s no word yet about who might star as the new Cruella. Perhaps Meryl Streep (who’s costarring as the Witch in Disney’s upcoming Into the Woods musical) could slap on a black-and-white fright wig and reunite with her Devil Wears Prada screenwriter?
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 HUGH JACKMAN JOINS ELYSIUM DIRECTOR’S NEXT SCI-FI MOVIE CHAPPIE
We’ve known for a while that South African actor Sharlto Copley was going to make his feature film collaboration streak with director Neill Blomkamp a three-for-three with Chappie (after District 9 and this year’s Elysium). Copley will play (via performance capture) a sort of “Robot Cop” in Chappie, which is described as a science-fiction-gangster-crime-comedy. What we didn’t know was whether Chappie would have any big movie stars, ala Matt Damon and Jodie Foster in Elysium. Well, now we do, because Hugh Jackman has revealed that he will be filming Chappie in Johannesburg, South Africa in early 2014. It appears that Jackman may be playing a corporate type who gets involved with the evil gangster types. If you’re reading this article in 2015 or later, you can probably laugh at how wrong that description gets it.
#2 THREE STARS OF FREAKS AND GEEKS REUNITE FOR THE INTERVIEW
NBC may not have known what to do with Freaks and Geeks back in the 1999-2000 season, but it’s definitely a show that keeps on giving, as its cast and crew are nowadays nearly a Who’s Who in comedy and film (if you can forgive a somewhat mixed metaphor). Things came together quickly this week for the Columbia Pictures comedy The Interview which now has two Freaks and Geeks regulars, and one recurring character attached to costar. James Franco will play a talk show host, and Seth Rogen will play his producer, in a comedy about a plot to assassinate the prime minister of North Korea orchestrated by a CIA agent played by Lizzy Caplan. Rogen will also codirect with his frequent partner Evan Goldberg (they also codirected This is the End, and are collaborating on the R-rated animated comedy Sausage Party, also for Sony Pictures). The Interview will be filmed in British Columbia from October 10 to December 20 this fall.
#3 A GOOD WEEK FOR CREATOR-OWNED COMICS MOVIES: COWARD, KINDGARTEN HEROES, WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?
Most of the press continues to go to more traditional superhero movies from Marvel and DC, but this week was chock full of announcements that remind us that there’s also plenty of movies in the works from outside the “Big Two.” This was most embodied by the new first look deal between 20th Century Fox and Boom! Studios, who had a hit this year with 2 Guns (though that was with Universal Pictures, not Fox). The deal is seen as being innovative because it splits the earnings 50-50 between the publisher and the creators of the respective comics. 20th Century Fox also made a deal this week with Mark Millar (Wanted, Kick-Ass), who is currently acting as a creative Godfather to their various Marvel projects (The Fantastic Four, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Force). The new deal covers Millar’s upcoming Kindergarten Heroes, which is exactly what it sounds like, as it depicts toddler superheroes (something that Marvel has already been doing for years with X-Babies, by the way). 20th Century Fox has also made a deal with Image Comics for a movie based on the espionage comic Who is Jake Ellis?, about a former CIA analyst on the run who is aided by the mysterious title character, who appears to be invisible to everyone else but him. Four time Harry Potter director David Yates is attached to Who is Jake Ellis?, but it will have to wait until some point after he directs Warner Bros’ upcoming reboot of Tarzan. Finally, there is the movie version of Coward, the first book in the Criminal graphic novel series written by Ed Brubaker, who’s most famous for his years of work with Marvel on Captain America and Winter Soldier. Coward will be directed by Korean director Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil), who made his English-language debut this year with The Last Stand.
#4 RELEASE DATES IN 2014 AND 2015 ANNOUNCED FOR WARCRAFT, TED 2, AND HORRIBLE BOSSES 2
Normally, release dates don’t get included in this column about movie development news, but this was sort of a slow week (volume wise, at least). So, to give you ten stories, here’s a little padding in the form of three release date announcements for two comedy sequels and a highly anticipated video game adaptation, in chronological order. First up, there will be Horrible Bosses 2, which New Line Cinema has scheduled for November 26, 2014. The other movie scheduled for that date is the DreamWorks Animation alien comedy Home, which you can read more about below. Then, on June 26, 2015, Universal Pictures will release the comedy sequel Ted 2. The sequel currently has that date to itself, but it comes a week after Pixar’s Inside Out and the video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed, and a week before the Terminator reboot and the sequel ID Forever Part 1. Finally, also from Universal Pictures (and Legendary Pictures), is the video game adaptation Warcraft, which will be released on December 18, 2015, the same date as Ron Howard’s Inferno, based upon the novel by Dan Brown. There’s also speculation that sometime in late December, 2015, Disney will be releasing Star Wars Episode VIII.
