This week’s Ketchup actually covers the last three weeks, as the last two weeks of 2011 were devoted to doing a retrospective of the year’s Freshest Developments and most Rotten Ideas. Included in the mix are news items about five different sequels (following up on 300, Horrible Bosses, Paranormal Activity, Star Trek and Thor), and new roles for Natalie Portman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kristen Wiig.
This Week’s Top Story
DISNEY’S NEXT ANIMATED FILM WILL BE FROZEN IN 2013
One of the few stories to break out just before Christmas was the announcement by Walt Disney Pictures that a movie called Frozen will be released on November 27, 2013. At first, there was some confusion about what exactly Frozen is, because November, 2013 had previously been the target date for the untitled Pixar movie in which modern humans and dinosaurs live together (and the Ice Age never happened). It was quickly clarified, however, that Frozen is actually the new title of Disney’s next traditionally animated fairy tale adaptation (after 2009’s The Princess and the Frog). Frozen is based upon Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. The Snow Queen is an evil witch who travels the world with the winter and abducts a man whose perception becomes twisted by a troll mirror; it is up to his sweetheart Gerda to rescue him from the Snow Queen. Disney has been developing an adaptation of The Snow Queen for over ten years, off and on and then off-again, including a period when long time Disney animator Glen Keane was working on the project. It’s currently unknown who are the new creative staff who are working on Frozen. And now a little footnote about that title: In addition to making this movie easily confused with the 2010 thriller about skiiers trapped on a lift, the title Frozen seems like another case of Disney choosing a title that conceals the more famous fairy tale that audiences might find more easily identifiable, just like how their recent Rapunzel movie was actually released as Tangled.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 KHAN BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH BE THE NEW VILLAIN OF THE STAR TREK SEQUEL?
The casting of the villain in the sequel to the Star Trek reboot took an unexpected turn this week as Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) was confirmed as being cast as the film’s main villain. Fans will recall that Benicio Del Toro had previously been announced as being in talks for the role, until he wasn’t anymore, and that Edgar Ramirez and Jordi Molla were then being considered. The most curious aspect of British actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting is that it has been widely expected that the villain will be Khan Noonien Singh, played in the original series and in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by Ricardo Montalban. The selection of Benedict Cumberbatch might be a sign that either a) the villain really wasn’t Khan to begin with or b) since Khan’s ethnic heritage was always a mix anyway, anyone could potentially play the new Khan, including a British actor like Cumberbatch. And Cumberbatch also isn’t the only new actor to sign on to Star Trek 2 who is best known for starring in a BBC TV series; Noel Clarke, known to Doctor Who as the companion Mickey Clarke, has also been cast as “a family man with a wife and young daughter,” which tells us… well, basically nothing. George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life could be described that way, too.
#2 EVEN MORE SPOOKY FOOTAGE FOUND FOR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4
The fact that Paranormal Activity 3 had an opening weekend of $52.6 million (on a budget of just $5 million) most likely made the following information sort of non-news, but here we go anyway. Paramount Pictures has announced a release date of October 19, 2012 for Paranormal Activity 4. This news was soon followed by a confirmation that directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who made their debut with Catfish and also directed Paranormal Activity 3, are now in talks to continue on with the franchise with this latest installment. What is not yet known is what exactly Paranormal Activity 4 might be about, but it will probably somehow involve video footage of spooky ghostly activities in someone’s house. Just a guess.
#3 THE THOR SEQUEL’S DIRECTOR HAS PLAYED A GAME OF THRONES AFTER ALL
Marvel’s search for a director for Thor 2 was one of the most topsy turvy guessing games of the second half of 2011. In August, there was the news that Marvel was likely to hire director Brian Kirk, a television director who had worked on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Then, reportedly because of Natalie Portman’s suggestion, the director in talks was Patty Jenkins (Monster), until a while later, she eventually dropped out due to that old chestnut, “creative differences.” Just before Christmas, the search came full circle again, as Marvel has finally decided on going with one of the Game of Thrones directors after all, but this time it’s Alan Taylor, who has also directed episodes of Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie and The Sopranos, as well as the feature films Palookaville and Kill the Poor. With the Thor sequel currently scheduled for November 15, 2013, Marvel needed to find a new director quickly, as filming will need to start sometime relatively soon, considering all of the post-production that is needed to depict Thor‘s Asgardian adventures (which is what rumors about the sequel suggest will continue to be about).
#4 THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN TO THE SAME THREE GUYS TWICE IN HORRIBLE BOSSES 2
The summer comedy Horrible Bosses was one of the year’s most profitable releases, earning over $200 million worldwide on a budget of just $35 million. So, not surprisingly, New Line Cinema has started development on a Horrible Bosses sequel by closing a deal with that film’s screenwriters, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (AKA one of the kids from Freaks and Geeks, all grown up). The three actors who played the underlings-turned-murder-conspirators (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) are all also expected to return for the sequel, as is director Seth Gordon (Four Christmases, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters), who is currently in early talks.
#5 NATALIE PORTMAN MAY REUNITE WITH THE WACHOWSKIS IN JUPITER ASCENDING
In the year since Natalie Portman won her Oscar for Black Swan, she has not been taking advantage of it the way many actresses do (by signing on for big movies), mostly because of her baby son Aleph who was born in June. With six months since the birth, however, Natalie Portman appears ready to jump back into her busy film career. One of the first movies that she is reportedly being pursued for is Jupiter Ascending, the mysterious new science fiction project from Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix, Speed Racer). The Wachowskis previously worked with Natalie Portman as producers of V for Vendetta. The Wachowskis have recently wrapped up filming of their adaptation of the centuries spanning novel Cloud Atlas, and expect to start filming the Warner Bros produced Jupiter Ascending sometime in the fall of 2012.
#6 KRISTEN WIIG AND FRIENDS THINK FREEZING PEOPLE IS EASY
Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd, Christopher Walken and Owen Wilson are all in various degrees of negotiations to star in the true story dramedy Freezing People is Easy. This movie will be based upon the life of Bob Nelson (to be played by Paul Rudd), a 1960s Los Angeles TV repairman who became a pioneer in the new business of cryogenics (as also depicted in an episode of This American Life and the memoir We Froze the First Man). Cryogenics is the process in which people are frozen just before death so that they can be reawakened in future years when whatever was ailing them has an eventual cure. That’s a great idea, except, of course, for the whole part about how being frozen alive kills the patient as well. Freezing People is Easy will also mark the dramatic debut of Academy Award winning documentary director Errol Morris, who is best known for films like The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time and The Fog of War (for which he won the Oscar). Kristen Wiig also made the news this week in reference to Universal Pictures’ plans for a sequel to Bridesmaids, which the studio now plans on proceeding on developing, even though Kristen Wiig (who cowrote the first film) reportedly is not interested in working on a sequel. The focus for the Bridesmaids is instead expected to shift to the character played by Melissa McCarthy.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 EVA GREEN FIGHTS FOR THE PERSIANS IN 300: BATTLE OF ARTEMISIA
One little detail that has mostly been lost in previous reporting on the sequel 300: Battle of Artemisia is that the title refers not to a place, but to the female leader of the Persian fleet in the Battle of Salamis. Of course, that’s also because the movie had previously been often called Xerxes. That battle, which resulted in the sinking of 300 Persian ships (ah, sweet, sweet symmetry), is seen historically as the sister battle to Thermopylae, the stand-down portrayed in the first 300 movie. Although a male lead hasn’t yet been cast (to play the Greek leader Themistocles), Eva Green (Casino Royale) is now in talks with Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros to play Artemisia. Legendary Pictures hopes to start filming of 300: Battle of Artemisia sometime soon in the first quarter of 2012, so Eva Green should soon be followed by other cast members. The reason this news is one of the week’s (borderline) Rotten Ideas is mostly due to the 59% RT Tomatometer score that the first film received. 300: Battle of Artemisia will be directed by Noam Murro (Smart People) from a script by 300 cowriters Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad.
#2 ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER TO PLAY AN ANGEL IN BLACK SANDS
In addition to costarring in The Expendables 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger currently has two other action thrillers lined up as part of his post-gubernatorial return to his film career. The first is The Last Stand, in which Schwarzenegger will play a small town sheriff attempting to stop an escaped drug lord trying to get back to Mexico. Not much was previously known about the second film, Black Sand, until the last few weeks, and it sounds pretty wild. Based on patched-together comments, it appears that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be playing a character that is either an actual angel, or “kind of an angel” (Arnold’s direct quote, there). Black Sand is also being compared to a cross between Constantine and Commando, which sort of backs up the angelic association. Black Sands is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas, because, come on… Arnold Schwarzenegger as an angel? Even “kind of” an angel?
#1 MIRROR MIRROR, ON THE WALL, WHO READ THE NECRONOMICON DOWN THE HALL?
The first cast announcement has been made by Sam Raimi’s Ghost House production company for the Evil Dead remake, and it brings along with it a surprising revelation. Lily Collins, who plays Snow White in this April’s Mirror Mirror, has been cast in the lead role as Mia, one of five friends who go to a remote cabin in the woods where they discover a Necronomicon (AKA “book of the dead”). The really surprising part is that Mia is the reboot’s version of one Ashley J. “Ash” Williams, the character played by Bruce Campbell in the first three movies. The Mia character is also described as a recovering drug addict who goes to the cabin as part of her detox program, which is also used to explain why her friends don’t believe her when she starts talking about all the crazy things she sees after the evils of the Necronomicon are unleashed. The Evil Dead reboot will be the feature film debut of short film director Fede Alvarez who cowrote the script with Rodo Sayagues (also making his debut), with rewrites by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body). Filming is scheduled to start in March in New Zealand, and FilmDistrict has scheduled the release for April 12, 2013. The casting of Lily Collins as Bruce Campbell’s replacement is this week’s most Rotten Idea… for obvious reasons.
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.