#5 JENNIFER LOPEZ AND STEVE MARTIN WILL MAKE THE DREAMWORKS FACE IN 2014’S HOME
A popular movie trope that appeared online in the last year or two was the “DreamWorks Face,” which takes its form in photo montages from various DreamWorks Animation movies (The Bee Movie, Shrek, and Megamind are usually used), pointing out similar smirks and crooked eyebrows in the artwork. Of course, this sort of thing is also done in Disney, Pixar, and Blue Sky movies, but it’s DreamWorks Animation that has been singled out. Anyway, 2014 is going to be a big year for DreamWorks Animation, with three movies scheduled, starting with Mr. Peabody & Sherman (3/7/14) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (6/13/14). The third movie will be the generically titled Home (11/26/14), which was formerly called Happy Smekday!, which took its title from the book The True Meaning of Smekday, which the movie adapts. Home will be set in a future after which an alien race has invaded Earth, and started to relocate humans elsewhere, thinking that they are doing Earthers a favor. Rihanna and Jim Parsons have been attached for a while as the voice leads, but this week, Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin also signed on. Martin will be voicing “Captain Smek, leader of the overly optimistic alien race known as the Boov, who take over Earth and begin to relocate the human race.” Home is being directed by Tim Johnson, whose previous films include Antz, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and Over the Hedge.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#4 REESE WITHERSPOON AND DISNEY TO SPOOF FAIRY TALES WITH HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Reese Witherspoon is attached to star in Happily Ever After, a fairy tale comedy that Walt Disney Pictures is developing with producer Nahnatchka Khan (TV’s Unfabulous and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23) and Witherspoon’s own Pacific Standard production company. Happily Ever After got its start as a pitch two years ago, and the basic concept is, “to catch up with a prince and princess about 10 years after they have ridden off into the sunset for their “happily ever after.” The couple discovers that even in fairy-tale land, you have to work to keep your relationship and your life together.” Happily Ever After will have to wait a while to actually get made, however, as Reese Witherspoon’s next film will be Wild, the adaptation of the memoir by Cheryl Strayed. This is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas based upon the RT Tomatometer for Reese Witherspoon, who has had only 4 “Fresh” movies among her last 16 films.
#3 WRITER NEWS FOR NON-MARVEL MARVEL MOVIES PART 1: THE FANTASTIC FOUR REMAKE
It’s a continuing fact that explaining the difference between “Marvel Studios” movies and the other Marvel movies that Marvel isn’t technically making can be quite confusing to those who, you know, have other things to worry about in life. Anyway, two of those big non-Marvel-Studios franchises (at separate studios) both got news this week concerning who will be writing future films. First up, let’s discuss 20th Century Fox’s planned reboot of the team that got Marvel’s Silver Age off to its start back in 1961, which they are calling The Fantastic Four (the “The” doesn’t usually appear in the comic book titles). 20th Century Fox has rather optimistically been sticking with stated plans for a March 6, 2015 release date for The Fantastic Four, but the continuing revolving door of writers and the ticking of the clock seems to be putting that closer to question. Fox is hoping that producer/writer Simon Kinberg can turn things around, as Kinberg is expected to be “overhauling the script substantially,” which gives us a hint at how messed up Fox thinks The Fantastic Four is right now. Simon Kinberg had sole screenwriting credit on Mr. & Mrs. Smith and the sequel xXx: State of the Union, and also cowrote Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. Here’s Simon Kinberg’s RT Tomatometer page for more insight on why this is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
#2 WRITER NEWS FOR NON-MARVEL MARVEL MOVIES PART 2: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3
A studio that is more confident about its writers is Sony Pictures, which has recruited the writers of next year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to also start work on writing The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Those three writers are Jeff Pinkner (of TV’s LOST and Fringe) and the team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, whose work on the Transformers and Star Trek franchises have, let’s say, “united” fans online. Sony Pictures has scheduled The Amazing Spider-Man 3 for June 10, 2016, and (already) The Amazing Spider-Man 4 for May 4, 2018. Although The Amazing Spider-Man has a Fresh score of 77% on the RT Tomatometer, we’re talking about different screenwriters for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (and TASM3). A look at Roberto Orci’s RT Tomatometer page gives you an idea of why this is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas.
#1 NARNIA LIVES ON WITH THE FOURTH MOVIE THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE SILVER CHAIR
After Walden Media released The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010, it appeared that the film franchise would be ending with the third movie, despite it being an overlooked box office success ($415 million worldwide), and the #12 top grossing movie of the year. This week, the C.S. Lewis Company announced plans to continue the franchise forward with an adaptation of the fourth book, entitled The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. This particular book is also a good point at which to somewhat reboot the franchise, post-Walden, as only a few characters from previous books also appear in The Silver Chair (Aslan the Lion, a very elderly Prince Caspian, and Eustace Scrubb). Will Poulter (Son of Rambow) played Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but due to him now being in his 20s, he would likely be recast for this new film. Instead of Walden Media, this newest Narnia movie will be produced by The Mark Gordon Company, which is known for successes in both television (Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy) and film (Saving Private Ryan, Speed, The Patriot), and Mark Gordon himself is the president of the Producers Guild of America.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.